Laura Gibson

Early Show

Laura Gibson

Alexa Wilding

Mon, January 30, 2012

Doors: 6:30 pm

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

$10 advance / $12 day of show

This event is 21 and over

Laura Gibson - (Set time: 7:30 PM)
Empire Builder, Laura Gibson’s second record for Barsuk/City Slang, and fourth LP, is named for the Amtrak route Laura took while moving from Portland, Oregon to New York City in the summer of 2014, after deciding to enter graduate school, to move away from a supportive community, a close-knit family and her long-time boyfriend. Out of her comfort zone, she found even more of a challenge than she’d envisioned. Immediately upon arrival, she broke her foot and barely left her 5th floor apartment for the first two months. Then, on March 26th, 2015, her East Village building burned to the ground in a horrific gas explosion which killed two people and left many homeless.

Gibson escaped from her apartment unharmed, but lost everything: all identification, eyeglasses, musical instruments, years of notebooks and every word she had written in response to her move. She spent the next few months rebuilding her life, bouncing between friends’ couches and guest rooms, finishing her second semester, and all the while rewriting the lyrics she’d lost. A financial recovery was made possible with help and support from hundreds of friends, fans and strangers. It’s no surprise that Empire Builder stands as her most personal record to date.

But while the making of the album was cathartic, it’s not just an auto-biographical mirror-gazing exercise. Through her fiction studies in grad school, Gibson has found her legs as a storyteller and these songs hit hard, separate from their backstory: it’s a huge leap forward for Gibson as a songwriter, composer and producer. Equally raw and focused, Empire Builder captures a life blown open, an individual mid-transformation. Gibson gathered a stellar band of old friends to complement her songs: guitarist/bassist Dave Depper (Death Cab for Cutie, Menomena), drummer/percussionist Dan Hunt (Neko Case) and composer/violinist Peter Broderick. Other contributors include Nate Query of the Decemberists and vocalist Alela Diane. Gibson co-produced the record with John Askew (The Dodos, Neko Case), spending her school breaks in his home studio and in Broderick’s studio on the Oregon Coast.

Empire Builder grapples with independence, womanhood, solitude, connection and aloneness. Amidst trauma, loss and recovery, she rediscovered songwriting as a means of understanding her own life and choices. If Gibson has a thesis, it’s perhaps within the final words of the title track: “Hurry up and lose me / Hurry up and find me again.” With clear-eyed honesty, urgency and warmth, Empire Builder succeeds in capturing the moment between loss and rediscovery.
Alexa Wilding - (Set time: 6:30 PM)
Alexa Wilding
Sometimes the sky throws a handful of stars in your way,” Alexa Wilding sings on “Stars,” a dreamy track off her new album, Wolves. While the ethereal singer-songwriter – called “the neo-Stevie Nicks” (New York Times) – is best known for her celestial folk (2009’s self-titled debut and 2012’s astral Coral Dust), her third album is eerily earth side. The six songs unfold as Polaroids, revisiting lovers past and life on the road before Wilding became a mother of twins in 2013. What the album does not directly address is the nightmare during which the songs were written, on a borrowed Casio piano, in the hospital while her son underwent (successful) treatment for cancer. “It was fight or flight,” Wilding explains, “Instead of running away I retreated into song, to memory, making peace with the past so I could step up, ‘do like the wolves do,’ and fight for my family’s future.”

Co-produced with Tom Beaujour (Nada Surf), the bones of the songs were recorded live in one day, with Tim Foljahn (unmistakable on dusty lead guitar), bassist Jeremy Wilms and Brian Kantor on drums. “At the hospital I was in a music bubble, listening to an endless medley of Neil Young, Tom Petty, with some classics from my late eighties/early nineties childhood thrown in, 10,000 Maniacs, Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game,’ basically whatever was comforting.” The result is a muscular, surprisingly upbeat pop panorama, over which Wilding’s matured vocals – think Natalie Merchant’s grace meets Hope Sandoval’s psychedelia – are free to explore heart break and resurrection. “What is love?” she asks on “Durga,” the albums hypnotic closing song, reflecting that “Danger and desire / both are a fire.” Wolves is set for release in June 2016 on Wilding’s own Tiny Prism label. The first single “Eden,” is out now with an accompanying remix by Au Revoir Simone’s Annie Hart to follow.

Tagged as "one of music's hippest chicks" alongside Florence + The Machine (New York Post), Wilding has been featured as one to watch in Bust Magazine, Dossier Journal, Nylon, Urban Outfitters, Page Six and Harper's Bazaar amongst others. Her music reached a national audience while on tours with Au Revoir Simone, Ben Lee and Jennifer O'Connor, and overseas via her video collaborations with Ivana Helsinki. A native New Yorker, Wilding cut her teeth as a side woman in Int'l Shades, an art-rock project with former Pussy Galore/Sonic Youth drummer, Bob Bert and Live Skull's Mark C.
Venue Information:
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY, 10002