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

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 25, 2013. Gabriella Demczuk/NPR hide caption

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Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill

Put aside your notion of Irish music as a bunch of familiar jigs and reels, and just listen. Martin Hayes plays his fiddle with an exquisite touch and tone, as well as a magnificent sense of melody and rhythm that never ceases to astonish. Guitarist Dennis Cahill provides delicate support.

The Lone Bellow performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 20, 2013. Lizzie Chen/NPR hide caption

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The Lone Bellow

The fast-rising Brooklyn trio sings beautiful, heartfelt, impeccably harmonized folk-pop songs. Zach Williams sings every word with Springsteen intensity — it's the sort of delivery that doesn't seem like it could get more powerful, until it does.

Mary Halvorson performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 12, 2012. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

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Mary Halvorson Quintet

A guitarist with a decidedly non-standard approach to jazz's standard practices, Halvorson balances golden-era hard-bop order and free improvising entropy. At the NPR Music offices, her band strikes comforting tones, but also morphs, rephrases and implodes those ideas.

Night Beds' members perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 6, 2013. Marie McGrory/for NPR hide caption

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Night Beds

We thought Night Beds' Winston Yellen might perform this set solo — all the better to show off his amazing voice, with maybe just his own guitar as backup. But he opted to go all-in with his full touring band, including lap steel and keys. The result is both lighthearted and deeply affecting.

The xx performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 29, 2013. Gabriella Demczuk/NPR hide caption

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The xx

Beneath The xx's tightly controlled image-making lays music that's raw and vulnerable; shy, worried tentativeness is wired into a sound that shimmers powerfully, but remains as fragile and delicate as a soap bubble.

Cantus performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 3, 2012. Ryan Smith/for NPR hide caption

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Cantus

What is it about choral music that hits on such a basic human level? The answer may be found in this performance by Cantus, the male a cappella ensemble from Minnesota, which sings three widely divergent songs from the heart.

Of Montreal performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 14, 2012. Christopher Parks/NPR hide caption

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Of Montreal

Frontman Kevin Barnes has been working on quiet material, and decided to try it out in the intimate confines of the NPR Music offices. The result is a rarely heard side of a band for whom theatricality has long been a means of expression rather than an end unto itself.

Black Prairie performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 9, 2012. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

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Black Prairie

With three members of The Decemberists, the band lends a snappy, lilting quality to songs of alienation. Hear Black Prairie perform richly layered versions of songs from last year's A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart.

Lucius Tiny Desk Concert Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

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Lucius

The charisma and charm Lucius center, transform good pop songwriting into an endearing performance.

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.