NPR Music News

Not much in contemporary music rivals standing under a roof with Chris Stapleton and his band as they raise it in honor of American music. Stapleton ascended to stardom after sweeping the 2016 CMA Awards for his powerful debut album Traveller, but by then the 38-year-old Kentuckian Nashville mainstay had spent a young lifetime in the slipstreams of Southern sound, and already understood how commitment, craft and love can make listeners' preconceptions about what's cool or current fall away.

The wait is over. Kendrick Lamar unleashed DAMN., his fourth studio album, on streaming services shortly after midnight on the east coast Friday, hours after it leaked online and about an hour after pre-orders popped up on his fans' phones.

DAMN. follows To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) and good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012), both pieces so ambitious and varied, richly envisioned and perfectly executed that Lamar could have retired a legend based on them alone. Expectations are justifiably high. Oh, and... U2? (Yes, U2.)

That bopping beat, that thick and wobbly synth bass, those voices — it's like I'm back at a middle school dance in the Atlanta suburbs, not knowing what to do with my hands.

Mika Vainio, a pioneer in the world of avant-garde electronic music and founding member of Finnish duo Pan Sonic, has died at 53. His death was confirmed by friends and family to numerous outlets. No cause of death was given.

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