Not every band can walk into the NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. and play an impromptu Tiny Desk concert like Wilco did yesterday. Instead, thousands of emerging artists and bands are working hard to have their music heard in the hopes of being invited to play in this “prestigious venue”. Some of the bands we’ve covered have made it to the Tiny Desk, including Oh Pep!, Car Seat Headrest, River Whyless, Diane Coffee, The Wild Reeds (who had one of our favorite albums of 2014), Eskimeaux, TORRES, and many more. This isn’t to say we’re in front of the gals and guys at NPR (hardly) or that we have any influence (highly unlikely), but it’s nice to know that NPR shares our taste in music (or we with them).

A few weeks ago, NPR launched their 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, and artists were welcome to submit their videos by February 2nd. One submission that was entered was from Givers & Takers, a really great band from Santa Barbara, California. Besides Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Lars Gotrich, and the rest of the cast and crew at NPR plus the band’s friends and family, we are pleased to premiere Givers & Takers’ NPR entry, “Let It Surface”.

This gorgeous four-minute track is like an out-of-body experience, where the band’s rich layers and gorgeous harmonies combine to make you feel like you are levitating above the chaos that is unfolding beneath you. The track takes bits and pieces of various genres – the lush and folky psychedelia of the LA music scene of the ’60s and ’70s; the haunting soul and R&B blend of Sade; the titillating and immersive experimental rock of Radiohead in the late ’90s and early 2000s; and the post-rock symphonies of the past 15 years as displayed by The Amazing.

The video takes place in an enclosed room, where Givers & Takers members – Zack Greenwald, Alan Krespan, Drew Bruchs and Mark Pollack – are huddled around tables performing this stunning track. It’s a thoughtful video not only because are they are showing they can play their deeply layered music in a small expanse but their closeness displays the intimacy and immediacy of the song. The song may be quiet and the layers may be subtle, but Givers & Takers’ approach is bold and spectacular.

Maybe Givers & Takers will win the contest. Maybe they won’t. But with their sensational and captivating sound, it will only be a matter of time before Bob Boilen shows up at their concert at D.C.’s 9:30 Club and asking them to stop in to play at the Tiny Desk. These four gents are that good.

To further showcase their talents, another recent single of theirs, “Start the Morning”, is below. This song will be on Givers & Takers’ forthcoming EP, due out later this year. Check out their social media to get more details over the coming days and weeks.


Website –
Facebook – Givers & Takers
Twitter – @giverstakers
Instagram – @giversandtakers

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