Song: Hold On
Artist: Shore, Silverlake, CA
Album: The Shore, 2004
Notes: So expansive and melodic, how on earth was this not a hit: about as rock solid a radio song as you'll ever hear by the under-appreciated BritPop sounding California combo ably fronted by singer-songwriter, Ben Ashley. Signed for a few minutes to Madonna's Maverick label in 2004.
Artist: Shannon McNally, Long Island
Album: Geronimo, 2005
Notes: Top-drawer singer-songwriting on an A+ Americana/Country lost corker from her 2005 outing which is dripping with lost country, blues and soul gems. Now based in Oxford, Mississippi where she frequently performs at the Rooster's Blues House. More at www.shannonmcnally.com.
Song: Tomorrow Morning
Artist: Blue Nile, Scotland
Album: Peace At Last, 1996
Notes: A strumming winner showcasing the songwriting chops and distinctive vocal class of mainman, Paul Buchanan. He formed Blue Nile some 30 years ago in his native Scotland, but takes his time recording new material: only released four Blue Nile albums over three decades (all top-notch), though a solo project emerged earlier this year, 'Mid-Air' released on his own Newsroom label.
Song: Thieves and Their Hands
Artist: Rachael Cantu, Los Angeles
Album: Far and Wide, 2009
Notes: Curious but infectious indie-pop, a breezy bubbler by the LA-based songstress who's opened for the likes of B.B. King, Ben Lee and the wonderful Tegan and Sara.
Song: 9,000 Days
Artist: Overtone feat. Yollandi Nortjie, South Africa
Notes: A+ ballad written by the South African all-male vocal sextet about Mandela's 25 years of incarceration during the brutal Apartheid regime - and made even better by the graceful guest vocals of Yollandi Nortjie. Overtone was asked to perform songs for the 'Invictus' movie after being spotted performing in Cape Town by Dina Eastwood the wife of director Clint.
Artist: Tegan and Sara, Canada
Album: Closer (single), 2012
Notes: Should be a huge multi-format smash, all the bases covered. Identical twins now in their early '30s, they began performing together at the age of 15 under the name Plunk. Initially signed to Neil Young's Vapor Records label and have released five fascinating and increasingly successful albums since bowing in 2000.
Song: Me and Tennessee
Artist: Gwyneth Paltrow & Tim McGraw, Los Angeles/Delhi, LA
Notes: Written for his wife Gwyneth by Coldplay's Chris Martin, a first-class Country corker which somehow wasn't even a hit on the Country chart let alone the main Hot 100 survey. Gwyneth had an earlier hit with Huey Lewis on a perky pop cover of a Smokey Robinson's, 'Cruisin'' in 2000.
Song: All My Days
Artist: Alexi Murdoch, Scotland
Notes: First-rate acoustic musing by one of the most literate and tuneful acoustic troubadours out there. Born in London but brought up in Scotland from the age of 10, he relocated to the States to attend Duke University in the early '90s - now lives in La La.
Artist: Electric Light Orchestra, England
Album: Secret Messages, 1983
Notes: Long after their career had peaked, ELO were still making top-drawer melodic pop rock including this highly melodic lost nugget. Lead singer and songwriter of all their material, the prolific Jeff Lynne focused his considerable talents in the area of production, helming ace albums for the likes of George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Randy Newman. Catch up with Jeff at www.jefflynne.com to preview his new solo album.
Song: Everyone's Waiting
Artist: Missy Higgins, Australia
Album: The Ol' Razzle Dazzle, 2012
Notes: Sensational new ballad, Missy never disappoints, always earnest and true. From her third album (but the first in five years) already number 1 album back in her home country of Australia. Co-produced by her friend and another fine songstress, Butterfly Boucher.
Song: Shine Your Light
Artist: Robbie Robertson, Canada
Album: Ladder 49 Soundtrack, 2004
Notes: Much overlooked gem by Robbie recorded specifically for the firefighters movie starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta. Five superb solo albums since his legendary combo, the Band dissolved in 1976.
Song: Courage Is...
Artist: Strange Familiar, Los Angeles
Album: You Can't Go Back, 2008
Notes: Easy on the ears, prominently used in the trailers for the ABC Family network's 'The Secret Life Of An American Teenager' in 2008. Kira Leyden and Jeff Andrea began making music together in the sixth grade at high school, they relocated as adults from Ohio to Los Angeles in 2007, married and added a couple of other band members.
Song: Merry Go 'Round
Artist: Kacey Musgraves, Golden, TX
Notes: An unabashed blue collar Country tale but with a charming lilt, clever lyrics and some plucky banjo. Texan gal in her early '20s just getting started on her career, opened for Lady Antebellum on a tour of Great Britain earlier this year and tipped for big things.
Artist: Al Green, Forrest City, AR
Album: Let's Stay Together, 1972
Notes: Green's sublime cover of the Bee Gees' classic, this extraordinary version rightly used in a brace of top movies over the years ('Good Will Hunting', 'Notting Hill' and 'The Book of Eli' etc., but never a hit in its own right.
Song: The Losing Touch
Artist: Trent Dabbs, Nashville
Album: The Losing Touch, 2012
Notes: Lovely piano rolls on this restrained mellow performance by L&F preferred vendor Dabbs. One of several worthwhile cuts on is new album which is a collection of past singles and rarities. Do check out www.10outoften.com.
