Song: Still In The Light
Artist: Tomi Swick, Canada
Notes: A drop-dead top-drawer lost cracker - and completely overlooked. Well-known in his native Canada where he won a Juno award for Best New Artist in 2007 but still a well-kept secret down here. He's a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, drums, piano and even the bagpipes. He decided on a career in music initially playing in covers bands to avoid a future in the steel mills. Maddeningly, neither of his albums, including last year's 'Tomi Swick' are available on iTunes in the US - but if you can find a way to migrate to iTunes Canada you'll find gold in them thar hills. More on him at www.tomiswickmusic.com.
Song: Don't Break My Heart
Artist: UB40, England
Album: Little Baggariddim, 1985
Notes: A little known and terrific overlooked number with a really neat sort of dub-step feel to it, many years before it became hip and cool, by the best reggae band to come out of Britain. They're still going strong - though without their distinctive lead singer Ali Campbell who quit the group in 2008 after 30 years together for a solo career. His brother Duncan took over lead duties and still fronts them as they tour the world performing material from their 30-album canon of work.
Artist: Jillette Johnson, Pound Ridge, NY
Album: Water In A Whale, 2013
Notes: A 23-year-old newcomer based in New York who's just getting started. She began playing piano at the age of 10, and turned down an offer to appear on 'The Voice' (good for her.) She had an EP called 'Whiskey & Frosting' out last year and her maiden album has just been released, including this cracker about an alienated transvestite. She's just played at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. More on her at www.jillettejohnson.com, where you can read her hand-written lyrics to this song.
Song: Until The End
Artist: Dirty South featuring Joe Gil, Serbia/Los Angeles, CA
Album: Speed Of Life, 2013
Notes: Serbian-born electronic whiz Dragan Roganovic's beginnings as DJ/producer Dirty South can be traced back to a simple tape deck; his only tools were two cassettes, a pause button and his dextrous hands. Once he obtained a computer and keyboard for mixing and recording, the singles and mashups began pouring out. Long-based in the lovely city of Melbourne, Australia, his remixes of cuts by Depeche Mode, the Temper Trap and U2 have become rock-solid party anthems. He recently blew the roof off the dump at Chicago's biggest EDM festival Spring Awakening, held at Soldier Field. More at www.dirtysouth.com.
Song: Live Without You
Artist: Cary Brothers, Nashville, TN
Album: Let Me Be [EP], 2013
Notes: Long-based in Los Angeles, he first came to wide attention with his 'Blue Eyes' contribution to the 'Garden State' film soundtrack in 2004 - but the two albums and a slew of EPs he's issued over the past 10 years are simply first-rate and all worth checking out. He earns his bread and butter from the frequent use of his songs in film and on tv. More at www.carybrothers.com, where there's a free download of 'Someday' from the new Zach Braff movie 'Wish I Was Here.'
Artist: Simple Minds, Scotland
Notes: Despite having never made the Billboard Hot 100, this song has become one of the band's most popular live songs. Released at the height of the British New Wave synth movement in the early '80s, it marked a transition for the band away from its awkward post-punk roots to a more melodic stadium-ready pop-rock sensibility which climaxed, of course, with 'Don't You Forget About Me.' Lead singer Jim Kerr and co-founder Charlie Burchill and their underrated tub-thumper, Mel Gaynor, are still going strong some 35 years after first assembling in Glasgow. A sparkling, remastered greatest hits collection just been issued called 'Celebrate.'
Song: I'm Wanderin'
Artist: Kristina Train, New York, NY
Album: Dark Black, 2012
Notes: If that gorgeous new cut sounds faintly familiar it's currently being used worldwide by Lexus as the backing theme to one of their commercials - a new school old school update of Jackie Wilson's 1958 original, co-written by Motown founder Berry Gordy and re-fashioned in the 1960s by Aretha Franklin. 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. Whether performing her own material or covering others, Ms. Train is quite simply one of the best female artists out there today.
Song: Wishing Well
Artist: Josh Osho, England
Album: L.I.F.E., 2012
Notes: A catchy chorus on a slice of delicious new school R&B from a fab new soul singer-songwriter talent not long out of his teens. The son of an Irish mother and Nigerian father, he left home at 16 but ended up becoming homeless - got his act together a couple of years later determined on a career in music. He was quickly snapped up by the venerable Island Records label which issued his debut long-player. He's already toured with another new L&F breakout artiste, Emil� Sande and co-wrote some new songs last year with none other than Sir Tom Jones. More at www.joshosho.com
Song: When The Night Comes
Artist: Dan Auerbach, Akron, OH
Album: Keep It Hid, 2009
Notes: So sweet without being syrupy - the softer side of one-half of the ever-hip Black Keys, with a gorgeous soft shuffler. Born and still based in Akron Ohio, he was in another blues-rock combo called the Barnburners, before forming the Black Keys with Pat Carney in 2001. He has long collaborated with other artists, engineering and producing for the likes of Dr. John, Michael Kiwanuka and Grace Potter - and more recently helmed the superb new album by Niger World Music titan, Bombino, which was featured on L&F a couple of months ago.
