Bob Boilen

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

Significant listener interest in the music being played on All Things Considered, along with his and NPR's vast music collections, gave Boilen the idea to start All Songs Considered. "It was obvious to me that listeners of NPR were also lovers of music, but what also became obvious by 1999 was that the web was going to be the place to discover new music and that we wanted to be the premiere site for music discovery." The show launched in 2000, with Boilen as its host.

Before coming to NPR, Boilen found many ways to share his passion for music. From 1982 to 1986 he worked for Baltimore's Impossible Theater, where he held many posts, including composer, technician, and recording engineer. Boilen became part of music history in 1983 with the Impossible Theater production Whiz Bang, a History of Sound. In it, Boilen became one of the first composers to use audio sampling — in this case, sounds from nature and the industrial revolution. He was interviewed about Whiz Bang by Susan Stamberg on All Things Considered.

In 1985, the Washington City Paper voted Boilen 'Performance Artist of the Year.' An electronic musician, he received a grant from the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work on electronic music and performance.

After Impossible Theater, Boilen worked as a producer for a television station in Washington, D.C. He produced several projects, including a music video show. In 1997, he started producing an online show called Science Live for the Discovery Channel. He also put out two albums with his psychedelic band, Tiny Desk Unit, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Boilen still composes and performs music and posts it for free on his website BobBoilen.info. He performs contradance music and has a podcast of contradance music that he produces with his son Julian.

Longtime NPR fans may remember another contribution Boilen made to NPR. He composed the original theme music for NPR's Talk of the Nation.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat April 25, 2015

DakhaBrakha: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

People always ask me, "What's your favorite Tiny Desk Concert?" Well, right now it's the one recently performed by DakhaBrakha. The creative quartet from Kiev, Ukraine make music that sounds like nothing I've ever heard, with strands of everything I've ever heard. There are rhythms that sound West African and drone that feels as if it could have emanated from India or Australia. At times, DakhaBrakha is simply a rock band whose crazy homeland harmonies are filled with joy.

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All Songs Considered
10:55 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Come To A Screening of 'Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90)'

Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat in 1983.
Jim Saah Courtesy of the artist

For a solid decade, Washington, D.C. was firmly on the map as the punk capital of the nation. During the 1980s, you could see Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Government Issue, Scream, Fugazi and Mission Impossible (featuring a 16-year-old Dave Grohl) in DIY spaces all over town. And what made it vital and game changing was that do-it-yourself ethos: no corporate anything, no major labels, just kids burning with energy, rage and creativity.

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All Songs Considered
1:25 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

All Songs Considered: Hear Brand New My Morning Jacket, More

Clockwise from upper left: My Morning Jacket, Sharon Van Etten, Matt Pond PA, Desaparecidos
Courtesy of the artists

On today's All Songs Considered, we're hitting you with several premieres, beginning a heavy cut from My Morning Jacket's latest studio album, The Waterfall. On "Believe (Nobody Knows)," front man Jim James seeks meaning and truth in an uncertain world, while hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton consider a life of possibilities.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:41 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Jessie Ware: Tiny Desk Concert

Carlos Waters NPR

Young, soulful English singer Jessie Ware has a powerful voice, but it's used with grace. Her singing brings warmth to electronic music and swoon to her own pop, so it's no surprise that her visit to the Tiny Desk was filled with casual poise and spontaneity.

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All Songs Considered
12:15 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

All Songs Plus One: Our Record Store Day Must-Haves

Record Store Day is that magical day each spring (this year it's Saturday, April 18) when geeks like us line up outside their favorite music shops to get their hands on a bunch of vinyl exclusives. These are the albums, EPs and singles bands and labels put out just to celebrate the day.

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All Songs Considered
11:51 am
Thu April 16, 2015

Highasakite, 'Heavenly Father'

Norwegian band Highasakite covers Bon Iver's "Heavenly Father."
Aleksander Jason Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 12:38 pm

When Bon Iver's Justin Vernon saw Norway's Highasakite perform at the 2012 Oya Festival in Oslo, he fell in love. Soon the two bands were touring together. Now the only band I know that tours with a flugabone has taken one of Vernon's songs and made it even more majestic than the original.

