Each year, the Tiny Desk Contest receives entries from all 50 states, thanks in part to encouragement from NPR Member stations across the country. This year's entries showcased impressive talent in local scenes and introduced us to a myriad of great new-to-us musicians. While the Tiny Desk Contest judges wrap up evaluating Contest entries, we want to share some of the entries our Member stations love.
Brit Drozda, "This Too Shall Pass"
You can see the perfect storm of memories past and emotions present in Brit Drozda's entry video for "This Too Shall Pass." You can hear the shades of grey in the sky, transforming from stormy days to calmer nights, as the Charlotte, N.C.-based singer's vocals crescendo, break and search for comfort. More than that, you can feel time erasing the pain in Drozda's soulful power ballad, reminding us that there is something brighter just around the corner. —Joni Deutsch, WFAE's Amplifier
Medium Build, "Men"
Mediums Build's entry video "Men," opens in front of what appears to be one of artist Robert Wyland's iconic Whaling Walls. The camera slowly pans down on a man strumming a Danelectro guitar with the weight of a whale looming over his shoulders while the chords ripple out. The brightness of the natural light captured in the parking lot full of pickup trucks only adds to Medium Build's stripped-down and honest take on the messaging being shared with young men. It's not easy to admit privilege, and the video and raw lyrics gives a glimpse into a man questioning everything he's been taught. —Vasilia Scouras, WVPB's Mountain Stage
In "Shifted," Myrtle casts a spell — and promptly breaks it. Singers Claire Dickson and Camila Ortiz begin in unison, with a soft chant that lifts into a dreamy melody. Things go as expected for a while: sweet harmonies; the barest brush of piano; some kind of ambient, tinkling percussion. Then, the singers land abruptly on a jarring, dissonant chord. They idle there, a little painfully, until at last the drums enter and the band begins a circuitous crescendo. Is it jazz disguised as folk? New Age with a sense of rhythm? Really quiet prog rock? The old categories are useless here. "Shifted" is at once lovely and strange, a lullaby that lingers in discomfort. —Amelia Mason, WBUR
The entry video for wyd's "After," like the song itself, is immediately entrancing — chalk that up to filming in a mirrored room with pulsing neon lights. Columbus, Ohio music fans will recognize singer and guitarist Carly Fratianne from the blues-rock band Souther. But wyd is slower, more atmospheric and devastating (the trio describes itself as "queer death pop," which may just be my new favorite genre). —Gabe Rosenberg, WOSU
Alfred Sergel, "Y-Closed"
Beyond the obvious cool factor of transforming a middle-school student's desk into a drum set, Charlotte's Alfred "Al" Sergel IV uses his "Y-Closed" performance to showcase his more than two decades of experience merging hypnotic pop with modern jazz. As he weaves in and out of the interplay between pianist Noel Freidline and bassist John Ray, Sergel wraps our ears in layers of magnetic sounds and doesn't let go. —Joni Deutsch, WFAE's Amplifier
Oompa, "Thank You"
Don't let the goofy intro to Oompa's video for "Thank You" fool you — the rapper is not messing around. "Thank You" is a devilishly infectious song about overcoming adversity laced with biting rhymes. The song's primary emotion is joy, rooted in defiance. "Turn this pain to melody," Oompa declares, as the band ramps up toward the chorus: "I can't believe I came this far / I can't believe I lost it all / When I think about all I won / I gotta thank you." It is pure jubilance delivered via a diabolically sticky hook. That, coupled with the band's utterly charming performance, makes "Thank You" pleasantly tough to shake. —Amelia Mason, WBUR
Honey and Blue, "Picture Perfect"
For a band based around a real-life couple, Honey and Blue sings a lot about broken relationships. Led by Stephanie Amber and Adam Darling, who met in Los Angeles but moved to Columbus, Ohio to record together, the group has a hell of a good time performing "Picture Perfect." The laid-back R&B jam is about realizing you deserve something better than what you have; when the music drops out for a finger-snapping chorus, the band members have earned the sense of jubilation. —Gabe Rosenberg, WOSU
Kinky Slinky, "Bride of Freedom"
Kinky Slinky's catchy tune "Bride of Freedom" perked up KUAC's eyes and ears from among the 18 submissions we received for the 5 filming spots at our Alaska Live performance space. Mary Beth Leigh commands the stage-turned-laboratory-set with her infectious vocals and standing (and dancing) cello performance. The other members of her band hold down the rhythm and twang, acting as the lab techs to do her bidding at the Tiny Desk lab bench. The cello licks sample the "Wedding March" and turn a bluegrass murder ballad upside down into a country bride-cloning sing-a-long selling freedom! —Lori Neufeld, KUAC
Chloe Hogan, "Lips Like (Cherry Wine)"
In her Tiny Desk Contest entry, Chloe Hogan impresses us with her stage presence and her subtle, commanding voice. In "Lips Like (Cherry Wine)", Hogan is accompanied by a laid-back group of musicians who complement the vocals with a spare yet layered groove. "Feels like warm summer breezes, sunlight through the trees," sings Hogan — and she makes you believe a summer breeze in Orlando would be a pleasant thing, rather than brutally hot. — Matthew Peddie, WMFE