Song: Summer Romance
Artist: Ren Harvieu, England
Album: Through The Night, 2012
Notes: The new, full vintage sound of Harvieu with a histrionic future classic, a bittersweet plea not to end a summer romance. Made her major bow on the Introducing Stage sponsored by the BBC at the iconic Glastonbury Festival in the UK after first being discovered on her myspace page.
Song: She’s A Natural
Artist: Rob Crosby, Nashville
Album: Solid Ground, 1991
Notes: Sweet and simple, but what a track. A lost Country corker which somehow sidestepped the Billboard Hot 100 during the hey-day of Adult Contemporary music back in early 1990s. Recently covered by the great Don Williams (see below).
Song: In The End
Artist: Royal Concept, Sweden
Album: The Royal Concept EP, 2012
Notes: A mighty slice of anthemic melodic modern rock from yet another fascinating combo hailing from Scandinavia. New band originally called the Concept Store, they're a tight foursome fronted by singer/guitarist, David Larson.
Song: Across The Nile
Artist: Amy MacDonald, Scotland
Notes: A percolating Celtic rumbler and one of four killer tracks from Amy's third album. She's a self-taught songstress who was inspired to take up music after seeing fab Scottish band, Travis live. Began performing around Glasgow at 15, still just 24.
Song: Bell Jar
Artist: Louise and the Pins, England
Album: Bell Jar (single), 2012
Notes: A highly original ballad, showcasing smart lyrical dexterity from the all-female trio of Sara Templeman, Bethan Gorman and stunning front-woman, Louise Hull. Mostly a '50s-styled retro rockabilly combo - been together only 2 years, still unsigned doing the DIY thing. More at facebook.com/louiseandthepins.
Song: Brighter Day
Artist: Sam Gray, England
Album: Brighter Day, 2011
Notes: Infectious pop-rock cracker by the British tunesmith from Hull in the north of England. Snappy dresser, Sam often sports clean-cut '60s zoot suits when performing live.
Song: Save Part of Yourself
Artist: Brandi Carlile, Ravensdale, WA
Album: Bear Creek, 2012
Notes: A lovely sentiment from the singer-songwriter who's entering her '30s with a confident but restrained new album which mixes up blues, pop, bluegrass, folk and country - easily her most organic and rewarding outing to date.
Artist: Dave Barnes, Knoxville, TN
Album: From Stories To Tell, 2012
Notes: Lilting gem and a bonus cut tucked away on his recent album. Recording for some 10 years, also a prolific songwriter and collaborator with other artists including Marc Broussard and Billy Currington. John Mayer is also a big fan - more at www.davebarnes.com.
Song: Out of Time
Artist: Blur, England
Album: Think Tank, 2003
Notes: Neat Eastern influences on this curious but winning number by the BritPop Rock pioneers who never made it in the US. The venerable British music magazine, NME, voted it #73 on the 150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years in 2011. Lead singer is the ever-creative and busy Damon Albarn who also 'fronts' clever animated combo, Gorillaz.
Song: Lie To Me
Artist: Meiko, Roberta, GA
Album: The Bright Side, 2012
Notes: Another winner from her sparkling sophomore set which is dripping with tasty treats, all wrapped up in her breathy, engaging vocal style. More at www.meikomusic.com.
Artist: Mark Knopfler, England
Album: Kill To Get Crimson, 2007
Notes: Simple is often best (and not a million miles from Buddy Holly), gentle tune from the former Dire Straits leader. He's undertaken a fair amount of sterling soundtrack work over the years, scoring the likes of 'Local Hero', 'The Princess Bride' and 'Wag The Dog' among many others
Artist: Federico Aubele, Argentina
Album: Gran Hotel Buenos Aires
Notes: Flamenco, accordion, Reggae beats, cool female vocals (by his wife, Natalia Clavier), a magical World Music stew. He recently moved from Spain to Brooklyn, having released four fascinating, worthwhile albums to date.
Song: Ever After You
Artist: Gabe Dixon, Nashville
Album: The Gabe Dixon Band, 2008
Notes: Too good for prime time, a perfect marriage of simple melancholic melody and heartfelt lyrics from the new piano man (Billy Joel hasn't released anything this good in years). Now going solo, but also a member of Supertramp from time-to-time.
Song: My Kind of Lady
Artist: Supertramp, England
Album: Famous Last Words, 1982
Notes: Who doesn't like great sax? Vintage melodic cracker from the former prog-rockers. Group's two leaders, Rik Davies and Roger Hodgson, split after making this record: Davies has gone on to occasionally tour and record with a revamped Supertramp lineup, but Hodgson has never rejoined.
Song: Freezing Rain
Artist: Hurricane Bells, New York
Album: Tonight Is The Ghost, 2009
Notes: Splendid indie-Americana rolling rock belter from the New York-based, Steve schiltz (aka Hurricane Bells). He wrote, recorded, played and mixed the album entirely on his own, on his MacBook. More at www.hurricanebells.com.
Song: Just Another Day
Artist: Erin McCarley, Nashville
Album: The Boys Club EP, 2012
Notes: A new winner by one of the most talented non-country musicians reshaping the sound of Music City. Originally from Garland in Texas, Erin cut her musical chops in San Diego before making Nashville her home.
Song: Broken Man
Artist: Paul Young, England
Album: No Parlez, 1983
Notes: Superb lost ballad you'll only hear on L&F by the 'Every Time You Go Away' hitmaker. Some muppet at his record label decided to put this little diamond on the B-side of his first single, 'Wherever I Lay My Hat' thereby permanently relegating it to obscurity.
