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 →


Hear Natalie Prass’ new album now on NPR First Listen

Natalie Prass’ The Future and The Past album art

Richmond-based singer-songwriter Natalie Prass has returned with her sophomore album, The Future and The Past, available to steam now through NPR’s First Listen series.

Prass kicks off her latest effort with a funk-soaked banger in the form of “Oh My.” Lyrically, she weaves sociopolitical verses throughout the track, opening with “I can’t believe the things I hear / What is truth and what is fear.” Second track and lead single “Short Court Style” is the Juno-bass thumping, XPN-fave we’re all familiar with. Prass closed her NonCOMM set with the track, a fan favorite from the night. Continue reading →


Tyler the Creator sets the mood at NPR’s first nighttime Tiny Desk Concert

Tyler, the Creator | screenshot from NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

Hip-hop’s resident bucket-hat strange boy, Tyler, the Creator, stopped by NPR’s offices to perform not only his own Tiny Desk debut, but also to induct the first evening version of the Tiny Desk gig. Distinguishing the switch, instead of the custom clear natural light setting across the afternoon cubicles, vibrant backdrop lighting of deep fuschia, electric blue, and blood red drenched the typical work space, as it transformed into an intimate club atmosphere. Which, according to NPR, was the result of Tyler’s own request and the work of his hired lighting team. Continue reading →


Just Announced: Japanese Breakfast continues their Philly takeover with a headlining gig at Union Transfer

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Galea McGregor for WXPN

It’s been quite a year for indie darling Japanese Breakfast. But, I mean, when you release a record as amazing as Soft Sounds from Another Planet, it only makes sense that everyone everywhere’s going to want a chance to see a live performance of said record.

So although Michelle Zauner’s earnest, electro-ambient pop tunes have been sounding off at all corners of the earth for a while now (she and the crew are currently sharing her songs with the Eastern side of the planet with an Asia / Australia tour) Japanese Breakfast has just announced another ring of shows back in the States after just a tiny — but much deserved — winter break.

Starting February in Zauner’s early hometown of Seattle, the tour will conclude with a massive (current) hometown celebration at Union Transfer on June 3rd. Continue reading →


SPORTS returns with a raging, live-wire party in new track, “Making It Right”

Sports | photo via artist’s Facebook page

As my self-sabotaging, Cleveland Browns fans of a family gear up for another depressing football season, I’ll be over here taking part in a much more delightful and spunky kind of sports. I’m talking about the simply-named-yet-also-confusing-because-of-the-simplicity-of-the-naming band: the Philly DIY four-piece, SPORTS. Continue reading →


The decade-plus wait is over: stream Rainer Maria’s new S/T album via NPR now

Rainer Maria | photo courtesy of artist

Hey, Rainer Maria fans: your eleven year wait comes to a close today. Though the band’s new heftily anticipated, self-titled album won’t be officially released until August 18th via Polyvinyl Records, NPR has secured an early listen for you — you can stream the album in full here.

S/T is able to keep the raw intensity of Rainer Maria’s earlier works, while also carving out enough space for growth. As example, personal favorite track “Suicide and Lazy Eyes” is a fuzzed-out, non-stop live wire of sound and energy, with “Lower Worlds” slowing it down but remaining just as heavy with a buildup to cathartic, muffled shouts. Continue reading →


Stream Waxahatchee’s new album Out in the Storm via NPR Music’s First Listen

Waxahatchee Tour | courtesy of Merge Records
Waxahatchee Tour | courtesy of Merge Records

If you’re like me and you like to know every song on a concert setlist before a show (it makes jamming along easier, okay?), Friday just got a little better. Ahead of the June 14th release date of Waxahatchee‘s highly anticipated fourth album on Merge Records, Out in the Storm is available to stream in full right now on NPR Music’s First Listen series. Continue reading →


Hear Broken Social Scene’s eclectic and expansive new album, ‘Hug of Thunder’

Broken Social Scene | Courtesy of the artist

Broken Social Scene’s new LP, Hug of Thunder, is the album I didn’t know I needed. It’s eclectic, it’s thought-provoking, it’s dance-worthy, and as what you’d expect from a fifteen-piece group — yes, like a one and a five next to each other — it’s big.

No matter the tone of the tune, each song conjures up its own expansive, atmospheric flavor — fully immersing the listener in it’s individual world — while simultaneously connecting to a larger woven fabric of sound. Though Hug of Thunder isn’t officially released until the 7th, you can stream the album in full here thanks to our friends at NPR. Continue reading →


Chicano Batman charms with suave tunes at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

Chicano Batman | Photo by Noah Silvestry |

Chicano Batman recently packed their eclectic ensemble into NPR’s office for a Tiny Desk concert full of suave, smooth and spirited grooves. As per usual of the Californian four-piece, the dapper band was dressed to the nines as they performed three songs, including “Freedom Is Free,” “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm,)” and “Jealousy.” Continue reading →


Listen to Margo Price’s solid set on NPR’s Mountain Stage

Margo Price | photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN
Margo Price | photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN

Taped at West Virginia’s Civic Center Little Theater, country breakout Margo Price made her debut on Mountain Stage this week, performing tunes from her recent record Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. She was joined by Nashville’s Micah Hulscher, Dillon Napier, and Jamie Davis on keys, drums, and guitar, respectively, along with Luke Schneider on pedal steel and dobro and Kevin Black on bass.

Listen to the episode below, and if you dig what you hear, catch Price this summer at BB&T Pavilion with Chris Stapleton; tickets/more information can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar.

Continue reading →