Song: Lovey Dovey
Artist: World Leader Pretend, New Orleans, LA
Album: Punches, 2005
Notes: Just over two minutes of aural bliss from an indie-pop quintet which was around for about seven years from 2000, led by multi-instrumentalist Keith Ferguson - the combo taking its name from a track on the R.E.M. album, 'Green.' They cut one album, 'Punches', in 2005 and then split up on the verge of recording of their second in 2008 citing the usual 'artistic differences.'
Song: The Hop
Artist: Bajka & Radio Citizen, India/Germany
Notes: Original, funky dub-step hip-hop written about fun 'fly' times driving around in a Cadillac. Radio Citizen is a music collective launched by Berlin-based Niko Schabel, who's reinventing noir jazz and dub, with the featured vocalist Bajka Pluwatsch, an Indian born chill-out soul singer also based in Germany. The track is from a various artists collection celebrating the superb Ubiquity indie label based out of Costa Mesa in California, which is a top rare groove, jazz, soul, hip-hop club label, always releasing marvellous left-field material. More on the label at www.ubiquityrecords.com.
Song: Country Song
Artist: Jake Bugg, England
Album: Jake Bugg, 2013
Notes: Another fab offering from the exciting 18-year-old newcomer from Nottingham in England - also the home of the legendary Robin Hood. Described by the Daily Telegraph newspaper as 'an East Midlands Bob Dylan,' he's said to have been Inspired to start a music career after hearing Don McLean's 'Vincent' at the age of 12. He made his US TV debut on 'The Conan O'Brien Show' a few months ago and will be back in North America later in the year, opening at the 9.30 Club in Washington, DC on September 14th. Ironically he's been getting a lot of attention lately with his 'Lightning Bolt' number being the ubiquitous current theme song for the Gatorade commercial. More at www.jakebugg.com.
Song: Saturday Morning
Artist: Rachael Yamagata, Arlington, VA
Album: Chesapeake, 2011
Notes: Breezy, winning music from the disgracefully-underrated songstress ruminating on a loving relationship on a Saturday morning. Recorded at her producer John Alagia's home in Maryland, it was fan-funded - money well spent - and released on her own Frankenfish label. Her latest album, 'Hevayweight,' was released in March and she's currently on the road and will be until July 13th. More at www.rachaelyamagata.com.
Artist: Tennis, Denver, CO
Album: Young And Old, 2012
Notes: Husband and wife duo of Alaina Moore on vocals and keyboards and guitarist Patrick Riley with a curiously-engaging track from their sophomore set, which was produced by the Black Keys drummer, Patrick Carney. The couple met at college while both were studying philosophy, and have been recording for a couple of years focused on a surf-laced brand of electro-indie pop. More on them at www.tennis-music.com, where you can stream plenty of goodies.
Artist: Turin Brakes, England
Album: Ether Song, 2003
Notes: A sturdy all-American sound, therefore surprising that they're actually a modern folk-rock duo from south London in England, comprising Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian. Childhood friends who formed their musical unit in 1999, they've just finished their sixth studio album, 'We Were Here,' which will be released in September. More at www.turinbrakes.com.
Song: Call Someone
Artist: Thirteen Senses, England
Album: Contact, 2007
Notes: Yet another fabulous lost treasure from a combo that emerged as part of the same post Britpop movement which spawned Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol. They've been around for more than a decade, releasing three sensational albums over that time - all of them bizarrely overlooked by nearly everyone - with a fourth long-player almost complete. Check them out at www.thirteensenses.com.
Song: You Wanted It
Artist: Mozella, Detroit, MI
Album: Mozella [EP], 2005
Notes: A bittersweet retro melter from one of the most talented female songstresses out there. She has a soul and a groove that few other current artists can match. Her real name is Maureen McDonald and she's still based in her home state of Michigan. Now in her early 30s, she's opened for the Dave Matthews Band, Five for Fighting, Lifehouse and Michelle Branch, among many others. Signed to Madonna's Maverick label for a while, then moved to Motown - who also dropped her. More at www.mozellamusic.com.
Song: God Help This Divorce
Artist: Miike Snow, Sweden/New York, NY
Album: Happy To You, 2012
Notes: Devilishly clever indie pop from a group named after a friend of theirs with that very moniker, although they unhelpfully spell their band name Miike with two i's. They're actually a trio fronted by Pontus Winnberg and Christian Karlsson (better known as producers Bloodshy & Avant) and Andrew Wyatt, who has just released a new solo album, 'Descender.' They've recently launched their own label, Ingrid. More at www.miikesnow.com.
Song: Two Shots
Artist: Elle King, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: Astonishingly still unreleased, yet arguably her strongest cut and recorded as a demo prior to her signing with RCA last year. Born in Los Angeles, brought up in Ohio and now living in Brooklyn, she's just getting started on her career and has just the one EP to date. Elle has opened for Of Monsters And Men, Train, Dashboard Confessional and Ed Sheeran. More at www.elleking.com.
Song: Our Time Has Come
Artist: Wood, England
Notes: Simple, deconstructed, written about the patience required to let a new love blossom, from a band fronted by James Maddock, who was living in the London suburb from whence the album got its name. They cut a second album which never saw the light of day, and Maddock subsequently moved to Manhattan in 2003, where he began performing under his own name - indeed a new album by him, 'Another Life', is due for release next month. He's currently on the road. For dates, head to www.jamesmaddock.net.
Song: Here I Am In London Town
Artist: Deacon Blue, Scotland
Album: The Hipsters, 2012
Notes: A song about a Scotsman stranded in London yearning to be back with his lost love and the superb lead off cut from the band's comeback album - their first long-player in 11 years. Having been a staple on the British charts from the mid-'80s to the early '90s, the band couldn't catch a cold over here despite making highly accessible quality pop-rock. Front man Ricky Ross and fellow band member Lorraine McIntosh have been married for over 20 years and even released an album together in 2009 as McIntoshRoss. The always literate and eloquent Ross has been became a first-rate broadcaster in the UK - his musical knowledge always welcome on the BBC.
Artist: The 1975, England
Album: Music For Cars [EP], 2013
Notes: A promising preview of their eponymous debut album due in September from a group of alt-rockers who first got together as a punk combo at high school about ten years ago, but only performed and began recording together as The 1975 last year. Their full-length debut was produced by Mike Crossey, who also helms for the Arctic Monkeys and the Foals. The band recently opened for the mighty Muse on their 2nd Law Tour.
Artist: Corrs, Ireland
Album: In Blue, 2000
Notes: Another Celtic-pop charmer and the electric version of the song which was first recorded on the group's 'Unplugged' album. Despite becoming a multi-platinum act in every other corner of the world, the sibling quartet never got going in the US despite several earnest efforts. They called it quits in 2006, since when they have turned their attentions to family life. Andrea has found time to cut two solo albums, 'Ten Feet High' in 2007 and 'Lifelines' in 2011, while Sharon released a sole album, 'Dream Of You,' in 2010. Brother Jim has become a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
Song: A Thousand Lies
Artist: Mark Sholtez, Australia
Notes: Understated gem from a singer-songwriter from Down Under, who received an ARIA nomination for his 2006 debut album 'Real Street', which he recorded in New York with legendary producer Tommy LiPuma. He recorded the follow-up, from which this track comes, in Los Angeles under the production genius of Larry Klein, who helmed so many masterpieces for his ex-wife Joni Mitchell, among many others. Larry has an extraordinary gift of stripping away all pretension and letting his artists and their songs really breathe. Check out www.marksholtez.com or www.facebook.com/marksholtezmusic.
Song: So Bright
Artist: Alfred Hall, Norway
Album: Wilderness, 2013
Notes: Another attention-grabbing cut from a very promising freshman set. Alfred Hall is the Norwegian duo of Hans Thomas Kiaer and Bjorn Tveit a couple of Norwegian farm hands who formed their music unit in 2009. They were snapped up last year by Sony Music in Europe and are now seeking wider attention worldwide. This highly recommended debut set was recorded in a barn in Drammen, Norway, where they encountered a bull named Alfred - hence their band name. Check them out at www.facebook.com/alfredhallpage - their website www.alfredhall.com features a neat train on its main page and nothing else.
Song: Ring Them Bells
Artist: Gordon Lightfoot, Canada
Album: Waiting For You, 1993
Notes: There have been many cover versions of the Dylan chestnut over the years, but none better than this one, delivered with restrained empathy and passion. Now in his 75th year, he nearly died a few years ago from a very serious illness - but made it through thank goodness. He's finally been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and continues to play his songs to those discerning enough to listen. His '50 Years on the Carefree Highway' tour opened last week and will run through September. For details, check out his unofficial website www.gordonlightfoot.com. Rightly described by fellow Canadian, Robbie Robertson of the Band as 'a national treasure.'
