Artist: Pretenders, Akron, OH/England
Album: The Isle Of View, 1995
Notes: The confessional lost classic by the Chrissie Hynde-led band, heard in its beautifully unplugged form, with a string quartet tastefully replacing the rock backdrop of the original recording from 1979. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the band released an album of new material in 2008 'Break Up The Concrete,' and then re-formed for a one-off appearance at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix.
Artist: Boxer Rebellion, Maryville, TN/Australia/England
Album: Promises, 2013
Notes: A preview of the group's upcoming fourth album which is released this week. They arrived on the UK scene at the tail-end of BritRock in 2001, comprising an American lead singer, Nathan Nicholson, an Australian, Todd Howe and two Englishmen, Adam Harrison and Piers Hewitt. They'll be opening for the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park in London this summer - but before that will play selected dates in cities across America. More at the www.boxerrebellion.com.
Song: Cigarettes & Truckstops
Artist: Lindi Ortega, Canada
Notes: Authentic nu-country with a lovely broken-down rusty truck old school feel to it, though it's the title cut from her terrific latest album, named in several Best Of 2012 lists - the singer was deservedly nominated last year for the Polaris Music Prize. A telegenic practitioner of vintage sounding Rockabilly and Country (she has two albums and a superb Christmas EP under her belt to date), she hails from Toronto, but is now based in Nashville.
Song: Above The Bones
Artist: Mishka, Bermuda
Album: Above The Bones, 2009
Notes: Mostly known as a blue-eyed reggae artist, but more of cross between Jack Johnson and Trevor Hall on this number. The 40-something singer was first snapped up by the seminal British label Creation Records in 1997 (also the home of Oasis). He cut a couple of albums for Matthew McConaughey's J.K. Livin' label and now calls Jimmy Buffett's Mailboat Records his home, with a brand new album 'Ocean Is My Potion' just issued. He comes from an artistic family - one of his sisters is the singer Heather Nova, another, Susannah Frith, a tv newsporter and model, and his uncle, Michael Frith, worked for The Jim Henson Company and was one of the creators of Miss Piggy.
Song: Miss Sarajevo
Artist: Passengers, Ireland/Italy
Album: Original Soundtracks 1, 1995
Notes: From an album conceived as movie music to a film that never existed created by Bono with U2's longtime producer Brian Eno. As great and powerful a singer as Bono is, as soon as Pavarotti comes in the room, boom - it's game over: a remarkable and timeless moment. Conceived to accompany the Peter Greenaway film 'The Pillow Book,' but the collaboration never came to fruition.
Artist: Biffy Clyro, Scotland
Album: Opposites, 2013
Notes: One of the better moments on the trio's rather uneven and ambitious new double album which boasts 20 cuts. The alternative rock trio have been banging away since 1995, when they formed as Skrewfish in the town of Kilmarnock in the west of Scotland (the hometown of the famous Johnnie Walker whisky distiller). Comprising lead singer and guitarist Simon Neil and twins James and Ben Johnston, this cut comes from their latest album, recorded in Los Angeles with producer GGGarth. They've just cut short their North American tour, after Neil came down with a respiratory ailment.
Artist: Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, England
Album: Rattlenakes, 1984
Notes: Backed by the Scottish Commotions who were by his side for five years in the mid '80s, the English tunesmith/guitarist went fully solo in 1990 and has cut ten fine literate long-players since then. Also a rather good golfer with way too much time on his hands: in 2008, he was ranked at number 14 on Golf Digest's Top 100 golfing musicians list, but last year he auctioned off his clubs. On the music front, he recently released a CD in Germany with Hans-Joachim Roedelius, an electronic experimental work titled 'Selected Stories Vol. 1.'
Song: Love Letters
Artist: Ketty Lester, Hope, AR
Album: Greatest Hits, 2010
Notes: A big hit in its time but rarely heard on the radio these days. Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Etta James and Diana Krall are among many who have covered the 1945 standard, written by Edward Heyman and Victor Young for the film of the same name, but this 1962 version outshines allcomers. Fifty years on, it's still a gorgeously, understated two and half minutes of aural bliss.
Song: Fake Empire
Artist: National, Cincinnati, OH
Album: The Boxer, 2007
Notes: A sturdy quintet, comprising Matt Berninger and two pairs of brothers, the Dessners and the Devendorfs, who've been around for 14 years cutting five albums in all. Long overdue for a major breakthrough, perhaps their sixth set 'Trouble Will Find Me,' due any day, will do the trick. A fascinating new documentary about the group is currently making the rounds: 'Mistaken For Strangers' is a remarkably frank depiction of life on the road produced by Berninger's brother Tom, a film school dropout who was fired as the band's roadie during a 2011 tour but stayed with the tour regardless, simply filming all of its trials and tribulations and documenting his combustible relationship with his brother - it's very confessional, played to strong notices at the recent Tribeca Film Festival.
Artist: Bluebells, Scotland
Album: Sisters, 1984
Notes: The long overlooked hillbilly Bluegrass folk-rock quintet led by Robert Hodgens, aka Bobby Bluebell. The group were part of the smart, literate jangly guitar aggregation of bands which emerged from Scotland in the early 1980s which also spawned Aztec Camera and Lloyd Cole and the Commmotions. They only released one proper album, called 'Sisters' in 1984, and then a singles collection, which criminally is no longer available. The band split up in the mid-'80s and then briefly reformed in 2008. One-time bassist Lawrence Donegan was also a member of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and for a while was the golf correspondent for The Guardian newspaper.
Song: Oh My Stars
Artist: Andrew Belle, Nashville, TN
Album: The Ladder, 2010
Notes: Another corker by the Wheaton, Illinois-born Drew Fortson, who must have decided fame would beckon with a name change. It hasn't happened yet which remains a mystery, because he is an accessible and consistently creative singer-songwriter. He constantly turns out first rate pop/rock music and has had plenty of tv and film placements for his songs over the past couple of years. This lovely cut was featured in the movie 'October Baby.' He recently established his own 1L Music company, on which his own music appears as well as new signing Watt White: www.1L-music.com. More at www.andrewbelle.com as well.
Artist: Satellite, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Calling Birds, 2013
Notes: Three-year-old alternative rock four-piece, comprising Steve McMorran, Mitch Allan, Josh Dunahoo and Erik Kertes. They released the EP 'Ring The Bells' in 2010, and have just issued their debut album. Hardly newcomers however: Allan is a Grammy-nominated composer (Bowling For Soup's '1985') and has written for the likes of P!nk, Daughtry, Joe Cocker, Simple Plan and Faith Hill, while McMorran's music has found its way to Celine Dion and David Archuleta. This week they're setting off on a month-long tour starting down there in Atlanta. More at www.wearesatellite.com.
Artist: Kristina Train, New York, NY
Album: Dark Black, 2012
Notes: A new end-of-year lost classic from the peerless Ms. Train, yet another A+ pearl buried on her impeccable sophomore opus. Born in New York, raised in Savannah and now living in London, this superlative singer-songwriter released an 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.
Song: Die For You
Artist: Billy Redfield, New York, NY
Album: Two Steps Closer, 2006
Notes: A native of Maryland, but long based in New York, he admits he's influenced by Dave Matthews and is one of so many worthwhile musicians now raising money for future recordings through crowdfunding. He's in the process of trying to raise funds for his next album, 'Waiting On The Good Life' on Kickstarter. To learn more and help him out, head to www.billyredfield.com.
Song: The Police
Artist: Diefenbach, Denmark
Album: Set And Drift, 2005
Notes: A European indie-rock trio originally from Copenhagen but now based in Brisbane, Australia who have been around for about a dozen years. They took their name from the Reiley Diefenbach character in the movie 'Fargo.' On their facebook page they describe there coming together as if 'Beethoven and Vanessa Carlton had a lovechild and raised him in a whore house.? Fair enough.
Song: Us Against The World
Artist: Coldplay, England
Album: Mylo Xyloto, 2011
Notes: Never released as a single, except in South Korea, Chris Martin performed the song with Michael Stipe at the Concert for Sandy Relief back in December. A favorite live staple, it's the most performed non-single on their past two tours. Martin's wife,' Peppa Potts,' was recently and simultaneously voted the world's most beautiful woman by People magazine and the most hated celebrity in Hollywood by that other bastion of literary excellence, Star magazine.
Song: Wake Up Everybody
Artist: Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, Philadelphia, PA
Album: Wake Up Everybody, 1975
Notes: Truly the sound of Philadelphia from the mid '0s, an old-school slice of impeccable soul with a fine message for society at large. Although Melvin was the original band founder and leader, it was the voice of the mighty Teddy Pendergrass, originally their drummer, who was the sound of this band. Pendergrass went on to have a successful solo career, but suffered a serious car accident in 1982 which left him paralyzed. He sadly died too young in 2010 at the age of 59. Melvin himself was a year younger when he passed away in 1997.
Song: Family Man
Artist: Roachford, England
Album: Roachford, 1988
Notes: A long forgotten R&B belter, about a man trying to put his wayward behavior behind him to become a family man, from a little known British singer. He's released nine albums over a career spanning more than 20 years since his self-titled debut and his most recent, 'Addictive' in 2011. He's currently a member of Mike + The Mechanics.
Song: If I Were Brave
Artist: Shawn Colvin, Vermillion, SD
Album: A Few Small Repairs, 1996
Notes: A too-good, spare lost classic. In a recording career spanning nearly a quarter of a century, the Grammy-winning performer has constantly produced the highest quality music. She is currently on a US tour with Mary Chapin Carpenter. Check out dates at www.shawncolvin.com. Well worth a look is her fascinating memoir 'Diamond In The Rough,' published last year - a really frank and at times highly amusing warts 'n' all autobiography.
Song: Wanted Man
Artist: Needtobreathe, Seneca, SC
Album: The Reckoning, 2011
Notes: This trio been authentically banging away since 1998. Comprising brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart, the sons of a pastor from Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, and Seth Bolt, they have released four albums in the past seven years. They have a handful of dates, under the 'Drive All Night Tour 2013' banner, lined up this summer and a new CD coming this fall as well as a new EP, 'La Diferencia.' More at www.needtobreathe.net
Artist: First Aid Kit, Sweden
Album: The Lion's Roar, 2012
Notes: The lyric 'I'll be your Emmylou and I'll be your June, if you'll be my Gram and my Johnny too' affectionately recalls the great relationships between Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons and June Carter and Johnny Cash. Rolling Stone named the song one of the 50 Best of 2012, though it largely flew by unnoticed on radio. Despite the song's authentic country chops, the singers are the Swedish duo of sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg. More at www.thisisfirstaidkit.com.
Song: Cranberry Lake
Artist: Ari Hest, Bronx, NY
Album: Twelve Mondays, 2012
Notes: An alumnus of New York University, the prolific singer-songwriter wrote, recorded and released a new song every week for an entire year. The lovely female co-vocal on the track is courtesy of Rosi Golan, an L&F featured artiste. His latest CD, 'The Fire Plays,' came out last November and now he's finishing up a North American tour, opening for Judy Collins, which ends in Boulder, Colorado on June 9th. More at www.arihest.com.
Song: Open Road
Artist: Matthew Mayfield, Birmingham, AL
Notes: Atmospheric soundscapes graced by a distinctive gritty, soulful vocal from the one-time leader of Moses Mayfield, who left to go solo in 2008. He's released a succession of worthwhile EPs since then and his first full-length effort emerged in 2011. He's had a few song placements on tv shows like the ever reliable 'Grey's Anatomy,' but not nearly as many as his talent deserves. He's just released a new EP, titled 'Irons In The Fire.' Yet another crowdfunding artist - give him a hand if you wish at www.matthewmayfield.com.
Song: Love Me Like A Song
Artist: Kimmie Rhodes featuring Willie Nelson, Austin, TX/Abbott, TX
Album: Picture In A Frame, 2003
Notes: A heavenly slice of quiet Americana from a hugely underrated singer-songstress based in Austin, described by Emmylou Harris as having 'the voice of a beautiful child coming from an old soul', paired with the national treasure that is Willie Nelson. Nelson, 80 years young, has just released his 67th studio album, 'Let's Face The Music and Dance.' More at www.kimmierhodes.com and www.willienelson.com respectively.
Song: Season Of My Memory
Artist: Max Gomez, Taos, NM
Album: Run From You [single], 2012
Notes: An earnest tunesmith, who earned his musical spurs playing blues and country covers in local bars around his hometown of Taos in New Mexico, with a backing track reminscent of an old John Prine number called 'Big Ol' Goofy World.' Do check out the the 20-something singer-songwriter guitarist's freshman set. More at www.maxgomezmusic.com.
