Artist: Cider Sky, Los Angeles
Album: Fall (single), 2012
Notes: Simply superb, why wasn't radio at large all over this catchy Modern Rock bubbler released in the spring? Act is an electro-acoustic duo based in Los Angeles fronted by a female singer from Hamilton, Canada- who has a boy's name: Simon Wilcox.
Song: The Hardest Part
Artist: Coldplay, England
Album: X&Y, 2005
Notes: Driving guitar work and piano rolls on this underrated nugget too good. Song was written as a tribute to Michael Stipe and R.E.M. Check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tp0r9197uo.
Song: Better Weather
Artist: Good Old War, Philadelphia
Album: Come Back As Rain, 2012
Notes: Delightful country/folk/pop from a tight trio from Philly who name themselves from taking abbreviated words in each of their surnames. More at www.goodoldwar.com.
Song: Taking You Home
Artist: Don Henley, Gilmer, TX
Album: Inside Job, 2000
Notes: A seamlessly constructed, highly romantic A+ ballad by a musical perfectionist. Never even made the top 50 on Billboard Hot 100.
Song: Gimme Twice
Artist: Royal Concept, Sweden
Album: The Royal Concept EP, 2012
Notes: Brand new alt-rock corker, with heavy shades of the Phoenix hit, '1901' - though the band is from Sweden. They only settled on their band name in the spring - switching from the Concept Store.
Song: Devil’s Ball
Artist: Double, Switzerland
Album: Double, 1987
Notes: Steeped in an '80s synth-pop style, a lost gem by Swiss male vocal/instrumental duo Kurt Maloo Meier and Felix Hug who were based out of Zurich. Big hit with 'The Captain of Her Heart'. Haug passed away in 2004.
Song: Here Tonight
Artist: Jon Allen, England
Album: Sweet Defeat, 2011
Notes: A beautiful McCartney-esque performance by an English Folk singer-songwriter blessed with such a pure vocal style. Jon is a graduate of the Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts - founded by Macca. More at www.jonallensongs.co.uk.
Song: Touch Back Down
Artist: Catherine Feeny, Portland, OR
Album: Hurricane Glass, 2006
Notes: Bloody brilliant - why wasn't this a smash? A top-drawer ballad by under-appreciated songstress. Catherine was signed to EMI for a while, but was subsequently dropped - obviously too talented. She's opened for the likes of Suzanne Vega, Dr. John and Martha Wainright.
Artist: Turin Brakes, England
Album: Ether Song, 2003
Notes: The duo of Gale Paridjanian and Olly Knight from London, pioneers of the splendid New Acoustic Movement genre which emerged in Britain in the late '90s. Six extremely worthwhile long-players by them over the past decade: Dave Grohl, who is constantly fighting foo, is also a big fan.
Artist: Amy MacDonald, Scotland
Notes: One of several fine Celtic rumblers on her third album. A self-taught songstress who was inspired to take up music after seeing fellow Scottish band, Travis in concert. Recently played five shows around Scotland over a 24-hour period: some fun footage of that achievement on her website www.amymacdonald.co.uk.
Song: Open Road
Artist: Matthew Mayfield, Birmingham, AL
Notes: Superb atmospheric soundscapes graced by his distinctive gritty, soulful vocal. Look out for an autumn tour by Mayfield - well worth a gander in concert - dates at www.matthewmayfield.com.
Song: All My Days
Artist: Alexi Murdoch, England
Notes: Nifty acoustic guitar work and erudite composition, an evocative, organic gems which has been used a few times on screen including the always musically reliable 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Scrubs'.
Song: Uncertain Smile
Artist: The The, England
Album: Soul Mining, 1983
Notes: Ex-Squeeze keyboardist and BBC TV presenter, Jools Holland on the ivories backing up Matt Johnson who performed under the name The The on an excellent lost corker.
Song: Sun Drips
Artist: Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Austin, TX
Notes: Dreamy shoe-gazing folk rock from curiously named band. The Austin-based quartet is firmly led by their main songwriter, Mike Lee, who also produces all their repertoire. Mercifully their website is abbreviated to www.lettingup.com.
Song: Never Let Her Slip Away
Artist: Andrew Gold, Burbank, CA
Notes: This week's guilty pleasure, a delightful, deeply harmonious pop nugget which only managed a low chart placing back in 1978, never made the top 50. Gold was one of the West Coast's most successful pop/rock tunesmiths during the late '70s with hits like 'Thank You For Being A Friend' and 'Lonely Boy'. Andrew passed away too soon at the age of 59 in 2011.
Song: Sleeping With A Stranger
Artist: Matthew Perryman Jones, Nashville
Album: Land of the Living, 2012
Notes: Another dreamy pearl extracted from his subtle, plaintive new album which was largely funded by his devoted fan base. Matthew polished off some fab US dates with L&F preferred vendor, Katie Herzig in the spring and has some upcoming gigs around the country in September. More at www.mpjmusic.com.
