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Music

If you're a band in 2018, you can't just tell the world you're putting out an album. You have to hire skywriters, or etch your new cover art onto the side of a mountain, or fly journalists out to Wyoming for a live-stream or something. You have to make it an event!

There's more to quiet music than diminutive volume. It's an intent laid bare in arrangement and emotion with space for sound and feeling to grow outward to the listener. For the last five years or so, Katie Bennett has quickly — and quietly, of course — become one of indie pop's most thoughtful songwriters as Free Cake For Every Creature.

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.


The first recorded collaboration between singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur and guitarist Peter Buck of R.E.M. fame isn't a concept album in the strictest sense. But many of its songs do revolve around a central theme: The messy metaphysical process of getting "woke."

The first time Tony Presley heard Sun June, it was through his apartment floor. The co-founder of up-and-coming Austin label Keeled Scales was living above Estuary Recording Facility, where the band was tracking its debut LP, Years. The album, which Keeled Scales will release June 15, retains the warmth of that initial encounter. Sun June's music is something that comes in snatches, wisps that captivate and escape the ear with all the airy weight of dust rising from an Austin floorboard on every beat of a muffled drum.

On her new album, Courtney Barnett does something I don't think many people could do — I know I couldn't do it. She takes an insult that was hurled at her and turns it into a powerful lyric in one of her songs. The insult-turned-lyric is this quote: "I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and spit out better words than you."

Rolling Stone wrote that the voice of The Who's Roger Daltrey was one of the most powerful instruments in rock. But when first it started in the 1960s, Daltrey's band was covering American soul songs. At the age of 74, the British rocker is returning to that music for his new solo album, As Long as I Have You.

In celebration of her new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett performed an intimate set for KCRW. "Charity" is an album highlight and will surely be a live staple and crowd favorite in the months to come.

SET LIST

  • "Charity"

Meeting Charley Crockett through his music, you get the sense he's the kind of guy who, in person, would shake your hand, look you straight in the eye and remember your name. Charley was raised in South Texas by a single mom whose unshakable sense of ambition and perseverance rubbed off.

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton talks with NPR Music's Ann Powers and Stephen Thompson about the best new albums out on June 1, including the remarkable new Neko Case record Hell-On and an emotional and revealing new album from Father John Misty. Complete list below.

Featured Albums

  • Neko Case, Hell-On
    • Featured Track: "Last Lion of Albion"

  • Father John Misty, God's Favorite Customer

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