Song: All For Love
Artist: Serena Ryder, Canada
Album: Is It OK', 2008
Notes: Long-time L&F favorite who finally broke through in 2012 with 'Stompa'. An accomplished folk rocker from Toronto, blessed with a five-octave range, recording and performing since she was a teenager - now very part of the furniture up north, Ryder has won a clutch of Juno Award.
Song: Too Young
Artist: Alfred Hall, Norway
Album: Wilderness, 2013
Notes: Lovely mid-'80s Fleetwood Mac-ish vibe and yet another sterling cut from their rewarding debut album. Alfred Hall is a relatively new indie-pop Scandinavian combo comprising Bjorn Tveit and Hans Thomas Kiaer, a couple of Norwegian farm hands who first collaborated in 2009.
Artist: Reindeer Section, Scotland
Notes: Some cool horns runs peeking through this hypnotic, percussive winner. If the lead vocal sounds more than familiar it's by Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol), fronting an ad-hoc aggregation he assembled in 2000 which at different times featured no less than 47 members from 20 different Scottish acts including Teenage Fan Club, Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian.
Song: Like The Dawn
Artist: Oh Hellos, San Marcos, TX
Notes: A Texan brother-sister duo of Maggie and Tyler Heath, staunchly independent and all the better for it, with a track from their freshman offering which is brimming with lovely harmonic folk-Americana. More at www.theohhellos.com. Easy to understand why one of their influences are the Lumineers.
Song: Finders Keepers
Artist: Miriam Bryant, Sweden
Album: Push Play EP, 2013
Notes: With a voice right up there with Adele, the 23 year-old Swedish singer is the daughter of a British father and Finnish mother. Her superb maiden album, 'Raised In Rain', is regrettably only available in her home country. More at www.miriambryantmusic.com where you can also catch a rather stylish black & white video clip of this number.
Artist: Erik Segerstedt, Sweden
Album: Meaning [single], 2013
Notes: Filtered vocals, a minimalist but passionate ballad. Runner-up on the third season of the Swedish version of 'American Idol' in 2006, teamed with two other finalists to form the boy band E.M.D., and entered a bid to represent Sweden in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, but eliminated in the finals: don't hold these career decisions against this exciting new talent. A heart-wrenching, stripped down interpretation of a song penned by Gavin DeGraw.
Song: Sweet Disposition
Artist: Temper Trap, Australia
Album: Conditions, 2009
Notes: This catchy Modern rock lite delight from the Australian indie-rockers nabbed a bit of airplay back in 2008 but never cracked the Billboard Hot 100. Band is fronted by Indonesian singer, Dougy Mandagi, formed in Melbourne in 2008 but relocated to London three years later.
Song: Sweet And Low
Artist: Augustana, Greenville, IL
Album: Can't Love Can't Hurt, 2008
Notes: One of so many overlooked treasures, they've been banging out one solid rock number after another for more than 10 years but have never reached the dizzy heights of their 2006 breakthrough smash, 'Boston'. Fronted by leading light, Dan Layus.
Song: I'll Miss You
Artist: Meiko, Roberta, GA
Album: Not available
Notes: Yet another winning lost gem by the LA-based singer-songwriter, though unfortunately this plaintive diamond has never been released and isn't available anywhere - another L&F exclusive. She originally offered this tune to 'Dancing With The Stars TV show, but they inexplicably turned it down.
Song: Better Man
Artist: Riley & The Roxies featuring Mariah McManus, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Lola [EP], 2013
Notes: Inspired by '60s garage rock and early Costello, Spencer Riley trading lead vocals with one of his Roxies on this retro-curious corker. Spencer is based in LA, equal parts musician and video film producer/director - a couple of his tunes have been used on ABCTV's 'Pretty Little Liars' and MTV's dreadful 'Underemployed'.
Song: Redbud Tree
Artist: Mark Knopfler, England
Album: Privateering, 2012
Notes: Astonishing thing about Knopfler is that each release just gets better, he somehow continues to mature and refine his craft while others of his generation fall away. Recorded at the artist's British Grove Studios in London - its parent album now, finally, available on iTunes in the US.
