Lars Gotrich

Nighttime is restless. Even in our sleep, we are moving in our dreams, or involuntarily flopping around the bed disturbing a loved one, be it a significant other, a dog. Lullabies are written to calm these restless minds, but maybe they should also recognize the motion of the day.

Nick Hakim begins with a bit of a fake-out — languorous strings like something out of a Stars Of The Lid record rumble from a sampler, somber and hesitant. But as he begins to sing in a heartbroken falsetto, surrounded by optical fibers hanging from the ceiling of SXSW's Optic Obscura installation by Raum Industries, the ambient intro morphs into a quiet, psychedelic croon.

In early 2016, The Megaphonic Thrift won a Spelleman Award (Norway's Grammy equivalent) for the previous year's Sun Stare Sound. It's a noise-pop record that puts the emphasis on pop, bursting with earworm-y melodies sunk into lysergic effects, guitar and bass interlaced like latticework with dreamy, dueling vocals. The record will now be available stateside for those of us that had to hunt it down for the first time, but here's a track for those that maybe missed it, a tribute to the band's hometown, "Bergen Revels."

Phoebe Bridgers was one of our top discoveries going into SXSW, a quiet and powerful voice in the loud din of the festival. After she performed at Central Presbyterian Church, a favorite venue among our staff, Bridgers and percussionist Marshall Vore came to Bob Boilen's hotel room just before midnight to play the striking "Smoke Signals."

To call what DakhaBrakha does "folk music" completely misses a world of inspiration and sound, both here on Earth and perhaps elsewhere. The mostly-acoustic, utterly unique Ukrainian band mixes traditions from its homeland, but goes wide too, with West African rhythms and Indian drones to create a wild, thrilling texture (especially live).

It's spring, a time for renewal and flowers and sunshine and... sadness, if Football, etc. has anything to do with it. For nearly ten years, singer and guitarist Lindsay Minton has flown the flag for '90s-era emo, with all of that movement's signature heart-on-the-sleeve confessionals and a voice that knows how to carry a weight. As I wrote a couple years ago, Football, etc.

We stayed up late, damaged our ear sockets and gave into the ecstasy of live music at SXSW: Diet Cig, Lizzo, Moor Mother, Sleigh Bells, S U R V I V E, Anna Meredith, Weezer, The Revolution's Prince tribute — even Garth Brooks. Here are 50 photos from the festival shot by Adam Kissick, with a few by our own Bob Boilen.

Nina Diaz and Y La Bamba's Luz Elena Mendoza have never played together, but after NPR Music paired them in the courtyard of St. David's Episcopal Church for a late evening performance, we're beginning to wonder why not.

L.A. Salami sings and fingerpicks his acoustic guitar like an old truck winding through windswept blue highways. The British artist's debut album Dancing With Bad Grammar was one of Bob Boilen's top 10 albums of last year, saying it was a "hidden gem in 2016."

On Tuesday, Feist's new album, Pleasure, was announced with a release date of April 28 — amusingly, to the surprise of Leslie Feist herself. Now we have the title track, her first new original song in six years.

At the end of 2014, Geneviève Castrée and I were writing back and forth to each other about domestic life, baking bread, and the forthcoming records by both her own Ô Paon project (Fleuve) and and that of her husband Phil Elverum: Mount Eerie's Sauna.

Valerie June's "Astral Plane" was already made to be a lullaby, a softly swaying, country-tinged soul song that scrapes the stratosphere. On the studio version from The Order Of Time, it's dipped in gauzy guitar and keys.

Sometimes the hard-working, completely badass punks win. Downtown Boys signed to Sub Pop recently, an open invitation for a wider world to hear the Rhode Island natives' wild, bilingual, no-filler, can-still-throw-down punk rock.

Feist has been known to take her time between albums, but it has been a long stretch since 2011's Metals.

The Afghan Whigs embrace the sleaze and surreal in the first single from In Spades. "Demon In Profile" picks up where 2014's Do To The Beast left off, with smeared blue-eyed soul far more sinister than it lets on.

With Slowdive's live reunion, stellar new song and promise of more material, you could forgive guitarist Christian Savill if he set aside any other projects for the time being. But no, Slowdive's return actually seems to have spurred more activity — he and Sean Hewson's long-running project Monster Movie will release Keep The Voices Distant, its fifth album and its first with an expanded band, next month.

PWR BTTM is goofy as hell, like we could ever forget. The fab rock 'n' roll duo's "Answer My Text" is the latest single from their upcoming Pageant, a nervous flirtation wrought in emojis and a "funny joke from that TV show you said that you like."

Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce are radiant beings who make every minute louder, more glamorous and deeply personal as PWR BTTM. The punk duo has announced Pageant, its follow-up to 2015's Ugly Cherries, with the outrageous "Big Beautiful Day."

Japan's current psychedelic scene honors its roots – from the motorcycle guitar-rock of Les Rallizes Dénudés and High Rise to the still-running and unpinnable Acid Mothers Temple – but also puts a premium on meditative transcendence.

Nick Bairatchnyi and Jackson Mansfield have been making music together since they were teenagers, which wasn't too long ago. After graduating high school and a move to Philadelphia from Washington, D.C., they locked into The Obsessives' sound, informed by the yelping and dexterous emo of Braid with a touch of Pixies.

Grails could never be accused of staying in its lane. The instrumental rock band plays with its far-reaching influences like a world-building card game, adding and taking away sounds with thoughtful strategy.

There's an electric thrill to Caddywhompus not heard in too many guitar and drum duos. Where others examine the extremes of the spare or the loud, Chris Rehm (guitar, vocals) and Sean Hart (drums) mine math-rock, frenetic punk and the bombastic end of pop to generate a signature, euphoric sonic boom.

On more than one occasion, I've passed along James Toth's songwriting tips and tricks to help musician friends out of a rut. These are just a few of his actionable suggestions for a creative in crisis: "Put a capo on a random fret," "Write a song that sounds like what you imagine the unheard band/record sounds like, based solely on the description in the review," "Borrow an instrument from someone who plays the same one that you do."

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