Robin Hilton

This is probably the loosest you'll ever see Weezer. Known for meticulously produced — and electric — live shows, frontman Rivers Cuomo and the rest of the band settled in behind the Tiny Desk for an entirely acoustic set without the in-ear monitors, click track or vocal separation they usually employ to stay locked-in and tight for bigger performances. The result is surprisingly intimate, with songs that feel lived-in and rumpled, like an old flannel shirt from the '90s.

Billie Eilish is already a veteran pop artist at the age of 17, with a clear vision for her sound and image, even if that sound is sinister and the image a bit demented. (Have you seen her videos?) Her brilliant debut full-length, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is finally out and way more cryptic and complicated than the lead-up singles might have suggested.

It's a packed release week with a whole bunch of notable albums to highlight, including the rock guitar heroics on Ex Hex's It's Real, the wistful wisdom of Jenny Lewis, Andrew Bird's "finest work yet," mind-blowing sonics from the genre-bending composers Emily Wells and Lafawndah, the German electronic artist Apparat and much more. Hosts Robin Hilton and Stephen Thompson share their top picks for the best albums out on March 22 on this episode of New Music Friday.

Featured Albums:

When Amanda Palmer heard she'd have around 15 minutes for her Tiny Desk Family Hour performance, she assumed there wouldn't be time for most of the songs on her new album, There Will Be No Intermission, a sprawling masterwork with epic tracks clocking in at 10 minutes or more. So, she showed up with just her ukulele in hand, prepared for a stripped-down, abbreviated set. But when we wheeled out a grand piano just for her – and after I gushed to the crowd about Palmer's brilliant new opus on the nature of humanity called "The Ride" – she decided she had to play it.

We've returned from our weeklong grind through the South by Southwest music festival happy, though a little dazed, with ringing ears, and a whole bunch of incredible discoveries. On this All Songs Considered we run through some of the most memorable music and performances, from the shredded noise rock of Rev Rev Rev and thundering soul of Yola Carter to the Afro-Cuban grooves of Cimafunk and the remarkable voice of Tamino. Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson and I each saw around 100 different shows in just a few short days, way more than we could ever share in a single episode.

This week's somewhat abbreviated edition of New Music Friday includes an ambitious collaboration between Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O and producer Danger Mouse; the British electronic duo The Cinematic Orchestra returns with its first new album in more than a decade, featuring singer Moses Sumney, rapper Roots Manuva and other guests; and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus injects his woozy rock with a strange jolt of electronica. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the best new albums out on March 15.

Each year, the buzz in Austin, Texas, at the South By Southwest music festival can reach a deafening pitch. Our NPR Music team is here to help you cut through the noise. Every evening, we'll gather to roundup and recap the best discoveries of the day.

Juice WRLD, the reigning prince of emo rap, is back with a follow up to last year's Goodbye & Good Riddance. Deathrace for Love is bleak, brutal and the rare sequel that lives up to the original. The Oxford rock band Foals takes a big swing in one of the group's most ambitious albums to date; and singer Patty Griffin has a beautiful and profoundly moving, new self-titled album on growing old, the frailty of life and perseverance.

Meg Myers put out one of 2018's most intense and cathartic albums. Take Me to the Disco raged and threw sonic punches at anyone who'd ever attempted to use or abuse her, from former record executives to past lovers. Dressed in a sparkling blue leotard, Myers re-creates that fire and ferocity behind the Tiny Desk, replacing her album's roaring electric guitars and electronics with a pulsing string quartet, piano and brushed drums.

The annual South by Southwest music festival is our personal endurance challenge to discover as many great unknown and often unsigned bands as possible in just one week. To train for the event, Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson and I listen to more than a thousand songs by bands playing the festival, from all over the world, and try to map out a calendar to see our favorites.

Much of the best new music we heard in February was deeply personal, with lots of room for reflection. Ariana Grande delivered the most anticipated album of the month, a highly polished pop diary on the need for hope. On the other end of the sonic spectrum was singer Julia Jacklin's uncluttered call for strength and resilience in a post-Me Too universe that's still very much evolving.

A lot of the songs we loved most in February illuminated some of life's darker or at least more complicated corners. Rapper Quelle Chris pondered America's love affair with guns, while hip-hop artist Mahawam released a vivid meditation on living with HIV. The Brooklyn-based rock group Charly Bliss explored millennial burnout, singer Molly Sarlé preached the importance of embracing disappointment, and Aldous Harding dropped a strangely alluring song called "The Barrel," all about a relationship falling apart.

Our sprint through this week's best new albums includes Grey Area from the UK rapper Little Simz, Weezer's self-titled "Black Album," the foot-stompers of Hozier, country crooner Dee White and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson, Sidney Madden and Jewly Hight as they share their picks for the best albums out on March 1.

Featured Albums:

  • Little Simz: Grey Area
    Featured Song: "Offence"
  • Hand Habits: Placeholder
    Featured Song: "Can't Calm Down"

Our picks for the best albums out this week include an epic treatise on Americanism from Gary Clark Jr., the delicate and beautiful sounds of Julia Jacklin, Atlanta rapper Gunna, a gorgeous study in the healing powers of restraint from Lowland Hum, and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael and Stephen Thompson as they share their top picks for Feb. 22.

Featured Albums

  • Gary Clark Jr., This Land
    Featured Song: "Gotta Get Into Something"

Our list of the best albums out this week includes the first new music from funk and R&B legend Chaka Khan in 12 years, the cinematic, transporting sounds of Yann Tiersen, bubblegum punk from Sir Babygirl and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Lauren Onkey and Stephen Thompson as they share their top picks for Feb. 15.

Featured Albums:

  1. Chaka Khan: Hello Happiness
    Featured Songs: "Like Sugar" and "Too Hot"
  2. RY X: Unfurl
    Featured Song: "Untold"

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