Robin Hilton

Joel and Ethan Coen's film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs takes some dark and violent turns over the course of six, Western-themed vignettes. But its opening story, about the film's affable (if deadly) namesake, offers a more comical take on the genre's most popular tropes, particularly a high-noon gunfight between the white-clad Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson) and black-clad villain The Kid, portrayed by Old Crow Medicine Show singer Willie Watson.

This week's show is made possible by a generous amount of existential anxiety. This includes the ego-destroying rock anthem "I Don't Matter At All," from the Toronto band Pkew Pkew Pkew, and an epic life manifesto from Amanda Palmer called "The Ride" – a ten-minute oration about the crippling effects of unbridled and rampant fear.

Our list of the best albums out this week includes delicate piano pieces from Hauschka, the brilliantly burning rock of Bob Mould, songs inspired by the film Roma, Mercury Rev's remake of Bobbie Gentry's country opera The Delta Sweete, and much more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Felix Contreras, Tom Huizenga and Stephen Thompson as they sprint through their top picks for Feb. 8.

Featured Albums:

  1. Bob Mould: Sunshine Rock
    Featured Song: "Sunshine Rock"

On this week's show, artists battle their inner demons – the kind that come out a night when you're alone in bed, trying to find sleep – speak truth to power, celebrate love, dig into complicated characters with troubled pasts and much more.

This includes a kind of demented nursery rhyme from singer Billie Eilish; the London-based duo Tender and their deep reflection on ruinous self-indulgence; and producer T Bone Burnett's new album with a prayer to overcome fear.

Most artists who play the Tiny Desk are at least a little nervous. Performing in broad daylight in a working office full of staring faces is outside the comfort zones of most people. But Chan Marshall, the unforgettable voice behind Cat Power, seemed especially uneasy when she settled in for her set. Rather than taking center stage, close to the audience, she stepped back and to the side to be closer to her pianist and friend, Erik Paparazzi, for much of the performance.

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.

YouTube

For nearly 20 years, Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero have been marrying their love of metal with nylon-stringed acoustic guitars, releasing an impressive catalog of albums that s

Every December, the NPR Music team peruses 11 months' worth of albums and songs and crams its collective reflections and critical assessments into a handful of big lists. This year we've decided to dissect the torrent of new releases as they're happening and share a list of the most notable albums and songs from each month.

Welcome to the first in our new series of roundups highlighting the best new songs of each month. January is often a slow time for releases, as labels and artists come off the holidays and start to tease bigger projects on the horizon. But the first month of this year still delivered plenty of memorable and surprising tracks. Singer Lana Del Rey, known for her lush, layered arrangements, released a devastatingly spare track about holding on to hope in times of darkness; Australian singer Stella Donnelly's "Old Man" gives a wink and a smile while eviscerating lecherous men; rapper J.

On this week's program, host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael, Sidney Maden and Stephen Thompson to talk about the must-hear albums out on Jan. 25. This includes hard-driving riff rock with a healthy sense of humor from FIDLAR and Mike Krol, the Compton rapper Boogie, woozy synth-pop from The Dandy Warhols, the shape-shifting sounds of New Orleans singer DAWN and more.

Featured Albums:

  1. FIDLAR: Almost Free
    Featured Song: "Can't You See"

Weezer surprised its fans this morning after dropping a collection of cover songs overnight. The self-titled "Teal" album features the band's members dressed like the cast of Miami Vice circa 1985, and much of the collection plays like an ode to '80s kitsch, including Weezer's cult-favorite cover of Toto's unstoppable hit "Africa." But the album also includes some surprising covers, including a version of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," TLC's "No Scrubs" and Ben E. King's "Stand By Me."

A lot has changed in Sharon Van Etten's life since she put out her last album, Are We There, in 2014. In the past five years, she's gotten into acting, gone back to school to get a degree in mental-health counseling, worked on film scores and became a mom.

When Stella Donnelly showed up for this Tiny Desk performance with just her guitar in hand, she immediately won the office over with her broad smile, warmth and good-natured sense of humor. It's the kind of easy-going, open-hearted spirit that makes her one of the most affable live performers you'll see. While there's no doubting her sincerity, she's also got a disarming way of making her often dark and brutal songs a little easier to take in.

Welcome to a brand-new season of New Music Friday! After a few quiet weeks, the flood gates are opening and we've got a whole bunch of essential albums dropping on Jan. 18 to tell you about. This includes the smart, sparkling pop of singer Maggie Rogers, swooning love songs from James Blake, deep introspection from Pedro The Lion's first new album in 15 years, pure joy from Toro y Moi and much more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson for this quick sprint through the essential releases for Jan. 18, the first busy drop date for the new year.

It's been a minute since we got together to share some all-new music – not since our Nov. 6 show of last year, in fact.

Pages