Song: Someone To Someone
Artist: Ross Copperman, Roanoke, VA
Notes: Superior no-nonsense melodic pop rock from the underloved singer-songwriter. He started playing piano at the age of three and was taken by his father to the Rolling Stones on their 'Steel Wheels' tour when he was seven. He cut his second album, 'Welcome To Reality' in the UK, with assists from Guy Chambers and Graham Gouldman, since when there have been a further three long players. Despite ten years of music making and a canon worthy of anyone, he still remains a secret.
Song: Lose You Tonight
Artist: Kristina Train, New York, NY
Album: Dark Black, 2012
Notes: One of the very best vocalists around today, with another pop/soul winner from her stunning new album, which has a cool retro Dusty-tinged vibe. Perhaps concerned about how things were going in her home country she relocated to London a couple of years ago and now makes it her home. She opened for another L&F favorite, Amy McDonald, on a British tour late last year. A stylish new video clip of the song which recently went up on kristinatrain.com is worth a glance. Check out three covers (The Waterboys' 'How Long Will I Love You', Sandy Denny's 'Who Knows Where The Times Goes' and Jackson Browne's 'These Days') she has made available on YouTube. Hard to pick which is the best of the bunch.
Song: Right Here Right Now
Artist: Secrets In Stereo, Nashville, TN
Album: Not Available
Notes: A fine example of an artist making a decent living creating well-crafted hook-laden indie pop/rock ideal for licensing to TV shows. Not a band, but a one-man operation by the name of Josh Collum. Based in Nashville, he has been self-releasing his highly infectious fare for some six years. All 27 of his available recordings to date have found their way onto the small screen via the likes of 'One Tree Hill,' the always musically literate 'Grey's Anatomy,' and 'The Real World.'
Song: Nothing Rhymed
Artist: Gilbert O'Sullivan, Ireland
Album: Himself, 1971
Notes: A better wordsmith than he was ever given credit for, no doubt partly due to his manager's decision to dress him up in short trousers and a silly cap at the start of his career. Best known of course for his painfully sad 1972 chart-topper 'Alone Again Naturally,' he has been quietly perfecting the art of clever, deceptively simple top notch tunes for nearly 50 years. He is still going strong today, with his 17th studio album, 'Gilbertville' emerging just a couple of years ago. In a typically modest quote from an interview a few years ago, he said: 'I write pop songs. That's all I wanted to do. End of story.'
Song: Blue Skies
Artist: Jenn Grant, Canada
Album: Orchestra For The Moon, 2007
Notes: A haunting fine soprano voice backed by a classical string quartet on a track from her debut album. She suffered from stage fright early in her career but overcame it in her 20s and has four worthwhile long players and a couple of EPs to her credit over the past six years. She's also an accomplished painter and designs all of her own album art work. More at jenngrant.com.
Song: Blue Ice
Artist: Shout Out Louds, Sweden
Album: Optica, 2013
Notes: A restrained, refined and mysterious, terrific vibe from a band founded in Stockholm more than a decade ago, who have toured with the likes of The Kings of Leon and The Strokes. Their songs have been featured on several TV shows, including 'One Tree Hill' and 'How I Met Your Mother.' If you hurry to their web site shoutoutlouds.com you can nab a free download of this number.
Song: Dream Of Me
Artist: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, England
Album: Liberator, 1993
Notes: Pop perfection, a dreamy confection borrowing heavily, indeed was directly inspired by Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra's mighty disco-tinged 'Love Theme' instrumental from 1973. The lyrics actually include 'I had an idea, Based on a Love Theme.' (The Walrus Of Love even gets a songwriting credit.) The group is still at it, reforming in 2006 and playing well-attended gigs every year since. A new studio album, titled 'English Electric,' is expected soon.
Song: Heaven's Door
Artist: Laurie Levine, South Africa
Album: Six Winters, 2011
Notes: The singer-songwriter surfaced in 2007 with a lovely maiden effort 'Unspoken,' becoming a critic's favourite in her homeland. Clearly influenced by the appalachian music of Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, she deserves much wider notice internationally. She made many friends on her recent tour of the UK. She has just announced that she's recording a new album that will be released before the end of the year.
