Intern Uprising: Music We Missed In 2011
Every year, an insurmountable pile of new music is released, and we at NPR do our best to cover it — to play music we think you'll love. There are only so many days in a year.
NPR Music interns Becky Sullivan, Charlie Kaplan, Clare Flynn and Kwasi Ansu recently spoke to All Things Considered host Robert Siegel and NPR Music editor Frannie Kelley about four acts NPR didn't cover this year — and why we should have paid more attention to them. You can hear songs from each of those below, as well as more groups the NPR Music interns say did such good work this year, we'd be fools to miss them again in 2012.
Take a listen, and tell us (in the comments, or tweet @nprmusic) who else we need to keep an eye on next year.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
Every year, there is an insurmountable pile of new music released and we at NPR do our best to cover it, to play music we think you'll love, to interview artists we think you'd be interested in, but we can't get to everything. There are only so many days in a year, so today, we're going to hear about four new recordings that we did not play.
NPR music editor Frannie Kelley and her team of interns are here to rectify that. Hiya.
FRANNIE KELLEY, BYLINE: Hey, Robert.
SIEGEL: Good to see you again. Why don't you introduce our interns?
KELLEY: Okay. Starting on my right, Clare Flynn.
CLARE FLYNN, BYLINE: Hello there.
KELLEY: Kwasi Ansu.
KWASI ANSU, BYLINE: Present.
KELLEY: Becky Sullivan.
BECKY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Hey, guys.
KELLEY: And Charlie Kaplan.
CHARLIE KAPLAN, BYLINE: Hi.
SIEGEL: And our interns here are looking for stuff that's worth your attention.
KELLEY: They're our scouts. Yes.
SIEGEL: And Kwasi, does she pay attention to you?
ANSU: Usually, but I sent Frannie a link to this Alex Clare song I really like, a cover of Etta James, "Damn Your Eyes."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAMN YOUR EYES")
ALEX CLARE: (Singing) I can do what I want. I'm in complete control. That's what I tell myself. I got a mind of my own. I'll be all right alone. Don't need anybody else. I gave myself a good talking to. No more being a fool for you. I remember how you made me want to surrender. Damn your eyes.
SIEGEL: So that's Alex Clare?
ANSU: Yes, it is. And he just burst on the scene last summer in the UK and hasn't really gained that much popularity here, but he's very, very talented and soulful.
SIEGEL: Frannie, is Alex Clare now on your radar?
KELLEY: He is. I mean, it helps that he's covering one of my favorite artists of all time, Etta James, with this song. I liked his mix of sounds, sort of the old and the new.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAMN YOUR EYES")
CLARE: (Singing) Always the same. You say that you've changed. Somehow, you never do. I believe all your lies, look in your eyes. You make it all seem true.
SIEGEL: Let's hear some other good music that you didn't pay enough attention to. Clare Flynn, what was your ignored suggestion?
FLYNN: Well, one of my favorite bands of the year that I saw over the summer is this group from California called Milo Greene. And I sent an email to my bosses, Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, because we do the series where we film bands behind my boss' desk.
SIEGEL: The Tiny Desk Concert series.
FLYNN: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I thought this group would be perfect for it and...
SIEGEL: And they said, fantastic idea, let's get this group in here right away?
FLYNN: No. They didn't respond at all.
FLYNN: So I decided to do our own Tiny Desk Concert, sort of, only instead of filming behind a desk, we filmed on the roof of this building in Washington, D.C. This is a recording of their song, "1957."
SIEGEL: Kind of a small roof concert. Let's hear what Bob Boilen missed.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "1957")
MILO GREENE: (Singing) Oh, oh, oh, oh, your house that sits behind me is covered in ivy green.
SIEGEL: I've got to say it sounds a little bit more like 1967 than 1957, not that this makes any difference with this group, but you like this piece a lot.
FLYNN: I love this. I love this band. They blend female and male harmonies perfectly and they're good. I love them so much.
SIEGEL: Milo Greene.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "1957")
GREENE: (Singing) It takes me away. It takes me away. It takes me away. It takes me away. It takes me away.
SIEGEL: We're now onto Charlie Kaplan. Charlie, what was your unrequited suggestion?
KAPLAN: Well, I chose Rick Ross, who was arguably the biggest rapper of this year.
SIEGEL: He was?
KAPLAN: Yeah. He was enormous. He was everywhere. Rick Ross had an innumerable amount of hits in his own right and he was featured on an incredible amount of other rappers' songs. And it seems like everything he was on was just gold.
SIEGEL: What are we going to hear from Rick Ross?
KAPLAN: We're about to hear this song, "John," which is a song he did with Lil' Wayne.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOHN")
RICK ROSS: (Singing) Big black and an icy watch. Shoes on the coupe. I got a Nike shop. Count the profits. You could bring them in a Nike box. Grinding in my Jordans. Kick them off. They might high. Swish. I'm swimming in the yellow boss. In the red 911 looking devilish. Red beam make a (unintelligible) sit down. Thought he was bulletproof 'til he got hit the fifth time. Drop Palmolive in (unintelligible) dope. Make it come back even harder than before. Baby, I'm the only one that paid your car notes. Well connected, got killers off in Chicago.
SIEGEL: Well, Charlie, it's obviously the contemplative introspection of that number that attracted you so much to it.
KAPLAN: He's a deep guy.
SIEGEL: I'll take your word for it. On to Becky Sullivan. What was your moment here?
SULLIVAN: Well, I didn't pitch this, necessarily. Instead, there's been a guy who is one of my favorite garage rock artists who's been around for a while and his name is Mark Sultan. And so, if I had done something, it would have been this song called "Satisfied and Lazy."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SATISFIED AND LAZY")
MARK SULTAN: (Singing) (Unintelligible) doesn't mean that I don't really care. (Unintelligible).
SIEGEL: Frannie Kelley, this is music you let not get on our air at some time?
KELLEY: I'm kind of heartbroken.
ANSU: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Frannie has been actually really supportive of us this whole time and I hate to see her take this much flack because I know Clare can vouch for her here.
ANSU: And Becky, if you were up on this office, you would be able to say that she is really supportive and she really cares about what we have to say.
SIEGEL: Well, Frannie Kelley of NPR Music, thanks for bringing your interns.
KELLEY: Thank you for having us.
SIEGEL: Kwasi Ansu, Becky Sullivan, Clare Flynn and Charlie Kaplan, thanks to all of you.
KAPLAN: Thank you.
KELLEY: Thank you, Robert.
FLYNN: Thank you.
KAPLAN: Thanks, Robert. It's been great.
ANSU: Thanks a lot.
SIEGEL: And Frannie, thanks to you, too. Good to see you again.
KELLEY: Oh, well, thank you for having us on. You know, we all have things that we wish we could get on the radio and we can't. Has that ever happened to you?
SIEGEL: All the time. Yes.
KELLEY: Like when?
SIEGEL: Well, this year, you know, there's a piece of music that I had wanted to do a story about this year, but somebody else had it taken on another program, so we don't do that. It was - Steve Reich wrote something about the World Trade Center using auto-tuning on voices describing what had happened on 9/11. It was called "9/11 WTC World Trade Center."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "9/11 WTC WORLD TRADE CENTER")
SIEGEL: If you just described to me what this piece was, I would have said, leave me alone. But when I heard it, it just - I found it very, very gripping and really captured something of what I felt, having been in New York on that day. But another show had it. So be it.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "9/11 WTC WORLD TRADE CENTER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.