Song: Hey Little Girl
Artist: Icehouse, Australia
Album: Primitive Man, 1982
Notes: Catchy New Wave chugger by Aussie synth-pop rock act in the tradition of Roxy Music and Duran Duran. Band was a loose ensemble always revolving around one chap, singer-songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist, Iva Davies who was inducted into the Australian Rock Hall of Fame in 2006.
Song: Miles On A Car
Artist: Rachael Yamagata, Arlington, VA
Album: Chesapeake, 2011
Notes: Too good, one of several melodic highlights from one of the best lost albums of recent years, 'Chesapeake'. Her most mature and accessible collection to date, it was recorded at the home studio of top producer, John Alagia, on the Chesapeake Bay.
Song: Foreign Fields
Artist: Elton John vs. Pnau, England/Australia
Notes: Elton John's 1973 vocal 'High Flying Bird' reimagined, recreated, a downright clever resurrection by the young Australian duo of Peter Mayes and Nick Littlemore who've wrapped brand new electronic atmospherics and melodies around the original cut. Entire album is more of the cunning same.
Song: Left That Body Long Ago
Artist: Amy MacDonald, Scotland
Notes: Shades of Sinead O'Connor on this cracking slow burner from Amy's third long-player. The Scottish songstress is a big fan of fellow countrymen, Travis and also the Killers and the Libertines - and she's opened for U2.
Song: Two Hearts
Artist: Sam Gray, England
Album: Brighter Day, 2011
Notes: Recalling a simpler bobby-sox era, an A+ retro confection and an infectious but bittersweet gem tucked away on his freshman album. British tunesmith from Hull in the north of England, more at www.samgray.co.uk.
Song: Take Me Out Tonight
Artist: Angela MccLuskey feat. Morgan Page, Scotland
Album: Lambeth Palace ep, 2012
Notes: An electro rock diamond from Angela's superb new 9-track EP which is imbued with carefully-crafted moods and changing styles - all top-drawer textures. An official Congressional inquiry should be launched to figure out why she isn't a huge star (like Annie Lennox).
Song: Theme To The Newsroom
Artist: Thomas Newman, Los Angeles
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: 90 seconds of instrumental piano/orchestral magic by the great Newman and the delightful theme to the banner HBO series 'The Newsroom'. He's simply the best living film and television composer/arranger out there. Check out his discography on Wiki.
Artist: Rayland Baxter, Nashville
Album: Feathers & Fishhooks, 2012
Notes: Beautiful chorus, such a sweet but earnest number from his new terrific new album. Charmingly, his father, Bucky Baxter - who's played with Dylan, Ryan Adams and Steve Earle among many others- is featured on steel guitar on his son's long-player.
Song: The Hop
Artist: Radio Citizen & Bajka, Germany
Album: 20 Years of Ubiquity, 2010
Notes: Such an irresistible groove, a funky Dub-step hip-hop outing combining the talents of two acts based in Berlin. The uber-cool Ubiquity indie in California is a top rare groove, jazz, soul, hip-hop club label, always releasing marvelous left-field material - check them out at www.ubiquityrecords.com.
Song: Old Pine
Artist: Ben Howard, England
Album: Every Kingdom, 2011
Notes: Deft guitar work and a top-drawer organic vocal style by a tunesmith beginning to receive the notice he deserves. One of several shimmering cuts on his debut album which was originally released last year and first heard in the US on L&F.
Song: Forever Wherever
Artist: Andrew Jed, Santa Monica, CA
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: A fab new shuffler by another underrated indie singer-songwriter who was formerly lead guitarist for the Newcomers Home band in Colorado for a decade. Fluent on the guitar, mandolin and banjo, a top fret worker.
Song: Bad Bad World
Artist: Guster, Boston
Album: Easy Wonderful, 2010
Notes: Despite its title, a rather sunny, optimistic offering from the sturdy Boston-based quartet. They've been recording highly accessible, melodic indie rock on six albums for just over a decade, but still flying too far under the satellites.
Song: Mad World
Artist: Tears For Fears, England
Album: The Hurting, 1982
Notes: The original and still the best. Subsequently covered to great success by the pairing of Gary Jules and Michael Andrews in 2001 for the 'Donnie Darko' movie and also updated by dozens of other acts over the years (though the 'Glee' cast ruined it last year).
Song: In The Winter
Artist: Janis Ian, New York
Album: Between The Lines, 1975
Notes: Melodramatic melancholia from way back, some bittersweet vintage singer-songwriter magic by Janis. Written about a girl left alone after her partner has moved on to marry someone else. Ian performed her signature tune, 'At Seventeen' on the very first 'Saturday Night Live'.
Artist: Hurricane Bells, New York
Album: Bodega Strings EP, 2012
Notes: A wacky electro-fused winner, an unusual and rather crafty remix of an otherwise Americana nugget originally featured on Hurricane Bell's 'Tides and Tales' album released last year. More at www.hurricanebells.com.
Artist: Beat, England
Album: I Just Can't Stop It, 1980
Notes: A cool ska treatment of the classic Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman composition made famous by Andy Williams in the '60s. The (English) Beat proved to be a fertile apprenticeship shop: Andy Cox and David Steele subsequently formed the Fine Young Cannibals while Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger went on to perform as General Public.
Song: Pretending The Stars
Artist: Mindy Smith, Nashville
Album: Mindy Smith, 2012
Notes: New cracker by perhaps the most authentic and tuneful Americana songstress out there, one of four absolute corkers gracing her recent eponymous album. Strongly supported by Dolly Parton at the dawn of her career.
Song: Beginning Of The End
Artist: Steve Moakler, Pittsburgh, PA
Album: Watching Time Run, 2011
Notes: A+ piano-led ballad from horribly under-appreciated Pittsburgh tunesmith. Steve played in a couple of bands as a teenager, went solo at just 18, still unsigned: how is that possible. More at www.stevemoakler.com.
Song: You Told A Lie
Artist: Camera Obscura, Scotland
Album: My Maudlin Career, 2009
Notes: Neatly rolling indie-pop from the land of golf and whiskey, showcasing the glorious crystal clear sound of lead vocalist, Tracyann Campbell. Nice strings arrangement by Bjorn from Peter, Bjorn and John.
Song: The Telephone Call
Artist: Kraftwerk, Germany
Album: Electric Caf�, 1987
Notes: Infectious, crisp, teutonic tones from the undisputed pioneers of electronic rock who influenced hundreds of acts which followed including Depeche Mode, the Human League and New Order. Duo of Ralf H�tter and Florian Scheider formed Kraftwerk way back in 1970 - and way ahead of their time.
Song: The Call
Artist: Regina Spektor, Russia
Notes: Imbued with just the right amount of innocence, simple melodies, child-like vocals, thoughtful lyrics, all beautifully executed by Spektor. So many lost gems in the Russian-born singer-songwriter/pianist's catalog. She remains delightfully unclassifiable.
Artist: Allo Darlin', England/Australia
Album: Europe, 2012
Notes: Fun breezy music recalling the carefree days of London's Carnaby Street in the 1960s. The half-British half-Australian indie-pop quartet is fronted by Aussie vocalist and songwriter Elizabeth Morris who used to be lead singer of the similarly sounding twee-pop combo, Tender Trap.
Song: Love Is Always Seventeen
Artist: David Gates, Tulsa, OK
Notes: Exquisite Country-laced vocal honey from Gates with a tender love-lorn stroll around the defining numbers and years of a normal life. This is the original version from a long-deleted album (an updated treatment can be found on incomparable tunesmith's 'Songbook' collection).
Song: The Matches
Artist: Perennials, Spokane, WA
Album: Stories, 2012
Notes: Ethereal winner from their maiden album, showcasing the husband and wife harmonies of Amanda and Pete Wells with drummer Aaron Hamel, a trio from Spokane. Stream all tracks from the 10-song set at www.theperennials.net.
Song: Heart on Fire
Artist: Taylor Mathews, Alexandria, VA
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: 20-year old newcomer with a smart new pop bubbler. Now based in Hollywood, the singer-songwriter began playing guitar and composing tunes at the age of 13 much influenced by the likes of Jason Mraz, Mat Kearney and that fine Irish band, the Script.
Song: Golly Sandra
Artist: Eisley, Tyler, TX
Album: Room Noises, 2005
Notes: Delightful indie-rock strummer by a band originally known first as the Towheads and then the Moss Eisley (after a town in Star Wars). Another family combo, four siblings and a cousin, three gals and a couple of lads all from Texas.
Artist: James Ingram & Michael McDonald, Akron OH/St. Louis MO
Album: It's Your Night, 1983
Notes: Rare remix of the mighty 1983 R&B/pop smash (originally produced by Quincy Jones) by another top helmsman, Jellybean Benitez. Co-written by Rod Temperton - who also penned 'Thriller' for MJ.
Song: Living It Up
Artist: Rickie Lee Jones, Chicago, IL
Album: Pirates, 1981
Notes: Jones at her very best with a filmic, Hollywood-based bohemian mini-movie of a song, a lost ruby buried on her sophomore LP.
Artist: Massive Attack, England
Album: Mezzanine, 1998
Notes: Still sounding fresh and relevant 15 years later, such rich and original aural textures. A haunting heartbeat trip-hop classic (subsequently used in its instrumental form as the theme to the already much-missed hit medical drama tv series, 'House').
Song: Be My Number Two
Artist: Joe Jackson, England
Album: Body and Soul, 1984
Notes: Neat ballad by an artist best known for his new wavish 'Is She Really Going Out With Him? hit and the more jazz-flavored, 'Steppin' Out'. Joe has neatly moved around several genres over the years including pop and rock, jazz, avant-garde and classical.
Song: Cooling of the Embers
Artist: Missy Higgins, Australia
Album: The Ol' Razzle Dazzle
Notes: From her terrific new album, but too sad for words: painful, all-too-real observations about an ailing parent suffering from dementia and heading towards life's end, slipping away.
Song: Pull Up The Bumper
Artist: Grace Jones, Jamaica
Album: Nightclubbing, 1981
Notes: Top R&B shuffler and a similar rhythm vibe to 'Genius of Love' by the Tom Tom Club (which came out around the same time). Jones was pushing the boundaries of fashion and dance music and generally being wonderfully provocative when Lady Gaga was still in a stroller.
Song: New Shoes
Artist: Paolo Nutini, Scotland
Album: These Streets, 2006
Notes: Got a few spins a few years ago but not enough. Signature song by the Scottish singer-songwriter. An engaging number which was also used in an international TV commercial for Puma footwear company in 2007. Italian name but fourth generation Scottish.
Song: Anime Rising
Artist: Caroline Lavelle, England
Album: Brilliant Midnight, 2001
Notes: Extremely tender and quiet with lovely Celtic instrumentation which kisses the bridge. British singer-songwriter and top cellist, an alumnus of the esteemed Royal College of Music in London. Lavelle has worked with the Pogues, Massive Attack, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead and the Cranberries among many others.