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Exclusive First Listen: Sunset Rubdown

While so much pop music is full of sweet sound, Sunset Rubdown makes bitter pop music. Nothing goes down easy, but the songs are still contagious.

Sunset Rubdown is one of Spencer Krug's three Canadian bands; Wolf Parade and Swan Lake (with Dan Bejar of New Pornographers and Destroyer fame) are the other two. This new Sunset Rubdown record, Dragonslayer, is more straightforward than usual for Krug. These are songs played more or less live in the studio — very much unlike Sunset Rubdown's 2007 album, Random Spirit Lover. That record was built using the tools and tricks of a studio.

This doesn't mean that Dragonslayer is any less creative, but Krug describes it as a more honest record. I'd call Dragonslayer a series of vignettes — small stories that sometimes feel like a cross between a whacked-out circus and a fairy tale. It may take a while to sort out the characters and stories in the songs, but they're all so much fun, you'll have plenty of chances to do it.

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In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.