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When Ahmed Badr was 8 years old, his family's home in Baghdad was bombed in the midst of the Iraq War. The family was uninjured. They moved to Syria, which was peaceful then, and in 2008, they came to the U.S. as refugees.

Writing helps Badr deal with what he's been through, and he wants to give other young people the same outlet. Now a student at Wesleyan University, Badr founded the website Narratio to empower others to tell their stories.

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Krystle Warren has been compared to artists like Tracy Chapman and Nina Simone. The latter comparison is particularly intriguing: Not only does Warren share that icon's talent for evocative storytelling, but she also lives in France, as Simone once did.

By night, they play gigs. By day, they sample ramen in cities across America.

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Singer José James has been best known as a modern-day jazz singer, but his latest album, Love In A Time Of Madness, sets him on the path to become a powerful force in contemporary R&B. "Closer" is a perfect example of his new direction.

Set List

  • "Closer"

Photo: Davis Bell/KCRW.

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Absolutely Not are absolutely fab. After a few promising EPs of glammed-up garage-punk, the Chicago band is set to release Errors, its spastic and ridiculously fun debut full-length. This is a punk record dialed into an alien frequency with a heavy production that makes the spare instrumentation (guitar, keyboards, drums) sound like a spaceship crashing into Earth.

If the word "aura" is defined as a pervasive atmosphere, then it's a perfect title for this piece by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, who has a knack for creating vivid sonic environments.

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