Song: Close To Me
Artist: Cure, England
Album: The Head on The Door, 1985
Notes: A claustrophobic winner, huge hit in Ireland and Australia when it came out in 1985, but only peaked at #97 on the Hot 100. Despite not recording any new material, the band reunited for a headlining festival tour around Europe earlier this year.
Artist: Courrier, Austin, TX
Album: A Violent Flame, 2011
Notes: Strong, no-nonsense melodic lost pearl featuring the lovely honeyed grit in the vocal style of lead singer, Austin Jones. Influenced by Radiohead and Coldplay, more at www.courriermusic.com.
Artist: Nelly Furtado feat. the Kenyan Boys Choir, Canada/Kenya
Album: Spirit Indestructible, 2012
Notes: An atypical, lovely World Music blending nugget tucked away at the close of her otherwise predictably pop/R&B chugging new album, featuring the utterly splendid Kenyan Boys Choir.
Artist: Flash & The Pan, Australia
Album: Flash & The Pan, 1979
Notes: One of the more peculiar but rewarding songs written about the sinking of the Titanic, 100 years ago. The Aussie combo were Harry Vanda and George Young (George is the older brother of Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC): Harry and George were formerly in the '60s group, the Easybeats.
Song: What You Are
Artist: Greencards, Austin, TX
Album: Weather and Water, 2005
Notes: Another newgrass winner by a band which retains a first-rate organic sensibility in their repertoire. Much loved by fellow musicians, both Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan have personally requested that the Greencards open tours for them.
Song: Someday We'll Know
Artist: New Radicals, Los Angeles
Notes: Gregg Alexander, aka the New Radicals' with the unheralded followup to what became the group's only hit - and their signature song - the evergreen' You Get What You Give'. Alexander unexpectedly announced the breakup of his group the week before the followup was released.
Song: Never Ending Happening
Artist: Bill Fay, England
Album: Life Is People, 2012
Notes: With almost Johnny Cash/Leonard Cohen-ish inflections, a superb, restrained meditation by the long-lost tunesmith who's just released his first new album in 40 years. Well worth the wait.
Song: Give It Up
Artist: Talk Talk, England
Album: The Colour of Spring, 1986
Notes: Yet another overlooked treasure from the extraordinary mind and mouth of Mark Hollis and his band from the mid-'80s.
Song: Oh Sailor
Artist: Mr. Little Jeans, Norway
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: Wacky but winning new number, boosted by a rather enchanting and catchy child chorus. Monica Birkenes began singing in her church choir at the age of five, began selling cassettes of her nascent tunes at gas stations from the age of 10. Fronted a band at 15, relocated to London and eventually found her way to Los Angeles.
Song: Without Us
Artist: Joe Gil, Los Angeles
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: Indie pop-folkster with a delicious melange of sonic texture which you can preview on Joe's helpful website, www.joegil.com. Currently working on his sophomore album, he regularly performs at the iconic Hotel Cafe, the essential venue for burgeoning singer-songwriters in LA.
Song: The Color of Roses
Artist: Beth Nielsen Chapman, Harlingen, TX
Album: Sand and Water, 1997
Notes: Superior songwriting from Beth's exquisite 'Sand and Water' opus which was written in part as a tribute to her late husband, Ernest, who died from cancer in 1994. One of Nashville's finest composers.
Artist: Woodland Hills, Los Angeles
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: Super fresh and not yet available, a curiously simple, sultry winner and the very first recording by a new LA-based combo. Woodland Hills is the husband and wife team of Jason and Victoria Evigan with ex-Wonderland Effect tunesmith, Joaquin Howard completing the trio.
Song: Four Strong Winds
Artist: Neil Young, Canada
Album: Comes A Time, 1978
Notes: A breezy acoustic roller from his finest album, the pastoral epic, 'Comes A Time'. Nicolette Larson gracing this track with lovely guest vocals.
Song: Soft Pedals
Artist: Modern Skirts, Athens, GA
Album: All of Us In Our Night, 2009
Notes: Easy-flowing, off-beat, off-key but still rewarding. Band is now a staple in the always vibrant young rock scene in Athens Georgia, which is still rated by 'Rolling Stone' magazine as the #1 College Music Scene in America. More at www.modernskirts.com.
Song: I Know You Care
Artist: Ellie Goulding, England
Album: Halcyon, 2012
Notes: An A+ sad ballad from her new offering, haunting despair made more heartbeaking when seen through the prism of its use in the trailer for the new Dakota Fanning movie 'Now Is Good' about a young girl trying to complete a bucket list before dying of leukemia.
Song: Mirror Man
Artist: Human League, England
Notes: Cunningly fusing Motown-inspired beats and backing vocals with synth pop-rock. Written by lead singer, Phil Oakey about another ;80s pop star, Adam Ant.
Artist: James Taylor, Boston
Album: New Moon Shine, 1991
Notes: A deep woods lost diamond parked quietly on his 'New Moon Shine' album from two decades ago. Sweet Baby James was the first non-British label to sign to Apple in 1968 at the instigation of Paul McCartney.
Song: Ask Me To
Artist: Andrea Davidson, Louisville, KY
Album: Inspirit EP, 2012
Notes: A top-notch upright piano bridge hallmarking this delightful new pleading ballad. Worth visiting her site at www.andreadavidson.net.
Artist: Presets, Australia
Album: Pacifica, 2012
Notes: Terrific hypnotic beat under-pinning this chilled-out electronic bubbler by Australian electronica duo, Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes.