Marissa Lorusso

The Mountain Goats have surprise-released an EP today called Hex of Infinite Binding. "I used to release a whole bunch of EPs," singer John Darnielle says in a press release about the four new songs. "I miss the general spiritual realm of the EP and am hereby centering an intention to spend more time thereat. These songs represent, in part, the first salvo of my resolve."

On the forthcoming Den-Mate album Loceke, Washington, D.C.-based songwriter Jules Hale excavates the complexity of her emotional landscapes, wrapping them in explosive, vibrant dream-pop. Whereas last year's Entropii EP was, Hale explains, "based on elemental subjects," Loceke is built on a series of alter egos and characters meant to represent the strengths, demons and personality quirks we all carry around with us.

After Camp Cope's second song at the Tiny Desk, singer Georgia "Maq" McDonald let out a tiny laugh. "We've never done this before — we've never been quiet," she said. "Not once in our entire lives!" Bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich joked that it was perhaps a "good lesson" to "rock out in your mind." ("Thinking," Maq clarified.)

Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers share a musical language: thoughtful, often sparse rock arrangements that bolster deeply self-aware, intimate lyrics. There's a sense of wisdom and compassion in the stories they tell, often undercut by a dark humor — like the kind of friend you'd dream of having to help nurse you through a heartbreak or help you find the fun in a stagnant situation.

There's a myth about self reflection: that it leads to self-love; that gaining an understanding of ourselves always brings peace. Perhaps that's true in the long term. But sometimes when we go looking for ourselves, we don't always like what we find.

Last year, NPR Music issued a correction to the history of popular music with our list of the 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women. This year, we sought to capture a new canon as it's forming with our list of The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+.

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