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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr9ZIB-HhgE I've listened to Eskimeaux 's O.K. more than any other record this year. I madly love this music: It's intimate, with abundant joy and sorrow. From that album, "Broken Necks" is a song about two lovers and friends trying to make it all work. While you were breaking your neck trying to keep your head up
I was breaking my neck just to stick it out for you Gabrielle Smith sings this bittersweet song as if her best friend is sitting right with her....

Good luck getting these tunes out of your head. Host Bob Boilen kicks off this week's All Songs Considered with new music by Pell, a rapper and songwriter who garnered well-deserved attention for his first mixtape, and is back in a big way with production help from TV On the Radio 's Dave Sitek. That's followed by a bizarre and relatable introspection from John Grant, a twisting Beatles -esque tune from the Danish trio Slaughter Beach and the "Misguided Light" of Younghusband. From there we...

I first became enchanted with Marian McLaughlin 's music when she was searching for ways to mix her quirky classical guitar picking with her equally unusual voice. McLaughlin follows her muse for a sound that occasionally recalls Joanna Newsom or the psychedelic folk music of The Incredible String Band . And now, five or so years after I first heard McLaughlin play house shows in the D.C. area and open at some of our better clubs, she's made an album that turns her unorthodox meanderings into...

As technology 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...

The Watkins Family Hour began a dozen or so years ago as a way for a group of friends to get together and play old and new tunes. For Sean and Sara Watkins , it served as a monthly bit of magic: a musical variety show filled with extraordinary talent in the world of folk, bluegrass and beyond at L.A.'s famous Largo. Now, the Watkins siblings — known for their work in Nickel Creek , among many other projects — have taken their fiddle, guitar and charm on a country-flavored yellow brick road,...

NPR Music is in Nashville all this week for the 16th annual AmericanaFest. So the newest episode of All Songs Considered offers a big bundle of music from some of the acts who are playing the festival that the team is most excited to see. Before leaving D.C., Bob called up NPR Music's Ann Powers and NPR Music contributor Jewly Hight in Music City to talk about what Americana means, and who its newest and most promising voices are. The playlist they ended up with has grit, rock, folk, pop,...

Are you a musician looking to be heard? If so — or even if you're not — give a listen to the first segment of a new series we're calling The Martin Atkins Minute . I knew Martin Atkins as a fabulous drummer — for his work with Public Image Ltd., among other bands — but I didn't know he was also a damn funny guy. At a music conference in Denver last year, Atkins gave a hilarious, poignant talk about his life in the music industry, and shared stories from his book, Welcome To The Music Business...

We probably should have shot this Tiny Desk Concert in black-and-white. Listening to Leon Bridges , I hear a sound with its heart and soul rooted in 1962. There's purity in his soulful voice that's unadorned, untouched and unaffected by 21st-century pop. Still, the songs from this 26-year-old Texas singer feel refreshing in the context of the day. Surely there are touches of Sam Cooke 's sound, but Bridges has a way of making the familiar feel adventurous and new. That may be because this is...

If you're a fan of dark, incredibly dry, wry humor, you've just found Happyness. In 2014, I first heard the band sing these words on a stage in New York City , from the song "Montreal Rock Band Somewhere": I'm wearing Win Butler's hair There's a scalpless singer With a Montreal rock band somewhere And he's all right With such perverse, funny imagery, Londoners Benji Compston, Jonny Allan and Ash Cooper spin tales that often fire up a cartoon question mark in my head. But at the same time, I'm...

Today, on our All Songs +1 podcast, we're doing something a bit different. It's a conversation between two people we love, Sharon Van Etten and Mimi Parker from the band Low , about being a mom and being in a rock band. Mimi and her husband Alan Sparhawk have been playing as the band Low for more than twenty years and they've just put out their eleventh studio album Ones and Sixes . They have two children, Hollis and Cyrus. Sharon's been a fan of Low since she was about fifteen years old, and...