Artist: Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band, England
Album: Classic Brass, 1989
Notes: A blissfully melodic 90-second instrumental break by musically inclined coal mining brass band from Yorkshire in the north of England. Featured in a British tv commercial for Hovis Bread in 1973 - which was an immaculately fashioned spot directed by the great Ridley Scott.
Song: Heart’s Content
Artist: Brandi Carlile, Ravensdale, WA
Album: Bear Creek, 2012
Notes: A sweet chorus, a simple ditty from her excellent recent album which is her most organic and roosty outing to date and on which she's wisely restrained her otherwise phenomenal and powerful vocal style (if only someone had advised Michael Bolton to do the same in his hey-day).
Song: The Starting Line
Artist: Keane, England
Notes: Back in their comfort zone another melodic melter from their fourth CD. The album was partly recorded at the legendary RAK Studios in London which has been the creative base for a whole host of top UK talent since opening in 1976 including McCartney, Radiohead and Adele.
Song: New York For Life
Artist: Jovanotti, Italy
Album: Italia 1988-2012, 2012
Notes: Quirky, short diatribe about longing for the great cosmopolitan stew that is New York city while stuck in LA by a middle-aged Italian singer-songwriter and sometime rapper, a musical legend in his home country.
Song: When It Comes
Artist: Tyler Hilton, Palm Springs, CA
Notes: Every track on this album is a winner. One of L&F's favorite singer-songwriters of the past 10 years. More at www.tylerhilton.com.
Artist: Staves, England
Album: Mexico EP, 2011
Notes: Sweet harmonious honey on a largely overlooked cut by indie-folk trio of sisters, Emily, Jessica and Camilla Stavely-Taylor. They've opened for the likes of the Civil Wars and Bon Iver.
Artist: Fun, New York
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: A rare acoustic version of a rousing anthem from their recent breakthrough album. Indie pop trio from the Big Apple fronted by the energetic Nate Ruess.
Song: Emotion in Motion
Artist: Ric Ocasek, Baltimore, MD
Album: This Side of Paradise, 1986
Notes: Simple, uncomplicated, first-class melodic pop-rock from former Cars lead mechanic. The group reformed last year releasing their seventh studio album and undertaking a short tour - but their comeback fizzled out.
Song: Into The Fire
Artist: Foy Vance, N. Ireland
Album: Melrose EP, 2012
Notes: Sweet, understated gem by the Belfast tunesmith who's like a falsetto version of Ray Lamontagne. Performed alongside Pete Townshend and Snow Patrol and released a bunch of worthwhile EPs and one album since 2005.
Artist: Metric, Canada
Notes: One of several first-rate electro-rock numbers on the fifth album by Canadian combo fronted by Emily Haines, who recently said to Spin magazine that their new release was 'about forcing yourself to confront what you see in the mirror when you finally stand still long enough to catch a reflection.'
Song: Wake Up Everybody
Artist: Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Philadelphia
Album: Wake Up Everybody
Notes: An old-school slice of impeccable Philly soul with a fine message for society. Harold was the original band founder and leader, but the voice and focal point of his group was the mighty Teddy Pendergrass - who was originally their drummer. Both passed away too soon.
Song: Mourning Dove
Artist: Green Pitch, Denmark
Album: Awake, 2011
Notes: A soft acoustic diamond by an intensely tuneful four-piece acoustic group from Copenhagen. Super-cute video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdo1IhdZI3E.
Song: Straight From The Heart
Artist: Richard Marx, Chicago
Album: Days in Avalon, 2000
Notes: Sweet and simple, a terrific lost gem by the king of the bouffant '80s hair style and signature ballad hits. Marx was very enlightening in discussing his song craft on an excellent PBS series called 'Songwriters In The Round' a few years ago.
Artist: Bread, Los Angeles
Album: Guitar Man, 1972
Notes: A mournful tale about unrequited love, written and sung by the great David Gates for his legendary, melodic West Coast combo, Bread.
Song: Family Man
Artist: Roachford, England
Album: Roachford, 1988
Notes: Long forgotten R&B rock corker from little-known British singer, Andrew Roachford who stepped in as a vocalist for Mike & The Mechanics a couple of living years ago.
Song: Open Up Your Arms
Artist: Ren Harvieu, England
Album: Through The Night, 2012
Notes: Neat juxtaposition of contemporary lyrics with a soaring, vintage orchestral arrangement which wraps around her glorious vocal. Originally discovered on myspace.com, glorious maiden album by new English chanteuse.
Artist: Jules Larson, Los Angeles
Album: Let's Stay Young, 2012
Notes: Another terrific ballad by the Los Angeles-based indie-pop songstress. She's taken the solo road over the past couple of years having previously fronted the Overnight Lows. More at www.juleslarson.com.
Song: Soul Drifter
Artist: Lindsey Buckingham, Palo Alto, CA
Album: Out of the Cradle, 1992
Notes: Too good for prime time, the unmistakable guitar genius and vocal inflections of Fleetwood Mac stalwart. Look for a reunion with Nicks and the Mac next year.