Heavy Rotation is a monthly sampler of public radio hosts’ favorite songs. Check out past editions here.
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Artist: Holy Ghost!
Holy Ghost!, 'Bridge And Tunnel'
Title: Bridge And Tunnel
"Bridge and Tunnel" is Holy Ghost!'s love letter to New York City, as well as an anthem for its expats. Lead singer Alex Frankel touches on all corners of the up-till-the-crack-of-dawn nightlife over a dope interpretation of the '80s Italo Disco classic "I'm Ready" by Kano. The strings before the last verse always give me chills. --Mike Biggz, AllDayPlay.fm
Upset, 'Don't Lose Your Dinosaur'
Title: Don't Lose Your Dinosaur
Album: She's Gone
An underground supergroup formed by Ali Koehler (Vivian Girls, Best Coast), Upset has made the most winning album about the life-affirming joys of music-making since Wild Flag. "Don't Lose Your Dinosaur" could be a simple tune about a child's plastic totem, or it could be metaphorical ("If it keeps you up at night / And there is no end in sight / A special thing will keep you strange / And make sure that you never change"). Either way, it's irresistible. --Jim DeRogatis, Sound Opinions
Album: Broken Promise Land
Pop music helps provide escape from the mundane. This new song from the young Munich band Claire whisks us away from our troubles with its sunny melody, strong vocals and synth-driven dance beats, as its members sing, "It's all alright, as long as I can be with you." --Rita Houston, WFUV
Caroline Smith, 'Magazine'
Album: Half About Being a Woman
Minneapolis' Caroline Smith releases her inner diva on her new album, Half About Being a Woman. She's shed her folksinging past in favor of good old-fashioned R&B, and it feels so right. If there's ever a track likely to inspire something like this, it's "Magazine." The song is sexy, fierce and contagiously fun. --Jessi Whitten, Colorado Public Radio's OpenAir
Sarah Jarosz, '1,000 Things'
Title: 1,000 Things
Album: Build Me Up from Bones
Sarah Jarosz's new Build Me Up From Bones is, in many ways, a classic coming-of-age tale, loaded with songs about revelation and inspiration. In "1,000 Things," she searches for meaning in the tidbits of insight we offer one another at the beginning of a relationship, particularly when the trivialities of youthful romance are behind us. --Kim Ruehl, FolkAlley.com
Jean Grae, 'iwanteweback (the4ewesong)'
Title: iwanteweback (the4ewesong)
Album: Gotham Down: cycle 1:Love In Infinity (Lo-Fi)
For those who like comic books, the thrillers section of Netflix, crossword puzzles, Ursula K. LeGuin and concept albums, this past month has been a dream come true. New York rapper Jean Grae has gradually released three EPs in a project called Gotham Down, in which she plays the character of an assassin she introduced 10 years ago and has revisited from time to time, most notably in a 2011 song with Pharoahe Monch called "Assassins" and last year's "Kill Screen." As a gun-for-hire on the run, Grae is discomfitingly relatable. The biggest open window onto the story she's telling is "iwantweback (the4ewesong)," from the first installment of Gotham Down; it's a breakup song with a target as undefined as Carly Simon's was: "Thinking this song's about you. It is you, him, him and him, mostly." It's crowded, vehement, droll on helium, tough and melodic. There's a little bit of Quasimoto happening — a pitched-up, tamped-down aggression, a pressured virtuosity. In the piano, the action bangs. The bassline is as unhurried as a friend letting you vent. And Grae is a laugh a bar, ending the song by admitting she might not want any of them back that bad: "Only on Fridays and Tuesdays. We might could include Sundays. Every other weekend. In case you're free. Depending on how I'm feeling. I don't know yet. Just stay on call." --Frannie Kelley, NPR Music's Microphone Check
I recently heard a synth-laden remix of Haim on a mixtape. Intrigued, I discovered that it was by London-based producer Will Phillips, better known as Tourist. In his own production "Tonight," the melancholic bass boils over slowly into a euphoric beat that will keep dance floors on both sides of the Atlantic buzzing about this emerging producer-to-watch. --Saidah Blount, NPR Music
Kelley Stoltz, 'Kim Chee Taco Man'
Title: Kim Chee Taco Man
Album: Double Exposure
This song just makes me smile. Kelley Stoltz is a studio hermit who built a recording facility in his garage and reportedly used 17 different guitars on his excellent new album, Double Exposure. "Kim Chee Taco Man," its best song, is a straightforward psychedelic pop feast. --David Dye, World Cafe
Now vs. Now, 'Ancient Alien'
Title: Ancient Alien
Album: Earth Analog
Digital and analog textures collide and blend on Now vs. Now's new album, Earth Analog, with rhythms shifting like sand under your feet. Each member — Jason Lindner on keys, Mark Guiliana on drums and Panagiotis Andreou on bass — is an influential shaper of jazz, and their combined strengths here speak to many listeners. --Tim Wilkins, WBGO
Wooden Shjips, 'These Shadows (Acoustic Version)'
Wooden Shjips' members play spaced-out psychedelic rock on their fourth album, Back to Land. "These Shadows" jangles and throbs with blissed-out desolation, like driving north on I-5 during a spectacular West Coast sunset. --Mario Cotto, KCRW