hide captionBrian Eno and Karl Hyde's collaboration "The Satellites" is featured on this week's Metropolis mix.
The Entire Playlist
This week Felix and I are heading over to one of our favorite places in the whole world — Austin, Texas — to meet up with some of our favorite musicians, watch some great live shows and, if Tio Felix has his way, eat a lot of Tex-Mex. Later today we'll be DJing a little get-together, and one of the highlights of this trip will certainly be our show with Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux. She's one of the best and brightest in Latin music today, and she has a stellar new record coming out, which you can listen to exclusively here.
We hope you can make it to SXSW and hang out with us, but if you can't, we've got your back with this list of songs — a sample of what we'll be spinning at tonight's event.
And you can listen to Alt.Latino Radio via the link above.
hide captionRoland Swenson.
Roland Swenson is a co-founder and the managing director of the South By Southwest Music Festival. The idea for the festival came in 1986, when organizers of the NYC New Music Seminar contacted Swenson, then a staffer at the alt-weekly paper The Austin Chronicle, about organizing an extension to their festival in Austin. After that fell through, Swenson and others went ahead planning an event themselves and the first SXSW Festival was held 1987. He says they only expected 150 people.
Today it is the largest music festival of its type in the world, with more than 2,200 performers in more than 100 venues. It has also become the biggest revenue-producing event for the Austin economy. The festival has been at the cutting edge of using technology and multimedia to expand its outreach and to attract more guests from outside Austin. In many ways it put Austin on the map worldwide for music, even though the city was once considered not to be in the top 20 music markets. We'll talk with Swenson about the event's history.
hide captionAngel Olsen.
Angel Olsen begins the song "Hi-Five" by paraphrasing Hank Williams, admitting she's so lonesome she could cry. She goes on to say she just wants someone who believes in love as urgently as she does. The twanging guitar throbbing beneath these sentiments suggests that it's going to be a long, lonely search. Over a matter of minutes, Olsen has created the landscape she'll inhabit for an entire album.
Frequently on the new Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Olsen makes her voice echo and float in back of the guitars, keyboards and drums, surging forward to assert her ethereal loneliness, her periodic angry frustration. In "High and Wild," her voice is elusive but her sentiments could not be more direct: "You're gone, you're gone, you're with me but you're gone." It's a complete musical representation of being stuck with someone who doesn't want to be with you, even as you're insisting that that someone should want you. Olsen knows it's a loser's game, but she plays it anyway. This takes its own kind of nerve. Olsen can also make this sort of self-torture sound utterly beautiful, as on the gorgeously languid "Iota."
Burn Your Fire For No Witness is Olsen's first album with a backing band, and she makes great use of it. Her singing contains a naturally mysterious quality, at once confiding and baffling, even unknowable. On a song such as "Forgiven/Forgotten," Olsen has the drums and bass guitar hammer away at her dented vocal. This creates the sound of someone beating herself up for being so obsessed with being in love, knowing that that's not enough, for her or for the object of her love.
There are moments on this album when Olsen sings shamelessly sentimental, self-pitying words that are instantly contradicted and raised in admirable complexity by the tone of her voice, her sharp phrasing, the arrangements she applies to her melodies. She's immensely shrewd about the differences between what someone says and what someone means. For the length of this album, she's created a world in which she can share a desperation that ends up seeming triumphant and strong.
hide captionTop row: Team Me; Middle Row, left to right: Kevin Gates, Agnes Obel, Lowell; Bottom row: Laura Stevenson, Moon Honey
To prepare for this week's show, All Songs hosts Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton and NPR Music's Stephen Thompson listened to 1,540 songs by musicians who will be playing at SXSW this week in Austin, Tex. Each narrowed that enormous list down to just a few songs by previously unknown bands that they're now planning to check out in Austin. NPR Music's Frannie Kelley and Ann Powers also stop by to offer a couple of suggestions, along with Katie Presley.
Discovery is the name of the game for many at SXSW, and this show is all about up-and-coming talent. Whether it's the upbeat, celebratory feel of Louisiana's Royal Teeth or the ghostly experimental electronic music of Alligator Indian, this edition of All Songs Considered is bursting with passion and unique voices. Hopefully we'll uncover a lot more of that feeling this week in Austin.
Hear an exuberant pop track by Royal Teeth from their debut album Glow. For more information go to their website.
This aggressive, arty track will rattle your bones. "Trash Bed" is from Guerilla Toss' LP Gay Disco.
This song contains focused, heartfelt vocals but manages to mix in a variety of sounds and instruments. "Word" is from Alden Penner's album Exegesis and is available for purchase here.
This catchy, romantic single comes from Birmingham natives John & Jacob. For more information go to their website.
Hear a poetic and careful track by the Baton Rouge-based group, Moon Honey. Moon Honey's new album Hand-Painted Dream Photographs is out now. For more, go to the group's website.
"Change My Ways" is a morsel of non-stop energy from Tony Molina's album Dissed And Dismissed. This San Francisco rocker's songs are concise and leave listeners begging for more.
Hear a haunting, synthesizer-heavy song from Alligator Indian's album More Songs About Animals and TV. For more, go to their bandcamp.
Hear the Australian rock group Dog Trumpet's bold, buoyant song from its newest album, Medicated Spirits. For more, go to the band's website.
Kevin Gates has been bubbling on the Internet as an artist to watch. Hear his memorable, braggadocious single "Don't Know" from his forthcoming album, By Any Means.
This confrontational rap track contains honest lyrics and beautiful piano. To hear Rob Gullatte's mixtape Abortion: The Project click here.
The Toronto-based artist Lowell is assertive and uses loads of electronic samples and distortion. "Cloud 69" is from Lowell's new EP I Killed Sara V.
The electro-soul duo Denitia and Sene combines soft vocals with original electronic noises. "Trip.Fall." is from the album His and Hers.
Hear impressive strings mixed with heart-wrenching lyrics. "L-Dopa" off of Laura Stevenson's upcoming album Wheel, which comes out April 23.
The Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel does not disappoint with this melodic, orchestral track. For more, go to her website.