Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Richards, is “Lions” by The Features from their self-released album Some Kind of Salvation.
It’s surprising to think that even though The Features have been churning out music this good for nearly eleven years (including a stint on a major label) they haven’t found a larger audience for their melodic brand of churning pop. That’s not to say they haven’t been trying. Started in the eighth grade as a salve for the oozing boredom of smalltown Pelham, Tennessee, The Features recorded their first EP back in 1997. After several unreleased and self-released efforts over the next seven years, like 2001’s The Beginning EP, they finally released their excellent full-length debut, Exhibit A, on Universal. Although they had garnered a healthy audience across the pond in the United Kingdom, they were unceremoniously dropped by Universal a few years later and have since continued on their own. Shocking is the proper word to describe the fact that this greasy pop band’s latest album has yet to find a new label, especially with songs as entertaining as “Lions.” The crunchily distorted power chords that crackle behind Matt Pelham’s crystal clear vocals bring to mind a combination of Kings of Leon (former tour mates) and Cold War Kids. Their obvious delight in the doo-wopping shouts that bookend the track, and Pelham’s monotone recitation of the chorus, creates a truly catchy track. Hopefully, the strength of “Lions” and other album standouts like “GMF” will bring The Features the appreciative crowds they rightly deserve.
Only a few shows are listed on the band’s website and MySpace page, mostly near their hometown of Nashville, but you can catch them at SXSW in March. For now, here’s a live video for a song you’ve probably heard around KEXP for some time now, “Me and the Skirts,” from 2004’s Exhibit A: