Artist: Family of the Year, Los Angeles
Album: Luma Vista, 2012
Notes: Note perfect pop-rock, a sweet union of top notch melodies and smart lyrics. Indie folksters formed just three years ago by Welsh brothers, Joseph and Sebastian Keefe though the group is based in Los Angeles. Already opened for the likes of Ben Folds and Edward Sharpe. More at www.familyoftheyear.net.
Song: Maple Tree
Artist: Angel Taylor, Los Angeles
Album: Love Travels, 2009
Notes: A glorious angelic ballad by a L&F favorite. Angel is a 20-something songstress based in LA, just one EP and one album to date, the latter, the impeccable 'Love Travels' from three years ago. Currently working on her sophomore set.
Song: Dum Dum Girl
Artist: Talk Talk, England
Album: It's My Life, 1984
Notes: So much first-rate overlooked music in Talk Talk's archive, Talk Talk who were arguably the finest band to emerge from the UK New Wave synth-pop scene in the 1980s. Fronted by the enigmatic musical genius, Mark Hollis (who recently re-emerged with an instrumental piece which played over the closing credits of the excellent Stars cable drama tv series, 'Boss'.
Song: Think of You
Artist: Jon Allen, England
Album: Sweet Defeat, 2011
Notes: So sweet, lovely organ runs on this understated lost gem by a folk-rock tunesmith from the west of England who took up drums and guitar while still in high school. Jon has opened for the likes of Mark Knopfler, Seal and Emmylou Harris but has yet to receive the mainstream love he deserves.
Artist: Kate Walsh, England
Album: Light & Dark, 2009
Notes: An endearing acoustic lost pearl by a sorely under-appreciated English songstress who is Also a dab hand on the cello, and a fan of Debussy. Each of her five albums contains similarly literate and breezy folk-rock numbers.
Artist: Steve Moakler, Nashville
Album: Watching Time Run, 2011
Notes: Why isn't Moakler better known,? - he consistently crafts A+ melodic pop-rock delights. Originally from Pittsburgh but now unsurprisingly Nashville-based - been recording and touring for some five years. Lots of cool 'one-take' video clips available at www.stevemoakler.com.
Song: Twist In My Sobriety
Artist: Tanita Tikaram, Germany
Album: Ancient Heart, 1988
Notes: First-rate, moody nugget with a charmingly dark, sober texture. Born in M�nster, Germany, raised by an Indo-Fijian father and Malaysian mother, her family relocated to the UK when she was a teenager . Left university before graduating to begin a professional career in music.
Song: Will You
Artist: Hazel O'Connor, England
Notes: A late night "will he stay or will he go" lost pop melter featuring perhaps the finest extended sax solo in popular music history. The alto sax runs performed by Wesley Magoogan who went on to join the English Beat for a while, though, tragically, he had an unfortunate accident with a circular saw in which several fingers of his fingers were cut off. The song was featured in the movie, 'Breaking Glass' in which Hazel also starred.
Artist: Naomi, Germany
Album: Everyone Loves You, 2000
Notes: Smart electronica pop from the German duo of Nico Wirtz and Bernd Lechler, aka Naomi. Working together since the late '90s, based in Berlin, they recorded this first CD in their apartment studio. Song previously used by Amnesty International.
Artist: Soggy Bottom Boys, Nashville
Notes: The signature song from the hit Coen Brothers movie. Although mimed to by George Clooney and his acting chums in the film, it was recorded by three of Nashville's finest bluegrass musicians, Dan Tyminski (from Alison Krauss' band, Union Station), Harley Allen and Pat Enright. The bluegrass standard was crafted from a traditional Irish jig by American folk fiddler, Dick Burnett, in 1913.
Song: I Got You
Artist: Split Enz, New Zealand
Album: True Colours, 1980
Notes: Evergreen New Wave-tinged nugget subsequently voted the 11th Best New Zealand Song of all Time in their home country in a poll undertaken some 10 years ago. Features both Neil and his brother Tim Finn on vocals.
Song: Dreams So Real
Artist: Metric, Canada
Album: Synthetica, 2012
Notes: Strong lyrics in a dark electronic rock musing from their latest winning album. The Canadian indie-rockers remain one of the most creative and worthwhile acts from north of the border, named Group of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards.
Song: Little Hitler
Artist: Everything But The Girl, England
Notes: Such a clever contrast of sweet melodies and an acerbic lyrical bent about heartless, small-minded control freak bureaucrats (though it can also be applied to traffic wardens). Although the husband/wife duo of Tracy Thorn and Ben Watt have no plans for any new EBTG recordings, Tracy has a Xmas solo album set for release next month.
Song: Crucify Your Mind
Artist: Sixto Rodriguez, Detroit
Album: Cold Fact, 1970
Notes: Sterling singer-songwriting from the tunesmith who was the subject of the superb summer documentary, 'Searching For Sugarman' (which should win Grammy and Oscar nods for best doc). Unaware of his superstar status in South Africa during the apartheid years, rediscovered alive and well after two longtime South African fans decided to find out what happened to him.
Artist: Marit Larsen, Norway
Notes: Terrific extended bridge and vague shades of Dolly Parton's vocal style. An infectious chart-topper in her home country, she's barely known outside Northern Europe. Proficient on piano, guitar, violin, mandolin and writes all of her own material, began recording at the age of 13.
Song: Water and a Flame
Artist: Daniel Merriweather and Adele, Australia/England
Album: Love & War, 2009
Notes: A rarely played lost soul/pop gem featuring Adele was written and co-sung by the blue-eyed Australian R&B singer (and produced by Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse).
