Song: Hounds Of Love
Artist: Kate Bush, England
Album: Hounds Of Love (1985)
Notes: Discovered by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour while still a teen, bursting on the scene with her number one smash Wuthering Heights in 1978, followed by the equally intoxicating The Man With The Child In His Eyes, Bush has followed a singular and enigmatic career path. Years of silence have been punctuated with always interesting new albums, and now after touring just once, and that was back at the beginning of her career, she will be playing 22 nights at London's Hammersmith Apollo this fall under the banner Before The Dawn. All the tickets were sold within fifteen minutes of going on sale.
Song: No Rain (Chorale)
Artist: Dave Lichens, Portland, OR
Notes: Originally recorded back in 1992 by Blind Melon, this new version sees the former guitarist of Petra put his own individual stamp on the song. After leaving the band, he relocated to Los Angeles where his songs soon gained traction for use in TV and film. Let Go was featured in the movie She's The Man, while other songs saw the light of day in After Sex, Saved! and The Water Horse. In 2010 he contributed as both writer and producer to Fefe Dobson's Joy album. He has also been pursuing a parallel career with The Heavy Steadies, a band lead by former American Idol contestant, Jason Castro.
Artist: Energy Orchard, Northern Ireland
Album: Sailortown (1990)
Notes: No nonsense, blistering A+ old school folk-rock from Belfast, Northern Ireland from a six-piece guitar-based combo fronted by notable songwriter/singer Bap Kennedy. (Kennedy was outdone in the name stakes in the band by rhythm guitarist, Spade McQuade, who now lives in Florida fronting Spade McQuade and The Allstars.) The band performed during the late '80s and '90s and were originally signed to MCA Records on the recommendation of American nu-country pioneer Steve Earle. In more recent years Kennedy has eked out a splendid solo career, with a recent new album Let's Start Again. Check out some of his stripped-down solo fare at bapkennedy.com.
Artist: R.E.M., Athens, GA
Notes: Their final single and the leadoff track to their career-spanning compilation. Filled with delightful musical references - a touch of Duane Eddy guitar and a Burt Bacharach flute break, as well as a gorgeous string section and Jacknife Lee's first-rate production, it's hard to fathom that it failed to chart anywhere - except believe it or not, in Venezuela. Michael Stipe is on record as stating that R.E.M will never reunite confirming as much in a television interview a couple of years ago.
Artist: Erik Segerstedt, Sweden
Album: Meaning [single] (2013)
Notes: The runner-up on the third season of the Swedish version of American Idol in 2006 with a marvellous remake of the Gavin DeGraw song. He teamed up with two other finalists to form the boy band E.M.D., was eliminated in the finals to represent Sweden in last year's Eurovision Song Contest and was a contestant on Let's Dance 2013. Don't hold these career decisions against this exciting new talent.
Song: We Are Done
Artist: Madden Brothers, Waldorf, MD
Notes: A nice retro vibe with some happy '60s inflections, a moorish guitar refrain and a fab chorus from the Madden siblings, Joel and Benji, the leading lights of alternative rockers Good Charlotte. They took an hiatus from the group in 2011, releasing a mixtape called The Madden Brothers - Before Volume 1, which featured new artists the brothers had faith in. After a long sabbatical and time spent in Australia, the most tattooed twins in showbiz have just announced that with the October release of their new album, Good Charlotte will be no more.
Song: Everything Is Gone
Artist: Liz Longley, Philadelphia, PA
Album: Inside This Song [EP] (2012)
Notes: A graduate from the esteemed Berklee School of Music in Boston, described by the Washington Post as destined for a larger audience, named Female Performer of the Year in New England a couple of years ago, while Dig Boston named her 'a rising acoustic sensation.�Even John Mayer is a fan, calling her music 'gorgeous, simply gorgeous.' She's currently on the road. More at lizlongley.com.
