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

King Tuff's new song, "Eyes of the Muse," is a <em>World Cafe</em> favorite.
Courtesy of the artist
King Tuff's new song, "Eyes of the Muse," is a World Cafe favorite.

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King Tuff, 'Eyes Of The Muse'

Dan Monick
Courtesy of the artist

From 'Black Moon Spell'

I react viscerally and immediately to music I love, and by the end of the shiny, catchy, two-guitar intro to King Tuff's "Eye of the Muse," I was all in. A scuzzy mix of garage rock and power pop, it's catnip for radio DJs in the spirit of The Who and Big Star. King Tuff is a he, not a band: Kyle Thomas has made three records as King Tuff, and the new one is called Black Moon Spell. "Eyes of the Muse" is an irresistible blast of guitar-driven pop with wild-man, Keith Moon-esque drum parts. Please, though, don't take it too seriously. —David Dye, World Cafe

• Download "Eyes of the Muse"

Sarah Jaffe, 'Some People Will Tell You'

Courtesy of the artist

From 'Don't Disconnect'

I thought I knew Sarah Jaffe, but I was wrong. With her third album, Don't Disconnect, Jaffe has proven to be much more than the rustic bedroom folksinger I'd been imagining all these years. Eschewing the strummed guitars of her early sound, Jaffe has drifted into a plugged-in pop-rock style that keys into the breezy, self-assured elements of early Magnetic Fields and YACHT. "Some People Will Tell You" issues a perfect farewell to summer: wistful and buoyant, with a tinge of melancholy and nostalgia. —Jessi Whitten, Colorado Public Radio's OpenAir

• Download "Some People Will Tell You"

Chancha Via Circuito, 'Coplita'

Courtesy of the artist

From 'Amansara'

Latin American artists have mixed traditional cumbia with digital instrumentation dating back decades — as in the tecnocumbia craze of the '90s — but Argentina's Chancha Via Circuito helped engineer a new strain for the 21st century. From behind the decks at Buenos Aires' Zizek Club, producer Pedro Canale joined Andean cumbia with electronic production, hip-hop and a smidge of dancehall. Later, he began burrowing deeper into indigenous and folk music (expressed beautifully in his remix of "Quimey Neuquen," which made a cameo on Breaking Bad). Now, the artist is out with Amansara, a new album that features the haunting single "Coplita." The song kicks its ghostly vibe up a notch with Miriam García, a vocalist Canale told the Houston Chronicle imparts "a special, ancient form of chant from the Andes." (Western listeners might think she sounds a little like Marianne Faithfull.) Chancha Via Circuito made his name at the club, but "Coplita" doesn't seem like dance music, exactly — think of it as a rural detour on the way to the party. —Ally Schweitzer, WAMU 88.5's Bandwidth

• Download "Coplita"

The Gotobeds, 'Affection'

Courtesy of the artist

From 'Poor People Are Revolting'

Named for the enigmatic drummer in Wire, Pittsburgh's Gotobeds have less in common with that band's focused, angular minimalism than with the sloppy brilliance of Let It Be-era Replacements, the postmodern curveballs of early Pavement, or the simultaneously slack but unrelenting assault of Parquet Courts. Allegedly recorded all in one day, the band's 11 new beer-soaked, sometimes profane and always wise-ass sociological observations ride atop entrancing subway-train grooves, caressed by waves of feedback and snaky, intertwining leads. You gotta love it. —Jim DeRogatis, Sound Opinions

• Download "Affection"

Father, 'Look At Wrist'

Favela Bowser
Courtesy of the artist

From 'Look At Wrist'

"Never had to whip a brick, but I get the gist." The mixture of honesty and humor throughout Father's "Look at Wrist" is why I keep coming back. The Atlanta rapper and producer teamed up with iLoveMakonnen and Key! to craft this slow and catchy anthem. In a time when we're led to believe that every rapper spends his weekend laboring over a Pyrex dish, it's refreshing to hear the truth; some wrist injuries occur from a night of "doing donuts in a six." —Rayana Godfrey,

• Download "Look At Wrist"

Sugar Stems, 'We Only Come Out At Night'

Sugar Stems.
Courtesy of the artist
Sugar Stems.

From 'Only Come Out At Night'

In a perfect world, Sugar Stems' "We Only Come Out at Night" would be blasting out of car radios all across America. In my world, it is, as I play the band almost every day on KEXP's Afternoon Show. The love child of Blondie and Cheap Trick, Sugar Stems dispenses one infectious hook after another. A relentless blast of melodic pop happiness with just enough snarl, the band connects with a direct hit to the pleasure center. —Kevin Cole, KEXP

• Download "We Only Come Out At Night"

Hollie Cook, '99'

Courtesy of the artist

From 'Twice'

Fall is here, but in the endless-summer culture of Southern California, we're fully embracing the laid-back reggae grooves of Hollie Cook's new album, Twice. The record takes Cook's self-characterized "tropical pop" to a dubbier place, but also a heftier one thanks to producer and co-writer Prince Fatty. The song "99" is a perfect example: It opens with sounds of the surf playing under string arrangements, overlaid with an intoxicating feeling of nostalgia — a perfect faded memory of summer on the beach. The album's sweet complexity is no surprise when you consider that Cook was a member of the most recent incarnation of the Slits and born into a musical family: She's the daughter of a Sex Pistol and a Culture Club backup singer. —Anne Litt, KCRW

• Download "99"

Making Movies, 'Pendulum Swing'

Austin Goldberg
Courtesy of the artist

From 'A La Deriva'

The disparate musical influences of a childhood split between Panama and Kansas City only begin to explain the unique sounds created by Making Movies. The band's bilingual album A La Deriva is a lyrically adept examination of the struggles faced by immigrant families. Producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, while working to capture Making Movies' sound, also encouraged the group to not repeat itself. The result is a wholly original work that expands the rich heritage of Latin Alternative music. "Pendulum Swing" is just one part of a thoughtful record — a part best experienced on the dance floor. —Jon Hart, The Bridge

• Download "Pendulum Swing"

Frazey Ford, 'September Fields'

Frazey Ford.
Courtesy of the artist
Frazey Ford.

From 'Indian Ocean'

After a lifetime studying the precision of Al Green's band (the Hi Rhythm Section), Frazey Ford got a call asking if she'd like to fly to Memphis and record with its members. The result is Indian Ocean, a stunning collection of honest-to-goodness soul music. There's a hint of the country and folk sound that made her band The Be Good Tanyas famous, but this solo record brings out the smoothest areas of Ford's voice, first evidenced in "September Fields." The song reappears at the end of the album as a solo acoustic tune — proof that, while the Hi Rhythm guys added mountains of color, the heart of the soul lay with Ford herself. —Kim Ruehl,

• Download "September Fields"

LeXus, 'Blue Raspberry'

Courtesy of the artist

From 'AFTER OURS: A Love Story...'

Alexis Hayward, aka LeXus, represents a new kind of soul artist — one influenced by '70s R&B and '90s neoprogressive soul, but with seductively multifaceted flair. With the recent release of After Ours: A Love Story, the 20-year-old unleashes an old soul vibe that synthesizes soul, nu-jazz and nu-school hip-hop. In "Blue Raspberry," an elegant homage to the language of love, LeXus surveys the various shades of unrequited love with delicious lyrics and enthralling, ebullient melodies and rhythms. The tune takes a percolating, left-field approach to R&B that sounds both tasteful and true. —Chris Campbell, WDET's The Progressive Underground

• Download "Blue Raspberry"

Heavy Rotation is a monthly sampler of public radio hosts' favorite songs. Check out past editions here.

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