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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All Songs Considered
7:52 am
Thu June 5, 2014

After Learning To Loosen Up, Spoon Readies Its Return: The All Songs Interview

Spoon.
Tom Hines Courtesy Of The Artist

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 9:30 am

Spoon's first album in four years is called They Want My Soul. It won't be released until Aug. 5, but frontman Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno recently joined All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton to play some of the record and share the stories behind it. You can hear the full interview using the link above, or read edited highlights below.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Sat May 31, 2014

Juana Molina: Tiny Desk Concert

Juana Molina performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in April 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 8:47 am

No one else makes music that sounds like this. Juana Molina takes familiar elements — guitars, drums, keyboards, voice — and manipulates them into bewildering, attractive, polished jewels. Her songs don't fall into beat patterns we're used to, but we can dance to them. The guitar doesn't make sounds you'd expect, but we can relate to them. It's as if she'd been raised by wolves and discovered the world of music on her own.

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All Songs TV
1:59 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

They Might Be Giants, 'Tesla'

They Might Be Giants, 'Tesla'
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 3:03 pm

Tiny Desk Concerts
1:28 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Hozier: Tiny Desk Concert

Hozier performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Alex Schelldorf/NPR NPR

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 3:09 pm

Andrew Hozier-Byrne's voice is so rich, so vital and so soulful, I'm certain I'll follow his music for a long time to come. The 24-year-old Irishman, who performs under the name Hozier, opens this set with the brilliant and instantly grabby song "Take Me to Church," about passion, sex and religion.

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All Songs Considered
1:31 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Sole Of A Band, May 22

To what musician do these sparkly boots belong?
Bob Boilen NPR

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.

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All Songs Considered
3:03 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Jack White's 'Lazaretto': The All Songs Interview

Mary Ellen Matthews Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 11:29 am

  • Listen To Jack White On All Songs

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All Songs TV
11:12 am
Thu May 15, 2014

The Acid, 'Fame'

The Acid (from left: Adam Freeland, Ry X, Steve Nalepa)
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 1:42 pm

The video for "Fame" was directed by Dugan O'Neal and The Acid's Ry X. The Acid's debut album, Liminal, will be out July 15 on Mute Records.

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All Songs Considered
10:02 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Hear A Song From 'Fuego,' The First New Phish Album In 5 Years

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 11:55 am

It's been almost five years since Phish had a new album of songs. Today, we're happy to announce that Fuego, the band's twelfth studio album, will be out on June 24. That's the album cover above. The album's ten songs were premiered live by the band on Halloween 2013 in Atlantic City, N.J.

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All Songs Considered
10:03 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Bob Dylan Covers A Classic Tune

Courtesy of the artist

A new Bob Dylan recording popped up on his site just now. You have to go there to hear it — it's a version of the classic 1945 song, "Full Moon and Empty Arms." The tune is written by Buddy Kaye — known for writing hits for Sinatra, Ella and Elvis — and Ted Mossman, and based on Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2.

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All Songs TV
8:23 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Sharon Van Etten, 'Every Time The Sun Comes Up'

A still from the video for Sharon Van Etten's "Every Time the Sun Comes Up."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 4:36 pm

Tiny Desk Concerts
1:10 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Chvrches: Tiny Desk Concert

Chvrches performs at a Tiny Desk in April 2014.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 8:56 am

For a brief moment, I imagined hearing Chvrches perform "Recover" or "Gun" with a couple of acoustic guitars and perhaps a shaker or two. And, though these songs would surely stand up well when broken down and bared, I'm thrilled that Chvrches came with a small arsenal of synthesizers to perform a few highlights from last year's album The Bones of What You Believe.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Bob's Rainbows: May 10, 2014

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. as part of the birthday celebration for Big Tony of Trouble Funk.
Kyle Gustafson Washington Post/Getty images

Originally published on Sat May 10, 2014 10:55 am

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All Songs TV
12:37 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Honeyblood, 'Killer Bangs'

Singer/guitarist Stina Tweeddale and drummer Shona McVicar of the Glasgow duo Honeyblood
Laura Coulson Courtesy of the artist

Tiny Desk Concerts
2:03 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Public Service Broadcasting: Tiny Desk Concert

Public Service Broadcasting performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in March 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 8:34 pm

These guys don't speak or sing a word, but each song sends a clear message. Public Service Broadcasting is a duo featuring the nerdy J. Willgoose, Esq. on guitar, banjo and electronics and Wrigglesworth on drums. The source material for the music is British public-service films from roughly the 1940s through the 1960s.

