Marissa Lorusso

You've donned the gay apparel and trolled the ancient Christmas Carol from Accounting, but the snow has turned to gray slush and whenever a mulled beverage is served, your uncle can't help but channel his inner Rob Thomas: "Man, it's a hot wine!" (The pun is solid, but the impression sounds more like Bill Murray's caterwauling howl in Scrooged.) You want to get in the spirit, but you're hardly dashing through the snow. What to do?

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If we had to guess, we'd say Bangaville is more a state of mind than a physical location.

There's always a hint of transcendence in Robyn's music. It's why "Dancing On My Own" was such a perfect choice to soundtrack a moment of totally un-self-conscious, all-consuming, youthful freedom on the first season of HBO's Girls, as two of the titular characters dance around a Brooklyn bedroom, shaking off pain and heartbreak and awkward medical diagnoses. Sure, it's a limited liberation: the kind accessed by straight white girls who can afford health care and Brooklyn apartments.

The Mountain Goats have surprise-released an EP today called Hex of Infinite Binding. "I used to release a whole bunch of EPs," singer John Darnielle says in a press release about the four new songs. "I miss the general spiritual realm of the EP and am hereby centering an intention to spend more time thereat. These songs represent, in part, the first salvo of my resolve."

On the forthcoming Den-Mate album Loceke, Washington, D.C.-based songwriter Jules Hale excavates the complexity of her emotional landscapes, wrapping them in explosive, vibrant dream-pop. Whereas last year's Entropii EP was, Hale explains, "based on elemental subjects," Loceke is built on a series of alter egos and characters meant to represent the strengths, demons and personality quirks we all carry around with us.

After Camp Cope's second song at the Tiny Desk, singer Georgia "Maq" McDonald let out a tiny laugh. "We've never done this before — we've never been quiet," she said. "Not once in our entire lives!" Bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich joked that it was perhaps a "good lesson" to "rock out in your mind." ("Thinking," Maq clarified.)

Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers share a musical language: thoughtful, often sparse rock arrangements that bolster deeply self-aware, intimate lyrics. There's a sense of wisdom and compassion in the stories they tell, often undercut by a dark humor — like the kind of friend you'd dream of having to help nurse you through a heartbreak or help you find the fun in a stagnant situation.

There's a myth about self reflection: that it leads to self-love; that gaining an understanding of ourselves always brings peace. Perhaps that's true in the long term. But sometimes when we go looking for ourselves, we don't always like what we find.

Last year, NPR Music issued a correction to the history of popular music with our list of the 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women. This year, we sought to capture a new canon as it's forming with our list of The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+.

In 2014 I listened to "Dancing On My Own" by Robyn every day for 24 straight days. I wasn't alone; four of my friends did it, too. We were on a road trip, driving from Massachusetts to the west coast, down through California and back again. Someone put Robyn on the car stereo the first night of our trip, on a whim. This was four years after the song came out — just enough time for it to have faded into that somewhere between short- and long-term memories. I had maybe listened to the song a handful of times in the intervening years.

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In 2017, NPR Music published a list of the 200 Greatest Albums Made By Women

When Ratboys' Julia Steiner wrote "Figure," she did so from a place of pain.

"I wrote 'Figure' in the middle of the night in my bedroom a few years ago," she tells NPR Music, "and for me the song was a way to air all of my disparate frustrations and fears in one place."

It's a truth universally acknowledged that if it's pink, it'll likely be marketed exclusively to girls. (And, in that case, it'll probably cost more.) You may be tempted to think that fate has befallen our favorite pink drink, fretfully wondering: Is rosé just for women?

Netflix has greenlit a Dolly Parton anthology series, set to premiere in 2019, the company announced today. Each of the eight episodes will be based on one of Parton's songs, with the Emmy award-winning singer-songwriter appearing in select episodes and executive producing the series.

"As a songwriter, I have always enjoyed telling stories through my music," Parton said in a statement. "We hope our show will inspire and entertain families and folks of all generations."

San Francisco-based Pllush makes hazy dream-pop that pairs emotionally wrought lyrics with maxed-out shoegaze guitars. The band has developed a dense, harmony-rich sound over the course of several releases — all, up until now, under the name Plush. For the release of Stranger to the Pain, its forthcoming album, the band has added the second l to its name, honed its pop melodies and sharpened its guitar-heavy sound.

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.

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 2018 Tiny Desk Contest officially closed for entries last Sunday night. Videos poured in from every state across the country, featuring thousands of talented musicians performing behind thousands of desks.

For the artists who sent in their songs, the hardest part is over. But for us at NPR Music, it's just beginning. Our panel of judges is ready to watch your videos — and, in about a month, we'll announce this year's Contest winner.

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