Kimberly Junod

Eleven years ago, after a Metallica show, a gentleman named Warren told me "We have this band you have to hear." I jump into his car, he pops the CD in the player, and this blares out: "Oh, there ain't no rest for the wicked / Money don't grow on trees / I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed / There ain't nothing in this world for free."

The Head and the Heart's latest album, Living Mirage, is warm, open and definitely leans hard on the "heart" part of the band's name. The band went to Joshua Tree in the desert to create the music. The trip was bassist Chris Zasche's idea — he thought the wide-open landscape would give the member's all a chance to start fresh and maybe see themselves differently.

Karen O is a punk rock icon known for snarling, searing live shows as lead singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

David Bazan has been releasing solo records steadily for the past decade, but Phoenix marks his first album returning as Pedro the Lion in 15 years. The record was inspired by Phoenix, Ariz., where Bazan lived until he was 12 years old.

As you may guess from the title of her third solo album, Leyla McCalla tackles social and economic issues pretty directly on The Capitalist Blues. The multi-instrumentalist and Carolina Chocolate Drops alumna sings about everything from injustice and poverty to her daughter's experience with elevated levels of lead.

The Beths is a rising band in the indie-pop scene, and yes, there is an Elizabeth leading the band! There is also a Jonathan, a Benajmin, and for today's session, a Trystan, for those of you wondering where the harmonies are coming from in this mini-concert.

What could be better than a new project built on the mutual fandom and friendship of two of our World Cafe favorites? Phoebe Bridgers grew up as a fan of Conor Oberst's band Bright Eyes, while Oberst became an instant fan of Bridgers when they played a show together a few years ago in LA.

Imagine being a young touring band playing a house party when the host approaches you, sits you down on his gold-encrusted fireplace and reads you his manifesto. Yes, that's one of the many interesting things that happened to BAILEN while on the road.

On her wonderful new album The Question, Anna Tivel zooms in on the kinds of people who don't usually get the red carpet treatment and makes them the stars of her songs. From the janitor sweeping up garbage at the theater late at night to a mother experiencing homelessness, Tivel's characters are so vivid and nuanced that each song could sustain its own feature film.

When Mikaela Straus, who records as King Princess, says "I've never been subtle. I don't think now is the time," she means it. Straus is a producer, multi-instrumentalist, writer and emerging gay icon with incredible confidence charisma and the musical chops to back it up.

Guster's latest album, Look Alive, is a trippy and textured twist on everything you might already love about the band. Lead singer Ryan Miller and drummer Brian Rosenworcel dropped by to talk about the making of the album, which included three producers, Leo Abrahams, John Congleton and Collin DuPuis, as well as a very fruitful visit to synthesizer and keyboard heaven, a.k.a. Canada's National Music Centre.

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Twenty years into his career, it's safe to say Josh Ritter is a master songwriter and musician.

The guy who always calls it like he sees it pays tribute to his late friend, mentor, and outlaw music icon, Guy Clark. In this session, we welcome back Steve Earle for a live performance.

Rising star Nilüfer Yanya caught so much well-deserved buzz with her first two EPs, it was difficult for her to carve out time to write a full-length debut album. But the Londoner has done it, and her debut, Miss Universe, out now, shows off the catchy melodies and grounded guitar playing that first earned Yanya attention, not to mention her unique and stunning voice.

If you're a fan of the band Metric, you might know their original name was Mainstream. It's worth sharing this tidbit since the band has spent the last 20 years making and publishing its own music outside the mainstream, while being quite successful.

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