Song: Blood Like Lemonade
Artist: Morcheeba, England
Album: Blood Like Lemonade, 2010
Notes: Vampirical atmospherics on an overlooked sonic delight by soulful trip-hop electronica trio from London. Began in 1995 when brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey teamed up with singer Skye Edwards, but then came off the rails when she was fired from the band in 2003. All was forgiven and she rejoined the Godfrey brothers in 2010.
Artist: Birds of Tokyo, Australia
Album: Birds of Tokyo, 2010
Notes: A quintet from Perth in Western Australia, led by singer Ian Kenny, which has been around since 2004 but remain relatively unknown outside their home country. The album from which this harmonic alternative rocker comes snapped up the ARIA Award (the Aussie equivalent of the Grammys) for Best Rock Album. Their fourth studio set, 'March of Fires,' is due in March.
Song: Maybe Tomorrow
Artist: Molly Jenson, San Diego, CA
Album: Maybe Tomorrow, 2009
Notes: Since winning Best Acoustic Act at the 2007 San Diego Music Awards, this 30-something singer-songwriter released one album, produced by Greg Laswell, before virtually disappearing, until contributing 'Christmas Don't Be Late' and 'Baby It's Cold Outside' to the 'A Christmas Together Vol. 3' compilation last year. According to her twitter account she plays music, shoots videos, does voice overs and paints.
Artist: Sweet Talk Radio, Los Angeles, CA
Album: State of the Union, 2012
Notes: A chamber orchestral-laced winner from the husband/wife duo of Tim Burlingame and Kathrin Shorr. Lovely short bio on their web page which reads: 'Boy plays music he writes. Girl plays music she writes. One day girl goes over to boy's house and they start to sing together. Boy smiles. Girl smiles back. Flash forward to their wedding day a few years later. Soon after, Sweet Talk Radio is born. Boy smiles. Girl smiles back.'
Song: Accidents Will Happen
Artist: Elvis Costello, England
Album: Armed Forces, 1979
Notes: A new wave classic from over 30 years ago, a single released between 'Oliver's Army' and 'I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down' - two equally brilliant three minutes of excellence. Entertainment Weekly named it one of the singer's Top 10 greatest tunes in 2004. A year away from turning 60, he's still going strong and about to embark on tours of Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Song: One Woman Army
Artist: Kate Earl, Chugiak, AK
Album: Stronger, 2012
Notes: Unabashed easy flowing retro-West Coast offering from the beautiful Alaskan with a Dutch, Welsh and Filipino ancestry. The entire CD was recorded in six days at the iconic Los Angeles-based Village Recorders studio, where Fleetwood Mac recorded 'Tusk.' She certainly has been influenced by Stevie Nicks and by her own admission, Joni Mitchell and Tom Petty.
Song: Take Me Home
Artist: Us, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Us, 2012
Notes: A tremendous momentum builder from a pair of solo artists now joined in music as well as life, singer-songwriter Michael Alvarado and his wife Carissa Rae, who also makes jewelry (carissarae.bigcartel.com). Starting out with a simple piano part and luscious two-part vocals, it builds with terrific martial drumming and a blistering guitar solo, before reverting back to the simple piano motif. If you're intrigued head to Michael's web page at michaelalvarado.com.
Song: Good Things
Artist: Kathleen Edwards, Canada
Album: Back To Me, 2005
Notes: Sensational organic lost pearl found on her sophomore long-player which completely slipped through the cracks south of the Canadian border. She actually spent much of her childhood abroad as the daughter of a diplomat, growing up in both Korea and Switzerland. She'll be on the road in the coming weeks. Check out whether she'll be in your area at http://kathleenedwards.com/?page_id=229. By the way, she used to date Bon Iver frontman, Justin Vernon.
Song: New Morning
Artist: Alpha Rev, Austin, TX
Album: New Morning, 2010
Notes: Excellent rousing chorus and some gorgeous shimmering strings from an alt-rock combo firmly fronted by Casey McPherson - he's actually recruited more than a dozen different musicians to play in the band at different times over the years. They have a terrific new single out now called 'Sing Loud' from the soon-to-be released album, 'Bloom.'
