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Bob Boilen

It's been a joy to hear the music of Andrew Bird shift and change. Bird's early music, from the late '90s, was steeped in hot jazz and blues music from the early days of the phonograph, then later shifted to new technologies using loop pedals to layer voice, whistling and violin. His lyrics often have a calculated quality, filled with abundant wordplay and observations.

Leah Nelson / YouTube

There were 6,100 entries in this year's Tiny Desk Contest, representing every state in the nation.

"These are just the strongest melodies and the strongest ideas that occurred to me over a three to four year period, distilled."

Today, we celebrate the release of our 500th Tiny Desk concert. It's amazing that something that started as a bit of a wisecrack has been so widely embraced by artists and fans. In 2008 at SXSW in Austin, NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and I met up to see singer Laura Gibson. Laura was so quiet, and the crowd was so loud and rude — something about a March basketball game — that Stephen jokingly asked her to come play at my desk so we could hear her.

Nathaniel Rateliff and his band The Night Sweats are on fire, with concerts that get feet moving and bodies swaying, fueled by rhythm and booze.

Ask a Bruce Springsteen fan about the holy grails of his concerts and you're likely to hear about a 1980 Tempe, Ariz. show. Today NPR Music has video of Springsteen performing "The River" from that very concert. The brilliant performance — or at least much of it — was recorded using four cameras and a multitrack machine for audio. It's all been put together and is being released 35 years later as part of a new box set called The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.

Brian Burton has good taste. As Danger Mouse, he's won five Grammy Awards and worked with everyone from the Black Keys to Gorillaz to Adele. Now the musician, songwriter and producer is adding another impressive project to his resume: his own record label.

Imagine creating the best work of your life, some of the best music of its day, and no one cares. Now imagine playing those songs 47 years later to a screaming and loving bunch of fans and getting what seems like a hero's welcome. That's part of the story of The Zombies, who played the classic 1968 album Odessey and Oracle, along with a set of other hits and brand new songs, live in Washington, D.C. last month. Now we have their nearly note-for-note live reproduction of Odessey and Oracle for you here.

I have found myself watching and re-watching this video over and over since I first saw it. It takes a simple idea — a story that unfolds via paper cut with an X-Acto knife and backlit to create intricate and stunning silhouettes — and shapes it into something that honestly feels divine.

Last week in New York City, on the fringe of Times Square, a band of busy artists gathered in a building brimming with songwriting history. The Brill Building's golden age, when songs like "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Be My Baby" were written in its offices, are in the past, but The New Pornographers' pop music would fit into the mold of that era. You can easily imagine the group's members writing songs in small, secluded rooms to be played on tiny transistors and monophonic record players.

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