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).
So much of what we love about music has to do with the mood that it evokes. Suffice it to say then that if you’re nostalgic for the bossa nova soundscapes popularized in the ’60s, Portland’s Radiation City needs to be added to your rotation stat. The group, whose new record Synesthetica drops tomorrow draw their musical aesthetic from the girl groups of the early ’60s and the plush production style of the legendary Phil Spector (The Ronettes, The Crystals). This gives their music a timeless, retro feel while also invoking more modern influences such as Fiona Apple. Preview the album by streaming the LP’s second single and superbly sultry tune “Milky White,” along with older but equally compelling effort “Find It Of Use.”
Radiation City will embark on tour in the support of the album this month, stopping at DC9 February 29. Synesthetica is out February 12 via Polyvinyl.
Radiation City Tour Dates:
02/16 San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop *
02/17 LA, CA @ Echo *
02/19 San Diego, CA @ Casbah *
02/20 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar *
02/21 El Paso, TX @ Lowbrow [LATE SHOW]*
02/23 San Antonio, TX @ Limelight *
02/24 Dallas, TX @ Three Links *
02/25 Austin, TX @ Sidewinder *
02/27 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl *
02/29 Washington, DC @ DC9 *
03/1 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle *
03/3 Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade *
03/4 Boston, MA @ Great Scott *
03/5 Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo *
03/6 Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel *
03/8 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland *
03/9 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean *
03/11 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry *
03/12 Fargo, ND @ Aquarium *
03/14 Missoula, MT @ Stage 112 *
03/15 Spokane, WA @ Bartlett *
03/16 Seattle, WA @ Neumos *
03/17 Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore *
03/19 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios [EARLY AA]
03/19 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios [LATE 21+]
As dreampop outfits go, Portland’s Wild Ones are one of the dreamiest. They stole our hearts with their 2013 debut Keep It Safe — an albumbrimming with romantic cuts like “Paia” —and in August released their new EP Heatwave. Listen to one of their more upbeat tracks, “Show Me Islands” from the EP, showcasing Danielle Sullivan’s winsome vocals below.
Currently on tour with Pure Bathing Culture, DC locals can catch Wild Ones opening for PBC tonight at DC9 Nightclub. We can attest that the quintet are just as alluring live as their studio manifestations.
Also check out a couple of our favorites from the Wild Ones‘ debut LP:
Portland’s Mimicking Birds released their sophomore album Eons last year, which was produced by Modest Mouse‘s Isaac Brock on his label Glacial Pace. Although their spectral sound has often been compared to the former, lead singer Nate Lacy’s voice sounds uncannily like that of Bombay Bicycle Club‘s Jack Steadman. Listen to the ethereal track — and highlight of the LP — “Memorabilia” with its esoteric lyrics below.
Mimicking Birds are on tour this month, playing at DC’s Black Cat this very evening. Find the remainder of their tour dates on their website here.
Portland’s Pure Bathing Culture have shared the title track off their forthcoming LP, Pray For Rain. An offshoot of the group Vetiver — PBC was formed by Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman — who recorded the upcoming release with Grammy award-winning producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Chelsea Wolfe). “Pray For Rain” is an exuberant tune which contrasts upbeat instrumentation with sobering lyrics. Listen below and look out for the album to drop October 23 on Partisan Records.
Also check out their full tour dates below — DC folk can catch the indie act at DC9 Nightclub October 7, with Wild Ones supporting.
PBC Upcoming Tour Dates:
08/23 – Portland OR @ MusicFestNW 09/18 – Seattle WA @ Barboza 09/19 – Vancouver BC @ Fortune Sound Club 09/22 – Fargo ND @ Studio 222 *
09/23 – St. Paul MN @ Turf Club *
09/24 – Madison WI @ The Frequency *
09/25 – Chicago IL @ Schubas * 09/26 – Champaign IL @ Pygmalion Music Festival 09/27 – Cincinnati OH @ Midpoint Music festival
09/28 – Columbus OH @ The Basement *
09/29 – Cleveland OH @ Beachland Tavern *
10/01 – Toronto ON @ The Drake *
10/02 – Montreal QC @ Bar le Ritz *
10/03 – Boston MA @ Middle East Upstairs * 10/04 – Brooklyn NY @ Baby’s All Right *
10/06 – Philadelphia PA @ Boot & Saddle *
10/07 – Washington DC @ DC9 *
10/08 – Carborro NC @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room *
10/09 – Atlanta GA @ Drunken Unicorn *
10/10 – Asheville NC @ The Mothlight *
10/12 – St. Louis MO @ The Demo *
10/13 – Kansas City MO @ Record Bar *
10/29 – San Francisco CA @ The Chapel
11/01 – Santa Barbara CA @ SOHO Restaurant and Music Club *
11/02 – Los Angeles CA @ The Echo
11/04 – Phoenix AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom *
11/07 – Dallas TX @ Three Links *
11/08 – Norman OK @ The Opolis *
11/09 – Omaha NE @ Reverb Lounge *
11/11 – Denver CO @ Hi-Dive *
11/12 – Salt Lake City UT @ Kilby Court *
11/13 – Boise ID @ Neurolux * * – w/ Wild Ones
Last week Unknown Mortal Orchestra announced the release date of their new album, Multi-Love, due out May 26 on Jagjaguwar. This will be the group’s third studio album and follow-up to their 2013 record II. UMO also shared the title-track, which according to a press release is a reflection on relationships: “airy, humid longing, loss, the geometry of desire that occurs when three people align. Where [frontman Ruban Nielson] addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together.”
