Bob Boilen

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

Significant listener interest in the music being played on All Things Considered, along with his and NPR's vast music collections, gave Boilen the idea to start All Songs Considered. "It was obvious to me that listeners of NPR were also lovers of music, but what also became obvious by 1999 was that the web was going to be the place to discover new music and that we wanted to be the premiere site for music discovery." The show launched in 2000, with Boilen as its host.

Before coming to NPR, Boilen found many ways to share his passion for music. From 1982 to 1986 he worked for Baltimore's Impossible Theater, where he held many posts, including composer, technician, and recording engineer. Boilen became part of music history in 1983 with the Impossible Theater production Whiz Bang, a History of Sound. In it, Boilen became one of the first composers to use audio sampling — in this case, sounds from nature and the industrial revolution. He was interviewed about Whiz Bang by Susan Stamberg on All Things Considered.

In 1985, the Washington City Paper voted Boilen 'Performance Artist of the Year.' An electronic musician, he received a grant from the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work on electronic music and performance.

After Impossible Theater, Boilen worked as a producer for a television station in Washington, D.C. He produced several projects, including a music video show. In 1997, he started producing an online show called Science Live for the Discovery Channel. He also put out two albums with his psychedelic band, Tiny Desk Unit, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Boilen still composes and performs music and posts it for free on his website BobBoilen.info. He performs contradance music and has a podcast of contradance music that he produces with his son Julian.

Boilen's first book, Your Song Changed My Life, was published in April 2016 by HarperCollins.

The artists who attract me the most are those who are on the rise — artists whose popularity is mostly a small, dedicated circle of fans but growing. That's certainly true of the Shreveport band Seratones. They're putting out their second album later this summer and, from the sound of this potent new title track "Power," it's clear they'll find a bigger fanbase.

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Jessi Whitten of Colorado Public Radio's Open Air co-hosts this week's All Songs Considered and turns me on to the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, the funnest band name of the year, with music all the way from Perth, Australia to match. All of Jessi's picks are laced with fun, including French Vanilla's new-wave, early-'80s sound, reminiscent of the British punk band X-Ray Spex. She also brings us music from Colorado by Kiltro, a band with one foot in Colorado and another in Chile.

Rhye has built its reputation on crooning, soft-focus love ballads. But on the band's latest release, Spirit, singer Mike Milosh offers something unexpected: a set of downcast, solo piano instrumentals. On this week's All Songs Considered we hear the stark and beautifully gloomy cut "Malibu Nights."

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Legendary guitarist Richard Thompson has composed a stunning score for a film honoring World War II fighter pilots and, to my surprise, there's not a lot of guita

Jeremy Dutcher came to the Tiny Desk with sparkling, purple streams of glitter draped around his shoulders. Then he set his iPad on our Yamaha upright piano, not to read his score as pianists do these days, but to play a centuries-old wax cylinder recording of a song sung in the incredibly rare language of Wolastoq. Jeremy Dutcher, along with cellist Blanche Israel and percussionist and electronics wizard Greg Harrison, wove that old recording into a remarkably passionate performance that was very 21st-century, with a deep nod to a century past.

On this edition of All Songs Considered, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood joins us to talk about two of his classical compositions we've just premiered on our Tiny Desk series.

This year, I was blown away by the Tiny Desk Contest entries I saw. We received over 6,000 entries from all across the country. We saw tiny desks up on rooftops and down on a subway platform; tucked into treetops, pickup trucks and laundromats. We heard songs about the situations that make life difficult and the people that make life worth living.

On this Guest DJ edition of All Songs Considered Joe Talbot, frontman for the British punk group IDLES, talks about the band's latest album, Joy as an Act of Resistance, how Van Morrison's Astral Weeks changed his life and his tips for how to make the long drive across Kansas while on tour.

IDLES is a band that's both fierce and compassionate. It's also one of the best live rock groups I've ever seen — the kind that creates mosh pits and community with noise and humanity.

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Songwriter Bernie Dalton, who, with his musical partners, created one of our most powerful and memorable Tiny Desk concerts, has died at 49 from complications of bulbar-onset ALS, an a

This week's episode of All Songs Considered is a show of contrasts — cotton-candy pop one moment (from mxmtoon), raging punk sung in Farsi the next (from Khiis) — and then calming, instrumental, prog rock courtesy The Quiet Temple. For All Songs Considered's nearly 20 years, we've tried to live up to our namesake and on this show, we consider more drastic ends of the song spectrum than we have in recent memory.