Song: Love More Worry Less
Artist: Bipolar Sunshine, England
Notes: A half-rap curiosity with refreshing honesty by Adio Marchant, a hip-hop popster from Manchester in the north of England. Despite its frank lyrical imagery, it's a rather tender and loving outing with a strong simple message. Formerly a co-vocalist in reggae/hip combo Kid British until venturing out for solo pursuits in 2012, he brewed up a storm at this year's SXSW, at which he was quoted 'Do you know what? You're doing what you want to do. Go for it, enjoy it. You can spend all your time looking forward to things, anticipating them. But you have to enjoy that moment. Now. I'm doing what loads of people dream of doing.' Look out for his new album Deckchairs On The Moon. More at bipolarsunshine.com.
Song: Will You?
Artist: Hazel O'Connor, England
Album: Breaking Glass (1980)
Notes: Still going strong more than 30 years after appearing on the scene at the latter stages of the punk era of the late '70s, O'Connor will always be remembered for this record, not for her performance, but the dazzling sax work from Wesley Magoogan. Along with Rafael Ravenscroft's similar showstopping work on Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street, it provided a spike in the purchase of saxophones at the time. After an accident in which he lost the fingers on one hand and ended his sax playing, he turned to running his own Donut Art Studio in southern England. Meanwhile O'Connor, who took a decade-long hiatus in the mid '80s, has released 15 albums in the intervening 20 years, her most recent, Here She Comes, released in the UK a couple of months ago. More at hazeloconnor.com.
Song: One Sweet Love
Artist: Sara Bareilles, Eureka, CA
Album: Little Voice (2007)
Notes: Great poise and fluidity already evident in her early work, this little gem came from the album that housed her breakout smash, Love Song. Four albums to date, the most recent The Blessed Unrest losing to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories in this year's Album of the Year category at the Grammys. The single Brave lost out to Lorde's Royal in the Best Pop Solo Performance category as well. Even Bareilles was shocked at the news of her nominations, saying 'I screamed like a banshee. I was in a hotel in Las Vegas and I'm sure the people in the rooms around me thought I was being murdered'. Her losses were more than compensated for by performing with Carole King at the awards ceremony. Her Little Black Dress tour begins in Chicago on July 10th. More at sarabmusic.com.
Artist: Labi Siffre, England
Album: So Strong (1988)
Notes: The son of a Nigerian father and a Barbadian/Belgian mother, Siffre began his music career in the early 1970s, initially releasing three delightful singer/songwriter albums, one of which featured his iconic It Must Be Love, made famous by Madness. His material has been a goldmine for samplers, including Eminem, Jay-Z and Kanye West. He is also a poet, a playwright and an essayist, who came out of self-imposed retirement from the music business in 1985 when he saw scenes of a white soldier shooting at black children in South Africa. This song was inspired by that incident, although in recent years, he has said the song was more about his own experiences as a black homosexual. The inspirational song has subsequently been used by Amnesty International and was featured in the Alice Walker film Warrior Walks which addressed the brutality of female genital mutilation. More on this fascinating man at intothelight.info.
Artist: Sleeping At Last, Wheaton, IL
Album: Atlas - Land [EP] (2014)
Notes: Consistently writing and recording highly melodic, literate fare, but too much of it going largely unnoticed, Sleeping At Last is the performing name of multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter Ryan O'Neal, a Wheaton Illinois indie-rocker. Like so many indie artists, he ekes out a living from his songs appearing on TV or in film, notably on Bones, Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy - in fact two of them graced the final episode of the Season 10 finale a couple of weeks back. He has released no less than 23 EPs since bowing in 1999 - most of them comprising a series of monthly EPs, beginning with October in 2010 and ending in September twelve months later. Now he's onto his Atlas series, which so far have comprised Darkness, Light Space (1 and 2), Land and Oceans. More at sleepingatlast.com.
