As a fat blanket of snow fell silently over the D.C. area, I drove through the mostly empty, early morning streets just as the song "Metro Part Three" came on, by the neoclassical ambient group A Winged Victory For The Sullen. The icy, solitary sound provided the perfect soundtrack for a winter sunrise. It was still drifting through my mind when Bob Boilen and I sat down to record this week's show, so of course I had to share it.
After last week's podcast of mostly uplifting, life-affirming songs, I also switched gears this week with what is one of the most crushingly sad songs I've ever heard: "Real Death," by the band Mount Eerie. The group's sole permanent member, Phil Elverum, wrote the song for a new album called A Crow Looked At Me. On it he takes a deeply affecting look at the loss of his wife, who died last summer of pancreatic cancer.
While I've also got the latest slyly seductive earworm from Missy Elliott, I leave it to Bob to lift your spirits this week. He starts off with a band he randomly discovered at South By Southwest last year called Valley Queen. The Los Angeles-based band makes propulsive guitar rock — or at least that's what Bob calls it. (We take a moment to disagree on and debate the meaning of "guitar rock").
Bob's also got a genre-bending cut by Young Fathers from the upcoming Trainspotting sequel and a gorgeous piano piece from the singer known as Sampha.
We also welcome NPR Music's new editor, Andrew Flanagan, who stops by to share one of his favorite upcoming records, from singer and songwriter Nick Hakim, a sometimes-bicycle messenger in Brooklyn with a sound Andrew describes as like "an old photo."
-- Robin Hilton