Singer Hamilton Leithauser may wield an acoustic guitar in these three songs, but this is no awkward attempt to shoehorn booming rock anthems into arrangements that don't suit them. It's clear that these guys were making the Tiny Desk accommodate their sound rather than the other way around.
Guitarist Janet Feder marries classical technique and folk song structures with a curiosity and imagination that lets her custom nylon-string baritone electric take on otherworldly textures and sounds.
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale get a lot done with subtle gestures, but there's real sophistication to the three gorgeous, harmony-rich folk-pop songs they recently performed in the NPR Music offices.
A soulful yet steely singer-songwriter from Algeria charts her own course, from withstanding death threats in her native country to selling hundreds of thousands of records around the globe. Watch her perform four songs in the NPR Music offices.
In this performance at the NPR Music offices, two pieces from Laura Marling's newest record, 2011's A Creature I Don't Know, bookend a gorgeous new song called "Once." She'd never even recorded "Once," let alone released it, so consider this performance a premiere of sorts.
In the tradition of the best bluesy folk-rock singers who preceded her (think Janis Joplin or Melissa Etheridge, but with less bluster than either), Carlile sings with restrained power and from-the-gut force. Here, she and her band perform three tremendously assured songs from Bear Creek.
Even though its members started out as the L.A. punk band The Bronx, Mariachi El Bronx isn't faking it. They play with just right amount of passion and pathos, strum as if they've studied the masters and don't look out of place in those pants and little jackets. Watch a fun set at the NPR offices.
While the new Rhythm and Repose feels like a low-key '70s singer-songwriter record (think Cat Stevens or Van Morrison), this five-song set gives Hansard a chance to flex his neck muscles a bit, as he lends blustery force to an assortment of new songs and deep cuts.
A troubled soul with a talent for writing honest, disarmingly direct songs, Johnston performs in the NPR Music offices. His short set closes with one of his classics: "True Love Will Find You in the End."
The drummer is an awfully busy player — as likely to improvise with jazz musicians as she is to back Brandi Carlile — but in recent years, she's carved out time to write music for her own group. A few tunes are dedicated to friends like her first teacher, a "sometimes great guy."
Hogan brings confidence and unflappable professionalism to her new album, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain. That carries over to this performance in the NPR Music offices, as she and her ace band knock out three songs with seeming effortlessness and easygoing charm.
With a gifted backing band on hand to help flesh out three songs from Adventures in Your Own Backyard, Watson conducts a swirl of interlocking loveliness that still finds room for surprises, from a singing saw to a microphone that makes his voice sound as if it's bouncing off some faraway satellite.
Chuck Daellenbach and his fresh-faced players, each with red-striped sneakers and matching outfits, strolled into the NPR Music offices, took their places behind Bob Boilen's desk and started blowing as if they'd played this peculiar gig a hundred times.