Song: Life’s What You Make It
Artist: Talk Talk, England
Album: Colour of Spring, 1986
Notes: So much great, largely undiscovered music in Talk Talk's catalog especially on this third album. Sensational cut co-written and sung by the group's founder Mark Hollis - who went underground after releasing one solo album in 1998.
Song: Short Change Hero
Artist: Heavy, England
Notes: Multi-cultural quartet forges some really tight, shuffling, melodic grooves, including this one which is currently used as the theme to the (average) Cinemax thriller series, 'Strike Back'. Band is from the west of England, fronted by singer Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor.
Song: Sweet Hand of Mercy
Artist: Rebecca Pidgeon, England
Album: Slingshot, 2011
Notes: Lilting and delightful song from British born singer-songwriter who grew up in Cambridge, MA. Rebecca is also an accomplished actress (and married to top director/screenwriter, David Mamet). Her new (sixth) album is wonderful, produced by legendary Larry Klein.
Song: Second Avenue
Artist: Tim Moore, New York
Album: Tim Moore, 1974
Notes: Understandably dated arrangement but a lovely, simple piano-led melody and terrific lyrics. Beaten when originally released in a Billboard chart race by a quickly recorded competing version by Art Garfunkel. The original, still the best.
Song: Nature’s Law
Artist: Embrace, England
Album: This New Day, 2006
Notes: Anthemic modern rock, a big hit in the UK, but missed in the US. Anyone who likes Coldplay or Snow Patrol should check out Embrace (who's 'Gravity' single was written by the Coldplay lads).
Song: Who Are You
Artist: Elected, San Diego
Album: Bury Me In My Rings, 2011
Notes: Over half-a-dozen top undiscovered songs on this new album by singer-songwriter, Blake Sennett (ex-Rilo Kiley who are no more) who now records as the Elected.
Song: Beating My Heart
Artist: Jon McLaughlin, Anderson, IN
Album: OK Now, 2008
Notes: Songwriter, pianist, guitarist with some fresh, sparkling pop-rock which flew under the radar. Unsurprisingly a touring partner of Sara Bareilles and a studio collaborator with Jason Mraz.
Song: Lay My Burden Down
Artist: Alison Krauss, Decatur, IL
Album: Paper Airplane, 2011
Notes: Queen of bluegrass on a tender Americana outing, a lost gem also featured in the superb movie drama 'Get Low' featuring Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek movie and a brilliant, understated turn by Bill Murray.
Song: Every Car You Chase
Artist: Snow Patrol vs. The Police, Scotland/England
Album: Not available, 2007
Notes: Deft, clever mash-up of two mighty rock standards, conceived and executed by Bay Area DJ and mixmaster Ben Gill - who likes to go by the name Party Ben (self-described as 'the dumbest name in showbiz'). 'Every Breath You Take' meets 'Chasing Cars'.
Song: I Think of Angels
Artist: Yohanna, Iceland
Notes: Thanks to 'Lost and Found', this extraordinary ballad from the talented, angelic Icelandic singer is now available for the first time anywhere: check it out at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-think-of-angels-single/id459747914
Song: Love You Forever
Artist: Ryan Huston, Santa Rosa, CA
Album: Love You Forever, EP, 2008
Notes: Engaging grower from melodic singer-songwriter who, like so many contemporaries, is eking out a living with song placements in tv shows and commercials - including spots for A&E, Lifetime, and Abercrombie and Fitch.
Song: The Mountain Song
Artist: Rayland Baxter, Nashville
Notes: Shuffling, banjo-tinged Americana from a cracking unreleased album which is still looking for a home. Five demo versions of tracks from his new long-player are currently available for streaming at www.raylandbaxter.com.
Song: Hide and Seek
Artist: Howard Jones, England
Album: Human's Lib, 1984
Notes: Melodramatic synth-pop at its finest, the ballad that got away despite two huge US hits, 'No One Is To Blame' and 'Things Can Only Get Better'. Howard is till recording, but living quietly in Somerset in England - he recently remastered and re-released his terrific debut album.
Artist: Josh Rouse, Nashville
Album: Nashville, 2005
Notes: Relaxing and warm, the quiet easy-going philosophy of Mr. Rouse with his chilled ruminations on life. His next effort is called 'Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations' which will be available at the end of September, as Josh himself says, 'wherever fine music is served'.
Song: Change of Time
Artist: Josh Ritter, Moscow, ID
Album: So Runs The World Away, 2010
Notes: Considered a live favorite by his still burgeoning fan base. Ever-hip 'Paste' magazine rates Josh Ritter as one of the Top 100 Greatest Living Songwriters. Also a noted author, recently published a new novel called 'Passage'.
Song: Hotel Song
Artist: Regina Spektor, Russia
Album: Begin To Hope, 2006
Notes: Such an original performer, this perky number references orca whales and owls, cocaine, gold coins and paper napkins. Once featured in a Verizon tv commercial in 2007.
Song: Medicine Show
Artist: Big Audio Dynamite, England
Notes: An immense collage of musical invention, biting lyrics, an utterly original pumping modern rock sound from ex-Clash guitarist Mick Jones' unheralded Big Audio Dynamite combo. Features a liberal number of spoken word samples from the classic Clint Eastwood movies 'A Fistful' of Dollars and 'The Good The Bad and the Ugly' among others.
Artist: Fine Young Cannibals, England
Album: The Raw and the Cooked, 1988
Notes: Got a few spins back way back when, but not enough. Featuring the unmistakable vocal stylings of lead singer, Roland Gift who went on to do a bit of acting but who has fallen off the map in recent years.