Song: Waiting On A Friend
Artist: Rolling Stones, England
Album: Tattoo You (1981)
Notes: The second single from the band's 1981 album Tattoo You, notable for Nicky Hopkins' sterling piano work and the saxophone of jazz great Sonny Rollins. It's worth checking the record's accompanying video, which was filmed in New York outside 96-98, St. Mark's Place in Manhattan, the same building depicted on the front cover of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti. The band has had a trying couple of months with the deaths of Jagger's girlfriend L'Wren Scott and their financial adviser for the past 40 years, Prince Rupert Lowenstein. That relationship soured a year ago with the publication of Lowenstein's memoir, leading Jagger to comment, It just goes to show that well brought-up people don't always display good manners. More at rollingstones.com.
Song: Ready To Lose
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson featuring Trent Dabbs, Staten Island, NY/Jackson, MS
Album: Lights Out (2014)
Notes: Another impeccable track from her latest album, teaming with L&F favorite Trent Dabbs dipping in with some tasteful male vocals. Also featured on the album are Mat Kearney and Greg Laswell, her husband of three years. She's been hosting SoulPancake's Little Kids. Big Questions. on YouTube since the beginning of the year and is currently on tour, with dates selling out fast. More at ingridmichaelson.com.
Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov, South Africa
Album: The Weatherman (2013)
Notes: Johannesburg, South African-born, but long settled in rural Colorado, Isakov has produced five immensely tasteful indie-folk long-players since bowing in 2003, his latest effort being The Weatherman of which he says, 'To me, the idea of a weatherman is really powerful. There's a guy on television or on the radio telling us the future, and nobody cares. It's this daily mundane miracle, and I think the songs I chose are about noticing the beauty in normal, everyday life.' Currently on the road, he'll be stopping off at the Newport Folk Festival and Bumbershoot during the summer. More at his splendid website gregoryalanisakov.com.
Song: Sleeping Giant
Artist: Bootstraps, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Bootstraps (2014)
Notes: Sensational full-on rock and one of several worthwhile cuts on the eponymous freshman set, from an LA-based quartet fronted by Jordan Beckett with his best friend and writing partner Chris Jaymes on piano. The band came together last year as a result of its individuals being hired by Sam Jaeger to write songs for his movie Take Me Home. Some of those songs made their way on to the album. Curiously they recently took on Whitney Houston's dance pop smash I Wanna Dance With Somebody which was cleverly featured on an episode of Grey's Anatomy. The band recently finished up some dates with another hugely under-appreciated L&F preferred band, The Brevet. More at bootstrapsmusic.com.
Song: Taking You There
Artist: Broods, New Zealand
Album: Broods [EP] (2014)
Notes: From their debut EP issued in January, a rather dreamy ambient pop offering from the brother and sister act of Caleb and Georgia Nott. They've been making music together since childhood, growing up with three other siblings in a house filled with music. They won a local talent contest, Has Nelson Got Talent?, naturally in their home town of Nelson. They moved to Auckland to study at university, but dropped out to form Broods. They teamed up with producer Joel Little, the man behind the explosive success of Lorde, to record this EP with a debut album expected in late summer. No website yet, but plenty of info on them at facebook.com/broodsmusic.
Song: Edge of the Dark
Artist: Armon Jay, Chattanooga, TN
Notes: A Chattanooga-born tunesmith who raised close to $14,000 on Kickstarter to record this debut album in two weeks with producer Joshua James near American Fork in Utah. Introduced to the music of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, even Kenny Loggins and Whitney Houston by his parents, he learned his trade as a member of Christian bands Nevertheless and Revive when he went by the name of AJ Cheek. Diagnosed with Adult ADD, he writes of his predicament, 'It's been quite a trip, but the most liberating thing is to be able to walk in my own skin, whatever that means ' the good, the bad or the ugly. And not follow what somebody else thinks I should be. I don't have to hide my sickness in the dark anymore. This is me. Nothing's changed. Even if everything's different.' More at armonjay.com.