Watching Mitski perform at my desk, there are moments when I was worried for her. In her opening song, "Townie," the boys "are driving and they'll be drinking" — and a verse later, Mitski sings of love in ways that feel vengeful, not fruitful. And I want a love that falls as fast As a body from the balcony, and I want a kiss like my heart is hitting the ground I'm holding my breath with a baseball bat Though I don't know what I'm waiting for I am not gonna be what my daddy wants me to be...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nrsf0U519M On this week's All Songs Considered we play a new song from Brazilian Rodrigo Amarante . The song is the backdrop to the opening sequence to a new Netflix original series called Narcos, which rolls out today. It's based on the life of drug lord Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel. This week Rodrigo Amarante has also released a new video for the song "I'm Ready," from his last album, Cavalo, one of my top three records of 2014 . The video is a...

Eskimeaux 's OK is easily my most played album of the year, next to the Courtney Barnett record. There's lighthearted, almost childlike beauty in the way Gabrielle Smith puts words to song. Here are OK 's first lines: In my dreams you're a bathtub running You are warm and tender And bubbling Oh, you are cold and bristling and struggling As an adopted child, Smith discovered that her biological father is Tlingit Eskimo; she describes the -eaux suffix as "just a playful jumble of letters that...

BOOTS is the most interesting new artist I've heard in 2015. You may have first encountered him writing and producing songs on Beyoncé's self-titled 2013 album. Earlier this year we premiered BOOTS' self-directed engaging short film/music video Motorcycle Jesus, complete with five brand new songs: his own songs. I just recently heard his new album Aquaria, and his mix of sounds, ranging from Bowie to Reznor to hip-hop was so original that I felt compelled to talk with him. So: Meet Jordy...

Caroline Rose plays music as if she's just met her new best friend: It's fresh, fun and performed with contagious enthusiasm. The title of the first song she played at the Tiny Desk — "Yip Yip Yow" — hints at the fun to come in this brief, blazing set. Rose's music is inspired by rockabilly, fast country and traveling from town to town in a van. And, though this set might seem like little more than a fun romp, it's worth pointing out the T-shirt over her left shoulder that reads "F*** Fear."...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxBzN6i0EoE "Ladies and gentlemen.
The DJ.
Just threw up.
On the dance floor.
Party is over.
It's time to go!" The Front Bottoms strike my funny bone, my pleasure center and my heart all at once. The New Jersey band has been shouting anthems and fueling fans as a duo, a trio and now more often a quartet, making music to celebrate life and purge angst for the past eight years. Now we have a fuller sound to flesh out the scream-along...

Mackenzie Scott's quiet early music gave hints that she could get loud, but I still wasn't prepared for the ferocity of her new work. Recording as Torres, she spends her new album Sprinter unleashing as-yet-unheard intensity and power, all while performing with incredible prowess. Sprinter is the album that taught me to love Torres' music: It channels clear influences like Patti Smith and PJ Harvey, while still hinting at further growth. (She's only 24.) Her band is extraordinary, too....

I savor the moment of finding a band to love. I relish those first singles and EPs, and hearing their live sound take shape on record. And then they release their debut album. GEMS is that special group for me, a former hometown band about to be discovered by everyone else. These two have had a vision for their breathy, explosive sound and they're dedicated to it. The dreamy duo of Lindsay Pitts and Clifford John Usher has left D.C. and moved to LA, and I've just heard "Living as a Ghost,"...

Guest DJ: Sylvan Esso

Aug 4, 2015

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NdU11z1HXE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXRrySTujn8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnuGSHuQ_pE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH3oWOF5c80 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgO7fsmhKzk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5hBkQT3-C8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaB2g_eF6T8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y25stK5ymlA This ... Is The Show: Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, the singer and electronic artist behind the music of Sylvan Esso , join All Songs Considered hosts...

The opening line of SOAK 's debut album — "A teenage heart is an unguided dart" — contains the first words I heard from 19-year-old singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson. Now, she's bringing that fragile, pure, thickly Irish-accented voice to the Tiny Desk. Before We Forgot How To Dream , SOAK's debut, is one of my favorite albums of 2015. Monds-Watson's songs are about growing up and trying to understand adults and friends and life; though they're quiet, they aren't dour. They can be funny...