Song: Everyone’s Waiting
Artist: Missy Higgins, Australia
Album: The Ol' Razzle Dazzle, 2012
Notes: Outstanding fresh, melodic outing from one of Australia's finest singer-songwriters after a long break. Sterling album was co-produced by her friend and another fine songstress, Butterfly Boucher.
Song: Sovereign Light Café
Artist: Keane, England
Album: Strangeland, 2012
Notes: Easily the poppiest and brightest cut from their return to form fourth album. The Sovereign Light Café is a real place - and one the band has frequented, located in the English seaside town of Bexhill-On-Sea.
Song: Hey Baby
Artist: J.J. Cale, Oklahoma City, OK
Album: Troubadour, 1976
Notes: Lovely horns, so typically laid-back another lost nugget by the timeless, simple craftsman, a pre-Americana gem and the lead-off number from his seminal 'Troubadour' LP. Now 73.
Song: Never Go Back
Artist: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Waitsfield, VT
Notes: Marvelous recent single by the blues rockers from Vermont, rightly now getting some wider attention. Dan Auerbach from the ever-hip Black Keys featured on gritty backing vocals and a wacky Casio drum loop.
Song: All About You
Artist: Rolling Stones, England
Album: Emotional Rescue, 1980
Notes: Weary, blues-soaked sardonic lost ballad boasting a rare lead vocal from Keeeef - who was the sole composer (even though all of their work is of co-credited to both Jagger and Richards). Richards also played nearly all the instruments on this number including piano, bass, electric guitar. A very personal and bittersweet piece of work allegedly written about the fractious end to his longstanding relationship with Anita Pallenberg.
Song: Breathing Underwater
Artist: Metric, Canada
Album: Synthetica, 2012
Notes: A fresh electro-rock belter by the sturdy Canadian quartet led by lead singer Emily Haines and multi-instrumentalist, James Shaw. Also look out for their second soundtrack work for the upcoming 'Cosmopolis' movie directed by David Cronenberg.
Song: One More Sad Song
Artist: Randy Rogers Band, Cleburne, TX
Notes: Neat non-Country ragweed instrumentation elevates this new nugget above standard Country corn. Rogers was taught to play piano by his grandmother at the age of 6 before also taking up the geeetar.
Artist: Adrianne, Los Angeles
Album: Burn Me Up, 2006
Notes: A blissful acoustic love song showcasing her rich, full vocal style. Also lead singer of the Rescues, she's been making music since 1999 - full name is Adrianne Gonzalez.
Artist: Cash Brothers, Canada
Album: How Was Tomorrow, 2001
Notes: Splendid no-nonsense rocker about driving around listening to the Springsteen album, 'Nebraska' (which is now 30 years old). The brothers Cash, Peter and Andrew, were both in separate bands before deciding to keep it in the family. More at www.cashbrothers.com.
Song: Answering Machine
Artist: Scout, New York
Notes: Cool, winsome cover of a song originally recorded in 1984 by the much-missed Replacements. Scout has been performing on and off since 1998, formed by it's principal member, female singer Ashen Keilyn.
Song: I Saved The World Today
Artist: Eurythmics, England
Album: Peace, 2000
Notes: Released as a (popular) single in Europe back in 1999 when they reunited but never issued as a 45 over here, an overlooked pearl from the last album recorded by Annie and Dave.
Song: Last Orders
Artist: Jon Allen, England
Album: Sweet Defeat, 2011
Notes: A simple tender ballad about everlasting love by a British Folk tunesmith with an exceptional voice. Jon's an alumnus of the esteemed Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts founding by Paul McCartney. More at www.jonallensongs.co.uk.
Song: The Reason
Artist: Michael Castro, Rockwall, TX
Album: Fly Away EP, 2012
Notes: Too sad for words, a plaintive acoustic ballad about trying to make sense of another failed relationship, trying to find the reason behind the failure and the pain.
Song: Lost In Music
Artist: Sister Sledge, Philadelphia
Album: We Are Family, 1979
Notes: L&F goes disco! The mighty rhythm section of Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, architects of the '70s Chic disco sound on this overlooked dance classic. Independently, E & R went on to work with Robert Palmer, Madonna, Power Station, Ric Ocasek of the Cars, Depeche Mode and David Bowie among many others.
Artist: Jessie Baylin, Nashville
Album: Little Spark, 2012
Notes: Fab retro-tinged loungy folk jazz by an artiste influenced by the vintage sirens of song including Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. Worthwhile new album, her third, features a slew of top veteran session musicians including the great Jim Keltner and Waddy Wachtel. More at www.jessiebaylin.com.
Song: I’m Still Here
Artist: Tom Waits, Pomona, CA
Album: Alice, 2002
Notes: Two minutes of simple genius. Game over.
Song: Valley of the Dolls
Artist: Marina & The Diamonds, Wales
Album: Electra Heart, 2012
Notes: Brilliant electro-pop belter from her new offering. Marina doesn't have a backing band called the Diamonds: she merely uses that as an additional moniker derived from her Diamandis surname, also claiming that the Diamonds are her fans - a bit like Lady Gaga's Little Monsters except kinder and more flattering.
Song: She’s With Me
Artist: Don Williams, Floydada, TX
Album: And So It Goes, 2012
Notes: Too good (though a bit possessive perhaps in its lyrical bent), tender top-of-the-class balladry from the gentle giant of Country music now 73 years young. His first (and last?) new studio album in eight years.
Song: Song To The Siren
Artist: Alfie Boe/This Mortal Coil, England/England
Album: It'll End in Tears, 1984
Notes: A pair of updates of the timeless Tim Buckley gem, 'Song To The Siren', the first by Boe, an English opera singer and ace tenor, neatly stitched into the seminal cover treatment by 4AD label heroes, This Mortal Coil.