Song: Town Called Malice
Artist: Jam, England
Album: The Gift, 1982
Notes: Motown-tinged post-punk from the trio which comprised Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler and released 31 years ago this month. Written, as was all of the group's major repertoire, by frontman Weller, who has of course gone on to forge a successful solo career - that song recalls Weller's working class teenage roots in the English town of Woking.
Song: This One's For You
Artist: Ed Harcourt, England
Album: Strangers, 2004
Notes: A lovely, easy-flowing gem from Edward Henry Richard Harcourt-Smith. The sadly underrated tunesmith from Wimbledon in west London used to be in a band with the rather lovely name Snug. He has a new album, 'Back Into The Woods,' recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in six hours, released sometime later in the year.
Song: Boat To Bolivia
Artist: Martin Stephenson & the Daintees, England
Album: Boat To Bolivia, 1986
Notes: Formed in Sunderland in the north-east of England in 1982, it took them four years to make it on to vinyl (as it was back then). Another four albums followed, until they split in 1992. Always the front man, Stephenson reformed the band in 2000 after releasing five solo albums. After another hiatus, he put together a new Daintees in 2011, releasing the album 'California Star' and touring, performing the 'Boat To Bolivia' album in its entirety.
Song: Simple Together
Artist: Alanis Morissette, Canada
Album: Feast On Scraps, 2002
Notes: Desperately sad lyrics and a top-drawer melody on a song that was an afterthought buried on an entire CD of leftovers, B-sides and previously unreleased tracks. How a song this great is not one of her best-known is beyond belief.
Song: Many Of Horror
Artist: Biffy Clyro, Scotland
Album: Only Revolutions, 2009
Notes: A Scottish rock trio from Kilmarnock comprising lead singer and guitarist Simon Neil and twins James and Ben Johnston, formed 18 years ago as Skrewfish. This song became an unexpected Christmas chart-topper in the UK in 2010, when X Factor winner Matt Cardle released it as 'When We Collide.' He subsequently apologised to the band's fans saying 'I'm sorry if I've ruined it for people.' Their new album 'Opposites', like their last album recorded in Los Angeles with producer GGGarth, is due in March.
Song: Charmed Life
Artist: Mick Jagger, England
Notes: Originally recorded for his third solo album 'Wandering Spirit' with producer Rick Rubin and daughter Karis on backing vocals, it was deemed unsuitable for that project so sat unused for a while. 15 years later, Ashley Beadle remixed it and it became one of three previously unreleased songs on his 'Very Best Of' set.
Song: For The Summer
Artist: Ray LaMontagne, Nashua, NH
Notes: One of the most distinctive voices on the current music scene backed by a band whose praises he sang in an interview, saying 'I just love playing with these musicians. I feel really inspired and lucky to play with them.' This shuffling folk/blues number with some cracking steel guitar work from Greg Leisz and the singer's own harmonica solo was part of an album recorded in just 13 days in the spring of 2010 at his farmhouse on 103 acres in Ashfield, Massachusetts.
Song: These Words
Artist: Jill Andrews, Johnson City, TN
Album: Jill Andrews (EP), 2009
Notes: Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, a former camp counselor and member of a band called the Everybodyfields before going solo four years ago. Influenced by the likes of Feist and Regina Spektor, she's released just one EP and a sole CD to date. She's playing a handful of dates in February opening for L&F favorite Bob Schneider. More on her at jillandrews.com.
Artist: Jesse Labelle, Canada
Album: Perfect Accident, 2011
Notes: A promising young new singer-songwriter from Toronto who took up songwriting at age 17 and then started doing covers of Eddie Vedder and Scott Weiland material in local clubs. Since performing at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, he has toured solidly in his native Canada, building a solid fan base. He has a new single on the horizon.