Stream the swoon-worthy track and check out their upcoming North American tour dates below.
UMO North American Tour Dates:
06/02 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
06/03 – Montreal, QC @ Theatre Fairmount
06/04 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
06/05 – Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room
06/06 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
06/08 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
06/09 – Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room
06/10 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
06/11-14 – Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
06/13 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
06/14 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
06/15 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall
06/16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
06/17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
06/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
Portland artist/producer EXROYALE first popped on our radar about a year ago with his debut track, “Give It Up” that was picked up by Ra Ra Riot for a remix shortly thereafter. Since then EXROYALE (aka Josh Schroeder) has been working on his EP and has released a few tracks, including “Stuck In My Head” and most recently “Lovesick Youth.” The former is an enticing piece of electropop tinged with R&B, replete with moody melodies and pulsing tempo, while the latter is more of a shimmering pop anthem. Stream both efforts below.
Last week, Portland’s Pink Feathers (aka Liz Anjos) saw the release of her debut EP, Invisible Lines. Produced by Andre Anjos of RAC (you read that right — the duo are a pair), the EP is a four-song collection confected of synthy, sugary pop. The standout track has to be the duet “The Feeling’s Gone” with Austin newcomers (and new Poetry fave), SPEAK. Troupe Gammage’s tenor serves as a nice counterbalance to Liz’s candied vocals, particularly in the coda. Stream below.
RAC has just released Part II of his debut album, Strangers — Part I of which was dropped last month. The renowned Portland-based remixer, born André Allen Anjos has outdone himself with this release, which features all new material he co-wrote and produced himself. Perhaps that’s why the track “Cheap Sunglasses” is featured as iTunes Single of the Week — meaning it’s available for free download for a limited time. So pick it up today and start prepping your summer playlist now.
The album also features a number of collaborations, including our favorite with new indie group SPEAK who recently supported RAC on tour. Listen to the collab “I Should’ve Guessed” below and grab the full LP on iTunes here.
Portland collective Wild Ones are re-releasing their debut album Keep It Safe via Topshelf Records April 1. Informed by a range of musical styles based on the various backgrounds of the members, their synthpop sound is a lush and retro melodic affair that fans of Tennis are sure to appreciate. Check out gems such as “Paia” and “Curse Over Me” below (available for free on Soundcloud), and listen as Danielle Sullivan casts a spell with her warbling vocals hovering effortlessly over the unique arrangements of Thomas Himes.
Take a look at Wild Ones’ extensive Spring tour schedule below.
3/07 – Phoenix, AZ @ VIVA PHX
3/08 – El Paso, TX @ Lowbrow Palace^
3/09 – Denton, TX @ Dan’s Silverleaf^
3/10 – San Antonio, TX @ Korova^
3/12 – 3/15 – SXSW
3/18 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle%
3/19 – Washington, DC @ 930 Club%
3/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
3/21 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground%
3/22 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair%
3/23 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair%
3/24 – Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall%
3/25 – Hamden, CT @ Spaceland Ballroom%
3/26 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot and Saddle
3/27 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall%
3/29 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom%
3/30 – Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR Pub
3/31 – Louisville, KY @ Headliner’s%
4/02 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall%
4/03 – Chicago, IL @ Metro%
4/04 – Champaign, IL @ Mike N Molly’s
4/05 – Madison, WI @ UW Madison%
4/06 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
4/07 – Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose%
4/08 – Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room%
4/10 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird%
4/11 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge%
4/12 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory%
^ = w/ In The Valley Below
% = w/ Typhoon