Lars Gotrich

Stephanie Richards' trumpet sounds like deep space wrapped around your head, a flood in the endless void.

This might very well be the ultimate lullaby. Right at the start of the 2018 SXSW Music Festival, Max Richter's eight-hour composition Sleep was performed overnight to an audience tucked into 150 beds. They — the audience, not the tireless group of musicians who performed the piece — slept, dreamed and sometimes snored through this trance-inducing experience.

Terry Riley's In C might be considered one of the seminal pieces of minimalism, but at its heart it's an open invitation. The score resides on a single sheet of paper with 53 phrases to be repeated by an indefinite number of musicians.

After much criticism around last year's round of '70s rockers and no women, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominees for the class of 2017 this morning, which include first-time nominees Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, Bad Brains, Joan Baez and Depeche Mode.

There's a relentless antagonism to Total Abuse that is so, so satisfying. When it formed in 2006, the Texas band first looked to iconic '80s hardcore punk for its sound. But weirdness soon took hold, crawling into the dank headspace between the Swedish noise-rock band Brainbombs and Black Flag's most deranged output.

Verses are overrated. If your song has a chorus with a walloping right hook, why risk the wind-up? The New York noise-punk trio Cold Sweats spends very little time with a throbbing, Pixies-indebted bass line in "Hater Failure" before lunging into the festering cherry on top.

Twenty years ago, emo was smack-dab in the middle of its defining years. The Midwestern U.S., in particular, gave us Braid, The Promise Ring, Christie Front Drive, Mineral and Rainer Maria. One of the region's lesser-known, but no less beloved, bands was Kansas City's Boys Life, with its decidedly more abrasive and messy (but also cinematically windswept) sound.

Pinkish Black swings moods like none other. Since 2010, the Fort Worth, Texas, duo has stuck to synths, drums and Daron Beck's Gothic croon without the urge to expand — but it evolves expansively anyway. Bottom Of The Morning, the band's third record, all but abandons Pinkish Black's previous metallic tendencies for the eerie heft of '70s Italian horror-movie soundtracks (think Goblin or Ennio Morricone on a sinister jazz kick).

If there's a secret world inside the guitar, Tashi Dorji wants to find it. Raised in Bhutan and based in Asheville, N.C., for the last 15 years, Dorji plays solo guitar music that's at once frenetic and tranquil, as his fingers flick across and hammer down strings; tiny sparks ignite the next move.

Groove can be an ugly word in metal. But just because some bands haven't evolved beyond Pantera's (awesome) Cowboys From Hell, that doesn't mean the groove can't find nastier pastures. Twitching Tongues has been particularly adept at the moody mosh, where angst broods with Alice In Chains-inspired melodies, a sludgy Crowbar crunch and Colin Young's husky baritone.

The harrowing noise-punk trio Bambara smears discontent with the gloom of the Birthday Party, the spit of Swans and the lysergic mystery of Red Temple Spirits, but understands those are only points of departure. Dreamviolence, from 2013, was a promising if limited debut, mainly because its Bushwick basement recordings were cloaked in a muddy atmosphere.

We're all gonna die...someday. And if there's mass extinction, what's left of humanity will face nature's wrath, stored in centuries of environmental abuse and neglect. With its second album Litany, Dead to a Dying World plays the soothsayer of the agricultural apocalypse, reaped in a searing and gorgeous vision of crust-punk, doom- and black-metal, with a viola's sorrowful folk melodies stringing it all together.

You can be sad, but you don't have to be whiny. New Orleans' Woozy has a whole lot of feelings, but also a whole lot of not giving a damn. This appears to be the trio's M.O. on Blistered, its debut album after a few EPs and split releases. "Gilding The Lily" sounds like a Rainer Maria 45 spinning off-center; it's wobbly and weird, with a twin-guitar-and-vocal interplay that hesitates and jolts forward without missing a beat.

What is "T.O.D.D.," anyway? Taft On Double Dare? Totally Ontological Dungeons & Dragons? Totebag Offer, Done Deal? Taylor O))) Drone-Doom? Thurston's On-Deck Disaster? Thanks, ODB Dropped a Deuce?

Obnox exists in the static bleedthrough of punk and soul music. It's a place where Cleveland's Lamont "Bim" Thomas has spent decades dialing in deep and ripping off the knob in bands like Bassholes and This Moment In Black History. But with Obnox, Thomas lays himself bare in mind-numbing fuzz that doesn't forget the hook's the thing.

