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We do our best to turn our World Cafe studio into bluesman R.L. Boyce's porch at his house in Como, Mississippi. That's where Boyce sits and plays many days in the farming community south of Memphis in the Mississippi Hill country.

Romance isn't dead, it's just damn hard. We navigate gestures both small and grand like tributaries suddenly rushing into whitewater, and hope to hell that we come out the other side.

Angelina Torreano, the singer and guitarist for the Brooklyn-based Citris, had a particularly intense experience with one of the most old-fashioned romantic moves: a dude wrote her love poetry. And when the intensity wasn't reciprocated, things got weird, she writes an essay published with the song.

After touring behind the massively successful album Stay Gold, Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit really needed a break. The sisters visited our studio just days after the release of First Aid Kit's long-awaited fourth full-length album, Ruins, and proved their gorgeous harmonies and sophisticated songwriting were still fully intact. "Fireworks" is a perfect example.

SET LIST

  • "Fireworks"

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.


Empowerment anthems have had a good run since the early aughts, during which time we grew accustomed to hearing powerhouse pop singers turn downtrodden verses into launching pads for triumphant hooks. That tried-and-true way of displaying feminine strength made the moment of overcoming tribulation feel almost inevitable.

I can't think of another album that sounds quite like The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth Of The Sea. Not in title, not in sound. Oh, there are familiar song structures and vocal harmonies. But hearing this record brought me back to the night I learned of the accident: a crashed van, strewn and broken gear, and how lucky they were to all be alive. That's when it all clicked.

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.

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.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

A founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, John Perry Barlow, has died at the age of 70, according to a statement issued by the Foundation.

Feb. 7, 2018 marks the fifth anniversary of International Clash Day. What started off as a tribute to The Clash's catalog for a few hours in 2013 by KEXP's John Richards has grown into something of an international affair. San Francisco, Austin, Texas and Washington D.C.

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