Bob Boilen

For nearly 10 years, NPR Music has recorded concerts from behind Bob Boilen's desk. During the holidays, the desk gets a little more festive, thanks to a snow machine, paper snowflakes and Stephen Thompson's hand-drawn Christmas tree. (It's labeled "tree.") Whether they perform original songs or new takes on holiday staples, these artists bring big sounds to the Tiny Desk.

Despite the flood of new music in 2017, there were songs I came back to over and over again. I still star-rate my downloaded songs in iTunes (the main reason I don't care to migrate to Spotify), so when the end of the year arrived I sorted my songs by star ratings and went back over the best of the bunch, then narrowed things down to a list of my 50 favorite songs of 2017, eliminating duplicates from the same record.

Effortless storytelling is at the heart of This Is The Kit. And the stories the band's only permanent member, Kate Stables, weaves are profound but sweet with a tone that quietly reels you in.

This comes close to the quietest Tiny Desk Concert we've ever had. The music Greg Gonzalez makes with his longtime bandmate Phillip Tubbs as Cigarettes After Sex is hushed. The common thread in these songs is minimalism, heard in both Greg's guitar and Philip's synth, that lay just under Greg Gonzalez's barely audible, somewhat spoken singing. Yet, somehow, this sound that barely exists holds together because of the strong melodies in these songs. I find I sing them to myself over and over again.

I know it seems absurd and headline-grabbing, but honestly this song is going to be the high bar to hit for guitar-driven, brokenhearted love songs in the coming year.

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