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Thank You, NPR Music

Tiny Desk Concerts remain as one person's favorite way to discover new music and revisit old favorites.

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NPR still carries a little bit of a dusty stigma for catering to people's tastes who are "of a certain age." However, for anybody in a musical slump and is desperately seeking a new flavor of the month, or better yet, a forever-favorite, NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Series on YouTube serves as my personal go-to "Spinspiration." That kind of wordplay only works if you prefer physical copies of music rather than digital... Oh well, it made me laugh.

Here are my top five Tiny Desk Concerts (but in no official rank, because they're all awesome):

1. Julien Baker

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An up and comer on the music scene, discovering Julien Baker's debut body of work hasn't made me fan-girl this hard since junior high. Here's how my admiration for her talent escalated: Watched NPR concert, commenced Wikipedia search, watched concert again, purchased CD AND t-shirt. Yup, I'm going to champion for this girl's success hard. Plus, it's fun to advertise for musicians not many people have heard of yet.

2. Cantus

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Cantus is an A Capella men's ensemble from Minnesota. Their voices serve as finely tuned instruments that travel across multiple genres of music, which have provided a distinguished and diverse body of work. They performed at my university while I was attending college, and as a self-professed choir nerd, I absolutely loved them. As with most music, though, you don't need to be a trained professional to appreciate Cantus's finesse for blending so many unique voices that could easily stand alone, but instead stand together.

3. Screaming Females

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Time to unleash your inner Riot Grrl with this band. NPR offers its listeners the privilege of enjoying night club punk at daytime 9-to-5 volumes with this trim set. The trio consistently releases new music so fans never have the opportunity to become bored. With an ever-evolving discography, it's almost a shame that this concert is already four years old.

4. Hozier

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Andrew Hozier-Byrne stopped by NPR to record this session just as the single "Take Me to Church" was starting to gain popularity on American airwaves. His influences rest in the blues and folk music with special respect given to artists like Muddy Waters. Hozier gives even the simplest chord progressions renewed vitality with his songwriting abilities. It doesn't hurt that he's handsome either. Lucky for us, he's using his "pretty power" and musical talents to engage his audiences in discussions surrounding topics like gay rights, domestic abuse, and mental health awareness.

5. Trampled by Turtles

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Another Minnesota band makes the list! I'm a little biased because it's my home state, but let's be real: Minnesota churns out a ton of talent. Judy Garland, Prince, Bob Dylan, The Replacements, Semisonic... I could go on. Anyway, Trampled by Turtles is a bluegrass/folk/rock/pop band. They're great live performers, as is evident in this video. If you enjoy bands like Steep Canyon Rangers, but feel in the mood for more grit and enthusiastic abandon, take a listen.

There's something for everybody on NPR's channel, and I'd highly recommend visiting. I suppose I should mention somewhere that I'm in no way affiliated with NPR or with these musicians professionally or personally. Nobody is paying me to do this. Just like most fans, I get to admire at a respectable distance, and today I decided to express gratitude for these musicians and public radio. Even though we rely heavily upon outlets like Spotify and Pandora to gain access to new music, sometimes it's nice to match the humans with the songs that help make our day to day existences more bearable, and dare I say it? Enjoyable.

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