Song: The Salt Wound Routine
Artist: Thirteen Senses, England
Album: The Invitation, 2004
Notes: Yet another cracking overlooked gem from the sterling catalog of an alternative rock English quartet from the lovely south western part of the country called Cornwall. Fronted by lead singer and pianist Will South, they have released three superb albums during their dozen years together. In the tradition of Coldplay and Keane; so an enduring mystery as to why they haven't taken off in the US.
Song: Trouble Town
Artist: Jake Bugg, England
Album: Jake Bugg, 2012
Notes: An 18-year-old newcomer from Nottingham in England - also the home of the legendary Robin Hood of course - described by the Daily Telegraph as 'an East Midlands Bob Dylan.' Inspired to start a music career after hearing Don McLean's 'Vincent' at the age of 12. He's recently played two US dates - in New York and Los Angeles. He has a busy schedule in Europe through 2013 but certainly one to watch.
Artist: Kate Earl, Chugiak, AK
Album: Stronger, 2012
Notes: Yet another one of several worthwhile nuggets featured on her recently issued third album from the Alaskan of exotic Filipino, Dutch, and Welsh ancestry. Warmly laid-back and rewarding, with a West Coast '70s vibe to it, the entire CD was recorded in six days at the iconic Los Angeles-based Village Recorders studio. Shades of Steve Miller's iconic 'The Joker' in the guitar riff on this homage to her adopted state.
Song: State Of Art
Artist: Friends Again, Scotland
Album: Not available
Notes: A lovely mellifluous song by a rather obscure Scottish group, which released only one LP - 'Trapped And Unwrapped' in 1984. Based in Glasgow, they were extremely influential in pioneering similarly jangly modern pop-rock which emerged from the region during the '80s; particularly the likes of Aztec Camera and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Three members of the band went on to form Love and Money.
Artist: Tim McMorris, Canada
Album: Overwhelmed (single), 2011
Notes: Written at 2:00 in the morning as a simple ode to the singer's wife Khaili. Based in the Niagara Falls area, he hasn't released an album yet, just a dozen extremely catchy folk-pop confections all available on iTunes. If the song sounds vaguely familiar it was put to good use by the folks at Sam Adams for one of their beer commercials.
Song: I Follow You
Artist: Melody's Echo Chamber, France
Album: Melody's Echo Chamber, 2012
Notes: First class fuzzed out psychedelic guitar solo on a dreamy, cosmic alternative nu-rock offering from Melody Prochet. She played viola in a classical conservatoire in Paris for 10 years, before cutting her maiden solo album in Perth, Australia and the south of France. Conversely beautiful and rough topped with a breathy vocal quality. Well recommended for those who like nu-pyschedelic rock.
Artist: US3, English
Album: Hands On The Torch, 1993
Notes: An infectious slice of soulful, jazzy, hip-hop from 20 years ago, a winning stew of disparate musical styles. The band was formed in 1992 by producer Geoff Wilkinson who recruited top British and American session musicians and singers. The keyboard sample on the groove was courtesy of Herbie Hancock's 'Cantaloupe Island,' and featured trumpeter Gerard Presencer. The band has promised a special celebration to commemorate the 20th aniversary of the record.
Artist: Josh Ritter, Moscow, ID
Notes: He decided to become a songwriter in his teens after hearing Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan's 'The Girl From North Country.' Prolific in the studio, he recorded his first album when he was 21, since when he has released a further 10 albums, four of them live, and eight EPs. He's even written a novel, 'Bright's Passage,' which has been compared with Ray Bradbury at his best. He'll be touring February through May supported by his Royal City Band, promoting his new album 'The Beast In The Tracks,' which will be out in March.
Song: Sara Smile
Artist: Rumer with Daryl Hall, England/Pottstown, PA
Notes: Beautifully and effortlessly reimagined as a duet by its originator with the enchanting British songstress and featured on an episode of the outstanding 'Live From Daryl's House Web Show' from last August. Started so he could connect directly with fans from a sitting room environment rather than endlessly touring. Well worth checking out the entire web show archive at livefromdarylshouse.com. And the superb Pakistani-born, London-based singer-songwriter Rumer's real name? - Sarah.
