Felix Contreras

There must be something in the water down in Austin, Texas, because as soon as Brownout started playing behind the Tiny Desk, it was pretty obvious that a deep musicality is just a fact of life for Austin bands.

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Let it be known: Alt.Latino turns ten years old on June 15! We'll have a bunch of cool things to help us celebrate into June and beyond. But first, here's a batch of new music to kicks things off.


When the crew that is Spanglish Fly pulled in behind the Tiny Desk, the group's vibrant version of boogaloo raised the temperature in the NPR Music offices quite a bit. Whether displaying their party spirit or even the slow burn of social consciousness on the song "Los Niños En La Frontera," this band plays from the heart and engages both the mind and body.

It's impossible to not be drawn in by the visual specter of Balún. The band has refined their electronic roots with their turn toward self-discovery on beautifully crafted studio albums, and this set behind the Tiny Desk shows how expertly they deliver the same meticulous, artful music live.

Their mix of traditional instruments with electronics creates not just a sonic treat but also a visual feast, as our eyes dart from one instrument to the other, drawn in by a Puerto Rican cuatro and a makeshift drum set.

When Los Lobos gathered behind the Tiny Desk, it felt like they were cramped in the back room of a family Christmas party. "The only thing missing today are the tamales!" I told my office mates while introducing the band, a reference to a Mexican-American Christmas meal staple. The vibe in the room was definitely familia, with the presence of many longtime fans as well as folks who came for the holiday cheer, Lobos style.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

There may East Coast/West Coast beefs in other forms of music, but jazz is all-embracing. This year's edition of A Jazz Piano Christmas features artists from both coasts, and the audience shows no signs of preferring one over the other.

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Bundle up! We're getting ready for cold weather with new songs by Lido Pimienta, Dimelo Flow, Tiger Army and David Lawrence.


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