Lars Gotrich

When Kim Gordon dropped "Murdered Out" three years ago, her first single under her own name, she didn't ascribe it any significance. "It just kind of happened randomly," she told NPR at the time.

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The Highwaymen had "Highwayman," a song about outlaws sung by the outlaws of country music.

When Denzel Curry spits bars over a particularly decibel-shattering beat, there's a command of noise. The Miami rapper lives both inside and out of the mayhem ("Ricky," "Black Metal Terrorist"), but is just as comfortable revealing his soul ("Speedboat," "Clout Cobain") in productions and performances simultaneously hard and melodic. He's starting to come into his own as a rap chameleon, but lately he's been teasing another transformation as a shape-shifting rock frontperson.

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For reasons unknown, Chris Gaines is having a moment.

Have you ever had a roommate sell your stuff while you were on vacation? But instead of a ratty couch that won't nearly pay rent, it's super-intimate letters and recordings that you'd never want anyone to read or hear, like, ever? Madonna feels your pain.

Nearly 40 years into their career, The Flaming Lips remain remarkably ageless and endlessly creative. They return this week with another heady, psychedelic pop record inspired by a surreal art installation by frontman Wayne Coyne. On this week's New Music Friday, we climb inside the band's kaleidoscopic new record, The King's Mouth.

Miranda Lambert really knows how to announce a new single. For "It All Comes Out in the Wash" — a cute-as-hell country bop that reminds us that "hard times do eventually pass," as she put it in a press release — Lambert filmed her shirtless husband doing laundry. You know, as one does.

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An industrial beat clangs as a low drone hums.

Stream: Spotify, Apple Music.

Updated July 23, 2019: This is weekly, updated playlist. So if you missed one, especially a themed playlist, just hit me up on Twitter and I'll hook it up.

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When you have a voice like Brittany Howard, just about anybody looks good singing along.

On the edges and sometimes in the center of Jenny Hval's provocative avant-pop music, there's always been a bold vulnerability. The Norwegian musician constantly pushes the form, herself and her audience to examine complacency and identity, culminating in 2016's noisy, synth-driven Blood Bitch.

I always had WUOG on the radio back in the day — not just as a fan, but as one of the college station's music directors — to make sure there was a good variety of music in rotation. But when a DJ had to pee or take a smoke break, I knew: They'd play a long song — more specifically, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Not that there's anything wrong with GY!BE, just that there's more to drawn-out music than apocalyptic post-rock.

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Who would've thought that American Football's fruitful reunion would include a children's choir at the Tiny Desk?

Is there a Sean Paul of metal or drone that Jake Gyllenhaal can enthusiastically shout out? A musical hype-person who "makes every song better," but over blast beats or long, ponderous synths?

In a statement posted to Twitter on Monday, drummer Janet Weiss announced that she is leaving Sleater-Kinney.

"After intense deliberation and heavy sadness, I have decided to leave Sleater-Kinney," she writes. "The band is heading in a new direction and it is time for me to move on."

Nothing is permanent — these meat sacks we call bodies, the weekly Viking's Choice playlist available on Spotify and Apple Music. Seriously, if you'd been sitting on last week's mix of metal, punk, drone and other misfit music for a late-night sesh, it's gone — like dust in the wind, dude.

For more than a decade, the Viking's Choice column has been a safe space (or a festering wound, depending on whom you ask) for metal, punk, drone and all sorts of "weird" and/or "loud" music on NPR. You've heard me on the All Songs Considered podcast, and gotten irregular doses of my sonic realms on this blog.

Our curation game is strong at NPR Music, from All Songs Considered to Alt.Latino, to memorials that pay tribute to beloved musicians, to roséwave's sommelier-level summer bops.

Viking's Choice

Jun 17, 2019

Where heavy metal, heady psych, dreamy ambient, furious punk, chooglin' rock, twinkly emo and cotton-candy pop music all come to freak out. All of these disparate sounds make sense in the brain of NPR Music's Lars Gotrich — and are documented on his Viking's Choice column — because why can't Converge get cozy with Mariah Carey?

"Angels, your mother is about to feed you new music for five months straight,"
Charli XCX tweeted in May. "You deserve it and you're welcome." Depending on your appetite for futuristic pop, that's either a treat or a threat.

Updated Aug. 23, 2019: Vagabon's new album is now self-titled and coming out Oct. 18. It was previously called All the Women in Me. "Flood Hands" is now titled "Flood."

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Efterklang needed a break, but that never stopped the Danish trio from working with each other.

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