Music

All Songs Considered
9:39 am
Tue February 25, 2014

New Mix: The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser, The Faint, Perfect Pussy

Clockwise from upper left: Hamilton Leithauser, Hundred Waters, Perfect Pussy
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 11:08 am

On this week's All Songs Considered, we've got two premieres: A beauty called "Alexandra" by The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser, and a shred-fest called "Interference Fits" by raucous Syracuse punk band Perfect Pussy.

But host Bob Boilen kicks off the mix with the Omaha-based rock group The Faint. "Help in the Head," from Doom Abuse, the band's first new album in six years, is a heart-pounding thrill ride.

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World Cafe
7:47 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Damien Jurado On World Cafe

Damien Jurado.
Steve Gullick Courtesy of the artist

Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado has made some changes in what he does, including making more music with a band. His last two albums — Maraquopa from 2012 and the new Brothers and Sisters of The Eternal Son — are his best work yet. Both were inspired by an elaborate dream Jurado explains today. Credit also goes to producer Richard Swift for turning this latest set of songs into a mesmerizing listen.

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Music Interviews
11:36 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Beck's Long Balancing Act

Beck's new album, his first since 2008, is called Morning Phase.
Peter Hapak Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 4:17 am

Beck was recording his latest album when he encountered an unexpected hazard in the studio.

"I got bit by a black widow in the middle of this recording session," he says laughing. "I was in the hospital, and my arm was all swollen up."

That was only one of the indignities Beck suffered on the way to Morning Phase.

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Music Reviews
10:15 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Vertical Scratchers: Slashed Chords, Fractured Poetry

Vertical Scratchers.
Joseph Amario Courtesy of the artist

The members of Vertical Scratchers don't have to pretend: They are free spirits, making music that is at once tightly composed, whimsical and anarchic.

The vocals on a Vertical Scratchers song tend to be high-pitched and yearning. John Schmersal creates harmonies from his vocal tracks that have a keening romanticism. His guitar lines are a series of slashed chords — vertical scratching, and thus the band's name. At the same time, there's a compressed intensity to the tunes, which uncoil with a snap, again and again.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:03 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Brass Bed: Tiny Desk Concert

Brass Bed performs a Tiny Desk Concert in January 2014.
Jim Tuttle/NPR NPR

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 11:12 am

It wasn't an easy road to the Tiny Desk for the four guys from Louisiana who make up Brass Bed. Their tour, for the band's debut album The Secret Will Keep You, was plagued from the start: Singer Christiaan Mader had the flu, there was a death in the family and multiple dates had to be canceled. Their van was broken into and their instruments stolen. So when they heard that a big snowstorm was headed for D.C. at the same time they were to play the Tiny Desk, it felt like yet another bad omen.

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