Music is at its most potent when it expands, dissolves, changes and challenges borders. Separations of genre, geography, politics — none are a force more powerful than people getting together to make music in a room. That borderlessness is sewn into the fabric of the self-titled debut album by Alvvays, a Toronto band whose beach-pop seems to come straight from the California shore.
Never Hungover Again begins with a cold open — just a one-second chord and vocalist/guitarist Barry Johnson "looking at your face in the dark" — of a lanky pop song that already seems to be in progress. Joyce Manor has never been one to extend the drama, with albums shorter than it takes to watch an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast; the punk band can pack an emotional wallop with as much as a yelp.
Tim Presley has been performing as White Fence for a few years now, building on a diverse resume that borders on the impossible: He played in hardcore punk band The Nerve Agents in the late '90s, leads the space-rock group Darker My Love, was a member of the garage outfit Strange Boys, and even found time to join The Fall.
And we end today's show with a remembrance world-renowned American conductor Lorin Maazel has died. Maazel was born in 1930 in Paris and was a child prodigy. By age 5 he was taking violin lessons, by 7 he was conducting. And by the time he was a teenager he had conducted most of the major American orchestras. He spoke with NPR's Robert Siegel in 2009.
Richard Reed Parry is famous for making music sound big. As a core member of Arcade Fire, the Grammy-winning indie rock group from Montreal, he wields multiple instruments to help create deep, layered textures in which strings and synthesizers, slow ballads and disco dance tracks are all at home.
John Grant's songs don't mess around: The music isn't complicated, while the lyrics function as darts of retort and thought. His album Pale Green Ghosts is decorated with synthesizers, his voice often drenched in reverb; those tools and textures help make the record strong and everlasting.
Impulse Records is the legendary label that proudly delivered the "new thing" in jazz in the 1960s: avant-garde records from the likes of John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders. It also helped jazz cross over to a larger audience; quite a few flower children bought Impulse albums.