Marc Masters

To create her wide-ranging music, New York-based artist Lea Bertucci has used a wealth of instruments and compositional techniques. But her primary creative tool is the saxophone, and on her new album, Metal Aether, she delves into it perhaps further than she ever has.

Ian Svenonius doesn't like to sit still. The singer, bandleader, and author is always juggling multiple projects, and the one he's helmed longest — the garage-rock group Chain And The Gang — has gone through multiple configurations in its eight years of existence. In June, he released a sampling of their catalog re-recorded by recent members, and now, just a few months later, he's back with a completely original album, Experimental Music, made with a new set of co-conspirators.

Reese McHenry's got a voice like a preacher turning a standard sermon into a cathartic epiphany. Sometimes her croon has a country twang; at other times, she melds bluesy growl with smooth melodic hums. Whatever mode she's in, her voice is always an attention-grabber.

Sam Keeler / Courtesy of the artist

If Atlanta's Omni were a machine with a rhythm switch, it would probably just have one setting: staccato. Nearly all of the trio's songs are built around twitchy, start-stop beats that instantly get pulses rushing and nerves tingling.

"Experimental" is a pretty broad term when used to describe music, but it's rarely meant in the scientific sense. You don't often imagine an experimental band sitting in an actual laboratory, building machines and tinkering with gadgetry from 9 to 5. But that's the actual life that Raymond Scott led, which is why he's considered a pioneer of electronic experimentalism.

Bill Orcutt's guitar playing scrambles conventional logic. Filled with unpredictable fits and starts, off-key tangents and buzzing half-notes, and sometimes enhanced by the haunting accompaniment of his own wordless moans, Orcutt's work continually challenges notions of musical rules — or whether there should even be any. His deconstructive approach is clearest when he covers other people's songs, dissecting and disemboweling them in ways that don't just change their skin, but alter their basic DNA.

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.

Woods hadn't planned to make any new music in 2017, happy to rest temporarily on the laurels of last year's excellent City Sun Eater In The River Of Light. Then the election happened, and the Brooklyn band found itself — like many around the country — bewildered about what to do next. So it did what it knows best: it made more music. The songs on the resulting album, Love Is Love, don't directly reference politics or offer slogans or screeds. But they're clearly about the aftermath of Nov.

Pages