Song: Beatles and Stones
Artist: House Of Love, England
Album: The House Of Love, 1990
Notes: From a group who had a few Modern Rock successes in the early '90s. Fronted by Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers, they originally lasted for about seven years, but reunited in 2003 and are still going strong, with a new album, 'She Paints Words In Red,' expected soon.
Song: No One's Gonna Love You
Artist: Kristina Train, New York, NY
Album: Dark Black, 2012
Notes: A restrained winning re-working by L&F's favorite artist of the moment of the Band of Horses track from their 2007 album 'Cease To Begin.' Gwyneth Paltrow recently spun Kristina's new album as music to entertain friends at dinner parties.
Song: Big Blue Ball
Artist: Peter Gabriel, Manu Katche and Karl Wallinger, England/France
Album: Big Blue Ball, 2008
Notes: A wonderful collage of World Music from a collaboration recorded over the summers of 1991, 1992 and 1995 at Real World studios in the bucolic Somerset countryside in western England, but not released until 2008. The album also featured material from the likes of Papa Wemba, Jah Wobble, Joseph Arthur and Deep Forest.
Song: Birds of Belfast
Artist: Rose Cousins featuring Juliet Turner, Canada/Norther Ireland
Notes: A lost single from last year, too thoughtful, too quiet, too artfully constructed to get mainstream airplay. The sorely under-appreciated, highly literate Canadian songstress from Prince Edward Island teamed with the phenomenal artist from Belfast. The song was penned by top Boston-based artist Kris Delmhorst. Ms Cousins took the dubious honor of winning L&F's Saddest Song of All Time 2012 trophy for 'Go First.'
Song: Whisper Low
Artist: Adam Agin, Nashville, TN
Notes: Another one of several choice selections found on his recent long-player, all rather melancholic, but top-drawer, with strong shades of Ed Sheeran in his overall sound. Sometimes hailed as Nashville's best-kept secret, he has one EP and two lovely albums to date. It took him two years to record the new mini-LP, composing and finessing tunes at his old dusty house in Music City. He does of course have a Facebook thing - just add adamagin.
Song: I Just Can't Let Go
Artist: David Pack featuring Michael McDonald and James Ingram, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: Incredible performances on a hit from yesteryear on an extremely rare pumped up Japanese remix. Originally featured on the former Ambrosia frontman's 'Anywhere You Go' solo debut, with the help of two great blue-eyed soul singers, who had just had a smash with 'Yah Mo B There,' and with the great Ernie Watts on sax.
Song: Ghost in the Town
Artist: Joshua James, Lincoln, NE
Notes: Based in Provo Utah but raised in Lincoln Nebraska, he made his recording debut in 2006 with the album, 'B-Sides - It's Dark Outside,' and then toured with the likes of John Mayer, Third Eye Blind and David Gray. The album from which this track comes was recorded over a two-week period with producer Richard Swift.
Artist: Marianne Faithfull, England
Album: Broken English, 1979
Notes: A timeless, fatalistic tale of mid-life crisis, and the chains and dreams of middle class house-wifery. The maverick singer memorably co-wrote 'Sister Morphine' with Jagger and Richards for the Rolling Stones' 'Sticky Fingers' album way back when - and of course she was one of Jagger's girlfriends in the mid '60s. This extraordinary song was actually composed by famous children's book author, Uncle Shelby - Shel Silverstein - and recorded by Dr. Hook - but covered here in a far superior version showcasing the uniquely fragile, broken vocal pipes of the irrepressible singer, still going strong at 66.
Song: Know Me Well
Artist: Roo Panes, England
Notes: Sepulchral folk from a young five-piece band, fronted by singer-songwriter Andrew Panes who describes himself as a 'classic folk popster.' Originally from the English county of Dorset, now based in London and creating quiet a stir, not least with this track, included in the Burberry Acoustic music project, a collaboration between the designer label and UK artists. Panes himself along with actress Gabriella Wilde, was featured in Burberry's 2012 autumn/winter collection.
