Song: Miles On A Car
Artist: Rachael Yamagata, Arlington, VA
Album: Chesapeake, 2011
Notes: If you're a lover of great music, then you should have a copy of this 2011 album, truly one of the best lost albums of recent years, exemplified with this track. Easily her most mature and accessible collection to date, it was recorded at the home studio of the great producer John Alagia on the Chesapeake Bay. She is much in demand amng her peers guesting alongside the likes of Ray Lamontage, Ryan Adams, Jason Mraz and Ben Arthur.
Song: Life's What You Make It
Artist: Talk Talk, England
Album: The Colour Of Spring, 1986
Notes: So much great largely undiscovered music in this group's catalog especially the mighty tunes tucked away on their third album from 1986. The band was around for a decade during the 1980s, fronted by the subsequently enigmatic Mark Hollis, splitting up in 1991. Hollis released a solo album in 1998 and then disappeared, to live quietly with his wife and two sons in London. In typically enigmatic style, he resurfaced in 2012 providing an instrumental track for Kelsey Grammer's TV show 'Boss.'
Song: Letter Never Sent
Artist: Young Summer, Washington, DC
Album: Fever Dream [EP], 2013
Notes: The vagaries of destiny, the role that chance and fate play in every relationship - a woman and a man desperate to reconnect after a fleeting meeting, waiting to see if serendipity will come through for them. The young singer describes her music as floating somewhere between Florence Welch and Sarah McLachlan though, interestingly, she was most inspired by Karen Carpenter. Just a couple of singles to date but such a promising start. Trent Dabbs, who provides the male vocal line on the song, described producing her as a 'creative calling.' More on her, confusingly, at www.bobbieallenmusic.com.
Song: Strike Me Down
Artist: Reindeer Section, Scotland
Album: Son Of Evil Reindeer, 2002
Notes: Lilting strummer from Gary Lightbody and his chums from the second and last album recorded by an ad-hoc aggreation assembled by the Snow Patrol frontman to showcase the best talent on the Scottish scene - this number features the charming vocals of Eugene Kelly and Jenny Reeve. All the songs were written by Lightbody but several other vocalists were used throughout the collection.
Song: Hey Little Girl
Artist: Icehouse, Australia
Album: Primitive Man, 1982
Notes: How this catchy new wave chugger never made the Billboard Hot 100 is a mystery. The synth-pop rockers, inducted into the Australian Rock of Hall Fame in 2006 and in a Duran Duran/Roxy Music tradition, were from Sydney Australia and scored a couple of modest US hits in the '0s and were a loose member-changing ensemble always revolving around singer-songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Iva Davies. (He named his band after the cold apartment he was living in at the start of his career.)
Artist: Talain Rayne, Phoenixville, PA
Album: Attic Lights, 2011
Notes: Funny how the ukulele has seeped into so much smart new music over the past few years. This peppy, ukulele-driven nugget by the Pennsylvanian-based singer-songwriter features guest vocals from his girlfriend Meg Lynch. He caught the music bug after his high school teacher helped him buy a keyboard to practice on. His full name is Talain Rayne Blanchon and claims to be influenced by those clever Icelandic rockers Sigur Ros among others. More at www.iamtalainrayne.com.
Song: Song Beneath A Song
Artist: Maria Taylor, Birmingham, AL
Album: 11:11, 2005
Notes: Absolutely first class from a singer-songwriter based in Athens Georgia, where she's recorded with Michael Stipe among others. She's also a co-founder of a really good band called Azure Ray, but started performing solo around eight years ago, and has recorded with Bright Eyes, Moby and L&F favorite Joshua Radin among others. More at www.mariataylormusic.com, where you can download some free EPs.
Song: Forever Wherever
Artist: Andrew Jed, Santa Monica, CA
Notes: A fab shuffler by an underrated indie singer-songwriter released as a one-off single a couple of years ago. Now based in Santa Monica, he was formerly the lead guitarist of the Newcomers Home band in Colorado for almost a decade. Fluent on the guitar, mandolin and banjo, he began releasing solo materal in 2008. You can stream a whole bunch of his worthwhile art and craft at www.andrewjed.com.
Song: Bad Bad World
Artist: Guster, Boston, MA
Album: Easy Wonderful, 2010
Notes: Despite its title, it's actually a rather optimistic offering. The tight quartet has been recording highly accessible melodic indie rock over six albums for nearly 20 years, but still flying too far under the radar. Tourd last year with Barenaked Ladies and Ben Folds Five. www.guster.com.
Song: You Get Me High
Artist: Max Gomez, Taos, NM
Album: Rule The World, 2013
Notes: The joy of new found love from a rootsy newcomer and earnest tunesmith who earned his musical spurs playing blues and country covers in local bars around his hometown of Taos. It's one of several deceptively mature cuts from the 20-something singer-songwriter guitarist on his freshman album from last year. Check for live dates at www.maxgomezmusic.com/shows/.
Song: Simply Human
Artist: Morgan Taylor Reid, Santa Rosa, CA
Album: Simply Human [EP], 2010
Notes: Still in his mid-20s, he began composing tunes at the age of 11 and is also a noted pop producer - for the Backstreet Boys no less. Much of his fare is picked up by tv shows like 'Grey's Anatomy' for suitable ambience. Indeed this number was wisely used by the much missed 'House' drama series on Fox. More at www.morgantaylorreid.com.
Song: I Was Gonna Marry You
Artist: Tristan Prettyman, San Diego, CA
Album: Cedar + Gold, 2012
Notes: Written about her engagement to and subsequent break up from fellow musician Jason Mraz by the former Roxy model who was diagnosed with vocal cord polyps after the release of her 2008 album 'Hello.' To prove her life is not one of constant unhappiness, she co-wrote 'Lindsay Goes To Rehab', an affectionate tongue-in-cheek (sort of tribute) to the troubled actress Lindsay Lohan with friends Anya Marina and Greg Laswell.
Artist: Clubfeet, Australia/South Africa
Album: Gold On Gold, 2010
Notes: Infectious dance pop/rock from a five-piece Australian/South African combo fronted by Sebastian Cohen from Cape Town, but based in Melbourne. They released a critically well-received new album, 'Heirs And Graces' last year. More at www.helloclubfeet.com.
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: Wasting My Young Years
Artist: London Grammar, England
Album: Metal & Dust [EP], 2013
Notes: The youthful but melodramatic vocal sound of the telegenic Hannah Reid fronting a UK trio from the UK with an intriguing number, which has already had more than half a million hits on YouTube. They assembled at Nottingham University a couple of years ago, released a couple of singles, one EP and a blissful debut album, 'If You Wait'. They went down very well last year at the iconic Glastonbury Festival. More at www.londongrammar.com.
Song: Heart Like A Wheel
Artist: Corrs, Ireland
Album: Home, 2005
Notes: Anna McGarrigle's classic beautifully performed by the now-defunct Irish family band. Originally recorded as the memorable title cut by Linda Ronstadt for her seminal fifth LP in 1974, before the McGarrigle sisters cut their own, arguably definitive, version the following year. Revived here with deft reverence in 2005 for the band's final album with Andrea Corr providing the lead vocal.
Artist: Alfred Hall, Norway
Album: Wilderness, 2013
Notes: The title cut from one of the most promising debut albums of 2013. Unusual for a first effort to be so deep and strong from the pairing of Hans Thomas Kiaer and Bjorn Tveit, a couple of Norwegian farm hands who got together in 2009 - so much smart hook-filled music coming out of Scandinavia these days. They recorded the long-player in a barn in Drammen, Norway where they encountered a bull named Alfred - hence one half of their band name. Check them out at www.facebook.com/alfredhallpage.
