Lars Gotrich

If you haven't heard Bad Breeding's Divide, it is 26 minutes of grueling, noise-punctured punk that channels and couples the rage of Crass to the weirdness of Killing Joke and No Trend. Released in 2017, it was the second album in two years from the U.K. punk band.

Look, let's just puff-puff right past the 4/20 jokes, OK? There's no reason to toke up all of your time with silliness when you could be nodding your head (slowly) to Sleep's first album since Dopesmoker, considered by many to be the high-water mark of stoner-metal epics. (Its release date is something of a rabbit hole — if you're interested, here.)

Crank "Up The Street" to a volume that shakes the dust from your creaky bones. Made stiff from years of rock and roll neglect, you are now redeemed by the nasty howl and stomp of Rat the Magnificent. Hallelujah and hot damn.

There are two sides to Thomas Feriero: the sleek, summery techno of his Atavism and CW/A projects, best heard at the edge of day. And now something harder and heavier emerges.

When Joey Ramone sang, "I wanna be your boyfriend," The Ramones tapped into bubblegum pop's naïveté with a rosy-cheeked hiccup. When GRLwood's Rej Forester sings the line, at first with a little nod to Joey's Buddy Holly impression, she eventually screams it with all of the pent-up rage of someone who just wants a woman to dump her dude, but also is pretty damn tired of being ignored by society.

If you're going to name your spindly sugarbomb "Hula Hoop," there better damn well be some kick-ass hula hooping, right? Media Jeweler has seen you, understands you and has got you.

After many iterations, hiatuses and returns, The Breeders will always be Kim Deal's band, with her sister Kelley at her side. They return this year to an old lineup, with all the promise (and old wounds) it brings. But you can see a renewed love and goofiness throughout this set — using a roadie as a crash cymbal, or Kim Deal's faux-exasperation at Josephine Wiggs for starting a wind-up toy just before a song.

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

Stephanie Richards' trumpet sounds like deep space wrapped around your head, a flood in the endless void.

Tyler Childers writes songs about hard lives and hard love with direct heart. You meet these characters — some from his own life, some not — and feel like you know them, but there's always another layer to uncover with each listen, carved by his coarse and soulful Kentucky drawl.

Turnstile's music swirled just as much as it pounded, turning some of the stranger, studio-driven moments of its recent album Time & Space into a live-action stage match. As the band explored every inch of the worn hardwood at All Souls Unitarian Church in Northwest Washington, D.C., stirring up heart rates and exalting the moment, one body would jump from the stage and be immediately replaced by another, all in constant motion.

Cecil Taylor encompasses a never-ending range of sound and emotion. On his way to the Piano Jazz studio in 1994, the avant-garde jazz pianist and his cab driver discovered that they went to the same high school, opening up a whirlwind of small worlds, and inspiring the improvised piece that opens this episode.

There is no one universe for Ben LaMar Gay, he just sonic booms from one sound to another. His solo debut, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, is really a patch-work of seven albums, recorded over seven years but never released. It moves from fuzz-caked weirdo-psych to mutant synth-funk to giddy electronics to progressive jazz at a seamless, whiplash-free warp speed.

One of the keepers of modern-day psychedelic music doles out distinct styles to no fewer than five projects: There's the cavernous rawk of Comets on Fire (forever on hiatus), the Summer of Love re-imagined as Heron Oblivion, the punk-scuzz of Feral Ohms and the Beat poet solo guitar-noise of

The fruit borne from Cate Le Bon and White Fence's Tim Presley in the last few years have been strange and delightful hybrids — like little pluots of avant-pop and post-punk. Hermits on Holiday, their 2015 debut album together as Drinks, directly influenced Le Bon's 2016 album Crab Day and takes an adventurous left-turn that has nooks and crannies I'm still discovering.

There is a ceiling-gazing quality to Juliana Daugherty's songs — that's not an attempt at coining a new, fake genre, but a functional image. Light is the singer's first solo album after playing around the Charlottesville, Va. folk scene. Having spent a little time with Light, I just want to curl up in a circle of pillows and stare upwards at eggshell paint that could so easily be cracked by the quiet and contemplative poetry Daugherty sings with gentle, but aching lilt.

Wild Animals must have fans all over the world. No less than seven record labels spread across the U.S., Spain, Italy, Chile and Japan are co-releasing The Hoax; a lot of people really want you to hear the Madrid trio's new album, which recalls Superchunk's crunchy pop-punk and Bob Mould's triumphant, post-Hüsker Dü jangle with Sugar.

There is so much joy to be found in experimental music, with endless opportunities to experience sound and rhythm as pleasure, where discord becomes genuine discovery. Like, when you hear a synth emit a sound that could only be described as an amplified wet noodle slapping a thin slice of ham, that's funny.

There's a smoked citrus flavor to Sonido Gallo Negro, sour swirled in sweet and spice like a tiki drink splashed with mezcal and overflowing with pineapple chunks. Since 2011, the Mexico City ensemble has explored psychedelic cumbia, with an ear towards dive-bar grit. Mambo Cósmico is the nine-piece band's third album, expanding their sonics further with a Zappa-like whimsy — without sounding anything like that mustachioed Mother, mind you.

Sarah Louise must have a sick sense of humor, or just perfectly inappropriate timing: The second day of spring has been welcomed with heavy snow on the East Coast, and I am grumpy about it. But dangit, her new song helping keep the soul toasty.

Aisha Burns' heart was like a glass emptying and filling itself. Her mother had died, but she had also found love in a new relationship, all at once. The conflicting emotions would be enough for any heart to spill over with grief and joy, but Burns channeled it all into her new project.

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