Lars Gotrich

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

How many times has Washington, D.C. endured a Fugazi cover from a touring band? Specifically, how many times has Washington, D.C. endured a cover of "Waiting Room"? Too many times. It's okay, we get it: "Waiting Room" is a jam.

This week's episode of All Songs Considered is a show of contrasts — cotton-candy pop one moment (from mxmtoon), raging punk sung in Farsi the next (from Khiis) — and then calming, instrumental, prog rock courtesy The Quiet Temple. For All Songs Considered's nearly 20 years, we've tried to live up to our namesake and on this show, we consider more drastic ends of the song spectrum than we have in recent memory.

Appropriately timed for spring, this month's selection of best albums is tethered together by the spirit of evolution. On Orange, the prodigious, Pulitzer-winning composer Caroline Shaw offers a blossoming rendition of string quartet music, while Glen Hansard has opened up his lovely acoustic palette to color it with newfound, worldly flourish on This Wild Willing.

The arbitrary boundaries dividing music into genres, localities and charts have all but eroded. This month's collection of songs is a small, but tremendous, piece of proof.

YouTube

FKA Twigs didn't just launch a sound, but a way of moving through it.

YouTube

Look, some of us aren't caught up with Game of Thrones.

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

When singer Norah Jones dropped her much-beloved debut album Come Away With Me in 2002, she won over legions of fans with her soul-soothing croon and blend of jazzy pop and bluesy folk. In more recent years she's explored a much deeper and sometimes darker sonic landscape. You can hear this remarkable range on her latest album, Begin Again, an inspired and often moody collection of songs she wrote and recorded with a number of collaborators, including Jeff Tweedy and Thomas Bartlett.

Pages