Song: Can’t Keep It In
Artist: Cat Stevens, England
Album: Catch Bull at Four, 1972
Notes: Ten Top 40 hits for the venerable Cat between 1971 and 1975 - but this corker slipped through the cracks. Now 64 years old and long known under his converted name Yusef Islam, he premiered his 'Moonshadow' musical in Melbourne, Australia earlier this year to strong reviews.
Song: Broken Things
Artist: Gabriel Powell, Albany, GA
Album: Albany, 2007
Notes: A sublime cover of a 1999 Julie Miller original, the soulful young talent from south Georgia nails this exquisite ballad. Taken from his outstanding freshman album, brimming with choice, tasteful material. More at www.gabrielpowell.com.
Song: Edge of A Dream
Artist: Sarah Jarosz, Austin, TX
Album: Song Up In Her Head, 2009
Notes: Laid-back banjo plucking gracing another winner by a young lady who is simply too talented for prime time. Born in Austin she picked up the mandolin at the age of 10 and hasn't looked back. Two sensational albums to her name thus far - and still only 21.
Artist: Peter Tosh feat. Mick Jagger, Jamaica
Album: Bush Doctor, 1978
Notes: Rock steady fun with Peter Tosh from way back when by the former Wailer joined by Sir Michael. Legendary Jamaican rhythm section, Robbie Shakespeare and Sly Dunbar on fine form throughout that album (which also featured guest guitar work from Keith Richards).
Song: Life’s For The Living
Artist: Passenger, England
Album: All The Little Lights, 2012
Notes: Lovely horns arrangement gracing a lyrically smart ditty by Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, a highly literate wordsmith and tunesmith from the south of England, but now mostly based in Australia.
Song: Nobody’s Diary
Artist: Yazoo, England
Album: You and Me, Both, 1983
Notes: Former Depeche Mode co-founder Vince Clarke on keyboards with the utterly wonderful Alison Moyet (the original Adele) on vocals. Vince and Alison got together as Yazoo (aka Yaz) for a brief three-year partnership, yielding just two synth-pop albums, both winners.
Song: Every Day
Artist: Stevie Nicks, Phoenix, AZ
Album: Trouble In Shangri La, 2001
Notes: A lost melodic corker from the inimitable Stevie - who is scheduled to reunite with her Fleetwood Mac chums for another tour next year (sadly, sans Christine McVie).
Song: How Do You Ruin Me?
Artist: Black Prairie, Portland, OR
Notes: Lovely chanson Franco-phile accordion and strings gracing this haunting new number from their sophomore album. Bluegrass quintet from Portland Oregon, formed some five years ago, they blew the roof off the dump at this year's SXSW.
Song: Private Revolution
Artist: World Party, Wales
Album: Private Revolution, 1986
Notes: A splendid rolling groove from their debut album. Band fronted by the eco-conscious Karl Wallinger (who was way ahead of his time, frequently extolling the virtues of recycling and sustainable living in his art long before it became fashionable).
Song: Don’t Slow Down
Artist: UB40, England
Album: Present Arms, 1981
Notes: Mellow reggae with lovely languorous horns. Lead singer, Ali Campbell quit the band in 2008 having fronted some 70 million record sales worldwide during a 30+ year association with the Birmingham, England based combo.
Song: This Heart of Mine
Artist: Wailin' Jennys, Canada
Album: Firecracker, 2006
Notes: Top-notch nu-folk bluegrass by the all-female trio of Ruth Moody (who wrote this number) with Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse, collectively and affectionately named after Country legend, Waylon Jennings. More at www.thewailinjennys.com.
Song: What Went Wrong?
Artist: Until June, Hollywood, CA
Album: Young and Foolish, 2012
Notes: So catchy and well crafted, released as a single a few months ago but not getting the love it deserves. Strong melodic Modern Rock chops of a band who had a bit of hit five years ago with 'What I've Done'. More at www.untiljune.com.
Song: Until The Morning
Artist: Lost Brothers, England
Notes: Haunting reverbed backdrop and restrained horns: an atypical curiosity from an otherwise high Country/Bluegrass set. They're the unrelated Irish duo of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland. Album released on American tunesmith, Brendan Benson's ace Readymade Records.
Artist: Patty Griffin, Old Town, ME
Album: A Kiss In Time, 2003
Notes: Too sad for words, penned about a woman struggling to get away from a relationship gone south, drenched beneath clouds of disappointment. A top-drawer live rendition recorded in concert at the iconic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Artist: Donkeyboy, Norway
Album: Caught In A Life, 2009
Notes: An infectious confection and a chart-topping indie-pop smash in their home country, but a secret song elsewhere. Group was snapped up by Warners Bros., after someone at the company found them on myspace.
Song: Senza una Donna
Artist: Zucchero feat. Paul Young, Italy
Album: Zu & Co., 2004
Notes: The definitive re-recording of a tune he originally wrote and recorded on his own in 1987, updated here in 1991 by the Italian superstar in duet with Paul Young. One of 18 superb collaborations on his 'duets' album also featuring the likes of Miles Davis, Sting, Eric Clapton, Cheb Mami and Jeff Beck.
Song: No Other Plans
Artist: Jillian Edwards, Waco, TX
Album: Headfirst EP, 2011
Notes: Too sweet and too good for prime time from a recent L&F preferred artiste. A beautiful swayer and yet another winner tucked away on her 'Headfirst' EP. More at www.facebook.com/jillianedwardsmusic.