Artist: Dido, England
Album: Girl Who Got Away, 2013
Notes: A lilting, pensive winner, co-penned and produced, as with so much of her best work, by her brother, Rollo. One of the keys to her success, other than her distinctive, deliciously laid back vocal delivery, is the cunning simplicity she brings to nearly all her work. No longer in vogue, but she stays faithful to her craft. Brian Eno is among several producers on the new album. Plenty of good stuff about what she's currently up to at www.didomusic.com.
Song: See You In The Spring
Artist: Court Yard Hounds featuring Jakob Dylan, San Antonio, TC/New York, NY
Album: Court Yard Hounds, 2010
Notes: Some rootsy organic Americana courtesy of Martie Maguire and Emily Robison who are of course two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks, harmonizing with Jakob Dylan. Martie and Emily are sisters, their birth surname being Erwin - and they formed the Dixie Chicks in 1989 - with that combo's lead singer Natalie Maines having recently issued her solo rock outing, 'Mother.' Her colleagues have countered with their own 'Sunshine' EP and a new album, 'Amelita', due later this week. More at www.courtyardhounds.com.
Song: What You Want
Artist: Luke Reynolds, Cornwall, VT
Album: Maps [EP], 2010
Notes: If you're a serious music lover you might be familiar with a truly outstanding one-off album, 'Burning In The Sun,' by a group called Blue Merle from 2005. This is a rare cut from their former lead singer, an accomplished multi-intrumentalist tunesmith originally from Vermont. He also performed under another band name, Pictures and Sound, after Blue Merle dissolved and more recently has been a regular member of that fine Boston-based outfit, Guster. He's currently in the studio working on a new solo album. If you want to contribute financially to its making, check out his website - www.lukereynoldsmusic.com.
Artist: K.S. Rhoads, Tucson, AZ
Album: The Wilderness, 2013
Notes: A popular performer on the late night chat shows, he began playing around with a four-track recorder at the age of 14 and began a career in music about a decade ago in Nashville, where he's become the longtime music director for L&F preferred artiste, Erin McCarley. In 2008, when his solo debut 'Dead Language' was released, he became the bandleader of the Ten Out Of Tenn tour. He's also a regular opening act for other musicians including David Gray and Chris Isaak. More on him at www.ksrhoads.com.
Song: Grand Parade
Artist: Reindeer Section, Scotland
Album: Son Of Evil Reindeer, 2002
Notes: Lovely horns sprinkled throughout this laid-back ditty. If the lead singer sounds more than familiar it is indeed Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol, fronting an ad-hoc aggregation he assembled in 2001 as a sort of Scottish indie supergroup, at different times boasting no less than 47 members from 20 different Scottish acts including Teenage Fan Club, Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian. They played their last gig in December 2002, so don't expect anything soon.
Artist: Dire Straits, England
Album: Communique, 1979
Notes: The inimitable Mark Knopfler fronting his mega million-selling band with the vintage lost tempo-teasing diamond from almost 35 years ago. As lovely as that song is it was in fact written by Knopfler about the very serious topic of domestic abuse and possessive love. He disbanded his �ber-successful combo in 1995 and hasn't looked back, merely assembling a peerless canon of solo work since then.
Song: The Love Club
Artist: Lorde, New Zealand
Album: The Love Club [EP], 2013
Notes: A curious but engaging new pop/synth nugget by 16-year-old Takapuna Grammar schoolgirl, Ella Yelich-O'Connor. Her first single, 'Royals,' topped the chart in her native New Zealand and recently she created a record, with four songs in the country's Top 40. She has a new EP, 'Tennis Court,' just released (presumably only in New Zealand for the time being.) Very sparse presence on both facebook and at her meagre website - www.lorde.co.nz.
Artist: Smashing Pumpkins, Chicago, IL
Album: Oceania, 2012
Notes: Billy Corgan sounding even more like Mick Jagger than usual on arguably the strongest cut from the band's most recent album. Hard to believe that the band is sort of celebrating its 25th year together, though of course they took a five-year hiatus beginning in 2000. When he formed the group, conversely influenced by Black Sabbath and the Cure in Chicago, Corgan had long lush hair. More on them at www.smashingpumpkins.com.
