Cian Nugent: Tiny Desk Concert From an acoustic ragtime jaunt to an electric, basement-bar choogle to a sad-sack closer, the Dublin-based guitarist runs through his wild styles in the NPR Music offices.

Tiny Desk

Cian Nugent

Cian Nugent: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/308371844/308372269" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cian Nugent doesn't know what he wants to be, and that's OK. The Dublin-based guitarist cut his teeth as a 19-year-old pickin' on the acoustic worlds that John Fahey, Jack Rose and Bert Jansch built. But that was five years ago, and since then, Nugent has come at his instrument and his songwriting from all sides, hitting up psychedelic folk, garage pop and cosmic guitar improvisation along the way.

On a short U.S. tour supporting Angel Olsen (herself a Tiny Desk alum), Nugent stopped by the NPR Music offices to play what he's called the "incoherent range of the mess that is my musical career." There's the acoustic "Grass Above My Head," a slow, somber melody that turns into a ragtime jaunt. The song once shared a 7" with an inventive Black Flag cover and was re-recorded with his band The Cosmos for last year's excellent Born With the Caul.

Nugent then switches to a cheap, no-name electric guitar — purchased just days before in a pawn shop — that only seems to stay in tune when a pencil's been in the nut. (Oh, yes, there's a story about said pencil.) It gives "Hire Purchase" the just-barely-off quality required for the raunchy, basement-bar choogle going down — like maybe J.J. Cale is still drunk from yesterday's gig and the only cure is more pencil!

And, in defiance of all daylight, Nugent closes with "Nightlife," which, at the time of the Tiny Desk filming, was still untitled. True to its title, it's the sad-sack set closer sure to be played at last call — heads on the bar, mops out on a beer-soaked floor, with Nugent singing about regret and "wasted time."

Set List

  • "Grass Above My Head"
  • "Hire Purchase"
  • "Nightlife"

Credits

Producers: Denise DeBelius, Lars Gotrich; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Olivia Merrion; photo by Jim Tuttle/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Weyes Blood performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Oct. 7, 2019. (Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Weyes Blood

Watch the band perform a blissed-out, gently sweeping set featuring three songs from its latest album, Titanic Rising.

Raveena performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Oct. 8, 2019. Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Catie Dull/NPR

Raveena

"I just want you to know," Raveena told the NPR office, "that in this space that we're in, you're extremely, extremely loved."

Freddie Gibbs performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Sept. 26, 2019. (Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Freddie Gibbs And Madlib

The enigmatic and reclusive producer Madlib joins hard-hitting emcee Freddie Gibbs for one of the most memorable Tiny Desks of the year.

Raphael Saadiq with Lucky Daye performs during Tiny Desk Fest, on Oct. 31, 2019. (Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Raphael Saadiq

The godfather of 21st century soul electrified NPR's Tiny Desk Fest audience, with a little help from rising R&B star Lucky Daye.

Sheryl Crow performs during Tiny Desk Fest, on Oct. 29, 2019. Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow's Tiny Desk Fest concert included a handful of early hits that have become pop standards.

Megan Thee Stallion plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR

Megan Thee Stallion

The budding superstar debuted a new song with Phony Ppl and performed hits from Fever and Tina Snow during the first night of NPR's Tiny Desk Fest.

Black Uhuru plays a Tiny Desk Concert. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Black Uhuru

The influential reggae group, whose name means "black freedom," brought songs of solidarity and love to the Tiny Desk.

Mereba performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Sept. 17, 2019. Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Mereba

A nomadic storyteller with a cross-genre style ranging from folk to rap, Mereba slays the devil in her solo set behind the Desk.

Carly Ray Jepsen performs during Tiny Desk on Nov. 13. (Photo by Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Carly Rae Jepsen

The singer brought a sparkling pop-disco vibe and a lot of swagger to the sun-filled Tiny Desk.

Igor Levit performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Oct. 15, 2019. (Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Igor Levit

The insightful pianist offers a Beethoven bonanza, ranging from the mesmerizing pulse of the popular "Moonlight" Sonata to flashes of wry humor and tender beauty.

Back To Top