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Hey Marseilles: Tiny Desk Concert

Thanks to KEXP in Seattle, the seven-piece chamber-pop band Hey Marseilles has been floating around on our radar screen for a couple years now — most notably for its marvelous single "Rio," which opens the group's Tiny Desk Concert debut. Driven by hand-claps, strings and propulsive percussion, the song is a sweet, appropriately transporting tribute to the power of travel.

"Rio" isn't the only good-natured ringer the band trots out at the NPR Music offices: Hey Marseilles rounds out its set with "From a Terrace" and the title track from 2008's self-released To Travels and Trunks, which was reissued nationally this past summer. All three songs benefit enormously from the rich assortment of instrumentation in play here — cello, viola, accordion, trumpet, a snare drum and cymbal, tambourine, another gigantic drum and a pair of acoustic guitars — not to mention the sweetly husky voice of bandleader Matthew Bishop.

If 12 minutes is too steep an investment for you, at least give Hey Marseilles enough time to win your heart with "Rio." You may well find that those four minutes provide plenty of time to fall in love with this utterly charming band.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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