Artist: Travis, Scotland
Album: The Invisible Band, 2001
Notes: Veteran indie combo from Glasgow, fronted by Fran Healy, still going strong now into its third decade - indeed their seventh album and first in five years, titled 'Where You Stand' is due next month - and it follows Healy's sorely overlooked solo album, 'Wreckorder' from 2010. This song was featured in the Adam Sandler movie, 'Mr. Deeds', but the official video in which the band gets into a food fight was an infinitely better piece of film-making. More on them at www.travisonline.com.
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 on her at www.emilykingmusic.com.
Song: Best Day Ever
Artist: Bob Schneider, Austin, TX
Album: Burden Of Proof, 2013
Notes: Endlessly inventive but always accessible, always trying to expand his palate and push the creative boundaries of male singer-songwriting. Born in Michigan, raised in Germany and now settled in Bee Cave, Texas, which is about 12 miles west of that great music town Austin, where he's become a local musical hero. He's got one of the best musician websites out there, simply www.bobschneider.com, where he will personally walk you through the tracks on his worthwhile and diverse new long-player.
Song: The Good Times
Artist: Matthew Puckett, New York, NY
Album: The Goodbye [EP], 2008
Notes: A Brooklyn-based tunesmith and also an in-demand producer and tv/film composer - he actually composed the main theme 'Everything I Want' and indeed the score for the ABC television series 'Boston Med', he's an alumnus of the High School of the Performing Arts in New York and has been recording since 1998. More on him at www.matthewpuckett.com.
Song: 7 Seconds
Artist: Neneh Cherry & Youssou N'Dour, Sweden/Senegal
Notes: The magnificent electronic and world music meld of these two artists, which was a huge hit all over the world, but regrettably not in the States. The Swedish songstress sings her lines in English, with the world music great delivering his in French and his native Senegalese 'Wolof' tribal tongue. When he performed this socially-conscience theme corker at Live 8 in 2005, Dido stepped in to sing Cherry's vocal.
Song: Station Approach
Artist: Elbow, England
Notes: Anthemic rock with clever literate lyrics from one of Britain's best alternative rock bands over the past decade. Yet another quality group eminating from the ever fertile musical city of Manchester in the north of England, they got together in 1991 but only performed under the Elbow moniker from 1997 - fronted by the distinctive vocal stylings of Guy Garvey, who also moonlights as a DJ, with a magnificent weekly show for the BBC Radio 6 station.
Song: Under My Bed
Artist: Meiko, Roberta, GA
Album: Meiko, 2008
Notes: A Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, whose first public performance was singing 'White Christmas' at the age of eight in her local church. Two note perfect, highly recommended albums to date including last year's 'The Bright Side'. When she signed her record deal for that album the label asked her what she wanted as a way of showing their commitment to her work: she said she'd love to go to Japan where she'd never been despite her heritage - and her wish was their command, they did indeed send her there and she had a big hit off the album.
Song: Summer Breeze
Artist: Isley Brothers, Cincinnati, OH
Album: 3 + 3, 1974
Notes: Originally a hit for its writers, folk-popsters Seals and Crofts in 1972, but magnificently reworked by the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, with great guitar work by brother Ernie and predictably outstanding vocal harmonizing by siblings O'Kelly, Rudolph and Ronald Isley. A far cry from 'Twist And Shout' indeed. With Ron and Ernie still going strong, next year sees the 60th anniversary of the band's founding.
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 www.LauraMvula.com.
Song: Strong As You
Artist: James McCartney, England
Album: Me, 2013
Notes: The only son of Paul and Linda McCartney with the uttterly charming lead-off cut from his very first full album. A multi-instrumentalist, who has often contributed to his father's work appearing on three of his albums, he's released some first-rate EPs in his own right over the years. A quote from the iTunes reviewer of his new album reads: 'The apple has fallen close to the tree, but what a wonderful tree. It's hard to fault anyone for sounding so sweet and alluring'.
