Talia Schlanger

Joshua James' new album is called My Spirit Sister. Released a little over a decade into his career, it features staggering honesty — the kind of stuff that's difficult to say out loud, let alone sing. For example, James wrote the song "Millie" when his wife was pregnant with their second child and he was having severe doubts. "I really just had no idea how to cope with it," James says. "Should I just leave this gal with her mom and just depart and try to start again? What am I to do?"

Goldfrapp's new album, Silver Eye, is visceral dance music — an album you feel in your body before you process in your brain. The band is Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, who've been musical partners for the better part of two decades. Their debut, Felt Mountain, came out in 2000. It's lush and well-loved, and it was a real breakout for the U.K. duo. In the years since, Goldfrapp has put out a handful of records, and each one sounds a little different.

Josh Tillman, a.k.a. Father John Misty, joins World Cafe to chat and to perform songs from his new album, Pure Comedy. In this session we talk about Tillman's childhood: He spent his formative years at a Pentecostal school, where he was regularly told there were demons inside of him that needed to be exorcised — a process Tillman says is strangely relaxing.

You hear a lot of different types of music on World Cafe, but you may not have ever heard anything like Tanya Tagaq, who has collaborated with Björk and won Canada's prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

As the old adage goes, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." Fifty years ago — May 12, 1967 — the Jimi Hendrix Experience made about as tremendous a first impression as it gets. The band's first full-length record, Are You Experienced?, is widely considered one of the greatest debuts in rock and roll. It introduced audiences to pyrotechnic psychedelia, amps that were at once incendiary and melodic and an artist that would define the dreams of nearly anyone who picked up a guitar for years to come.

You might have seen Maggie Rogers wowing Pharrell Williams in a viral video that captures the time she played him her song "Alaska" during a master class at NYU. In the video, as "Alaska" plays, you can see Pharrell is feeling it — and when the song ends, he gives Rogers his feedback: "Wow. I have zero, zero, zero notes for that. And I'll tell you why.

Jesse Hale Moore is based in Philadelphia, where he got a leg up on his debut solo record from two members of local favorite sons The War on Drugs — bass player Dave Hartley did some producing early on, and drummer Charlie Hall plays in this session.

We're going dancing in this Latin Roots session with M.A.K.U SoundSystem. It's an eight-piece band based in New York City, but most of its members are originally from Colombia. Going on its seventh year as a band, M.A.K.U SoundSystem has independently released two full-length albums and one EP and toured across the U.S.

At this moment in the music industry, the regular model for releasing a record has been pretty much blown apart. Artists can release singles or EPs online at any time, in whatever format. That can have some pretty interesting results, as it did for Hanni El Khatib.

The New Pornographers just released its seventh album, Whiteout Conditions -- and it's power-pop harmony heaven. This is music that moves your body and your brain, a hybrid that chief songwriter AC Newman says he envisioned from the beginning:

Here at the World Cafe studios, we have a bunch of different microphones for artists to use when they come in to perform. The other day, our senior producer, Kimberly Junod, pulled out one that had been used a couple weeks ago — and it was covered in face paint, lipstick and glitter. She showed it to the rest of us and said, "Give you one guess who used this last."

Hip-hop-flavored indie-rock band Portugal. The Man joins us in this session. And for a danceable band of low-key, really nice dudes from Alaska, Portugal. The Man has stirred up some controversy. It all has to do with the super-catchy, danceable radio hit "Feel It Still".

Sheryl Crow's brand-new album, out Friday, is inspired by the spirit of her big hits from the '90s. Be Myself is a return to her roots in rock 'n' roll, after she made a big change and went country in 2013. She says she found a different set of rules apply to promoting a country record:

The musical mastermind and human frontman of Gorillaz, Damon Albarn, started writing Humanz more than a year ago, before Donald Trump was the Republican nominee for President.

Country artist Jessi Colter has written a new book called An Outlaw And A Lady: A Memoir Of Music, Life With Waylon And The Faith That Brought Me Home. The Waylon in the title?

Last week, Kate Tempest — rapper, Ted Hughes Award-winning poet and playwright from South London — played a show at the Boot and Saddle in Philadelphia. If you've never been there, it's a loud room, filled with the noise of everyone checking their phones, talking, ordering drinks.

