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Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

Son Little's new song "The River" is a favorite on WFUV.
Todd Cooper
/
Courtesy of the artist
Son Little's new song "The River" is a favorite on WFUV.

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Son Little, 'The River'

Todd Cooper
/
Courtesy of the artist

From 'The River - Single'

Son Little clearly studies, respects and loves the music that came before him. What happens next, though, is what makes him so appealing. Aaron Livingston made his name as a collaborator with The Roots and RJD2, each of whom helped him develop a sound that touches on soul, blues, hip-hop and reggae. Samples, fuzzy guitar and simple drums work together to create an undeniable groove, and as a songwriter, he can really tell a story. As a vocalist, Livingston brings the heartbreak — his voice feels real and rough around the edges — while his impeccably crafted songs are honest and unpretentious. There's not a self-conscious moment here, yet it's pop music at the core. Listen to "The River" to discover a unique, fearless voice. —Rita Houston, WFUV

• Download "The River"

Cayetana, 'Scott Get The Van, I'm Moving'

Ally Newbold
/
Courtesy of the artist

From 'Nervous Like Me'

Sometimes, all a musician needs is one perfect line, and everything else falls into place around it. That's what the Philadelphia band Cayetana has at the beginning of "Scott Get The Van, I'm Moving": "Hardest part of moving out / moving out / moving out / is I remember moving in." It doesn't take long to fall in love with the rest of Cayetana's debut album, Nervous Like Me, either. You can watch the band perform songs from the album live right here on NPR.org in a video webcast on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 8:30 p.m. ET. —Otis Hart, NPR Music

• Download "Scott Get The Van, I'm Moving"

Ty Segall, 'Tall Man Skinny Lady'

Denee Petracek
/
Courtesy of the artist

From 'Manipulator'

Ty Segall's Manipulator might be the album of the year, as the prolific rocker finds his groove with a mix of pop, glam, psych, hard rock, punk and even grunge. From its frenetic guitar strums to the singer's falsetto yowl, "Tall Man Skinny Lady" offers up a throwback to the sounds of the '60s, yet Segall makes it all sound fresh and uniquely his own. Nearly every time we play the song, we hear from another new fan asking, "Who is this?!" —John Richards, KEXP

This song is no longer available for download.

Kaytranada feat. Shay Lia, 'Leave Me Alone'

Courtesy of the artist

From 'Leave Me Alone - Single'

Haiti-born, Quebec-based producer/DJ Kevin Celestin (a.k.a. Kaytranada) cut his teeth making beat tapes and remixes for dance, electronic and R&B acts. Now signed to XL, Kaytranada hits his stride with "Leave Me Alone." Featuring a guest spot from Montreal singer Shay Lia, the track skims across electronic, deep house, R&B and future soul. Kaytranada has always excelled at crafting superior productions, but here his sound takes a leap into more robust, mature, exploratory territory without losing his sense of soul. —Chris Campbell, 101.9 FM WDET's The Progressive Underground

• Download "Leave Me Alone"

Sondre Lerche, 'Bad Law'

Marius Hauge
/
Courtesy of the artist

From 'Please'

Starting off with handclaps and a catchy riff, "Bad Law" sounds at first like the feelgood dance track of the fall, but a hard listen to the verses tells another story. Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche's new album Please chronicles his recent divorce, which he addresses with a multi-layered approach. "Bad Law" in particular pairs upbeat disco vibes with some beautiful moments of distortion, making this a perfect anthem for venting frustration and blowing off steam, all while dancing the entire time. —Anne Litt, KCRW

• Download "Bad Law"

Allo Darlin', "We Come From The Same Place"

Jason Evans
/
Courtesy of the artist

From 'We Come from the Same Place'

Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Morris of Allo Darlin' labels this Australian/British aggregation a "fan's band," which doesn't suggest limited appeal so much as depth of affection. Allo Darlin's charming, chiming, jangly "We Come From The Same Place," like so much of the group's music, is swimming in shared emotions. Damned if Allo Darlin's songs don't conjure what you once felt when you were drunk and in love and right out of university. —David Dye, World Cafe

• Download "We Come From The Same Place"

Chastity Brown, 'Colorado'

Chastity Brown.
Nate Ryan
/
Courtesy of the artist
Chastity Brown.

From 'Colorado - Single'

Born in Tennessee, currently living in Minneapolis, and bringing listeners on a journey to "Colorado," Chastity Brown approaches music with a troubadour's spirit, never content to rest in one place or on one style for too long. She's currently traveling through the U.S. and Europe armed with only her guitar, divine keyboardist DeVon Gray, and her ability to distill Southern blues and plaintive North Country prairie influences into expansive, alluring folk songs. Those songs have earned her fans around the globe — including Jools Holland, who recently hosted her on his Later... show. With "Colorado" as the lead single, Brown's new album is due in the spring of 2015. —Andrea Swensson, The Current

• Download "Colorado"

WEVAL, 'Gimme Some'

Harm Coolen
/
Courtesy of the artist

From 'Easier EP'

We live in an age when a couple of twentysomethings can emerge from obscurity and beeline right into a Schweppes commercial with Penelope Cruz. That's what happened to the talented Dutch electronic duo Weval, which made its debut in 2013 with the "Half Age" EP, then a year later became the soundtrack to Cruz's sultry encounter with a bottle of soda. Now, Weval's Harm Coolen and Merijn Scholte Albers have a deal with the influential Kompakt label, a followup EP (Easier) on the way, and a hooky, bewitching single that could move a million rear ends, not to mention shipping containers. Hey, call me a capitalist run amok, but the song's title is "Gimme Some." This one seems written in the cosmos. —Ally Schweitzer, WAMU 88.5's Bandwidth

• Download "Gimme Some"

Rome Fortune feat. iLoveMakonnen, 'FriendsMaybe'

Courtesy of the artist

From 'Small VVorld'

In the recent flood of Atlanta weirdo rappers — hey, Father, OG Maco and Key! — Rome Fortune is probably the most understated. (Unless we're talking about album-cover art. That's a whole different ballgame.) On his new project, Small VVorld, Fortune largely finds himself wading through murky, hair-raising production. But in the stand-alone "FriendsMaybe," he lightens his flow, skipping atop producer Money Karlo's flirtatious vibes like a bouncing ball following lyrics on a sing-along. Fellow ATLien and experimental crooner iLoveMakonnen sings on the hook with his signature reckless abandon, making a song about trust issues feel like fun. —Kiana Fitzgerald, NPR R&B

• Download "FriendsMaybe"

Anna Clyne, Cornelius Dufallo & Amy Kauffman, 'Blue Hour'

Courtesy of the artist

From 'The Violin'

"Blue Hour," the opening track from Anna Clyne's seven-movement work/album The Violin, opens like a plume of smoke unfurling slowly across shafts of light. Its sinuous, overlapping lines for two violins, played by Neil Dufallo and Amy Kauffman, and pre-recorded track suggest distorted folk tunes, Baroque improvisations and the lilting, pastoral sicilianas of Respighi. Complete with an accompanying DVD of seven stop-motion animations by Josh Dorman, The Violin also serves as a delicate microcosm of its exciting new label, an offshoot of the collaboration- and multimedia-focused organization VisionIntoArt. —Alex Ambrose, WQXR's Q2 Music

• Download "Blue Hour"

Heavy Rotation is a monthly sampler of public radio hosts' favorite songs. Check out past editions here.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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