NPR Music

Hometown: New York, New York

Genre: Rock

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Genre: Folk Rock

Why We're Excited: Sometimes, the phrase "singer-songwriter" can't begin to capture how many different things a vocalist can do with a guitar in her hands. Haley Heynderickx's voice can embody nervy intensity, caustic strangeness or cooing beauty, while her songs never seem to take the same journey twice. In just three minutes, "Oom Sha La La" keeps popping down surprising side roads.

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Hometown: Henderson, Nevada

Genre: Bedroom Pop

Why We're Excited: Nick Rattigan sings and plays drums in the surf-rock band Surf Curse, but he's been doing more and more with the solo bedroom pop songs he writes under the name Current Joys. Propelled by sinewy guitar lines and sweeping synths, songs like "Fear" — from a new, self-directed "visual album" titled A Different Age — reflect on the underbelly of modern life without resorting to self-pity.

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Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Genre: Rock

Why We're Excited: Thunderpussy's chugging, blustery, feel-good stomp would really liven up the playlist at your old classic-rock station — that is, if its music had been made many years ago, by a band that wasn't called "Thunderpussy." As it is, it's an enormously appealing, sweat-flinging throwback that still finds a way to sound fresh.

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Hometown: London, England

Genre: Rock / Pop

Why We're Excited: Nilüfer Yanya got her start as an R&B singer, but she's more recently morphed into a sparer and more pop-minded sound. Her breakthrough single, "Baby Luv," pairs her smoky voice with a hook that isn't repetitious so much as hypnotically alluring.

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Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Genre: Rock

Why We're Excited: Vundabar's spiky, caustic, fundamentally good-natured rock and roll bears the weight of grim experience: Singer Brandon Hagen wrote the band's third album, Smell Smoke, while tending to a gravely ill loved one. But songs like "Acetone" — whose sound recalls a less rigidly streamlined Strokes — are too vibrant and highly caffeinated to bum anyone out.

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Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Genre: Metal / Stoner Rock

Why We're Excited: Named for a Hawaii 5-0 villain, Wo Fat cuts its thick, doomy metal with bluesy psychedelia and an agreeable Southern-rock chug that makes lines like "We are the riffborn!" ring out like mantras for a life of heavy-metal triumph.

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Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Genre: Rock

Why We're Excited: Katie Von Schleicher runs her self-effacing bummer anthems through a filter of bright-eyed, '70s-style pop-rock. On albums like Bleaksploitation and last year's S***** Hits, Von Schleicher showcases a richly realized artistic persona: Her fuzzed-out songs look inward with a lacerating eye, while still deflecting enough blame to go around.

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Hometown: Franklin County, Virginia

Genre: Americana

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Genre: Americana

Why We're Excited: Collapsing Stars' languid folk songs are punctuated by forceful stabs of bluesy guitar — and, in the case of "The Storm," a few appropriate nature sounds. The effect can be whispery and beautiful, but the band's music maintains a welcome undercurrent of reflection, doubt and even dread.

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Hometown: Newtown, Connecticut

Genre: Indie Rock

Why We're Excited: Writing and playing strange, twisty, lo-fi rock under the name Stove, Ovlov's Steve Hartlett has spent the past few years churning out a loose assortment of shambling bedroom recordings. Like Sebadoh before it, Stove has a gift for letting disarming beauty slip through the tape hiss; for proof, try "dumb phone," a scuffed-up, sweetly strummed gem highlighted by lovely vocal harmonies.

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From The Vault: Jade Bird On FUV Live

Feb 28, 2018

"We're all reaching for something American," Jade Bird sings on the title track off her 2017 EP, Something American. WFUV's Rita Houston sat down with the British singer-songwriter to talk about her debut and musical influences.

"The literal meaning of that is a young girl across the pond looking over?," Houston asks.

William Faulkner once said of the writing process, "You must kill your darlings." It's a quote about ridding yourself of your favorite (and somewhat self indulgent) work for the goal of becoming a better writer.

Joan Baez has dedicated her life to music — and the causes for which music can speak. The folk star began using her voice to protest in the 1960s, leading rallies against wars and discrimination alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie. Though gentle, her renditions of "We Shall Overcome" and "What Have They Done to the Rain" served as the heartbeat to peaceful revolutions.

"We've got rock and roll moms, Jon," Hembree frontman Isaac Flynn explains to music director Jon Hart. He and bassist Garrett Childers first began making music together in middle school and their collaboration had been orchestrated by their mothers.

"Once we jammed 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' about 75 times in my basement, I think we knew it was destiny," Flynn jokes.

Skating Polly's music has skittered back and forth along the genre spectrum between alt-rock and what it calls "ugly pop." The band's lead single for The Make It All Show, "Queen for a Day," skews towards rock as it drips with punk sensibilities: from Kelli Mayo's snarling vocal performance to the simple and stripped down verses leading into the thrashing of guitars on the chorus.

It takes a long time to fly from Australia to the U.S. Depending on how many stops you have and what your final destination is, you're probably looking at 24 hours plus. And similarly, it can take a long time for Australia's finest musicians to fly across the airwaves in the U.S.

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.

Lots of kids dream of growing up to be rock stars. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood was no different — though his interest was less in the glory and more in the intricacies of craft.

Ever since he released his 2009 solo debut Pink Strat, I've always thought of Afie Jurvanen, better known as Bahamas, as a captain of cool breeze sound — easy, inviting and a little sideways. But this time around, Bahamas recruited the rhythm section featured on the album Black Messiah by D'Angelo and the results on his latest album, Earthtones, rest firmly in a funky pocket of groove.

What if your goal was to just write some good songs? What if you and your longtime friend did that and then went back to your day jobs at a law firm and in the music industry? Then what if everything changed? Your song gets 10 millions plays on Spotify, you are spotlighted by NPR Music, you perform live on Conan and you sign a major label deal — and all before your debut album's release!

Blind Pilot On Mountain Stage

Feb 22, 2018

Singer and guitarist Israel Nebeker and drummer Ryan Dubrowski began making music together in Portland, Ore. almost a decade ago. Since then, they've grown their band, Blind Pilot, by adding four additional talents to fill out their folk-pop melodies. Since 2008, the band has released three records and made several high-profile television appearances, as well as taken the stage at various large-scale music festivals throughout the country.

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.

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.

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