Meredith Sheldon recommends Electrelane

Meredith Sheldon (photo by Angie Marr) and Electrelane

Meredith Sheldon (photo by Angie Marr) and Electrelane

Meredith Sheldon’s artist recommendation: Electrelane is one of my favorite bands. They’re an all girl band from Brighton, England that have been going for a while but it’s rare for me to run into other people that know of them, at least here in the States. I think they meld a pensive, thoughtful vibe with a raw, rocking edge in a really beautiful way. When I listen to them, especially walking around or in the car, I get that wonderful thing where the soundtrack makes you feel like you’re watching your own life happen — I feel the emotion of the music washes over everything, suffuses the goings on with a true feminine tenderness, while this undercurrent of crunchy, masculine grunge keeps pushing things along…it is in that dichotomy, that contrast, the tension and balancing of the two that I feel the most joy. I like when everything, all emotions feel just on the verge of spilling over in a massive great flood.”

New to Electralane? Meredith Sheldon suggests you start here: “I think No Shouts, No Calls is a good place to start. It’s a great album, their fourth I believe, and the first track is the first track for a good reason…it’s called The Greater Times. I feel like they really came together on this album, bringing forward strong melodies and interesting dynamics. Theres a nice flow to the whole record and quite a lot of space, instrumental sections and whole instrumental tracks. Lyrically it sounds to me like an album of found perspective, like a coming out the other side and reflecting back. It feels really honest. Saturday is another track dear to my heart.”

Meredith Sheldon About our guest author, Meredith Sheldon: Massachusetts based Merideth Sheldon started playing guitar when she was six and went on to play in The Ben Taylor Band and Family of the Year. But the gods that write the ‘this is what dreams are made of’ scripts had other plans for Meredith. Evan Dando of The Lemonheads caught wind of her solo demo material and quickly invited her to open shows for him in the UK. (Ben Kweller has told a similar story where Dando heard his stuff and whisked him off on tour with him. Gotta love Dando!). She didn’t have a band, nor had she performed solo before, but she impressed enough to catch the attention of the legendary Johnny Marr (of Smiths fame). Marr snagged Meredith as his opening act on the current tour of North America and Sheldon continues to hone her sound a series of EPs that she is releasing on Bandcamp. We’re especially loving Saddle Up (hear it below), which she co-wrote and performed with Martha’s Vinyard’s own, Willy Mason. Be sure to keep an eye on Meredith’s web site for the latest info on more EP releases.

Risa Binder recommends Fleetwood Mac

Risa Binder and Fleetwood Mac

Risa Binder (photo by Jeremy Cowart) and Fleetwood Mac

Risa Binder’s artist recommendation: “I love listening to different artists based on my mood or what I’m up to on a particular day, so it’s hard to pick just one band to recommend, but there was one band that I played a lot when I was a child and eventually helped shape my songwriting: Fleetwood Mac.

Fleetwood Mac’s lyrics are so universal and powerful. Recently, I was moved by the lyrics from Silver Spring and how they reflected how I was feeling about a recent break up: “Time casts its spell on you but you won’t forget me….You’ll never get away from the sound of a woman that loves you.” Those words gave me comfort knowing that even though we broke up, I would always be in his heart somewhere. I love how music is magical that way. I caught Fleetwood Mac’s live show at Madison Square Garden a couple years ago for the first time and I was blown away. In short, Fleetwood Mac’s sound transcends time.”

Not familiar with Fleetwood Mac? Risa suggests you start here: “Listening to Fleetwood Mac: Greatest Hits always makes me feel good. The track Everywhere is such a happy song. We cover this song in our set and from the moment the bass kicks in, you know the audience is gonna have a great time!”

Risa BinderAbout our guest author, Risa Binder: Risa grew up in Maryland, but her desire to make it big as a pop star drew her straight to the big lights, first to New York, then LA and then Nashville. Each stop helped her grow and write a feel good bio that you just can’t not wanna root for. After doing the East Coast college circuit, she settled into Nashville and connected with producer Marshall Altman (Ingrid Michaelson, Natasha Bedingfield and Matt Nathanson) on her first album, Paper Heart which featured All The While, a song that helped Risa take the Songwriters Hall of Fame New Writer Award. Following the award, Binder collected praise from the Wall Street Journal and M Magazine and showed her spunk by cold calling a festival director and won the opening spot for James Taylor. Recently she also performed a song from her upcoming EP on CBS This Morning (see below). You can continue to track Risa’s lovable chutzpah at

James Maddock recommends Louis Armstrong

James Maddock and Louis Armstrong

James Maddock (photo by Mary Ellen Matthews) and Louis Armstrong

James Maddock’s artist recommendation: “Louis Armstrong is my musical hero. Every time I listen to him, I’m filled with wonder and amazement. Songs like Struttin’ With Some Barbecue or Memories of You are unforgettable.

