Bob Boilen

Death Cab For Cutie is back with some pretty great new music. The band has just announced that a new album is on the way called Thank You for Today. And in this special episode of All Songs Considered, singer Ben Gibbard shares and talks about the first single, "Gold Rush."

When 14-year-old Grace VanderWaal came to perform at the Tiny Desk I had to confess to her (and her mom) that, until my "accidental concert experience," I had no idea who she was, nor did I know what America's Got Talent was.

It all started this past February, when I went to the 9:30 Club, a 1,200 capacity music venue, to see what I thought was a show by rock guitarist Grace Vonderkuhn and her power trio from Delaware.

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.

Singer Meg Myers' exasperation with her former record label birthed the song "Numb." She wrote me to say that the song "is about how I was feeling when my (former) record company was looking for something out of me that just didn't feel right for many reasons. I was frustrated and it came through in this song."

This is an unusual, beautiful and dark album curated by — and at times performed by — the Danish musician Agnes Obel. It's part of a series of artist-curated albums called Late Night Tales. Nils Frahm, The Flaming Lips, Jon Hopkins and others have put their own records together for the series in the past.

Parquet Courts' fifth album, Wide Awake! is a turning point for the band. The four guys based in New York made conscious attempts to push their music out of their habitual tendencies toward aggressive rock and wound up with their most interesting record to date, with the help of producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse).

It was daylight but the music was dark and moody. And despite having the office lights turned on high, it was Khruangbin's trance-inducing tone that set the mood and carried me away.

I remember feeling absolutely free. I recall the sensation of joy.

I first saw Glenn Branca at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. in 1982. I came away from that concert wondering how it was that I, having spent so much of my life listening to music, had simply never thought about music simply as noise, perhaps somewhat organized, to varying degrees, but noise nonetheless. Branca, who died this past Sunday, gave me what may have been the loudest noise I'd ever heard that night, give or take a jackhammer or a jet engine, familiar sounds from growing up in Queens, N.Y.

"These times are poignant / The winds have shifted / It's all we can do / To stay uplifted."

Those words are sung so powerfully by Rising Appalachia, the musical project of sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith. This uplifting, original folk song for these challenging times is called "Resilient."

"I think this is one of my vaguest songs," Mitski says in this conversation about her new song, "Geyser." "Usually my songs have a narrative of some sort. But this song is all feeling."

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.

There is nothing subtle about this performance of "Cue the Machines" by Yonatan Gat. And that's pretty much true of nearly every part of this brash guitarist and his music, including his stint as part of the Israeli garage-rocker band Monotonix.

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.

Dictators as children. That's the frightening prospect put forward in this video and song by Young Fathers called, "Toy"

The song kicks off with the words, "I got ss-stammers and no manners / I'm the man that's gonna play it for keeps / Oceanic cinematic appetite for something bigger than free."

This is as spare as music can be – songs stripped to their essence and just gorgeous. Azniv Korkejian is Bedouine, a singer and acoustic guitarist who echoes sounds from the 1960's North American folk songwriters, but with vocal inflections that feel closer to Leonard Cohen than to Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez.

I went from really loving the music of Superorganism to being a transformed super-fan the moment they sent me an email ahead of their Tiny Desk performance asking, "is it okay if we [bring] inflatable whales when we play?" Now I feel like the kind of fan I was when I wore a yellow radiation suit to a Devo concert in 1978.

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.

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