Song: Over The Hill
Artist: John Martyn, England
Album: Solid Air, 1973
Notes: The much-missed singer-songwriter with one of so many underloved lost treasures in his extensive catalog. The British folkster was a friend of another folk icon, Nick Drake - indeed this album's title cut was written as a tribute to him just 18 months before he died from a drugs overdose. In 2008, he performed the song at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards when he was honored with the Lifetime Achievment Award, with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones accompanying him on mandolin.
Song: Hotel Lights
Artist: Amy Cook, San Jose, CA
Album: Let The Light In, 2010
Notes: A top-notch ethereal love song about meeting a worthwhile new love and one of the best overlooked ballads of 2010. Now based in the Texan music hub of Austin, she's a low-fi folk/pop songstress who's opened for the likes of Shawn Colvin, Chris Isaak and Lucinda Williams. She issued another fine collection titled 'Summer Skin' last August, which included Patty Griffin, Ben Kweller and even Robert Plant among its guests.
Song: Into The West
Artist: Annie Lennox & Howard Shore, Scotland/Canada
Notes: Performed live by the one-time Eurythmic at the 2004 Academy Awards at which it picked up the Oscar for Best Original Song. Her fellow performer, the renowned Canadian film composer, co-wrote the song with Fran Walsh, who is the partner of Peter Jackson, the director of the film from which it came.
Song: The Unforgettable Fire
Artist: U2, Ireland
Album: The Unforgettable Fire, 1984
Notes: Among all their wonderful evergreen hits you regularly hear on the radio, you rarely hear this one - and incredibly it was never a hit on these shores, which simply defies belief. The title track from their fourth album, it was their first collaboration with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who provided the brilliant strings and dramatic atmospheric sonic backdrop. It's aged exceptionally well.
Artist: Tracey Thorn, England
Album: Tinsel And Lights, 2012
Notes: The piano chords could only belong to composer Randy Newman. First covered by the late great Harry Nilsson, the female half of Everything But The Girl brings just the right amount of nuance to this simple gem. She's been releasing solo material since the duo began what is now a very long hiatus back in 2000. Other seasonal updates on her latest CD include thoughtful tunes by the likes of Ron Sexsmith and Sufjan Stevens.
Song: Before The New Year
Artist: Robin Bacior, California
Album: Rest Our Wings, 2011
Notes: A rather enchanting simple repetitive acoustic backdrop graced with literate lyrics and a whispie vocal from a young folk songstress with an old soul who also indulges in gospel and rock tinged fare. Now calling Portland her home, she made her debut in 2009 on her own label, with collaborator cellist Dan Bindschedler. She's on the road in February, promoting her new EP 'I Left You, Still In Love'. More at robinbacior.com.
Song: Back To You
Artist: Greg Laswell with Elizabeth Ziman, San Diego, CA
Album: Landline, 2012
Notes: Yet another scene stealer from one of the best lost albums from last year, with Elizabeth Ziman aka Elizabeth and the Catapult, helping out on this beautiful melter. Long based in San Diego where he regularly scooped up trophies at the local music awards, he now lives in New York with his wife Ingrid Michaelson. This was recorded at her parents' house in Maine and called 'Landline' because he was unable to get any cell-phone reception while there.
Song: Skin Deep
Artist: Stranglers, England
Album: Aural Sculpture, 1984
Notes: Surfacing as an aggressive pioneering act at the dawn of the British punk scene in the mid-'70s in London, with the uncompromising muscular-voiced Hugh Cornwell as its lead singer. They subsequently smoothed out their recordings and made some remarkably tasteful tunes - very few of which got much love over here. Still going strong, but no longer with Cornwell, they released a new album, 'Giants,' last year.
