For this week's show, Bob Boilen and I throw open the studio door to welcome a parade of guests from the NPR Music team, each sharing their favorite April releases. This includes Jake Witz, one of our fabulous Spring interns, who has some relatively restrained music from U.K. grime artist Mr. Mitch.
Rap music has found an outlet in Kashmir, the border state between India and Pakistan.
The Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, tucked in the Himalayas, might not seem the most likely venue for this music. But Roushan Illahi, Kashmir's leading rapper, says the guns, soldiers and protracted conflict provide the "street reality" that hip-hop is meant to capture.
Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell met in college, and their friendship grew into a sisterhood. Today they share the stage together as the band Overcoats, singing in tight harmonies with voices that are nearly indistinguishable.
"I think we did feel a magic when we sang together," Mitchell says. "We could tell that our voices just sort of blended in this very crazy way, and kind of cradled one another.
Techno may live and breathe in the club, but often it's born somewhere much less glamorous.
The steamy first single from Sleazy, "Que Calor" (roughly, "It's Hot"), acknowledges and honors that truth, exploring the sonic possibilities of "suburban techno" through demented vocal loops and relentless, ominous rhythms.
As the primary booker of the Tiny Desk Concerts, I have this self-imposed rule: No artist can come back for a second visit unless there's something wholly different about what they're doing. The first time alt-J played the Tiny Desk, in 2012, they came as a four-piece; electric guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. They were a pretty new band, their album had been out a few months and they were playing in clubs for a couple hundred people, not much more.
Southern California's The Wild Reeds is made up of three singers, each one also a songwriter, who have been combining their voices since they met in college. Each of the women — Kinsey Lee, Sharon Silva and Mackenzie Howe — has a distinctive style, but together they find a way to blend them to create amazing harmonies.
Andy Shauf's latest album, The Party, landed on last year's short list for Canada's prestigious Polaris Music Prize. It's filled with songs that chronicle the awkward moments and juicy encounters that can happen at a house party in a small town: the half-wit spilling his guts after a bottle of wine, the friend making late-night confessions to his crush while her boyfriend stands oblivious and stoned in the corner, what it feels like to be the first person to show up at the party.