The folky indie pop band Stornoway take their name from a town in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, but the group hails from Oxford, England.
Singer/guitarist Brian Briggs
, keyboardist/string player Jonathan Ouin, and bassist Ollie Steadman and drummer Rob Steadman (a pair of brothers from South Africa) formed the band while they were attending Oxford University; the well-studied band includes an ornithologist and a Russian translator among its ranks. The band debuted its jangly, largely acoustic sound -- which has drawn comparisons to James
, Belle & Sebastian
, and XTC
-- with a self-titled EP that included the song "Zorbing," which was inspired by and named after the sport of rolling down a hill in a transparent sphere. Another early single was 2007's "The Good Fish Guide," a musical list of which fish are plentiful to eat and which are endangered; its profits went to the Marine Conservation Society. Stornoway continued to refine their sound and had a breakthrough in 2009: they headlined the BBC Introducing stage at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend that May and officially released "Zorbing," which included Briggs
' brother Adam on trumpet, as a single that July. That summer, they also played festivals including Glastonbury, and wrote a tour journal for The Daily Telegraph. Their second single, "Unfaithful," which featured violin courtesy of touring member Rahul Satija, arrived that September, a month before Stornoway's first headlining tour of the U.K. The band closed out the year by making the longlist for the BBC's Sounds of 2010 poll. Stornoway's sophomore outing, Tales from Terra Firma, arrived in March 2013. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi