New Music Friday: Feb. 15
Support for this NPR podcast and the following message. Come from the UPS store, offering services from shredding to printing to mailboxes and instead of closing this holiday. The UPS store is doing another ING altogether. Opening the UPS store every ING for small business. And of course shipping. Happy, Freddie, everyone from NPR music and all songs considered. I'm Robyn Hilton. And it is new music Friday. We're looking at the best albums out on February fifteenth starting with shock cons. Hello happiness. Shock Akon is the singer her new album is Hello happiness. And for this week's music Friday. I'm joined by Lauren on key. Hey, Lauren haven. Hello happiness. We're going to just call you happiness Friday. And Stephen Thompson, low Robin, and why would have phenomenal record from shock. Connor. I in twelve years. Yeah. There's two ways you can get out this record. I think you can talk about the fact that Chaka Khan's been making incredible music since the mid seventies with Rufus and then on her own she's never left the dance floor. Her records are always still out there. She's never stopped performing. And who she is at sixty five with a fabulous new album. I in a long time or you can just dance to this record. It's a dance record all the way through but you hear every sliver of her career across all the songs. The funk the dance music hurt the strength the for pipes which are good enough that she. Sing at Aretha Franklin's funeral last year. So it's all their laid out. You mentioned being able to hear every sliver and one thing. You can also hear the every sliver of is just every note every beat every baseline. This is a very spare record in a lot of different ways. It's only seven songs and like each song. You can hear the air in the mix. Let's hear another cut from the record. This one's called too. Hot. Begins. Stephen. I would never have thought to call this minimalist until after you said that now listening to this. I hear the spare nece in that. Especially that opening some great baselines on this. Everything's allowed to pop and you hear what she was doing with Rufus in the seventies. But not in any retro way at all. But that spirit behind you got the love and tell me something good that rock funk mix that her voice was so perfect for inner voice. Still sounds fantastic. It's really exciting to think about where she might head record comes out. Great to have her back shock on the record is. Hello happiness. Thanks, lauren. Thank you. All right from shock Akon. Let's go to something completely different. This is the singer known as right ex-. His new record is called unfurl. My. Right. Xs, the artist is new record is called unfurl in the song is untold. This is the musical project of riot coming. He's a singer from Australia his previous record in two thousand sixteen called dawn. And that was on my top ten list for that year. And this one could be this year. This record is marvelous. I mean, you remember when Bonnie zehr cut a like a single with James Blake. Yeah. And it's like, man. That's right ex-, you know, ended that combination of that that swooning falsetto with the lychee beats attached. And also real emotion, you I remember when you wrote about his last record and you described it as like your your headphone of the year. I mean, he he makes headphone music. He makes this very immersive and swoon and sweeping music that can can be really intransigent his songs. Open up so beautifully and keep thinking of blooming flowers, and he has said that he actually. Intentionally called the album unfurl as a nod to sort of all the beauty in the world. And how it can slowly reveal itself overtime for willing to listen the artist is right. Xs record is unfurl. Let's go now to yon tier and his new album all. Keys. Yeon tear Sohn is the artist. This record is all in. This court song is called Pell P, l L he's a French composer. And musician who sings on this song and much of the record in a Celtic language called Brenton his music sort of straddles a lot of different worlds. What's he doing on this one? Well, if you look at the whole of Yang tier since career, he sometimes resisted, the term composer that his music just happens to kind of map over like, for example, a lot of film music early in his career. He became known as the composer who did the music and Ali, but he didn't compose that music for the film. They just took tracks from his first three albums, right and stitched them into a score. That is one of the most famous movie scores of the last twenty five years you listen to this record. It's got a little bit of a spacier feel to the whole album is largely about our connections with nature, and or how we're very often disconnected for. Nature, and he has all these little ambient sounds woven into the songs. Just floor me and like the there's the laughter of children. He wrote the song Pell, in fact, for his son. It's gorgeous this record. And that record is called all from John tear Sohn. We still have a few more albums to highlight on this week's new music Friday, but first let's take a short break, and we'll be right back. They US any Ron have been at odds for a long time. And we tend to think it all started with the Iranian revolution in nineteen seventy nine. But that's not the whole story this week on through line will take you back to four days in nineteen fifty three that changed the US Iran relationship forever through line where we go back in time to understand the present. It's new music Friday from all songs considered. I'm Robyn Hilton. And I'm here with Steven Thompson. We are looking at some of the best albums out on February fifteenth. We start the second half of our show off with the band, sir. Baby girl and the album crush on me. Survey girl, the artist this album is called crush on me the song flirting with her. We had to get some Qatar noise on this week's show and survey girl a relatively new artist. Who is sir? Baby girl. Well, sir. Baby girl is a singer named Kelsey Hogue kind of a theater kid who's grown up into an increasingly larger than life persona part of what I really love about this project is she knows exactly who she is. And she knows exactly what she wants to say with music this album crush on me is a kind of concept album about self destructive urges, and it's designed to acknowledge those and break through them. And what really jumped out at me reading about her and listening to this record is this is the kind of music that comes out of the gate with a reason to exist and something to say, and so many of the ideas behind the record tied into her persona and her identity, she identifies as non binary and bisexual us. His she her pronouns, but that queer nece is really woven into into these songs in a way that I think really connect. Yeah. It's an album that refuses to be any one