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All Songs Considered
3:23 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Songs We Love: Algiers, 'Black Eunuch'

Algiers' self-titled debut album is out June 2.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 12:43 pm

If I had to pick one new band that you should absolutely listen to, it's Algiers, three young men who grew up in Atlanta. Sonically, they make really eerie gospel music that's a rock-inspired amalgamation of all different stuff. In "Black Eunuch," you can hear the sounds of both black and white churches of the South and great guitars. Though they now live in London and New York, their roots are definitely southern based and their lyrics deal with the conservative politics of where they grew up. I've never seen them before and they're completely new to me.

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All Songs Considered
12:55 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

New Mix: Built To Spill, The Milk Carton Kids, Brown Bird, Protomartyr

Clockwise from upper left: Built To Spill, Brown Bird, Holly Miranda, The Milk Carton Kids
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 1:50 pm

Idaho's Built to Spill were one of the most beloved rock acts of the '90s and now the indie rock pioneers are back with a new rhythm section and the band's first album since 2009. This week on All Songs Considered, we bring you a new track from upcoming album Untethered Moon, which you can hear in its entirety on First Listen.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:00 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Chadwick Stokes: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

His songs feel familiar; they're old friends before the first play is done. They'd fit nicely on a mix alongside Paul Simon or the McCartney side of The Beatles.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:45 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Death Cab For Cutie: Tiny Desk Concert

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 10:27 pm

Death Cab For Cutie came as a trio: Ben Gibbard sang, Nick Harmer played bass, and we wheeled in our piano for Zac Rae. This intimate set included two new songs — including "Black Sun," the first single from their new album Kintsugi.

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All Songs Considered
9:30 am
Thu April 2, 2015

All Songs At 15: The Civil Wars' Tiny Desk Concert

The Civil Wars perform at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC for a Tiny Desk Concert on Thursday, May 12, 2011.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Every Thursday this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a story about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email: allsongs@npr.org.

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All Songs TV
7:03 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Alpine, "Foolish"

Alpine
Tracey Lee Hayes Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 9:34 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:02 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Sylvan Esso: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 3:47 pm

It's hard to believe that it hasn't quite been a year since the first Sylvan Esso album came out. The odd yet perfect marriage of Nick Sanborn's electronics with Amelia Meath's voice feels like a familiar friend by now. And yet seeing these songs performed softly — and captured in the light of day — made them feel fresh and lovable in new ways.

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All Songs TV
11:51 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Lauren Shera, 'Light and Dust'

Alysse Gafkjen Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on

Written as a farewell to her home in California, Lauren Shera's "Light and Dust" introduces the new direction she took on her third studio album, Gold and Rust.

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All Songs TV
8:11 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Genevieve, 'Colors'

Genevieve.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 8:51 am

What a killer song. In fact, of all the tunes the All Songs Considered crew inspected before we headed down to Austin for SXSW, "Colors," the debut single by Genevieve, was the team favorite.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:03 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Punch Brothers: Tiny Desk Concert

Carlos Waters NPR

Spoiler alert: The Punch Brothers came to the Tiny Desk on Chris Thile's birthday. We made him a cake and gave him an NPR surprise! This wasn't the first time the brilliant mandolinist had brought a project to my desk, it was his fourth. The last time was with his longtime band Nickel Creek — and his new braces.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:03 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Fantastic Negrito: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:21 am

It says a lot that, with almost 7,000 entries to choose from, we selected Fantastic Negrito as the winner of our Tiny Desk Concert Contest. For his winning submission, he performed "Lost In A Crowd" in a freight elevator in Oakland. It was his passion, his voice and his backing band that landed him an invitation to perform behind my desk. We're proud of our choice.

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All Songs TV
9:01 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Wasted Wine, 'The Strangest Of Eyes'

Courtesy of the Artist

If you're attracted to the strange, then you must watch "The Strangest Eyes." The music video for this song, by Wasted Wine, feels like a bastard child of David Lynch and Nick Cave. There's humor, but damn it's dark.

