Lars Gotrich

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Red Death is a thrash band raised on hardcore — its metallic riffs not only smash a crusty d-beat but also shout a punk ethos.

In April, a long list of musicians, comedians and visual artists were announced for 7-inches For Planned Parenthood, featuring new and rare tracks from the likes of St. Vincent, Feist, Björk, Bon Iver and Helado Negro. The box set is a response to "lawmakers with extreme views [who] are working hard to shut down Planned Parenthood," according to the creators of the project.

Christmas carols needn't always be cheery and bright, and there's no shortage of seasonal irreverence and sadness.

Advisory: The above video contains language that some may find offensive.

Karin Dreijer likes to play; the pitch-shifted vocals found on Fever Ray's self-titled 2009 debut forced questions of authorship, voice and beauty through ritualistic electro-pop.

Filmed July 14, just a week before Chester Bennington died in July, Carpool Karaoke has released its Linkin Park episode with the blessing of Bennington's family and the band, dedicated to the singer's memory. Ken Jeong hosts this particular episode, and, given the fervor in which he sings along to "Numb," "In The End" and "Talking To Myself," the actor and comedian looks thoroughly stoked to share his screams with Bennington, Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn.

Advisory: The above video/song contains language that some may find offensive.


St. Vincent's "Pills" is the kind of psychedelic Franken-pop monster that could only be concocted by Annie Clark in a lab with a mess of mad scientists — which is exactly what happened.

It's not like John Darnielle isn't busy enough this year (or ever): He released the The Mountain Goats' keys-only Goths, published the novel Universal Harvester and has a

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominees for the class of 2018 this morning, presenting a group of first-time nominees that might make up the institution's most sonically diverse list in years.

Paramore's After Laughter captures the moment between rapture and its comedown, the glitter wiped away, left with skin rubbed raw. It's a record, more than a decade into the band's career, that not only exposes the sparkling pop that's always lit Paramore's songs, but also deals with the ache of growing up and growing apart.

Welcome to fall, where everything is pumpkin spice, scarves are a necessary fashion accessory and, oh, all of your favorite artists who didn't release albums in the spring suddenly make a mad dash for your ears.

We're here to help — not with the pumpkin spice, that's definitely on your own terms — but with the brand-new albums that we, the NPR Music staff, are listening to this weekend.

John Darnielle tells stories that make you care so deeply about the people in them that when Darnielle begins to scrape away the layers of grit and glory, you sink deeply, helplessly into their psyche and hope things turn out fine, knowing they probably won't. You find them in his songs as The Mountain Goats, and his novels Wolf In White Van and Universal Harvester. It's not hard to be a John Darnielle fan — and once you're in, you never leave.

The power in Wild Beasts' music has always been the drama, a dynamic seduced by complicated notions of sex and masculinity. Over 13 years and five albums, the English band has morphed from broody art-punk to, well, broody synth-pop, all the while finding beauty in dimly lit corners.

Whether fronting the blazing punk band Vexx or the synth-pop duo CC Dust, Mary Jane Dunphe inhabits her projects with a knurly otherworldliness — her voice contorts and screams like an alien sent to reset the planet with rock 'n' roll. Bedridden by an ankle injury in the winter of 2016, she teamed up with friend Chris McDonnell (Trans FX) to write a batch of country-rock songs that buck like an old pickup.

According to Carly Rae Jepsen's new video for "Cut To The Feeling," Carly Rae Jepsen is really good at making coffee, because Carly Rae Jepsen is the queen of everything.

Snail Mail's sleepy songs have a way of waking you up. They rumble at a steady pace like a scrappy rock band playing to a small room, but then Lindsey Jordan, who just graduated from high school this past spring, drops a line like, "So if you look death right in the face, don't thank him / Because there's nothing and there won't ever be." You can feel the room nod in solidarity, and you could feel the NPR Music office do the same when Snail Mail performed "Slug."

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Michael McDonald still plays county fairs and casinos. That's no knock — just honest work for a singer 40-some years into a storied career.

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