Song: Ready To Go
Artist: Guards, Anaheim, CA
Album: In Guards We Trust, 2013
Notes: A promising stew of late-'60s vibed psychedelic dream pop from their debut album by the long-haired trio of frontman Richie Follin, Loren Humphrey and Kaylie Church. Follin and Humphrey have both been members of the garage-rock band The Willowz for the past ten years. The trio has toured with the Cults, fronted by Follin's sister Madeline.
Artist: Ruth Brown, Portsmouth, VA
Notes: The very roots of rock'n'roll recorded pre-Bill Haley and Elvis Presley, it was the singer's third chart-topper on the R&B survey back then. She ran away from home in 1945 ending up singing in jazz and blues dives in Washington DC before being spotted by the seminal Atlantic Records who snapped her up. Subsequently known as Miss Rhythm, she's revered as one of the cornerstone pioneers of rhythm and blues and rock'n'roll and rightly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Artist: Perrin Lamb, Nashville, TN
Album: Back To You, 2012
Notes: After three EPs recorded over a period of five years, the Mississippi-born singer/songwriter - now living in Nashville - finally releases an album, albeit with seven tracks, including this gentle guitar-backed ballad. As he says about himself, he doesn't live in 'an old, romantic run-down farmhouse by the abandoned train depot, or a stark, concrete loft where the model next door peers forlornly at him through the curtains'. He lives like the rest of us and jots down lyrics at the kitchen table while 'arguing with his toddler to finish her vegetables.' He recently tweeted 'I should tweet more, said nobody ever on their death bed. That said. Should I tweet more?'
Artist: Glen Campbell, Delight, AR
Album: Ghost On The Canvas, 2011
Notes: Sadly, on what will be his last-ever recording given his tragic diagnosis with Alzheimer's Disease, a self-penned melodic masterclass with a deep Beatles influences. The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, rockabilly twanger Brian Setzer, Rick Nielsen and Marty Rifkin all trade superb guitar licks. Check out the bonus tracks on the album on iTunes, including 'Wish You Were Here,' a reworking of Jimmy Webb's 'Postcard From Paris.'
Song: Put Your Arms Around Me
Artist: Hawk In Paris, Nashville, TN
Album: His + Hers, 2011
Notes: Put together as a side project in 2009 by Jars Of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine, the trio also comprises two of his former college friends, Jeremy Bose and Matt Bronleewe. Influenced by British electronic music of Thomas Dolby, New Order, Eurythmics and Depeche Mode, they have released two EPs to date. They take their name from a 1956 album by legendary tenor saxist Coleman Hawkins. More on them on facebook - just add thehawkinparis.
Song: Way Out
Artist: Accents, Simsbury, CT
Album: Growth And Squalor, 2012
Notes: Lovely string arrangement at the end of the song despite some bitter break-up lyrics from the new album by a duo comprising TJ Foster and Benjamin Hemingway. Foster, now calling Albany, New York home, describes the record as a 'collection of anthemic, ambient-folk stories.' The duo also front the band The Cast Before The Break.
Artist: Herb Alpert, Los Angeles, CA
Album: The Beat Of The Brass, 1968
Notes: Known for his trumpet playing at the head of the Tijuana Brass, he asked songwriter Burt Bacharach whether he had any spare songs lying around. He was offered this little ditty, had Bacharach arrange the track, sang it on a network TV show, and the rest is history. Also an astute businessman, he co-founded A&M Records - he was the 'A' in A&M. Started in his garage in California in 1962, partially funded from the royalties he had earned from writing '(What A) Wonderful World' with Sam Cooke and Lou Adler, he sold the label to Universal Records in 1989 for a reported $500 million.
Song: It's My Life
Artist: Paula Cole, Rockport,MA
Album: Not Available
Notes: An acoustic version of an affectionate self-loving indie-pop pearl - the tunesmith's original demo recording. She lifted the Grammy trophy for her 1997 signature hit 'Where Have All The Cowboys Gone' but has long since struggled to live up to that early promise, certainly in commercial terms. An alumnus of the esteemed Berklee School of Music in Boston, she wrote this song for an old Ford Mercury TV commercial before a fully-fledged version appeared on her 2007 album 'Courage.'
Artist: Saturday Sun, England
Album: Seagull (EP), 2012
Notes: A completely unknown, obscure A+ acoustic nu-folk ballad showcasing the vocal grit and instrumental craft of a new British quartet, led by vocalist Alex Hedley. Taking their name from a Nick Drake song, they claim they got together because of 'a mutual love of roast potatoes' and hail from the southern English town of Swanage. They're in the process of recording their debut album which should see the light of day later this year. More at www.saturdaysunmusic.co.uk or at Facebook - just add saturdaysunmusic.
