Posts Tagged ‘Tiny Desk Concert’

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Aoife O’Donovan, Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins are bound by a love for bluegrass, chamber music, jazz, storytelling and singing. Each of these three musicians, now united under the I’m With Her name, have performed at the Tiny Desk before. Sara Watkins was here with Nickel Creek (2014), Watkins Family Hour (2015) and The Decemberists (2011). Sarah Jarosz was here in 2013 and Aoife O’Donovan came along with Yo Yo Ma and Chris Thile as part of the Goat Rodeo project back in 2011. All three are brilliant players with an ever-shifting array of stringed instruments, guitars, ukulele, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. As I’m With Her, they know how to gather round a microphone and sing directly from their heart to yours. Purity is the brilliance behind I’m With Her.

The three singers who perform together as I’m With Her sound like sisters. It’s as if they’ve known each other all their lives and share common roots and musical memories.

The three songs they perform here come from the trio’s debut album, See You Around. It’s a sound made for the intimacy of the Tiny Desk and they all feel right at home.

Set List “See You Around” “Game to Lose” “Overland”

Musicians Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan

Japanese Breakfast, 'Soft Sounds From Another Planet'

As Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner writes sparkling, opulent dream pop about grief and love (and, occasionally, robots). After releasing its debut album, Psychopomp last year, the band returned with this year’s stunning Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Where Psychopomp, was written in the immediate aftermath of the death of Zauner’s mother, zeroed in on the experience of Zauner’s grief, Soft Sounds widens her aperture, featuring paeans to her coping mechanisms, ruminations on crooked relationship dynamics and said sci-fi robot fantasy. At its Tiny Desk concert, the band swapped out Soft Sound’s gauzy, astral synths for acoustic guitar and piano, and was joined by members of Washington, D.C. string quartet Rogue Collective.

Zauner had wanted to do something special for the performance, and was tipped off by Landlady’s Adam Schatz that the Rogue Collective make pretty great Tiny Desk partners. The Collective practiced with Japanese Breakfast the day before the Tiny Desk, and was a featured guest later that night at the band’s D.C. show. The adaptation highlighted Zauner’s strength as a songwriter, providing an even more direct line into the raw emotion at the heart of her songs. The string swells during “Boyish” lent gravity to the song’s bittersweet desperation. During “Till Death,” her ode to marriage, Zauner sang — as she often does — in a way that strains her voice to the crackling, taut edge of heartbreak. It’s arresting on any stage, but particularly powerful in the stark midday light of NPR Music’s office. For its final song at the Tiny Desk, Japanese Breakfast performed “This House.” Gone was the Rogue Collective, and indeed much of the band — just Zauner and pianist Craig Hendrix remained. The song describes moments in love that are more fearful labor than bliss, the hazy space where commitment, confusion and longing intersect. Like much of Japanese Breakfast’s music, the performance shows Zauner looking unblinkingly at fear and pain, daring us to do the same.

Set List “Boyish” “Till Death” “This House”

Musicians Michelle Zauner; Deven Craige, Craig Hendrix; Peter Bradley; Alexa Cantalupo; Kaitlin Moreno; Natalie Spehar

Brooklyn-via-Baltimore singer /songwriter/guitar prodigy Lindsey Jordan aka Snail Mail is the latest addition to the Matador Records roster.  Snail Mail will release a full-length album in 2018, following Sister Polygon’s 2017 12″ reissue of the of the introductory cassette, ‘Habit’Snail Mail’s NPR Tiny Desk concert premiered this morning, and might provide a hint or several why press, musical peers (including but not limited to Waxahatchee, Priests and Girlpool), and yeah, record labels have taken so much interest in a short spell..

Jordan has a voice that only comes along every now and then … she is able to fit a universe of emotion into a single turn of phrase without any vocal affectation … whether she’s muttering or shouting, you feel the heartbreak, the frustration, the joy that came with writing these lyrics”

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Jordan started Snail Mail at 15 and released the quietly stunning Habit EP via Priests‘ in-house label last year. She’s quickly found fans in Helium and Ex Hex’s Mary Timony (who also happens to be Jordan’s guitar teacher) and just went on tour with Waxahatchee and Palehound. She’s just signed to Matador Records.

