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.

Longtime NPR fans may remember another contribution Boilen made to NPR. He composed the original theme music for NPR's Talk of the Nation.

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All Songs Considered
12:57 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

First Watch: Marian McLaughlin, 'Before You Leave'

Courtesy of the artist

I've never seen anyone play guitar quite the way Marian McLaughlin does, or sing the patterns she sings. After catching her live a few years ago, I thought this could either be someone naively noodling or deliberately taking an adventure. I've come to the conclusion it's a bit of both. You can see and hear how McLaughlin pulls this off in a new video for her song "Before You Leave."

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:08 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Debashish Bhattacharya: Tiny Desk Concert

Debashish Bhattacharya performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Chloe Coleman Chloe Coleman/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:29 pm

You've probably never seen or heard an instrument like this. The Hindustani slide guitar is the creation of Debashish Bhattacharya, whose creation pairs his first love — a Hawaiian lap steel guitar, a gift from his father when he was only 3 — and the sounds of India. You can see the similarities to a lap steel guitar, as Bhattacharya lays the guitar across his legs, sliding a metal bar to create the fluid, almost vocal melodies.

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All Songs Considered
8:09 am
Tue November 12, 2013

New Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks Song

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 2:18 pm

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All Songs Considered
2:01 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Question Of The Week: Do You Collect Setlists?

A remarkably illustrated setlist for musician Dan Wilson.
Anonymous Reader

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 3:33 pm

Earlier this week we asked you to submit photos of the setlists you've collected over the years. We got a lot of amazing pics. Some, such as the Elliott Smith setlist from 1999, felt like rare treasures. We've added some of our favorites to the gallery below. Click the info icon or mouse over the images for captions and explanations for each one.

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All Songs Considered
12:23 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Butch Walker, 'Coming Home'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 1:28 pm

"I really wanted to stay away from anything too literal in favor of something bigger, more fantastical and ethereal." And with that concept, director Olivier Agostini completely drew me into a sweet story while turning me on to Butch Walker's new video for the song "Coming Home."

Butch Walker was a guitarist in a glam metal band (SouthGang), a singer and guitarist with Marvelous 3, and later-turned-producer for Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, and Pink. Go figure. He's also been making his own songs, and his latest is "Coming Home" from the EP Peachtree Battle.

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All Songs Considered
12:28 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Broken Bells Shares New Song, Accidentally Channels Bee Gees

Broken Bells — James Mercer (left) and Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) — are back with a new album. After The Disco is due out in January.
James Minchin

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 10:38 am

There's soon to be a new album from Broken Bells — the duo of James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) — and you're about to find out how it all came together.

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All Songs Considered
4:31 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

10 Memories Of Lou Reed

Christopher Felver CORBIS

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:05 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

San Fermin: Tiny Desk Concert

San Fermin performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 19, 2013.
Abbey Oldham NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:55 pm

San Fermin's music bursts with ambition, talent and extreme joy. Its self-titled debut is charged with great storytelling and amazing vocals by both Allen Tate and Lucius singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe. Then there are the arrangements: little gems that turn these songs into cinematic vignettes using trumpet, sax, keyboard, violin, guitar and drums.

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All Songs Considered
5:04 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Question Of The Week: What Does Lou Reed's Music Mean To You?

Matthew Peyton Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 10:48 am

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All Songs Considered
3:53 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Question Of The Week: Are Concerts Too Loud?

Fans at this GWAR show from the Roseland Ballroom seem to have no problem with the volume.
Roger Kisby Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 1:39 pm

Earlier this week we posted a poll asking whether you think concerts have gotten too loud, and whether you've started wearing earplugs at shows. After a week of voting, the results are in, and respondents have what seems to be a pretty clear message to clubs and concert venues: Turn it down!

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:50 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Okkervil River: Tiny Desk Concert

Okkervil River performs a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:05 pm

At first blush, Okkervil River is obviously a good rock 'n' roll band, but listen closely — especially to its lyrics — and you'll hear a great rock 'n' roll band. The group has been making sharp, thoughtful music since the late '90s, with the first of its seven albums coming out a dozen years ago.

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Concerts
9:07 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Volcano Choir, Live In Concert

NPR

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 3:10 pm

A lot of people come to the music of Volcano Choir - and see concerts like this one - because of the band's lead singer, Justin Vernon, an artist better-known for his work as Bon Iver. But Volcano Choir isn't a Bon Iver side project. It's a completely separate creative force, and the group's songs sound like no one else's.

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All Songs Considered
9:01 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Volcano Choir Reveals Secret Behind Epic Live Show

Cameron Wittig Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 10:43 am

  • Hear Volcano Choir Talk About The Band's Live Performances

Volcano Choir got its start in 2005 when Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and members of the band Collections Of Colonies Of Bees decided to make mysterious, multi-layered, adventurous music together. Their first album, 2009's Unmap, was dreamy, frequently abstract, and simply gorgeous.

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All Songs Considered
4:15 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

First Watch: Rubblebucket, 'Save Charlie'

Rubblebucket video for 'Save Charlie'
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 10:37 am

There's a moment in this rousing tune by the Brooklyn-based band Rubblebucket I think we can all connect with: singer Kalmia Traver screams "15 missed calls / can you blame me? / Charlie tell me, do you love me?" It's that exasperation, that moment in a relationship when one person finds themselves caring a whole lot more than the other, that makes this a fabulous pop song. I also love how much life this lyric video has; the color and style feel fresh and so perfect for the blasting horns and funk of the music.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:33 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Superchunk: Tiny Desk Concert

Superchunk performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 30, 2013.
Abbey Oldham NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:06 pm

It's remarkable to think that Superchunk's career has spanned four decades. The North Carolina band got its start in 1989, and here it is in 2013, with a new record called I Hate Music that demonstrates an undying passion for punk-fueled story songs with catchy phrasing.

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All Songs Considered
2:15 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Question Of The Week: What Was The Last Record You Obsessed Over?

The Blow is a duo from Portland, Ore., featuring Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 5:57 pm

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All Songs Considered
1:34 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

First Watch: Jacco Gardner, 'The End Of August'

Courtesy of the artist

Somehow this young Dutch musician has managed to capture an aesthetic that happened 20 years before he was born. Jacco Gardner makes music in the spirit of early 1960s baroque pop bands, such as The Left Banke (a group that featured a harpsichord) or late '60s Kinks, and certainly The Zombies from their Odessey and Oracle period. Gardner channels these sounds on a new song and trippy video called "The End Of August."

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:00 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi: Tiny Desk Concert

Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi performs a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music in Washington, D.C.
Erica Yoon NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:08 pm

He seemed so casual — sitting on a bar stool behind the Tiny Desk, acoustic guitar in hand — but when you hear that husky voice, you'll know why he's a legend. Oliver Mtukudzi, or "Tuku" as his fans lovingly call him, plays spirited music, born from the soul of Zimbabwe. He's been recording since the late 1970s, with about as many albums as his age: 60.

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All Songs Considered
11:03 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Song Premiere: Midlake, 'Provider'

Midlake, the band from Denton, TX is about to release their 4 album.
Sammy Reed Sacks and Co

There's a new album coming from the band Midlake. The album, Antiphon, isn't out until later this fall, but fans of these modern day creators of classic and progressive rock can get a glimpse of the band's new sound right now with a new song called "Provider."

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All Songs Considered
12:41 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Thurston Moore And Doug Aitken Talk Art, Music And 'Station To Station'

Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore gazes over the rail on the Station to Station train as it speeds across the country.
Mara McKevitt
  • Hear Thurston Moore And Doug Aitken Discuss 'Station To Station'

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