Song: Look Around
Artist: General Ghost featuring Natalie Taylor, Philadelphia, PA/Mechanicsburg, PA
Album: Not available
Notes: Pennsylvania natives Kyle Rictor and Jon Howard, a fresh duo now based in Nashville combining as General Ghost with a crisp, neatly-flowing winner from their upcoming third EP with promising Alabaman Natalie Taylor on lead vocals. They only came together last year, writing and recording at Howard's studio called the Anchor Room. They're also top hired hands for other acts - Rictor plays with Brooke Waggoner, while Howard also helps out with rock combo, Paramore. More on them at www.generalghost.com, where they're currently offering a free download of the track 'It's Worth It I Promise'.
Song: World A Music
Artist: Ini Kamoze, Jamaica
Album: Ini Kamoze [EP], 1984
Notes: Deconstructed rock-steady bliss, the essence of reggae in its most organic form, with some delayed dub-step echo added in for flavor. Recorded with and produced by the legendary Jamaican rhythm section Sly & Robbie. It's a lost reggae classic and became the sampled backing track, indeed the very foundation for the iconic gangsta reggae/rapped 'Welcome To Jamrock' by Damien Marley in 2005. Born Cecil Campbell in 1957 in Jamaica, Kamoze (his name means 'mountain of the true God') recorded his first sides in 1981 but went on to have a global smash with 'Here Comes The Hotstepper' in 1994.
Song: Time Will Tell
Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov, South Africa
Album: The Weatherman, 2013
Notes: A simply superb new organic Americana offering by a South African who grew up in Philadelphia and now calls Nederland, Colorado his home. Much influenced by the music of Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter has released five albums over the past decade. One of his songs, 'Big Black Car,' was used in a 2012 McDonald's commercial, while a reversioned 'Running Home,' with Seven Hats' vocalist Julie Davis out front was featured in the Lifetime TV movie 'An Amish Murder,' which aired in January. He begins a two-month tour this weekend. He's also a sustainable gardener in his spare time. More at www.gregoryalanisakov.com.
Song: The Heart Of The Matter
Artist: Rupert Hine, England
Album: Deep End, 1984
Notes: An unearthed gem from one of the great unknown talents of the music business over the past six decades. The English all-rounder has recorded more than a dozen long players over the years, but is better known in the industry as a go-to producer for the likes of Stevie Nicks, Duncan Sheik, the Fixx and Tina Turner over an illustrious career behind the mixing desk. If nothing else, he deserves to be remembered from his tenure in Quantum Jump, when he uttered the longest word on record for the track 'The Lone Ranger' - 'Taumata-whaka-tangi-hanga-kuayuwo-tamate-aturi-pukaku-piki-maunga-horonuku-pokaiawhen-uaka-tana-tahu-mataku-atanganu-akawa-miki-tora.' More on this fascinating character at www.rupert-hine.squarespace.com.
Song: All I Have
Artist: Eleanor McEvoy, Ireland
Album: Snapshots, 1999
Notes: A seamlessly constructed note perfect, lost sapphire, produced by Rupert Hine, from a grossly overlooked singer-songwriter and accomplished violinist from Ireland, now in her mid-40s, virtually unknown over here. Sadly, since the mainstream release of this album, she's released ten albums on the Irish Moscodisc label, the most recent, 'If You Leave,' coming out a couple of months ago. More on her at www.eleanormcevoy.com.
Song: Swimming In The Sea
Artist: Bob Schneider, Austin, TX
Album: Burden Of Proof, 2013
Notes: One of several highlights on the artist's reliably strong new offering. The son of an opera singer, he was born in Michigan but partly raised in Germany, dropped out of the University of Texas to focus on a music career and fronted a couple of bands in the '90s before going solo around the turn of the millennium. 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 came out last month, 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 one of the coolest artist websites at www.bobschneider.com.
Song: The Hurry And The Harm
Artist: City & Colour, Canada
Album: The Hurry And The Harm, 2013
Notes: Clearly influenced by Neil Young's more pastoral work, the singer-songwriter Dallas Green, who performs under the City & Colour moniker, has been writing songs since he was 16 but didn't release anything until 2005. His latest effort, recorded in Nashville, has already debuted at Number 1 on the Canadian chart and received predictably strong reviews down here. Hailing from St. Catherine's, Ontario, he's also lead vocalist and guitarist for the Alexisonfire combo. If you're not a fan of his music, try his new beer, Colour Imperial Maple Wheat Ale, brewed by The Flying Monkeys. Seems appropriate that the first single released from his new album is 'Thirst.'
Artist: Terence Trent D'Arby, Manhattan, NY
Notes: After the top 5 success of both 'Wishing Well' and 'Sign Your Name,' great things were expected of Mr. D'Arby - not least by the immodest star himself - but this crisp bubbler released as a single after 'Sign Your Name' came and went without trace. After the huge success of his debut album in 1987 he took a major commercial nosedive fulled by a dash of egomania. Always an eccentric talent, he had a spat with his record label in 1996 - and then switched his name to Sananda Maitreya in the late '90s and he still records under that rather curious moniker. He also very briefly stepped in as lead singer of INXS for a couple of gigs after Michael Hutchence's death. Now living in Milan Italy, he's still touring and still recording.
