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Lars Gotrich

Updated December 9, 2021 at 3:18 PM ET

We have many things to be grateful for: vaccines, a steady return to live events and a plethora of great tunes. We've already listed the best albums and songs of the year, so let's talk about the best new artists and breakthroughs of 2021.

Alvin Lucier, the groundbreaking American composer and educator, died Wednesday at his home in Middletown, Conn. after a long illness. He was 90. Lucier changed the way we think about sound through monumental works like I Am Sitting in a Room and Music on a Long Thin Wire. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease a little over a decade ago; NPR confirmed the news of his death with Amanda Lucier, his daughter.

Updated November 22, 2021 at 3:47 PM ET

The Listening Party is over. Raise the Roof is out now.

Updated November 12, 2021 at 5:49 PM ET

The event is over. Karen Dalton: In My Own Time releases Nov. 16

Join us for an online screening of Karen Dalton: In My Own Time. Bob Boilen from All Songs Considered will be joined by director Robert Yapkowitz and singer-songwriter Margo Price in a live conversation about the film.

The pedal steel is full of possibility. That's especially the case in the atmospheric music made by Chuck Johnson and Daniel Lanois, or the improvised explorations of Susan Alcorn.

Updated November 7, 2021 at 7:26 AM ET

The Listening Party is over; Snail Mail's Valentine is out now on Matador Records.

Fuubutsushi has already released three albums in 2021, each part of the ambient-jazz quartet's tetralogy based on the seasons. Matthew Sage, Chris Jusell, Chaz Prymek and Patrick Shiroishi formed the group remotely (across different U.S. states) during the pandemic, editing improvisations into abstract yet accessible pieces of synesthetic nostalgia.

Updated October 22, 2021 at 4:54 PM ET

The Listening Party is over. A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle is out now.

YouTube

Eivind Aarset does everything in his power to make his guitar not sound like an instrument with six strings and a body tethered to earth.

American Dreams Records / YouTube

When he's not collaborating remotely with the ambient-jazz quartet Fuubutsushi

Updated September 23, 2021 at 3:34 PM ET

The Listening Party is over, but you can watch the album stream and conversation below.

Updated September 8, 2021 at 8:06 PM ET

NPR Music's second-ever Roséwave Happy Hour is over, but you can roséwave all year long.

Summer's never over if you have roséwave in your heart. NPR Music's summer soundtrack series is closing up its fifth (!) season soon, but not before another virtual soirée.

Don Giovanni Records / YouTube

Within an Irreversible Entanglements groove, the tri-city free-ja

Updated July 14, 2021 at 8:04 PM ET

NPR Music's first-ever Roséwave Happy Hour is over, but you can stream DJ Cuzzin B's vibey playlist now.

The 2021 Tiny Desk Contest closed for entries on June 7, and our judges are now combing through entries to find a winner. In the meantime, we've been sharing some of the many entries that have caught our eyes and ears.

Updated June 15, 2021 at 3:18 PM ET

The Listening Party is over, but you stream the album below.

Join us in an online listening party for Sleater-Kinney's Path of Wellness. With World Cafe's Raina Douris in the host chair, we'll feature a live conversation with Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker.

Few things fill the heart with hope like a group of young girls playing punk rock in a public library. In a space where books and information open minds, there too our minds should be blown by power-chord-punctuated screams of "Poser! Blockhead! Riff raff! Jerk face!"

Updated May 3, 2021 at 6:27 AM ET

The Listening Party is over, but you stream the album below.

Join us in an online listening party for Dawn Richard's Second Line. With WNXP's Jewly Hight in the host chair, we'll feature a live conversation with Richard herself — along with Dawn's mom, Debbie! The event will take place on release day, April 30, at 2 p.m. ET.

Les McKeown, best known as the singer for Scotland's Bay City Rollers, died April 20 of unspecified causes. He was 65.

"It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown," wrote wife Peko Keiko and son Jubei McKeown on the singer's Facebook account. "Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday. We are currently making arrangements for his funeral and ask for privacy after the shock of our profound loss."

Updated April 19, 2021 at 9:46 AM ET

The Listening Party is over, but you can stream the album via Bandcamp below.

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