Megan Buerger

After a year of touring, New York City's Sunflower Bean are back with "I Was a Fool," a glistening and gloomy love song that makes you feel a little bit happy, a little bit sad, and a little bit like you want to dance. Singer and bassist Julia Cumming, who plays in the trio with guitarist Nick Kivlen and drummer Jacob Faber, tells NPR they wanted to capture the heart-sickening dizziness of all-consuming love. "It's confusing," she says, "that's the point."

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.

Nic Fanciulli knows writer's block. Already an established DJ when he began making music more than a decade ago, he used pseudonyms like Skylark and Buick Project (collaborations with engineer Andy Chatterley) out of fear that his own works weren't up to snuff. Not even a Grammy nomination for his 2007 remix of Tiefschwarz's "Damage" helped his confidence. "I was overthinking everything," he tells NPR.

The title of Tei Shi's debut album, Crawl Space, is an ode to the shadowy room she used as a child to overcome her fear of the dark. Recording her first album stirred up similar feelings of dread. "Suddenly, I was six again," she tells NPR. To summon some courage and reconnect with her inner-heroine, the Colombian-Canadian singer (born Valerie Teicher) dug up a stash of old home videos. Her song, "Say You Do," begins and ends with a crushingly earnest recording of her as a child, confessing her insecurities. "I'm a bad singer," she says. "Can't do anything well.

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 back-flipping, glowstick-flinging, twerk titans of the EDM main stage have been succeeded by an unlikely assembly of bedroom beatmakers. Cashmere Cat, Mura Masa and Zhu are, in many ways, the polar opposite of DJs who sparked the genre's recent commercial boom. Soft-spoken and enigmatic, they're homebodies-turned-headliners who are more interested in eccentricities and atmospheres than builds and drops.

Dance music producers are quick to applaud themselves for pushing boundaries, but few do it with the ingenuity or finesse of Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson, who together are the London-via-Belfast production duo Bicep. Known for exquisite live sets that revive forgotten strains of house, garage, ambient and disco without an ounce of predictability, they're leading a new wave of eclectic electronic music that prizes curatorial taste above all else.

In January, Alex Crossan — the Guernsey-born, London-based DJ and producer known as Mura Masa — exhaled for what felt like the first time in two years. He'd finally put the finishing touches on his self-titled debut album, which is packed with A-list guest stars like A$AP Rocky, Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) and Charli XCX.

Matthew Dear sometimes has a hard time quieting his mind. The dance-rock innovator dropped partying when his daughters were born and took up an interest in mindfulness and meditation to feel more present. But when you're a touring musician juggling several side projects (including his techno alias, Audion) and a constant case of jet lag, the crunchy stuff doesn't always cut it — you want chemicals. On a particularly grueling tour stop in Australia, a friend offered him Modafinil, a drug used to treat narcolepsy.

Lunice, the boundary-pushing hip-hop producer known for collaborations with Hudson Mohawke (with whom he produces as the duo TNGHT) and Azealia Banks, is finally gearing up to release his debut album, CCCLX, or 360 in Roman numerals. Out this September on LuckyMe, the project is some five years in the making and, as the title suggests, aims to be more than a one- or two-dimensional experience. Rather, it's an avant-garde mix of jolting, electronic hip-hop inspired by, and designed for, the stage.

Ever get the nagging feeling that catastrophic danger is looming and the world could end at any minute? Sure you do, it's 2017! Unsettling as it may be, some would say the only way to get through it is by sticking together. In ODESZA's new, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi music video, that's exactly the takeaway.

Few artists have conquered underground dance music as swiftly as Maceo Plex. Over the past decade, the Miami-born producer (real name: Eric Estornel) known for powerful, sultry deep house and techno has deftly walked the tightrope between the underground and the mainstream: prominent enough to headline a stage at Coachella yet niche enough for Europe's highbrow club circuit. It's the kind of impossible sovereignty most DJs dream of, but Estornel knows it won't last, especially in today's volatile climate. So he's shifting gears.

If electronic music is best described as a journey, many of the tracks topping today's charts are joyrides down the Vegas strip — blissed-out pop vocals, bass stunts and flashy, dramatic synths designed to spur sensory overload. That's all well and good, but it's a small snapshot of a vast genre.

Craving real connection? Forget your darkest secret or most embarrassing moment, and tell someone what you dreamed about last night. That's getting personal. Take it from Zach Shields and Maize LaRue, who make up Night Things, a budding Los Angeles synth-pop band that sounds like a sunny reboot of Duran Duran.

Thanks to La La Land, Hollywood is getting shine for its magical skyline and hamster-wheel hustle. But if the film's characters had been more into house music than old-school jazz, Phantoms could've provided the perfect soundtrack. The production duo — Kyle Kaplan and Vinnie Pergola, two former teen actors who traded the red carpet for the recording studio — makes escapist, vocal-heavy dance music inspired by the city's surreal nightlife, an amusement park of gritty warehouses and glitzy nightclubs in which everyone's trying to make it.

"Heathen," the new single from London band Colouring, is about believing. Specifically, it's about believing in love — or, more accurately, romanticism, following your heart even when the odds are stacked against you. But it's also about believing in each other, even when it feels like we've lost ourselves. Frontman Jack Kenworthy wrote it last fall in a state of Brexit-Trump shock, and says he felt paralyzed, powerless and frustrated by a lack of control.

Dating can feel like a soulless sport, but Lemaitre, a Norwegian indie-electronic duo known for bouncy rhythms and catchy hooks, sees beauty in our collective agony. Take "Playing To Lose," a brooding R&B jam from its 2016 EP, Afterglow. The song is about someone looking for love in all the wrong places, but Lemaitre makes the dreary topic surprisingly optimistic. Weaving together heavy drums, hopeful hooks and guest vocalist Stanaj's fluttering falsetto, they capture the highs and lows of intimacy, culminating in a rousing chorus that swells around and around again.