Tiny Desk Intimate concerts, recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.

Passion Pit performs on Tiny Desk on Oct. 15. Ryan Smith/Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ryan Smith/Ryan Smith/NPR

Passion Pit

A keyboardist and singer who started out working solo on his laptop, Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos makes Technicolor electro-pop with monster hooks. But his songs are sturdy, versatile things, as this performance indicates.

Lord Huron performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 10, 2012. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ryan Smith/NPR

Lord Huron

Lord Huron is a band for just about anyone: The rich harmonies are welcoming, the lyrics relatable and the live performances thrilling. Its first album, Lonesome Dreams, just came out.

Robert Cray performs a Tiny Desk Concert Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Lauren Rock/NPR

Robert Cray Band

Like any great blues singer, Cray makes heartache and dysfunction sound engaging and relatable. The three new songs here execute the deftest possible blend of emotional misery and instrumental majesty — just the way the blues ought to be.

Dirty Three plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 24. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Lauren Rock/NPR

Dirty Three

One of the loudest performances ever captured in the NPR Music offices, Dirty Three's set alternately seethes and rages in a flurry of high kicks, shambolic rumbling, prolific hairiness and dramatic yelling.

Spirit Family Reunion performs at Tiny Desk concert on Sept. 18. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ryan Smith/NPR

Spirit Family Reunion

The group plays fiddle, banjo, guitar and washboard, all gathered around a single microphone in an old-style tradition. The result is what Spirit Family Reunion's members call "open-door gospel" — gospel music that's not tied to any particular religious denomination.

Antibalas performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 25. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ryan Smith/NPR

Antibalas

It's one thing for 11 musicians to make a big sound — and, sure, Antibalas does that — but what stands out is the subtlety of this ensemble; the way the horns weave in and out of each other, sometimes complementing and at other times inspiring and creating musical conversation between players.

Kat Edmonson performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 17, 2012. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ryan Smith/NPR

Kat Edmonson

Hearing Edmonson makes it virtually impossible to do anything but stop and listen. On her latest record, and now at the Tiny Desk, the 29-year-old is no longer simply inspired by days gone by; with her fragile voice, she gives new life to classic sounds.

Yva Las Vegas plays a Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Lauren Rock/NPR

Yva Las Vegass

The New York street performer's songs feel like deep primal screams, each accompanied by a traditional Venezuelan cuatroa small stringed instrument similar to a ukulele. At the NPR Music offices, Las Vegass weaves magic with her presence, her playing and especially her voice.

Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra during Tiny Desk at NPR. (Kainaz Amaria/NPR) Kainaz Amaria/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Amanda Palmer And The Grand Theft Orchestra

Theatre Is Evil is genius, savvy pop filled with storytelling that won't let go. Watch Palmer and her band perform "The Killing Type," "Want It Back" and the appropriately titled "Ukulele Anthem."

Michael Katzif/NPR

Avi Avital

Avital has the long, slender fingers of a concert pianist. Yet instead of stretching chords out wide on a Steinway, he squeezes those lengthy digits onto the tiny fretted fingerboard of a mandolin. The instrument today is associated with bluegrass and western swing, but in Avital's hands, the mandolin sings with the sounds of J.S. Bach, Ernest Bloch and contemporary composers.

Renaud Garcia Fons performs a Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices. Michael Katzif/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Michael Katzif/NPR

Renaud Garcia-Fons

The renowned double bassist from France demonstrates his love of classical, jazz and flamenco while performing solo behind the Tiny Desk. Watch Garcia-Fons thump, strum and loop his way through three mesmerizing songs.

Rufus Wainwright performs a Tiny Desk Concert, at the NPR Music offices on July 24, 2012. Claire O'Neill/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire O'Neill/NPR

Rufus Wainwright

Somehow, we managed to fit a glossy black Yamaha upright piano behind the Tiny Desk. Then we tuned it and waited for some glorious moments. By the time Wainwright reached the middle of his final song, "Montauk," there were few dry eyes among the NPR employees and guests.

The Zombies perform a Tiny Desk Concert. Ebony Bailey/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ebony Bailey/NPR

The Zombies

Predicting music that will survive the ages just isn't possible. In a stripped-down performance at the NPR Music office, founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone still have the chemistry that began 51 years ago, playing classics like "She's Not There."

Michael Katzif/NPR

Beth Orton

Known for mixing folk and electronic music, Orton unveils three new songs with just an acoustic guitar. Her next album, Sugaring Season, doesn't come out until Oct. 2, so consider this a sneak preview — alongside a lovely, spare version of 1999's "Sweetest Decline."

Blake Lipthratt/NPR

The Walkmen

Singer Hamilton Leithauser may wield an acoustic guitar in these three songs, but this is no awkward attempt to shoehorn booming rock anthems into arrangements that don't suit them. It's clear that these guys were making the Tiny Desk accommodate their sound rather than the other way around.