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.

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.

Here's some of the most uplifting music I've heard in a long while. Ahmed Gallab, best known as Sinkane, has new music we're proud to premiere. The song is called "Everybody" which will be the lead-off track to his next record, Dépaysé.

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There's new music from Big Thief: a song, released today, called "UFOF," and the band's third album, coming May 3, titled

Guest DJ: Nilüfer Yanya

Feb 25, 2019

As of early 2019, you may not know the music Nilüfer Yanya, but by the end of 2019, she just may be a household name. The young, British singer is about to release her debut full-length, Miss Universe. The songs on this album are filled with melodies that won't let go; and though this is a poppier record than I usually go for, her guitar playing keeps it earthy for me. Miss Universe is also filled with small, humorous interstitial bits. You'll hear a taste of this during our conversation.

Produced by Aldous Harding / YouTube

We have a new song and video from Aldous Harding and a conversation with her about this video for "The Barrel." I wanted to dig into some of the origins of

On this week's All Songs Considered we premiere new music from Aldous Harding. The artist from New Zealand made my number two album from 2017 (Party) and her latest song, "The Barrel," indicates that she'll be another year-end favorite of mine in 2019.

Scott Mulvahill has been trying to win the Tiny Desk Contest for each of its four years. He's always been one of our favorites, though he's never been our winner. The double bassist entered his song, "Begin Againers" in 2016 and though it wasn't the winning entry, we all loved it so much, I invited him to my desk to perform his extraordinary song. He opened the Tiny Desk with it, only this time he was joined by bandmates Jesse Isley and Josh Shilling who shared vocal harmonies.

Mountain Man is the perfect band for a Tiny Desk concert. These three women make the most intimate music; and behind the desk, the voices of Amelia Meath, Molly Erin Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig were the stars. Adorned by only light, rhythmic acoustic guitar, they sing songs that conjure a simpler life: dogs, friends, moonlight, sunlight, skinny dipping, beach towels and sand.

This week's show is made possible by a generous amount of existential anxiety. This includes the ego-destroying rock anthem "I Don't Matter At All," from the Toronto band Pkew Pkew Pkew, and an epic life manifesto from Amanda Palmer called "The Ride" – a ten-minute oration about the crippling effects of unbridled and rampant fear.

Produced by Daniel Norgren / YouTube

I first encountered Daniel Norgren in the woods of Happy Valley, Ore.

While accepting the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for Please Don't Be Dead, Fantastic Negrito gave a shout-out to the Tiny Desk concerts series, which he said changed the course of his life and offered hope when he'd almost given up.

There's a magical aura that surrounds Lau Noah as she sits behind my desk and embraces her guitar with one foot propped unnaturally high on a stool.

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