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All Songs Considered
9:22 am
Tue March 3, 2015

TV On The Radio, Stromae & Courtney Barnett To Play NPR Music's SXSW Showcase

Clockwise from upper left: Shamir, TV On The Radio, Boogie, Courtney Barnett, Stromae
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 2:32 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:40 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Phox: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

I first saw Phox in an impromptu concert at a restaurant in Philadelphia. I thought the band was talented and charming, and I still do. Phox is six friends from Baraboo, Wis., who make pretty, catchy music. The group's not-so-secret weapon is Monica Martin, who sings with a smoky lilt in front of spare, tasteful instrumentation.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:48 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Dan Deacon: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 12:20 pm

Sometime years from now I may be asked: What was your favorite day at NPR? I am likely to say it's the day Dan Deacon got the NPR staff worked up into a giant dance party! It's also the day Deacon and staff wheeled in an upright piano and connected it to his computer — a magical mix of old player piano and electronic avant-garde.

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All Songs Considered
1:56 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Jimmy Page Reflects On 40 Years Of Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti'

Jimmy Page is remastering and reissuing all of the Led Zeppelin albums, along with previously unreleased recordings.
Ross Halfin Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 3:32 pm

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All Songs Considered
12:12 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

New Mix: Lord Huron, Metz, Patrick Watson, More

Top row, left to right: Sóley, Patrick Watson; Middle row: Metz, Summer Cannibals; bottom: Lord Huron
Courtesy of the artists

It may be freezing on the east coast, but on All Songs Considered this week, we've got the hottest tracks to keep you out of the cold.

At the top, North Dakota songwriter Tom Brosseau tells a heartbreaking story about a boy abandoned by his mother. Patrick Watson returns with a vast and beautiful sound that explores the distinction between humanity and technology.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:39 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Zola Jesus: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

With her huge voice and an assist from talented trombonist Daniel Walter Eaton, Zola Jesus presented a curious combination at the Tiny Desk — a combination I hardly ever encounter. Having seen her mostly with a big and powerful band, I wondered if this configuration would work. But it was magic, with the trombone poignantly complementing her mellifluous voice and stark personal words.

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All Songs Considered
11:26 am
Mon February 23, 2015

10 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Also Loved

DeQn Sue was one of the many, many Tiny Desk contestants who won our team over.
YouTube

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First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

First Listen: Tom Brosseau, 'Perfect Abandon'

Tom Brosseau's new album, Perfect Abandon, comes out March 3.
Carey Braswell Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 1:17 pm

"They call me the hard luck boy," Tom Brosseau says at the top of his enchanting new album, later adding, "It all happened a very long time ago, when I was just a boy. My mother took me on what she called 'a little shopping trip' four or five states away, to a city she'd never been to before." In just that one song, in just four minutes, the North Dakota singer and storyteller tells a heartbreaking tale that hasn't left me since I first heard it.

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All Songs TV
6:03 am
Thu February 19, 2015

A Song For Chinese New Year: Stop And Hear The Red Flowers

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Amanda Kowalski Courtesy of the artist

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:35 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Until The Ribbon Breaks: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 11:36 am

The beauty of the Tiny Desk lies, at least partially, in the limitations of size and technology. We rarely amplify voices, for example, so for a band like Until The Ribbon Breaks, the challenge becomes how to take a loud electronic sound down to a volume where singer Pete Lawrie-Winfield can be heard. In this case, the solution involved a spaghetti strainer, a paint bucket and an acoustic guitar.

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All Songs TV
8:38 am
Thu February 12, 2015

SOAK, 'Sea Creatures'

SOAK
Joshua Hillard Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 3:37 pm

SOAK is the music of eighteen-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson from Derry, Ireland. I love the simplicity in her music and puzzling out the images in this song, "Sea Creatures." At one moment I think it's a love song, with lines like:

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All Songs Considered
5:00 am
Thu February 12, 2015

The Tiny Desk Concert Contest Winner Is ...

Fantastic Negrito is the winner of the first-ever Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
Brian Gibel Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:22 am

Today we're thrilled to announce that the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest is Fantastic Negrito.

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