It's hard to know what will happen when the string quartet Brooklyn Rider starts playing. Yes, these four guys love to play Debussy and Brahms, but they're just as likely to team up with a singer-songwriter or a Kurdish kamancheh player. Or write their own music. So we weren't sure what they'd do when they stopped by the NPR Music offices to play a Tiny Desk Concert. What we got was a bracing sample of their visceral fire.
When The Low Anthem came to perform at NPR Music, the band seemed humbled and comfortable sitting on and around Bob Boilen's desk, playing music as if it were hanging around in someone's living room. The group's sullen, spacious music was a perfect fit for the intimacy of an office.
When Arcuragi came to the NPR Music offices to play a Tiny Desk Concert, many of us hadn't heard his music. After hearing him play three songs, many walked away dazzled by his voice. Arcuragi's voice is powerful, but without unnecessary melodrama.
The adventurous ensemble has been widely praised for its risk-taking attitude. Gathered around Bob Boilen's desk, a stripped-down incarnation of the group plays music by Ravel, then unpacks several Egyptian instruments for an original composition.
After playing a pair of songs from Reservoir, the band closed with a cover of Low's 1999 song "Just Like Christmas." Fanfarlo's members had practiced it all the way from Baltimore to D.C., not exactly a trek across continents, but the result was, well, perfect.
Sometimes, an idea is so perverse and bizarre that it needs to be carried out and followed to its logical end. So once we hatched the idea to bring long-haired, wild-eyed, keyboard-pounding, sublimely over-the-top party-rocker Andrew W.K. to perform an intimate concert at Bob Boilen's desk, there was no abandoning it. It simply had to happen.
The success of Malaysian-born singer-songwriter Zee Avi is an increasingly familiar but noteworthy story: Avi was discovered after she posted a few songs on YouTube. Within two months, she was signed to release her self-titled debut. Here in this intimate Tiny Desk Concert, Avi sings three hushed lullabies, including what has become one of her signature songs: a cover of Morrissey's "First of the Gang."
Bowerbirds' handcrafted songs creak and swell like wooden floorboards in an old house. With acoustic guitar, accordion and violin, the band's pastoral folk music has a distinctively spare yet harmonious sound. Hear the group, fronted by Phil Moore and Beth Tacular, perform a captivating Tiny Desk Concert in the NPR Music offices.