This past Thursday (6/24), NPR’s Tiny Desk series, “Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf,” showcased five more finalists, one of them being Piel. The YouTube live stream included discussion by Tiny Desk’s Bob Boilen and World Cafe’s Raina Douris. The Tiny Desk judges discuss Piel at some length on the live stream. It included one other band, a rapper, a yodeler and an R&B solo artist, so it was a diverse group of acts on the bill.
Piel was the fourth act to be discussed. The Boilen-Douris tandem did a great job discussing the band, but it was Douris who took the reigns when informing listeners about the L.A.-based group. Piel’s Tiny Desk entry was their performance of “Custodian” and Douris summed up the meaning of the song. Many can interpret the word, “Custodian,” as someone in charge of maintenance of property or someone in charge of someone else’s affairs. Douris explained correctly that the song is actually about taking care of oneself, as well as taking care of others. She also mentioned that the song sends this message while eschewing a political position. Piel lead singer, Tiki Lewis, expressed to me that the WXPN deejay explained to viewers what the song is all about, perfectly.
What was also said by Douris and Boilen, without saying it directly, was that “Custodian” is a really good song. (Hint: Piel will be releasing another new song that could easily be a radio smash. More on that another time.) There is no doubt that the track has an infectious groove and a great melody.
As the Tiny Desk judges discuss Piel, what stands out is that neither could quite put their finger on the band’s sound. This further confirms what I have been saying all along: When you can’t easily pigeonhole an act, it’s a good thing.
For the complete episode of the live stream, check it out here.
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