Song: Red Eyes
Artist: War on Drugs, Philadelphia, PA
Album: Lost In The Dream (2014)
Notes: Fronted by Adam Granduciel, who started out as a member of the delightfully named Kurt Vile and The Violators before forming The War On Drugs with the aforementioned Vile in 2005, the group released its solo debut, Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008. Vile left shortly thereafter to pursue a solo career and a second album, Slave Ambient, followed in 2011. They begin a series of selected North American dates this weekend in their native Philadelphia, followed by a major month-long tour in September and October. More at thewarondrugs.net.
Song: Don't Cry Baby
Artist: Etta James, Los Angeles, CA
Notes: Perhaps best known for the song At Last, the career of the mercurial Jamesetta Hawkins spanned close to half a century. In that time she won six Grammys and 17 Blues Music awards, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Grammy Hall of Fame twice - in 1999 and 2008. Although she had an illustrious career late in life, it was her years at Chess Records that defined her. This song, composed in the 1920s, was originally recorded by the great Bessie Smith, with this version being produced by the legendary R&B label pioneers Phil and Leonard Chess.
Song: The Proud One
Artist: Osmonds, Ogden, UT
Notes: Originally recorded by Frankie Valli in 1966 in a more uptempo vein, The Osmonds took hold of the song and turned into an exquisite power ballad, before the term had even come into use. It was one of many Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio compositions which either fell by the wayside or were reduced to B sides, and then found success for others (The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore and Silence Is Golden two obvious examples). Still going strong 40 years on, Jimmy, Jay and Merrill perform as The Osmond Brothers, Donny and Marie have continued with successful solo careers, while Alan and Wayne are now retired because of health issues.
Artist: Overseer, England
Album: Wreckage (2003)
Notes: Overseer is the singular Robert Howes (aka Rob Overseer) an English DJ and producer born in the university town of Oxford. His music has been used for a plethora of soundtracks, video games and TV commercials. He teamed up with Rachael Gray to form Kanute, releasing two albums, the most recent being Ursa Minor. More at overseer.co.uk, where you will be welcomed with the greeting Apologies for the lack of website and kanutemusic.com, with an equally tongue-in-cheek greeting Our long awaited second album. Good things come to those who wait. That's our excuse and we're sticking to it.
Song: We Belong
Artist: RAC featuring Katie Herzig, Portland, OR
Album: Strangers (2014)
Notes: Having remixed cuts for a host of top acts over the years including the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Mr. Little Jeans, U2, Lana Del Rey, Kings of Leon and St. Lucia among many others, RAC, the Portuguese-born Andr� Allen Anjos, has finally put out his own album, a smart slice of '80s pop/dance. This enchanting highlight features the vocal class of Katie Herzig, while Tegan & Sara, St. Lucia and Penguin Prison are other worthwhile artists featured on the album. RAC, an acronym for Remix Artist Collective, did indeed begin life in 2007 as a remix collective. More at rac.fm.
Song: Walking On The Milky Way
Artist: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, England
Album: Universal (1996)
Notes: Anthemic synth-pop from veteran new wave band who've been making music since 1978. Founded across the River Mersey in The Wirral, they were put together by Andy McCluskley and Paul Humphreys and had a string of hits over the following decade - in fact they were virtually resident in the UK singles throughout that period. The album on which this track was featured was so grossly overlooked that McCluskey disbanded the group. They reunited a decade later, but have been going strong again ever since. In the intervening years, he formed all-girl group Atomic Kitten, who to date have scored three UK chart toppers and sold over ten millions records worldwide. To keep up with what they're doing these days, head to omd.co.uk, where you can also stream some more recent cool cuts.
Song: Katie Queen of Tennessee
Artist: Apache Relay, Nashville, TN
Album: Apache Relay (2014)
Notes: A rather neat and catchy retro '60s pop feel with sweeping strings from a band formed in a dorm room as an acoustic project and then ballooned out of control into a sextet. Fronted by Michael Ford Jr., they've been together five years, opened for Mumford & Sons and have been hugely successful on the festival circuit, including stops at Bonnaroo and the legendary Newport Folk Festival. Their sophomore set was released last month on their own Nomadic Records label. They're playing here, there and everywhere this summer. More on them at theapacherelay.com.