Set List

  • “Slug”
  • “Thinning”
  • “Anytime”

MUSICIANS

Lindsey Jordan (electric guitar, vocals); Raymond Brown (drums); Alex Bass (bass)

On their debut LP Swear I’m Good at This, this New Paltz, N.Y., duo strike a winsome balance between sugary, sometimes plaintive vocals and serrated guitar riffage over galloping drums on catchy songs that sift through the tumult and confusion of young adulthood. Onstage, Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman add explosive energy: Luciano scarcely stands still, bouncing around the stage like she’s spring-loaded and pausing occasionally for leg kicks worthy of the Rockettes. The result is a communal catharsis that is upbeat, life-affirming and a hell of a lot of fun.

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For a singer who’s sought privacy in the parking lot of a Target so he could record vocals in the backseat of his car, Will Toledo hasn’t been shy about sharing his work. By age 23, he’d already released a dozen albums. Toledo, who records under the name Car Seat Headrest, is prolific but never conventional. He performed this Tiny Desk Concert mostly solo — with occasional input from his nearby Leesburg, Va., friends and Seattle band mates — for a set that represents only a tiny sliver of what you’ll find on a Car Seat Headrest album. Those records can be filled with rich textures, chaos and harmony, sometimes in the same few minutes. But what you’re about to discover here is a wordsmith with a vision, wrapping his faults and frailties in a DIY sound that’s still finely crafted. Teens Of Style is available now

Set List: “The Drum” “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” “Sober To Death”

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There’s mystery in the music of Alt-J: The band’s songs are wrapped in enigmatic textures, with swift shifts in arrangements inside every song and an oddness to the drums. Mere glimpses of lyrics are discernible, even after listening over and over — and if you can decipher the words, the meanings don’t necessarily follow immediately. Still, those words reside at the core of Alt-J, and they’re cinematic and stunning and sometimes brutal.

Seeing Alt-J live in concert — or here at the Tiny Desk reveals a few of those mysteries, making a band that can be difficult on first listen a bit easier to digest. For one, seeing Joe Newman sing makes his words less oblique; for another, that curious rhythm at the foundation of the songs reveals not a hint of cymbals. And, though the drums are stripped down more than ever at the Tiny Desk, they still provide the essence of an original sound. Thom Green plays mostly with a mounted tambourine and cowbell for the sorts of things a hi-hat would accomplish — that tick tick sound, with the snap of the sound coming from a small-bodied 10″ snare called a popcorn snare. The sparseness that happens in the absence of crashing cymbals leaves a lot of space in the music.

Alt-J are from Leeds, England — home to another of my favorite art-rock bands, Gang of Four. Both play angular, poetic music that takes unexpected turns, shifting gears when you least expect it. Alt-J made my favorite album of 2012, An Awesome Wave, and if you’re new to the group, the understated sound may get lost on you at first. But listen to the words and study how the songs evolve: No one else is making music like this. This is an original, innovative band with a brilliant present and a brighter future.

Set List
“Tessellate”
“Something Good”
“Matilda”

Musicians Joe Newman (guitar, vocals); Thom Green (drums); Gus Unger-Hamilton (keys, vocals)

String Arrangements Will Gardner

Guest Anne Bosco (cello); Kristin Bakkegard (violin); Paul Bagley (violin)

There’s a reason Paul Weller is so respected by his fans despite his shifts in musical styles over the years. Weller follows his heart and his tunes stay true to the times and his age. I first heard him in 1977, when I saw the band at Rebeccas nightclub in Birmingham , A few weeks laterI bought a 45 and later an album, each called “In The City”, by The Jam. Inspired by The Who, the music of The Jam was infused with urgency and melody. Then Weller wanted more from music and began The Style Council with a bit of R&B, ballads and even jazz. For nearly 25 years, Paul Weller has been recording under his own name. Now he has new songs for us all and an album called Saturns Pattern. Here at the Tiny Desk he brings this humble collection of songs acoustically and includes a tune from what may be his best known record, his 1995 album Stanley Road. It’s a pretty heartwarming moment  especially for longtime followers of his shifting but consistent quality music.

Set List

  • “Dusk Til Dawn”
  • “I’m Where I Should Be”
  • “Out of the Sinking”
  • “Going My Way”

Punk rock to new wave, British folk to deep funk, New York garage style to heavy soul; for over four decades Paul Weller has done it all. He’s fronted two bands: The Style Council and The Jam, and embarked on a long solo career that’s been every bit as inventive. His latest album is called Saturns Pattern (without the apostrophe for aesthetic reasons). The record is adventurous, tight and of course, it rocks.

