Bob Boilen http://wuis.org en Usman Riaz: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/usman-riaz-tiny-desk-concert This is simply astonishing. Watch twenty seconds and you'll be sucked into the world of Usman Riaz, an immensely talented 23-year-old Pakistani musician who will change your perception of how a guitar can sound and be played. What's more remarkable is that this Berklee College of Music whiz kid learned much of his dazzling guitar technique by watching YouTube videos at 16. He also learned what he calls "parlor tricks," like body percussion and harmonica. But the classically trained pianist also used the Internet to learn how to write and conduct orchestra pieces and make films. Sat, 19 Apr 2014 13:22:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 23347 at http://wuis.org Usman Riaz: Tiny Desk Concert Eternal Summers, 'A Burial' http://wuis.org/post/eternal-summers-burial The band's name tells you a lot about its sound. Eternal Summers make vibrant music. But as this video for "A Burial" unfolds, a darker side of this Roanoke, Va. band's song emerges. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:36:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 23206 at http://wuis.org Eternal Summers, 'A Burial' Photos Needed: We Want Your Sole http://wuis.org/post/photos-needed-we-want-your-sole Our new puzzler "<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/297836392/sole-of-a-band" target="_blank">Sole Of A Band</a>" mixes music with fashion by asking you to match music with a picture of an artist's shoes. I started the puzzler because I noticed that so often I could tell something about the music a person was playing by the shoes I saw them wearing. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:24:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 23152 at http://wuis.org Photos Needed: We Want Your Sole Courtney Barnett: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/courtney-barnett-tiny-desk-concert Courtney Barnett can tell you a story like she's your best friend — provided your best friend is a funny poet with an Australian accent. Listen to "Avant Gardener," an autobiographical account of trying to turn a life around through gardening, only to be foiled by a severe allergic reaction. The tale that follows at this Tiny Desk Concert, "History Eraser," is a ramble in an alcohol-fueled dream state; it features some of the best lyric-writing in music today. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 22990 at http://wuis.org Courtney Barnett: Tiny Desk Concert Song Premiere: José James, 'EveryLittleThing' http://wuis.org/post/song-premiere-jos-james-everylittlething Singer José James has a new album coming out on June 10 and you can tell from this song, "EveryLittleThing," the new record, <em>While You Were Sleeping,</em> is<em> </em>an electrifying new sound. He made a similar shift in style on a record well loved here at NPR in 2013, <em>No Beginning No End</em>. That record saw James shift his jazzy voice toward hip-hop. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:06:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 22968 at http://wuis.org Song Premiere: José James, 'EveryLittleThing' Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows http://wuis.org/post/bob-boilens-weekly-rainbows-5 <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozzlnNRpHO4</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvJXCNwzBq4</p> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 13:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 22877 at http://wuis.org Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows NPR Music Nominated For Three Webby Awards http://wuis.org/post/npr-music-nominated-three-webby-awards NPR Music has been nominated for many Webby Awards over the years (and even won a few), but we've rarely reached out and asked you to vote for us when we are. This year, the Webbys' eighteenth, we're particularly proud of our nominations.<p>The first is a video we conceived with <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15397557/ok-go" target="_blank">OK Go</a> to document the packing and moving of the Tiny Desk to NPR's new headquarters. The video was shot over a few days and the band had to play the song, a variation on "All Is Not Lost," hundreds of times. Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:27:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 22828 at http://wuis.org NPR Music Nominated For Three Webby Awards Eels, 'Mistakes Of My Youth' http://wuis.org/post/eels-mistakes-my-youth <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it8bSb-THFI</p> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:28:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 22732 at http://wuis.org Eels, 'Mistakes Of My Youth' The Sole Of A Band, April 9 http://wuis.org/post/sole-band-april-9 Baggy pants make different music than skinny jeans. Cowboy hats sound different than fedoras. T-shirt-and-jeans bands make a different noise than suit-and-tie bands. You can often look at a band's clothing and have a pretty good idea what it'll sound like.