thing. Like as I was listening to it at one point. I thought well, it's okay. It's bubblegum pop. But then suddenly take a turn towards something more like punk or I think, oh, it's garage rock. And then it'd be more like eighty seventh pop it really traverses a lot of sonic territory, the album crush on me from sir baby girl. Let's go to the singer j s on DARA and his new album tales of America. The. Pull. Do. Wizardry? Pastor. Com. Cerny? Lovin sanity. Jason Dr is the singer new album is called tales of America and the song is days of insanity. This is the singer Bob Boylan, I introduced me to last fall on all songs considered. Another record is finally out reminded who Dr is. And then we can dig a bit more into what he's doing on this record. Well, J s DARA has a fascinating backstory. He grew up in Nairobi. Kenya? With limited means did not have access to instruments, but he did have access to a lot of nineties alternative rock. He eventually relocated to Minneapolis, which he will tell you is colder than Kenya. And eventually got his hands on guitar and keyboard which allowed him to teach himself how to play music he was inspired to quit school the day after he saw his first concert by a singer songwriter named Noah gunnison and decided to pursue music full time and has been embraced certainly by the public radio world, the current in Minneapolis. Has done a lot for his career. And he's got that. Sweet soaring voice. The name that kind of kept coming up for me is David Gray can hear the sandy quality to it. He's got a big range that I think he's still fully learning to master. I'm not necessarily as into his falsetto that sometimes kicks into late in his songs. But man, you can just hear the talent. He's got a fairy very engaging beautiful voice. And especially for someone from Kenya. He really nails the sort of free. Wheeling spirit of of American acoustic music, you know, like in the spirit of thinking Paul Simon or or Dylan and not just musically. But lyrically a lot of the songs are about chasing, the classic American dream or or or finding the heart of America or the American identity ties into his story. I mean, he has this incredible story is an immigrant story. J on DARA is the singer. And the record is tales of America. We've got one more album that we wanna play on this week show. But I. Stew quick lightning round of some of the other notable releases for February fifteenth. There's this beautiful record by the ambient artists. Johnny Nash outright. Now, it's called make a wilderness just really beautiful record the singer Noddy Natasha reggae tone, artists her debut album luminosity is out right now. And if you've not heard of her the singles that she dropped a head of this record have been streamed more than a billion times Notting tasha is a singer. There's a great guitar rock record out right now from the artist Betty who the album is called Betty, an Averill Levin. Ever Levin is back with a new album called head above water that I was really surprised by a really solid record from ever living. Yeah. There's a lot of stuff out on February fifteenth. You can go a lot of different directions, the Tedeschi trucks band. Big Blue's rock band has a new album called signs the synth pop band lady Tron is back with a self titled record. It's I in eight years singer songwriter, named Hayes Carl who's really really impressive lyricist has a new album called what it is and two very very different country records. Noting the Texas singer songwriter, Dale Watson who plays very kind of vintage old time classic country. His new miss call me lucky, and then you've got all over country radio for years now, Florida Georgia line, they've got an called kit say ain't country and can't say, they ain't. All those records are out February fifteenth along with our last record that we wanna play comes from the singer, Robert Ellis. His new album is called Texas, piano. Man. Heavy you love. You're trying to convince but you've already made up your mind. This look familiar. Having that same conversation in the car. It's the same situation. Moving. Donny. Robert Ellis is the singer. This new record is called Texas peon fitting title, the song is called there. You are in Stephen. I've always thought of him as a country singer, some of his early work even had a real twain to voice, you know. And this is not that he is a really inventive guy. And he has played around with his identity from record a record and this album, Texas, piano man as its title suggests kind of recasts him as this very stylish troubadour with a sound that is straddling all sorts of eras. You really land a lot in like classic seventies. Singer-songwriter pop and country. I think it was our colleague LARs got rich who likened him to a cross between gram, Parsons and Elton John. And I think I think there's something to to both sides of that there's a little bit of glam e feel and it's all timeless and really gorgeous Li song. I kept thinking of herring. Nielsen. And I think maybe in part because these songs feel a little subvert. To me. I mean, the take on different meanings, depending on how earnest you think he's playing he sings about lost love and lonely loneliness and regret, but I never quite trust him. And I'm not sure entirely why maybe it's because there are also songs like, I'm f ING crazy on it where they are sort of dark playful at the same time in I feel like he's trying to sort of subtly, disrupt everything. Well, there's there's something about performing kind of almost a costume that you've never worn before that could seem really inauthentic, or it could be a case of somebody who has crafted a persona as something of an unreliable narrator. And he wears that costume well in this is a an all white tuxedo. He's wearing on the cover of his album. He said when he announced this record. He said with Texas people expect a certain thing, and they want a certain thing. And I fought that for a long time. I've realized though that Texas shouldn't be made a category. I wanna redefined to the. Side world what it means to be Texan a little bit Texas forever. This record Texas, piano man from Robert Ellis. All right. Thanks, Steven that you're rub. That'll do it for this week's new music Friday. Remember to tell your friends about the program and check out our new music Friday playlist on Spotify. Just search for NPR music in the Spotify app. You can also see a list of what we talked about in here. Full versions of the songs on our website. Go to NPR dot org slash all songs and for NPR music. I'm Robyn Hilton be well have a great weekend and treat yourself to lots of music. This message comes from NPR sponsor. Comcast business. Business has always been driven by innovators. That's why Comcast business is helping you with technology that provides better experiences. Comcast business beyond fast.