Song: Little Brother
Artist: The Tallest Man On Earth, Sweden
Album: There's No Leaving Now, 2012
Notes: A sparse, lonesome but earnest gem. Vocally tailored mid-way between Dylan and the latter day young pretender Jake Bugg, though astonishingly he's Swedish. Real name is Kristian Matsson, he's got an ever-growing but still niche following in the US. More at www.thetallestmanonearth.com.
Song: To Be Loved
Artist: Train, San Francisco, CA
Album: California 37, 2013
Notes: A lost corker tucked away as a bonus cut on their 2013 reissued 'California 37' album, a straight-down-the-middle no nonsense pop-rock chopper. Remarkably, the group always seems to come back with something fresh, interesting and winning.
Artist: Sting, England
Album: Mercury Falling, 1996
Notes: Proving he can turn his hand to any musical genre, a clever Country outing by Sir Sting, a shuffling divorce-themed ditty, rather sarcastic but ultimately touching, forgiving and triumphant. Although it stalled at #94 on the Billboard Hot 100, a revised version cut by Country singer Toby Keith the following year - which also featured Sting - become a huge country chart hit.
Artist: Sweet Talk Radio, Los Angeles, CA
Album: State of the Union, 2012
Notes: A self-piteous organic lost pearl from the husband/wife duo of Tim Burlingame and Kathrin Shorr from their second album. A lovely short bio on their web page reads: 'Boy plays music he writes. Girl plays music she writes. One day girl goes over to boy's house and they start to sing together. Boy smiles. Girl smiles back. Flash forward to their wedding day a few years later. Soon after, Sweet Talk Radio is born. Boy smiles. Girl smiles back.' More at www.sweettalkradio.com.
Song: Second Chances
Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov, South Africa
Album: The Weatherman, 2013
Notes: Another work of aural art from one of the finest releases of 2013: stripped down, literate, clean, melodic, organic - no fuss no bother, just good music throughout. If you like Bon Iver, Ray LaMontagne or Ben Howard do check out this no-risk disc.
Song: All The Days
Artist: Haerts, New York, NY
Album: Hemiplegia EP, 2013
Notes: Such a full sound, some old school Jean Michel-Jarre synth lines running under this anthemic number. New York-based combo with a multi-cultural transatlantic lineup, five members variously from the US, England and Germany. Currently completing their freshman album.
Song: December Sky
Artist: Tomi Swick featuring Julian Lennon, Canada/England
Album: Tomi Swick, 2012
Notes: Sweet harmonies on a one-off single by the Canadian tunesmith in a surprise duet with Julian Lennon. An underrated south of the border, a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays, guitar, drums, piano - even the bagpipes. More at www.tomiswick.com.
Artist: Bob Schneider, Austin, TX
Album: Burden of Proof, 2013
Notes: Slightly acerbic, agnostic-leaning lyrics (and all the better for it), and ultimately a bittersweet song of loss and longing. Born in Michigan, raised in Germany and now settled in Bee Cave Texas near the great music town of Austin where he's become a local music hero. Great web thing: www.bobschneider.com.
Artist: Savoir Adore, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Our Nature, 2013
Notes: Surely a hit in waiting, this should be re-released. Dreamy alt-rock which they describe as 'fantasy pop' from the Brooklyn vocal duo of Paul Hammer and Deidre Muro who have been together as musicians for about 6 years. A sturdy fixture on the New York indie scene.
Song: Water And Stone
Artist: Matt Tinsley, England
Album: Water & Stone EP, 2013
Notes: Sweet, unconditional love expressed by this unsigned London-based tunesmith belying his Americana/folkish alt-rock inclinations. He's a fan of L&F alumni Josh Rouse, Ryan Adams, the National and Foy Vance among others. You can only buy this lovely EP from his BandCamp page: matttinsley/bandcamp.com.
Artist: Marley Munroe, Farmington, NM
Album: Not available
Notes: Soul-drenched introduction to a promising bold new artiste. Marley was born and raised in Farmington, New Mexico, performing at church and local festivals as a kid, unsurprisingly influenced by old-school soul/blues greats Donny Hathaway, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and Billie Holiday though she also professes a liking for U2 and Coldplay. Now writing and recording in LA - her maiden album should emerge this year.
