Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson is an editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he writes the advice column The Good Listener, fusses over the placement of commas and appears as a frequent panelist on the podcasts All Songs Considered and Pop Culture Happy Hour. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the weekly NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk.

In 1993, Thompson founded The Onion's entertainment section, The A.V. Club, which he edited until December 2004. In the years since, he has provided music-themed commentaries for the NPR programs Weekend Edition Sunday, All Things Considered and Morning Edition, on which he earned the distinction of becoming the first member of the NPR Music staff ever to sing on an NPR newsmagazine. (Later, the magic of AutoTune transformed him from a 12th-rate David Archuleta into a fourth-rate Cher.) Thompson's entertainment writing has also run in Paste magazine, The Washington Post and The London Guardian.

During his tenure at The Onion, Thompson edited the 2002 book The Tenacity of the Cockroach: Conversations with Entertainment's Most Enduring Outsiders (Crown) and copy-edited six best-selling comedy books. While there, he also coached The Onion's softball team to a sizzling 21-42 record, and was once outscored 72-0 in a span of 10 innings. Later in life, Thompson redeemed himself by teaming up with the small gaggle of fleet-footed twentysomethings who won the 2008 NPR Relay Race, a triumph he documents in a hard-hitting essay for the book This Is NPR: The First Forty Years (Chronicle).

A 1994 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Thompson now lives in Silver Spring, Md., with his two children and a room full of vintage arcade machines. His hobbies include watching reality television without shame, eating Pringles until his hand has involuntarily twisted itself into a gnarled claw, using the size of his Twitter following to assess his self-worth, touting the immutable moral superiority of the Green Bay Packers and maintaining a fierce rivalry with all Midwestern states other than Wisconsin.

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All Songs Considered Blog
9:32 am
Fri June 22, 2012

First Watch: Family Band, 'Night Song'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 12:47 pm

For Family Band's Kim Krans, music and visual imagery are inexorably intertwined as means of expressing a dark, delicate vision. Recording with her guitarist husband Jonny Ollsin as Family Band, she's crafted a beautifully unsettling ballad in "Night Song," but it's almost difficult to imagine hearing it without the visuals she created for its video:

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All Songs Considered Blog
7:03 am
Wed June 20, 2012

First Watch: JBM, 'On Fire On A Tightrope'

Courtesy of the artist

Back in March, former All Songs intern Dan Raby used this space to sing the praises of Montreal singer-songwriter JBM, a.k.a. Jesse B. Marchant, whose deliberately paced folk-pop hangs on the lingering empty spaces between notes.

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All Songs Considered Blog
2:08 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Hear 'Follow,' A Warmly Chiming Mood-Setter From Diiv

Diiv.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 6:09 am

There's more than one way to qualify as a "guitar band": You can shred, sure, or you can lay down layer upon layer of guitars to weave an intricate tapestry. For Diiv — yes, the group was once called "Dive," and yes, it's from Brooklyn — guitars dominate, but as warm, chiming mood-setters.

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All Songs Considered Blog
12:27 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Absent For Years, Cat Power Takes A Long Road To 'Ruin'

Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 6:09 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:58 am
Thu May 31, 2012

Patrick Watson: Tiny Desk Concert

Michael Katzif NPR

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 11:31 am

Patrick Watson has a lovely, flexible voice and a gift for wringing evocative sounds out of everything from vintage keyboards to bicycle chains, but his real gift lies in his ability to maximize beauty at all times; to guide every noise in such a way that it coheres into something dramatic and graceful. When the Polaris Prize winner performs, he seems almost hypnotized by the sounds around him, yet every second and every unlikely component seems plotted to maximize its impact.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:50 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Yann Tiersen: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 4:25 pm

French singer, multi-instrumentalist and film composer Yann Tiersen isn't massively well-known, but he did craft the score for the beloved 2001 film Amelie, about which virtually everything is held in massively high regard. Since then, Tiersen has built a name for himself as a solo artist who gently stretches the boundaries of pop music.

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First Listen
1:12 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

First Listen: Norah Jones, 'Little Broken Hearts'

Norah Jones' new album, Little Broken Hearts, comes out May 1.
Frank Ockenfels Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 6:07 am

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

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