Andy Shauf's latest album, The Party, landed on last year's short list for Canada's prestigious Polaris Music Prize. It's filled with songs that chronicle the awkward moments and juicy encounters that can happen at a house party in a small town: the half-wit spilling his guts after a bottle of wine, the friend making late-night confessions to his crush while her boyfriend stands oblivious and stoned in the corner, what it feels like to be the first person to show up at the party.

Happy April 20, or — in certain circles — 420 day. The history around April 20's unofficial designation as Weed Day around the world is a little hazy. Some say it started with the Grateful Dead. Others say 420 is police code for "pot smoking in progress." Still other stories start with "The Waldos," a group of five friends who say they coined the term 420 in 1971 to refer to a certain hour of the afternoon. There are probably as many stories about 420 day's origins as there are strains of the herb.

Grammy-winning guitarist and producer Eric Krasno's collaboration credits read like a who's who of the music industry over the past couple decades.

Gabriel Garzón-Montano's latest record, Jardín, is liquid-smooth, intricate and organic. It's the sum of Garzón-Montano's many influences: the slick pop of New York City, the cumbia flair of his Colombian dad and even hanging out with famed minimalist composer Philip Glass when he was 5 years old:

This Latin Roots session all started when four guys from Los Angeles showed up at our studio looking like, well, four guys from Los Angeles, in track pants, T-shirts and sneakers. They finished sound check and disappeared for a while — and when they came back, it was like somebody'd hit the 1976 button on the time machine. Those four guys returned sporting matching tuxedos with ruffled collars, their two back-up singers in blinding, sparkly dresses. They had morphed into Chicano Batman.

You wanna talk about stories? Kristin Hersh has stories. You might know Hersh as the frontwoman for the innovative late '80s-early '90s alt-rock band Throwing Muses or the hard-rocking power trio 50 Foot Wave. She's also an author — her 2010 memoir Rat Girl was named No. 8 on Rolling Stone's "25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time" list.

Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman's new record is called Life Will See You Now. It feels sort of like going to a tropical roller disco with your therapist — and it comes after a period of colossal frustration that led Lekman to dump an entire truckload of his records in a landfill. As he tells it: "I felt like ... I need to find my way back to finding how to take something bad and make something beautiful, how to pour manure into a espresso machine and have a cappuccino come out."

In this session, we bring you a performance from Tame Impala's touring bassist, Cameron Avery. His debut solo record sounds nothing like what you're used to hearing from him with the band. Instead, picture Dean Martin swooping down to light a cigarette in the back alley behind some lover-laced boudoir, and you've sort of got the idea.

In this session, we're shining a spotlight on two elements that never seem to take center stage: backing musicians and music without words. But trust me, they deserve the limelight. Steelism is a Nashville duo made up of ace guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal-steel player Spencer Cullum Jr.

A couple years ago, rock veteran Alejandro Escovedo and his new wife, Nancy, were on their honeymoon on the coast of Mexico when disaster struck and they were sure they were going to die. It was so bad that they even called their family to say goodbye.

Felony Blues is the name of the new record by Jaime Wyatt. That title is neither a metaphor nor a gimmick — it's lived experience. Wyatt was charged with a felony for robbing a drug dealer and served a sentence in the Los Angeles County Jail. When she got out, she wrote an album based on her own true story — from her crime to doing time and the addiction, depression and shame she had to overcome to even turn her experience into song.

When Sting set out to write his latest record, 57th & 9th, he says he had to "play tricks on [himself] to get the creative juices flowing." He'd step out on to the terrace of his New York apartment in the freezing cold and tell his wife, Trudie Styler, "Don't let me back in until I've finished a lyric." He calls this self-imposed, cold quest "hunting" for the muse, and the fruitful bounty he collected is on full display on 57th & 9th.

Rose Cousins has an arresting voice that gets right under your skin. She hails from Canada's eastern coast, near the Atlantic Ocean. Just like that body of water, her music is spacious, expansive and liquid. Her last full-length album, We Have Made A Spark, came out to rave reviews in 2012 and propelled her into a couple years of constant touring. When that period was over, Cousins was burned out.

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