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The best kept secret in music


"Notes from L.A., more new artists"

Sun, 8 May 2005
by "thecritics"

It's been awhile, thought I'd catch up...

Alright, here are some artists seen and heard from the left coast, currently on the radar...

Esquimaux. "Girlie" twee, fuzz pop that recalls Bon Voyage, Scheer, and Velocity Girl. They're led by Heather Brown who occasionally does backup vocals for Gary Jules as apart of the Group Rules. Favorite track so far is "Warm December"; first full length out soon; plans of recording with Eric Melvin (NOFX) scrapped.

Richard Swift. He's been around for awhile but I don't think he's been written about yet... Undoubtedly one of the best singer-songwriters in town, his music hearkens back to the good old days with reasonable comparisons to Tom Waits, Burt Bacharach, and Leonard Cohen (making him undoubtedly a companion piece to your Rufus Wainwright collection).

Summer At Shatter Creek. They recently put out one of the best records of the year so far with "All the Answers". They tour America in June. Don't miss them.

Space Mtn. Reminiscent of The Breeders, Juliana Hatfield, and Belly, they're slowly but surely building a big following of indie-rock kids. Lead singer Dina Waxman is magnetic, aggressive, and best of all, never takes herself too seriously. They hit Eastern shores soon with the equally tasty Let's Go Sailing.

Summer Darling. Probable influences lie in indie pop magnates Modest Mouse and DCFC, but occassionally bring washes of shoegazer into the fold. Their manager is a good acquaintance so treat them kindly.

Susie Suh. I've had her album for a few months but skipped through it pretty quickly. It's fair contemporary folk/pop developed in the capable hands of Glen Ballard that fans of Vienna Teng and Rachael Yamagata will probably get into. I fear she'll do the full-band thing soon when promoting this record. She's better sitting all by her lonesome.

The Lovemakers. Hands down my favorite band out of the Bay Area right now. Signed to man-of-the-moment Kierszenbaum's new label Cherry Tree (alongside Feist). One of the best live bands you'll ever see. I kid you not.

Minipop. Perhaps the second best band out of the Bay Area. For fans of Rilo Kiley, Pony Up!, Eisley, and similar female-led synth-driven indie rock.

Leerone. She had a CD release for her new EP "Hail To the Queen" last week. Likened to pre-major label Charlotte Martin. You decide.

Kate Earl. I've mentioned her before but since her album, "Fate Is the Hunter," comes out this week, she deserves another bump. Jon Brion, Wendy Melvoin, David Baerwald, David Scher all help her out on the album, produced by Tony Berg. She's going to be a star, I promise you.

We Are Scientists. From Brooklyn via Los Angeles. One of five bands at this year's SXSW that made A&R execs duke it out. Look out for them.

Story of M. In look and sound, probably the most "ecto" artist of this entire list and most likely seen already by a few people here. Still unknown to most of Los Angeles, they've only recently started to hit the hipper clubs to reach their niche audience. I'd keep an eye for them if I were you.

Bella Lea. East coast band that recently opened for The Good Life featuring Maura Davis, formerly of one of the best bands never to be fully adored, Denali. An easy 'One to Look Out For' pick for 2005, their demos are strong and Davis is destined for greatness.

n.lannon. Also known as Nyles Lannon from the band Film School. Another Bay Area folkie. Imagine Elliott Smith with Powerbook loops and samples. "Demons" made my year-end top 2004 songs.

Tom Brosseau. His new album, "What I Mean To Say Is Goodbye," is just plain gorgeous. Features Jon Brion, Pete Thomas, Benmont Tench, and Sara Watkins providing more instrumentation then he's ever had. Produced by Sam Jones of Wilco fame. His CD release is on June 7th at Largo and he'll have special guests John Doe, Jill Sobule, Angela Correa, and some other surprises that night. Tom also performs in the newish folk duo Les Shelleys with Correa. They've recently played with Sam Phillips, The Haden Triplets, The Chapin Sisters, and Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion and KCRW seems to like them.

Some other notable out-of-towners who recently came through LA: Nerina Pallot, Elysian Fields, Sarah Blasko, Goldenhorse, Over the Rhine, Brandi Carlile, and Susan Enan. They all sounded pretty great. And I still highly recommend D.C.'s Laura Burhenn who'll probably be doing a proper West Coast/Southwest tour this summer. Also, NYC's J - Ecto-Digest V11 #128


Esquimaux EP, released 2004
1. Shoreline *
2. Warm December
3. My Father
4. Viewfinder
5. Alone (lyrics from the poem by Edgar Allan Poe)

perfecto! LP, released 2005
1. For A___
2. For the Record **(featuring Brian Gibson of Lightning Bolt)
3. My Father
4. Warm December
5. Rivertown
6. Pyramids of America
7. Intermission
8. Something Nice
9. Son of a Gun
10. Viewfinder
11. Padonia
12. Honey & Dear (featuring Gary Jules)
13. Purse Strings

* played on Nic Harcourt's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" radio program.
** recently played on L.A./O.C. radio station Indie 103.1 FM.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Esquimaux is the collaboration of vocalist Heather Brown, songwriter Graham Dodge, and songwriter/producer James Sajor. Their unique blend of folk inspired vocals with layered distorted guitar over pop-melodic chord progressions can be traced to their previous work with other bands. Heather had been singing and touring with Gary Jules in his band the Group Rules. James, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, previously played bass for the influential D.C. screamo band, Anasarca. Graham was writing songs for, and developing, the satirical pop-rock band, Sex O'Clock. The trio came together in April of 2004 and began to write songs that led to their debut EP, released just months later in September. Encouraged by local radio play and a growing fan base, Esquimaux continues to perform and record new material including their first full-length record, "perfecto!", released in May 2005.