NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  For WUNC's music programs,  Back Porch Music.

Camila Cabello got her start as one-fifth of Fifth Harmony, a group formed by music impresario Simon Cowell from girls who had auditioned for the music competition show The X Factor. The experience forced a teenage Cabello out of her shell and propelled her and her bandmates to pop stardom.

When we invited Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov to play a Tiny Desk concert, we rolled out the big guns. In place of the trusty upright, we wedged a 7-foot grand piano behind Bob Boilen's desk in preparation for the artist who The Times of London called "without question the most astounding pianist of our age."

Updated, Jan. 11, 4:00 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include new allegations of sexual assault made against Dutoit.

The Thistle & Shamrock: At The Edge

Jan 10, 2018

This week we explore the evolving sounds of Celtic music inspired by jazz and classical music, with artists including Solas, Kila and Shooglenifty.

In March of 2016, just a handful of months after her debut album Sprained Ankle was released, Julien Baker came and played a quiet, thoughtful Tiny Desk concert that went on to become one of our most popular and certainly one of the most-talked-about Tiny Desk Concerts of the year. (It's now approaching two million views on YouTube alone.)

The Weather Station's fourth (and self-titled) album was a constant companion for me in 2017, in no small part for the song that opens the band's Tiny Desk performance. It's called "Thirty" and in less than four minutes and nearly 400 words, singer Tamara Lindeman paints images of joy intertwined with the awaking jolt of turning thirty.

They drove into the NPR garage crammed into an extended cargo van, 9 feet tall, instruments and luggage packed all the way to the ceiling. They didn't use all of that gear, but even on this mainly acoustic, stripped-down set, Lo Moon radiated a signature sound — intimate and demonstrative, haunting yet uplifting, an old-fashioned rock beat under glimmering guitar and keys, overlaid with beautiful, textured vocals.

This special radio hour features Pete Seeger's music throughout his career, plus an interview during a visit to his home, where he shared his anecdotes, spirit and zest for life with Fiona Ritchie.

This episode originally aired the week of Dec. 30, 2010.

Open Mike Eagle may have released one of the most political albums of 2017, but Brick Body Kids Still Daydream is also among the most personal. It comes across best in his live performances. For only the second time during his recent tour cycle, the LA-based artist played a set aided by the live instrumentation of musicians Jordan Katz (trumpet, keys, sampler), Josh Lopez (keys, sampler) and Brandon Owens (bass) for his Tiny Desk debut.

Join us for a warm blend of festive songs, carols, stories and season's greetings featuring Rhiannon Giddens with The Gathering, Maddy Prior, Little Windows and Cherish the Ladies.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In music and the culture it reflects, 2017 was predictably unpredictable: idols fell, empires shook, consensus was scarce. This conversation is one of five with artists, makers and thinkers whose work captured something unique about a chaotic year, and hinted at bigger revelations around the bend.

Reggie Ossé, better known to the hip-hop world as podcast host Combat Jack, has passed away from colon cancer. Chris Morrow, Ossé's friend and his co-founder of Loud Speaker Networks, confirmed his death, telling NPR that he died this morning at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York. Ossé was 53 years old.

We've been recording Tiny Desk concerts for nearly a decade, and in that time, a few artists have come back for encores — folks like Wilco, Chris Thile and the inspiration for the series, Laura Gibson. One band, The Oh Hellos, came back after a year to favor us with a holiday set. But we've never, until now, asked anyone to return later the same day.

The Roots' Black Thought proved yesterday that eviscerating lyricism still matters in hip-hop when the rapper dropped a nonstop, awe-inspiring 10-minute freestyle on Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 radio show.

Effortless storytelling is at the heart of This Is The Kit. And the stories the band's only permanent member, Kate Stables, weaves are profound but sweet with a tone that quietly reels you in.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Gifts

Dec 13, 2017

Whether you're looking for gift ideas or simply looking for an hour of fine music, we have the perfect blend, featuring Cherish the Ladies, Nicola Benedetti and Pete Clark.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This comes close to the quietest Tiny Desk Concert we've ever had. The music Greg Gonzalez makes with his longtime bandmate Phillip Tubbs as Cigarettes After Sex is hushed. The common thread in these songs is minimalism, heard in both Greg's guitar and Philip's synth, that lay just under Greg Gonzalez's barely audible, somewhat spoken singing. Yet, somehow, this sound that barely exists holds together because of the strong melodies in these songs. I find I sing them to myself over and over again.

"Do you pray at all?"

It may as well have come in all caps, the way it landed like an accusation instead of a question. It wasn't the first time I'd received a text from my mother dripping with good ole Christian guilt. The only sin greater than letting God down is allowing your parents to find out your faith walk is no longer patterned after their footsteps.

Last summer I took my daughter to Vans Warped Tour for the first time. She'd been clamoring to go since the first time she'd walked into a Hot Topic store and bought a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of the band Black Veil Brides; deeply devoted to that band and its sweetly philosophical, doe-eyed singer Andy Biersack, she'd even had their album cover painted on her eleventh birthday cake. By age 13 she'd become utterly versed in current pop-punk and grunge-indebted metal, shouting along to her playlists of Neck Deep and Attila songs in the car.

Content advisory: The video above may contain language that is offensive to some.

Put your love of perfection outside the office door and come in for some office fun. This collaboration between Philadelphia's Kurt Vile and Melbourne's Courtney Barnett is more about newfound friends poking jabs, goofing around and having fun with words than reaching any new musical heights.

The Ooz, the title to King Krule's latest album, is the perfect name for his music. It conjures, in my mind, a word mashup of "cool" and "jazz." The music is eerily evocative with lyrics that talk about the sorts of depression singer and guitarist Archy Marshall has dealt with in his young life. And, at 23, he has a lot to say on the subject.

Classical music has never lived in a bubble. For centuries, it's always found common ground with folk music.

Enter, the Danish String Quartet.

The Ted Leo who showed up to perform at our office this fall was no stranger to NPR Music; in fact, he'd stood on that very spot a few years earlier, trading verses with Aimee Mann in their collaborative project The Both. But he did seem like a changed man.

Only Walter Martin would bring a barbershop quartet to the Tiny Desk. Best known as a singer and multi-instrumentalist with the band The Walkmen, Martin has spent his solo career making unabashedly joyful, sweetly innocent and playful music perfectly suited for quirky four-part harmonies. It works particularly well on the song with which he opens this performance, "I Went Alone On A Solo Australian Tour," a brilliant and comical call-and-response story-song about, well, going alone on a solo Australian tour.

Host Fiona Ritchie catches up with the Scottish singer and songwriting legend Dougie MacLean to chat about his latest album. Hear songs from this much-anticipated collection New Tomorrow, the live album Caledonia Cantata and more.

Moses Sumney puts a great deal of thought into the heartfelt music he creates. On his debut album, Aromanticism, he was inspired by everything from the works of Plato and Aristophanes' account of the origin of humanity to the Bible, particularly Genesis and the story of creation. It's all in an attempt to understand human relationships and the sorts of couplings we tend to be drawn to. But despite the working and reworking it took to put these ideas to song, and to then make his brilliant debut, there's a spontaneous side that you'll see in this Tiny Desk Concert.

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