Song: Lost and Found
Artist: Kim Taylor, Cincinnati, OH
Album: Little Miracle, 2010
Notes: Minimalist but superior balladry from a tunesmith who's been making records for more than a decade. Her music has been featured on TV shows such as 'One Tree Hill,' 'Smallville,' Ghost Whisperer' and others and she has supported the likes of Ron Sexsmith, Over The Rhine and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Her fourth album, 'Love's A Dog,' is due any time. More at kim-taylor.net.
Song: Little Sister
Artist: Ry Cooder, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Bop Till You Drop, 1979
Notes: An infectious gospel-tinged run-out from the ever-eclectic guitarist/singer/composer with his version of Elvis Presley's 1961 hit and featured on the first ever major-label digitally-recorded pop album. He just loves bringing together different musicians from different genres and countries; most notably the extraordinary Buena Vista Social Club world music collaboration.
Song: Keep On Walking
Artist: Jem, Wales
Album: Down To Earth, 2008
Notes: In a career spanning ten years, she has only released two albums, this track - featuring the Welsh Choir of Southern California - is one of several lost treasures buried on her sophomore effort. Born Jemma Griffiths in the south Wales town of Penarth and married to fellow musician Joseph George since 2009, she has reportedly been working in the studio, but an expected third album has yet to surface.
Song: Mid Air
Artist: Paul Buchanan, Scotland
Album: Mid Air, 2012
Notes: The blissful, fragile title cut from an impeccable solo opus by the Blue Nile frontman. Having cut just four albums with his band over a thirty year period, the elusive and enigmatic Scotsman finally emerged with his solo debut last year. If you like your music erudite, poised, pensive, stylish and melodic, there is no one better. Do check out his website: PaulBuchanan.com - which also includes notes of the magical Blue Nile archive.
Song: I'm Not Supposed To Care
Artist: Gordon Lightfoot, Canada
Album: Summertime Dream, 1976
Notes: A man letting go of the love of his life with the parting torch-burning thought that he'll always be there even though she's clearly gone. A beautiful, melancholic lost sapphire from the album which also features one of his most enduring songs 'The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.' Now 74, the Canadian legend be taking his '50 Years On The Carefree Highway Tour' on the road in March.
Song: I Make My Own Sunshine
Artist: Alyssa Bonagura, Franklin, TN
Album: Love Hard, 2012
Notes: With an impeccable musical background, she's the daughter of 1980s hitmaking country music duo Michael Bonagura and Kathie Baillie of the Baillie and the Boys and a graduate of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. The 24-year-old already has a couple of albums under her belt. This irresistibly perky track, featuring the happiest of musical instruments, the ukulele, was featured on a Lowe's TV campaign.
Song: I'll Be Your Man
Artist: Any Trouble, England
Album: Not available
Notes: An insistent modern rock winner by a sadly underrated New Wave band. One of several corkers from their long-deleted self-titled vinyl album, they were only around for about five years but recorded a brilliant brief canon of work. Lead singer Clive Gregson then went on to tone things down as a highly literate solo folk tunesmith. The revered British newspaper The Independent once described him: 'Gregson is as fine a singer-songwriter as anyone has a right to expect. He does the lot.' More at CliveGregson.com.
Song: The Outsiders
Artist: Athlete, England
Notes: Written about England's peculiar culture of mindless hooliganism by a hugely underrated English rock quartet. Signed to the Parlophone label a decade ago and then saw the release of their brilliant Mercury Music prize-nominated 'Vehicles And Animals,' they have taken the less commercial route since then, and musically the better for it. Other than last year's 'Live At Union Chapel' there has been no new music from them for four years.
Song: All Through The Night
Artist: Jules Shear & Cyndi Lauper, Pittsburgh, PA/New York, NY
Notes: From the songwriter's 1983 solo debut produced by Todd Rundgren after the break up of his band Jules and the Polar Bears, seguing into Ms. Lauper's magical reworked smash hit the following year. Almost 40 years into a fascinating career, she can add musical writer to her resume as her musical 'Kinky,' written with Harvey Fierstein is set to open on Broadway in April.