Song: Gotta Get Back
Artist: Shelby Lynne, Quantico, VA
Album: I Am Shelby Lynne, 1999
Notes: From the album that marked her radical transition from a soft traditional country queen to a sexy and strong Americana-tinged singer-songwriter - in fact her transition was so successful it completely fooled the folks over at the Grammy Awards who awarded her the Best New Artist Grammy in 2000. Because of that album Grammy members were largely and blissfully unaware that she had already recorded five previous albums over the previous 11 years. (At least she actually sang on her record.) Virginia-born but now based in Palm Desert in California, she has a brace of concerts with Alejandro Escovedo in September. More on her at www.shelbylynne.com.
Artist: Son Volt, Minneapolis, MN
Album: Wide Swing Tremelo, 1998
Notes: The rootsy art of an under-appreciated Americana band with a really neat and interesting curiosity. Fronted by Jay Farrar, who's a wicked guitarist and harmonica player, was in another much-praised outfit, Uncle Tupelo, up until 1994 with Jeff Tweedy from Wilco. The band's newest album, 'Honky Tonk' was released back in March and they are currently on the road. More at www.sonvolt.net.
Artist: Matt Tinsley, England
Album: Water & Stone [EP], 2013
Notes: A fan of L&F contributors Ryan Adams, the National, Foy Vance and Josh Rouse, he's an unsigned London-based tunesmith belying his Americana/folkish alt-rock inclinations with a promising new track. More on him at www.matttinsleymusic.com, as well as www.matttinsley/bandcamp.com.
Song: Here Is A Heart
Artist: Jenny Owen Youngs, Montclair, NJ
Album: Transmitter Failure, 2009
Notes: 'Here is a heart Just how you like it' - delicious writing from a singer-songwriter whose music has been featured on the Showtime series 'Weeds'. She's enormously talented and rather witty in person, plays the flute and the tuba among other instruments which she learnt as a childand has opened for the likes of Regina Spektor and Aimee Mann. She has recently announced that she is quote 'super gay' and will be marrying her girlfriend Kristin Russo, co-founder of EveryoneIsGay.com, this summer.
Song: Chasing Rubies
Artist: Hudson Taylor, England
Notes: There are dozens of Mumford copycats out there at the moment, but this duo are a cut above the rest. They're the young brothers of Harry and Alfie - Hudson Taylor is their surname - based in Dublin, and have only been performing together for a couple of years but have already picked up strong notices on the other side of the Atlantic. More on them at www.hudsontaylormusic.com or on Facebook, just add HudsonTaylorMusic.
Song: Safe With Me
Artist: The Co, Mexico, MO/Nashville, TN/Evansville, IN
Album: Safe With Me [EP], 2013
Notes: Originally slated to be on the 'Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn 2' soundtrack - which would have paid a few bills but it didn't make the cut - hitting all the right melodromatic pop/rock notes. They're a young trio from Nashville fronted by soaring lead singer Collin Brace with keyboardist Troy Akers and tub-thumper Nate Fleming who've been around since 2005, with their latest album 'Keep It Together' released in January. More on them at www.thecomusic.com where you can download no less than 18 of their songs for free.
Song: Monkey Lullaby
Artist: Kanute, England
Album: Standing Room Only, 2010
Notes: So inventive and enjoyable from a rather obscure pairing of British musicians, singer-songwriter Rachael Gray and producer Rob Overseer. Overseer, who's an extremely inventive and creative bloke, claims it was he, not Al Gore who invented the internet - with tongue firmly in cheek. This song features a well-used vocal sample of Rickie Lee Jones' 'On Saturday Afternoons In 1963.' The duo has just announced the impending release of their new album, 'Ursa Minor.' More on them at www.kanutemusic.com.
Song: The Things I Do
Artist: Teddy Thompson, England
Notes: Infectious A+ folk rock from the UK. He's collaborated with both Rufus and Martha Wainright, Brian Wilson, as well as Keane. The son of legendary British folk-rock pioneers, Richard and Linda Thompson, who brought him up in a Sufi Commune in the mid-'70s, he's released four albums over seven years, the most recent being 2011's 'Bella.' He continues to record and perform with both his mum and his dad, and in fact in September will be performing with his father in New York. More at www.teddythompson.com.