For me, Louis is the pinnacle of music. Phrasing, tone, invention, imagination, excitement. No one touches Armstrong. 50 years of recording genius, from the beginnings of jazz and recorded music through to the 1970′s, Louis has seen it all and had been the father of modern music.

Ken Burns said “Armstrong was the sky under which all modern music lives.” I love that image and hold it to be true.”

Not familiar with Louis Armstrong? James suggests you start here: “I would highly recommend starting with Louis Armstrong: Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man 1923-1934. It’s a box set and has great notes on each song so you can read along as you listen. Or, see if you can get the You’re Drivin’ Me Crazy album, which is Volume 7 in the Columbia recording series. That’s a wonderful collection too.”

James MaddockAbout our guest author, James Maddock: The time just feels right for James Maddock’s break out moment. After fronting the successful UK band Wood (who had several songs featured on Dawson’s Creek) and the release of a string of critic and indie radio fave solo albums, Maddock now offers up his latest collection, Another Life, produced by jazz heavyweight Matt Person (k.d. Lang and Joshua Redman). To get an idea of Maddock’s style, give a listen to the album’s title track (video below). You’ll hear the easy, rustling melody that would sound at home on a Nanci Griffith record, a distinct vocal croon that’s easy on the ear, and most importantly, a sincerity that makes you feel like you’re talking to an old friend that’s opening up a piece of his world to you. Maddock’s authenticity has won him a loyal fan base that helped his Sunrise on C Street record win the 2010 NY Music Award for Best Americana album and to secure a popular residency at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall. Maddock’s high quality output has also earned him the right to share the stage and recording booth with other elite New York area rock poets, namely Willie Nile, Garland Jeffreys and Bruce Springsteen. Maddock has proven himself as an A+ artists and we look forward to seeing the next impressive bullet that is sure to be added to his already stellar rock resume. Be sure to check James’ tour dates to see where he’s playing near you.

Katrine Ottosen of CALLmeKAT recommends The Zombies

Katrine Ottosen of CALLmeKAT and The Zombies

Katrine Ottosen of CALLmeKAT and The Zombies

Katrine Ottosen’s recommendation: “The combination of melodic sensibility, fresh youthfulness, musicianship, arrangements and substance in The Zombies’ music has floored me since the very first time I heard it. It is actually not so long ago! For my birthday last year my boyfriend was making a playlist a day or two before the party and when he played it back to me, I heard some of the songs off Odessey and Oracle (yup, the odd spelling of odyssey was a misspelling from the cover designers’ side on the artwork, so it stayed!). I just flipped out! I couldn’t believe I’d never known about this sensational 1960′s English band before who recorded in the Apple Studios – am I from another planet?!?”

Not familiar with The Zombies? Katrine suggests you start here: “For my first American tour in 2012, which took us cross-country, we listened to Odessey and Oracle almost every day. It was my brother and I in a small rental car just riding there on the highway from town to town and show to show listening to good music for hours and hours – and this was one of the recurring albums we played (along with Bob Dylan’s Desire album!). I can just listen to this album over and over and over. The keyboard solos always kill me!! Especially the doubled organ solo on Time Of The Season. I read in the liner notes of the album that these two separate solos ended up being laid on top of each other – originally because of a coincidence: they played both solos back simultaneously by mistake when it was played back and it sounded great, so they were layered into the final mix. Great!”

Katrine OttosenAbout our guest author, Katrine Ottosen: Katrine is the Daanish singer/songwriter that fronts CallMeKat, a lo-fi outfit that has collected tons of praise and is cementing a hard core global fan base. In 2008, she released an EP and the Fall Down long player on her own Pixiebooth label. NPR responded by calling her “…just mesmerizing” and Nylon and Interview Magazine were just as complimentary. Her newest effort, Where the River Turns Black shows her building on the minimalist sound of her first two records and enlisting the help from bigger names like bass player Sara Lee (Gang Of Four, B 52’s) and Helgi Jonsson (Sigur Ros). The result is undeniable (Sunny Day is playing non-stop at Rock Torch HQ during this dreary January cold stretch) and the media has continued to swoon as the album has collected Album of the Month nods from Elle magazine and other blogs across the Web. Her live shows have become stunning yet intimate ‘in-the-know’ gatherings, so be sure to scan her appearances listings page for the latest tour dates. Her shows are a lock and are not to be missed.