KNBA - KBC

Marissa Lorusso

"The value of Death," wrote songwriter Sean Bean, of Boston's Bad History Month, in a dense, intimate introduction to new album Dead and Loving It, "is that it's an infallibly reliable fixed point on the horizon to navigate by when I'm lost at sea."

Some of us are verbal processors, who feel like certain vexing issues just can't be solved until we've exhaustively enunciated every angle. The hope is that the act of explaining a problem aloud will draw out a perspective previously unseen; sometimes you just have to start a sentence to see where it will lead. On "Let Down," from the four-member Gingerlys, Jackie Mendoza and Colin O'Neill's call-and-response vocals feel like two sides of a conversation with the self, an attempt to sketch the contours of tangled relationship in search of a way out.

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.

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.

Updated at 9:40 p.m. ET

Like U2, Ed Sheeran has also canceled his concert in St. Louis because of safety concerns.

The cancellations follow protests in the city prompted by the acquittal of a former police officer, who had been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a black man.

Those of us who fell in love with her debut album, Sprained Ankle, have been hungering for more of Julien Baker's sparse, confessional songs — brutally honest and cripplingly insecure, self-deprecating but laced with just enough hope to keep you hanging on — since the album's 2015 release (only briefly sated by the release of "Funeral Pyre," a one-off single, in January).

"I know it's wrong, but I can't stop," Katie Von Schleicher groans in "Midsummer." Her album S***** Hits is full of such self-deprecating admissions; it's an album about looking out from inside your own delusions and bad habits, begging yourself to do better.

Brisbane, Australia is sometimes derided as "Brisvegas," a crack at the city's supposed lack of sophistication. But Australian musician Harriette Pilbeam might disagree that her home city lacks culture: She has spent the past few years honing her power-pop chops in the bands Babaganouj and Go Violets, part of Brisbane's not-insubstantial indie-rock scene.

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