Piotr Orlov

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

The way recording engineer Michael Reilly tells it in the liner notes of Panola County Spirit, Raymond Walker, the eightysomething patriarch of the Walker Family of Como, Mississippi, was always a singer of some renown. In fact, he was once the leader of a locally legendary (though never recorded) gospel vocal group called The Longtime Travelers.

Son Little is the embodiment of the truism that most overnight successes take years. Around Philadelphia, the singer/guitarist who goes by his given name Aaron Livingston has been a known entity at least since (his words) "mumbling/freestyling/singing the hook" on The Roots' "Guns Are Drawn," a dubwise track from the group's 2004 album The Tipping Point.

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

Note: NPR's audio for First Listens comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.


Finding an acceptable line between influence and appropriation has dogged musicians for generations, and Dexter Story addresses the issue in surprising and joyous ways on Wondem, his second album as a bandleader.

Even in the world of outré electronics, the experimental-music swings of Chicagoan Jamal Moss are radical. If you have the hips, stomach and brain for a steady stream of sonic surprises, he's your man in lo-fi techno. Among the many technologically astute and historically Afrocentric monikers Moss hides behind, Hieroglyphic Being has come to be his best known­ — if only because the labels through which Moss releases HB records (beside his self-run Mathematics Recordings) have the widest distribution.