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All Songs Considered
9:02 am
Sat May 3, 2014

Bob's Rainbows: May 3, 2014

Future Islands at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC.
Photo by Zac Visco for NPR NPR

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All Songs Considered
9:11 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

Young Fathers at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C.
Bob Boilen NPR

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:42 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Quilt: Tiny Desk Concert

Quilt performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:00 am

It's right there in the band's name, but the music of Quilt is truly a tapestry. Its songs are made of small bits of verses and choruses that, heard individually, may not seem to fit. But in the hands and voices of this band, they stitch together beautifully. Interweaving harmonies and guitar lines from Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler set the tone for these tunes — soft and benevolent, dreamy and quivering, with poetry that's thoughtful and playful. The opening song at this Tiny Desk Concert, "Arctic Shark," questions and enchants.

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All Songs TV
11:56 am
Thu April 24, 2014

The Darcys, 'Hunting'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 8:20 am

The video for The Darcys' powerful song "Hunting" shows the dark side of life in an apartment building that echoes the Hitchcock film Rear Window, using subtly beautiful CGI and matte paintings.

All Songs Considered
10:33 am
Thu April 24, 2014

The Sole Of A Band, April 24

To what musician do these very fashionable shoes belong?
Rich Fury

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.

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All Songs TV
9:41 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Diane Coffee, 'All The Young Girls'

Diane Coffee
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 8:48 am

Diane Coffee is the solo project of Shaun Fleming, a musician who has been a child voice actor for Disney and the drummer in Foxygen with his friends Jonathan Rado and Sam France. Under the name Diane Coffee, Shaun Fleming is also an outrageously dolled up performer. "All The Young Girls" is from the band's 2013 album My Friend Fish.

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First Listen
10:06 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

First Listen: Nels Cline Singers, 'Macroscope'

Nels Cline Singers' new album, Macroscope, comes out April 29.
Mimi Chakarova Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 8:34 am

Nels Cline is a gateway drug in the best of ways. He's known as the guitar player for one of America's best bands, Wilco. His crazy performances, filled with static shrieking and string bending, have led fans to the other side of music. It's a style that interweaves jazz, progressive rock and noise.

Nels Cline started doing all of this long before joining Wilco, and continues it these days with his own project, The Nels Cline Singers, a group that actually has no singers. They are instrumental travelers.

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All Songs Considered
10:14 am
Sat April 19, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

You sent us your soles!
Various for NPR

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:22 am
Sat April 19, 2014

Usman Riaz: Tiny Desk Concert

NPR

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 6:54 pm

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.

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All Songs TV
11:36 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Eternal Summers, 'A Burial'

Eternal Summers, "A Burial"
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 9:12 am

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.

All Songs Considered
3:24 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Photos Needed: We Want Your Sole

We Want Your Sole!
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 9:34 am

Our new puzzler "Sole Of A Band" 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.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:03 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Courtney Barnett: Tiny Desk Concert

Courtney Barnett performs a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:01 am

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. Here's a sample from that song:

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All Songs Considered
9:06 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Song Premiere: José James, 'EveryLittleThing'

Singer José James
Blue Note Records

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 9:31 am

Singer José James has a new album coming out on June 10 and you can tell from this song, "EveryLittleThing," the new record, While You Were Sleeping, is an electrifying new sound. He made a similar shift in style on a record well loved here at NPR in 2013, No Beginning No End. That record saw James shift his jazzy voice toward hip-hop.

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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Sat April 12, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

Kraftwerk at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. The band continues to break new ground in concert visuals.
Bob Boilen NPR

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All Songs Considered
1:27 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

NPR Music Nominated For Three Webby Awards

OK Go helped us us move our office across town. You can help us win a Webby for the video we shot.
Lizzie Chen NPR

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.

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