Artist: Natalie Taylor, Mechanicsburg, PA
Album: Not available
Notes: Astonishingly this drop-dead catchy, engaging EDM-flavored pop nugget is currently unreleased. Original from Alabama, but unsurprisingly now based in Nashville, her influences include Jon Howard, John Mayer and Sara Bareilles. Featured a super, acoustic track by General Ghost a couple of weeks ago on the show, which featured her as guest vocalist. More at www.natalietaylormusic.com, where she declares 'I do musical things, am an esthetician, and could do R&B riffs in harmony for days. Oh and Roll Tide ;)'
Song: A Certain Light
Artist: Josh Ritter, Moscow, ID
Notes: A lovely late '0s almost Jim Croce folk feel to this number from the Americana tunesmith who wrote and recorded his new album while suffering through his painful divorce from fellow musician, Dawn Landes. It's a very personal collection about which he said: 'These new songs felt like rocks in the shoe, hard little nuggets of whatever they were, be it spite, remorse, or happiness. I hadn't composed this stuff, I'd scrawled it down, just trying to keep ahead of the heartbreak.' Paste magazine once hailed him as one of the top 100 greatest living songwriters. He begins a US tour in late August. More at www.joshritter.com.
Song: Sugar For The Soul
Artist: Steve Balsamo, Wales
Album: All I Am, 2002
Notes: Sounding for all the world like another first-class Robbie Williams outing, a terrific bouncy, melodic pop-rock treat from a relatively unknown singer-songwriter from the land of Sir Tom Jones. Kicked out of his school choir for not being able to sing, he served a musical apprenticeship with the Prince's Trust in the UK - which is an excellent charity set up by Prince Charles to help struggling unemployed musicians - a most worthwhile organisation. He played the title role in the London production of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' during the 1990s, but that shouldn't be held against him. More at www.stevebalsamo.co.uk, where you can hear his rather splendid version of Shawn Colvin's 'I Don't Know Why.'
Artist: Al Green, Forrest City, AK
Album: Belle, 1977
Notes: Dripping in soul, the inimitable vocal stylings of an R&B legend, with a sensational lost soul sapphire. Nearly of his early albums were produced by the great Willie Mitchell - but that was the first recording which he produced himself. These days he's a well-known preacher - If you want to see him perform live, just head down to Memphis any Sunday - he's the pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church. More at www.algreenmusic.com.
Song: Hide And Seek
Artist: Howard Jones, England
Album: Human's Lib, 1984
Notes: Brilliant, melodramatic synth-pop at its finest, tucked away on his debut album from 1984. He actually performed an acoustic version of that mighty ballad at Live Aid the following year. He's still recording and touring, but with a lot less hair and living quietly in Somerset in England. The US leg of his '2013 Regeneration Tour' with Erasure's Andy Bell hits the road on August 20th in New York. More at www.howardjones.com.
Song: Foreign Coast
Artist: Alfred Hall, Norway
Album: Wilderness, 2013
Notes: The frosted forest Scandinavian sound of L&F regulars with one of many first-rate numbers on their splendid, euphoric freshman set. Formed in 2009, they are the duo of Bj'rn Tveit (vocals and guitar) and Hans Thomas Ki�r (guitar) and they recorded their debut set in a barn on Hans' farm in Drammen. The pair describe their music as dreamy folk-pop. Check them out at www.facebook.com/alfredhallpage or their website www.alfredhall.com, which features a neat train on its main page and nothing else.
Song: Never Forget You
Artist: Noisettes, England
Album: Wild Young Hearts, 2009
Notes: A reverential drop-dead homage to the best pop/soul of the 1960s, and sounding a bit like L&F permanent resident Mozella. Despite that retro flavor, they are actually an indie rock combo, comprising guitarist Dan Smith and singer/bassist Shingai Shoniwa who got together while both were studying music at the BRIT School of Performing Arts in 2003. Used in a TV commercial in Italy for Vodafone, the song was a mini-hit around Europe and is now used as the theme tune to Ronnie Wood's excellent if rambling radio and tv show.
