Song: My Eyes
Artist: Travis, Scotland
Album: The Boy With No Name, 2007
Notes: Breezy and winning slice of jangly rock from reliably consistent Scottish group. Written by lead singer, Fran Healy the day after he found out from his partner, Nora, that he was going to be a father for the first time. Band currently working on its seventh album.
Song: Gotta Get Back
Artist: Shelby Lynne, Quantico, VA
Album: I Am Shelby Lynne, 1999
Notes: Older gem marking her radical transition from being a soft, traditional country queen to a sexy and strong Americana-tinged singer-songwriter. Also check out her latest CD, 'Revelation Road'.
Artist: Smoove & Turrell, England
Album: Antique Soul, 2009
Notes: Fab intermittent horns mixed into a splendid vintage funk/soul retro sound by British duo from the northern English city of Newcastle of producer and clever beat-boffin, Jonathan Watson (aka Smoove) and blue-eyed soul singer John Turrell.
Song: Love and Hate
Artist: Daphne Willis, Chicago
Album: What To Say, 2010
Notes: A top-rate songstress originally from Chicago, now trying to get heard above the noise in Nashville. Still just 24 years old, two fine CDs under her belt to date and one to see in concert if she makes it to your neck of the woods.
Song: How Long
Artist: Ace, England
Album: Five-A-Side, 1974
Notes: Despite being a British band 'How Long' was a far bigger hit in the US. Writer and lead singer on this pop-rock melter was Paul Carrack (the Hugo Weaving of music: he's appeared on several huge hit records and been a member of Ace, Mike + The Mechanics, Roxy Music and Squeeze at various times - but never really had any solo success and can walk down the street unnoticed).
Song: Little Lies
Artist: Dave Barnes, Knoxville, TN
Album: What We Want We Get, 2010
Notes: Lovely bright, infectious roller by singer-songwriter who's highly rated by the likes of John Mayer and Amy Grant but has yet to break through to the big time.
Song: The Sweetest Thing
Artist: Camera Obscura, Scotland
Album: My Maudlin Career, 2009
Notes: Lead singer Tracyanne Campbell's vocal style is so distinctive and delightful. Yet another corker by the talented Glasgow combo lost and now found on their brilliant 2009 collection.
Song: Lay Your Head Down
Artist: Sinead O'Connor, Ireland
Notes: Typically nuanced and pitch-perfect performance by Sinead on the theme to just released 'Albert Nobbs' drama movie starring bunny boiler, Glenn Close (her best performance in years). Sinead recently married and quickly divorced for the fourth time.
Song: Living By Numbers
Artist: New Musik, England
Album: From A - B, 1980
Notes: First class old wave New Wave synth pop by British outfit who were firmly led by Tony Mansfield who went on to have a successful career as a top producer (Naked Eyes, Aztec Camera and B52s among many others).
Artist: Tina Dico, Denmark
Album: In The Red, 2005
Notes: Claiming to be influenced by Nirvana, Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman, telegenic Tina is one of Denmark's most creative singer-songwriter/guitarists who's been around for about a decade. (She's also recorded a fascinating Danish version of Leonard Cohen's epic 'Hallelujah'.)
Song: Why Should I Cry For You
Artist: Sting, England
Album: The Soul Cages, 1991
Notes: Strong lost number by Sir Sting which was released as a single worldwide in 1991, but only charted in France. The fittest 60-year Old Cacker in the business.
Artist: Slow Moving Millie, England
Album: Renditions, 2011
Notes: Stunning new low-fi interpretation of the exquisite Smiths classic by brilliantly named artiste. Her real name is Amelia Warner, an accomplished English actress and now singer from Liverpool (briefly married to Colin Farrell 10 years ago).
Song: 20 Million Things
Artist: Lowell George, Hollywood, CA
Album: Thanks, I'll Eat Here, 1979
Notes: The late frontman for Little Feat with a standout ballad from his only solo LP. Previously an alumnus of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention musical workshop. Died too soon from a drug overdose at the age of 34 in 1979.
