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One look at (and listen to) the cross-dressing, Asian rock band SsingSsing and you would hardly think they're singing music inspired by traditional Korean folk. But SsingSsing isn't like any other band I've ever seen or heard.

It's one thing to be a Hollywood actor who can respectably warble your way through a karaoke scene now and then. It's another to be able to perform the lead in a Broadway production of a Stephen Sondheim musical. Sondheim's melodies are complicated, the vocal ranges they require are considerable, and the surprises buried in them are startling. They require not only a lot of sound, but a belly full of feeling.

At first glance, Devonté Hynes and Philip Glass might appear like musical opposites. Hynes, the 31-year-old British producer and songwriter who performs under the name Blood Orange, makes hit records with Solange and Carly Rae Jepsen.

Like many singer-songwriters, Jessica Lea Mayfield depends on vocal demeanor to bring out the emotional nuances in her writing. She's got quite a range: She can sound spacey and serene, or distant and suspicious, or fiercely sure of herself. Her raw fourth album, Sorry Is Gone, has a series of songs about escape from damaging relationships, and each is conveyed through its own weather system. There are outbreaks of snarling bitterness followed by moments of calm, and times when inner turmoil is masked under a coating of honeyed pop exuberance.

"You know, I really wasn't kidding," laughs David Crosby, referencing our 2016 conversation about his then-new album, Lighthouse, during which he'd described experiencing an unprecedented, elongated bout of creativity. The imminent arrival of Lighthouse's follow-up, Sky Trails, less than a year later, lends Crosby's claim credibility. Crosby has released six solo albums since 1971, but three of them have arrived since 2014.

First Listen: Loney Dear, 'Loney Dear'

Sep 21, 2017

When last the world heard a full-length from Emil Svanängen, who records under the name Loney Dear, it was 2011's Hall Music. It's a symphonic sprawl of a record that heaped instrument upon instrument atop the Swedish singer-songwriter's elfin voice and tender melodies. Since then, he's switched labels, from the celebrated indie Polyvinyl to no less than Peter Gabriel's pet imprint, Real World. In that time, Svanängen has also pulled back. Where Hall Music swelled and swirled, his new album, Loney Dear, whispers.

In this special episode, we're having a listening party inspired by Turning the Tables, NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women. It was spearheaded by Ann Powers, our Nashville correspondent. She joins us — along with Alisa Ali from WFUV in New York City, Andrea Swensson from The Current in Minneapolis, and me, Talia Schlanger — to focus on a couple important records from that list that came out in the '90s.

NPR Music and program directors from VuHaus' public radio music station network today announced Big Thief, Jamila Woods and Lo Moon as the inaugural class of Slingshot, a new collective effort among taste-making stations to elevate the profiles of exceptional emerging artists.

Kishi Bashi With Strings On Mountain Stage

Sep 20, 2017

Eclectic pop maestro Kishi Bashi makes his front-and-center debut on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va.

Last night, at the nightclub and circus-arts space House of Yes in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law legislation that establishes an Office of Nightlife and a Nightlife Advisory Board.

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