8 Phoenix Bands Who Entered NPR's Tiny Desk Contest

Phoenix's Rising Sun Daughter is one local band with eyes on the Tiny Desk prize.
Phoenix's Rising Sun Daughter is one local band with eyes on the Tiny Desk prize.
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Adele, T Pain, John Legend, Wilco, Trey Anastasio, Cat Stevens, Jackson Browne, The B.O.T.S., Trampled By Turtles, Hozier, The Pixies, and Neko Case are just a few of the notable bands and musicians that have participated in National Public Radio's Tiny Desk Concert Series.

The concept is pretty simple and straightforward. People come to the NPR Music office and perform a short concert for the NPR staff. But the series has grown into more than that. The videos, meticulously shot and edited, have an intimate feel, and offer a chance to see bands that don't always perform at small venues up close and personal. It has become somewhat of an honor to be selected as one of the bands

NPR seems to have realized the power which the Tiny Desk Concert wields and have opened up the concert to a national contest. Bands from all 50 states and the District of Columbia turned in videos of themselves playing around a tiny desk. The contest was open from December 2 until January 19, and the winner will be announced Feb. 12.

See also: The 10 Best Frontmen and Frontwomen in Phoenix Right Now

Phoenix was definitely well represented in the contest with some of the most well known bands from the downtown indie scene participating, as well as a good smattering of talent from all around the Valley.

Here's seven of our homegrown talents rocking out around the tiny desk in hopes of being featured in the famed concert series.

"Henry 'Box' Brown" - North Brother Island I once asked the members of North Brother Island what they thought the largest amount of success NBI could achieve was and three of them answered in unison, "Tiny Desk Concert." They are one of the oddest bands in Phoenix, creating a sound that they call "chamber folk." It's orchestral in arrangement, but americana in the lyrical styling, as they relay historic stories of strange happenings and mischief.

"Steamboat Honey" - Teneia With just a guitar and bass Teneia is able to show off her music's genre-blending style. The song has clear roots in delta blues, but her voice adds a far more R&B quality to the music, and the guitar playing has a hint of rock 'n roll. Altogether I would describe the music as pop, and together with Teneia's chic dress choices, it seems pleasantly different than a lot of the other stuff coming out of Phoenix right now.

"Ride For Tide" - YUS Speaking of things that are a little different than everything else coming out of Phoenix right now, YUS seems to be a complete one-of-a-kind. His music is atmospheric and soft, and possesses a real calming quality to it. He doesn't have a huge following locally, because chillwave hasn't really landed in the Valley yet, but a lot of his tracks that have been released on the Internet are getting thousands of hits.

"Sea & Stir" - Rising Sun Daughter I asked Brandon Decker of decker. if he was going to do a Tiny Desk Concert for the contest, and he said he wanted to get on the regular way. But it's all good because Rising Sun Daughter makes a very similar sound to the psychedelic desert folkster. The lyrics and arrangement are very folky, while the heavier electric guitar adds the texture of psychedelic rock. The music is really slow and pretty but still has the ability to get really big and loud.  

"Owl" - Japhy's Descent Japhy's Descent sent in an acoustic version of their power ballad "Owl" from their latest release Christopher Robin. The Tempe based rock 'n' roll four-piece pretty seamlessly transition to acoustic and come off sounding quite a bit more folky than their usual brand of psychedelic rock. They are right on the cusp of reaching legend status in the Tempe area, a reputation that was helped quite a bit by their inclusion in Deon Doughty's Rock 'N Roll Gold series at the Tempe History Museum.

"Don't Panic" - The Haymarket Squares

Like NBI The Haymarket Squares bring a unique brand of americana to the stage. Their style of "punkgrass" music mixes country, folk, punk, bluegrass, and jazz to create a sound that I really feel is uniquely Phoenix. They are easily one of the most talented bands in the Valley, and they perform those four-part vocal harmonies as well as any professional band on the planet.

"Hey" - O' Henry "Hey" is a folk ballad by six piece americana outfit O' Henry. The song has a quality of epicness, too, that grows throughout the track. The band draws inspiration from the natural beauty of the state of Arizona, and that shines through in their music. Arizona will always be known as a frontier state associated with cowboy imagery and a diverse landscape, and O' Henry's music evokes all that through use of traditional acoustic instruments and classic folk stylings.

"Waiting" - Fairy Bones Fairy Bones has been everywhere over the past few weeks as they prepared late-January the release of their album Dramabot, and everywhere includes NPR's TIny Desk Concert contest. The song they entered was the first single off the new album played with an extra synth player and acoustic guitar. Robert Ciuca's solo in the song on the acoustic guitar almost sounds like he's playing sitar which adds a whole new layer of psychadelia to the song.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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