Lyndsey McKenna

Taylor Swift was supposed to spend this summer touring songs from Lover, the album she put out last August. Instead, like many of us, she wound up cooped up at home. The isolation seems to have sparked her creativity, leading her to write and record an entirely new record in collaboration with producers Jack Antonoff and The National's Aaron Dessner.

No, Taylor Swift did not spend her quarantine nurturing her sourdough starter or tie-dying old sweaters. Nor did she use the period to re-record her catalog as promised last year after a label dispute.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Lyndsey McKenna
Where: Washington, D.C.
Recommendation: Running

Do you remember the way you reacted when you first witnessed Kendall Roy's rap tribute to his father, Logan Roy, on the second season of HBO's Succession? Were you like younger brother Roman, in denial of what you were seeing, or more of a Shiv, laughing along? Or a Cousin Greg, tentatively taking it all in?

Like many who have graced the Tiny Desk before him, the awkwardness of performing in a working office wasn't lost on Harry Styles. "It just feels like you're in the way," he joked. But when you watch his set from behind Bob Boilen's desk, you'd never suspect any discomfort.

Taylor Swift, Man

Feb 27, 2020

YouTube

The Taylor Swift vs.

Forget Valentine's Day. Today, Feb. 13, is Galentine's Day, a recurring holiday on the NBC comedy Parks & Recreation that has become a minor cultural festivity (and an excuse to convene the women in your life for breakfast food).

From the moment Carly Rae Jepsen arrived at NPR HQ for her Tiny Desk concert, she brought an obvious sense of joy. Take, for example, her sound check: Working with her band of longtime collaborators, she seemed downright delighted, beaming at the musicians as she gave notes after each meticulous run-through.

As Taylor Swift settled in for her Tiny Desk, she looked out at the 300-plus NPR employees and guests. "Wow! This is a lot of people in a tiny office!" she said. "I love it!" Then, after introducing herself, she explained her objective: "I just decided to take this as an opportunity to show you guys how the songs sounded when I first wrote them."

Note: This episode originally ran in July, 2018.


It all started with a tweet. (Doesn't it always?)

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET

It's been a long time coming, and the rollout didn't go quite as planned, but Taylor Swift's seventh album, Lover, is here. Stream the album below via Apple Music or Spotify.

Soon after the album appeared on streaming services, Swift posted to her almost 121 million Instagram followers: "This album is very much a celebration of love, in all its complexity, coziness and chaos."

Sleater-Kinney took a lot of chances on its latest album, The Center Won't Hold, upending its much beloved sound to experiment with strange sonics, dark textures and surprising forms. The result is one of the most adventurous, exciting – and best – albums the band has ever made. We open this week's New Music Friday with a look at how and why The Center Won't Hold works and what the recent departure of drummer Janet Weiss means for the band at this point in its quarter-century long career.

(NOTE: This week's episode was recorded before Bon Iver announced the digital release, three weeks ahead of schedule, of its lovely new album i,i.)

The dog days of summer are fully upon us, but new album releases are still coming in hot. Chance The Rapper finally released his sprawling, long-awaited "debut album" — though that technically happened last week, just hours after New Music Friday dropped — while Ty Segall dropped his umpteenth full-length effort and Clairo served up some breezily lo-fi Gen-Z irreverence.

To be clear, sad songs make up the majority of this week's All Songs Considered. So, if you have a love for the type of music you might hear from Julien Baker or Japanese Breakfast, we have five new artists to add to your playlist, including a 19-year-old singer from Belgium who goes by the name Asia; The artist known as Dolly Valentine asks, "Do you know where you want to go?" And there are more beautiful but crushing tunes brought to you by "the dream team" (NPR's Lyndsey McKenna and Marissa Lorusso).

NPR Music Shares 2019's Songs Of The Summer

Jul 7, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally today, have you picked your song of the summer?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPACITO")

LUIS FONSI: (Singing in Spanish)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALIFORNIA GURLS")

KATY PERRY: (Singing) California girls, we're unforgettable...

The artists who attract me the most are those who are on the rise — artists whose popularity is mostly a small, dedicated circle of fans but growing. That's certainly true of the Shreveport band Seratones. They're putting out their second album later this summer and, from the sound of this potent new title track "Power," it's clear they'll find a bigger fanbase.

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising and you're willing to see yet another superhero movie just for the air conditioning. Maybe to you, this time of year signifies the start of music festival season. Maybe you're looking forward to your annual extended stay down the shore. Maybe you're preparing for a plethora of summer weddings — not always a bridesmaid, but always the life of the bachelorette party. Maybe you're looking forward to living your best life at your city's Pride parade. Or maybe you've finally concocted the perfect punch recipe for backyard barbecues.

Taylor Swift - "ME!" (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco)
YouTube

Updated April 26 at 4:25 p.m. ET

The world-weary characters of Craig Finn's latest solo release, I Need A New War, have every right to call it a day. They crash on couches after accidents that don't get talked about. They drive, battling traffic on congested streets, seeking escape on the open road. They live in less-than-ideal apartments; letting bills pile up, the power gets disconnected. The city breaks them after years spent trying.

Joining me on this edition of All Songs Considered is NPR Music's Lyndsey McKenna, Marissa Lorusso and Joshua Bote for some sips of Rosé, bites of cupcakes and sweet music. Today's sounds include the legendary dub master and reggae king Lee "Scratch" Perry. At 83-years of age, he's just made a brilliant new record with another legendary producer, Adrian Sherwood.

Thank the heavens for the return of Carly Rae Jepsen, explorer of all worlds romantic; soothsayer of feelers and people striving to be feelers. Her singular brand of heart-eyed, teen-dream-pop, defined by her 2015 album E•MO•TION, is something to behold.

On this week's All Songs Considered we premiere new music from Aldous Harding. The artist from New Zealand made my number two album from 2017 (Party) and her latest song, "The Barrel," indicates that she'll be another year-end favorite of mine in 2019.

On this sprint through the week's best new albums, host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Lyndsey McKenna and Stephen Thompson for a whole lot of guitar rock, with a little bit of melancholy, acoustic beauty on the side. This includes Spielbergs, a group from Oslo, Norway, that makes its US debut with a fantastic squeal of feedback on This is Not the End; the L.A. quartet Cherry Glazerr, which just dropped its most emotionally potent and fully formed album ever; Girlpool, Le Butcherettes, the beautifully transporting songs of Tiny Ruins and more.

Over his songwriting career, Craig Finn's developed a reliably literary style. The thematic throughlines of his catalog demand a close reading and lend themselves to annotations; you could make a map out of mentions from his discography (in fact, it's been done).

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

Austin singer-songwriter Alejandro Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey Graves, began his Newport Folk Festival set by raising a little hell. Before beginning the incendiary "Word of Mouth," he explained: "I'm gonna kick this off with a waltz that I wrote years ago that has sadly become more and more relevant every year I play it. It's a song about not listening to people and listening to people at the same time."

There's electricity in the atmosphere at Newport Folk Festival as evening begins, the summer sun sinking lower in the sky between cotton candy-colored clouds. As the penultimate performer on the main stage, Courtney Barnett's return to Newport — she also played the festival in 2015 — felt like a cause for celebration as daylight faded.

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