WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

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.

On this week's episode we've got one of the sunniest bands of all time, mesmerizing music from the Sahara and an elegy to growing old.

Co-host Robin Hilton gets things started with a sweetly sad song from Matt The Electrician, a pop-folk singer based in Austin who no longer has anything to do with his own hands, while host Bob Boilen follows with Esmé Patterson, a singer with roots in folk music and a new album that stretches into the world of gritty rock.

Leah Nelson / YouTube

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

Show us why you should perform in NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series!

True to its spirit of music discovery, NPR Music is kicking off 2016 with an invite to unsigned artists of all genres: Show us why you should perform in NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series. The winner will secure a spot at the iconic performance space and a U.S. tour with NPR Music. 

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.

Rahim AlHaj: Tiny Desk Concert

Nov 13, 2015

Ancestor to the lute and the guitar, the oud ‎is an ancient stringed instrument commonly played throughout the Middle East, North Africa and countries like Greece and Turkey. The oud has charmed audiences for more than 5,000 years, and the tradition continues with this reverent performance by one of the world's best players, Rahim AlHaj.

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.

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