Laura Gibson – Empire Builder

unnamed (9)

If you’ve ever wondered how the popular NPR Tiny Desk Concert series came to be, you may be surprised to learn that the origins actually began at a SXSW show in 2008, when NPR Music’s Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson made a futile attempt to see a performance by singer-songwriter Laura Gibson.

After a frustrating experience trying to hear Ms. Gibson’s subdued vocals over a noisy crowd, Thompson mentioned to the singer post-show in jest that she should just come play at their desks. Three weeks later, the “joke” became a reality and Gibson showed up at NPR, ready to impart her folk-like melodies in person. Now eight years and hundreds of performances later, the series is still going strong and Gibson has the distinction of being the first artist to ever traverse the tiny desk.

This Saturday, as Gibson plans to drop her fourth record, Empire Builder tomorrow April 1 via Barsuk Records, she will once again bring her supple sounds to the DMV as she’s set to play Iota Cafe. Gibson’s been through a lot lately, having packed up all her things from Portland to move to New York for grad school, only to have her East Village apartment burned down last year. While she lost everything, the tragic event certainly provided ample fodder for storytelling and growth as a songwriter. Hear the new album’s title track, along with older effort “Where Have All Your Good Words Gone” via Spotify below.

If you’re in the DC area, we encourage you to check out the show at Iota this weekend. Who knows, maybe Boilen and Thompson will make an appearance (just try to keep your noise levels in check, please).

Upcoming US Tour Dates:
Fri: April 1 – Raleigh, NC – Kings Barcade
Sat: April 2 – Arlington, VA – Iota Club & Cafe
Sun: April 3 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
Wed: April 6 – Portsmouth, NH 3S Art Space
Fri: April 8 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
Sat: April 9 – New York City, NY – Joe’s Pub
Thu: Apr 14 – Portland, OR – The Old Church
Fri: Apr 15 – Seattle, WA – Fremont Abbey

Trails & Ways – Say You Will


After much build-up, Trails & Ways finally dropped their debut album Pathology via Barsuk Records earlier this month. While recording and producing the LP, the Oakland quartet generated a lot of buzz over the last couple of years, embarking on two national tours and opening for Mac DeMarcoPhox, Stars and Tycho. The second single off the album, “Say You Will” is a sleek and sinewy number steeped in four-part harmonies, rhythm guitar, plucky synths and a syncopated bass.

Written by their bassist Emma Oppen, here’s what she had to say about the song: “Two years ago I met someone very special, and had the experience of falling in love in a matter of hours. In my delirium, I imagined making an ultimatum: Say you will, or don’t say anything at all. A few months later, I wrote the bass line in the back of the van on our first summer tour, and made the first demo recording of the vocal melody against the droning fan of a venue bathroom.”

Stream the song below and say you will pick up the album on iTunes. Friends in the DMV area can catch them performing at DC9 this Sunday, with fellow Oaklanders Waterstrider supporting (full list of June tour dates below).

June 2015 Tour Dates:
6/12 Atlanta –
6/13 Chapel Hill, NC –
6/14 Washington, D.C. –
6/16 Philadelphia –
6/18 New York City (Manhattan)-
6/19 Boston –
6/20 New York City (Brooklyn) –
6/22 Cleveland –
6/23 Chicago –
6/24 St. Paul, MN –
6/26 Denver –
6/27 Salt Lake City –

Hibou – Dissolve


Hibou is the handle of young Seattle-based artist Peter Michel who recently signed to Barsuk Records. Last week he shared the lead track, “Dissolve” off his forthcoming record, due for release September 18. The self-titled debut LP was written, recorded and played by Michel in the walk-in closet of his apartment — fueled by summertime fancies such as surf-pop melodies, ’80s synths, and soda pop! “Dissolve” is a dusky, warm, and luminous electronic track fused with distorted vocals, sonically similar to Trails & Ways.

Hibou will be touring across North America this summer opening for Cayucas, so be sure to scope out the tour dates below.

2015 Tour Dates:
7/14 – Casbah – San Diego, CA
7/15 – Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA
7/16 – Bunk House – Las Vegas, NV
7/18 – Kilby Court – Salt Lake City, UT
7/20 – Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO
7/22 – Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
7/23 – 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN
7/24 – Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL
7/25 – Loving Touch – Detroit, MI
7/26 – The Garrison – Toronto, ON
7/28 – The Hollow – Albany, NY
7/29 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
7/31 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
8/01 – Boot & Saddle – Philadelphia, PA
8/03 – Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
8/05 – The Earl – Atlanta, GA
8/06 – Gasa Gasa – New Orleans, LA
8/07 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
8/08 – Three Links – Dallas, TX
8/09 – The Parish – Austin, TX
8/14 – El Rey – Los Angeles, CA
8/15 – Soho – Santa Barbara, CA
8/16 – Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA
8/17 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA
8/20 – Electric Owl – Vancouver, BC
8/21 – Barboza – Seattle, WA

Trails and Ways – Skeletons


Trails and Ways taunted us with their tropical, calypso sound a couple of years ago, and now the Oakland outfit is back with the first single off their forthcoming record, Pathology. On “Skeletons”—recorded in their drummer’s bedroom along with the rest of the LP—the quartet wanted to create a “dance banger,” which they achieved through lithe guitar lines and dungeony synth bass twisting over a heavy club groove.

The much anticipated debut album, Pathology will be released on Barsuk Records June 2 and they’ll be on tour in June and July. You can view the full schedule on their website, but locals can catch their set at DC9 on June 14.