Song: Hold On
Artist: Ian Gomm, England
Album: Summer Holiday (1978)
Notes: A Londoner born and bred, Gomm played the R&B circuit in the late '60s, remaining relatively anonymous despite being named Best rhythm guitarist in Britain by the NME in 1971. Replying to an ad in Melody Maker which read a rhythm/lead guitarist with vocal ability to sing, write and play any other instruments, interested or into country flavored music, he found himself in Brinsley Schwarz. Recording 12 albums in a five-year span, the band split and Gomm upped his family and moved to Wales, where he built a recording studio and worked on his own songs. His solo debut in 1978 featured bassist Herbie Flowers and saxophonist Rafael Ravenscroft. This song took off as a single which led to him touring the US as the opening act for Dire Straits, while Nick Lowe had a big hit with Cruel To Be Kind, a song they had co-written while in Brinsley Schwarz. He's still making music from his base in Wales. More at iangomm.com.
Song: Cranberry Lake
Artist: Ari Hest, Manhattan, NY
Album: Twelve Mondays (2009)
Notes: This Bronx born and raised singer/songwriter began his musical career while a student at New York University, playing the college circuit and releasing material on his own Project 4 label. In 2008, he created the 52 project, which saw him write, record and release a new song every week for an entire year. He's recently been touring with Suzanne Vega in anticipation of the release of his eighth album, Shouts And Whispers, next month. More at Arihest.com. The lovely female co-vocal on this track comes courtesy of Israeli-born Rosi Golan.
Artist: The Wind & The Wave, Austin, TX
Notes: This acoustic hand-clapper from a relaxed laissez-faire creative duo and best friends, Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker (apparently Baker is the Wind and Lynn the Wave.) They met in 2009, when music veteran Baker (his song Hole appeared on Kelly Clarkson's My December album) was persuaded to go and see a friend's band. The opening act featured Lynn. This catchy nu-folk ditty isn't available just yet but should be included on their debut album, From The Wreckage, which is scheduled for release soon. Tour dates and some fun photos at thewindandthewave.com.
Song: My Culture
Artist: 1 Giant Leap featuring Robbie Williams & Maxi Jazz, England
Album: 1 Giant Leap (2002)
Notes: A fabulous meld of smart hip-hop, electronica and pop/soul lyrically tracing ancestral culture and the roots of our fathers and forefathers from a duo formed back in 2001. Jamie Catto was a founding member of Faithless and teamed up with Duncan Bridgeman to create a concept band that would never be more than the two at its core, but would feature guest artists. A superb Grammy-nominated debut album was released the following year, comprising songs recorded all over the world with different musicians, including Michael Stipe, Baaba Maal, Michael Franti and on this track rapper Maxi Jazz, the lead singer of Faithless, and Robbie Williams. It took them another seven years to make their follow-up, What About Me?, which again featured Stipe, Maal and Franti, but also saw contributions from Daniel Lanois, Carlos Santana and Alanis Morissette. Their website at 1giantleap.tv is well worth a visit.
Artist: Birdy, England
Album: Fire Within (2014)
Notes: Born 18 years ago with the delightful name Jasmine van den Bogaerde (her great uncle was film actor Dirk Bogarde), she won the Open Mic UK contest in 2008 when she was 12 and followed it with her debut single, a stunning cover of Bon Iver's Skinny Love and her self-titled debut album in 2011. She was nominated at this year's BRIT Awards in the Best Female Solo Artist category, losing out to Ellie Goulding, while picking up the Female Solo Artist International award at the German Echo Awards. This song, which leads off her sophomore album, due next month, was co-written and co-produced by the ubiquitous Ryan Tedder. More at officialbirdy.com.
