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Trails And Ways Bring New Album To San Jose

In Music
Oakland-based indie pop quartet Trails and Ways scored big blog buzz with their wistful and bouncy tribute to Sao Paolo, ‘Nunca.’ Photo by David Wallace.

Oakland-based indie pop quartet Trails and Ways scored big blog buzz with their wistful and bouncy tribute to Sao Paolo, ‘Nunca.’ Photo by David Wallace.

Although they are signed to two record labels—including Barsuk, home to Death Cab For Cutie—and they recently released a well-received single, Oakland-based quartet, Trails and Ways, won’t be leaving the comfort of the bedroom, their prefered recording space, any time soon. And why should they?

After all, they arranged and recorded their excellent debut LP—the glossy, yet intimate Pathology—mostly in the home of their drummer, Ian Quirk.

“We like to play with lots of different approaches when we’re writing a song,” says guitarist Keith Bower Brown “This lets us work in our own space, lets us be more creative, have more time and less pressure around the process. We feel like we’re getting closer to a formula that’s really good for us.”

The members met while living in the cooperative houses surrounding UC Berkeley, but they didn’t start jamming together until after a bit of post-grad wandering around the world. Alongside Quirk and Brown, Hannah von Loon tickles lead guitar and Emma Oppen keeps everyone grounded with her dubby bass lines. In the spirit of their former residences, the band collaborates on lyrics, composition, and singing for each track, creating exuberant pop filled with thick harmonies and genre-melding melodies. “This is a creative journey for all of us,” Brown says. “We want to do it in a shared way.”

Their breakout single, “Nunca,” has the tinny guitar riff, galloping drums and infectious hook of a pop song, but the lyrics testify to the melancholy resilience of street life in Sao Paulo, a city that inspired Brown during a trip through Brazil.

“We have this idea of our music as always having an environment, a context,” says Brown. “It takes you on a journey to a real space. For ‘Nunca,’ I wanted this noisy, lively, very life-saturated space, like being in Sao Paolo, and wanting that noise to be an integral part of that song.”

“Nunca” caught a buzz in the blogosphere, and the band racked up 70,000 plays in a single day. With heavy emotional and political statements enmeshed within their dreamy, organic grooves, they seek to make popular tunes with a shiny surface that invites deeper digging.

“It feel dishonest to me to make music that strips out the trouble that you’re in.” Brown says. “And I feel like I live in a world where a lot is not going well, for a lot of people, in a lot of places. How that hits me personally and how that can be the root of a great pop song is something I’ll be trying to find out as long as I’m making music.”

Trails and Ways play San Pedro Square Market on July 25 at 7pm.

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