By

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest is back for 2019

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest | Courtesy of NPR Music

It’s that time of year again. The time for unsigned artists across the country to break out their video cameras, warm up their vocalizers and come up with the most original and captivating original musical performance from behind some sort of desk. “Why?”, you ask?  Because NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest is back for 2019, awarding one lucky winner a visit to NPR headquarters to play their very own Tiny Desk concert, and then come on tour with NPR Music with support from our sponsor, Blue Microphones.

Today at SXSW, NPR Music announced the return of the popular Contest. And for the first time ever, it’s open to artists 18 years and older. Over the past four years the Contest has received more than 22,000 entries from artists and bands across all 50 states. Continue reading →

By

Philly’s Orion Sun shines on NPR Music’s Slingshot Artist To Watch list

Orion Sun at Made In America 2018 | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

In fall 2017 NPR Music and VuHaus‘ public radio network announced Slingshot, a collective effort of public music stations to elevate emerging artists they’ve discovered and want to share with the world. Since then many of the artists it showcased have become household names in radio and streaming playlists across the country and beyond; Tash Sultana, Ruston Kelly, Phoebe Bridgers, Tierra Whack, Dermot Kennedy, J.S. Ondara to name a few.

Today, NPR Music has released a list of 20 Slingshot Artists To Watch for 2019 – including Philly singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Orion Sun. WXPN’s John Vettese speaks to why she deserves a spot on the list: Continue reading →

By

Stream Death Cab For Cutie’s Thank You For Today via NPR First Listen

Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie for WXPN | Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com

Thanks to NPR Music’s First Listen series, Death Cab For Cutie’s ninth album, Thank You For Today, is available to stream before the full release this Friday, August 17th.

Third track and lead single “Gold Rush” has been a favorite around the station leading up to the album’s release. The track touches on the gentrification of a hometown, seemingly changing overnight or without any notice. Themes of change are riddled throughout the album, from the location-slanted “Gold Rush” to physically leaving a space, like on “You Moved Away.” While vocalist Ben Gibbard’s lyrics are at the forefront of each track, the backing instrumentals are not to go unnoticed. Swirling synths accompanied by drums, bass, guitar, and piano, perfectly paired with Gibbard’s register, weave a sense of nostalgia and hope throughout the album. Continue reading →

By

Lucy Dacus, Lo Moon, Natalie Prass and more are on tap for SXSW public radio showcases

Lucy Dacus| Photo By Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

Heading down to Austin, TX for SXSW next week? Even if you weren’t planning on going, this news might make you want to pack your bags and plan an escape route out of snowy Philly (Austin’s only 1,600 miles away, after all).

There’s never a shortage of events to attend, bands to see, or tacos to eat at the annual mega-conference-slash-festival, but this year NPR Music, in collaboration with several member stations including XPN, has put together something truly special. Public radio showcases will be happening throughout the week at locations all over Austin, with some individual stations hosting their own shows, but the stations come together on Wednesday, March 14 for NPR Music’s Public Radio Showcase at the famous Stubb’s BBQ. Continue reading →

By

Japanese Breakfast brings Soft Sounds and a string ensemble to NPR’s Tiny Desk

Japanese Breakfast | still from video | via twitter.com/jbrekkie

Somewhere in between the release of the stunning LP Soft Sounds From Another Planet, a U.S. tour, a celebratory Philly homecoming show and a European tour, Japanese Breakfast found time to stop by NPR Music to film a Tiny Desk Concert. The intimate setting of the famed Tiny Desk provides the perfect opportunity for experimentation and often leads artists to strip down their songs into quieter, acoustic versions — and for Japanese Breakfast this happened to include the addition of some unexpected but beautifully executed string arrangements performed by members of D.C. string quartet Rogue Collective. Continue reading →

By

Get to know Slingshot, a new artist-championing collaboration backing Big Thief, Jamila Woods and Lo Moon


Teased this spring at the annual NonCOMM-vention, the new program Slingshot is an artist-championing collaboration between NPR Music and 18 VuHaus member stations — including founding stations WXPN, WFUV, KCRW, KUTX and The Bridge.

Over the summer, programming staff from the member stations each nominated a handful of artists to throw their support behind over the coming year. The submissions were reviewed, and the stations came to a consensus — Big ThiefJamila Woods and Lo Moon would be backed by Slingshot affiliates through interviews, editorial coverage, live performances and more over the next several months.

“Everybody in this room knows the impact of public radio on artist development,”  XPN general manager Roger LaMay told the crowd at NonCOMM this spring. “It’s really been essential with NonCOMMs and public radio writ large to pool our resources and work together to grow our impact.” Continue reading →

By

Just Announced: NPR Music and World Cafe bring The National to Philly, performing entire new album LIVE

The National | photo by Graham Macindoe | courtesy of the artist

Over the last two months, excitement for The National’s new album, Sleep Well Beast, has been building as they’ve released three singles and performed a handful of new songs in Paris during a live-streamed Pitchfork concert. Now, WXPN’s World Cafe and NPR Music have just announced a LIVE First Listen performance, happening three days before the album drops, from right here in Philly on September 5th! Continue reading →

By

Watch Jay Som take over the NPR Music Tiny Desk

jay som
Jay Som | photo by Cara Robbins | courtesy of the artist

Bay Area band Jay Som has had a whirlwind rise to her second album Everybody Works, from releasing a series of singles to signing with Polyvinyl to opening for Mitski on a national tour. Most recently the project — led by singer and songwriter Meline Duterte —  was invited to perform for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, and the performance is now available for your viewing pleasure.

Duterte is a one-woman force, writing all of the music and lyrics and recording each instrument herself. When she performs live, Jay Som grows into a quartet to realize the records in full. Continue reading →

By

XPN MusicNotes: Watch Jeff Tweedy explain how Wilco names albums, listen to the new Pixies album Head Carrier

Wilco at Solid Sound Festival | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com
Wilco at Solid Sound Festival | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

“The next time someone tells you Wilco doesn’t put a lot of work into things, just tell them…I don’t know. Something. You make it up.”
-Jeff Tweedy

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy recorded a video, (prior to last night’s appearance on The late Show with Stephen Colbert) in which he responds to critics of the band’s recent album titles. Funny stuff. Continue reading →