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

Taken by Trees performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 12, 2012. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

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Taken By Trees

Victoria Bergsman's songs seem to come from a place somewhere between a dream state and waking life. There's restraint to the way Taken by Trees' players approach this music, almost as if they're trying not to wake the baby in the other room.

Martha Wainwright performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 15, 2012. Ryan Smith/Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

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Martha Wainwright

Wainwright does the opposite of sugarcoating: She roughs up life's smooth spots, then digs her fingertips into the cracks that form. Watch her perform three songs from her new album, Come Home to Mama, in the NPR Music offices.

Benjamin Gibbard performs a Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices on Nov. 8, 2012. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

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Ben Gibbard

For this, the 250th Tiny Desk Concert, the Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service singer performs solo and unadorned, with just an acoustic guitar to back him up. Hear Gibbard perform a new song, a little-heard track from 2011, and "St. Peter's Cathedral" from Death Cab's Codes and Keys.

Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca play a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 3. Lauren Rock/NPR hide caption

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Flaco Jimenez

Jimenez is part of a musical continuum that reaches from 19th-century Mexico all the way to The Rolling Stones. And he does it by playing waltzes on a button accordion.

Jason Lytle performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 28. Ryan Smith/NPR hide caption

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Jason Lytle

Lytle's deeply affecting story-songs offer listeners moments of fantastical escape or quiet reflection, while examining the mundane hopes and failed dreams of oddball characters. Watch him perform solo acoustic versions of songs from his latest record, plus one classic Grandaddy tune.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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."

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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.