Song: Last Love Song
Artist: ZZ Ward, Philadelphia, PA
Album: Til The Casket Drops (2012)
Notes: Born Zsuzsanna Eva Ward in Pennsylvania 27 years ago and raised in Oregon, she joined her first band with her father at the age of 12. She headed south to Los Angeles where she began work on her debut album with the likes Ryan Tedder and Kendrick Lamar. Released in October 2012, this extracted single is being used the promote the upcoming season five of the TV series Pretty Little Liars. Another track off the album, Move Like U Stole It, received the accolade of a Paul Oakenfold remix. Just back from Europe where she's been opening for Eric Clapton on some dates, she'll be at Bonnaroo in June, the Made In America Festival in Los Angeles and opening for Amos Lee at Red Rocks in August. More at zzward.com.
Song: I'm Ready
Artist: AJR, New York, NY
Album: I'm Ready [EP] (2014)
Notes: Infectious electrobeat number replete with handclaps and sampling SpongeBob SquarePants, believe it or not. The nerdy trio comprises brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan Met. They served their apprenticeship busking in Washington Park Square and Central Park in New York City, admittedly influenced by the harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. Snapped up by Warner Bros. after coming to the attention of Sia Furler, who they cheekily tweeted a link to the video of the song, along with another 80 celebrities. They head out on the road on June 1st with an appearance at the WBLI Summer Jam in New York. More at ajrbrothers.com.
Artist: Hiatus featuring Kirtaniyas, Iran
Album: Parklands (2013)
Notes: The cool ambient electronic strains of Iranian-born, London-based electronic whiz, Cyrus Sharad who records under the moniker, Hiatus. He had a stint as a correspondent for The Sunday Times newspaper in Tehran, before releasing his first album Ghost Notes in 2010. The title cut from his immensely evocative and rewarding 2013 album featured the ethereal world music vocal stylings of Kirtaniyas, a quartet steeped in the Kirtan tradition, who are touring the US as part of this summer's Color Festival. Unfortunately an artist who doesn't perform live, he recently was quoted in an interview, saying I've always had a really bad reaction to laptop live music. I'm really into the idea of live music people on stage feeding off each other. That doesn't happen with electronic equipment. People will always pre-bake their stuff. I felt like a fraud, so what I'm working on now is trying to keep an electronic element but to bring in a genuine live component. More at hiatusmusic.bandcamp.com/album/parklands.
Song: The Police
Artist: Diefenbach, Denmark
Album: Set & Drift (2005)
Notes: A quartet founded in Copenhagen in 1999, taking their name from the character Reiey Diefenbach in the Coen brothers' classic Fargo, releasing their self-titled all-instrumental debut in 2001, followed by Run Trip Fall two years later. Described by their manager as the five bastard children of Brian Wilson and Prefuse 73, they were featured on a Danish TV documentary titled Beautiful Dreamer - Brian Wilson And The Story Of Smile. They followed their 2005 album with Dark Spinner in 2008, after which they split. Talking about this song, lead singer Kenneth Sarup said It sounded like a song by the Queens of the Stone Age, it was really aggressive. We liked it, but we thought it wasn't right. It was almost finished, but then we decided to start the song again from the beginning and it turned out to be a country/folk song.
Song: Times Like These
Artist: Glen Campbell, Delight, AR
Album: Meet Glen Campbell (2008)
Notes: Released on the 60th album by a national treasure, who it seems is sadly losing his battle with Alzheimer's. His family reluctantly moved him into a care facility in March. This album featured songs from Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, U2, Lou Reed, Green Day and John Lennon and backing from the likes of Wendy Melvoin, of Wendy and Lisa, Jason Falkner from Jellyfish and Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen and marked the first collaboration with producer Julian Raymond which led to his remarkable Ghost On The Canvas final curtain.
Song: Times Like These
Artist: Foo Fighters, Warren, OH
Album: One By One (2002)
Notes: The second single from the band's fourth album One By One, written when the band was on hiatus. When Geogre W. Bush started using the song on the campaign trail in 2004 without the band's permission, they got behind John Kerry's campaign as a result. Its life goes on, being used by the Calgary Flames hockey team, on XBox Live, in the movie American Wedding, on the 2012 ESPY Awards and at the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2012.