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Nada Surf performs “What Is Your Secret?” with John Roderick on backup vocals live at Bumbershoot in Seattle on 9/1/2014

Bob Mould: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Bob Mould came alone, except for his 1987 Lake Placid Blue Fender Stratocaster. We provided the Epiphone Blues Custom 30 amp, which he promptly cranked. Needless to say, he announced his own Tiny Desk Concert without using the paging system.

Mould isn’t a shy man — his power chords will tell you that — but he’s humble and gentle. Many know Mould from his days with Hüsker Dü, an awesome punkish band from Minnesota that laid the groundwork for the Pixies and more. His subsequent work with Sugar managed to do something none of his other records did so well: Copper Blue sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

Beauty and Ruin is solo album No. 11 for Mould, and as you can hear from these songs, he’s all amped up and ready to go. Sweaty and happy, he makes “Makes No Sense At All” his final calling card — classic Hüsker Dü.

Set List:

  • "The War"
  • "I Don’t Know You Anymore"
  • "Hey Mr. Grey"
  • "Makes No Sense At All"

Anthrax - “A Skeleton in the Closet” (Chile on Hell DVD, 2014)

Great song, great sound, and former Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais does an admirable job at mimicking Danny Spitz’s solo, but he definitely needs to loosen up and move a little more. And I very nearly had a seizure from all the fast-cut split-screen nonsense.

Nickel Creek: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Check out the pipes on Sara Effing Watkins on the opening song “Destination.”

Nickel Creek was made to sing and play around a single microphone, so a Tiny Desk Concert seemed inevitable. All it took was a reunion tour — celebrating 25 years of Nickel Creek — to make it happen.

All three of the band’s remarkably talented core members have been to the Tiny Desk before. Chris Thile is a veteran, having played the Tiny Desk with friend and guitarist Michael Daves, then later in the same year with Yo-Yo Ma and others in a project known as Goat Rodeo. When The Decemberists performed a Tiny Desk Concert, Sara Watkins was there to play her fiddle and sing. Her brother, Sean Watkins, was also at the NPR offices earlier this year with the marvelous singer Tom Brosseau.

The trio, backed here by bassist Mark Schatz, has no equal. Nickel Creek has been doing this on and off since its members were kids, and what blows me away is the comfort and ease with which they navigate their instruments. That skill, and the creative force behind it, is a joy and a thrill to witness.

Set List:

  • "Destination"
  • "Rest Of My Life"
  • "21st Of May"
  • "Elephant In The Corn"

Bob Mould performs “Hey Mr. Grey” on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Bob Mould performs “The War” on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Two things:

  • Taylor Hawkins!
  • I’m always surprised at how articulated Mould’s playing sounds considering the fact that it looks like he’s just pounding away at that Strat.

Dream Theater - “The Looking Glass” (Breaking the Fourth Wall, 2014)

Queen perform “Stone Cold Crazy” live at London’s Rainbow Theater in 1974

One of my favorite Queen songs off my favorite Queen album.

Biters perform “Oh Yeah” live at the Goat Farm Arts Center for the 2014 Atlanta Film Festival’s Sound & Visions Experience

Alice in Chains perform “Would?” on DIRECTV’s Guitar Center Sessions

Gah! The bass!

Alice in Chains perform “No Excuses” for DIRECTV’s Guitar Center Sessions

Yes - “Owner of a Lonely Heart” (Songs from Tsongas: The 35th Anniversary Concert)

Here’s an interesting acoustic version of Yes’ only #1 US hit performed by the “classic” lineup of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, and Alan White during the band’s 35th anniversary tour in 2004 at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA.

The Hold Steady performs live in the KEXP studio on July 18, 2014

Here’s a nice little acoustic set by everyone’s favorite talk-singing indie-alt band The Hold Steady, featuring one of Memphis’ favorite sons Steve Selvidge on guitar.

A reunited Nickel Creek performs “Destination” for WNYC’s Soundcheck

The song is a track from their new album A Dotted Line, the first in nine long years.

Eureka Machines’ Chris Catalyst and Davros cover A-ha’s “Take on Me” during their Golden Ticket pre-show set at the Borderline gig on March 22, 2014 in London