Singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice is a 24-year-old guitar-strumming troubadour who was raised in Scotland, but moved to L.A. a few years ago to make it big. His two albums (including the most recent, Further North) are all about California dreaming. If that sounds like it puts Rice's musical reference somewhere around 1977, you're not far off. The kid digs the desert, self-reflection, and long stretches of highway that usually lead to some sort of life-altering epiphany. His laid-back mix of sturdy '70s rock and Byrdsian jingle-jangle only adds to the mythos. Thing is, he pulls it off — thanks to a sharp wit (there's a protest song about protest songs on the new CD) and an even sharper sense of melody. He also scores bonus points (as well as the envy of every indie-pop fan with a penis) for dating Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, who guests on Further North's mournful "The End of the Affair."
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