First Listen: Laura Gibson – “La Grande”

Our friends over at NPR have just posted Laura Gibson’s forthcoming album – La Grande – in their First Listen series.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting this release, Gibson’s third, and can honestly say that it has been worth the wait.  In many ways, this is a more complicated, confident affair than her previous efforts.  For me, La Grande is the sound of an artist who has found her feet, and now wants to fly.  Indeed, as Stephen Thompson writes:

It’s the sound of a confident artist stretching her own limits, without losing sight of the warmth, richness, subtlety and haunted beauty that made her worth celebrating in the first place.

La Grande is out on 1/24 on Barsuk Records.  Have a listen over at NPR’s First Listen Series.

Other Stuff You Might Like: Daytrotter

Chances are, you already know Daytrotter.  But in a series about excellent music websites, it’s almost criminal not to mention Sean Moeller’s extraordinary website.  Since 2007, the site has been serving up excellent, intimate music sessions for the masses.  Their motto: “One band a day, every day, 28 Daytrotter Session songs each week.”  Here’s how it works: Bands take a couple of hours out of their travels to visit The Horseshack in Rock Island, IL., where they then record a variety of tracks.  Daytrotter puts together some art, and an oft-amusing description of the session, and gives the music away on their site.  It’s an amazingly expansive collection, too, and a true marvel that it’s all done in a not-for-profit enterprise.  And while picking out highlights in this collection is like trying to pick out a favorite piece of sand on a pristine beach, I’ll do my best.

Continue reading “Other Stuff You Might Like: Daytrotter”

Other Stuff You Might Like: They Shoot Music – Don’t They

In the vein of other sites we’ve mentioned – Luxury Wafers, Daytrotter, and Black Cab SessionsThey Shoot Music – Don’t They is a Viennese site dedicated to bringing high-quality, impromptu performances by new and established artists to the masses.  Their mission, as they describe it, is a pretty simple one:

Why are you doing this?

1) We all feel strongly connected to sub culture in one way or another and we enjoy being productive.
2) We all agree with the fact that Vienna is a great town but also lacks fresh representation platforms when it comes to music scenes and media projects.  So we will tag the urban space of Vienna with soundscapes from indie artists and document that on our website. The combination of act and location is also meant as a guide for people who want to know more about relevant subcultural spots in Vienna.

The site features a wide-range of artists (see some after the cut), who are all chosen through a simple mechanism: “We have no strict guidelines for that [choosing]. If we like an artist we contact him or her. If the artist likes the idea of working with us we seal the deal and schedule a session.” The site features videos in Flash.  However, if you sign-up for a free account, you can view things in higher-quality divx.  And I highly recommend you do.  You can also visit them on Twitter and  But for now, let’s look at some of their excellent handiwork around Vienna:

Continue reading “Other Stuff You Might Like: They Shoot Music – Don’t They”

Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose: Bridge Carols

I’ve discussed Laura Gibson before, but the need keeps coming back to revisit her work.  Gibson is a powerhouse – evolving and revolving with each passing moment.  And so it is no surprise that her collaboration with fellow Portland resident Ethan Rose represents another step forward.  The Bridge Carols website describes it like this:

Bridge Carols, the new project from Portland, OR friends Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose, began as a conversation of mutual appreciation and curiosity — a shared desire to challenge old ways of working. Ethan had mostly distanced his music from words, while Laura had often felt bound by them.

To wit: Steeped in the fingerpick-guitar rudiments of folk music, inspired by the expressionism of classic jazz vocalists, and finding common ground in the minimalism and ear-taunting of the avant garde, Laura Gibson alights on a branch of the music tree that no one else has found (NPR called her last release Beasts of Seasons “a quiet masterpiece.”) Sound artist and composer Ethan Rose has released recordings, scored films, and created sound installations (upcoming exhibitions include a collaborative installation with glass artist Andy Paiko at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.)…

…As the project developed, Laura began improvising lyrics and wordless vocalizations, stream of consciousness singing that tumbled out of her in long trailing waves. They recorded in the basement, the forest, and the field – each session having its own unique mood as Laura reflected from subject to subject.

The result is something that moves subtly, yet deliberately, and plunges the listener into a hazy, breezy Summer evening.  The music calls out for space, and, in that space, silence.  It does not overwhelm, or give into fits of bombast, but, instead, it washes over you with a simple, earthy beauty.  Here’s how Dusted Magazine puts it:

Part of the beauty of Bridge Carols—and this is a beautiful record—is the way that the line between real and contrived, natural and synthetic, shifts under your feet. Still, the music seems redolent with memory, imagination and doubt, strange yet recognizably reflecting the most mysterious parts of the human experience.

This is indeed a record to lose yourself in.  Its constellations of sounds need to be absorbed slowly, and are perhaps best appreciated in private.  There are movements in these sounds that stir echoes deep within, and then call them forth.  Listen to the whole thing below, and see for yourself – preferably on a day when you’ve nothing to do, and no one to call you away.

Continue reading “Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose: Bridge Carols”

Other Stuff You Might Like: NPR Music

Chances are, you’ve already met NPR Music on your travels.  From their excellent programs like All Songs Considered to their wonderful First Listen series, NPR Music is an amazing repository of live, archived, and upcoming music. You can find weeks’ worth of live concerts, in-studio recordings, music previews, and more.   And best of all, it’s free.  At least, to listen.  You all know the deal: Public Radio is funded by listeners like you, and, in today’s corporate-dominated environment, independent music is an even more precious commodity than it used to be.

Of course, I’m not here to tell you what to spend your money on… oh, wait, that’s exactly what I’m here for.  But I’ll tell you what: I think that NPR Music is quite possibly the most important music program in the industry.  Yeah, there, I said it.  Without it, I would have never met Joanna Newsom, The Mountain Goats, or even Vic Chesnutt.  So, for me, it’s special.  I’d like to show you around some of my favorite bits of the site, and invite you to head on over and become a part of all the wonderful things they do.  Follow me!

Continue reading “Other Stuff You Might Like: NPR Music”