Song: Now That I Know
Artist: Shannon McNally, Hempstead, NY
Album: Jukebox Sparrows, 2002
Notes: A country-laced corker from a singer, reminiscent of Sheryl Crow but with an Americana twist. She began performing while still at college, busked for a while on the streets of Paris, before being signed by Capitol Records in 1997. Currently living in Mississippi, she released a terrific seven-track EP last year with Amy Lavere called 'Chasing The Ghost - Rehearsal Sessions' and more recently issued 'Small Town Talk,' honoring the songs of legendary Louisiana songsmith, Bobby Charles. She's on the road this summer: www.shannonmcnally.com.
Artist: Hudson Taylor, Ireland
Album: Battles [EP], 2012
Notes: A bustling nu-folk rumbler with some terrific harmony work by the young brothers, Harry and Alfie, who are based in Dublin. This track comes from their debut EP, released last August, which was quickly followed by another, 'Cinematic Lifestyle,' in November. Quite a few Mumford copycats out there at the moment, but this duo are a cut above the rest. More at www.hudsontaylormusic.com, where you can help yourself to a free download of the track 'Drop In The Ocean.'
Song: Swimming In Your Ocean
Artist: Crash Test Dummies, Canada
Album: God Shuffled His Feet, 1994
Notes: The band featuring the bizarre and utterly original deep bass-baritone lead vocal of Brad Roberts and best remembered for the big hit 'Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm' in 1994. Roberts now resides in Manhattan, and has a really fun tumblr page with some wacky photos from outside his apartment in Soho - crashtestdummies.tumblr.com. The band is still going strong after 25 years, albeit with only Roberts and Ellen Reid from its original line-up, releasing a new studio album, 'Oooh La! La!,' in 2010 and a compilation of unreleased demos, 'Demo-litions,' in 2011.
Song: Home Again
Artist: Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin & Taj Mahal, Kennett, MO/Downey, CA/Harlem, NY
Notes: Produced to Cafe Americana perfection by roots-rock meister, T. Bone Burnett, a track from a sterling, rootsy, backwoods collection of new songs written by John Mellencamp with a book by Stephen King for a new musical, which had its premiere in Atlanta last year and is set to go on a US tour later in the year. For dates, check out www.ghostbrothersofdarklandcounty.com. The album also features Kris Kristofferson, Neko Case, Ryan Bingham and Elvis Costello.
Song: Ordinary Heart
Artist: Emily King, New York, NY
Album: Ordinary Heart, 2012
Notes: A catchy, but lonely, R&B kissed single from last year by a soulstress who was snapped by Clive Davis in 2004, signing to his J Records label, since when there has been but one album, the Grammy-nominated 'East Side Story,' an EP 'The Seven' and this single. Unsurprisingly she was personally selected by L&F permanent resident Emeli Sand� to open for her during a 2012 UK tour. More at www.emilykingmusic.com.
Song: Railway Line
Artist: Satellites, England
Album: Not available
Notes: A starkly haunting track which regrettably is not available for download in the US, only on the British iTunes. Satellites is the performing moniker of a highly-creative English singer-songwriter called Johnny Vic, who is now based in Copenhagen. Taken from his debut album 'Satellites.01' from last year, there is a superb monochromatic video clip for the song on youtube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1yitrP49tE. More on his music at satellites01.co.uk, where you can at least stream the number.
Song: Love At First Sight
Artist: Gist, England
Album: Embrace The Herd, 1983
Notes: A completely unknown little gem from a short-lived indie combo from England formed by Stuart Moxham who previously fronted the rather cool Young Marble Giants. The group was around just long enough to record one album and to see this song become a French hit for �tienne Daho translated as 'Paris, Le Flore'.
Song: Sour Times
Artist: Portishead, England
Album: Dummy, 1994
Notes: Uber-cool instrumentation and atmospherics underpinning the timeless outing from the pioneering trip-hop opus now nearly 20 years old. Written by all of the group's three members, Beth Gibbons, Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow, it cleverly sampled a track called 'Danube Incident,' composed by the legendary film and tv composer, Lalo Schifrin. Along with Massive Attack, the trio spearheaded the trip-hop scene which emerged from Bristol in the west of England in the early 1990s. Still going strong today, but their 1994 release remains a seminal long-player, which every self-respecting record collector should have.
Artist: Clifford T. Ward, England
Notes: A typically soothing sapphire from the superb, ever-modest singer-songwriter and pianist from the bucolic English county of Worcestershire. He was an English and drama teacher at a British high school, where one of his students was Sting's wife Trudie Styler. He was signed by legendary broadcaster John Peel's Dandelion label and then by Charisma Records, where he had a modicum of success, charting with the singles 'Gaye' and 'Scullery.' In all, he recorded 20 albums, but never achieved the popularity his talents warranted. He died from pneumonia in 2001 at the age of 57 after a nearly 20-year battle with multiple sclerosis.