Song: Long Journey
Artist: Sarah Jarosz, Austin, TX
Album: Song Up In Her Head, 2009
Notes: Still just 23 years old which belies the maturity evident in all her work and wrote and recorded this lost pearl in her senior year of high school. She took up the mandolin at the tender age of 10 before then becoming extremely proficient on the banjo (she's already well-known in bluegrass circles). Her debut album picked up a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance, since when she has released 'Follow Me Down' in 2011 and last year's 'Build Me Up From Bones'. More at www.sarahjarosz.com.
Artist: Andrew Belle, Nashville, TN
Album: Black Bear, 2013
Notes: Atypically dense and brick hard, a mighty new rock anthem from the brilliant and consistently-underrated tunesmith. Since his debut in 2008, he has toured with other L&F favorites like Katie Herzig, Ben Rector, The Milk Carton Kids and Greg Laswell and is also a member of the critically acclaimed Ten Out of Tenn aggregation. Unmissable live - dates at www.andrewbelle.com.
Song: The Top Of Memory Lane
Artist: Lenka, Australia
Album: Shadows, 2013
Notes: Brought up down under by her Australian mother and Czechoslovakian musician father, she trained for a while as an actress alongside Cate Blanchett and got several roles in Aussie tv shows and movies before beginning her recording career six years ago - 'Shadows' is her third long-player to date. These days she commutes as a married mum between Sydney and Brooklyn, New York. More at www.lenkamusic.com.
Song: Trouble Town
Artist: Jake Bugg, England
Album: Trouble Town, 2012
Notes: An 19-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 began recording his first sides at 17 when he also debuted at the iconic Glastonbury Festival, but then lost out at last year's BRIT Award for Best Newcomer back in the UK to L&F permanent resident Ben Howard.
Song: Good Looking Loser
Artist: Meiko, Roberta, GA
Album: The Bright Side, 2012
Notes: A change of direction on the follow-up to her 2008 self-titled debut. With the help of Belgian producer Styrofoam, known for his work with The Postal Service and Jimmy Eat World, her latest album is replete with electronic beats. In her own words: 'The new songs were all born on the guitar, but I wanted to make this record a little more lively.'
Artist: Lazlo Bane, Santa Monica, CA
Notes: The sunny sound of Santa Monica-based alt-rockers with a track which will be familiar to any fans of the 'Scrubs' TV show, used as its theme when it kicked off in 2001 - though actually used a year earlier in the movie 'The Tao of Steve'. The band was formed in 1995 by frontman Chad Fischer who has since struck up a close musical relationship with Men at Work's Colin Hay over many years, not least producing tracks for him and playing in his backing band. This fun number samples the 'Impeach The President' drum loop by the Honey Drippers.
Song: Little Things
Artist: Mark Sholtez, Australia
Notes: 1 minute 40 seconds of melodic simplicity from an Australian singer-songwriter/pianist, who was snapped up by the venerable jazz/blues label Verve Records in 2005 - quoted as saying that 'simplicity is the key' to his music. He received an ARIA nomination for his 2006 debut album 'Real Street, which he recorded in New York with producer Tommy LiPuma and 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. More at www.marksholtez.com.
Song: Da Da Dam
Artist: Paradise Oskar, Finland
Album: Sundays Songs, 2011
Notes: Perhaps a tad cheesy, but so enchanting - the tale of a smart, ever-optimistic nine-year old lad called Peter who simply wants to save planet earth. Written and recorded by the 22 year old Axel Ehnstr�m, who represented his native Finland with the song in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. He's currently studying jazz at the esteemed Helsinki Music Institute.
Song: A Case Of You
Artist: Joni Mitchell, Canada
Album: Blue, 1971
Notes: The blissful humanity, the divine words and music, dripping with emotion and originality - 'You taste so bitter, But you taste so sweet, I could drink a case of you, But still I'd be on my feet' - an absolute masterpiece. Written for her 1971 album 'Blue', but reinterpreted here with a full orchestral arrangement recorded in London in 1999 for the album 'Both Sides Now'. As she approaches 70, she's becoming wonderfully outspoken on a range of subjects, not least her home town of Saskatoon. More at www.jonimitchell.com.
