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All Songs Considered

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.

Of all the songs from The xx's excellent album I See You to remix for the dance-floor, "A Violent Noise" is, thematically, a funny choice. Sung mostly by Oliver Sim, it is about negatively losing yourself in the music, an escape where "every beat is a violent noise." The notion is mirrored by the music, while the band's low-end atmospheric production and glacial doomed echoes layer on the dread, it does so without truly following through on either of the chorus' warnings: There is no beat and there is no violence.

Timmhotep Aku is an NPR Music contributor and occasional guest host for our +1 podcasts. This week he talks with Matt Martians and Syd of the soul band The Internet.

The Internet is greater than the some of its parts. The Internet I'm referring to in this case is the band consisting of founding members Matt Martians and Syd, as well as guitarist Steve Lacy, bassist Patrick Paige II and drummer Christopher A. Smith, a group of millennials in love with the traditions of R&B and soul.

Legend has it that the band Pink Floyd once played so loudly at a show that the sheer volume had killed all the fish in a nearby pond.

Now there's a new species of shrimp, named after Pink Floyd, that can kill fish by making a loud noise. Synalpheus pinkfloydi rapidly opens then snaps closed its large claw, creating a sound that can reach up to 210 decibels — louder than a typical rock concert and loud enough to kill small fish nearby.

Frank Ocean's show on Beats 1, Blonded, has become a testing ground for new singles. First it was his collaboration with Calvin Harris and Migos, "Slide," then in mid-March, the gauzy "Chanel" rendered in several different versions throughout the set.

I've always been an album guy. I love to hear an album in full, uninterrupted. But for the last eight years or so, my love of live music has superseded my love for studio recordings. Small clubs with great sound have propelled that passion. I also love the community small shows create. Thanks to the access my job provides, I see 400 to 600 bands a year.

When Future Islands singer Samuel T. Herring performs, he mixes vein-bulging intensity with a curious kind of smoothness — the kind that, when it accompanies sweet dance moves, can launch a thousand GIFs in a single hip-sway.

Jack White has made countless contributions to rock 'n' roll: with The White Stripes, with The Raconteurs, with The Dead Weather, as a label owner and musical preservationist, as a solo artist.

The history of '80s D.C. hardcore is extremely well documented; its importance doesn't need to be boot-stomped into the ground anymore. The '90s, less so, as the scene and Dischord Records, in particular, moved onto more melodic and angular ventures (see: Jawbox, Fugazi, Lungfish). But there were still those who held the torch for fast and unruly hardcore, and few ran with it as maniacally as Battery.

From Beyoncé's frank and liberating "Blow" to Marina And The Diamonds' meta, media-scrutinizing "Sex Yeah," pop music's relationship to sex positivity has evolved a lot since Sophie B. Hawkins' "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" (that song still rules, though). Sex is complicated!

Three years ago, singer and guitarist Jenna Moynihan saw the words "Daddy Issues" written on the wall at a Nashville DIY venue and assumed — with what seems like utterly charming feminist optimism — that it was the name of an all-girl punk group. Sadly, it wasn't; fortunately, Moynihan chose to recruit some friends to take up the moniker themselves. The resulting trio — which also includes drummer Emily Maxwell and bassist Jenna Mitchell — makes stormy, grungey pop that can be charming and trenchant in equal measure.

Maybe you heard it too: murmurs of a "new Beyoncé song," accompanied by whatever it is that gasping and genuflecting sounds like when transmitted via Twitter and Facebook, then the purr of a song playing through the headphones of the devoted everywhere, begun, as in a round, at slightly different moments.

If you like a little dirt in your power-pop, Needles//Pins should already be on your radar. The Vancouver trio has been pumping out the punk-fueled pop jams since 2010, releasing albums and 7"s on labels that know a thing or two about scuzzy hooks (Portland's Dirt Cult, Germany's Erste Theke Tontraeger).

Can made music from an imaginary country, one with its own traditions and language — which means none at all. In its work, jazz, funk, electronic, psychedelic and minimalist music ran wild through impossible valleys and fantastic mountaintops. Some call it krautrock by virtue of the band's German home base in Cologne. Most just call it Can.

Debut albums aren't supposed to be this self-assured and sharp — but then again, H.Grimace did take its sweet time. The London-based, Anglo-Australian post-punk band formed in 2011 as a songwriting partnership between Hannah Gledhill (vocals/guitar) and Marcus Browne (guitar), along with Corin Johnson (bass) and Diago Gomes (drums). Self Architect — the culmination of a few promising EPs — explores identity and cultural power dynamics, led by Gledhill's gripping voice.

Since its inception, hip-hop has been grappling with the timeless question Marvin Gaye posed on his seminal 1971 album: What's Going On?

This weekend happens to mark the 33rd anniversary of Gaye's own untimely death (on April 1, 1984) resulting from a domestic dispute with his father that happened just one day before the singer/songwriter's birthday. Gaye would've turned 77 this year.

Actor and singer Jack Black interrupted a performance with his band Tenacious D to break into an a cappella version of Prince's "When Doves Cry."

The moment came while the band was playing the song "Double Team" during the German music festival Rock Am Ring.

It goes without saying that we're living in strange times. The primary metaphor for our era — a theater of the absurd — is constantly invoked across the cultural and geographic spectrum. Well... dystopian times call for absurd pleasures. Just don't let it be boring.

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