When it comes to Tiny Desk Concerts, we're suckers for milestones at NPR Music: We're gearing up to acknowledge No. 300, for example, and are constantly taking note of the first time a musician trots out a particular rare instrument or does something else no one has done in front of us before. The Austin chamber-rock band Mother Falcon recently scored a big distinction, at least as far as we're concerned — one it shares with its fellow Texans in The Polyphonic Spree — as the largest ensemble ever to squeeze behind Bob Boilen's desk.
Unlike The Polyphonic Spree, though, everyone in Mother Falcon plays an instrument during this performance: There's no chorus of backup singers among the 17 men and women who play guitars and horns and keyboards and woodwinds and strings here. Which made Tetris-ing each member behind Bob's desk a bit of a challenge, but Mother Falcon knows its way around cramped spaces: At one point during SXSW this year, Bob and I saw the group give a concert as it spilled from a small stage all the way onto the street outside. (Crowds gathered around both spaces, in some cases not realizing that they were only seeing half a band.)
What makes Mother Falcon so alluring, though, isn't its size, but rather the way it uses all its members in the service of great, snappy, stirring, frequently uplifting songs. Its many moving parts aren't creating mere volume, but also texture: These three songs, all from this year's You Knew, find a place for dreamy whispers and literal screams alike. Give this sweet, winning band 12 minutes — heck, give it the first two and a half, which is all it takes to perform the soaring and scrappy "Marigold" — and you ought to have yourself a favorite worth following for years to come.
- "Dirty Summer"
Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius, Stephen Thompson; Editor: Parker Miles Blohm; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Parker Miles Blohm, Chloe Coleman, Becky Lettenberger, Maggie Starbard; photo by Hayley Bartels/NPR