Otis Hart

It's not hyperbole to suggest that Wolfgang Voigt's album POP, under the pseudonym GAS, is one of the greatest — if not the best — ambient albums of the past 20 years. Released in 2000, POP is a masterpiece of symphonic bliss that set a new standard for beatless electronic music.

Public radio hosts from around the country, along with thousands of other music lovers, descended on Austin, Texas, this week to stand in long lines and eat breakfast tacos. And when they're not complaining about the former or posting Instagrams of the latter, they attend an ungodly number of concerts in the hopes of stumbling upon the next big band. Each day this week, All Songs Considered and hosts from our partner stations will report back on the best thing they saw the day prior.

But that's just the beginning of our SXSW coverage. Here's what else we have in store:

The last Scottish monarch died more than 300 years ago, but if England's departure from the European Union goes through, a wary Scotland just might be in the business for a new king. And as luck would have it for scotophilic aesthetes, Alasdair Roberts appears up for the job.

Larry Coryell, the jazz guitarist known as the "Godfather of Fusion," died Sunday night at a hotel in New York City, according to his publicist. He was 73.

Coryell was still performing more than 50 years after his first recordings. He played at New York jazz club Iridium on Friday and Saturday nights, and had plans for a summer tour with his fusion group The Eleventh House.

Sturgill Simpson's appearance on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live this weekend was his chance to show a national television audience why he's up for a Grammy Award against Adele, Beyoncé, Drake and Justin Bieber — and the man did not blow it.

We at NPR Music love a big, flashy rock 'n' roll concert as much as the next person. But we're especially fans of those moments when our favorite artists bring their music into smaller spaces, when singers and guitarists and producers and drummers reckon with the particular intimacy and joy that go along with performing in close quarters.

Recommended Dose is devoted to surfacing the world's most intriguing underground dance music, and our 2016 mix is no exception. The 25 tracks that make up this 2-hour mix came to us from small dance communities all over the globe. Berlin and Vancouver are obvious hot spots right now (and that's reflected in the mix), but there are developing scenes in Atlanta, D.C., Melbourne, Glasgow, Cairo and Tokyo that are generating truly memorable tunes.

The U.S. isn't the only country making stark political choices in 2016. In Scandinavia, ostensibly one of the most progressive regions on the planet (then again, maybe not), a conservative movement is picking up speed in the form of the counterintuitively named Sweden Democrats.

When we featured Gallant's "Skipping Stones," the rising R&B singer's duet with professional guest vocalist Jhené Aiko, on the All Songs Considered SXSW preview back in March, we knew we'd found a new team favorite.

Recalcitrant singer-songwriter Cass McCombs has never cared for The Man. The quiet iconoclast is about to release his eighth studio album, Mangy Love, and not once has he caved to the whims of labels, critics or fans. That's not to say his music is confrontational; in fact, his '70s AM vibe might go down too smoothly for some. But McCombs' dedication to craft and distaste for compromise is unwavering.

Let's hear it for part-time punks: the musicians who go to work by day so they can get to work at night, and who give the man 40 hours a week rather than let him dictate the terms of their art. It's a sacrifice most of us won't make to pursue our passions, especially when it's so much easier to consume than create.

Scottish punk rocker Nye Todd writes melodies for anyone who is young at heart. His lyrics, however, tend to be a bit more specific.

Todd is the transgender lead singer of queer punk band The Spook School, and the bulk of the songs on the band's new album, Try To Be Hopeful, are personal accounts from the fringes. Societal norms and gender stereotypes are in the crosshairs during many of these 11 threadbare tunes, but Todd gives equal airtime to trans love songs that hit home no matter your orientation.

The anarchist pop-punk band Martha took us by surprise last year with Courting Strong, a debut full-length of high-energy, three-chord sing-alongs that bucked the odds to land a spot on NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums Of 2014 list.

Australian siblings Daniel, Sarah and Luke Spencer make up three-quarters of Blank Realm, a raucous, sometimes ramshackle, Brisbane rock band. Though they've been recording for nearly a decade, the past few years have seen the Spencers and their Realm partner, guitarist Luke Walsh, release two gloriously messy albums, Go Easy (2012) and Grassed Inn (2014), that conjured the Velvet Underground and krautrock without necessarily sounding like either.

Tigercats, an East London pop band in the vein of Camera Obscura, released its second album, Mysteries, earlier this year. "Sleeping In The Backseat," the band's latest single, is bound to tug at a few heartstrings with its chorus of, "Lay your head next to mine."

Sunday-morning music is too often overlooked. For the most part, we check out music news while we're sitting at our desks at work, usually during a glance at our social-media feeds. That sort of interaction is inherently brief — we scroll, maybe click, and then it's back to the grind.

Toronto songwriter Hayden Desser, who performs and records under his first name, has a lengthy history of hard-hitting sad songs. He rose to (college radio) fame in the late 1990s along with Elliott Smith, Low and Red House Painters as part of a brooding style dubbed "sadcore."

Each month, we listen to hundreds of new electronic music tracks, test the standouts on loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a mix called Recommended Dose.

Queens-via-Uruguay songwriter Juan Wauters rose to internet acclaim as a member of the obstreperous rock band The Beets, one of New York City's most beloved DIY acts of the 21st century. In the time since The Beets' initial breakup in 2012, Wauters has pursued a more introspective, subdued sound, writing songs that explore who he is and how "he" came to be.

"Take it from somebody who knows." The opening words to Protomartyr's new single, "Blues Festival," are sung by frontman Joe Casey, but they could easily refer to the song's star guest vocalist, Kelley Deal of the Breeders. Deal has lived through a lot in the past 20-plus years, from opening for Nirvana in the early '90s to doing the whole "reunion" thing with her identical twin sister Kim, to releasing small-batch 7" singles by her most recent project, R. Ring.

One of the great underground bands from New Zealand's pop heyday is getting its due. The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, which broke up in 1994 after a nearly 10-year career on Flying Nun Records, will have its entire discography remastered and re-released this year by Fire Archives.

On the final morning of SXSW, we woke up early for Austin's signature dish — breakfast tacos — with house and techno producer Avalon Emerson at Mi Madres Restaurant. "It nails Tex-Mex perfectly," she says, making everyone think about breakfast tacos right now.

Torres: South X Lullaby

Mar 23, 2015

In the final installment of our South X Lullaby series, rising songwriter Torres met us at 2:30 a.m. outside Central Presbyterian Church in Austin, where she had just blown away a large portion of our contingent in SXSW.

What you're about to hear is the final song of a band's career. Chicago indie-rock act Geronimo!

Late night on Friday at the SXSW music festival is usually when the delirium sets in. After three consecutive 16-hour days of live music, even the sharpest brains begin to lose it (so you can imagine what state ours were in). In other words, it was an opportune moment to meet up with British songwriter Laura Marling, who owns a voice as clear as the bells at the top of nearby St. David's Episcopal Church.

Flesh Lights' poppy garage punk is actually much more appropriate than the band's name would suggest (Google them at your own risk). Guitarist Max Vandever, drummer Elissa Ussery and bassist Jeremy Steen give The Ramones a power-pop makeover on this near-perfect encapsulation of life at the breaking point.

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