Music

What's most striking about Japanese Breakfast's first full-fledged album, Psychopomp, is how gracefully it treads over difficult territory. What started as singer and guitarist Michelle Zauner's side project — she took on the moniker to release solo work when not performing with Little Big League — eventually became an outlet for songs of grief and mourning in the aftermath of her mother's death. Sonically, Psychopomp is a far cry from the Philadelphia emo band's music, trading crunchy indie rock for haunting pop songs with swirling synthesizers.

Inspired by the colorful sticker, Trapper Keeper and lunchbox art from which Lisa Prank takes her punny name, Seattle singer Robin Edwards makes bubblegum pop-punk for lovesick, rainbow-colored unicorns. Built around an electric guitar and a drum machine, her songs are simple and catchy like the Ramones', but are recast for the intimate and imaginative space where these songs begin and expand.

World Cafe Next: Kyle Craft

May 16, 2016

As he was growing up in Shreveport, La., Kyle Craft's primary source of musical inspiration was a David Bowie greatest-hits compilation that he brought home from a big-box store. Years later, Craft tried outrunning the heartbreak of the end of a relationship and moved to Portland, Ore., where he made a series of home recordings that have become his debut album, Dolls Of Highland.

Congratulations, music lovers! We managed to get through an entire week without a major album dropping out of the blue. So if you're like us this means you've finally had a chance to catch your breath and dig into all the amazing stuff that has come out.

Airports are like petri dishes for humanity's worst traits. Most people are in various states of agitation over endless lines or invasive searches or some perceived slight. Everyone's exhausted. Everyone's on high alert.

Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop On World Cafe

May 12, 2016

Collaboration is nothing new to Sam Beam of Iron and Wine: He has recorded with Calexico and recently made an album of cover songs with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses. For Beam's new album with Jesca Hoop, Love Letter For Fire, he says he wanted to try it differently.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released.

Review: Mudcrutch, '2'

May 12, 2016

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

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

Seattle's Dust Moth scans metal: Thick riffs rumble in and out of heavy atmospheres, with sludgy guitar, melodic bass way out front, and muscular drumming that swings like a thumping heart. Its pedigree scans as metal, too, as the band features guitarist Ryan Frederiksen (These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows) and Giza's rhythm section (bassist Steve Becker and drummer Justin Rodda).

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