Song: California Blue
Artist: Roy Orbison, Vernon, TX
Album: Mystery Girl, 1989
Notes: A lovely, simple ode to the west coast, co-written by the singer with Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty - the three of them of course also combined in the Traveling Wilburys - from his last ever album and distinctively produced by Lynne. Sadly shortly after that number was recorded, he passed away - too young - just 52 on December 6th, 1988. Perhaps the finest male pop vocalist of all time - according to anyone who ever played with him, he never, ever sang a bum note.
Song: Going Down To Liverpool
Artist: Bangles, Los Angeles, CA
Album: All Over The Place, 1984
Notes: Their fourth single from early on in their career and the last one not to chart before the group exploded with 'Manic Monday.' Written by Kimberley Rew and first recorded with his band The Waves (formerly known as Katrina & the Waves, for whom he also penned 'Walking On Sunshine') and notable for being one of the two singles on which drummer Debbie Peterson sang on lead vocals. The video that accompanied that single was directed by band member Susannah Hoff's mother, acclaimed filmmaker, Tamar Simon Hoff, and starred Leonard Nimoy. They reunited in 1999 and are still going strong as a trio.
Artist: Ryan Adams, Jacksonville, NC
Album: Easy Tiger, 2007
Notes: Issued as a single, but no dice on the charts despite being used in a 2012 episode of the 'True Blood' series on HBO. Adams is a prolific tunesmith, releasing a slew of albums and EPs with his two bands Whiskeytown and the Cardinals, in addition to nine solo long-players. He picked up the guitar at the age of 14 and dropped out of high school in 10th grade to follow a career in music. He's also authored three books of poems and short stories, and if that isn't enough, he's also married to Mandy Moore.
Song: Willy's Song
Artist: Rayland Baxter, Nashville, TN
Album: Feathers & Fishhooks, 2012
Notes: A second L&F spin, his 'Dreaming' was played back on Show 99, from a former Loyola University lacrosse star turned singer/songwriter. Charmingly, his father, Bucky Baxter - who's played with Dylan, Ryan Adams and Steve Earle among many others - lends a hand on pedal steel throughout his son's long-player. He's currently on the road and will be appearing at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival next month and the Newport Folk Festival in July. More at www.raylandbaxter.com.
Artist: Paul Buchanan, Scotland
Album: Mid Air, 2012
Notes: Exquisite - the simplest of compositions and execution - and therein lies its beauty. The voiceless version of the track 'I Remember You' which was featured on L&F a few weeks back. If you don't have his sensational, note perfect long-player 'Mid Air' from last year then you might need a check-up from the neck-up.
Artist: Bob Dylan, Duluth, MN
Album: Blood On The Tracks, 1975
Notes: A wounded troubadour roaming the world unable to put the past behind him, yearning for the one that got away, not standing in her way as she needs to be free, letting go but missing her still, the bitterest pill - and notable as one of the more straightforward and easy to understand lyrics in the Dylan canon. Although Dylan denies it, his son Jakob has stated that the album was indeed autobiographical, with many of the forlorn love songs written about his marriage to his first wife, Sara. Recorded in Sound 80 Studio in Minneapolis on December 30th 1974.
Artist: Rachel Fannan, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: An eclectic, quirky and winning, songstress with her cool new update of the obscure Roxy Music swayer, which was only ever issued as the B-side to their brilliant 'Same Old Scene' single in 1980. She most likely discovered the original while working for four years as a record store clerk at Streetlight Records in Santa Cruz after she left high school. She was also a member of the Los Angeles valley band Sleepy Sun and has now put together the all girl band, Only You. More on her tumblr thing - rachelfannan.tumblr.com.
Artist: Tears For Fears, England
Album: The Hurting, 1983
Notes: Before they changed the world in 1985 with their first US chart-topper, the British duo from the Roman city of Bath in the west of England, released a brace of top-notch singles which flew under the radar including this track. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith met as session musicians for a cheesy band called Neon, they then moved on to a slighty less cheesy mod/new wave band called Graduate, before finding their feet as Tears For Fears. After a long time apart, they got back together in 2005 and have worked as a duo on and off since.
Song: The Killing Moon
Artist: Greg Laswell/Echo & the Bunnymen, San Diego, CA/England
Notes: An L&F favorite artist, with his distinctive take on the 1984 classic, seguing into the glorious modern rock original. Featured in the movies 'Donnie Darko,' 'Grosse Pointe Blank' and 'Gia,' it remains one of the signature songs by the Liverpool group which today just comprises the duo of Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant.