KNBA - KBC

Lars Gotrich

Punk is an unruly but ultimately loving teacher. As a teenager, you come for the music — fast, angry, visceral, sometimes blissful — but even as political and personal issues change, you grow to absorb some of punk's core messages: Call out injustice, make sure everyone has a good time. Increasingly, that has meant making punk a safe space for women and non-binary folks. These are lessons built from generations of hard labor, often on the backs of the very same women and non-binary punks, and while there will forever be space to scream, there's also still room to grow.

How many times has Washington, D.C. endured a Fugazi cover from a touring band? Specifically, how many times has Washington, D.C. endured a cover of "Waiting Room"? Too many times. It's okay, we get it: "Waiting Room" is a jam.

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Look, some of us aren't caught up with Game of Thrones.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.

When singer Norah Jones dropped her much-beloved debut album Come Away With Me in 2002, she won over legions of fans with her soul-soothing croon and blend of jazzy pop and bluesy folk. In more recent years she's explored a much deeper and sometimes darker sonic landscape. You can hear this remarkable range on her latest album, Begin Again, an inspired and often moody collection of songs she wrote and recorded with a number of collaborators, including Jeff Tweedy and Thomas Bartlett.

If we write our own epitaph for the planet, Dead to a Dying World's dark metallic prophecies are there to provide a gracefully vicious soundtrack. Nearly a decade into its existence, the Dallas band has sewn together exquisite doom metal, soaring post-rock and searing crust-punk in its vision of an Earth ravaged by humanity. For all its despair, singer and lyricist Heidi Moore says "The Seer's Embrace," from the band's forthcoming Elegy, is about acceptance:

You know when a song belongs to J. Robbins. There's a jagged quality, with guitar riffs that seem to have been sharpened on stone, all grounded in oblique hummability. Robbins has been in D.C. rock bands like Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels and Office of Future Plans for more than three decades now, each with a different take on his signature style. But Robbins had never really been interested in a solo project until he started playing shows on his own, rearranging older Jawbox tunes and releasing new songs on Bandcamp.

Maybe it's been a few months and you've wondered: "Where's that dude who played the heavy and weird stuff?" First of all, thank you. It's nice to be missed. The answer: I've been at home, watching lots of movies, changing lots of diapers and taking care of my firstborn daughter. Did this stop me from listening to said "heavy and weird stuff?" Well, yes and no.

I still prefer music recommendations from friends online or IRL, or stumbling across a punk band cooler than the one headlining the show, or buying a record simply because the artwork rules, or falling down the rabbit hole of random clicks on Bandcamp. Algorithms serve a function, but never satisfy the hunt, at least for me.

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