Song: For My Wedding
Artist: Don Henley, Gilmer, TX
Album: Inside Job, 2000
Notes: Exceptional, world-weary, realistic ballad for a wedding day from the Eagles' drummer and co-lead vocalist Henley who is now 64.
Song: Garden of Love
Artist: Aqualung feat. Paul Buchanan, England/Scotland
Album: Memory Man, 2007
Notes: Crescendoing cut from electronic whiz, Matt Hales (aka Aqualung) made all the better by the unexpected arrival of enigmatic Blue Nile frontman, Paul Buchanan at around the 3:00 minute mark.
Song: Walking In The Sand
Artist: Hollie Cook, England
Album: Hollie Cook, 2011
Notes: Neat reggae update of the old Shangri-Las chestnut (Remember?) by the daughter of Sex Pistols alumnus, Paul Cook. Her promising maiden album is all reggae, all the time.
Artist: Death Cab For Cutie, Bellingham, WA
Album: Narrow Stairs, 2008
Notes: Splendid single from a few years ago which somehow failed to crack the big time. In the 'Wuthering Heights'-inspired video for this song, the part of Cath is played by actress Beth Riesgraf - who stars in the popular TNT drama series, 'Leverage'.
Artist: Bon Iver, Eau, WI
Album: Bon Iver, 2011
Notes: Fab track (despite indecipherable lyrics sung by frontman, Justin Vernon) from band's recent critically-lauded album. Group's name is French, meaning "have a good winter".
Song: Alberta Bound
Artist: Bryan Adams, Canada
Notes: Channeling his best Bruce Springsteen, a live winner from his recent 'Bare Bones' acoustic unplugged tour. Solid return to form from tunesmith veteran.
Song: Sea of Love
Artist: Cat Power, Atlanta, GA
Album: The Covers Record, 2000
Notes: Two minutes of Cat with a curious, spare but winning cover of the classic ballad, 'Sea of Love'. She's one of the most creative interpreters of other people's work (Dylan, Pavement, the Stones, Velvet Underground, even Moby Grape).
Artist: Electric Owls, Asheville, NC
Album: Cullowhee Songs EP, 2010
Notes: Top-notch, quirky but accessible music from Andy Herod, aka Electric Owls. Signed to one of the best record labels left, Vagrant Records (www.vagrant.com).
Artist: David Mead, Nashville
Album: Wherever You Are EP, 2005
Notes: ?I'm not the first of the astronauts to leave the place I love' - remarkable ballad from yet another non-country singer-songwriter who is helping to remake the soundscape of Nashville.
Song: I’m In Love
Artist: Ruby Turner, Jamaica
Notes: Sorely overlooked pop soul gem from much in-demand session singer (Mick Jagger, Bryan Ferry, Steve Winwood, UB40 etc.) and solo performer. This song should have been covered by the Pointer Sisters.
Song: Secret Things
Artist: Seven Saturdays, Los Angeles
Album: Secret Things EP, 2011
Notes: Terrific slice of new instrumental magic from Jonathan D. Haskell aka Seven Saturdays. Mellow electronica tune inspired by his midnight drives around Mulholland Hills in the City of Angels.
Artist: Mat Kearney, Eugene, OR
Album: Young Love, 2011
Notes: Best cut from his latest album (which is his poppiest to date and also boasts current hit, 'Hey Mama') - but only available as the hidden bonus track.
Song: These Days
Artist: Cher, Los Angeles
Album: Stars, 1975 (not available)
Notes: A+ string arrangement by Jimmy Webb, evocative sliding steel guitar and a restrained, impeccable vocal delivery by the queen of plastic, more than doing justice to an old Jackson Browne song. Why hasn't this old album been released digitally?
Artist: Ryan Adams, Jacksonville, NC
Album: Love Is Hell, 2004
Notes: Cracking, stripped-down acoustic cover version of the Oasis smash, a popular live number for Ryan. His treatment regarded by Noel Gallagher thus: "I never got my head round this song until I went to [see] Ryan Adams play and he did an amazing cover of it."
Song: Modern Love
Artist: Matt Nathanson, Lexington, MA
Album: Modern Love, 2011
Notes: Title cut from new long-player by folk-rocker who just gets better with each outing. Several first-class gems lurking on the record from the chap who hit a couple of years ago with 'Come On Get Higher'.
Song: Wicked Game (live)
Artist: James Vincent McMorrow, Ireland
Album: Not available, 2011
Notes: Fast becoming a lost and found preferred vendor, a wonderfully restrained acoustic live cover of the Chris Isaak smash. Hot off the press, not yet available - recently recorded at the Kilkenny Art Festival in Ireland.
Song: One Day You’ll Be Fine
Artist: Kari Kimmel, Los Angeles
Album: Out of Focus, 2010
Notes: Bit of a power ballad, almost sounds like it's from another era. Kimmel's songs have been much featured in dozens of tv shows and films including 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Wall-E'.
Artist: Billy Bragg & Wilco, England/Chicago
Album: Mermaid Avenue, 1998
Notes: Standout track from a historic collaborative album on which both acts put music to a selection of previously discarded Woody Guthrie lyrics which were discovered by his daughter Nora Guthrie.
Song: City of Lights
Artist: Ry Cuming, Australia
Album: Ry Cuming, 2010
Notes: One of four excellent pop-rock lost treasures hidden away on his sparkling eponymous debut album. Grew up in a beach town called Angourie down under - and cites his greatest musical influence as the late Jeff Buckley.
Song: Goin’ Back
Artist: Nils Lofgren, Chicago
Album: Nils Lofgren, 1975
Notes: Yet another superb cover version, Lofgren's update of the times Carole King/Gerry Goffin standard from his debut solo outing which is now regarded as a classic LP.