Song: Won't You Come Again
Artist: Susie Suh, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Susie Suh, 2005
Notes: Extremely talented Korean American songstress based in Los Angeles with a mournful lost diamond. Her music has been occasionally featured on tv shows like' One Tree Hill', but is otherwise much overlooked. She's recorded two fine albums and an EP to date the first of which was her self-titled maiden effort from 2005. More at www.susiesuh.com'.
Artist: Savoir Adore, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Our Nature, 2013
Notes: Dreamy alt-rock described as 'fantasy pop' from the Brooklyn vocal duo of Paul Hammer and Deidre Muro. They've been together as a combo since 2007, becoming critics' faves in recent times and a sturdy fixture on the New York indie scene. Three albums and an EP to date, with this song used for the 'Pro Evolution Soccer 2013' video game. More at www.savoiradore.com.
Song: Much More Than This
Artist: Chris De Burgh, Ireland
Album: The Anthology, 2007
Notes: Originally thrown away on a B-side of a 1984 vinyl single - the A-side was 'High On Emotion' - mercifully it is now available as a digital download. The Irish singer-songwriter, who was actually born in Argentina, is still going strong in his 60s and issued 'Home' last year, an acoustic retrospective of some of his best-loved songs. More at www.cdeb.com.
Song: Slippery People
Artist: Talking Heads, Scotland/Fort Campbell, KY/Coronado, CA/Milwaukee, WI
Album: Stop Making Sense, 1983
Notes: The live version from the group's movie music soundtrack 'Stop Making Sense', which was recorded live in Hollywood in 1983. The band called it quits in 1991, reunited just once for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 but nothing since then - and don't hold your breath - never one to dwell on the past, David Byrne is on record stating that there's still some bad blood between him and his former Heads bandmates.
Song: Pretty Me
Artist: Laura Jansen, Holland
Album: Elba, 2013
Notes: All too common tale of child abuse, anorexia, non-existent mythical self-esteem, what it's like to grow up as a pretty girl in the eyes of a cruel man's world. Born in Holland, but with dual citizenship, the singer-songwriter graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music and has been making things happen out of her Los Angeles base for a few years. This track is one of several pearls on her last album, produced by Mr. Aqualung, Matt Hales. Completed a couple of tours with another one of L&F's favorite musicians, Joshua Radin. More at www.laurajansen.com.
Song: Safe And Sound
Artist: Capital Cities, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Capital Cities [EP], 2012
Notes: Finally a smash after first bowing on L&F, an infectious dance-synth roller with some neat horn runs from the duo Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchan, a pair of Los Angeles-based former jingle writers, sporting beards and wacky spectacles who, curiously, teamed up professionally after meeting on Craigslist.
Artist: Charlene Soraia, England
Album: Ghost [single], 2013
Notes: A 25-year-old British singer-songwriter based in London, who started playing guitar when she was five years old. Charlene attended the country's only contemporary music academy of note, the BRIT School - in the same class as Adele and Kate Nash no less. Her debut album, 'Moonchild,' was released in 2011, with her second, 'Love Is The Law,' which featured this impeccable new acoustic strummer, dropping last year. More at www.charlenesoraia.com.
Artist: Rogue Wave/Buddy Holly, Oakland, CA/Lubbock, TX
Notes: Founded a decade ago by lead singer Zach Rogue, with five albums under their belt - the most recent being this year's 'Nightingale Floors' - with their version of the Buddy Holly classic. Holly's original - recorded more than 56 years ago - remains one of the most enduring and endearing rock classics, notable for drummer Jerry Allison providing percussion by slapping his hands on his lap and producer Norman Petty's wife Vi providing a celeste accompaniment.