Artist: Embrace, England
Album: Out of Nothing, 2004
Notes: Anthemic Brit-rock cover of a song written and given to them by Coldplay.
Song: When Loves Break Down
Artist: Prefab Sprout, England
Album: Two Wheels Good, 1985
Notes: Hidden treasure from one of the most complete and overlooked albums of the '80s.
Artist: Regina Spektor, Russia
Album: Begin To Hope, 2006
Notes: Perhaps the best ballad to date from the Russian-American singer-songwriter/pianist.
Song: Sugar For The Soul
Artist: Steve Balsamo, Wales
Album: All I Am, 2002
Notes: Bouncy, melodic pop-rock from a relatively unknown performer, alumnus of Prince's Trust musicians charity.
Song: Hard Road
Artist: Shore, Silver Lake, CA
Album: The Shore, 2004
Notes: Terrific West Coast rock trio, still occasionally touring, another solid outing from debut album.
Song: Say After Me
Artist: Bic Runga, New Zealand
Album: Birds, 2005
Notes: Breezy, mellow musings with lovely string arrangement from part Chinese/Maori singer-songwriter.
Song: Spinning Wheels
Artist: Angel Taylor, Los Angeles
Album: Love Travels, 2009
Notes: Every track from her maiden album is a winner, a rare achievement these days.
Song: So Slow
Artist: Ari Hest, New York
Album: The Green Room Sessions EP
Notes: Perfect, jangly pop-rock by little-known singer-songwriter from the Bronx.
Artist: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, South Africa
Album: Graceland, 1986
Notes: Timeless World Music classic by legendary South African township a capella vocal troupe.
Song: Always The Sun
Artist: Stranglers, England
Album: Dreamtime, 1986
Notes: Melodic pleaser from former British punk/new wave pioneers led by Hugh Cornwall.
Song: No Work and All Play
Artist: Frankel, Los Angeles
Album: Not available
Notes: Brand new, easy-swaying, acoustic outing from upcoming performer, Michael Orendy.
Song: In My Place
Artist: Coldplay, England
Notes: Mighty, evergreen rock smash, won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance.
Artist: Dream Academy, England
Notes: Rare vocal version, dreamy cover of a Smiths nugget by 'Life In A Northern Town' hitmakers.
Song: Travel In Time
Artist: Carmen Rizzo, New York
Notes: Successful electronic musician and producer who
Song: 7 Seconds
Artist: Neneh Cherry & Youssou N, Sweden/Senegal
Album: The Guide (Wommat), 1994
Notes: Epic electronic/World Music stylings - she sings in English, world music great N
Song: Barren Ground
Artist: Bruce Hornsby & The Range, Williamsburg, VA
Album: A Night On The Town, 1990
Notes: Much-neglected but beautifully executed gem graced by backing vocals from Shawn Colvin.
Song: Raise The Dead
Artist: Colin Devlin, Ireland
Album: Democracy of One, 2009
Notes: Terrific solo ballad by lead singer of Irish alt-rock combo he formed with his brother, the Devlins.
Song: The Weakness In Me
Artist: Joan Armatrading, St. Kitts
Album: Walk Under Ladders, 1981
Notes: Torn between two lovers, as ever, dripping with soul, smart lyrics, effortless melodies.
Artist: Travis, Scotland
Album: The Invisible Band, 2001
Notes: Still underrated combo from Glasgow, song featured in Sandler-starring movie, 'Mr. Deeds'.
Song: The Word Girl
Artist: Scritti Politti, England
Album: Cupid & Psyche, 1985
Notes: Reggae-splashed, electro pop-rock from highly inventive Green Gartside.
Artist: Son Volt, St. Louis, MO
Album: Wide Swing Tremolo, 1998
Notes: Rootsy instrumental art of the under-appreciated Americana band front by Jay Farrar.
Song: Our Town
Artist: James Taylor/Randy Newman, Lenox, MA/Los Angeles
Notes: Composed by genius Newman, plaintive ode to struggles and decline of a recession-era town perfectly executed by Taylor.
Song: Steppin’ Out
Artist: Kaskade, Chicago
Album: In The Moment, 2004
Notes: Fabulous electronic pop-rock from American DJ, Ryan Raddon better known as Kaskade.
Artist: Sarah Slean, Canada
Album: Day One, 2004
Notes: Quirky, winning lost nugget by underrated singer-songwriter, pianist and actress.
Song: Could You Be Loved
Artist: Bob Marley & The Wailers, Jamaica
Album: Uprising, 1980
Notes: From Marley's final studio album. He never had a top 50 hit on Billboard Hot 100.
Song: Hey Now
Artist: Augustana, San Diego
Album: Can't Love Can't Hurt, 2008
Notes: Tremendous slice of forgotten, no-nonsense modern-rock from 'Boston' hitmakers.
Song: My Side Of The Bed
Artist: Susanna Hoffs, Los Angeles
Album: When You're A Boy, 1991
Notes: Delightful jangling pop-rock from the distinctive former Bangles lead-singer from maiden solo album.
Song: Silent Sigh
Artist: Badly Drawn Boy, England
Album: About A Boy, 2002
Notes: Featuring wacky piano riffs, taken from soundtrack to Hugh Grant movie, entirely composed by Damon Gough.
Song: Say Goodbye
Artist: Fleetwood Mac, Los Angeles
Album: Say You Will, 2003
Notes: Standout multi-rhythm track by Lindsey Buckingham from band's last studio album. Gorgeous.
Song: You Could Be Happy
Artist: Snow Patrol, N. Ireland/Scotland
Album: Eyes Open, 2006
Notes: Too sad for words, sparse, reflective pearl as ever about the painful end of a relationship.
Song: Annie You Save Me
Artist: Graffiti 6, England
Album: Colours, 2011
Notes: Second spin for outstanding new single by UK duo of Tommy D and Jamie Scott.
Song: Day Too Soon
Artist: Sia, Australia
Notes: Infectious cut from her still-overlooked sparkling third album.
Song: Nowhere Warm
Artist: Kate Havnevik, Norway
Album: Melankton, 2006
Notes: Norwegian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with the melancholic, thoughtful ballad.
Artist: Electric Light Orchestra, England
Album: Secret Messages, 1983
Notes: Long after their career had peaked, ELO were still making top-drawer melodic pop rock like this.
Song: Ever After You
Artist: Gabe Dixon Band, Nashville
Album: Live At World Cafe
Notes: Billy Joel hasn't written a ballad this good for years. Top-notch by sorely underrated singer-songwriter/pianist.
Song: See The World
Artist: Gomez, England
Album: How We Operate, 2006
Notes: Great sentiment, glorious rolling indie-rock from their fifth album.
Song: Part of Your History
Artist: Blue Merle, Nashville
Album: Burning In The Sun, 2005
Notes: Bittersweet, literate Americana from the short-lived band. Get the album, superb.
Song: Odd World
Artist: Molly Marlette, Los Angeles
Notes: Entirely unknown, promising newcomer with a rather refreshing, perky little ditty.
Song: Lay Lady Lay
Artist: Bob Dylan, Duluth, MN
Album: Nashville Skyline, 1969
Notes: Classic, timeless, audible.