Bob Boilen

My No. 1 album for 2017 was Big Thief's Capacity. In 2016 their album Masterpiece was in my top five. So when I heard that Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief's singer and songwriter, had a new solo record, I was all ears.

The album is called abysskiss (spelled as one word, all lower case). It's a quiet affair, introspective and deep-reaching in it's lyrics, and Adrianne Lenker talked about her desire to explore those ideas when we spoke at the end of September.

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Today we have some incredible, never-before-seen footage of John Lennon recording his seemingly cutthroat song, "How Do You Sleep?" It's a song he released in 1971 and directed at his

AMERICANAFEST just ended and we're back from Nashville with 10 thrilling tunes for you. The artists are, for the most part, emerging musicians who tackle this diverse genre from all angles.

Defining Americana isn't easy. At the festival, there were musicians from all around the world. Some were rooted in blues, jazz, boogie rock, bluegrass, soul, gospel, comedy, country, Tejano and much more.

Stop. Watch. Listen! You might be unfamiliar with Congolese rhythms, likely won't understand the language and won't know the vibe of Kinshasa street musicians, but trust me... Jupiter & Okwess are astonishing. Their fierce energy here at the Tiny Desk translates through familiar instruments of drums, bass and guitars in an astonishing performance.

At 76, Paul Simon has been writing music for more than 60 years. And all that's about to come to an end.

Today, The Band's Robbie Robertson is going to take us back 50 years, to a basement just outside of Woodstock, New York and the formation of a sound and an album that all these years later still shapes the musical landscape.

For all of the bigger names at this year's Newport Folk Festival, it was this under-the-radar quartet from the Boston area that I was most eager to see.

The Newport Folk Festival's nearly 60-year history is permeated with gospel music; though Moses Sumney uses loop pedals and an electric guitar to animate his work, his voice flows deeply in tune with a spirit and conviction that's recognizably tied to that tradition.

There is a moment, near the top of this Tiny Desk concert — when three voices gather 'round a single microphone to deliver the chorus of "That Ol' Train" — that is so pure and beautiful it made my eyes well up with tears when we filmed it. Not since bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley played the Tiny Desk in 2009 have I felt vocals resonate so deeply.

This Newport Folk Festival set from Lucius, their fifth, is maybe most poignant yet.

Accompanied by members of yMusic, students from the Berklee College of Music on strings and J. Blynn, along with Lucius regulars Jess Wolfe, Holly Laessig, Dan Molad, and Peter Lalish. The group also incorporated choreography into the set, with the dancers known as The Seaweed Sisters.

It's that time of year, the last weekend in July when NPR Music covers the friendliest festival around, the Newport Folk Festival.

It's as if the pianos were haunted. Somewhere about midway through this Tiny Desk, as Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds performed on his electronic keyboard, two upright pianos were playing lilting melodies behind him, absent any performer at the keys. And yet these "ghosts," along with Ólafur's band of strings and percussion, put together some of the most beautiful music I've heard at the Tiny Desk, made all the more mysterious through its presentation.

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It's a rare pleasure to find music that gives me pause, slows me down from the daily deluge and gives me a moment to think.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

A very pregnant Abigail Washburn points to Bela Fleck at the Tiny Desk and says "and just so you know, this is his fault." I won't spoil the video by telling you his response.

Even though the world will eventually come to an end, there's still beauty and hope in all of us and in song. That about sums up the wistful mystery that is the music of Darlingside. The quartet brought dystopian storytelling wrapped in choral harmony with this performance at the Tiny Desk. Their singing is layered on a bed of percussive and melodic tones, made with guitars both acoustic and electric, violin, cello, mandolin and a tiny synthesizer.

From the sounds of blues guitarist and singer Lead Belly to recordings of Southwestern Woodhouse Toads, Smithsonian Folkways has been capturing the sounds of global history for the past 70 years. These recordings are among 60,000 treasured tracks the label has in its library — and it promises they'll never go out of print — from the labor songs of Woody Guthrie and children's songs of Ella Jenkins to New Orleans hot jazz, songs of the civil rights movement, the Honk Horn music of Ghana and so much more.

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Nearly 5,000 entries from all 50 states and we had to pick just one! The competition rose to a new level this year, and the decision was harder than ever.

Ten years ago today — on April 22, 2008 — NPR Music published our first Tiny Desk concert. Laura Gibson was the inspiration, and the event that sparked the idea of concerts at my desk came from NPR Music's Stephen Thompson. He and I were at the SXSW Music Festival, at one of those lousy shows where the audience chatter was louder than the performer.

If this 10-minute-plus song is any indication, The Milk Carton Kids are about to release a truly epic album. The song we're premiering today, "One More For the Road," is a delicate tale of two lovers parting ways and the hope for one last embrace. It'll be one of twelve songs on the duo's fourth album, titled All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn't Do.

Just about everyone at NPR Music's favorite discovery from SXSW this year was Brittney Parks, who records as Sudan Archives.

Today, the singer, violinist and electronic musician has a new song, "Nont For Sale," a title inspired by a sign she saw on a Ghana hillside that read: "THIS LAND IS NONT FOR SALE." It comes to us from her new EP, Sink, due at the end of May.

As we sift through the thousands of video entries we got for this year's Tiny Desk contest, we've laughed, loved and made a lot of phenomenal discoveries along the way. On this edition of All Songs Considered we share one of the most powerful and deeply moving ones we've seen.

We have some new music from Big Thief in the form of live concert footage. The band is performing at Point Ephémère in France this week and this beautiful video was captured by La Blogothèque and published on ARTE, the public Franco-German TV channel.

Our bleary-eyed, ear-ringing week of seemingly non-stop live music in Austin, Texas has ended and we're back one last time to reflect on the 2018 South by Southwest festival and play some of our favorite discoveries.

It's the most wonderful time of the year! At least it is for avid music fans like us and anyone else attending the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The annual endurance challenge gets underway this week, with thousands of bands from around the world — and many more fans — converging on the city for a seemingly endless bender of live performances — shows both big and small that last all day, every day, into the wee hours of the morning, with music pouring out of every club, restaurant, street corner and alleyway for miles.

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This extraordinary video, for the song "She," is from an artist who has captured my undivided attention in 2018

River Whyless is a band whose members push themselves toward perfection while holding each other up and allowing for some risk-taking. This is a band not only of strong players and singers but something a lot of bands rarely have: multiple, talented songwriters.

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