Song: Whisper Low
Artist: Adam Agin, Nashville, TN
Notes: Underrated singer-songwriter with another melancholic delight, the second single from his latest album, showing strong shades of Ed Sheeran in his overall sound. Often referred to by critics and fans as Nashville's best kept secret, he's released one EP and two lovely albums to date. It took the native of Indiana nearly four years to release the follow-up to his 'Foundation' EP debut, but it was well worth the wait. More at a rather sparse website www.adamagin.com.
Song: Here Comes Your Man
Artist: Meaghan Smith, Canada
Notes: A typically cutsie-pie cover of the breakthrough modern rock classic by the Pixies. Her trademark Omnichord instrument was designed by the Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation in 1981 as a sort of electronic substitute for an autoharp. Strangely and frustratingly, only a couple of long-players by the songstress to date - and one those was a Christmas album, but she finished a new album earlier in the year. More at www.meaghansmith.com.
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, he 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. Check out his House of Andy setup on the excellent Soundcloud streaming service at www.soundcloud.com/house-of-andy.
Song: Love Wars
Artist: Womack & Womack, Cleveland, OH/Chicago, IL
Album: Love Wars, 1983
Notes: The husband and wife pairing who recorded together for about ten years back in the 1980s before relocating to Nigeria. That lost nugget was the title cut from their debut collaboration, which also included a great soul cover of the Rolling Stones' 'Angie.' Cecil, who was the brother of soul legend Bobby Womack, passed away earlier this year in South Africa at the age of 65. Linda, who just turned 60, is of course the daughter of Sam Cooke, whose widow Barbara married Bobby Womack.
Song: Be Mine
Artist: Lily & The Pearl, Annapolis, MD
Album: Snowglobe, 2012
Notes: Haunting, slightly off-kilter ethereal softness from songstress Laura Brino, a self-taught pianist since the age of eight and now an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who released three albums under her real name between 2006 and 2009. In the real world she is an art teacher at the Wiley H. Bates Middle School in Annapolis.
Song: Back To You
Artist: Greg Laswell with Elizabeth Ziman, San Diego, CA/Brooklyn, NY
Album: Landline, 2012
Notes: A lost couple trying to crawl out of the wreckage of a failed relationship, trying to find the maturity not to lay blame, trying instead to trace the best of who they are in the love they shared. One of several brilliant tracks from Laswell's last album, which was his most successful to date, but still not the success it deserved to be. His partner on the duet is the always interesting artist also known as Elizabeth and The Catapult.
Song: Cassette Tape
Artist: Katie Costello, Hermosa Beach, CA
Album: Lamplight, 2011
Notes: A precocious talent from an early age, who began playing piano and writing songs at just 13 and still only in her early 20s. Brought up in Los Angeles, but now based in Brooklyn, she has released a couple of CDs, three EPs and a festive single last Christmas. She hasn't performed live for more than a year, but has just launched her 'Facebook Book Club' on her website. Check it out at www.katiecostellomusic.com.
Artist: Madness, England
Album: Absolutely, 1980
Notes: So much more to this great British band than their signature US hit 'Our House.' They started off as a pioneering combo in the ska revival which gripped the UK when punk also took off in the mid-'70s and are still going strong. Led by their irrepressible lead singer, the charismatic cheeky chappy Suggs, they are unquestionably a national treasure, performing on the roof of Buckingham Palace last year as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert.
Song: Wish You Were Here
Artist: Ed Sheeran/Pink Floyd, England
Notes: Splendidly performed by L&F favorite at the London Olympic Games last year, where he was assisted by Pink Floyd's drummer Nick Mason - although unfortunately many of his young fans thought it was an original - seguing into the 1975 classic, written by Roger Waters around the time his grandmother died.