Tiny Desk Intimate concerts, recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.

Miguel performs a Tiny Desk Concert. Denise DeBelius/NPR hide caption

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Miguel

Miguel turned up in the NPR Music offices early one morning, after playing a show late the night before. Calm and good-natured, he betrayed no hint that he was nervous about stripping his highly produced hits down to their bones.

The Polyphonic Spree performs a Tiny Desk Concert. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

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The Polyphonic Spree

The sprawling assortment of singers, horn players, guitarists and percussionists is the largest band we've ever hosted at the Tiny Desk. But Tim DeLaughter and his group say they're used to playing a game of "human Tetris," and had no problem squeezing behind Bob Boilen's desk for this special holiday performance.

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Alt-J

The Mercury Prize-winning band plays angular, poetic music that takes unexpected turns, shifting gears when you least expect it. Seeing Alt-J live in the NPR Music offices reveals a few of its mysteries, making a group that can be difficult on first listen a bit easier to digest.

Lyle Lovett performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 13, 2012. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

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Lyle Lovett

Lovett gives a loose, engaging performance that feels like both an introduction and a victory lap. With a fresh-faced accompanist in fiddler and backup singer Luke Bulla, Lovett digs way back into his early archives here: All three of these songs are from his beginnings in the late '80s.

Daniel Bachman performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 16, 2012. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

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Daniel Bachman

Once Bachman zeroes in on the center of a song, it's easy to get lost in it yourself. From a foot-stomping reel to the reflective and tumultuous title track from Seven Pines.

Anais Mitchell performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 23, 2012. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

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Anaïs Mitchell

Singing and playing alongside guitarist and longtime collaborator Michael Chorney, the Vermont singer-songwriter performs three of Young Man in America's most bracingly beautiful songs with clear-eyed directness that requires no adornment.

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

The Seattle duo literally shakes the dust off the ceiling tiles in this performance at the NPR Music offices. In the span of about 15 minutes, the pair works through a moving message song ("Same Love"), a hilarious goof-off ("Thrift Shop") and a rousingly inspirational closer ("Can't Hold Us").

Taken by Trees performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 12, 2012. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

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Taken By Trees

Victoria Bergsman's songs seem to come from a place somewhere between a dream state and waking life. There's restraint to the way Taken by Trees' players approach this music, almost as if they're trying not to wake the baby in the other room.

Martha Wainwright performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 15, 2012. Ryan Smith/Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

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Martha Wainwright

Wainwright does the opposite of sugarcoating: She roughs up life's smooth spots, then digs her fingertips into the cracks that form. Watch her perform three songs from her new album, Come Home to Mama, in the NPR Music offices.

Benjamin Gibbard performs a Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices on Nov. 8, 2012. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

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Ben Gibbard

For this, the 250th Tiny Desk Concert, the Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service singer performs solo and unadorned, with just an acoustic guitar to back him up. Hear Gibbard perform a new song, a little-heard track from 2011, and "St. Peter's Cathedral" from Death Cab's Codes and Keys.