Heavy Rotation: 5 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop PlayingWe never know what we're going to get when we ask NPR stations across the country to choose their favorite new music. Last month's installment of Heavy Rotation featured avant-garde classical, downtempo electronic music and worldly, boundary-less jazz — none of it predictable.
For September, we looked to WUWM in Milwaukee, KXLL in Alaska, WDET in the Motor City, North Country Public Radio in New York and Chicago's free-form station Vocalo. The results again run the sonic gamut, from blues (Eric Bibb) to breakbeats (Evan Bourgeois Lasry), and from hip-hop (Mig Mora) to indie rock (George Kuhar). Even country star Dwight Yoakam makes an appearance.
Currently in rotation on: WUWM 89.7 FM in Milwaukee, Wis.
Dwight Yoakam can't be defined by a single genre, yet a lot of people still think, "Oh, that country singer?" But if you play his new song "Long Way to Go" and don't reveal it's Yoakam until after it ends, folks tend to say, "That was really good. Who is that?" Like a lot of songs and artists, it's all about giving the music a chance. Milwaukee is home to a rich music mix, and we've always been a bit twangy, so Dwight Yoakam fits right in. — Bruce Winter, WUWM music director
Evan Bourgeois Lasry
Currently in rotation on: WDET 101.9 FM in Detroit
If only the affairs of a broken heart could sound this groovy in real life. Los Angeles producer Evan Bourgeois Lasry teams up with singer-songwriter Rogiers for "Again," a soundtrack to life and love over groovy, soulful house production. The single is part of an EP release scheduled for early 2013; it offers a look at an artist who knows how to connect with the listener's heart and inner groove. Lasry approaches his production with a virtuoso's vision, so his sound (as evident in this single) is a happy mingling of symphonic hues, orchestral flourishes, multiple rhythmic suites and melodic piano stabs — a thought-provoking, organic musical experience that takes you places. — Chris Campbell, host of The Progressive Underground
Download "Again" (right-click and "Save Link As")
Currently in rotation on: North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y.
Why Eric Bibb? Because he's part of the roots continuum that keeps reviving, refreshing and re-creating itself. From the earliest days of the 20th century, there it was: Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, the migration that shaped Muddy Waters, B.B. King, the '60s explosion, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Joe Louis Walker, the third wave of African-American roots players, Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Eric Bibb. Now, another wave of roots players is re-shaping Americana. Bibb is a crucial piece of the mosaic. — Ellen Rocco, station manager and host of The Blue Note.
Download "Bayou Belle" (right-click and "Save Link As")
Mig Mora, Scheme & Chandler London
Currently in rotation on: Vocalo 89.5 FM in Chicago
"Kingdom," featuring Mig Mora, Scheme and Chandler London, is the standout tune on the City of Win Vol. 1 mixtape. It touches on the city's political landscape, as well as years of empty promises, and paints a compelling picture of the problems most residents face, especially if they live in what's considered the "inner city." The compilation takes a gritty snapshot of what's going on in Chicago's vibrant hip-hop scene at the moment. The entire 20-song project is produced by Stefan Clark (co-founder of City of Win), and very nicely done. — Jesse De La Pena, Vocalo music curator
Download "Kingdom" (right-click and "Save Link As")
Currently in rotation on: KXLL 100.7 FM in Juneau, Alaska
It gets a little depressing in the fall in Juneau, with short days, colder weather and enough half-frozen rain to crush the human spirit. But George Kuhar has pounded through bigger obstacles than a little sleet. He decided to take autumn head-on and produce a new soundtrack to the uber-creepy 1922 silent-film vampire classic Nosferatu. On Halloween night in our local art-house cinema, Kuhar and his band play the music live while the movie is projected behind them, and Juneau rejoices. This track, titled "Why Oh Why," is a staple of KXLL and contains all the themes of the score. His wife, Bridget — formally of Velocity Girl, Unrest and Air Miami — plays keyboards and bass on this track. — Andy Kline, KXLL music director
Download "Why Oh Why (Nosferatu Theme)" (right-click and "Save Link As")