Song: Yank And Mary (Smile)
Artist: Ian Matthews, England
Album: Stealin' Home, 1978
Notes: So sweet - veteran singer-songwriter with a deft, reverential ballad, a worthwhile blend of an original composition by Matthews deliciously fused with 'Smile' - a timeless standard written by Charlie Chaplin in 1936 for his iconic movie, 'Modern Times'. The now 60-something Matthews was an early member of pioneering British folk combo, Fairport Convention and also of the better known Matthews Southern Comfort.
Song: Broken And Borrowed
Artist: Mostar Diving Club, England
Album: Triumph Of Hope, 2012
Notes: Some lovely midtempo Americana, graced by some fine plucky banjo pickin'. The intriguingly named band is an experimental side project by the London-based Damian Katkhuda who's an indie-folk singer-songwriter most of the time as well as the leader of Obi, who've been around on and off since 2000.
Artist: Courrier, Austin, TX
Album: Violent Flame, 2011
Notes: Lovely honeyed grit in the vocal inflections of lead singer, Austin Jones - a strong, no-nonsense melodic lost pearl. The quartet hails from Austin, TX, still unsigned and doing the DIY thing - heavily influenced by Radiohead and Coldplay - indeed Coldplay put up the video for another song by Courrier, 'Love Is A Fire' on their own website. More at www.courriermusic.com.
Song: Fantastic Day
Artist: Haircut 100, England
Album: Pelican West, 1982
Notes: A sunny bubbler, from one of peppiest and preppiest British pop combos to emerge in the early '80s. The band was fronted by splendid singer-songwriter, Nick Heyward, but split up in 1983 when Heyward went on a solo sojourn. The Haircuts reunited in 2013 to play their seminal debut album 'Pelican West' in full.
Song: When The Time Is Right
Artist: Griffin House, Springfield, OH
Album: Flying Upside Down, 2007
Notes: Too good for prime time, an understated but sensational lost treat. Now based in Nashville, Griffin is also a scatch-playing golfer who decided to take up music instead of senselessly trying to hit a small white ball with a poorly designed long stick.
Song: Steppin' Out
Artist: Kaskade, Chicago, IL
Album: In The Moment, 2004
Notes: Fabulous electronic pop-rock from American DJ, Ryan Raddon better known as Kaskade. Very creative chap, he's also done lots of remix work for the likes of Seal, Timbaland, Crystal Method, even Rufus Wainright. Kaskade honed his DJ craft while attending Brigham Young and rode the same wave which revitalized the progressive house movement that also gave rise to deadmaus.
Song: Falling Down
Artist: Fort Frances, Chicago, IL
Album: The Atlas, 2011
Notes: Engaging, literate indie folk-rock musings of Dave McMillin, Aaron Kaiser and Jeffrey Piprer, a Chicago-based trio collectively known as Fort Frances. Only a few thousand friends on the book of face which is a sure fire indication that their music is worth checking out: facebook.com/fortfrancesband.
Song: Johnson Blvd.
Artist: Amos Lee, Philadelphia, PA
Album: Mountains of Sorrow, 2013
Notes: Inimitable class, this is simply too good to be ignored: the lead-off cut on his superb last long-player. Few current tunesmiths so consistently mix evocative lyric writing with organic, melodious tunes and authentic believable vocal delivery - he just gets better as the years and records roll by.
Song: Without A Word
Artist: Birdy, England
Album: Birdy, 2011
Notes: Too sad for words, a desperate plea by a girl unwilling to acknowledge that a relationship is over, that love has left the room. Raw and imperfectly formed, an extraordinarily mature performance written and recorded by Birdy when she was just 15. How is that possible?
Song: My Shadow
Artist: Clubfeet, Australia/South Africa
Album: Heirs & Graces, 2013
Notes: Some neat indie-dance pop/rock from the poorly named but top-notch five-piece Australian/South African combo fronted by Sebastian Cohen from Cape Town, but based in Melbourne. More fresh delights from their fab 'Heirs & Graces' collection in future weeks on L&F. More at www.helloclubfeet.com.
Song: Last Year
Artist: Lucie Silvas, England
Album: The Same Side, 2006
Notes: Delicious, melodic roller by English singer-songwriter who's had several hits in Europe but has yet to crack the US market. A L&F preferred vendor since no-one else will play her fabulous catalog - some half-a-dozen first-class unknown songs just completely ignored by US radio lying dormant on her two long-players to date.