Talia Schlanger

Break out the tissues, because Aurora says, "I have always enjoyed watching my songs make people cry."

Ty Segall is never predictable. He's a rock 'n' roll shape-shifter who has dabbled in experimental garage, British-influenced space rock, fuzzed-out acoustic folk and psych-pop. He has performed entire shows wearing a rubber baby mask, he's dressed as a mad scientist while explaining a concept he calls "emotional mugging" and, just for kicks, he's filmed himself smashing a toilet with producer Steve Albini.

For their debut album, the members of The Shelters got as good a helping hand as it gets: Tom Petty gave the band the keys to his recording studio and an invitation to open up for his band Mudcrutch on tour.

Bobby Rush is one of the last living blues legends of his generation. He toured the South and the chitlin' circuit in the '50s and was often forced to perform music behind a curtain for white audiences. Shortly before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Rush heard through fellow Chicago bluesman J.B.

In 2014, Angel Olsen reportedly told her publicist that she didn't want to do any more photo shoots in front of trees. That was the year she released her breakout record Burn Your Fire For No Witness, a melancholy heartbreaker that, in some cases, got her pigeonholed as a sad country singer. And lonely photos in front of trees weren't helping.

'Tis right around Christmas and wherever you go
It's "Run Rudolph Run," "Jingle Bells," "Let It Snow"

And while classics are great, and you love them no doubt
You may feel a little bit jingle belled out

But don't fret, for musical Santa is here!
With a playlist that brings you hip holiday cheer!

Hey Rosetta! delights with a sweet, heartfelt jam
Plus Sufjan Stevens with some holiday Ham...mond

Since 1981, Naoko Yamano has been the lead singer and driving force behind the pioneering Japanese pop-punk band Shonen Knife. She's still based in the band's hometown of Osaka, and after 35 years in the biz, she's about as plugged into the music scene in her home country as it gets.

In 1981 in Osaka, Japan, three young women with a shared love of the Ramones, The Beatles and the Buzzcocks decided to quit their office jobs and start a band. 35 years later, the members of Shonen Knife have cemented their status as cult heroes and pop-punk icons.

On the cover of Aaron Lee Tasjan's new record Silver Tears, he almost looks the perfect picture of an Americana star. He's wearing a cowboy hat, he's got a brooding expression and he's walking thoughtfully under a cloudy sky. And then there's the Bonanza-meets-disco-ball suit. Bejeweled with hand-glued pieces of mirror, it's a fitting outfit for an artist whose avant-garde and often irreverent approach reflects Americana back at itself.

In 2013, the Grammy-winning producer Ian Brennan and his wife, filmmaker Marilena Delli, traveled to the African country Malawi to record the music of inmates at the maximum-security Zomba Central Prison. They came back with a stunning collection of song-stories that made up the Grammy-nominated record I Have No Everything Here.

This week, Phil Collins released a memoir called Not Dead Yet. As if to prove the title's truth, he also announced new tour dates. Collins isn't dead yet, nor are many of his pioneering contemporaries — in fact, boomer musicians seem to be having a bit of a pop-culture moment.

In the "Raincoats" episode of Seinfeld, when Jerry describes his pal Elaine's new boyfriend as "a bit of a close talker," he doesn't mean it as a compliment. Jerry describes the ultimate social sinner who has no concept of personal space, who is so invasive that when he speaks he forces everyone around him to lean back lest they find themselves on a first-name basis with his pores.

Leonard Cohen's new album, You Want It Darker, certainly delivers on the promise of its title. It's a meditation on mortality that soars to the highest of musical heights and sinks to the lowest of vocal and existential depths. The record is truly one of the 82-year-old Cohen's best — and it was produced by his son, fellow musician Adam Cohen.

Talia here with a "longtime listener, first-time caller" moment. I've admired David Dye from afar for years, so I was thrilled when he welcomed me to make my first on-air appearance as the new Contributing Host on World Cafe. We talked about my past work as a host at the CBC, my history as a professional head-banger and our shared love of small venues. David was even gracious enough to let me spin a couple tunes.

Hi, World Cafe fans! I just moved to the U.S. from Toronto, Canada, to become World Cafe's new contributing host and producer. Yes, I'm from Drake's hometown. And yes, that's the most frequently asked question since I've been here. But if your musical knowledge north of the 49th parallel doesn't extend past Drizzy and The Six, you're in luck. I brought a pile of musical gifts across the border with me.

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