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.
When The Holmes Brothers showed up to play a Tiny Desk Concert, the group arrived early — really early, and ready to work. These folks are pros: They've been working at it for more than 30 years, playing soul music steeped in Baptist hymns, blues and spirituals. Hear the group perform live at the NPR Music offices.
Individually, Fleck, Meyer and Hussain are world-class masters of the banjo, the bass fiddle and the tabla, respectively. Playing together in the offices of NPR Music, the three demonstrate the way musical mastery can be transformed into an exercise in wordless communication.
Conor O'Brien essentially is Villagers. The Dublin, Ireland, native played nearly all of the instruments on the band's debut album, Becoming a Jackal, and even did the cover artwork. Though he tours with a full backing band, for this Tiny Desk performance he showed up with just his guitar. In the process, he treated the NPR staff to one of the most beautiful and memorable sets we've had here.
Los Campesinos! usually performs with as many as eight members — the group needs that many to reproduce the mightily clamorous ruckus heard on its records — but only four Campesinos are present here. And while there's no nudity or violence in this performance by the whip-smart U.K. band, the group's bawdy, often sexually suggestive lyrics make this the closest we've come to a NSFW Tiny Desk Concert.
Even after 12 million albums sold in more than three decades, Yankovic and his band still hadn't played their first Tiny Desk Concert until just now. In these three Yankovic originals (1988's "Good Old Days," 1992's "You Don't Love Me Anymore" and the new White Stripes pastiche "CNR"), it's remarkable how quickly the singer and his band adjust and thrive.
Laura Burhenn says she'd long imagined a band that sounded like Neil Young playing Motown. A veteran of the pop group Georgie James, she formed The Mynabirds to capture a grittier and more soulful sound. Burhenn recently brought The Mynabirds to the NPR Music offices to perform songs from What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood.
For cellist Zuill Bailey, J.S. Bach's solo cello suites loom as a kind of musical Mount Everest. As Bailey describes it, every trip up the mountain brings a new challenge. Hear the acclaimed musician play Bach on his amazingly resonant cello, built in 1693.