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

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Every month, NPR Music crowdsources public radio stations across the country for the songs they just can’t get enough of. That could be a new release, a pick from their local scene, or a late-to-the-party discovery.

This month, their selections include a new single from indie giants MGMT, an update on a classic spiritual by Moby, and the latest by U.K. singer-songwriter Jade Bird, one of our 2018 Slingshot artists.

The odds of stumbling across a gambling-themed song in the alt-country genre are, well, pretty high. From Presley to Haggard, Dylan to Tweedy, there is certainly no shortage of cards or high stakes in Americana. But now, within that canon of chance, we have a new standout — enter “Lottery” from British singer-songwriter, and NPR Slingshot artist, Jade Bird. At first listen, the song exudes a lovely, youthful innocence. Bird’s inimitable vocals come in soft as she tallies the numbers on a first love that’s withered and waned: I was 19 and you were 23 and we stayed in Number 4 Ferdinand Street.” Turns out, though, this Bird has a bite, and with a fiery switch we’re thrown into a thunderous chorus that carries us from start to finish: “You used to tell me that love is a lottery, and you got your numbers and you’re betting on me.” It’s a treat of a track, complete with playful wordplay, ebb and flow — and that Clapton-meets-Feist style Bird has carved out for herself since the release of her 2017 EP, Something American. With that successful debut under her belt, and this single in her very capable hands, we’re pretty sure we’ll be betting on Jade Bird for years to come. — Lauren Menking, KXT

Moby is back, without The Void Pacific Choir or the ambient sounds he’s been experimenting with for a few years. “Like A Motherless Child,” the first single from his upcoming Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt, is reminiscent of his work on 2013’s Innocents, which featured some excellent collaborations with Wayne Coyne and Skylar Grey. For Moby’s update on this African-American spiritual, he worked with Los Angeles soul singer Raquel Rodriguez. — Willobee Carlan, NV89

 On this preview of their upcoming album, Little Dark Age, it’s like MGMT has drawn you a warm déjà vu bath. To step in is to soak in that slightly pleasant, slightly panic-inducing sense of overwhelming familiarity where you can feel you’re revisiting a moment you’ve already experienced, but… when? Was it the time you got eaten by a kaleidoscope and your body turned into a million jewel-toned rotating trapezoids? Was it the slow-motion summer you spent living underwater with a seahorse colony? That time you fell through the roof of a pillow factory where all the down feathers were really pastel paintbombs? “If we lose our touch, it won’t mean much if everyone’s confused. Which door should we open?” Andrew VanWyngarden sings over glassy synth brass, bleep-bloops and ooohs. The harder you strain to figure it out, the more disorienting it becomes. So don’t overthink it. Just get in and “hand it over.” — Talia Schlanger, World Cafe

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