Bob Boilen

Bob Boilen appears in the following:

Do You Have A Favorite Record Label?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Do you have a favorite record label? These days, it can be hard to tell. Truthfully, I barely know what artists record for which label in the digital age. I love the new William Tyler guitar record, the new Baths album and Sonny and the Sunsets, but ask ...


Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale: Tiny Desk Concert

Monday, May 13, 2013

There's something endearing, old-timey and almost vaudevillian about Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale — even the way they bill themselves as "Buddy and Jim." Both veteran musicians are in love with country music in all its many forms and influences; their music incorporates the blues and bluegrass, rock ...


First Watch: Gary Clark Jr., 'Numb'

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

In the seven months since Gary Clark, Jr. released his major label debut, Blak and Blu, he's played for the President at the White House with Mick Jagger and blues legend B.B. King, opened for The Rolling Stones and played with


Ólafur Arnalds, Live In Concert

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

How can music be happy and sad at the same time? Listen to Olafur Arnalds and you'll hear it. Depending on your mood, the tone changes, and a song that may have been uplifting one day sounds like an elegy the next. It's spacious, undeniably beautiful work. Much of ...


Song Premiere: Sharon Jones' Explosive 'Retreat'

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

If this song had just the tubular bells at the top and then that Motown guitar riff, I'd have been hooked and happy. But then, along comes Sharon Jones, the brilliant, powerful soul singer, and the song explodes. "Retreat!" is the perfect marriage of singer, song and band. A lot ...


First Watch: Alpine's Mind-And-Body-Bending 'Gasoline'

Monday, May 06, 2013

A is for Alpine and it's also the name of Alpine's debut album. Alpine is a six-piece ensemble from Australia with an airy sound led by singers Phoebe Baker and Lou James. The group's album, A is for Alpine, has been out in their home since 2012, but ...


First Watch: The Handsome Family, 'Woodpecker'

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Handsome Family, the wife and husband duo of Rennie Sparks (vocals, bass and banjo) and Brett Sparks (vocals, guitar and keyboards), love telling stories, and they've been doing it in song for 20 years. A new album, Wilderness, is out May 14, and "Woodpecker," a song from ...


First Watch: Femi Kuti, 'The World Is Changing'

Friday, May 03, 2013

"'The World Is Changing' is groove with a message." That quote, a pretty good summary of the music of Femi Kuti in just nine words, comes from Juan Gélas, the creative director of a new video for Kuti's new song. Femi Kuti is a saxophonist, trumpeter, keyboard player and singer ...


Meet Until The Ribbon Breaks: Stark Music Paired With Enigmatic Images

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Pete Lawrie Winfield makes music as Until The Ribbon Breaks, stark music with a good deep vibe; Massive Attack or James Blake would be good touchstones. Until The Ribbon Breaks doesn't have much music out yet, but "Pressure," a new song, has urgency. "'Pressure' was written ...


Vampire Weekend On New York, Souls Of Mischief And The Secrets Of Its New Album

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The four members of Vampire Weekend — Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Baio and Chris Tomson — made their third record over a period that began in 2009, while they were still recording Contra, the band's second album. Now the record is done. It's called Modern Vampires of ...


Father Figures: Tiny Desk Concert

Monday, April 29, 2013

In a small, packed Washington, D.C., living room late one December night, I heard a cacophony of horns, keys, drums and guitars that simply floored me. It was brash, zany, brainy, scary and danceable. At the end of a long year of amazing live music, this would turn out to ...


First Watch: One Man's Dream Turns Into A 'Sea Of Dreams'

Friday, April 26, 2013

My dreams are never like Chris Kittrell's "Sea Of Dreams," but I wish they were. Watching this animation will be as close as I get. Chris Kittrell is a founding member of the band Baby Alpaca, the director of the video for the band's song, "Sea of Dreams," and the ...


Video: Music Meets Random Imagery In Yellowbirds' 'Young Men Of Promise'

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Music videos are like funny math, where 1+1=3. That is, images have a meaning on their own, music has a meaning when you listen to it alone, but put images and music together and something new is born. 1+1=3. Try it randomly: put on a piece of music and watch ...


First Listen: Iggy & The Stooges, 'Ready To Die'

Sunday, April 21, 2013

No one thought this would ever happen again. Iggy Pop and James Williamson on a record again? Seriously?

The two last played on an album together almost 40 years ago, and it didn't end pretty; in 1974, the drug-ravaged Stooges drove Iggy Pop into rehab. Williamson, who was ...


The Zombies Remember Their Odyssey

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's remarkable to still have The Zombies with us. And rather unimaginable, really. They first broke up in 1968, just before their seminal second album, Odessey and Oracle, was released. They never really sold any records in back home in England, but in 1964 and '65, they had ...


First Watch: People Get Ready, 'Middle Name'

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It was probably the best performance piece I've seen in more than a decade. Specific Ocean, a piece by the dance troupe/rock band People Get Ready, which I saw at the New York Live Arts theater in the fall, was a model for the ways musicians can break from the ...


First Watch: Iron & Wine, 'Joy'

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Deep inside the heart of this crazy mess, I'm only calm when I get lost within your wilderness."

That's a key line in this song, "Joy," by Iron and Wine, the project of Sam Beam. Sam is a songwriter who has a way of making the personal very ...


First Watch: Thao And The Get Down Stay Down, 'We The Common'

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I first met Thao Nguyen in 2008, in the earliest days of the Tiny Desk Concert series. I was a big fan of her witty, catchy songs. After she finished playing the Tiny Desk, Thao said something that has endeared me to her forever. Walking toward the elevators on her ...

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Brainstorm: NPR Front Row

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

There was a "fire in the belly" feel when Brainstorm took the stage at TenOak in Austin, Texas, during the South by Southwest music festival this past March. In its best moments, the trio from Portland, Ore., has an edge that embodies both African highlife guitar and the sounds of ...


Efterklang: Tiny Desk Concert

Monday, April 08, 2013

Bands with big ideas work well at the Tiny Desk. Efterklang is a Danish group whose recent album Piramida took its members to an abandoned mining town between the North Pole and Norway. There, they recorded sounds of empty oil tanks, old pianos and pretty much anything they ...