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Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson appears in the following:

Stephen Thompson's Top 10 Albums Of 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

The best albums of 2013 stand as album-length statements rather than mere collections of good songs. Each captures a powerful songwriting voice and, just as important, a central philosophy.

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Dessa: Tiny Desk Concert

Monday, December 09, 2013

The rapper, singer, poet and songwriter performs three tracks from this year's Parts of Speech with the aid of a full band. With backing vocals from Aby Wolf, Dessa overcame a bad cold to nail this forceful, whip-smart set.

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The Dismemberment Plan: Tiny Desk Concert

Monday, December 02, 2013

The recently reunited band's funky, fleshed-out sound wouldn't seem to lend itself to vastly stripped-down arrangements. But The Dismemberment Plan exudes playfulness and wry charm throughout these three songs from this year's Uncanney Valley.

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The Good Listener: The Right And Wrong Way To Go Solo

Friday, November 08, 2013

There's no one unifying principle behind solo success — it's been done both right and wrong in a hundred different ways, for a thousand different reasons — but a few guidelines are worth keeping in mind.

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First Listen: Soundtrack, 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Joel and Ethan Coen's new film looks at the early-'60s Greenwich Village folk scene, as populated by a brooding moocher played by singer-actor Oscar Isaac. Its soundtrack, like the movie itself, reflects the way many different strains of folk music collided in the early '60s.

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First Listen: Songs: Ohia, 'Magnolia Electric Co. (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)'

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Ten years after its release — and seven months after the death of singer Jason Molina — The Magnolia Electric Co is still an ambitious and unsteady beast, strangely graceful and crying out to be explored. Throughout the album, Molina sings of his own smallness and struggle, but also the stubbornness inherent in standing up as the gravitational forces of grief try to pull him down.

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Ashley Monroe: Tiny Desk Concert

Sunday, November 03, 2013

This three-song set in the NPR Music offices captures a nice cross-section of Monroe's appeal: "Like a Rose" tells an optimistic story of survival, the ambivalent ballad "You Got Me" chronicles ill-advised romantic obsession, and "Weed Instead of Roses" functions as a playful, fun-loving mission statement.

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The Good Listener: How Long Is The Perfect Concert?

Friday, November 01, 2013

Is there a unifying theory of how long headliners should perform for paying customers? And does the social contract suggest a band must play its hits?

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Daughter: Tiny Desk Concert

Monday, October 21, 2013

In all three of these sad, searing songs, singer Elena Tonra showcases a remarkable gift for coolly but approachably dishing out weary words that resonate and devastate. Achingly pretty and melancholy, the London band's music conjures a pitch-perfect mix of gloom, desire and hostility.

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The Good Listener: Forget The Grammys — Which Music Awards Matter?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

For avid literature fans, the shortlists for various prizes act as miniature to-buy lists. What about music?

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The 1975: Tiny Desk Concert

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The 1975 knows its way around bigness. But, when asked to strip his band's sound down to fit the intimate confines of the Tiny Desk, singer Matthew Healy doesn't hesitate to transform both his songs and himself.

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First Listen: San Fermin, 'San Fermin'

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Three singers' voices swap out and intertwine throughout the Brooklyn band's ambitious, evocative debut. The album sets their contributions against orchestral arrangements that sweep and swell with a pitch-perfect mix of forcefulness and delicacy.

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First Listen: Sebadoh, 'Defend Yourself'

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The band's first album since 1999 once again mixes unlikely sensibilities: miserablism made vital by gritty forcefulness, scabrousness harnessed in the pursuit of beauty. Even as singer Lou Barlow offers up clear-eyed postmortems of a wrecked marriage, Defend Yourself exudes the live-wire energy of musicians brought back from the brink.

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First Listen: Grouplove, 'Spreading Rumours'

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The candy-coated craftsmanship and joy on display throughout Spreading Rumours makes the record ludicrously easy to love — a welcome dose of summertime from the L.A. pop-rock band, just in time for fall.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Blue Jasmine' And A Summer Movie Postmortem

Friday, September 06, 2013

The gang looks back on a divisive summer full of loud robot-on-robot movies, and discusses where Woody Allen's latest film fits into his complicated legacy. Plus, of course, an assortment of happy-making things.

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The Good Listener: When Playing Music At Work, Can You Please Everyone?

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Tips on how to balance coworkers' need for concentration, communication and entertainment.

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First Listen: Willis Earl Beal, 'Nobody knows.'

Sunday, September 01, 2013

A rich and approachable encapsulation of the singer-songwriter's unpredictable sound, Nobody knows. opens with two full minutes of Beal's unaccompanied voice before fanning out into a deft mix of spare blues confessionals and classic soul.

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The Good Listener: Why Would Anyone Keep Buying CDs?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Not everyone has made the transition to MP3s. Are CD- and vinyl-loving holdouts being left behind?

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Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Shambolic VMAs And Hollywood In The White House

Friday, August 30, 2013

With NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro, the gang talks VMAs and depictions of government.

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Sarah Jarosz, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sarah Jarosz was still in high school when she signed her record deal, and she released her debut album (2009's Song Up In Her Head) shortly thereafter, but the versatile bluegrass star seemed to emerge fully formed. Hear Jarosz perform new songs as part of the 2013 Newport Folk Festival.

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