Song: Safe And Sound
Artist: Capital Cities, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Capital Cities (EP), 2012
Notes: An infectious dance-synth roller with some neat horn runs from the duo Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchan, a pair of LA-based former jingle writers, sporting beards and wacky spectacles. They met on Craigslist and have only been around for a couple of years, already causing a buzz in electro-pop dance circles, with just two EPs and a great live act.
Artist: Family of the Year, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Loma Vista, 2012
Notes: One of the best indie-pop numbers of last year - a highly harmonic outing by a quintet led by Welsh brothers Joseph and Sebastian Keefe. Replete with folk-styled acoustic guitar, a smart hook-filled melody and a summery West Coast sound. It's the kind of record Emitt Rhodes made so brillantly and effortlessly some forty years ago, with a dash of Bourgeois Tagg thrown in.
Song: Trying To Love You
Artist: Trisha Yearwood, Monticello, GA
Album: Jasper County, 2005
Notes: Now into her third decade as a recording artiste, winning just about every country music award out there over, ten studio albums under her belt and married to country album Garth Brooks since 2005 (third time lucky for her), she turned to the songbook of the incomparable Beth Nielsen Chapman for this wonderful song. If you enjoy her music, you might also enjoy her cooking. 'Trisha's Southern Kitchen' airs on the Food Network every Saturday morning.
Song: Only You
Artist: Yazoo, England
Album: Upstairs At Eric's, 1982
Notes: The electro-pop backdrop clearly reminiscent of early Depeche Mode and with good reason. Former co-founder and keyboardist Vince Clarke teamed with the utterly wonderful Alf. They got together for a brief three-year partnership, yielding just two albums, both of them winners, before Clarke went on to form The Assembly and then Erasure, while Alf reverted to her given name, Alison Moyet, and eked out a dazzling solo career. After a six-year recording hiatus, a new album is expected from her later this year. Clarke meanwhile reformed Erasure in 2011 and plans are in hand for a new album and tour.
Song: Gone Till November
Artist: Wyclef Jean, Haiti
Album: The Carnival, 1997
Notes: A 1998 hit from the singer's first project away from the Fugees is barely heard on the airwaves anymore. A typically literate rap accompanied by a majestic arrangement courtesy of Sonny Kompanek and performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Since his abortive run for the Haitian presidency in 2010, all he has produced musically is an EP of the experience, titled 'If I Were A President - The Haitian Experience.'
Song: Stick Together
Artist: Kristina Train, New York, NY
Album: Dark Black, 2012
Notes: Born in New York, raised in Savannah and now living in London, this superlative singer-songwriter released a gorgeous debut album in 2009 that died a death. After touring with Herbie Hancock as his lead singer and without a record contract, she flew to London and began co-writing songs with Martin Craft, Simon Aldred, Justin Parker and L&F favorite Ed Harcourt. The result is an astonishing second effort from which comes this beautifully moody song - a 'Twin Peaks' guitar solo and the singer's own exquisite violin-playing on a recording that would have been a smash if cut by the Walker Brothers back in the '60s, yet startingly original.
Song: Around The World
Artist: East 17, England
Album: Steam, 1994
Notes: Delightful pop vocal outing, despite its of-its-time cheesy production by the boy band trio who were huge in Europe in the 1990s but were shut out in the US, which was feasting on the homegrown likes of the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync. Written by Tony Mortimer, who still fronts the band - although they have moved away from their dance/pop style. The group named itself after the London zipcode of their hometown of Walthamstow.
Artist: Echo & the Bunnymen, England
Album: Songs To Learn & Sing, 1985
Notes: Written for the movie 'Pretty In Pink' and the only new track on a compilation of the band's singles up to that point, this brilliant slice of post-punk psychedelia has been performed live by bands such as Simple Minds, the Decemberists, and the Flaming Lips, but none of them close to the original. Bursting forth from the always fertile Liverpool music scene in England in the late '70s, they're still going strong, albeit as a duo with founders Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant.