Heavy-metal album artwork can be transportive: You can depend on Paolo Girardi's mangled serpents and Kev Walker's mutant nightmares to guide you to metal mayhem that matches the cover.

PWR BTTM's vowel-less moniker boldly announces its intentions, with the power out front and the silliness below. The name's striking, Google-able, and helps Liv Bruce (drums/vocals) and Ben Hopkins (guitar/vocals) take control of their personal narrative. "As queer people, a lot of our lives are prescribed for us in terms of who we 'can' be in pop culture," Hopskins told Overblown.

Kowloon Walled City's bummer jams are bona fide: Just hit play and proceed to heave your body in sadness. But on its third album, Grievances, the San Francisco noise-rock band isn't always obvious in how it chooses to be heavy.

Maybe the name Ex-Breathers is a punk joke, like how in the '90s every zine and show flyer listed the former members of bands in parenthesis to help y'all keep track of the Page Six punk drama. It's just as well, because three years after their debut album, the Tallahassee punks almost sound like a different band, or at least an evolved one.

In her autobiography, 14th century nun and Spanish mystic Teresa of Ávila wrote of her encounter with an angel that thrust a "long spear of gold" into her heart: "The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.

When listeners aren't writing to NPR to comment on a story, they mostly just want to know what music was played between segments. We call those buttons or breaks or deadrolls, and they give a breath after reporting a tragedy, lighten the mood after you most definitely cried during StoryCorps, or seize a moment to be ridiculously cheeky. How could you not play Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" following a story about why women shiver in the office?

Sometimes it's just better from the war horse's mouth. Here's Hammercult's statement on "Rise Of The Hammer":

"Rise Of The Hammer" is really all about what Hammercult is about: Power, intensity and badassness! This is the first song on the Built For War album, which welcomes the listener to dive inside the unstoppable war-machine and join the ride as Heavy Metal conquers another milestone on its path! Chuck Norris ain't got s*** on Hammercult.

When you record on one of Scandinavia's largest pipe organs, the result damn well better be a thing of monstrous beauty and bombast. Anna von Hausswolff took her band and longtime producer Filip Leyman to the concert hall Acusticum in Piteå, Sweden, to work on her third album, The Miraculous. If the first single, "Come Wander With Me/Deliverance," is any indication, be prepared to meet thy blown-out, organ doom.

Deafheaven achieved a rare feat with 2013's Sunbather: The band became a legit metal crossover. Sunbather draws from black metal, but was also uplifting with its inventive guitar work and ecstatic sense of propulsion. The group has since moved from the Bay Area to L.A. and adopted a darker tone, as heard in "Brought To The Water," the lead track from New Bermuda.

In 1998, Unwound was closing in on the height of its powers. Two years earlier, the Olympia band had released the career-defining Repetition, which dug into Unwound's weirder grooves with a muscle-constricting tension that, when released, made it feel as if the world was opening up. Challenge For A Civilized Society explored that mode with more studio experimentation, as the band added synths, saxophone and samples. The result was pulsing, ecstatic.

Gloom can be thrilling. No, really. Rev up a morose guitar riff swirled in reverb with a mean rhythm section, and suddenly a dank basement show throbs. That's where Cleveland's Pleasure Leftists thrive, with former members of the hardcore bands 9 Shocks Terror and Homostupids joined by vocalist Haley Morris.

After a series of singles and EPs, "Protection" comes from the post-punk band's debut album, The Woods Of Heaven. It's a moody, relentlessly driving track with some glammy, palm-muted flair, spun out of orbit by a warbly bass line and vocals that wail sky-high.

Look at the liner notes to any record by The Go-Betweens, and every song is co-credited "R. Forster/G. McLennan." Perhaps it was out of mutual respect, perhaps it was out of creative solidarity, but as with "Lennon/McCartney," fans of the Australian rock band could always tell who wrote what song; Grant McLennan and Robert Forster's distinct songwriting, vocal and guitar personalities were always on full display.

Sometimes rock 'n' roll can be a load of bull, gamed by release schedules, promotion cycles and Twitter beefs that turn as tepid as a beer left swimming in a swampy cooler all night. Featuring two guys who've been through the grind — Zak Sally played bass with Low in the '90s and Dale Flattum was in Steel Pole Bath Tub — and Gay Witch Abortion drummer Shawn Walker, The Hand has decided to cut through it all: no records, no tours, no studios, just dirty, full-throttle rock 'n' roll how they want it, when they want it.

It's been four years since James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg released Avos. The understated acoustic guitar duo record was exceptionally conceived and played, especially given that it was the first time the two met.

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