Bob Boilen

Earlier this week we posted a poll asking whether you think concerts have gotten too loud, and whether you've started wearing earplugs at shows. After a week of voting, the results are in, and respondents have what seems to be a pretty clear message to clubs and concert venues: Turn it down!

At first blush, Okkervil River is obviously a good rock 'n' roll band, but listen closely — especially to its lyrics — and you'll hear a great rock 'n' roll band. The group has been making sharp, thoughtful music since the late '90s, with the first of its seven albums coming out a dozen years ago.

Short of seeing her live and in person, this is the best way to encounter Valerie June's heartfelt sound. Her new album Pushin' Against a Stone is terrific, but when I first heard that voice unadorned, I was hooked. The same may happen to you.

After five decades of singing, Linda Thompson is still one of the best voices in folk music. Her tone is alluring, sometimes mournful, and always passionate. Her story is unlike anyone else's, beginning in England during the 1960s, and continuing with her marriage to Richard Thompson, when she recorded my favorite British folk albums ever, including 1975's Pour Down Like Silver.

A lot of people come to the music of Volcano Choir - and see concerts like this one - because of the band's lead singer, Justin Vernon, an artist better-known for his work as Bon Iver. But Volcano Choir isn't a Bon Iver side project. It's a completely separate creative force, and the group's songs sound like no one else's.

Volcano Choir got its start in 2005 when Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and members of the band Collections Of Colonies Of Bees decided to make mysterious, multi-layered, adventurous music together. Their first album, 2009's Unmap, was dreamy, frequently abstract, and simply gorgeous.

There's a moment in this rousing tune by the Brooklyn-based band Rubblebucket I think we can all connect with: singer Kalmia Traver screams "15 missed calls / can you blame me? / Charlie tell me, do you love me?" It's that exasperation, that moment in a relationship when one person finds themselves caring a whole lot more than the other, that makes this a fabulous pop song. I also love how much life this lyric video has; the color and style feel fresh and so perfect for the blasting horns and funk of the music.

It's remarkable to think that Superchunk's career has spanned four decades. The North Carolina band got its start in 1989, and here it is in 2013, with a new record called I Hate Music that demonstrates an undying passion for punk-fueled story songs with catchy phrasing.

Somehow this young Dutch musician has managed to capture an aesthetic that happened 20 years before he was born. Jacco Gardner makes music in the spirit of early 1960s baroque pop bands, such as The Left Banke (a group that featured a harpsichord) or late '60s Kinks, and certainly The Zombies from their Odessey and Oracle period. Gardner channels these sounds on a new song and trippy video called "The End Of August."

He seemed so casual — sitting on a bar stool behind the Tiny Desk, acoustic guitar in hand — but when you hear that husky voice, you'll know why he's a legend. Oliver Mtukudzi, or "Tuku" as his fans lovingly call him, plays spirited music, born from the soul of Zimbabwe. He's been recording since the late 1970s, with about as many albums as his age: 60.

Hem: Tiny Desk Concert

Sep 28, 2013

Hem is one of All Songs Considered's earliest discoveries. Back in 2002, we received a beautiful and unique album called Rabbit Songs. It was a homey, fireside kind of record, with a sound that could be called country or Americana, and the arrangements by Dan Messé made it feel quaint and warm. To top it off, there was singer Sally Ellyson, an untrained natural talent with an effortless yet breathtaking voice.

There's a new album coming from the band Midlake. The album, Antiphon, isn't out until later this fall, but fans of these modern day creators of classic and progressive rock can get a glimpse of the band's new sound right now with a new song called "Provider."

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