Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts

Since being championed by Peter Gabriel in the early '90s, Ohio-born singer-songwriter (and painter) Joseph Arthur has been walking the fine line between indie and mainstream for more than a decade. He's toured with R.E.M., Tracy Chapman and a host of other big-name artists, yet his musical efforts have stayed (thankfully) off the pop radar. Arthur's 2004 release, Our Shadows Will Remain, remains his best effort, an attentive and intricate collection of songs that could best be described as atmospheric rock. A skilled manipulator of sound and distortion, Arthur can create songs of unusual beauty. Let's Just Be, Arthur's recent release, carries much more of a punch, but also meanders off into mindless jams (such as the 20-plus minutes of "Lonely Astronaut"). When focused, Arthur is capable of a stunning fusion of art and commerce, creating catchy songs that retain just enough indie cred to satisfy the critics while catching the ears of a populace in search of the identifiable.