<p>But what about shoes? Over the last few months, I've been photographing the shoes of bands I see live, and I've come up with a test, a music quiz of sorts. Imagine this: If I play you a song and then show you four photos of shoes worn by musicians, will you be able to match the shoe to the song? Wed, 09 Apr 2014 19:26:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 22651 at http://wuis.org The Sole Of A Band, April 9 The Both: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/both-tiny-desk-concert Singer-songwriters <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14962491/aimee-mann">Aimee Mann</a> and <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14955750/ted-leo">Ted Leo</a> are often at opposite ends of the volume knob. But what started as separate sets during a mutual tour, then a few walk-ons during Leo's solo set, is now an adventure in collaboration and mutual songwriting — and the birth of The Both. Months after this Tiny Desk Concert, which we recorded in February, there's <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/04/06/297716051/first-listen-the-both-the-both">an album</a>. Mon, 07 Apr 2014 18:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 22480 at http://wuis.org The Both: Tiny Desk Concert The Sole Of A Band, April 3 http://wuis.org/post/sole-band-april-3 Baggy pants make different music than skinny jeans. Cowboy hats sound different than fedoras. T-shirt-and-jeans bands make a different noise than suit-and-tie bands. You can often look at a band's clothing and have a pretty good idea what it'll sound like.<p>But what about shoes? Over the last few months, I've been photographing the shoes of bands I see live, and I've come up with a test, a music quiz of sorts. Imagine this: If I play you a song and then show you four photos of shoes worn by musicians, will you be able to match the shoe to the song? Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 22206 at http://wuis.org The Haden Triplets: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/haden-triplets-tiny-desk-concert Petra, Rachel and Tanya Haden are three sisters in love with the art of singing. Born in 1971 to a famous musical father (Charlie Haden is a world-class upright jazz bassist), they've separately taken on vastly different music projects. You may have heard Petra with The Decemberists or tackling the music of The Who a cappella. Tanya plays in Let's Go Sailing, while Rachel sometimes turns up with The Rentals and other projects.<p>Together, they have a common love for American country and traditional songs, and that's what brought me to them and them to the Tiny Desk. Mon, 31 Mar 2014 19:42:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 21999 at http://wuis.org The Haden Triplets: Tiny Desk Concert Question Of The Week: Which Recent Album Will Hold Up The Best? http://wuis.org/post/question-week-what-recent-album-will-hold-best <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z2LNsifEzg</p> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 19:12:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 21993 at http://wuis.org Question Of The Week: Which Recent Album Will Hold Up The Best? Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows http://wuis.org/post/bob-boilens-weekly-rainbows-4 Every week I hear something amazing, see something inspiring and want to pass it on. These events are sometimes fleeting, sometimes iconic, but they stop me in my tracks. Bob's Rainbows is the place where I'll highlight the very best of my weekly music intake. [<em>Editor's note: Why rainbows? Sat, 29 Mar 2014 15:23:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 21894 at http://wuis.org Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows First Listen: Saintseneca, 'Dark Arc' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-saintseneca-dark-arc Banjo, baglama, bulbul, balalaika, bowed banjo, baritone ukulele, banjo, bass, bouzouki... Saintseneca might pick up any of these instruments at any given moment, and those are just the ones that start with the letter B. The band has its origins and heart in a small Appalachian town in Ohio, as well as a passion for sounds and textures with acoustic instruments at their core. Mon, 24 Mar 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 21473 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Saintseneca, 'Dark Arc' Neil Young Wants You To Truly Hear Music http://wuis.org/post/neil-young-wants-you-truly-hear-music <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15050998/neil-young">Neil Young</a> wants you to truly hear the music you listen to. Over the years, the trend in audio has prioritized convenience over quality. Last week at <a href="http://www.npr.org/series/sxsw/">SXSW</a>, I had a conversation with Neil Young about an idea he has to change that trend. In this interview, he talks about <a href="http://www.ponomusic.com/" target="_blank">Pono</a>, the new audio player he's been helping develop. Just before the interview, I spent time listening to Pono. It's impressive. Wed, 19 Mar 2014 16:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 21183 at http://wuis.org Neil Young Wants You To Truly Hear Music Hear Neil Young Explain His Pono Music Player At SXSW http://wuis.org/post/hear-neil-young-explain-his-pono-music-player-sxsw <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15050998/neil-young" target="_blank">Neil Young</a> wants to start a revolution against the MP3, against the CD, poorly made vinyl and poor audio quality in general. He wants people to hear the music the way it was made.<p>So at SXSW yesterday (and on Kickstarter, which I'll get to in a moment), Young introduced Pono. In Hawaiian, the word means righteous or goodness. For the world of sound it's an audio player that Young says he's been working on for 2 1/2 years, one that's capable of playing music at the same quality at which it was recorded. Wed, 12 Mar 2014 16:44:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 20701 at http://wuis.org Hear Neil Young Explain His Pono Music Player At SXSW Jake Bugg: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/jake-bugg-tiny-desk-concert There was a haze over <a href="http://www.npr.org/event/music/169351387/jake-bugg-from-high-school-to-the-top-of-the-world" target="_blank">Jake Bugg</a> when he arrived at the Tiny Desk. He was expressionless and quiet. That all changed when he strummed fast and fierce on his acoustic guitar and began a flow of words reminiscent of Greenwich Village in the '60s, not modern Clifton in England's East Midlands, where he grew up.<p>Bugg is a prolific talent already working on his third record in as many years. Mon, 10 Mar 2014 20:40:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 20559 at http://wuis.org Jake Bugg: Tiny Desk Concert Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows http://wuis.org/post/bob-boilens-weekly-rainbows-3 <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H22bwiMtyrs</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p_xAToFzck</p> Sat, 08 Mar 2014 18:06:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 20450 at http://wuis.org Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows Lowland Hum: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/lowland-hum-tiny-desk-concert It's hard to convey the sound of two people in love, but Lowland Hum does that effortlessly. Daniel Levi Goans and Lauren Plank are now Daniel and Lauren Goans; they met a few years ago and spent much of their first married year on the road, singing together on small stages and at house concerts across the country. Daniel was a folksinger in North Carolina, while Lauren had aspirations to sing but mostly did it privately. Thu, 06 Mar 2014 19:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 20305 at http://wuis.org Lowland Hum: Tiny Desk Concert Asaf Avidan: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/asaf-avidan-tiny-desk-concert So I'm driving down the road when I hear this incredible voice coming out of my car speakers — part Janis Joplin, part Nina Simone — and I wonder, "Who is she?"<p>That day, I'd ripped a number of CDs onto my phone and didn't remember which record this was. Upon a quick glance at my phone during a traffic light, I discover the name Asaf Avidan. Next traffic light, I look it up and I see a picture of a skinny, handsome white male. I figure that's a mistake — that I must have typed the wrong name — so I wait to get home.<p>What I discovered floored me. Sun, 02 Mar 2014 15:15:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 20030 at http://wuis.org Asaf Avidan: Tiny Desk Concert Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows http://wuis.org/post/bob-boilens-weekly-rainbows-2 <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmjPjlGUg0E</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiaRp0M2fxE</p> Sat, 01 Mar 2014 13:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 19981 at http://wuis.org Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows Cate Le Bon: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/cate-le-bon-tiny-desk-concert <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15229570/the-beatles">The Beatles</a> may be an odd place to begin a <a href="http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=cate+le+bon">Cate Le Bon</a> conversation, but I remember being struck by the way four guys from Liverpool could sing without their English accents. That's true of most pop singers, whose words often come out sounding more American than anything else. But that's not true with Cate Le Bon. Her phrasing is completely tied to her Welsh dialect — in fact, her first record was in Welsh. Tue, 18 Feb 2014 19:52:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 19214 at http://wuis.org Cate Le Bon: Tiny Desk Concert Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows http://wuis.org/post/bob-boilens-weekly-rainbows-0 Every week I hear something amazing, see something inspiring and want to pass it on. These events are sometimes fleeting, sometimes iconic, but they stop me in my tracks. Bob's Rainbows is the place where I'll highlight the very best of my weekly music intake. [<em>Editor's note: Why rainbows? Sat, 15 Feb 2014 14:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 19036 at http://wuis.org Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows The Moth & The Flame, 'Winsome' http://wuis.org/post/first-watch-moth-flame-winsome If you try to watch this video for its plot, good luck. There's a mermaid, a sandstorm, a dude, a chase, sea creatures, close-up lips ... I tried, but gave up and simply gave in to the flow of the song and the images.<p>The Moth & The Flame are a Los Angeles-based trio just a few years old, with beginnings in Provo, Utah. The band's music — centered on guitar, keys and drums — has always been intertwined with strong visuals. They've built giant beastly sculptures and turned venues into moonscapes or dreamscapes. Wed, 12 Feb 2014 17:04:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 18824 at http://wuis.org The Moth & The Flame, 'Winsome' First Listen: Angel Olsen, 'Burn Your Fire For No Witness' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-angel-olsen-burn-your-fire-no-witness <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/245998397/angel-olsen">Angel Olsen</a> has made an unforgettable and entrancing record. <em>Burn Your Fire for No Witness</em> is the musical equivalent of a deep, questioning stare from a lover, and what draws me to her voice is its peaceful, subtle touch. It has me leaning in to listen. <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15392685/leonard-cohen">Leonard Cohen</a> does that, too, and it's a fine line to walk between pale and enchanting. These are delicate songs, with lyrics stripped to their essence. Mon, 10 Feb 2014 04:03:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 18649 at http://wuis.org Fanfare Ciocarlia: Tiny Desk Concert http://wuis.org/post/fanfare-ciocarlia-tiny-desk-concert Truth be told, I was scared. We've stuffed a lot of musicians behind the Tiny Desk, but when I saw Fanfare Ciocarlia (pronounced "fan-FAR-eh cho-car-LEE-ah") at Globalfest the week before the band arrived at NPR, I couldn't fathom how we'd corral these 12 musicians and their various assorted horns and drums into that truly tiny space.<p>But the day this joyous Balkan brass band from the Romanian village of Zece Prăjini came to play, it was one of the happiest days I've experienced at our new building. Sat, 08 Feb 2014 16:14:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 18591 at http://wuis.org Fanfare Ciocarlia: Tiny Desk Concert Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows http://wuis.org/post/bob-boilens-weekly-rainbows <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlQlokP7IjQ</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2tPkSbcvhQ</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb3K0S3-T18</p> Sat, 08 Feb 2014 14:02:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 18574 at http://wuis.org Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows The Civil Wars Cover Elliott Smith http://wuis.org/post/civil-wars-cover-elliott-smith If you remembered that John Paul White and Joy Williams had <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2013/07/15/201089924/watch-the-civil-wars-live-up-to-their-name-in-a-behind-the-scenes-video" target="_blank">announced they were taking a hiatus</a> last year, the news of a new digital EP from The Civil Wars might make you scratch your head. Thu, 06 Feb 2014 17:53:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 18427 at http://wuis.org The Civil Wars Cover Elliott Smith First Watch: Deleted Scenes, 'Stutter' http://wuis.org/post/first-watch-deleted-scenes-stutter The sound of Deleted Scenes, a D.C.-based quartet formed in 2005, is potent, angular and distinct. The lyrics of Dan Scheuerman, who sings and plays guitar, can be simultaneously poetic and direct. The best part of Deleted Scenes is the unexpected, the unpredictable, and "Stutter" is a perfect example of their hard-to-label style. Wed, 05 Feb 2014 16:12:00 +0000 Bob Boilen 18349 at http://wuis.org First Watch: Deleted Scenes, 'Stutter'