First Listen

NPR icon First Listen: Gem Club, 'In Roses'

by Bob Boilen
Tonje Thilesen
The Boston band's second album provides a perfect soundtrack for thoughtful, beautiful times. Gem Club reveals new intricacies on In Roses, which sounds more resplendent with more ambient passages. The voices and cello merge and weave together perfectly.

NPR icon First Listen: Warpaint, 'Warpaint'

by Stephen Thompson
Mia Kirby
The L.A. band's swirling sound is full of mysterious buzzes and coos, and there's a sense of everything-in-its-right-place grace and impeccability to it, yet the songs themselves never feel icy or distant. Warpaint's self-titled second album feels fashionable, sure, but not at the expense of approachability.

NPR icon First Listen: Tom Brosseau, 'Grass Punks'

by Tom Moon
Nathaniel Wood
Many of the North Dakota singer-songwriter's new songs have trapdoors and switchbacks and meta moments, but they're never there for show: It's in the shadows where the sly Brosseau does his best work, transforming earthbound images into intimations of wonder.

NPR icon First Listen: Rosanne Cash, 'The River & The Thread'

by Ann Powers
Clay Patrick McBride
Each song on Cash's new album is rooted in the Southern soil connecting her family's old homestead in Arkansas to its ancestral Virginia homeland, expanding to survey its artistic roots in Alabama and Tennessee. Some narratives are fictional, while others mine family lore.

NPR icon First Listen: Gripe, 'In His Image'

by Lars Gotrich
In His Image infests itself with the grinding groove sickness of Assück, the pig-grunt punk of Insect Warfare and a boozy slurp of Black Sabbath doom. The Athens grindcore band's final album seethes and swelters in 23 minutes of abominable terror.

NPR icon First Listen: 7 Days Of Funk, '7 Days Of Funk'

by Brandon Bussolini
No contemporary artist is more dedicated to keeping the funk alive than Los Angeles producer Damon Riddick, a.k.a. Dâm-Funk. His collaboration with iconic rapper Snoop Dogg is heavy on George Clinton's cosmic grooves and notable for its many moments of subtlety.