WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

For the sake of argument and reduction, let's say there are three ways to approach the architecture of extreme metal as it mutates and cross-pollinates genres: those who build blocks, those who construct M.C. Escher-like puzzles, and those who throw spaghetti against the wall. All are valid in their deconstructions, none are set in stone, and the resulting innovations eventually become their own signifiers for younger bands. The members of Chicago's Immortal Bird, for their part, are metallic mutant builders who hint at staggering puzzles.

Thursdays this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a story about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email:allsongs@npr.org.

Joy Williams is best known as half of Grammy-winning duo The Civil Wars. Love, motherhood and her professional split from John Paul White are all addressed on her new album, VENUS, which takes a spiritual and powerful journey through her life over the past few years. "Sweet Love Of Mine" showcases Williams' gorgeous voice.


  • "Sweet Love Of Mine"

Satoshi Tomiie released his first house track, the all-timer "Tears" with Frankie Knuckles, more than 25 years ago. When a musician's first impression is basically perfection — and "Tears" is just that — it can define, even overshadow, the rest of a career.

Portland singer Liz Vice didn't set out to sing; her first passions were acting and filmmaking. She also didn't grow up with gospel music, and says she's uncomfortable with the gospel-singer label. But Vice began singing through a local church, then with a gospel collective called Deeper Well.

Her surprising debut album, There's A Light, seemingly came out of nowhere, with a satisfying sound that pulls from Motown roots and offers a hopeful message, especially in "Empty Me Out." There's A Light comes nationally on Sept. 25.

A word for artists striving to make something timeless: Stop. People live within history. It provides particular tools, collaborators and ideas that even the most blinkered hermit can't really avoid.

White Reaper Does It Again extends the freewheeling Louisville rock band's breakneck punkish pop across 12 songs, beyond the scope and attack of White Reaper's first 45 and EP. Its sound has accumulated the filth and grit of life on the road, not to mention a fair amount of recent influences, along the way.

There's always some degree of obscurity to the layered music of Bristol, England's Flying Saucer Attack. But for a long time now, the band itself has been virtually unknown: Dave Pearce, the lone member since Rachel Brook left in 1996, hasn't made a new album since 2000's The Mirror. So it's apt that his return effort, Instrumentals 2015, is one of the most obscure-sounding records in the Flying Saucer Attack discography.

Jason Isbell's relationship with the South — like that of his former band, Drive-By Truckers — is complicated. An Alabama native, Isbell has continued to embrace his Southern identity since leaving the group in 2007 and embarking on a solo career. But what exactly does that Southern identity entail? Isbell's music, without a doubt, is steeped in the more simmering sounds of Americana, from country to soul to Southern rock.

Review: Ratatat, 'Magnifique'

Jul 8, 2015

So much of Ratatat's appeal lies in what it doesn't do: On the band's fifth album, Brooklynites Mike Stroud and Evan Mast built sleek, propulsive instrumentals using a spare palette of guitars, synthesizers and simple percussion in such a way that the music sounds both triumphant and understated. These are rock instrumentals that needn't overcompensate for their lack of words; they don't strain to be heard or scramble to stand out, but instead convey coolness that seems effortless.

Lowland Hum On World Cafe

Jul 8, 2015

Lowland Hum's Lauren Plank Groans and Daniel Levi Groans are a married couple from Greensboro, N.C. After they got married, they released their debut album Native Air in 2013, and put out a self-titled follow-up this year.

Drawing meaning, guidance and solace from the sun, moon and stars, this week's selections on The Thistle & Shamrock look to the Northern and Western skies. Hear music from Liz Carroll and John Doyle, Kate Rusby, Ceilidh Minogue and more.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When Amy Winehouse, the British musician who sang memorably about her refusal to go to rehab, died due to problems related to drugs, alcohol and bulimia in July 2011, she was nearly as famous for her personal struggles as she was for her music. Just 27, Winehouse had been tabloid fodder for years.

Sometimes an excellent song makes its writer work for it, and sometimes it pours out almost too fast to catch. The latter was the case for Spokane, Wash. singer Cami Bradley and Huntsville, Ala. singer/songwriter Whitney Dean, who met on a whim and, less than a year later, are making music that seems to contain decades of intimacy.

Tigercats, an East London pop band in the vein of Camera Obscura, released its second album, Mysteries, earlier this year. "Sleeping In The Backseat," the band's latest single, is bound to tug at a few heartstrings with its chorus of, "Lay your head next to mine."

Under the headline "Signs of Summer" in 1916, the New Castle, Del., Herald listed: lollipops, robins, bare feet and street pianos.

Yes, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, street pianos were everywhere. Their perky, plinky, preset music — playing the same songs over and over — filled the air in towns across America.

Punk has always been hospitable to filth. Blood, sweat, spit, vomit, beer and hair gel from a melting fauxhawk — all are crucial to the movement. Punk embraces the taboo, the base and the precious, forcing all three into conversation. But that's not to say individual punks are inherently interested in being disgusting. Then again, sometimes they are, and write a whole song about it.

**Language advisory: This track contains language that may be offensive to some**

For anyone more interested in Amy Winehouse's music than in her martyrdom, the most shocking images in Asif Kapadia's new documentary Amy may not be the ones showing her strung out and terrifyingly thin at the end of her short life, nor those capturing her turn into serious addiction in filthy, paraphernalia-strewn rooms she shared with her enabler and eventual husband, Blake Fielder-Civil.

Wolf Alice On World Cafe

Jul 7, 2015

The North London rock band Wolf Alice, which took its name from an Angela Carter short story, has spent recent the last few years creating serious buzz in the U.K. and beyond. Wolf Alice's new full-length album is titled My Love Is Cool.

Wolf Alice has been labeled many things — post-grunge, alternative rock and so on — but its members call their own sound "distorted pop music," and that works just fine. Here the band plays a live studio set for World Cafe.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



World Cafe Next: Small Feet

Jul 6, 2015

World Cafe is traveling to Stockholm, Sweden, at the end of July as part of its Sense Of Place series. Consider this episode a little preview, as this week's World Cafe: Next artist is the Swedish band Small Feet.

Purity Ring's second album, Another Eternity, marries Corin Roddick's beats and production to Megan James' gorgeous voice. The Edmonton duo has been selling out brilliantly illuminated and choreographed live shows across the country, and on its way through Seattle, the band pulled off a dazzling performance in the jewel-box-sized KEXP live room. Here's "Begin Again."


  • "Begin Again"

Saun & Starr On World Cafe

Jul 6, 2015

You may have heard Saun & Starr singing live with The Dap-Kings. Now, these two seasoned former backup singers are taking center stage.