First Listen

NPR icon First Listen: Hurray For The Riff Raff, 'Small Town Heroes'

by Katie Presley
Alynda Lee Segarra might have the mellowest, kindest voice that's ever told us to rip up what we know and start again. Her clear-eyed, street-level portrait of New Orleans demonstrates exactly what's most valuable and remarkable about Hurray for the Riff Raff's music: its commitment to truth-telling.

NPR icon First Listen: Temples, 'Sun Structures'

by Tom Moon
Temples, photo by Ed Miles

It makes cosmic sense that Temples' debut album arrives at the height of the current nostalgia wave associated with the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania and the British Invasion. The young English band weaves its classic inspirations into crazy-beautiful, richly idiosyncratic music.

NPR icon First Listen: Thumpers, 'Galore'

by Daniel Levin Becker
Oliver Smith
The London duo's secret weapons include a rumbling, off-kilter rhythmic pulse that often calls to mind The National, as well as a pleasingly sinister undercurrent that carries even the perkiest songs on Galore to surprisingly moody, sometimes revelatory conclusions.

NPR icon First Listen: Eric Church, 'The Outsiders'

by Ann Powers
John Peets
As fun as his bold declarations can be, the country star's depth comes from his ruminative side; his decade-long slow rise has made him as flexible as he is determined. The greatest thing about The Outsiders is its range, both in sound and in the stories Church tells.

NPR icon First Listen: CEO, 'Wonderland'

by Peter Macia
Wonderland is, at times, superficially soothing and fun, an almost hedonistic paean. But not far beneath the surface lies something more unsettling and challenging: a statement about isolation and loneliness and a delicate search for meaning.