This week, we were reminded again of all the wonderful music we discover through the Tiny Desk Contest. &More, the hip-hop and R&B duo of Donn T and Chill Moody, entered the Contest last year with the stellar song "WHOA." Even though the group didn't win the Contest, it still made its way to the Tiny Desk: Just this week, we got to share &More's Tiny Desk concert debut.
This year's Contest entry period is almost halfway over (we're accepting entries until April 14) and we've already seen so many standout artists. Check out these ones that stood out to us this week.
Buffalo Rose, "Born"
The balancing act that the six musicians of Buffalo Rose achieve in their video for "Born" is something to be celebrated. Gathered around two microphones, the singers and instrumentalists of the Pittsburgh-based group match each other's energy both in instances of quiet tenderness and rich swells. I'm a sucker for a three-part vocal harmony, and you can tell the group's three singers pay attention to each other, matching vowel sounds and intonations with ease. That vocal blend not only sets the mood for the folk tune but also makes those dynamic changes (especially the solo from Rosanna Spindler on the final chorus) seem so fluid. —Pilar Fitzgerald
Phat Lip, "Coyote"
This song might make you get up out of your seat and dance to the beat, but it's the lyrics of this astonishing tale that caught our attention. "Coyote" tells the story of a pregnant woman leaving her abusive boyfriend in search of refuge. She gives all of her money away to a coyote, or someone who promises to smuggle her across the border. In this song, Phat Lip sheds light on a nuanced character that is often overlooked; a complicated human in hiding who is more often only recognized as part of a statistic. The song concludes with a thought-provoking question: "If you didn't have your freedom, what would you do to get it?" This song was written by lead vocalist Kelly Jo and features Troy Jones on drums, Sam Kruer on bass, Bert Brown on percussion and Matt Dingledine on guitar. —Clara Maurer
The Stapletons, "Blue Mountain Girl"
"Blue Mountain Girl," a duet between a harp and 12-string guitar, is intricate in its folk nature, interweaving the two string instruments with modern invention and otherworldly creativity. The Stapletons' song is a lush, synchronized string ballad amplified by ethereal vocals and chamber folk rhythm. The Pittsburgh-based duo has created an alluring, timeless song that honors the past and belongs to the present. —Jacqueline Reed
NoSo's Abby Hwong has a really catchy guitar lick on her hands. It's the kind of hook that gets stuck in your head — you know, like a person you had feelings for who couldn't return them? "Allie" is smart and charming in both its composition and lyrics. The story is told so delicately; it's evocative without being wordy. In particular, the meditative pause towards the middle of the song carries a great weight to it, like a suggestion of something left unsaid. This is NoSo's first-ever Tiny Desk Contest entry, and we hope to hear more! —Pilar Fitzgerald
Mary Moore, "Redwoods"
Mary Moore's "Redwood" is a beautiful ode to learned resistance. In her Tiny Desk entry video, Moore is accompanied by Arianna Hume singing background vocals and Sam Roller on guitar. As the song progresses, the passion of this trio blooms in front of your eyes. "I want to bend before I break / Want to grow but learn to stay," Moore sings. This coming-of-age anthem is less about the places the narrator goes while chasing her dreams, and more about learning how to hold onto courage in the continued pursuit. While the lyrics convey a sense of yearning, the theme of this song is clear: This is a song of hope. —Clara Maurer