In addition to his latest album, Weller has also released a book of photographs taken by Lawrence Watson; the book is called Into Tomorrownamed after his 1992 album. The photos follow Weller through his 20 year solo career, with hand-written captions.

Today the man known to British rock fans worldwide as The Modfather talks about how and when you realize you’ve written a great song; how kids today (specifically his own—he has seven) don’t appreciate really loud music; and threatens host John Schaefer with a fashion makeover.

Paul Weller says he’s written three perfect songs in his career:

“Wings of Speed” from Stanley Road“Strange Town” with The Jam:”Going My Way” on Saturns Pattern

It took Adam Torres 10 years to release his second album. His life took a non-musical turn when he moved from Athens, Ohio, to Austin, Texas, with South America somewhere along the way. This album was the antiserum to all the overused and over-abundant vocal processing I heard in 2016. Adam Torres high and lonesome voice is pure, relatable and visceral. The songs are weightless with an underpinning of violin and simple, tasteful keyboards and percussion. I tend to need, then find, one good quiet record each year. Pearls To Swine was my go-to serene album for 2016.

Adam Torres voice makes Pearls To Swine a constant listen for me. It’s high and lonesome, but more frail than the voices of the bluegrass pioneers who defined that style . Besides, Torres isn’t a country singer or a folksinger but more of an atmospheric storyteller.

It took the musician, now based in Austin just a week to record Pearls To Swine, though the album was nearly 10 years in the making. In 2006, Torres was 20 and living in Athens, Ohio, when he put out a debut record called Nostra Nova, which is worthy of cult status. Then his life took a non-musical course.

I first heard his music far more recently, Thor Harris of Swans raved about this new singer he was touring with, and then I heard Pearls To Swine and flipped. I’ve been writing and telling my gigging friends about Adam Torres a whole lot this year, and the more I listen, the more I want to share it.

Listen in particular to the way Torres and Aisha Burns weave his voice and her violin together. It’s rare and beautiful. Then there’s the delicate percussion and bass that keep it all in motion. In addition to songs from his current record, we also get to hear an unreleased track, appropriately titled “I Came To Sing The Song.” I’m thrilled he did.

Set List

  • “High Lonesome”
  • “Outlands”
  • “I Came To Sing The Song”

Musicians

Adam Torres (vocals, guitar); Aisha Burns (violin); Thor Harris (percussion); Dailey Toliver (bass, keys)

bnb-glaspy

There’s brutal honesty in the songs of  Margaret Glapsy that can make them feel cold, but they’re also heartfelt. That’s part of what makes Glaspy a top new artist of 2016 .

Glaspy’s new album Emotions And Math, made with her band, is a huge leap from her earlier EPs Homeschool (2012) and If & When (2013), which mostly consisted of the singer and her electric guitar. You can hear Glaspy’s sharp words on those older records, but now that wit and wisdom packs a confident punch — as does her guitar playing, which is no longer simply fingerpicked, but also crunched with power chords behind a newly brazen voice.

The Tiny Desk Concert provides a great example of how much power can be found in simplicity and purity. Everything serves the songs here: There’s no overplaying, no frills, just great music and a tremendous new artist who sounds thrilled to be playing it. Emotions And Math is available now catch her this weekend at the Bodega.

Set List

  • “Emotions And Math”
  • “Love Like This”
  • “You And I”
  • “Somebody To Anybody”

From Kentucky, Joan Shelley is one of the most refreshing singer-songwriters of today, with her lilting voice and melodic guitar often accompanied by Nathan Salsburg. We compare listening to her newest album, “Over And Even”, to eating a bag of potato chips: You can’t just listen to one song, you have to listen to the whole album.

As technology now rules the sound of the day, it’s good to be reminded how powerfully a single voice can transmit deep emotion. Joan Shelley made one of the most beautiful records of the year with just her voice and two guitars. “Over and Even” has roots in British folk, the sort made popular by artists like Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention in the late ’60s and early ’70s — another time when the dominant music was filled with electricity and texture. The intertwined melodies Shelley and her guitar partner Nathan Salsburg (who’s had his own Tiny Desk Concert I highly recommend you check out Nathan Salzburg’s solo work as well as his work with James Elkington.) produce are refreshing breaths of Kentucky air in a world of compressed drums and overly processed vocals. You must at least give this one a listen as it is near and dear to my heart.

Set List
“Easy Now”
“Stay On My Shore”
“Not Over by Half”