Robin Hilton

NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers join host Robin Hilton for a quick run-through some of the most essential new albums out on April 13, starting with the Korean surf-rock band Say Sue Me and their wistful and gritty album Where We Were Together.

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton chats with NPR Music's Lars Gotrich, Tom Huizenga, Marissa Lorusso, Sidney Madden and Ann Powers about some of the best new albums dropping on Apr. 6, from the scorching punk of Norway's Dark Times to the mesmerizing cello drones of Clarice Jensen, rap phenom Cardi B, dance pop singer Kylie Minogue's country turn and much more.

Featured Albums

  • Dark Times: Tell Me What I Need
  • Christina Vantzou: No. 4
  • Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy

The latest video from Malian singer and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara, for the song "Nterini," opens with a simple but stark reminder: "In a world of seven billion people, one billion are migrants." The Pew Research Center puts the number at a quarter of a billion — a figure that's still shockingly high.

And we're back! Our first new mix of the new year includes gritty guitar rock from the band Bethlehem Steel, a sweetly seductive, pop earworm from singer Anna Burch, and an epic breakup song from Lucy Dacus.

The season of list-making, specifically (for us) lists about the year's best music, is rapidly descending. But before the craziness begins over who had the best album or song in 2017, we thought we'd look back at some of our previous top-ten lists to see if they even hold up. As you can imagine, some albums we once thought were great have since lost their luster, while others haven't aged a day.

It'd been more than three years since Tune-Yards released new music, but the singer and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus is back, now as a duo with Nate Brenner. Her new single is a sonic thrill ride called "Look At Your Hands," and it's from her just-announced album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life (out Jan. 19). Garbus says the new song is a meditation on the mess she feels the world is in and how various political and cultural -isms manifest themselves within her.

Sufjan Stevens is sharing a rare outtake he recorded while making his 2015 album Carrie & Lowell. The song, "Wallowa Lake Monster," is one of several previously unreleased tracks included in an upcoming collection of remixes, demos and alternate versions of songs from that period.

It's hard to record a show like ours in the wake of a tragedy as profound as what happened in Las Vegas this past Sunday. But we hope the music we're sharing this week gives you time to reflect and, if needed, escape. One thing we know: Songs, in times like this, often take on new meaning.

Anyone who's seen Torres perform live (or listened to her 2015 sophomore Sprinter) knows what a confrontational force she is. She quietly rages, maybe seethes, on stage, with the kind of intensity that can leave fans both rattled and transfixed. It's like watching storm clouds rise and darken, captivated by their beauty while knowing that at any moment they could swirl out of control and turn into a full-blown cyclone.

Protomartyr doesn't make music for the casual listener. Over the course of four full-length albums, the Detroit-based band has produced a collection of lyrically dense, deeply philosophical (and usually very loud) songs that grapple with some of life's thorniest questions: What does it mean to be human? What is truth? What is the nature of good and evil?

Protomartyr lead singer and lyricist Joe Casey is, to say the least, a seeker — an existential traveler in search of a higher state of consciousness and meaning in an often callous, senseless world.

Composer Hans Zimmer and Radiohead have teamed up to reimagine the band's song "Bloom," taken from 2011's The King of Limbs. The new version, much slower and sparer than the original, has been retitled "ocean (Bloom)" and was recomposed to soundtrack the upcoming BBC documentary Blue Planet II.

Radiohead shared a trailer with the music this morning on Twitter.

"Open your mouth wide," sings Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke over stunning, underwater footage of sea life. "The universal sigh / And while the ocean blooms / It's what keeps me alive."

It's hard to think of an artist who's brought more joy to more people, across more generations — and in more ways — than Steve Martin. In the 1970s, he won the hearts of young children for his playful appearances with The Muppets while simultaneously charming legions of older fans with his subversive standup routines. Later, as an actor, he wrote and starred in some of the most memorable comedies (and a few dramas) of all time, while writing books, plays and even a Broadway musical.

Okovi, the latest full-length from Zola Jesus, is a monstrously tortured album, built with densely layered grief and pain. Nika Roza Danilova, who's been writing and recording as Zola Jesus since releasing her debut in 2009, bares her most vulnerable thoughts and feelings as she sings about serial killers, suicide, crushing depression and fear. At times, even Danilova admits the songs are hard to hear.

After three years of trickling out singles, Beck has finally announced Colors, a new full-length due out this fall. His latest track, "Dear Life," channels Beach Boys harmonies and the barrel-house piano of classic Beatles songs like "Martha My Dear" or "Lady Madonna."

It's been a little over a month since Bob Boilen and I have sat together and shared some essential tunes, but we're back with some keepers, including a new, swoon-worthy song from singer Julien Baker and a beautifully infectious track from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

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