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
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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All Songs Considered
10:02 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Song Premiere: Best Coast, 'I Don't Know How'

Bobb Bruno and Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast.
David Black Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:41 am

As summer winds down and cool breezes fill the evenings here on much of the east coast, summer never ends in the music of Best Coast. "I Don't Know How" is the new single from the L.A.-based duo, featuring Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno. The song is the last cut from their seven-song EP called Fade Away due out October 22.

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Field Recordings
2:12 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Bill Callahan Sings 'Small Plane' In A Serene City

Bill Callahan in the 6th and B Community Garden.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 1:21 pm

When we first approached Bill Callahan to do a Field Recording in New York City, we asked him if he had any special place in mind. His reply surprised me: "A community garden." I guess I'd stereotyped him in my head, because after all those years of dark, thoughtful songwriting — first as Smog and then on the pensive records he's made under his own name — I'd imagined a library, someplace quiet and dark.

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All Songs Considered
10:18 am
Sun September 8, 2013

All Aboard A Magical Mystery Train

One of the nine restored train cars that are part of the Station to Station public art project. This car is called Lambert's Point Executive Lounge
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 12:24 pm

What happens when you fill nine train cars with noisemaking musicians Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Japan's The Boredoms, LA's fuzzed-out Ariel Pink and more?

I'm about to find out.

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All Songs Considered
1:45 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Dancing Vegetables, Singing Ground Beef: TMBG's Old-School Video

Courtesy of the artist

They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh and John Linnell have just delivered an old-school video — think "early days of MTV" — and it's a pleasure to see. Over the course of 16 albums, the two Johns (first as a duo and later as bandleaders) have always kept humor at the core of their sound and general attitude. They continue the tradition with "You're On Fire," the first single from their 25-song, 45-minute album Nanobots.

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Field Recordings
12:18 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Anna Von Hausswolff Finds A Pipe Organ In New York City

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 1:21 pm

One of my most surprising discoveries of 2013 is an artfully poppy pipe-organ record called Ceremony, by Swedish singer Anna von Hausswolff. Though she doesn't consider herself an accomplished pipe organist, von Hausswolff quickly learned the instrument's power, as well as some of its subtleties.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:41 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Baths: Tiny Desk Concert

Chloe Coleman NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:12 pm

Baths, a.k.a. Will Wiesenfeld, plays mysterious and textured electronic music. When Wiesenfeld came to the Tiny Desk, I expected contemplative tones and a laid-back performance; he does, after all, call his project Baths. But what sets him apart from the vast majority of like-minded performers is that his music doesn't get buried behind the buttons or lost in a hypnotic glaze.

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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Thu August 29, 2013

First Watch: Zola Jesus, 'Fall Back'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 8:25 am

I suppose it would be natural, if you grew up relatively isolated in a Wisconsin forest, to find yourself fascinated by cities. And so it is for the 24-year-old Russian-American singer Nika Roza Danilova, best known as Zola Jesus. In the video for her song "Fall Back," from the new album Versions, we see Nika in two settings: the vast coldness of urban concrete and the nature of the forest. "Shooting in the forest was very important," Nika writes. "The forest is raw and naked, which is in line for my intent for Versions.

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All Songs Considered
10:32 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Hear How A Song Takes Shape

Jordan Geiger of the band Hospital Ships.
Adam Smith Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 10:47 am

Did you want to hear how a song evolves? How a single spark of inspiration transforms into words and then melody and finally a fully produced complex production?

Jordon Gieger, known by the moniker Hospital Ships, has unveiled his journey as a songwriter for us. "Desolation Waltz" is a song Geiger began writing in Columbus, Ohio after "listening to a very fiery preacher on the radio, who would break into little melodies in the middle of his sermons. I decided to write songs a capella, in my car."

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:36 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

The Front Bottoms: Tiny Desk Concert

The Front Bottoms performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in July 2013.
Chloe Coleman Chloe Coleman/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:14 pm

When I first saw The Front Bottoms, I was stunned to see 350-plus singing, shouting club-goers repeat verse after complicated verse back at singer Brian Sella. Then it happened again at a hot, sweaty club in Philadelphia, and later in D.C., and then again in Baltimore. The community that's formed around these songs — as total strangers purge deep emotions in a public space — is a beautiful phenomenon, a testament to the passion and compassion that this band radiates.

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First Listen
4:22 am
Tue August 6, 2013

First Listen: Typhoon, 'White Lighter'

Typhoon's new album, White Lighter, comes out August 20.
Jaclyn Campanaro Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 12:13 pm

Kyle Morton writes songs for Typhoon as if they were the last works he might ever create. His band is big by rock standards, with somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen members playing mighty, powerful songs whose instrumentation conveys big, bold joy. But underneath it all are the words of a young man living on what he feels is borrowed time.

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All Songs Considered
3:48 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

First Watch: The Orwells, 'Who Needs You'

Courtesy of the artist

"They look like the kids from Stand By Me or an old Norman Rockwell painting canted a few degrees," director Eddie O'Keefe says of the teenaged Chicago garage-rock group The Orwells. "I wanted to capture that aspect of the band in a video." The Orwells' new song, "Who Needs You," is the title track from an upcoming EP, out Sept. 10.

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All Songs Considered
3:38 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

The Old Tiny Desk Gets Demolished

The old NPR building at 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW in Washington, D.C., was torn down in stages. This photo shows what the building looked like in late June.
NPR

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:55 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Guards: Tiny Desk Concert

Guards performs a Tiny Desk Concert in June 2013.
Denise DeBelius NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:21 pm

Guards' music captures the pop sound of the late '50s and early '60s, but with more power and polish. It's hard not to hear a bit of Buddy Holly's melody and spirit — think 1958's "Rave On" — when you hear Guards play "Silver Lining," the first song in this Tiny Desk Concert.

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All Songs Considered
8:01 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Song Premiere: The Civil Wars' 'Dust To Dust' Is An Ode To The End

John Paul White and Joy Williams are The Civil Wars
Allister Ann Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 9:38 am

Joy Williams and John Paul White are The Civil Wars, a duo of passionate performers. The first time I saw them perform there were such positive sparks flying between them, but these days they can barely speak to one another. The Civil Wars are about to release a new album — their second and probably their last for a while or perhaps forever ... we shall see.

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All Songs Considered
11:01 am
Wed July 17, 2013

First Watch: Kingsley Flood, 'Sigh A While'

Courtesy Of The Artist

It's one thing for an artist to talk about his failures — that's easy fodder for a good song — but art at its best incites positive change. "Sigh A While," this song from Boston's Kingsley Flood, is written to inspire. Kingsley Flood's Naseem Khuri says this tune is about the failures in all of us, and in particular about the patterns we can fall into. "I wrote the song about a friend who for years assured me he'd quit his job and change the world with his art," Khuri writes in an email. "We were driving around in his beat-up car one day and he was making the same promises.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:28 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Alice Russell: Tiny Desk Concert

Alice Russell performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 9, 2013.
Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:22 pm

There's nothing restrained about an Alice Russell performance: It's emotionally fiery from the start and just gets hotter and grittier — especially when she's singing "To Dust," the title track from her first new solo album in almost five years.

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