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Lars Gotrich

Whether fronting the blazing punk band Vexx or the synth-pop duo CC Dust, Mary Jane Dunphe inhabits her projects with a knurly otherworldliness — her voice contorts and screams like an alien sent to reset the planet with rock 'n' roll. Bedridden by an ankle injury in the winter of 2016, she teamed up with friend Chris McDonnell (Trans FX) to write a batch of country-rock songs that buck like an old pickup.

According to Carly Rae Jepsen's new video for "Cut To The Feeling," Carly Rae Jepsen is really good at making coffee, because Carly Rae Jepsen is the queen of everything.

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


Michael McDonald still plays county fairs and casinos. That's no knock — just honest work for a singer 40-some years into a storied career.

Gun Outfit has, finally, figured out a way to describe the cactus-chewing, smoke-signaled rock music that it perpetually rolls towards sundown: "Western expanse music." Henry Barnes (of Amps For Christ, Man Is The Bastard) coined the phrase while on a recent European tour with the band, boiling down the out-of-time essence of Gun Outfit to a cowboy poetry swirled in honky-tonk postmodernism.

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