Band to Watch: Trails And Ways

The NoCal indie-pop quartet with a sound that's both lush and worldly

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Band: Trails and Ways

From: Oakland, Ca.

Members: Emma Oppen, bass, vocals; Keith Brower Brown, vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards; Ian Quirk, drums; Hannah Van Loon, lead guitar, keyboards;

Their sound: Trails and Ways (aptly) describe their sound as “bossa nova dream pop”

3-Minute Bio: When people think of world music, they tend to think of Malian ngoni music, cumbias from Colombia , or even K-Pop, but in general people don’t think of lo-fi indie rock. Trails and Ways may change that. The indie-pop quartet crafts a dreamy lo-fi sound with a decidedly global spin.

The band members met each other while studying at UC Berkeley, but before starting a band, the members traveled to Brazil and Spain seemingly collecting flamenco and bossa nova beats the way other tourists pick up souvenirs in gift shops. After returning to the Bay Area, the group began putting out samba-inflected indie pop with deep roots in the California sound, including “Mtn Tune,” which was one of the best summer songs of 2012.

The band shows off their global-mindedness by infusing breezy bossa nova beats into their indie rock aesthetic and by singing in English, Spanish and Portuguese, a skill that gave them the title of their debut EP, Trilingual. The effect is both intimate and majestic, with melodies that sound both delicate and full-bodied. All four members of the band sing, which allows Trails and Ways to create a lush and harmony-laden sound, which is reminiscent of group’s like Belle & Sebastian, Haim and Beach Fossils with enough dancey synth songs to give indie dance duo Tanlines a run for their money.

The group’s lyrics are decidedly political (“Mtn Tune” protests the arrest of activists working to shut down the largest mountaintop removal site in Appalachia), but you don’t need to know the back story to be swept up in their sleepily beautiful songs.

The band’s debut EP, Trilingual, is out now.

Listen to “Nunca” now:

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