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Music

When you watch a band perform songs from a record that's yet to be released, you sometimes get the sense that there's still some sinking in and tinkering to do.

Conversely, First Aid Kit is already so deep in the pocket I imagine by the time the album that houses "It's A Shame" is released in 2018, they'll need longer pants. Their live harmonies are stirring, but not at all surprising; sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg have already spent one decade crystallizing their intertwining vocals.

As Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner writes sparkling, opulent dream pop about grief and love (and, occasionally, robots). After releasing its debut album, Psychopomp last year, the band returned with this year's stunning Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Where Psychopomp, written in the immediate aftermath of the death of Zauner's mother, zeroed in on the experience of Zauner's grief, Soft Sounds widens her aperture, featuring paeans to her coping mechanisms, ruminations on crooked relationship dynamics and said sci-fi robot fantasy.

It'd been more than three years since Tune-Yards released new music, but the singer and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus is back, now as a duo with Nate Brenner. Her new single is a sonic thrill ride called "Look At Your Hands," and it's from her just-announced album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life (out Jan. 19). Garbus says the new song is a meditation on the mess she feels the world is in and how various political and cultural -isms manifest themselves within her.

earthsongs.net

  Twin Flames returns to Earthsongs with their new album Signal Fire. Husband and wife Chelsey June (Métis from Ottawa) and Jaaji (Inuk/Mohawk from Nunavik) pay tribute to each other and their Indigenous roots, taking their folk sound into more contemporary territory. Co-producing this album and incorporating throat singing and instruments from all over the world, like the didjeridoo and the bodhrán, Twin Flames achieve depth in both soundscape and content.

Modern Music was a small independent record shop located in the Meidaimae neighborhood of Tokyo, where from 1980 through its closure in 2014, a revolution against mainstream music was mounted. Its owner, Hideo Ikeezumi, who passed away earlier this year, made certain that Modern Music was well-stocked with releases that reflected his own panoramic tastes.

There's nothing quite like a compelling story song.

The last time most of us saw Beck, he was onstage at the Grammy awards accepting the Album of the Year honor for his 2014 work Morning Phase and almost being interrupted by Kanye West.

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