Song: I Won’t Let You Go
Artist: James Morrison, England
Album: The Awakening, 2011
Notes: Such a gritty soul-filled vocal talent, reminiscent of many of the R&B icons which influenced him growing up. Yet to score any hits on the Billboard Hot 100 despite releasing three fabulous albums.
Artist: Lights, Canada
Album: The Listening, 2009
Notes: Delicious poptronica, she has such an easy sense of melody, the quirky Valerie Poxleitner who likes to go by the performing name of Lights. New album just released.
Song: Sweet and Low
Artist: Augustana, San Diego
Album: Can't Love Can't Hurt, 2008
Notes: Another overlooked rock belter from their best album. Group recently announced they've split up - which is real shame. Four albums, eight years, disbanded having never again reached the dizzy heights of their breakthrough smash, 'Boston'.
Song: The Good Times
Artist: Matthew Puckett, Brooklyn, NY
Album: The Goodbye EP, 2008
Notes: In addition to being a talented tunesmith, Puckett is an in-demand producer and tv/film composer (including the main theme and score for the ABC television series 'Boston Med') He's been releasing albums since 1998 - more at www.matthewpuckett.com.
Song: If This Is Goodbye
Artist: Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, England/Nashville
Album: All The Roadrunning, 2006
Notes: Unmistakable vocal class of Emmylou Harris paired with one of her favorite musicians, Knopfler on this maudlin but magnificent ballad. Entire album is essential listening. Knopfler is currently touring with Bob Dylan around Europe.
Song: The Wolves
Artist: Ben Howard, England
Album: Every Kingdom, 2011
Notes: Rollicking indie-folk and sterling finder-picking from promising newcomer signed to Mumford & Sons-related Communion Records label.
Song: Even If I Don’t
Artist: Rachael Yamagata, Arlington, VA
Album: Chesapeake, 2011
Notes: A welcome up-tempo number, just brilliant - the first six tracks on her new album are so strong. Rachel gets her lovely last name from her Japanese American father - and has a twin brother called Benji.
Song: It’s Different For Girls
Artist: Joe Jackson, England
Album: I'm The Man, 1979
Notes: Somehow this New Wave rock ballad never cracked the Billboard Hot 100. Diverse musician subsequently darted around several musical genres including jazz and classical. Real name David Ian Jackson.
Song: A Girl I Knew
Artist: Vines, Australia
Album: Melodia, 2008
Notes: Atypical recording from Aussie alt-rockers, channeling their best Beatles impression. Best known for their 2002 modern rock smash, 'Get Free', the band actively supports the PETA organization.
Song: And The River Still Runs
Artist: Rik Emmett & Dave Dunlop (Strung Out Troubadours), Canada
Album: Push & Pull, 2009
Notes: Highly regarded by his contemporaries as one of the most dexterous guitarists around (despite being a founding member of cheesy Canadian prog rockers, Triumph), a fine instrumental pairing with longtime collaborator, Dunlop.
Song: Five Moments
Artist: Field Mice, England
Album: For Keeps, 1991
Notes: Lovely under-appreciated indie dream pop rock from London-based quartet who were around for four years from 1987 to 1991. A really fine Field Mice compilation, 'Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way' still available.
Song: Walk Alone
Artist: Evelyn Burke, Ireland
Album: Not available, 2011
Notes: Brand new, but very obscure, not being given the time of day by anyone despite it's obvious well-crafted, hook-filled melodies. Thoughtful ballad by a fresh new songstress from Ireland, now based in England.
Song: Everywhere I Go
Artist: Lissie, Rock Island, IL
Album: Why You Runnin' EP, 2009
Notes: Named by the influential 'Paste' magazine as the best new solo artist of 2010 but clearly too good for prime-time. Real name Elisabeth Maurus - she got a big break when Lenny Kravitz asked her to open for him on tour after seeing her myspace page.
Artist: Curiosity Killed The Cat, England
Album: Keep Your Distance, 1987
Notes: Bright shimmering vintage pop-rock from combo who briefly graduated through the Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran synth-pop era in the 1980s in the UK. Group was led by a young turk, Ben Volepeliere-Pierrot.
Artist: Tyrone Wells, Spokane, WA
Album: Metal and Wood, 2010
Notes: Lovely strumming folk number also featured in the recent movie soundtrack to 'Something Borrowed'. Former TJ Maxx sales assistant.
Song: What Have I Become?
Artist: Loney Dear, Sweden
Album: Hall Music, 2011
Notes: So good, so original. Uplifting grooves from the the sixth album by Swedish multi-instrumentalist, Emil Svanangen who prefers to be known as Loney Dear. . Featuring female vocals by guest collaborator, Malin Stahlberg.
Song: Step On
Artist: Happy Mondays, England
Notes: Marvelous musical collage got a few modern rock spins back in the early '90s. Band was part of vibrant 'Madchester' rave scene. Song is a smart cover version of 'He's Gonna Step On You Again' by John Kongos in 1971.
Song: Green Onions
Artist: Booker T. & The MGs, Memphis, TN
Album: Green Onions, 1962
Notes: An Atlantic Records soul classic which should be renamed 'Evergreen Onions'. Booker T Jones and his MGs sidemen were the rhythm section heard on so many legendary recordings on the seminal Stax Records label throughout the 1960s. Jones was just 17 years old when this was recorded.
Song: You Can’t Be Too Strong
Artist: Graham Parker, England
Album: Squeezing Out Sparks, 1979
Notes: Never really got his due, lots of critical acclaim but only modest commercial success. Serious topic, well-explored, from an album subsequently hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 500 albums of all-time.
Song: A World Apart
Artist: Vedera, Kansas City
Album: Stages, 2009
Notes: Straight-ahead melodic rock by four piece which has opened for the likes of Mat Kearney - they've been together for 7 years, fronted by Kristen May.
