Bob Boilen

It's only June and this year is already jam-packed with remarkable new artists who've released some of 2016's most memorable music. These are artists who released their very first songs or first full-length albums so far this year.

Truth be told, when I saw the opening of this video, with Phaedra & Elsa Greene donning sunglasses and coordinated stars and stripes outfits, it felt trite: then the words kicked and the tone of the video along with my attitude, changed.

"America bleeds
The tears of a clown
Seeing stars
Behind bars."

Each year dozens of new artists become part of my life soundtrack. Last year Courtney Barnett, Soak, Ibeyi, Girlpool and many more all became a huge part of my listening for the year and some wound up on my final top ten list.

This year, Lucy Dacus, Big Thief, Margaret Glaspy, Mothers, Overcoats and Weaves are all part of my everyday listening, and are all artists making a debut either with their first album, EP or very first songs.

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.

The Beach Boys' 1966 album Pet Sounds marked a change in music that was barely noticed at the time. It began a revolution in rock as it transformed from simple entertainment to art. That change was even more dramatic because this introspective music came from a band famous for singing about surf, girls and cars; suddenly, they were singing songs like "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times."

Paul Simon has a new album coming out and it's wonderful. Titled Stranger To Stranger, it's his thirteenth solo release and he told me he it could be his last, at least for a while. For this week's +1 podcast, I sat with Paul Simon at NPR's New York bureau to talk about the new record, but more specifically to talk about a single song on the album, the puzzling and quirky opening cut, "The Werewolf."

Big Thief is a band bound by great songs. Its first album opens with singer Adrianne Lenker on acoustic guitar, recorded on what sounds like an old cassette machine. By the second song, you hear the blossoming of an artist into a band, a community, a force.

There is new music from Gregory Alan Isakov, the South African-born, Philadelphia and Colorado troubadour. It's an album with the Colorado Symphony and his band. This song, "Liars" was written by Ron Scott and will be on Gregory's new album Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony.

Right near the top of this performance, Benjamin Clementine looks toward the camera with an intense stare and sings, "Where I'm from, you see the rain / Before the rain even starts to rain." At that point, when I'm already hanging on every word, I feel like I'm witnessing an almost otherworldly presence — a visitor with wisdom to impart.

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.

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