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NPR Music's Top 20 Songs Of September

Angel Olsen's "Lark" appears on NPR Music's top 20 songs of September.
Cameron McCool
Courtesy of the artist
Angel Olsen's "Lark" appears on NPR Music's top 20 songs of September.

Stream this playlist via Spotify or Apple Music.

Let's see, in the month of September, we've got a pair of songs inspired by tarot cards, several odes to death or the end of the world and an Irish drinking song that doesn't end that well. But for every bummer, there's a reclamation of sanity, identity or voice via cathartic scream.

Below you'll find an alphabetized list of NPR Music's top 20 songs of September 2019. Be sure to check out our top 10 albums from the month as well.

Angel Olsen, "Lark" APPLE / SPOTIFYFueled by an orchestra and one of her strongest vocal performances to date, Angel Olsen pulls her emotions close to the chest then shoots them straight into the stratosphere. — Marissa Lorusso

Carolina Eyck, "Commemoration" APPLE / SPOTIFYA master of the instrument you can't touch, thereminist Carolina Eyck adds a chorus of vocal loops to her slithery tones, creating a surprisingly upbeat elegy. — Tom Huizenga

Cautious Clay, "Erase" APPLE / SPOTIFYCautious Clay's snarky apathy towards social media rides out over clandestine bass. It almost makes the weariness sound sweet. — Sidney Madden

Charli XCX, "2099 (feat. Troye Sivan)" APPLE / SPOTIFYThis, the weirdest song on Charli XCX's new and partially eponymous album, is a disorienting, tongue-in-cheek lament of the life of an artist. And it's still really fun. — Andrew Flanagan

Chelsea Wolfe, "Deranged for Rock & Roll" APPLE / SPOTIFYThe rock singer and guitarist turns pensive and introspective with this creeping, sludgy requiem for sanity. — Robin Hilton

Darrin Bradbury, "This Too Shall Pass" APPLE / SPOTIFYThe jokes in this shaggy-dog ode to optimism and its discontents are a wry painkiller for an era of accelerated aggravation. — Ann Powers

Dry Cleaning, "Sit Down Meal" APPLE / SPOTIFYThe moody, post-punk song takes a moment to wake up. But the singer — equally droll and disaffected in her delivery — works a slight-of-hand as the groove grows tentacles. — Lars Gotrich

Girl Band, "Salmon of Knowledge" APPLE / SPOTIFYThe experimentalist inspirations driving Girl Band — towards the many lovely walls it crashes into — are made plain in this low-end-driven surrealist dialogue that, somehow, still manages to cohere. — Andrew Flanagan

Great Grandpa, "Digger" APPLE / SPOTIFYFor Great Grandpa's Pat Goodwin, a Wildwood Tarot deck served as inspiration for "Digger." Stirring and striking, it's an introspective exploration of circumstance and contrast, not a crystal ball of future visions. — Lyndsey McKenna

Hiss Golden Messenger, "My Wing" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFYPlay this beautiful slice of guitar-driven agnostic gospel on the hard days. It will help. — Ann Powers

Jon Pardi, "Old Hat" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFYThe classic element that distinguishes this ode to the old ways is a twin-guitar part that evokes the glory days of the Eagles and the Allmans. Country's favorite new classicist makes it sound so fresh. — Ann Powers

Kalie Shorr, "Alice in Wonderland" APPLE / SPOTIFYA word to a gaslit girl from one who's wisened up, this rocker is as gleefully mean as Avril Lavigne's finest and as sisterly as something by the Dixie Chicks. Hot stuff from one of Nashville's most promising. — Ann Powers

La Neve, "A Pretty Red" APPLE / SPOTIFYIt's the end of the world as we know it, but La Neve's ESG-funkin', Deee-Lite-groovin' track wants some dang action. — Lars Gotrich

Lankum, "The Wild Rover" APPLE / SPOTIFYLankum's transformation of this old Irish drinking song reveals a not-so-sober desperation, which the Dublin band grinds into a heavy drone of fiddle and harmonium. — Lars Gotrich

Laurie Anderson & Tenzin Choegyal, "Heart Sutra Song" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFYInspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and with vocals that soar like a proud eagle, this song invites you to step out of your body. — Tom Huizenga

Microwave, "Leather Daddy" APPLE / SPOTIFYSometimes the bottle you stuff your feelings into reaches maximum capacity. The Atlanta band shifts from shrugging acoustic guitars to screaming brutality as frontman Nathan Hardy lets everything blow. — Robin Hilton

Molly Sarlé, "Almost Free" APPLE / SPOTIFYBased on a conversation Molly Sarlé had with her father when he was contemplating suicide, "Almost Free" bares the fragility and wonder of life. Gut-wrenching and gorgeous. — Robin Hilton

Overcoats, "The Fool" APPLE / SPOTIFYBased on the tarot card, "The Fool" is about taking a leap of faith. Overcoats does just that, ratcheting up the duo's electronic-pop sound. — Bob Boilen

Sault, "No Bulls***" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFYFrom the mysterious British trio's second album of 2019, Sault follows up kiss-off track "Don't Waste My Time" with a hard-as-nails breakbeat, funky strings and a sweet voice kindly (and for the last time) telling you to piss off. — Lars Gotrich

WaqWaq Kingdom, "Doggy Bag" APPLE / SPOTIFYThe Germany-based duo Shigeru Ishihara and Kiki Hitomi beam in this complex, and deceptively subtle, patchwork of bloops and samples compiled into a concise and utterly danceable mixed-media installation. — Andrew Flanagan

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