Artist: Stateless, England
Album: Bloodstream EP, 2007
Notes: Terrific overall hypnotic groove by British electro-rock combo led by singer and multi-instrumentalist, Chris James - hailed by critics as lying somewhere inbetween Radiohead and Portishead.
Artist: Shawn Colvin, Vermillion, SD
Album: Live, 2009
Notes: Perhaps the best phrasing in popular music - no-one has better timing or intonation. A live version of one her most popular concert numbers. Five long years since her last new studio album - please, please hurry up.
Artist: Travis, Scotland
Album: The Man Who, 1999
Notes: A song about trying to find the discipline to stay in college from one of the better jangly-rock troupes out there. Tucked away on their excellent sophomore album from 1999 - and which was dedicated to film director Stanley Kubrick (who died the same year).
Song: Boys With Girlfriends
Artist: Meiko, Los Angeles
Album: Meiko, 2008
Notes: Fabulous cut from her (brilliant) only album to date. Meiko is one quarter Japanese, but born in Georgia and now based in LA, still in the studio working on a new record.
Song: Come On Home
Artist: Everything But The Girl, England
Notes: Everything but the Kitchen Sink on this one, featuring a sweeping orchestral arrangement. 'Who can I turn to if you believe still, That England don't love you and she never will' - underrated lyricists.
Song: I Want You Back
Artist: Civil Wars, Nashville
Album: Barton Hollow, 2011
Notes: An unrecognizable, inventive cover version by the currently in-vogue folk duo of John Paul White and Joy Williams of the Jackson 5 Motown memory.
Song: Curse The Love Songs
Artist: Hawk in Paris, Nashville
Album: His + Hers, 2011
Notes: Band is a new electronic project from Dan Haseltine (lead singer of Jars of Clay) with a couple of chums, Matt Brownlee and Jeremy Bose. 'Curse the love songs playing on the radio station'!
Song: Our Time
Artist: Tyler Hilton, Palm Springs, CA
Album: Tracks of Tyler Hilton, 2004
Notes: Yet another lost gem from one of the finest singer-songwriter/performers to emerge in the past ten years. New album finally due in January.
Song: If I Were Happy
Artist: Shelly Fraley, Nashville
Album: Not available (yet), 2011
Notes: Beautiful, sage self-reflection from a promising newcomer among the non-country Nashville musical community. Fraley has released one album thus far, last year's 'Into The Sun'.
Song: In A Lifetime
Artist: Clannad feat. Bono, Ireland
Notes: A lost single from 1986 pairing Irish folk vocal group, Clannad with U2 frontman. Longstanding Celtic family band fronted by lead singer Moya Brennan who is the sister of? - erstwhile band member, Enya.
Song: When A Heart Breaks
Artist: Ben Rector, Nashville
Album: Into The Morning, 2010
Notes: Just 24 years old, but a top new talent - when will he get more attention? Desperately sad song written about being in denial when told about having terminal disease. Fortunately, Ben is in fine health.
Song: Real Vacation
Artist: Caleb Hawley, New York
Album: Steps, 2009
Notes: Cheesy ending but a fine simple sentiment . A light reggae-splashed slice of folk-pop from Berklee School of Music alumnus who's opened for the likes of Marc Cohn, Rusted Root and Dave Matthews.
Song: Back In The Crowd
Artist: Tom Waits, Pomona, CA
Album: Bad As Me, 2011
Notes: New music from the great Waits (which you're unlikely to hear on any other commercial radio show) - partly because of his trademark gruff vocal style and partly because he's just too good. Freshly minted into this year's Rock and Hall of Fame class of 2011.
Song: I Get To Be The One
Artist: JJ Heller, Canada
Album: Deeper, 2011
Notes: A delightful tender, lilting muse on the joys of motherhood. JJ has been making homespun music with her husband Dave since 2003, and wrote this tender tune about her first daughter.
Song: Cold Water Swimmer
Artist: Peter Bruntnell, England
Notes: Inventive and mellifluous number by singer-songwriter described by venerable British music rag, he NME thus: 'Peter Bruntnell's records should be taught in schools' while Rolling Stone claims he's 'one of England's best kept secrets'.
Artist: John Mayer, Bridgeport, CT
Album: Continuum, 2006
Notes: As popular as he is and with so many hit singles under his belt, how did this amazing ballad by Mayer only peak at #99 on the Billboard Hot 100? Destined to become one of his most enduring songs. Get better soon JM.
Song: Mr. Blue
Artist: Catherine Feeny, Portland, OR
Album: Hurricane Glass, 2006
Notes: Splendid and surprising horns inch their way in half-way through this superb restrained lost gem. Sorely overlooked album from artiste who should be better known. More at www.catherinefeeny.com.
Song: Do You Love Me?
Artist: Guster, Boston
Album: Easy Wonderful, 2010
Notes: Christmassy feel on this fun non-yuletide fun pop-rock nugget. L&F's Xmas show will be unmissable by the way.
Artist: Carla Bruni, Italy
Album: No Promises, 2007
Notes: A lovely Norah Jones-ish feel to much of her music. From the First Lady of France's English-speaking album. Carla is a singer-songwriter, actress, former model and of course the current wife to 5' 5' tall Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France - poor chap, spends his life in platform shoes.
Song: The Model
Artist: Kraftwerk, Germany
Album: The Man-Machine, 1978
Notes: Bit of a club favorite back in the early '80s from deeply influential electronic rock pioneers. Formed and fronted by synth keyboard whiz-kids Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter in the late '60s.
Song: Windmills of Your Mind
Artist: Noel Harrison/Sting, England/England
Notes: Neat segue of an old film theme chestnut by British athlete/singer into a jazzy update for the movie remake by Sir Sting.