Bob Boilen

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

Significant listener interest in the music being played on All Things Considered, along with his and NPR's vast music collections, gave Boilen the idea to start All Songs Considered. "It was obvious to me that listeners of NPR were also lovers of music, but what also became obvious by 1999 was that the web was going to be the place to discover new music and that we wanted to be the premiere site for music discovery." The show launched in 2000, with Boilen as its host.

Before coming to NPR, Boilen found many ways to share his passion for music. From 1982 to 1986 he worked for Baltimore's Impossible Theater, where he held many posts, including composer, technician, and recording engineer. Boilen became part of music history in 1983 with the Impossible Theater production Whiz Bang, a History of Sound. In it, Boilen became one of the first composers to use audio sampling — in this case, sounds from nature and the industrial revolution. He was interviewed about Whiz Bang by Susan Stamberg on All Things Considered.

In 1985, the Washington City Paper voted Boilen 'Performance Artist of the Year.' An electronic musician, he received a grant from the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work on electronic music and performance.

After Impossible Theater, Boilen worked as a producer for a television station in Washington, D.C. He produced several projects, including a music video show. In 1997, he started producing an online show called Science Live for the Discovery Channel. He also put out two albums with his psychedelic band, Tiny Desk Unit, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Boilen still composes and performs music and posts it for free on his website BobBoilen.info. He performs contradance music and has a podcast of contradance music that he produces with his son Julian.

Boilen's first book, Your Song Changed My Life, will be published in April 2016 by HarperCollins.

Is there a song that changed the way you think about life? A song that changed your path? I've been thinking a lot about this the past few years and I've posed that question to 35 musicians. Their answers are in a book I just wrote: Your Song Changed My Life: From Jimmy Page to St.

It took only a few power chords, a sprinkle of glitter and the occasional jokey line — "We can do our makeup in the parking lot / We can get so famous that I might get shot / But right now I'm in the shower" — to forever hook me on PWR BTTM. The queer, glammy, wildly dressed duo has a keen sense of mischief and a real gift for honest, punk-infused, tongue-in-cheek pop gems.

There's new music from Bob Mould. His latest album, Patch The Sky, comes out March 25. One of this legendary musician's biggest fans — from his punk days of Hüsker Dü to the land of Sugar and his prolific and exciting solo records — is musician Ryan Adams. And as a fan and friend, Ryan invited Bob to his PAX-AM Studio and pressed record.

At 1:00 a.m. on the final night of SXSW 2016, 17-year-old Declan McKenna was about to perform for one last time in Austin. Only hours later, the plane that would carry him on his first trip to New York City was schedule to take off. It's been a whirlwind year for Declan, one that began with a song he uploaded to his Bandcamp and Soundcloud page. Shortly after, he won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition and was quickly signed to Columbia Records, one of dozens of labels with interest in his talents.

While I sat on the floor watching Graham Nash play The Hollies' 1966 hit "Bus Stop," I caught a glimpse of the same transistor radio I had as a kid when that song filled the AM radio airwaves. It was surreal and beautiful.

Gaelynn Lea, the winner of NPR's second annual Tiny Desk Contest, makes music like nobody else. Her sounds are steeped in the deep melodies of great Irish fiddle tunes, but her performance and singing style aren't traditional. More than 6,000 artists submitted videos in which they performed an original song behind a desk of their choosing with the hope of winning a chance to play a Tiny Desk concert at NPR. Gaelynn Lea was the overwhelming favorite of our six judges.

There's new music from Iggy Pop and it's pretty great.

I'd already been thinking a lot about George Martin. I've spent the last year writing a book about the songs that changed the lives of musicians, and in the introductory chapter I offer my own selection. "A Day in the Life," by The Beatles, changed the way I think about music. It's a song George Martin, who died on Tuesday at the age of 90, had a clear hand in.

Max Jury, 'Numb'

Mar 8, 2016

There are nine spare, simple songs on Julien Baker's debut album, Sprained Ankle, and every one of them is sad. In fact, she came to the Tiny Desk with an untitled new one — since given the name "Funeral Pyre" — and she appropriately introduced it as "Sad Song #11." But Baker's shimmering electric-guitar picking, the purity of her voice and the yearning way she sings make each of her songs lovely and memorable rather than merely somber.

"'One More' is in your face. It's raw." Those words from Jasmyn Burke are plainspoken and true. Her band Weaves was my No. 1 discovery at CMJ 2015, quirky, loud and mysterious, four amazing and downright fascinating players. "One More" is the first song off their very first album. The Toronto-based band has worked on its upcoming debut for the last two years, almost as long as the musicians have been playing together.

Can two crushed hearts breath life into a desolate, dreary waterpark in the Mojave Desert? If they're PWR BTTM, armed with confetti cannons, glitter and a blasting rock song of lost love, the answer is: Of course they can.

These four musicians made their first record together a decade ago, but for many of us, 2016 will be the year Lake Street Dive becomes a household name. The appeal of this band of New England Conservatory friends lies in their warmth in harmony and comfortably styled songs — sometimes tilting toward soul, often rocking danceably on a new collection of songs called Side Pony.

Artists shine given restrictions and limitations. Subtlety and nuance are more easily found in minimalism than excess. That's the beauty of Brushy One String, whose sound is made by one big fat E-string and a voice so rich and full, all it wants is a bit of rhythmic and melodic underpinning.

Miya Folick, 'Oceans'

Feb 25, 2016

On this week's All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share songs from a trio of bands on the verge of releasing breakthrough albums. Bob starts the show strong with a jaw-dropping new song from Car Seat Headrest called "Vincent," which we also featured as a First Watch.

Wilco: Tiny Desk Concert

Feb 23, 2016

Thousands of bands have made strong debuts, and many of those have made good second and third records — it's harder, but not unusual. It's truly rare to make your 10th album exciting and relevant more than 20 years on. For all that, I'd say Wilco is an American legend.

You're about to listen to a song from what is likely to be my No. 1 album of 2016. I haven't felt this way about a guitar-based rock record since I heard Courtney Barnett's debut last year.

Martin Atkins knows many of the secrets of life, especially band life. He's played in Public Image Ltd, Nine Inch Nails, Pigface, Killing Joke and more. These days, after a life of touring nightmares and general music business foolery, he writes and teaches about music in Chicago and he's distilled his knowledge of life into bits of wisdom.

There is new music from Quilt and that makes me happy. The band's third album, which is out next week on Feb. 26, is called Plaza, and its winsome, wandering electric folk thrills my late-1960s soul. The songs on Plaza, a combination of brand new material and newly invigorated older tunes, often revolve around place and family. We asked Anna Fox Rochinski (vocals/guitars), Shane Butler (vocals/guitars) and John Andrews (drums/vocals) to tell us how they were made.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

Watching Ben Folds perform his songs on piano at the Tiny Desk, there seems to be a direct line between thought and expression, except perhaps when he stumbles or forgets a line or two. Folds has a knack for plainspoken, smartly crafted words that sometimes sting and always seem to speak the truth — like these words from "Phone In A Pool":

Seems what's been good for the music

Hasn't always been so good for the life

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.

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

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