Song: All Through The Night
Artist: Jules Shear, Pittsburgh, PA
Album: Watchdog 1983
Notes: The jaunty first recording of a tune which of course went on to be a global smash for Cyndi Lauper, sung by its writer. Very much a musician's musician - now 60 years old, he has recorded some 20 albums in his own right, but his music has always found more success in the hands of others: he also inked 'If She Knew What She Wants' for the Bangles.
Song: A Girl Like You
Artist: Edwyn Collins, Scotland
Album: Gorgeous George, 1994
Notes: The signature success of a career now spanning nearly 40 years old. The former frontman of Scottish post-punkers Orange Juice, originally from Edinburgh, he's long lived in London with his manager and wife Grace. In addition to seven solo albums, the multi-tasker has also turned his hand to other work as a television actor and producer and as an illustrator. He's just released a new album, 'Understated,' back home in the UK.
Song: Tell Me You Still Care
Artist: S.O.S. Band, Atlanta, GA
Album: On The Rise, 1983
Notes: Written and produced by the incomparable Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who have helmed hits for the likes of Janet Jackson, George Michael and even Human League. The band itself, assembled in 1977, still performs today, with its original lead singer, Mary Davis, back in the fold after leaving the lineup for seven years. Jackson sampled the song for her 2006 hit 'Call On Me.'
Song: Trouble Town
Artist: Jake Bugg, England
Album: Trouble Town, 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 newspaper as 'an East Midlands Bob Dylan.' He's said he was 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 - and made his TV debut on 'The Conan O'Brien Show.' He'll be back in North America later in the year, opening at the 9.30 Club in Washington, DC on September 14th.
Artist: Kate Earl, Chugiak, AK
Album: Stronger, 2012
Notes: Straight out of the Fleetwood Mac playbook circa 1977 and all the better for it, and another engaging cut from her third album. Now based in Los Angeles, she grew up listening to her older brothers' mostly West Coast singer-songwriter record collection while helping out at her parents' gas station. Several of today's top California-based musicians helped out on the album including the talented Brett Dennen and Blake Mills. She's just started a two-week US tour. Check for dates at http://thekateearl.com/tour/.
Song: Young At Heart
Artist: Bluebells, Scotland
Album: Sisters, 1984
Notes: A top-notch hillbilly Bluegrass folk-rock gem from of all places, Scotland. The band were a combo fronted by Robert Hodgens, who went by the performing name of Bobby Bluebell, playing some wicked bluegrass-inflected indie-folk long before Mr. Mumford had a gleam in his eye. They split up in the mid-'80s and then briefly reformed in 2008. Hodgens' co-writers on the song were Bananarama's Siobhan Fahey and Bobby Valentino, who provided the splendid fiddle work.
Artist: Peter Mulvey, Milwaukee, WI
Album: Notes From Elsewhere, 2007
Notes: Nifty picking by a prodigious singer-songwriter folk-styled guitarist, who since 1992 has recorded at almost an album a year pace. Although from Milwaukee he spent a few years busking on the the subway system in Boston and also payed his dues around the clubs and pubs of Dublin in Ireland. He originally called the song 'Same Old Cudoroy Shirt' - but his wife talked him out of it. He's currently touring the UK, but will be back on the road over here in late April. Check for dates at http://www.petermulvey.com/tour.html. On the last leg, he travelled from gig to gig by bike or train.
Song: Closest Thing To Heaven
Artist: Kane Gang, England
Notes: A trio from the north-east of England, taking its name from Orson Welles' classic movie 'Citizen Kane,' which formed in 1982. Comprising singers Martin Brammer and Paul Woods and multi-instrumentalists Dave Brewis, they released two albums over a ten-year period. They even managed to top the US Dance Chart with 'Don't Look Any Further' in 1988. Post-Kane Gang, Brammar had success as a writer for the likes of Tina Turner, Sheena Easton, Beverley Knight, James Morrison and The Lighthouse Family.
Artist: Tim Burgess, England
Album: Oh No I Love You, 2012
Notes: Nice horns flitting in and out of a really neat indie-pop/rock rumbler by the lead singer of the long-standing English indie rockers the Charlatans. UK TV's Channel 4 network recently followed him around Britain filming his small fundraising gigs to raise money for the band to record their next album on the International Space Station.
