The Tiny Desk is a concert series from NPR where they stick a band behind a staffer’s desk and have them play. The cramped conditions usually lead to a significant decrease in amplification and have a weirdly intimate feel in addition to having a universally flattish sounds. The band’s usually pretty clearly uncomfortable in such tight conditions, but this awkwardness of the situation usually leads to some genuinely surprising performances, including one of my favorites, The Avett Brothers’ “Laundry Room,” which outclasses the studio version by miles. Other highlights include Bowerbirds, Tom Jones, The Tallest Man on Earth, and K’naan did one, but it seems to have been taken down.
Anyway, the Antlers just did one, with songs from their album Hospice, which was far and away one of the best albums of last year, and one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. It’s incredibly sad, but it has some simply incredible lyrics. Honestly, when I first heard it I thought it was the comeback album of a major band, or maybe an incredible third album, but it’s their debut. I couldn’t imagining writing something like this and then performing it live, it’s so starkly personal. But, onto their actual Tiny Desk Concert. Their starter, “Bear” is one of my favorites from the album, and this version is significantly more ethereal and calm then the breakdown that happens in the recorded cut. After that is “Atrophy,” the only song on the album that I wasn’t a huge fan of as I thought it dragged a little. This version of it makes me reconsider, but I’ll let you hear for yourself. Last is “Syliva” an utterly destructive piece on the original. Again, I’ll just let you listen. (If you do, and you should.)
Also, they’re playing a show here in April and I don’t yet have anyone to go with. If this doesn’t convince someone, nothing will.
I’ll also throw up one of their songs from the album, “Kettering,” the first track on the album after a brief prologue. You know any album that starts itself with “I wish I had known in that first minute we met, the unpayable debt that I’d owe you” is going to be a strong one. This song builds itself beautifully. Check it out.