Song: Future Like Snow
Artist: Trent Dabbs, Jackson, MS
Album: Future Like Snow, 2012
Notes: Prominently showcasing guest singer Lori McKenna, a track from the long-based-in Nashville singer-songwriter and co-founder (with his wife Kristen) of the Ten out of Tenn collective whose current members include Erin McCarley, Katie Herzig, Gabe Dixon, Matthew Perryman-Jones and the brilliant Andrew Belle - all of whom are L&F regulars. Find out more at trentdabbs.com.
Song: Evil Coast
Artist: Mary Onettes, Sweden
Album: Evil Coast, 2012
Notes: Formed a dozen years ago in the Swedish town of J�nk�ping and united by a common love of '80s and '90s British music like the Cure and the Stone Roses, the group is led by its main songwriter, Philip Ekstr�m. After a quiet spell except for a few placements on tv shows like 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Lost,' the band is back with a new album called 'Hit The Waves' later in the year.
Song: Restless Heart
Artist: The Sea, The Sea, New Haven, CT
Notes: A perfect vocal pairing of a relatively new duo comprising Chuck E. Costa, the official Connecticut State Troubadour of 2011 and Mira Stanley, a graduate of the prestigious Boston Conservatory. On their nascent facebook page they describe their musical partnership as 'two voices that blend like smoke and air, like night and a whisper.' Their name comes from the cry made by returning Greek soldiers when they saw the Black Sea from Mount Theches in 401 BC.
Song: Cold Coffee
Artist: Ed Sheeran, England
Notes: A song which appeared on an EP released before the breakthrough success of this north of England folkie. The five-track EP was a collaboration with folk singer Amy Wadge and recorded in Ponypridd, Wales, where she lives. At the time she was a 36-year-old mother asked to record and write tracks with other artists. He was an unknown 17-year-old. He's just had two of his songs on the latest One Direction album, and will be touring the US as Taylor Swift's opening act, beginning in March.
Song: Me And Little Andy
Artist: Dolly Parton, Sevierville, TN
Album: Here You Come Again, 1977
Notes: Recorded when she was making her most pop-oriented music (the title track of the album from which this came was penned by Brill Building veterans Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil), this is a desperately sad tale of a stranded little girl abandoned by her mother and her alcoholic father in the bitter cold, asking for shelter for her and her little dog, Andy. Wrapped up in nursery rhyme sugar-coated candy, the denouement of the song sees the little girl and Andy being taken off to heaven.
Artist: Echocell, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Babylon (Single), 2013
Notes: Fresh synth-pop outing, the title track of their new album, from the duo of singer Belinda Kazanci and electronic whiz/producer Adam Beltran. Following a lengthy sabbatical, the ten-year music veterans, who wear their Depeche Mode/Goldfrapp influences on their sleeve, are back. Check out their website at echocell.com, where a free download of 'Shake Your World' is available.
Artist: Nicholas Ruth, Oakland, CA
Album: A Rounders Requiem, 2011
Notes: Formerly the guitarist with LA-based rock-hip/hop-pop band Malbec, who split up in 2010 when their members set out on their own, he's now (in his own words) a writer/producer/composer. Last year, he joined with Ken Oak and Ed Gorski to form the collaborative Louis Friend. They released a splendid self-titled EP last year and there's a new track due in a couple of weeks. Find out more at www.nicholasruth.com.
Song: I'm In Love
Artist: Meiko, Roberta, GA
Album: The Bright Side, 2012
Notes: Another delicious cut from the LA-based singer-songwriter's brilliant sophomore album, released five long years after her splendid debut long-player. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros' Stewart Cole delivers a wonderful wacky trumpet part. Her songs have found their way onto episodes of such tv shows as 'Grey's Anatomy', 'One Tree Hill', '10 Things I Hate About You' and 'Pretty Little Liars.'
Song: I Won't Back Down
Artist: Benjamin Francis Leftwich/Tom Petty, England/Gainesville, FL
Notes: A beautiful acoustic cover version recently featured in an episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' seguing into the 1989 original, which featured some chap called George Harrison on acoustic guitar and backing vocals.