Lars Gotrich

As The Smiths know, sometimes you just need someone to sing you to sleep. So while our team was at SXSW in Austin, Texas last week, they asked a handful of our favorite artists in town for the festival — Lucius, Maren Morris, Holly Macve, Mt. Wolf, Timmy Thomas, A-WA, Declan McKenna and Miya Folick — to do just that. They brought the songs. We brought cameras and microphones.

South X Lullaby: A-WA

Mar 20, 2016

We first fell in love with A-WA in a badass video for their party song "Habib Galbi," complete with tasseled snapbacks on track-suited dancers. But at midnight during the SXSW music festival, the Israeli sister trio sang us a quiet lullaby in All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's hotel room.

We have the benefit of hindsight when it comes to 1950s and '60s pop music. Songs about motorcycle crashes and broken hearts sound quaint now, but the sweet harmonies and four-on-the-floor beats reflected real anxieties of teens and twentysomethings. Mitski Miyawaki — who records under her first name — makes music that looks to that era, both in style and substance. The 25-year-old Brooklyn songwriter channels the "pop" reflection of everyday trauma.

At our SXSW showcase, Margo Price performed this non-album cut written by her bass player Matt Gardner, who was also in her previous band, Buffalo Clover. After a gentle intro, "Paper Cowboy" turns into a honky tonk rocker that speeds along at a fast clip, with barroom piano, scorching electric guitar and dizzying solos from the pedal steel.

Set List

"I gave you 1,461 days," Margo Price growls sweetly, just before "Four Years of Chances" kicks into second gear. On stage at our SXSW showcase, armed with the song's menacing bass line and long list of wrongs, the country singer turned up the heat on no-good-men everywhere.

Set List

The title says it all: The "Hurtin' (On The Bottle)" B-side was originally written while Margo Price and her backing band, The Pricetags, played low-paying bar gigs and slept on floors. With a highly anticipated new album just a week away, the country singer ain't hurtin', but from the stage at our SXSW showcase she assured us, "I'll be desperate and depressed until I die."

Set List

"Take no prisoners," might work generally as a motto for the rising country singer Margo Price, but especially on "This Town Gets Around." At our SXSW showcase, she performed the feisty country number, which points a finger (you know which one) at shady music business practices and men who make unwanted and gross sexual advances: "Well, there's a saying goes, 'It's not who you know, but it's who you blow that'll put you in the show.'"

Set List

At our SXSW showcase, Margo Price closed her set with what she called "a drinkin' song." And not just any drinkin' song, but her raise-hell-until-morning single "Hurtin' (On The Bottle)." It's the kind of bleary 'n' cheery whisky-soaked country howler that doesn't come around that often, especially once you add in Price's soaring twang.

Set List

Margo Price's debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, opens with "Hands of Time," a desperate country ballad about setbacks and failures. At our SXSW showcase, she belts, "All I want to do is make my own path," before her voice cracks ever-so-tenderly at the chorus' climax.

Set List

Country singer Margo Price opened her set at NPR Music's SXSW showcase at Stubb's BBQ with the sharp-edged "About To Find Out," one of the Songs We Love. It's a song made for honky-tonks, with a sweet-voiced twang that cuts deep: "Tell me, what does your pride taste like honey or haven't you tried it out? / It's better than the taste of a boot in your face without any shadow of a doubt."

Someone yells a yee-haw! from the audience in the moment before Margo Price and her backing band, the Price Tags, launch into "Tennessee Song." The tune, from Price's debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, stomps like a southern soul-rocker, with heavy leads from the harmonica and electric guitar, and a psychedelic mid-section that takes the Volunteer State cosmic.

If your memory of virtual reality still includes climbing on a platform at the mall and strapping on a clunky headset, know that the '90s are long over and the future is in your hands ... literally. Recently VR has evolved into a medium where anybody with a computer or smartphone can experience it.

Eartheater, a.k.a. Alexandra Drewchin, makes psychedelic music that's at once familiar and mutated. On a pair of albums released last year — Metalepsis and RIP Chrysalis — Drewchin, with a penchant for pop subversion and vocal alterations, found folk music in synths and harsh noise, and vice versa.

On last year's Abyss, Chelsea Wolfe explicitly rendered the metallic tendencies that have always existed just below the surface of her music. Wolfe's soulful howl found its bite in gigantic riffs and devastating volume that suited some of her most significant songwriting yet. But at the Tiny Desk, Wolfe took her songs back to their primal form with just her voice, a muffled electric guitar and a loop pedal.

It's been seven years since the release of Cobalt's Gin, a masterful metal album that's savage in its bleakness and made distinct by the warped, inventive work of multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder. In the time since, Wunder has been busy with his fuzzy Americana act Man's Gin and touring in Jarboe's live band, but Cobalt is a pillar of American extreme metal — and deserving of more devastation.

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