Hospital Ships: Tiny Desk Concert Lonely Twin's poppy folk songs and brash rockers are packed with instrumental flourishes and feedback. But in this stripped-down set, Jordan Geiger's beautiful, crushing songs pack an emotional punch.

Tiny Desk

Hospital Ships

Hospital Ships: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/142473685/142633181" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Call me a shameless hometown fan, but I've got a soft spot for musicians from Kansas — specifically Lawrence. To most, the college town is probably best known as the home of Jayhawks basketball, but it's also a cultural oasis. In the last decade or so, it's been a hot spot for indie rock, with Jordan Geiger among the latest to make fellow Kansans proud: He's a veteran of Lawrence bands The Appleseed Cast and Minus Story, and was later a member of Shearwater. (You can actually see him perform with Shearwater in one of our earliest Tiny Desk Concerts. He's the one with the sweet 3D glasses and the melodica.)

With his latest group, Hospital Ships, Geiger is making his best and most personal music yet. While his first album (Oh Ramona) was more or less a solo recording, this year's superb follow-up, Lonely Twin, was recorded with friends from his various other bands (including guest spots by Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg and Thor Harris), making this one-time bedroom project a full-fledged band.

Lonely Twin is packed with poppy folk songs and brash rockers enhanced with instrumental flourishes and bursts of guitar feedback, something Geiger says came from "years of tinkering in the basement coming up with sounds." But even as the main songwriter of Hospital Ships, Geiger says he's most comfortable as a composer and arranger, taking the shells of simple tunes and assembling them into fuller pop songs.

"All of my songs start out as folk songs on an acoustic guitar or piano," Geiger says, "and then I start dreaming up different ways that the song could be embellished. The part that I love the most is when you have the basic track down, and then it's time to put all the extra stuff on it. Like, 'How can I make weird noises and just experiment?'"

Still, at the heart of each song are beautifully crushing words that pack an emotional punch. In "Phantom Limb," Geiger laments the lingering sting of lost love with visually stimulating lines like, "And all the blood that once pumped is now gone / Is lifted up from off the ground like strands of hair into the sun." Elsewhere, in "Carry On," Geiger addresses mortality and finding a place for yourself in the world.

For Geiger, that place is Lawrence. There's something easy to root for about an artist who feels enough pride in his hometown that he'd rather be there than, say, New York, even if it means a greater challenge.

"Everybody should be proud to be where they're from," Geiger says. "Especially, in this day and age, you don't need to be in Brooklyn. I think it's liberating because, without any competition or any hype, it just comes down to enjoying yourself. Like, 'I like these people. We're gonna make our art.'"

In this great, intimate performance in the NPR Music offices, Geiger and Hospital Ships showcase two tracks from Lonely Twin, as well as the newer "Let Me In," a starkly gorgeous song which shows that we can expect a lot more from this promising songwriter in the years to come.

Set List

  • "Phantom Limb"
  • "Carry On"
  • "Let Me In"

Credits

Filmed and edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Tucker Walsh/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Ensemble Signal performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 25, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Ensemble Signal Plays Jonny Greenwood

Watch members of the New York-based group give the world premiere video performances of two recent pieces by Radiohead guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood.

Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider perform a Tiny Desk Concert on March 6, 2019. Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider

Watch what happens when the smoky-voiced jazz singer from Mexico conspires with an adventuresome string quartet for songs steeped in Latin American traditions.

Ohmme performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on April 18, 2019 (Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR) Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR

Ohmme

These classically trained artists fill the NPR Music offices with shrieking, rhythmic noise that redefines what an electric guitar can do.

Thou performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 9, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Thou

This is probably the quietest you'll ever hear the first metal band to play the Tiny Desk.

Laraaji performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 8, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Laraaji

Laraaji is best known to some for his ambient work with Brian Eno in the late '70s. He brings his meditative calm to the Tiny Desk in this hypnotic performance.

Toro Y Moi performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 16, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Toro Y Moi

Toro y Moi loses the voice processing, synths and other heavy effects for a stripped-down acoustic set at the Tiny Desk.

Better Oblivion Community Center performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 3, 2019 (Amr Alfky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Better Oblivion Community Center

Tiny Desk alums Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers surprised us all with their stunning collaboration this year as Better Oblivion Community Center. Together they radiate joy at the desk.

The Calidore String Quartet performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 5, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

The Calidore String Quartet

The Calidore String Quartet confirms that the centuries-old formula — two violins, a viola and a cello — is still very much alive and evolving.

Theodore performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 27, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Theodore

The music of Theodore is dark and transformative, with the kind of spare elegance you can hear in Sigur Rós or Pink Floyd.

Gary Clark Jr. performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 1, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Gary Clark Jr.

These three songs, from Clark's incendiary new album This Land, roar with the assurance and force of a showman at the top of his game.

Back To Top