Doug Mosurock

Modern Music was a small independent record shop located in the Meidaimae neighborhood of Tokyo, where from 1980 through its closure in 2014, a revolution against mainstream music was mounted. Its owner, Hideo Ikeezumi, who passed away earlier this year, made certain that Modern Music was well-stocked with releases that reflected his own panoramic tastes.

Throw some guidelines for artistic conduct and appropriation into a small collective of musicians based in the same sleepy town (Olympia, Washington, in this case) and you can begin to see how inspiration takes root and how a scene is born. Chris McDonnell's Trans FX project, over the course of three albums released in the past two years, has deftly moved from the recesses of goth to the kind of blasted grandeur found in David Bowie's Berlin trilogy.

Glaswegian quartet AMOR is one of the greater, and darkly pleasant, recent surprises in dance music. Leader Richard Youngs (vocals, keyboards) needs little introduction to followers of experimental sound art, with a body of work spanning decades and encompassing hundreds of releases — from ruminative folk (1998's Sapphie) to mournfully piercing displays of noise and tape loops (Advent) and points in-between both introspective and maximal.

The journey between Adelaide, the port city and capital of South Australia, and Anacortes, Washington spans well over 8,000 miles. It's a distance that, for the second time in its career, the six members of Adelaide band Wireheads have traveled to record an album, specifically to gain access to K Records/Dub Narcotic/Beat Happening lynchpin Calvin Johnson once more, as a producer for their fourth full-length Lightning Ears.

At face value, Ravenna, Italy's Havah makes dark rock with a soul of stone, a melancholic coming-to-terms with the fight against historic evils, which rise and threaten once more. Ostensibly a concept album about resistance fighters — some barely in their teens — in the mountains and countryside around Ravenna, who fought back for their own survival against Nazis and brownshirts alike during WWII, Contravveleno's songs are based on the tales passed down from that generation onward.

"Glass Walls," from The Terminals' new album Antiseptic, revels in an antiquity that's earned through experience. There may not be any better way to gain perspective on the history of this Christchurch, New Zealand, band than to start at the beginning of that journey. For that, we'd have to look all the way back to when guitarist and vocalist Stephen Cogle and drummer Peter Stapleton cut their teeth in Vacuum — a late '70s outfit that, in sound and membership, forms a Rosetta stone for Kiwi underground music.

The target that New York's Endless Boogie aims to hit with its music is about an inch wide and 10,000 feet deep. That the band threads the needle every time speaks not to the message implicit in its name (yes, this is fried electric-blues boogie; yes, its songs tend to roll on for considerable lengths), but to the satisfaction that message suggests.

Written as an aside to having lost a slot opening for The King Khan & BBQ Show on the grounds that the band's music was "too depressing," WVWhite's "Drag Down" sets the pace for the Columbus, Ohio, quartet's second album, House Of The Spiritual Athletes. But something a little more involved is happening here: We're not only listening to a band hone in on its sound for the foreseeable future, but also hearing the manifestation of a two-generation indie-rock family tree.

Feral Ohms is a Bay Area power trio comprising Ethan Miller on guitar and vocals, bassist Josh Haynes and drummer Chris Johnson. Having been involved in some of the most primal psychedelic outings of recent decades as the frontman for Comets On Fire, Miller gleefully regresses to the point immediately before the release of that group's 2001 album, up until now the most unhinged performance of his musical career.

Philadelphia's Purling Hiss is now eight idiosyncratic albums into a remarkable career, and the new High Bias moves freely in tandem with the psychedelic, jam-oriented early works of bandleader Mike Polizze — as well as the unwashed, long-haired pop strum of 2009's Public Service Announcement and 2014's Weirdon. It also doubles down on the grungy, mainstream aspirations of 2013's Water On Mars, taking that album's cleaned-up aesthetics and pushing them into prismatic near-detachment.

Review: Fuzz, 'II'

Oct 14, 2015

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.

Review: Wavves, 'V'

Sep 23, 2015

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.