“You remind me of true love when there’s nowhere to be found.”

“Nowhere” by East of Eli featuring Chyler Leigh | When you’ve got a lot of things on the inbox you really start hoping to get that one hook that would make one song stand out from the rest. The press release accompanying this one had some star factor: Chyler Leigh. “Chyler! I remember her dying on Grey’s Anatomy!” A throwback to my old job, that. She is, of course, married to another actor, Nathan West (another throwback) and he’s been doing songs under the name East of Eli (another throwback, although I don’t remember how). Apart from being a collaboration between husband and wife, “Nowhere” is a Valentine’s Day gift from him to her. And yes, it may be a gloopy song, but it’s a nicely produced one, with just the right shades of Los Angeles. And yes, I know it’s been a week, but we all need a good love songs once in a while. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“We may choose to die, love, or we may never stop listening.”

“Never Stop Listening” by Trapdoor Social | Well, this one’s rousing. Set aside the angle of this video being powered by a trip to the site of the much-contested Dakota Access Pipeline, of how it came from a trip there by the band to help the protesters out. “Never Stop Listening” – this song from LA duo-turned-quintet Trapdoor Social – is pretty rousing. I would do it a disservice if I limit it to this one issue alone: it’s perhaps a song that we need for these times. It’s not one of those songs where the earnestness is incredibly heavy-handed: I can hear this in many settings and you wouldn’t feel gross about it. And then you dig deep about the band being into all these causes (and touring in a solar-powered trailer, even) and you realize this is all par for the course. If you’re in Cincinnati, you might get a glimpse of them. But I am half a world away, so we have this song, which is pretty good. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words #24: Difficult, open-ended, and possibly fascinating

“5 (Valentin Liechti)” by UFO | Three things. One, I will be the first to admit that this is a pretty difficult album to make sense of. Two, the song I’m embedding does little to give a taste of the album – it’s really one of those things where you have to listen to everything. Three, I know I am publishing this the day after Valentine’s Day, when everybody feels lovey-dovey out of obligation – what will they make of this? (Shalla and I didn’t get involved this year, considering we just came from Taipei last week.) The band is called UFO: they’re another one of those Swiss acts that find their way on the blog, and they’re releasing a new album, III, in a week and a half. The lazy will call this an experimental record; they’re playing up the improvisation angle here. The band invited five guest musicians for one mostly improvised recording session, KL each, then invited six sound artists to make something out of the sessions (thus the Valentin Liechti subtitle); supposedly they’re making sense of the link between documentation and performance in these times. Well, to me, it is a record that you really listen to, and one that makes sense after a while – but it will depend on what you’re thinking at that moment. Me, I was thinking of how to slot this in the day after Valentine’s Day. So… horror date stories? Waking up to a person you didn’t expect to wake up to? Maybe a dystopian story of romantic bliss? Up to you. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“I’m not falling for it.”

“Telephone” by Salt Petal | Now, some surf dance. I guess that makes sense, considering the cold snap we unexpectedly endured in Taipei. After surprisingly single-digit temperatures, we need some sun, yes? Salt Petal’s “Telephone” does its business efficiently: it comes in, allures and endures, and never lets up for the four minutes they’re allotted. The five-piece came together after a trip to Buenos Aires – you can see the Latin American influences here; it’s playful and classy and yet not obvious. This track is off their upcoming release, Rare Hearts, which drops on 28 April. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“…but they don’t know you like I know you.”

“The Hardest” by Brandy Butler and the Brokenhearted | Another Swiss artist, but this one traces her origins to Pennsylvania, which explains the more familiar sound, if not that timbre to her voice. Brandy Butler is now based in Zurich, having found her way to Europe after deciding to take a break from the local Philly music scene, and now she’s based there, with a family, and a new album. I’ve had the chance to listen to The Inventory of Goodbye (which drops this Friday) and it’s a good spread, making the most of those powerhouse pipes from straightforward soul belters to something more reminiscent of Portishead. And since that’s what caught my attention, that’s what I’m posting here. Is this a track premiere? I’m not really sure. But “The Hardest” captures that best: you get that warm, familiar sound, but at the same time you’re not sure where she’s going. Again, this drops Friday. Also, note to self: I should start listening to Couleur 3 again. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)