Lyndsey McKenna

The world-weary characters of Craig Finn's latest solo release, I Need A New War, have every right to call it a day. They crash on couches after accidents that don't get talked about. They drive, battling traffic on congested streets, seeking escape on the open road. They live in less-than-ideal apartments; letting bills pile up, the power gets disconnected. The city breaks them after years spent trying.

Joining me on this edition of All Songs Considered is NPR Music's Lyndsey McKenna, Marissa Lorusso and Joshua Bote for some sips of Rosé, bites of cupcakes and sweet music. Today's sounds include the legendary dub master and reggae king Lee "Scratch" Perry. At 83-years of age, he's just made a brilliant new record with another legendary producer, Adrian Sherwood.

Thank the heavens for the return of Carly Rae Jepsen, explorer of all worlds romantic; soothsayer of feelers and people striving to be feelers. Her singular brand of heart-eyed, teen-dream-pop, defined by her 2015 album E•MO•TION, is something to behold.

On this week's All Songs Considered we premiere new music from Aldous Harding. The artist from New Zealand made my number two album from 2017 (Party) and her latest song, "The Barrel," indicates that she'll be another year-end favorite of mine in 2019.

On this sprint through the week's best new albums, host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Lyndsey McKenna and Stephen Thompson for a whole lot of guitar rock, with a little bit of melancholy, acoustic beauty on the side. This includes Spielbergs, a group from Oslo, Norway, that makes its US debut with a fantastic squeal of feedback on This is Not the End; the L.A. quartet Cherry Glazerr, which just dropped its most emotionally potent and fully formed album ever; Girlpool, Le Butcherettes, the beautifully transporting songs of Tiny Ruins and more.

Over his songwriting career, Craig Finn's developed a reliably literary style. The thematic throughlines of his catalog demand a close reading and lend themselves to annotations; you could make a map out of mentions from his discography (in fact, it's been done).

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

You've donned the gay apparel and trolled the ancient Christmas Carol from Accounting, but the snow has turned to gray slush and whenever a mulled beverage is served, your uncle can't help but channel his inner Rob Thomas: "Man, it's a hot wine!" (The pun is solid, but the impression sounds more like Bill Murray's caterwauling howl in Scrooged.) You want to get in the spirit, but you're hardly dashing through the snow. What to do?

There's a certain kind of comfort found in the familiar, but the path there isn't always straightforward.

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