Artist: Laura Mvula, England
Album: Sing To The Moon, 2013
Notes: An extraordinary, jazz-tipped soul-pop curiosity and an intriguing number about a serious topic, the plight of young street girls, by a 26-year-old from Birmingham in England who studied composition at the city's Conservatoire. In a national newspaper interview she described herself as 'the geeky kid of RnB.' More at LauraMvula.com.
Song: How Do You Stop
Artist: Joni Mitchell, Canada
Album: Turbulent Indigo, 1994
Notes: Another seemingly off-beat piece of abstract music sounding so perfectly melodic and complete. Surprising then that it wasn't self-penned, but came from the writing team of Charlie Midnight and the late Dan Hartman, and written for James Brown. The iconic singer-songwriter and painter is joined on the track by Seal, which comes from a long-player that won her a Grammy for Best Pop Album.
Song: I Remember You
Artist: Paul Buchanan, Scotland
Album: Mid Air, 2012
Notes: More tender, stripped down aural magic from one of the best albums of music last year. Simply a work of quiet but unremitting genius. If you like eloquent, thoughtful, highly melodic piano-based fare, there is none better. Almost to be expected from the frontman of the enormously underrated Blue Nile.
Artist: Amanda Marshall, Canada
Album: Amanda Marshall, 1995
Notes: A tale of an abused woman planning her escape from her violent Jim Beam-drenched husband, the fictional Virgil Spencer, in the Alabaman city. The singer/songwriter, an alumnus of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, disappeared following her 2001 album 'Everybody's Got A Story.' She moved to California for a while and then bought a house, taking time away from music. She'll be back later this year with a brand new album.
Song: Jealous Of The Angels
Artist: Jenn Bostic, Philadelphia, PA
Album: Change (EP), 2011
Notes: Based on a true story: the singer revisiting the trauma she experienced as a 10-year old girl when learning of her father's deadly car accident. Destined to become her signature song, subsequently recalling: 'The first time I sat down at the piano after the accident, I shut my eyes and honestly felt my dad's presence next to me. I poured my heart into those first few songs. The only way I could connect with him was when I played music. I still feel that way.' Now based in Nashville, she is yet another alumnus from the outstanding Berklee School of Music in Boston. The song took home five trophies at the 2012 Independent Country Music Awards. She's heading out on the road at the end of this week. Check for dates at http://jennbostic.com/?page=tour.
Song: Simply Beautiful
Artist: Andrea Davidson, Louisville, KY
Album: Not Available
Notes: A new, fresh, bubbly winner from the Kentucky songstress. On her website, it says: 'An Andrea Davidson song, once heard, will be stuck in your head, while you're lying in bed. Come wired or tired, she promises you will leave inspired.' If you like Andrea's music you can book her for one of her house concerts. She'll come to your home and perform - barefoot as always, with your guests making a donation on arrival. More at www.andreadavidson.net.
Song: On The Radio
Artist: Andy Stochansky, Canada
Album: Not Available
Notes: Top-drawer number which ironically has never been on the radio - except on L&F. Singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, but started out as a drummer in his native Canada. His solo debut came in 1996, followed by a further three albums over the next decade, since when there has been nothing. No longer interested in pursuing a career as a performer, he contines to write terrific songs, some of which have been recorded by the likes of The Goo Goo Dolls, Matthew Perryman Jones and Vanessa Amorosi.
Song: My Destiny
Artist: Lionel Richie, Tuskegee, AL
Album: Back To Front, 1992
Notes: Featured as one of three new songs on the ex-Commodores' first best of compilation. It came during a barren period for the singer - his previous record had come out six years earlier and it would be another four years before his next. In a career spanning 40 years, he came back with a bang last year with the release of 'Tuskegee,' a selection of his best songs newly interpreted with various guest vocalists.
Song: I Can't Make You Love Me
Artist: Bon Iver/Bonnie Raitt, Eau Claire, WI/Burbank, CA
Notes: Undoubtedly the greatest song ever written by a professional football player. Co-penned with Allen Shamblin, Mike Reid was a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals and an All-Pro defensive tackle. He retired after five years in the league, no doubt realising the injury toll from songwriting was negligible. An instant classic by Bonnie upon its 1991 release and still being recorded, first heard here in a stripped down falsetto by Mr. Vernon and his Bon Iver chums.