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Lars Gotrich

When Denzel Curry spits bars over a particularly decibel-shattering beat, there's a command of noise. The Miami rapper lives both inside and out of the mayhem ("Ricky," "Black Metal Terrorist"), but is just as comfortable revealing his soul ("Speedboat," "Clout Cobain") in productions and performances simultaneously hard and melodic. He's starting to come into his own as a rap chameleon, but lately he's been teasing another transformation as a shape-shifting rock frontperson.

Have you ever had a roommate sell your stuff while you were on vacation? But instead of a ratty couch that won't nearly pay rent, it's super-intimate letters and recordings that you'd never want anyone to read or hear, like, ever? Madonna feels your pain.

Nearly 40 years into their career, The Flaming Lips remain remarkably ageless and endlessly creative. They return this week with another heady, psychedelic pop record inspired by a surreal art installation by frontman Wayne Coyne. On this week's New Music Friday, we climb inside the band's kaleidoscopic new record, The King's Mouth.

Miranda Lambert really knows how to announce a new single. For "It All Comes Out in the Wash" — a cute-as-hell country bop that reminds us that "hard times do eventually pass," as she put it in a press release — Lambert filmed her shirtless husband doing laundry. You know, as one does.

Stream: Spotify, Apple Music.

Updated July 23, 2019: This is weekly, updated playlist. So if you missed one, especially a themed playlist, just hit me up on Twitter and I'll hook it up.

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When you have a voice like Brittany Howard, just about anybody looks good singing along.

I always had WUOG on the radio back in the day — not just as a fan, but as one of the college station's music directors — to make sure there was a good variety of music in rotation. But when a DJ had to pee or take a smoke break, I knew: They'd play a long song — more specifically, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Not that there's anything wrong with GY!BE, just that there's more to drawn-out music than apocalyptic post-rock.

Is there a Sean Paul of metal or drone that Jake Gyllenhaal can enthusiastically shout out? A musical hype-person who "makes every song better," but over blast beats or long, ponderous synths?

In a statement posted to Twitter on Monday, drummer Janet Weiss announced that she is leaving Sleater-Kinney.

"After intense deliberation and heavy sadness, I have decided to leave Sleater-Kinney," she writes. "The band is heading in a new direction and it is time for me to move on."

Nothing is permanent — these meat sacks we call bodies, the weekly Viking's Choice playlist available on Spotify and Apple Music. Seriously, if you'd been sitting on last week's mix of metal, punk, drone and other misfit music for a late-night sesh, it's gone — like dust in the wind, dude.

For more than a decade, the Viking's Choice column has been a safe space (or a festering wound, depending on whom you ask) for metal, punk, drone and all sorts of "weird" and/or "loud" music on NPR. You've heard me on the All Songs Considered podcast, and gotten irregular doses of my sonic realms on this blog.

Our curation game is strong at NPR Music, from All Songs Considered to Alt.Latino, to memorials that pay tribute to beloved musicians, to roséwave's sommelier-level summer bops.

"Angels, your mother is about to feed you new music for five months straight,"
Charli XCX tweeted in May. "You deserve it and you're welcome." Depending on your appetite for futuristic pop, that's either a treat or a threat.

Sleater-Kinney returned just before everything changed. In 2015, nine years after a hiatus, the trio made No Cities to Love in secret.

This week's episode of All Songs Considered is a show of contrasts — cotton-candy pop one moment (from mxmtoon), raging punk sung in Farsi the next (from Khiis) — and then calming, instrumental, prog rock courtesy The Quiet Temple. For All Songs Considered's nearly 20 years, we've tried to live up to our namesake and on this show, we consider more drastic ends of the song spectrum than we have in recent memory.

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

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.

You've donned the gay apparel and trolled the ancient Christmas Carol from Accounting, but the snow has turned to gray slush and whenever a mulled beverage is served, your uncle can't help but channel his inner Rob Thomas: "Man, it's a hot wine!" (The pun is solid, but the impression sounds more like Bill Murray's caterwauling howl in Scrooged.) You want to get in the spirit, but you're hardly dashing through the snow. What to do?

What can stop the mutant psych of Sunwatchers? In the last two years alone, the Brooklyn band has released Sunwatchers and II, two live albums and 3 Characters, a double LP led by the truly impossible-to-pin-down guitarist and banjoist Eugene Chadbourne. Sunwatchers' sonic and sociopolitical fervor is palpable, as the band weaves a noise-induced trance given to ecstatic dance.

Maxine Funke writes songs for the quiet corners of your dreams and fears, where her whispers float upward like warm air. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and an odd noise here or there, she evokes tenderhearted singer-songwriters like Sibylle Baier and Vashti Bunyan, but also the subtle and strange songs of fellow New Zealander Alastair Galbraith, with whom she performed in the short-lived $100 Band.

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