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The success of Malaysian-born singer-songwriter Zee Avi is an increasingly familiar but noteworthy story: Avi was discovered after she posted a few songs on YouTube. Within two months, she was signed to release her self-titled debut. Here in this intimate Tiny Desk Concert, Avi sings three hushed lullabies, including what has become one of her signature songs: a cover of Morrissey's "First of the Gang."
Bowerbirds' captivating set of handcrafted songs has a distinctively sparse, harmonious sound.
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Ravel's piano suite Le Tombeau de Couperin harkens back to old music and old friends. Pianist Christopher O'Riley renews his love for the piece, which captivated him as a young conservatory student. Watch him perform the opening "Prelude."
Vanderslice is a songwriter's songwriter. His music, a beautifully finessed mix of acoustic instruments, analog drum machines and digital textures, is invariably thoughtful, carefully crafted and affecting. He's prolific, too: Vanderslice has released an album nearly every year this decade, and his latest (Romanian Names) is his most inspired so far. See him perform acoustic versions of his newest songs in this Tiny Desk Concert.
Looking sharp in his tailored suit, the Grammy-nominated R&B artist performed three acoustic interpretations of his soul-inspired tunes. He was joined by guitarist Rob Bacon in this intimate performance at Bob Boilen's desk.
Reduced to a duo for this charming session in the NPR Music offices, Telekinesis is all heart: Without the insistent crunch of electric guitars or drums, the band's performance radiates sweetly awkward warmth. After opening with the unreleased "Plankton," the abbreviated Telekinesis showcases three gorgeous songs from its debut: "Coast of Carolina," "I Saw Lightning" and "Rust."
We often joke about how many people we can fit behind Bob Boilen's desk for one of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concerts. Every month, we seem to push the boundary just a bit farther, as the bands get bigger and louder. But the first real test of our limits came when eight members of Dark Meat showed up to play.
Sam Brooker and Ruby Amanfu are not the likeliest of musical pairings. He's from Wisconsin, and is into guitar. She hails from Ghana, was raised in Nashville and has roots planted firmly in the church. But together, they have discovered the power of collaboration. Host Michel Martin sits down with music duo Sam & Ruby, who recently visited NPR for a live performance chat pegged to the release of their new album.
For those who can't wait to hear songs from Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's follow-up to Once (titled Strict Joy, out Oct. 27), the pair played six new songs before performing the first-ever Tiny Desk Concert encore: a white-knuckle journey through "When Your Mind's Made Up."
A lot of talented artists pass by Bob Boilen's desk. But this was the first time that NPR Music was serenaded by a trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba and truncated drum kit playing a Rufus Wainwright cover (and several clever originals) in rich, soulful polyphony.