Marc Masters

Ian Svenonius doesn't like to sit still. The singer, bandleader, and author is always juggling multiple projects, and the one he's helmed longest — the garage-rock group Chain And The Gang — has gone through multiple configurations in its eight years of existence. In June, he released a sampling of their catalog re-recorded by recent members, and now, just a few months later, he's back with a completely original album, Experimental Music, made with a new set of co-conspirators.

Reese McHenry's got a voice like a preacher turning a standard sermon into a cathartic epiphany. Sometimes her croon has a country twang; at other times, she melds bluesy growl with smooth melodic hums. Whatever mode she's in, her voice is always an attention-grabber.

If Atlanta's Omni were a machine with a rhythm switch, it would probably just have one setting: staccato. Nearly all of the trio's songs are built around twitchy, start-stop beats that instantly get pulses rushing and nerves tingling.

Bill Orcutt's guitar playing scrambles conventional logic. Filled with unpredictable fits and starts, off-key tangents and buzzing half-notes, and sometimes enhanced by the haunting accompaniment of his own wordless moans, Orcutt's work continually challenges notions of musical rules — or whether there should even be any. His deconstructive approach is clearest when he covers other people's songs, dissecting and disemboweling them in ways that don't just change their skin, but alter their basic DNA.

Woods hadn't planned to make any new music in 2017, happy to rest temporarily on the laurels of last year's excellent City Sun Eater In The River Of Light. Then the election happened, and the Brooklyn band found itself — like many around the country — bewildered about what to do next. So it did what it knows best: it made more music. The songs on the resulting album, Love Is Love, don't directly reference politics or offer slogans or screeds. But they're clearly about the aftermath of Nov.

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.

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.

There seems to always be a time during winter when snow falls in slow motion, gliding to earth like a parade of tiny white parachutes. Many people hope that time will fall on Christmas, but if you're not seeing white in your neck of the woods this weekend, you can at least recapture a bit of the feeling by listening to Windy & Carl's "Christmas Song." The pair's patient guitar strums and shoegazing reverberations cascade down like gentle weather, the kind that takes its time while you watch from the warmth of your window.

Annika Henderson is still just in her 20s, but there's history in her voice. She began her musical career as Anika, with one "n," recording covers of Bob Dylan, Yoko Ono and the Kinks' Ray Davies. Her new group, Exploded View, plays original songs, but past genres ­— post-punk, new wave, goth, industrial — echo through their dark music. Anika's chilly intonations in particular evoke moody singers like Siouxsie Sioux, Robert Smith and Debbie Harry, artists who can convey mystery and emotion in a single breath.