Song: New Year's Resolution
Artist: Camera Obscura, Scotland
Album: Desire Lines, 2013
Notes: Their trademark innocent simplicity still intact, the indie pop reflections of the veteran Glaswegian band with one of the better moments on their newly-issued fifth long-player, which was recorded in Oregon. As with past efforts, their latest offering is wholly directed by the literate compositional skills and distinctive vocal stylings of front-woman Tracyanne Campbell. They began a North American tour on Friday, which will come to an end in Cincinnati on July 14th at the Bunbury Music Festival. More on them at www.camera-obscura.net.
Artist: Young Summer, Washington, DC
Album: Fever Dream, 2013
Notes: A dreamy, ethereal electro folk-pop curiosity, produced with typical panache by L&F preferred vendor Trent Dabbs, who described the experience as a 'creative calling.' The young singer describes her music as floating somewhere between Florence Welch and Sarah McLachlan though, interestingly, she was most inspired by Karen Carpenter. Suffering through a rather transient childhood, she describes music as 'a safe harbor or the home I've never had.' More on her, confusingly, at www.bobbieallenmusic.com and at facebook.com/youngsummermusic.
Song: Let The Light In
Artist: Bob Schneider, Austin, TX
Album: A Perfect Day, 2011
Notes: Such a strong melody and smart lyrics, cleverly and evocatively using characters from 'The Wizard of Oz' to tell his tale of unexpected new love from a classy singer-songwriter who has been plugging away creating top-notch, erudite melodious fare for a long time. A local musical hero in his home town, where he's won no less than 24 trophies at the city's annual Music Awards since being named Musician of the Year in 1999. His 12th studio album, 'Burden Of Proof,' came out last week, and he'll be on the road promoting it for the next couple of months. (Most of his live shows are recorded and then made available to his audience on their way out.) Check out where he'll be at www.bobschneider.com.
Song: Re: Stacks
Artist: Bon Iver, Eau Claire, WI
Album: For Emma, Forever Go, 2007
Notes: Once wisely used in the much-missed 'House' tv series, the haunting falsetto can only be Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver with a lost treasure buried on his now iconic freshman set, which he recorded in an isolated cabin in Wisconsin, in which he shut himself away for four months - and on which he purged himself, excavated his heart while mourning the loss of a dear love. Does music come anymore bittersweet than this? More at www.boniver.org.
Song: The Grass Is Blue
Artist: Norah Jones, Brooklyn, NY
Notes: Too sad for words, a woman trying so hard to overcome her heartbreak using contrarian imagery to heal the pain, her world turned upside down trying to convince herself that all is fine - when it isn't. One of a selection of gems from a now annoyingly-deleted 2003 tribute album to Dolly Parton, which also featured other top-flight updates of her repertoire by the likes of Sin�ad O'Connor, Alison Krauss, Mindy Smith and Emmylou Harris. Parton wrote and recorded this little gem for her superb bluegrass album of the same name in 1999.
Song: Hey Sunshine
Artist: Max & Simon, New York, NY/Los Angeles, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: Hard to believe that despite having their music featured in a couple of commercials for JC Penney and tv shows like 'The Biggest Loser,' they remain unsigned and horribly under-appreciated - they consistently deliver ultra-catchy nuggets like this two-minute bubbler. Interestingly they are neither a duo, nor do any their members have the name Max or Simon - they're actually a trio of Blake Healy, Kevin Bard and Mark Rosas, alternately based in New York and Los Angeles, who describe their mission to 'make the world a better place one sunny day at a time'' Healy was a member of the short-lived Metro Station, while Bard still fronts Stereo Skyline. The Shine On Me mix of this song can be heard at their nascent website at www.maxandsimon.com.
Artist: Boxer Rebellion, Maryville, TN/Australia/England
Album: Promises, 2013
Notes: A preview of the group's just-released fourth album. 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 - and wrapped a US tour yesterday. More at www.theboxerrebellion.com.
Song: Wicked Game
Artist: Kendra Morris/Chris Isaak, Lodi, CA/Stockton, CA
Notes: Isaak's original version was released back in 1989, but only through its use in David Lynch's 'Wild At Heart' movie the following year did it become a hit. The New York-based Morris, who grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, has recorded the song for her new album of covers, released next month. Also on the album are her interpretations of 'Space Oddity,' 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond,' 'Walk On The Wild Side' and 'Karma Police.' More on her www.kendramorrismusic.com. She has three dates in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston coming up next month, while Isaak begins a North American tour in Canada on July 3rd.