Song: Lime Tree
Artist: Trevor Hall, Hilton Head, SC
Album: Trevor Hall, 2009
Notes: A+ reggae-tinged corker from creative tunesmith who looks a lot like Kurt Cobain but has a lovely mellow laid back Caribbean-flavor in his music. Seven interesting studio albums since 2005, all worth more than passing glance.
Song: Room For Happiness
Artist: Kaskade feat. Skylar Grey, Chicago
Album: Fire and Ice, 2011
Notes: Great soprano guest vocal from Grey (sounding a bit like Imogen Heap) on a sparkling new electronica winner Illinois-based DJ/producer - real name Ryan Raddon - who was rightly voted America's Best DJ 2011 last year by 'DJ Times' magazine.
Artist: Garrett Gue, Bozeman, MO
Album: Tall Drink O'Water, 2009
Notes: Bittersweet ruminations on this delightful acoustic confection by rather obscure banjo/guitar player who took up guitar at the age of eight and has been quietly eking out a living playing in small venues around the northwest.
Artist: Bruce Springsteen, Long Branch, NJ
Album: Devils and Dust, 2005
Notes: Low-key lost cracker featuring blissful horns parked midway through the song. He's back with his E Street backing band, undertaking major concert dates later in the year after some European festival gigs - and a new album from Bruce and the bunch also scheduled for release soon.
Song: Love Has Left The Room
Artist: A Camp, Sweden
Album: Colonia, 2009
Notes: New York-based, Swedish born Cardigans singer, Nina Persson performing under the name A Camp with a song once used in an episode of 'Weeds' on Showtime. Produced by her husband, film composer, Nathan Larson.
Song: A Message To You, Rudy
Artist: Specials, England
Album: The Specials, 1979
Notes: Produced by Elvis Costello, the first recording by the British ska-revival combo later known as the Special AKA. Brilliant Jamaican trombone player, Rico Rodriguez used his distinctive horn on both the original 1967 version by Dandy Livingstone and on this faithful update.
Song: They’ll Never Know
Artist: Ross Copperman, Nashville
Album: Welcome To Reality, 2008
Notes: Too good for prime time - yet another winning ballad from top under-appreciated tunesmith. Don't know why Ross isn't a household name - just keeps recording such beautiful music. Took up piano at a young age, began composing songs while attending James Madison University in Virginia.
Song: If I Ever Had A Dream
Artist: Nellie McKay, New York
Notes: Quirky, breezy retro-tinged little pearl by London-born, NY-based chanteuse. Nellie is also a standup comedienne, actress and general theatre luvvie. Much of her music has found its way into films and tv shows over the years including 'P.S. I Love You' and 'Boardwalk Empire'.
Song: Uncertain Smile
Artist: The The, England
Album: Soul Mining, 1983
Notes: Excellent lost corker by Matt Johnson, aka, The The The from the early '80s. Featuring superb signature piano rolls at its climax courtesy of ex-Squeeze keyboardist and clever BBC music host, Jools Holland.
Artist: Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Springfield, MI
Album: Don't Look Down, 1977
Notes: Top notch easy flowing country melodies on another diamond from the band's long forgotten mid-'70s diamond long player. Group sporting long hair and beards were founded in 1972 - and had a huge pop/country crossover hit called 'Jackie Blue'.
Song: Road To Nowhere
Artist: Talking Heads, New York
Album: Little Creatures, 1985
Notes: Although now regarded as one of their career highlights this song - which was released as a single back in 1985 - never even made the Billboard Hot 100. Used without permission by Florida Governor, Charlie Crist in his Senate bid in 2010 - who was subsequently and successfully sued by co-writer, David Byrne. Crist's groveling, apologetic video is still worth watching: www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4k13LmlcUE.
Song: Goodbye Geoffrey Drake
Artist: Graffiti6, England
Album: Colours, 2011
Notes: Another first class lost gem from the electronic/pop-rock UK duo's sparkling and smart debut album. Finally getting some airplay for 'Free' (first played on L&F).
Artist: Jason Reeves, Iowa City, IA
Notes: One of seven tasty cuts on Reeves' recent EP. he's also a good illustrator who's designed his own album artwork and also a dab hand with a camera. Finds it hard to record a bad song.
Artist: Emeli Sande, Scotland
Album: Our Version of Events, 2012
Notes: Earnest pop-soul offering from promising new British songstress in her early '20s who sports a shocking blonde punkish hairstyle. Already inked hits for Leona Lewis and (the overrated) Cheryl Cole.
Song: Someone Like You (live)
Artist: Adele, England
Notes: Extremely rare, Adele's first ever live version (from 2010 before her album was released) of the now classic self-penned ballad written about her real-life breakup with a boyfriend who went off to marry another woman.
Artist: Train, San Francisco
Album: Drops of Jupiter, 2001
Notes: One of a couple of overlooked winners from their platinum opus (produced by the great Brendan O'Brien who's also worked the boards for the likes of the Fray, Springsteen, Incubus and Pearl Jam. Typically refined but brooding cut by Pat Monahan and the boys.
Song: Stay On These Roads
Artist: A-ha, Norway
Album: Stay On These Roads, 1988
Notes: An anthemic pop waver from Norway's most popular musical export - and Coldplay's favorite band (no kidding).
Song: The Fear
Artist: Ben Howard, England
Album: Every Kingdom, 2011
Notes: 'We all live our lives in the confines of fear' - indeed. Proving to be the most popular cut from Howard's dazzling freshman album, first heard in the US on 'Lost and Found'. Signed to Mumford & Sons, London-based Communion Records label.
Song: How To Say Goodbye
Artist: Paul Tiernan, Ireland
Album: Belle, 2006
Notes: Irish folk tunesmith with a quality, fragile, almost naked, deeply sad breakup ballad. Journeyman troubadour, used to be in band called Flex & The Fastweather - flown under the radar for too long: more at www.paultiernan.com.
Song: Love Wars
Artist: Womack & Womack, Cleveland, OH
Album: Love Wars, 1983
Notes: Effervescent R&B rumbler by the husband and wife pairing of Cecil and Linda Womack who recorded together for about ten years back in the '80s. Linda is Sam Cooke's daughter; Cecil is Bobby Womack's younger brother.
Song: Just Like Heaven
Artist: Watson Twins, Los Angeles
Album: Fire Songs, 2008
Notes: Deft organic, languid, Appalachian-tinged update of the Cure's rock staple by Leigh and Chandra Watson who are originally from Louisville, KY.
Song: Mona Lisa
Artist: Aaron Neville, New Orleans
Album: Orchid In The Storm EP, 1983
Notes: Wonderfully distinctive and warm warblings of Aaron Neville with his definitive version of the timeless pearl originally made popular by Nat King Cole. Aaron has now been recording for more than 50 years.
Song: I Wish I Was The Moon
Artist: Neko Case, Alexandria, VA
Album: Blacklisted, 2002
Notes: A regular performer on the late night TV chat shows but still no major chart success, Case has flown too far under the mainstream radar for too long. Lived up in Canada for a while and became very much a part of the folk-rock Canadian music scene - also a long time collaborator with the New Pornographers band.
Song: Still Not Used To
Artist: Dan Hill, Canada
Album: Longer Fuse, 1977
Notes: Road-weary, top flight ballad from Canadian tunesmith who had a major hit with the immensely cheesy, weepy, 'Sometimes When We Touch' from eons ago.
Song: Ode To Billie Joe
Artist: Bobbie Gentry, Chickasaw County, MS
Album: Ode To Billie Joe, 1967
Notes: A four-minute musical movie all on its own, the Grammy Award winning rural country-blues classic. Gentry was one of the first female country performers to both write and produce her own material back in the '60s.
Artist: Toby Lightman/ Jim Croce, NJ/PA
Notes: Delightful, slowed down version of Croce's classic by Lightman, neatly segued into the iconic original by the late Jim.