August 25, 2009 More choral than volcanic, Volcano Choir finds the Milwaukee-based experimental band Collections of Colonies of Bees collaborating with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Of all the lovely strangeness on its debut album, Unmap, its songs are never sweeter than the album-closing "Youlogy."
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/112178240/112175307" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
In "Old Days," Rose Melberg conveys hope and want in just four words: "Oh, love, take hold."
August 19, 2009 Rose Melberg's music seems to get softer with each passing year — and that's saying something, given that she used to be in a band called The Softies. On Melberg's fine new album, Homemade Ship, her arrangements are stripped down further than ever.
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/112020146/111822483" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
August 14, 2009 In "Last Train Home," Mead paints a simple but ambivalent portrait of a late-night train ride in which fleeting companionship is unmistakably intertwined with loneliness. The bright, piano-infused arrangement nicely balances out his melancholy words, as he basks in fresh memories while remaining aware that they've already receded into the past.
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/99153417/99130488" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
August 10, 2009 For those who can't wait to hear songs from Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's follow-up to Once (titled Strict Joy, out Oct. 27), the pair played six new songs before performing the first-ever Tiny Desk Concert encore: a white-knuckle journey through "When Your Mind's Made Up."
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/111679769/111803229" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
July 27, 2009 In this charming performance at the NPR Music offices, Siskind performs two of the highlights from Say It Louder before closing with a requested "Lovin's for Fools."
July 27, 2009 Within the first 25 seconds of "Moon and Moon," Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan drops the line, "I'm a huntress for a husband lost at sea," revealing both a stark seriousness and a penchant for lyrical flights of fancy. But then, within the song's first five seconds, Khan had already uncorked a mesmerizing minor-key piano melody, so it was already clear that she's not messing around.
July 26, 2009 I've spent a good chunk of this summer kicking myself for discovering The Gaslight Anthem nearly a full year after its tremendous album The '59 Sound came out. The group channels the best attributes of its most obvious influence, Bruce Springsteen...
July 22, 2009 Spektor possesses unmistakable warmth and a pronounced sunny side to go with her impeccable phrasing, which finds her crafting and subtly bending every note, whether she's pining for faded memories or honking like a dolphin. She opts for the former over the latter in the marvelous "Eet."
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/106762140/106760136" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
July 13, 2009 It's a high compliment to suggest that these three Bill Callahan songs may well implant themselves in your brain, lay eggs and sprout horrifically disturbing dreams at that point when you're banging on the snooze alarm in a state of anguished early-morning half-sleep. Hear and watch Callahan perform at the NPR Music offices.
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/106471639/128067598" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
July 7, 2009 Tonight and every night, hordes of keg-tapping sex-havers are congregating. Tonight and every night, you were not invited. What you and your poor, pockmarked soul need is a soundtrack — five songs to ensure that you and your stuffed animals will have a night to remember.
July 2, 2009 Mark Oliver Everett's dusky croon radiates futile yearning in "In My Dreams," which finds our hero praising a perfect love. Everett does a tremendous job of infusing his every word with doubt, disappointment and unrequited desire.
June 29, 2009 It's clear from this Tiny Desk Concert that Maria Taylor has never made a go of it as a busker: In terms of volume, she's closer to a whisper than a scream. But hers is a wonderfully warm presence.
June 23, 2009 There's no shortage of life, death or profundity in "The '59 Sound," a mile-wide, top-down, hook-laden beast of a summer anthem. But as swollen and adrenaline-infused as it is, it's really a song about the last music each of us gets to hear in our lives.
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/105778626/105753769" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
The Avett Brothers performing a Tiny Desk Concert.
June 22, 2009 With all due respect to its terrific albums and kinetic, frenetic live shows, if The Avett Brothers could put on a three-song acoustic concert at every workplace in America, the band would be a world-beating colossus. For proof, listen to this performance in the NPR Music offices.
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/105637364/128067585" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
June 17, 2009 The next time you gather up close friends (or, better yet, load yourself into a hammock with a loved one while keeping a pitcher of iced tea within arm's reach), let these five songs set the tone. Each exudes some form of contentment, whether in the form of a well-placed string section or words that set a happy scene.
NPR thanks our sponsors
Become an NPR sponsor