There's nothing particularly funny about most 16th-century choral music, but the young members of the a cappella ensemble Stile Antico cracked themselves up the entire time they sound checked for this Tiny Desk Concert. But when the cameras started rolling, they were all business. Watch the 12-person ensemble perform in the NPR Music offices.
These three songs, performed live at the NPR Music offices, benefit from a rich assortment of instrumentation: cello, viola, accordion, trumpet, snare drum, cymbal, tambourine, another gigantic drum and a pair of acoustic guitars.
Tom Tom Club began as a side project of Talking Heads' rhythm section: the bass of Tina Weymouth and the drums of Chris Frantz. The group's music was a staple of parties and clubs back then, and the music took on a life of its own in various samples and remakes, especially in the pop hit "Genius of Love." Watch the legendary band perform in a rare acoustic set at the NPR Music offices.
Led by Ari Picker, who studied film scoring at Berklee, Lost in the Trees creates a cinematic blend of storytelling and strings. There's freshness and excitement to the music he writes, and that comes through in his arrangements of cellos, violins, tubas, French horns, guitar and more. Here, the band performs three of its new songs in the NPR Music offices.
Barzelay may be the most underrated songwriter in the business today, with a sneakily firm grasp on poignancy and humor, and his live performances convey a kind of awkwardly fidgety fearlessness. Here, he mixes old and new in a charming four-song set at the NPR Music offices.
Many Americans know Seu Jorge as the melancholy singer performing mesmerizing David Bowie covers in the movie The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. In his new project, with his band Almaz, Seu Jorge is far more versatile. Jorge feeds off the audience's energy in this concert at the NPR Music offices.
Tijoux is proof that hip-hop knows no boundaries. In this intimate performance at the Tiny Desk, the French-born Chilean rapper held a mid-afternoon crowd enthralled with her rhythmic flow and songs from her most recent album, 1977.
It's not quite right to suggest that Wilson transformed NPR Music's boisterous, slightly disheveled, certainly overcrowded office into a church on a Wednesday afternoon earlier this summer. It's more like he made us realize that church music can be played just about anywhere.
The witty songs of Lawrence Arabia singer James Milne are good for more than just singing along: They provide a few chuckles, too. Here, the New Zealand band performs four songs from Chant Darling, which showcases Milne's great gift for poppy melodies and rich vocal harmonies.
The duo exudes sentiment, but with a tinge of fury. The music comes straight from Peter Pisano's heart: He says five songs came to him in rapid fire after a long songwriting dry spell. How that happened remains a mystery to Pisano, but he found a voice he never knew he had. Watch Peter Wolf Crier perform songs from its debut album, Inter-Be.
It's been four years since fans have heard Frazey Ford's lilting, laid-back voice as part of The Be Good Tanyas. But now she's returned with a solo record called Obadiah. Ford came to NPR for this Tiny Desk Concert — just her guitar and a cheetah jumpsuit — and lulled the office with four beautiful tunes from the album.
Staples is a legend, but she's not stuck in the past. While most know her work with the Staple Singers in the '70s, with hits like "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There," Staples has kept active. Her latest album, You Are Not Alone, was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. The record doesn't come out until Sept. 14, but you can get a good idea of what a treat it is from this stripped-down but soulful Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices.