Song: The Fall
Artist: Brendan James, New York
Album: Brendan James, 2010
Notes: Melodic diamond about reuniting a love later in the year and a perfect song for the dawn of autumn. Brendan is a 30-something singer-songwriter, pianist originally from New Hampshire who performed around the East Village after working for three years at Urban Outfitters. Got his break when Carly Simon heard his demo recordings and wanted to collaborate.
Song: Come Out of the Shade
Artist: Perishers, Sweden
Album: Victorious, 2007
Notes: A lilting lost gem about feeling a love which is more than a mere friendship by the underrated Swedish indie-rockers. Fronted by the way-talented Ola Kluft - who has put the band on hiatus this year to work on a solo project.
Song: Message To My Love
Artist: Split Enz, New Zealand
Album: Conflicting Emotions, 1983
Notes: Written by Neil Finn who went on to find success with Crowded House and subsequently as a solo act. Neil joined Split Enz some years after it was originally formed by his older brother, Tim - Neil returned the favor when he formed Crowded House. The talented siblings also collaborated as the Finn Brothers on a couple of lovely albums.
Song: Oh My My
Artist: Act As If, Los Angeles
Album: The Iron Is Hot EP, 2012
Notes: Tight LA-based indie-rock quartet fronted by Peter Verdell and featuring Sara Lindsay on keyboards with a radio-ready upbeat cracker. Check out the longest kiss on the fun video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yMQMEFTdBU
Song: I Will Always Love You
Artist: Isaac Russell, Provo, UT
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: So sweet, simple but evocative. Following a bit of a major label feeding frenzy a couple of years ago, the tasteful tunesmith was snapped up by Columbia Records while he was still at high school. More at www.isaacrussell.com.
Song: The Moon and I
Artist: Linda Lewis, England
Album: Legends: Linda Lewis, 2005
Notes: Too good: pure vocals, pure songwriting, pure arrangements, pure execution by the five-octave songbird who makes the great, late Minnie Ripperton sound like Eddie Vedder - with a nasty cold. Hugely overlooked singer who was also much in-demand as a backing singer, worked with David Bowie, Al Kooper and Cat Stevens among many others. Written by Gilbert & Sullivan (not "O"!).
Song: Down on Rodeo
Artist: Lindsey Buckingham, Palo Alto, CA
Album: Under The Skin, 2006
Notes: Distinctive tremulous vocal on another lost jangly delight from his mostly under-appreciated fourth solo outing (though he originally wrote the song back in 1990). Scheduled to reunite with his Fleetwood Mac chums for one more trek next year.
Song: Virginia Moon
Artist: Foo Fighters, Seattle
Album: In Your Honor, 2005
Notes: Uncharacteristically mellow, a breezy almost bossa nova swing departure by the Seattle rockers. Lovely bunch of guys, Dave Grohl in particular is very down-to-earth, hard-working, one of the most professional chaps in music.
Song: The Bird That Follows Me
Artist: Strumbellas, Canada
Album: My Father and the Hunter
Notes: Fine rootsy folksy mountain music from their sterling freshman set. Deeply harmonic six-piece based in Toronto led by singer-guitarist, Simon Ward. More at www.thestrumbellas.ca.
Song: This World of Water
Artist: New Musik, England
Album: From A to B, 1980
Notes: Wacky but winning synth pop from way back when. London-based studio project assembled by clever producer/writer and keyboard whiz, Tony Mansfield - who went to helm discs for Naked Eyes, the B52s and Aztec Camera.
Artist: Angela McCluskey, Scotland
Album: Lambeth Palace EP, 2012
Notes: Yet another winner, themed on partnership, from one of the finest female singer-songwriter albums of the year. Angela also works with Telepopmusik and her own Wild Colonials combo (with her husband Paul Cantelon).
Song: Hurting For You
Artist: Todd Rundgren, Upper Darby, PA
Album: Hermit of Mink Hollow, 1978
Notes: A vintage, melodic pop-rock gem by Professor Todd from perhaps his most accessible and rewarding album over an illustrious and diverse career. Recorded at the legendary Bearsville Studios near Woodstock in New York state - which, was founded by Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman in the late '60s.
Artist: Phillip Phillips, Leesburg, GA
Album: Home (single), 2012
Notes: Sounding every bit like a sugar-coated Mumford, a surprisingly authentic Americana nugget by an alumnus from the dreaded 'American Idol' (no rules on L&F!) Should be a hit, written by Scottish tunesmith, Greg Holden.
Song: My Love
Artist: Lene Marlin, Norway
Album: Another Day, 2003
Notes: Fragile beauty, too good, too melodic, too sweet and conversely too haunting, for prime time. A lost diamond from the Norwegian singer-songwriters superb 2003 CD. Hard to believe from hearing this highly literate song, that more recently Lene co-wrote the title track 'Good Girl Gone Bad' for the multi-platinum album by Rihanna.
Artist: Billy Joel, Bronx, NY
Album: The Stranger, 1977
Notes: Too long to ever be ever released as a single (it remains his longest recorded track) - but it remains a catalog classic and a celebrated live staple in concert. The Italian eatery in question is Fontana di Trevi on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Joel claims that the memorable opening lines 'Bottle of white, bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rose instead' were actually spoken to him by a waiter at Fontana's.
Song: Take You Away
Artist: Cris Cab, Miami
Album: Foreword EP, 2011
Notes: Lovely blue-eyed, reggae-laced pop-soul by a promising newcomer from his freshman EP. Mentored by both Pharrell Williams and Wyclef Jean (indeed Cris' new in-concert album 'Live...In The Moment' features Wyclef on a cool version of 'No Woman No Cry').
Artist: Cary Brothers feat. Priscilla Ahn, Los Angeles
Album: Covers EP, 2012
Notes: Outstanding ballad, an extraordinary, unrecognizable reimagining of the raucous 2004 alternative-rock hit by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a new treatment from Cary's fabulous new collection of cover versions. Currently working on his third long-player to be issued next year.
Song: Bright Eyes
Artist: Humble & Flannigan, England
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: An engaging new folk duet by an obscure ad-hoc duo from London, Belle Humble and James Flannigan. Belle has found some success as a songwriter for others including Paloma Faith and Alexandra Burke but remains unsigned as a performer - James hangs Notting Hill performing in small clubs.
Song: Private Life
Artist: Pretenders, US/England
Album: The Pretenders, 1979
Notes: A mysteriously haunting but winning track, gloriously covered in a club reggae style by Grace Jones a year after the original was featured on the classic debut album by the much loved rock veterans which also contained their first two hits.
Artist: Jump, Little Children, Winston-Salem, NC
Album: Magazine, 1998
Notes: So much unrewarded unrecognized top-drawer fare by this North Carolina combo from its 15 years together (they disbanded in 2005) inclusive this ace, slightly possessive lost gem. Group was named after an old Brownie McGhee blues number.
Song: Sky’s Still Blue
Artist: Andrew Belle, Nashville
Album: The Daylight, EP, 2012
Notes: Another Coldplay-recalling corker by a singer-songwriter who should be a household name. Just a mystery as to why Belle still remains a mystery to radio at large, such an accessible and consistently creative singer-songwriter. More at www.andrewbelle.com.
Song: I Don’t Wanna Fight
Artist: Tina Turner, Nutbush, TN
Notes: A hit from 19 years ago but barely played on the airwaves these days, an absolute belter by Tina (co-written by Scottish songstress, Lulu - and originally offered to Sade). No new recordings from the now 72-year old Turner since 1999.
Artist: Churchill, Denver
Album: Change EP, 2012
Notes: Infectious stylings of Denver-based newcomers and the title number on their recent five-track EP. Acoustic indie five-piece which has been together for three years fronted by keyboardist singer, Bethany Kelly. More at www.thechurchillband.com.
Song: Faron Young
Artist: Prefab Sprout, England
Album: Steve McQueen, 1985
Notes: Rockabilly-tinged lost nugget by one of the most overlooked, literate melodic British pop-rock outfits ever, fronted by the gifted Paddy McAloon. Song is named after the legendary Country Music star though it's not about him, merely a reference to the singer and his classic 1971 song, 'Four In The Morning'.
Song: I’ll Love You
Artist: Andrea Davidson, Louisville, KY
Album: Inspirit EP, 2012
Notes: Outstanding new ballad: it takes a lot of confidence and a steady mind to write and perform a song this simple, this restrained, this perfect. A preview from the 20-something singer-songwriter/guitarist' upcoming EP. More at www.andreadavidson.net.
Song: Smile Big
Artist: Leftover Cuties, Venice, CA
Album: Smile Big (single), 2012
Notes: Enormous fun, a wacky 1920's inspired dance number which recently flew by completely unnoticed. Amazingly the group is unsigned, doing their own thing from their home base in Venice California, a way-cool five piece fronted by female vocalist Shirli McAllen who blew the roof off the dump at this year's SXSW.
Artist: Stereophonics, Wales
Notes: Another alt-rock winner from the Welsh band's best album. Group is celebrating its 20th year together, performed at a huge gig in Hyde Park in London as part of the celebrations inaugurating the Summer Olympics. Their eighth studio set should emerge before Xmas.
Song: He Came To Meet Me
Artist: Hem, New York
Album: Funnel Cloud, 2006
Notes: Lovely piano traces kissing the backing track on one of several fine recordings on their most rewarding CD. Under-appreciated eight-member alternative folk combo based in the Big Apple led by the sweet vocal stylings of Sally Ellyson.
Artist: Sting, England
Notes: The first solo recording made by Sting from some 30 years ago, a faithful vintage showhall performance which also neatly showcases his vocal prowess. A delightful cover version of a song written in 1929 by British composer, Vivian Ellis for his musical 'Mr. Cinders'.
Artist: Passenger, England
Album: All The Little Lights
Notes: English singer-songwriter Mike Roseberg, aka Passenger with one of a half-dozen top-drawer selections from his superb new album. Recently opened for Ed Sheeran.
Song: Hold Me
Artist: Kenny Rogers, Houston, TX
Notes: Written , produced and featuring backing vocals of Barry Gibb, too sad for words, a jilted lover pleading for one more touch, one more embrace, one more chance, sensitively executed by White Beard.
Song: Runaway Boys
Artist: Stray Cats, Massapequa, NY
Album: Stray Cats, 1981
Notes: Punkabilly rumbler ,the very first single by the Stray Cats, the one issued just before their breakout hits 'Rock This Town' and 'Stray Cat Strut'. Formed by native New Yorkers Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker in 1980 they introduced a whole new generation to the golden '50s rockabilly sound of Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Bill Haley.
Song: Keep Moving
Artist: Ivy, New York
Album: In The Clear, 2005
Notes: Super, easy rolling Modern Rock shuffler by the Big Apple-based trio which should be 10 times more popular than they are. They've created a fabulous canon of work since assembling in 1994 when multi-instrumentalists Andy Chase and Adam Schlesinger first invited French-born chanteuse, Dominique Durand, to record at their studio.
Song: Run For Home
Artist: Lindisfarne, England
Album: Back and Fourth, 1978
Notes: West Coast-sounding pop-rock vintage nugget by a band from England's industrial northern town of Newcastle. Group was fronted by the late singer-songwriter/guitarist, Alan Hull, and named after the lovely island of the same name off the English coast.