Have you ever had Persian cotton candy? It looks like Muppet hair and tastes like pistachio — well, at least the one we ate in the studio.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.

Kevin Morby's new album is unlike anything he's done before. Gone is the guitar (for the most part) from his earlier recordings. In its place are more droning instruments — sounds more suited for church than the concert hall, including a recurring, small choir. The subject for the album is God and our culture's relationship with God, from deep introspection to the trivial, everyday use of that ever-present expression "oh my God."

Don't worry! Everything's going to be alright. But if you need more reassurance than that, look no further than "Set of Stairs," from the Amsterdam-based band Pip Blom. It's a burst of frenetic joy to lift you up whenever life deals you a bad hand. Its singular message: You got this!

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.


When I first heard the ethereal folk songs of Daniel Norgren in 2016, he was performing on a stage at the Pickathon music festival made from limbs and bark — it was the perfect spot to fall in love with his music and yearning voice. His set was both intense and calming.

Maybe it's been a few months and you've wondered: "Where's that dude who played the heavy and weird stuff?" First of all, thank you. It's nice to be missed. The answer: I've been at home, watching lots of movies, changing lots of diapers and taking care of my firstborn daughter. Did this stop me from listening to said "heavy and weird stuff?" Well, yes and no.

It was a day when sunlight drenched the office and the songs of heart from Courtney Marie Andrews felt right at home. It's been a year since her comforting album, May Your Kindness Remain, came out. Amazingly it's her sixth record, and yet she's still a just few years shy of 30. The opening number here at the Tiny Desk, the album's title track, is a shining example of why the songs of Courtney Marie Andrews endure, beginning with her words, based on friendships, and the understanding of a kind soul.

On this edition of All Songs Considered you'll hear new music from Chastity Belt singer and guitarist Julia Shapiro. You'll also hear a song based on an old field recording by the singer Jake Xerxes Fussell. Both of these songs were picked by our awesome intern, Adelaide Sandstrom as she enters her final days at All Songs Considered.

Joining me on this edition of All Songs Considered is NPR Music's Lyndsey McKenna, Marissa Lorusso and Joshua Bote for some sips of Rosé, bites of cupcakes and sweet music. Today's sounds include the legendary dub master and reggae king Lee "Scratch" Perry. At 83-years of age, he's just made a brilliant new record with another legendary producer, Adrian Sherwood. Both artists are the reason that punk and reggae became so intertwined in the 1980s.

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I didn't know what it was about this song that enthralled me.

I had a surprise for Chill Moody when he arrived at the Tiny Desk: a concealed strawberry shortcake (his favorite) for his 34th birthday. His musical partners, singer Donn T and the rest of his Philly crew known as &More, all brought out the cake and candles, sharing in the celebration. It was a fitting moment to have between the group's performance of inspirational songs. &More's music is often about the experience of being black in America, blending hip-hop and R&B with a motivational message and a Philadelphia flair.

From my vantage point — a white kid growing up on the blistering guitars of my '60s guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton — Mdou Moctar has made the most insane psychedelic guitar album of the 21st century. From his perspective, growing up in a small village in central Niger, Moctar may not even know what I'm talking about. In fact, in a press statement, he says, "I don't know what rock is exactly. I have no idea.

We've returned from our weeklong grind through the South by Southwest music festival happy, though a little dazed, with ringing ears, and a whole bunch of incredible discoveries. On this All Songs Considered we run through some of the most memorable music and performances, from the shredded noise rock of Rev Rev Rev and thundering soul of Yola Carter to the Afro-Cuban grooves of Cimafunk and the remarkable voice of Tamino. Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson and I each saw around 100 different shows in just a few short days, way more than we could ever share in a single episode.

Each year, the buzz in Austin, Texas, at the South By Southwest music festival can reach a deafening pitch. Our NPR Music team is here to help you cut through the noise. Every evening, we'll gather to roundup and recap the best discoveries of the day.

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In 2014, we started the Tiny Desk Contest with the humble goal of discovering new music. Since then, your entries have blown us away.

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In 1942, people were forced from their homes and sent to prison camps without trial, only because of their ethnicity and heritage.

The annual South by Southwest music festival is our personal endurance challenge to discover as many great unknown and often unsigned bands as possible in just one week. To train for the event, Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson and I listen to more than a thousand songs by bands playing the festival, from all over the world, and try to map out a calendar to see our favorites.

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