When I first saw Shamir at NPR Music's SXSW showcase , the 20-year-old singer popped on stage with a Yo Gabba Gabba T-shirt and proceeded to light up the night with his disco-infused funk and joyful energy. Cut to this Tiny Desk Concert. Shamir Bailey is sitting alone on a stool with an acoustic guitar — hardly recognizable except perhaps for the green painted fingernails, until he began to sing. At that point, he put his fragile but confident countertenor to work in "Darker," from his debut...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upuFf_JlfF8 Attention all music geeks: Can you identify the 35 album covers Canadian singer Kalle Mattson re-creates in this video? "Avalanche" is the title track for his new EP, to be released on Aug. 21. It's a big, bold sound for Kalle and draws from the influences of many of the musical heroes he pays homage to in this video, as he told us via email: "I've had the video concept in my head for a long time actually. I remember being 10 or 11 years old flipping...

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 bought a British import of 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...

Guest DJ: Leon Bridges

Jul 28, 2015

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEaiPA0ykR8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXiYmwFAGOc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3J8tKLIToE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCXj-eE_Wio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj38xY5n3no http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk2duLxAmFE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YGTPvDoJyM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhmQ_kOsSBc Leon Bridges grew up listening to Usher, but his music suggests influences a generation removed. The Texas singer pairs irresistible pop charm with...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urVUQepStdY The singer in this video looks a bit like a creepy Andy Kaufman singing like a wide-eyed Bryan Ferry. He's Dylan Von Wagner, and the song is "Simple Life," by the group Imaginary People. The music is mostly brash, often dark, with shimmering yet punchy guitars and thundering drums. I like all of that, even if I found the video itself a bit disturbing. It was obviously shot late at night in New York when few other people would be around, but the plot...

I'd never imagined a great song poet writing "Getting Ready to Get Down," but there we have it. It's a hard and humorous look at religion, sex and a "risky" teenager becoming herself despite Bible school intervention. I talked with Josh Ritter about this song, and you can hear that interview and the song here or subscribe to the All Songs Considered podcast . And Ritter's new album, recorded in New Orleans, will appropriately be called Sermon on the Rocks. It's filled with Bible references...

Sufjan Stevens told the Newport Folk Festival crowd that this was his dream come true. What he never would have imagined in his wildest of dreams was that his performance was to follow a surprise performance from James Taylor. He was humbled to play after "Sweet Baby James," but honestly, his songs carry a power similar to that of Taylor's for a new generation of folk music fans. Stevens opened with "Should Have Known Better," unfolding the tale of his mom's abandonment at age 3 and taking us...

The most puzzling musician on the lineup at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival was easily Pink Floyd 's Roger Waters . For me, Pink Floyd represents the antithesis of folk music, with the band's psychedelic pulsating landscapes and big rock drums and guitars. Out there and psychedelic, yeah — down home and folky, nope. But Waters' set at Newport not only connected the folk tradition with The Dark Side of the Moon , but turned watery skies into a sun that shone like a crazy diamond. One of Waters'...

We kick off this week's All Songs Considered with new music from Wilco . The band surprised fans by dropping a new album out of the blue late last week. It's called ... wait for it ... Star Wars , and Wilco is letting everyone download it for free from the group's website (for a month). But don't let the playful name fool you. Star Wars is one of Wilco's trippiest, most inventive and surprising releases in 20 years of making music. We get another surprise this week from the new Night Beds...

Warning: Kate Tempest will connect you with your emotions and the cold, callous world around you. You may cry. Of all the artists I saw at SXSW this year, Tempest was the one I'll never forget. The London hip-hop artist, playwright and poet speaks with a clarity and honesty unencumbered by code or lingo, with stories that cut to the very heart of how we try to survive and embrace our time on Earth. At the Tiny Desk, she jumps straight into the fire with a spoken-word story of a soldier that...

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