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
11:56 am
Thu April 16, 2015

Songs We Love: Highasakite, 'Heavenly Father'

Norwegian band Highasakite covers Bon Iver's "Heavenly Father."
Aleksander Jason Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Wed July 8, 2015 4:36 pm

When Bon Iver's Justin Vernon saw Norway's Highasakite perform at the 2012 Oya Festival in Oslo, he fell in love. Soon the two bands were touring together. Now the only band I know that tours with a flugabone has taken one of Vernon's songs and made it even more majestic than the original.

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All Songs Considered
4:23 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Songs We Love: Algiers, 'Black Eunuch'

Algiers' self-titled debut album is out June 2.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 8, 2015 10:36 am

If I had to pick one new band that you should absolutely listen to, it's Algiers, three young men who grew up in Atlanta. Sonically, they make really eerie gospel music that's a rock-inspired amalgamation of all different stuff. In "Black Eunuch," you can hear the sounds of both black and white churches of the South and great guitars. Though they now live in London and New York, their roots are definitely southern based and their lyrics deal with the conservative politics of where they grew up. I've never seen them before and they're completely new to me.

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All Songs TV
12:39 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Soak, 'Blud'

YouTube

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 2:53 pm

Soak is the music of 18-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson. Her first album isn't even out yet, but based on her SXSW performance and the songs that are out there, it will likely be a top-ten record of the year for me.

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All Songs Considered
1:55 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

New Mix: Built To Spill, The Milk Carton Kids, Brown Bird, Protomartyr

Clockwise from upper left: Built To Spill, Brown Bird, Holly Miranda, The Milk Carton Kids
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 2:50 pm

Idaho's Built to Spill were one of the most beloved rock acts of the '90s and now the indie rock pioneers are back with a new rhythm section and the band's first album since 2009. This week on All Songs Considered, we bring you a new track from upcoming album Untethered Moon, which you can hear in its entirety on First Listen.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:00 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Chadwick Stokes: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

His songs feel familiar; they're old friends before the first play is done. They'd fit nicely on a mix alongside Paul Simon or the McCartney side of The Beatles.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:45 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Death Cab For Cutie: Tiny Desk Concert

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 11:27 pm

Death Cab For Cutie came as a trio: Ben Gibbard sang, Nick Harmer played bass, and we wheeled in our piano for Zac Rae. This intimate set included two new songs — including "Black Sun," the first single from their new album Kintsugi.

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All Songs Considered
10:30 am
Thu April 2, 2015

All Songs At 15: The Civil Wars' Tiny Desk Concert

The Civil Wars perform at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC for a Tiny Desk Concert on Thursday, May 12, 2011.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Every Thursday this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a story about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email: allsongs@npr.org.

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All Songs TV
8:03 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Alpine, "Foolish"

Alpine
Tracey Lee Hayes Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 10:34 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:59 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Sylvan Esso: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 4:47 pm

It's hard to believe that it hasn't quite been a year since the first Sylvan Esso album came out. The odd yet perfect marriage of Nick Sanborn's electronics with Amelia Meath's voice feels like a familiar friend by now. And yet seeing these songs performed softly — and captured in the light of day — made them feel fresh and lovable in new ways.

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All Songs TV
12:34 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Lauren Shera, 'Light and Dust'

Alysse Gafkjen Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on

Written as a farewell to her home in California, Lauren Shera's "Light and Dust" introduces the new direction she took on her third studio album, Gold and Rust.

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All Songs TV
9:51 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Genevieve, 'Colors'

Genevieve.
Courtesy of the artist

What a killer song. In fact, of all the tunes the All Songs Considered crew inspected before we headed down to Austin for SXSW, "Colors," the debut single by Genevieve, was the team favorite.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:03 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Punch Brothers: Tiny Desk Concert

Carlos Waters NPR

Spoiler alert: The Punch Brothers came to the Tiny Desk on Chris Thile's birthday. We made him a cake and gave him an NPR surprise! This wasn't the first time the brilliant mandolinist had brought a project to my desk, it was his fourth. The last time was with his longtime band Nickel Creek — and his new braces.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:27 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Fantastic Negrito: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 11:21 am

It says a lot that, with almost 7,000 entries to choose from, we selected Fantastic Negrito as the winner of our Tiny Desk Concert Contest. For his winning submission, he performed "Lost In A Crowd" in a freight elevator in Oakland. It was his passion, his voice and his backing band that landed him an invitation to perform behind my desk. We're proud of our choice.

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All Songs TV
3:19 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Boots, 'Motorcycle Jesus'

Boots
Courtesy of the Artist

BOOTS is the project of musician Jordan Asher. You may have heard his work in collaboration with Beyoncé on her self-titled 2013 album. Now he has his own project, this 30 minute self-directed film built around five of his songs. That project, and an accompanying soundtrack EP by BOOTS, is called Motorcycle Jesus.

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All Songs TV
11:17 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Eskmo, 'Mind Of War'

Spencer Hansen Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 3:57 pm

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All Songs Considered
10:22 am
Tue March 3, 2015

TV On The Radio, Stromae & Courtney Barnett To Play NPR Music's SXSW Showcase

Clockwise from upper left: Shamir, TV On The Radio, Boogie, Courtney Barnett, Stromae
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 3:32 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:40 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Phox: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

I first saw Phox in an impromptu concert at a restaurant in Philadelphia. I thought the band was talented and charming, and I still do. Phox is six friends from Baraboo, Wis., who make pretty, catchy music. The group's not-so-secret weapon is Monica Martin, who sings with a smoky lilt in front of spare, tasteful instrumentation.

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All Songs TV
2:42 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Pokey LaFarge, 'Something In The Water'

Pokey LaFarge
Joshua Black Wilkins Courtesy of the Artist

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All Songs TV
2:59 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

People Get Ready, 'Rainbow'

People Get Ready
Courtesy of the Artist

It's rare to be a choreographer with a rock band, or a rock band with a choreographer, but that's much of what makes People Get Ready unique. Steven Reker is a graceful dancer who sometimes straps his guitar around his waist and spins while the neck of the guitar hammers the floor, blurting bits of feedback and drone.

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All Songs Considered
3:14 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Jimmy Page Reflects On 40 Years Of Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti'

Jimmy Page is remastering and reissuing all of the Led Zeppelin albums, along with previously unreleased recordings.
Ross Halfin Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:32 pm

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