Song: Devil Or Angel
Artist: Lou Doillon, France
Album: Places, 2013
Notes: Madamoiselle Doillon is already an accomplished actress but has moved sideways over the past couple of years to try her hand at singer-songwriting, with some success. The photogenic 30-year-old is the daughter of Francophile British actress/singer, the lovely Jane Birkin, she of 'Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus' notoriety. If you're looking to brush up on your French, check out her website - loudoillon.fr.
Song: Main Titles
Artist: Rachel Portman, England
Notes: Two minutes of pure instrumental bliss, which you might recognise from the rather stylish Pure Michigan and Omega tv commercials, though it was originally created for the 1999 film drama 'The Cider House Rules.' As the film's main theme it's one of the best works in a crowded catalog by British composer Rachel Portman, who has scored no less than 86 movies in a dazzling career stretching back to Hugh Grant's film debut in 'Privileged' in 1982. She's been nominated for Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe awards, winning an Academy Award for her scoring of the movie 'Emma.' Check out her prodigious list of credits at www.rachelportman.co.uk.
Artist: Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Westchester, PA
Album: Gift Horse, 2011
Notes: Somewhat of a favorite on the college circuit from a group formed in Massachusetts in 2003, though the singer's solo career started some 10 years earlier than. He annually performs to raise money for the St. Jude's Children's Hospital organization and he and the band have done a number of gigs abroad for the US Armed Forces. Interestingly he put the Sixers on hiatus at the end of last year and has just released his first strictly solo set in more than 10 years, with the intriguing title, 'Blunderstone Rookery.' More about Mr. Kellogg at www.stephenkellogg.com.
Song: Always You
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson, Staten Island, NY
Album: Human Again, 2012
Notes: I wait in the rain but I don't complain because I wait for you, I don't feel pain, you're like novocain, and I got you - It was always you'. One of the two bonus tracks from her most recent work of art. Just a voice, a piano, some harmonies, the gentlest of backing, a beautiful melody and a tender lyric. She's just recorded a version of the 'Star-Spangled Banner' as part of the www.united4th.com concept. Check out their website to see what it's all about. She's making her version available as a free download on on her site at www.ingridmichaelson.com.
Artist: Boxer Rebellion, Maryville, TN/Australia/England
Album: Promises, 2013
Notes: Heard first on L&F, but now receiving mainstream attention, this is the first single from the band's latest 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 opened for the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park yesterday, and made a game-changing appearance on national tv last month, performing the song on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.' More at www.theboxerrebellion.com.
Song: Dark Road
Artist: Annie Lennox, Scotland
Notes: A song about the loneliest journey of all, the dark road of depression, someone trapped in the spiral of dark thoughts and worthlessness. A relentlessly sad and poignant lost gem. The ex-Eurythmic hasn't recorded anything new for a while and made her last live appearance at the 2012 Olympic Games, however there's plenty of interesting stuff at her website - www.annielennox.com.
Artist: Icicle Works, England
Album: Icicle Works, 1983
Notes: This could only have been recorded in the 1980s judging by its instrumentation and production. The much-overlooked British indie rockers were part of the class of neo-psychedelica new-wave bands which burst out of Liverpool in the early '80s, which included fellow alumni The Teardop Explodes, Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds and Echo & The Bunnymen. The group was led by its exuberant frontman, Ian McNabb who went on to have a solo career after the band split up - and who inked the rather amusingly titled autobiography a few years ago called 'Merseybeast.'
Song: Three Tree Town
Artist: Ben Howard, England
Album: Old Pine [EP], 2011
Notes: A singer/songwriter from the west county of Devon in England and signed to the Island label, where other folk luminaries Nick Drake and John Martyn also found a home. His album was nominated for the 2012 Mercury Prize, a year after that long-deleted track made its first appearance. He's currently do the rounds of the European open-air festivals. More on him at www.benhowardmusic.co.uk.
Song: On And On
Artist: Maverick Sabre/Longpigs, England
Notes: A superb update of The Longpigs 1996 original by Anglo-Irish singer-songwriter Michael Stafford, who goes by the name Maverick Sabre. The 22-year old recently appeared in the role of Parson Nathanial on 'Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds - The New Generation,' a part created by Phil Lynott in the 1978 original, and which features him duetting with Joss Stone. The Longpigs had enormous unfulfilled potential, cutting just two albums during the 1990s before splitting up. Their guitarist Richard Hawley has since gone on to carve out an impressive solo career.