Song: The Wilhelm Scream
Artist: Bamboos featuring Megan Washington, Australia
Album: Medicine Man (2012)
Notes: Completely overlooked soulful majesty from a nine-piece Australian combo led by Kiwi bandleader Lance Ferguson, who put together the band back in 2000. A lovely retro joy, kissed by the smokey vocals of guest singer Megan Washington, that you can stream at thebamboos.com. The album also features contributions from the likes of Daniel Merriweather and this year's finally in-vogue Aloe Blacc. Their sixth album, Fever In The Road, which recently arrived, is also worth checking out.
Song: When I Grow Up
Artist: First Aid Kit, Sweden
Album: Ghost Town (single) (2010)
Notes: An obscure, neat cover version of a song written and originally recorded by another fine Swedish act called Fever Ray. They're a sister act, the duo of Johanna and Klara Soderberg, who became critics' darlings for 15 minutes a couple of years ago, but Columbia Records has now snapped them up with a third album, titled Stay Gold, due next month. They'll be promoting the set with selected North American dates. More at thisisfirstaidkit.com.
Song: Cowboys And Angels
Artist: George Michael, England
Notes: A beautifully constructed and executed song, the fifth single from the album and strongly influenced in its overall feel and production by the soundtrack to the original The Thomas Crown Affair movie. Michael has mercifully recovered from a life-threatening bout of pneumonia in 2011 during his well-received Symphonica tour and is now back in full voice. His rather nice Symphonica live album came out this year, full of tasteful updates of his own hit catalog and covers.
Song: State Of Art
Artist: Friends Again, Scotland
Album: Trapped And Unwrapped (1984)
Notes: An early '80s Scottish group based in Glasgow which only released one album, one EP and four singles, but were extremely influential in pioneering similarly jangly, modern pop-rock which emerged from the region, such as Aztec Camera and Lloyd Cole. They were a plucky five-piece fronted by Chris Thomson and James Grant. After the split, Grant and fellow band members Paul McGeechan and Stuart Kerr went on to form Love & Money, who were equally underrated, despite cutting four albums, one of which was produced by Steely Dan's producer Gary Katz and had Jeff Porcaro on drums. They also opened for U2 and performed at the Artists Against Apartheid concert in Scotland.
Song: Street In The City
Artist: Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane, England
Album: Rough Mix (1977)
Notes: A typical storytelling mini-opera with some instrumental histrionics midway through, everyday observations of urban street life from the street level eyes of The Who's writer and guitarist and his cohort, who was the co-founder of both The Small Faces in the '0s and The Faces in the '0s alongside Rod Stewart. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, having died in 1997 after suffering from multiple sclerosis for many years. The pair collaborated many times, but this LP remains their most well-rounded work.
Artist: Amos Lee featuring Patty Griffin, Philadelphia, PA/Old Town, ME
Notes: Few current tunesmiths so consistently mix evocative lyric writing with organic melodious Americana tunes and authentic believable vocal delivery as Lee, who is joined here by the wonderful Patty Griffin. The song was inspired by a visit he made to Band member Levon Helm's barn in Woodstock, where he appeared at the legendary drummer's Midnight Ramble not long before Helm's death in April 2012.�Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss also feature on cuts from his latest album. Lee is out on the road this summer, with several interesting dates including an appearance with the Colorado Sympony Orchestra at Red Rocks. More at their respective websites - amoslee.com and pattygriffin.com.
Song: Love Me Still
Artist: Bruce Hornsby, Williamsburg, VA
Notes: The trademark piano rolls of the great Bruce Hornsby performing a live version of an absolute diamond buried on his CD boxed collection of his illustrious career. He co-wrote it with R&B great Chaka Khan, who originally recorded it for the Spike Lee movie Clockers. Constantly changing musical styles - his most recent work was his bluegrass record Cluck Ol' Hen with Ricky Skaggs, preceded by his music for Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer movie. He's on the road throughout the summer - and if you've never seen him live, do so. More at brucehornsby.com.
Song: Love Me Still
Artist: Chaka Khan, Chicago, IL
Notes: The full original studio version of this divine song, written with Bruce Hornsby for the Spike Lee-directed movie, Clockers in 1995. Lee returned the favor by directing the music video for the song. It was deservedly Grammy-nominated for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television, but to add insult to injury, it lost out to Colors Of The Wind from Pochontas. Last year the ten-time Grammy winner was honored by having Chaka Khan Way named after her in Chicago, between 50th and 51st streets, where she went to high school. She begins a series of US dates on June 1st. More at chakakhan.com.
Song: I Surrender
Artist: Clare Maguire, England
Album: Light After Dark (2011)
Notes: A track that should have been a smash, channeling a bit of Adele and a splash of Annie Lennox, from a promising singer-songwriter from London. Just 26 years old, she has been recording for the past four years after being discovered on myspace. This middle pop-dance belter was co-written and produced by Fraser T. Smith, who was also behind several gleaming tracks on the mighty 21 opus by Adele, including Set Fire To The Rain. More on Clare at claremaguire.com.
Artist: Jeremy Messersmith, Charleston, SC
Album: Heart Murmurs (2014)
Notes: Tasty, lovely melodic sensibilities matched with neat lyrics on the standout cut from the Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter's fourth long-player. Politically active, he did some opening gigs at election rallies for both President Obama and Vice-Election Joe Biden. He begins a US tour on June 2nd - including an appearance at the annual Bonnaroo Festival, after returning from a European trip at the end of this month. More at jeremymessersmith.com.
Song: Modern Times
Artist: Army Of Me, Washington, DC
Album: Searching For You (2013)
Notes: An ideal union of word and melody from a singular gentleman, Washington DC native, songsmith Vince Scheuerman from his most recent album, with the help of Daniel James, who also produced the record, Gavin McDonald and Jeremy Larson. Self-penned except for The Action Is Rising, co-written with Phillip LaRue, one half of Us & Our Daughters, who are also featured on this week's L&F. Scheuerman was set to embark on a major label career in 2007 with his debut album, only to severely damage his vocal chords which took him more than a couple of years to recover from. He relocated to Nashville in 2012 where he teamed up with James for some golden results. More at armyofme.bandcamp.com.
Song: You're The One
Artist: Dwight Yoakam, Pikeville, KY
Album: If There A Was A Way (1991)
Notes: A top notch honky-tonk waltz, bitterly composed about dumping a lover who previously dumped him - do unto others indeed. Originally recorded as a demo in 1981, it took ten years before this glorious full-room recording emerged - a Top 5 Country hit at the time, but it never crossed over despite it obvious melodic chops. He did of course successfully crossover into acting, notably appearing in Sling Blade in 1996, Panic Room in 2002 as well as in Vince Vaughn's Wedding Crashers and Four Christmases and will be seen in next year's CIvil War TV mini series To Appomattox. The Kentucky born, son of gas station owner, rarely seen without his ten-gallon hat, is playing several dates through the summer before embarking on a world tour this fall as Eric Church's special guest. More at dwightyoakam.com.
Artist: Mozella, Detroit, MI
Notes: A breezy, soulful update of the 1967 Frankie Valli smash by the Detroit dazzler, Maureen McDonald, aka the lovely Mozella. Once signed to Madonna's Maverick label, although her solo performing career still hasn't reached the dizzying heights she so obviously deserves, she finally scored a huge hit as a composer - co-writing last year's monster smash Wrecking Ball for Miley Cyrus. This song, written by The Four Seasons songwriting team of Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, has been covered by dozens of other artists over the years including Diana Ross, The Stereophonics, The Killers and Lauryn Hill - but this version is, of course, entirely unavailable.
Song: Out On The Street
Artist: Spanish Gold, Nashville, TX/Laredo, TX
Album: South Of Nowhere (2014)
Notes: An interesting new departure from My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan, Dante Schwebel of City and Colour and Adrian Quesada from Brownout, newly combining as an alternative rock trio. This number previews their freshman album, which comes out at the end of the month. Of making the new album, Schwebel commented, 'We kept finding that we had a lot of the same reference points during the recording. It became evident that we were still children of the MTV era. We grew up with MTV when it was still a music channel. The way that the programming crossed genres from R&B to hip hop, rock, soul and pop music is how we approach records. It's an album of all those styles. Like watching a random hour of MTV programming circa 1986-1996. It's a nod to Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre, Madonna, the Beastie Boys or Tom Petty, all with a Texas border town setting. It all adds up to a fun listen that you can keep on repeat.' They're hitting the road at the end of the month in Nashville, and will be on the road throughout June and into July and August. More at spanishgoldmusic.com.
Song: There It Is
Artist: Shalamar, Akron, OH/Los Angeles, CA/Chicago, IL
Album: Friends (1982)
Notes: This disco diamond only charted in one country back in 1982 - the UK, where it was a Top 5 smash, despite its snappy Chic-like guitar chops and nice melodic runs. The album came from a seminal long-player for anyone even remotely interested in the golden era of dance music. As with many disco and dance acts, the key to their best music was always the producer - in the case of Shalamar they were only at their best when overseen by the great producer Leon Sylvers III who brought the golden touch to everything he recorded.
Song: Give Her The World
Artist: Adam Eckersley Band, Australia
Album: The First Album (2014)
Notes: Charming acoustic guitar runs gracing a new number from an Australian based singer-songwriter/guitarist who fronts his own four-piece combo. He left school at 15 and became a mechanic before paying his dues in clubs and bars around New South Wales. He formerly fronted the blues-country group, Bluezone, but his debut full-length long-player under his own moniker came out earlier in the year. He's already performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and is one to watch. More at adameckersleyband.com.
Artist: Jackson Browne, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Running On Empty (1977)
Notes: Recorded backstage on September 1st, 1977 in a rehearsal room at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in New York state and tucked away on his iconic Grammy-nominated Album of the Year Running On Empty. Its seminal title cut was also nominated for a Grammy but was beaten out by Barry Manilow's absolutely dreadful and still nauseating Copacabana, but there's no accounting for bad taste. Perhaps as equally galling as the occasion he was booed offstage on his first visit to London by Laura Nyro fans, who wanted to see her and not an unknown singer/songwriter from California. The perennially youthful Browne, the poster boy for laid-back West Coast country rock, was born in Heidelberg, Germany, where his father was stationed as an American serviceman.
Artist: Hindi Zahra, Morocco
Album: Handmade (2010)
Notes: Breezy, swaying, summery strains with more than a passing echo of Billie Holiday in her vocal style and some rather lovely Brazilian ipanema rhythms. She relocated from her native Morocco to Paris at the age of 15, worked for a while at the Louvre before embarking on a career which saw this album become a hit in France in 2010. The following year, she released a deluxe edition of the album. Nothing from her since then. More at facebook.com/hindizahra - most of it's in French though.
Song: Where Does The Lovin' Go
Artist: David Gates, Tulsa, OK
Album: Falling In Love Again (1979)
Notes: Melodic West Coast soft rock at its finest from the artist's post-Bread career. His subsequent solo work is virtually indistinguishable from all the beautifully crafted hits he created for the venerable band, although having fellow bandmates Larry Knechtel and Mike Botts as his rhythm section probably explains why. Nonetheless his lack of solo success is bizarre - Bread were huge in the '70s laying the easy flowing melodic groundwork for the likes of The Eagles and Poco. He only scored one Top 20 success on his own, the memorable theme from Goodbye Girl.
Song: The Addict
Artist: Bo Saris, Holland
Album: The Addict (EP) (2013)
Notes: Soulful retro grooves from one Boris Titulaer, a Dutchman now based in London. Inspired by meeting Bill Withers at a tribute show for the soul legend staged in Amsterdam in 2011, he's released three rather uneven albums over the past decade, but his newer material is a vast improvement. More at bosaris.com including a free download taster from his new album.
Artist: Savoir Adore, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Our Nature (2013)
Notes: Dreamy alt-rock, described as 'fantasy pop' by the Brooklyn vocal duo of Paul Hammer and Deidre Muro. They have been together as a combo since 2007, initially releasing the delightfully titled EP The Adventures Of Mr. Pumpernickel And The Girl With Animals In Her Throat. They've become critics' faves in recent times and remain a sturdy fixture on the New York indie scene. More at savoiradore.com.
Song: Feel Us Shaking
Artist: Samples, Boulder, CO
Album: The Samples (1989)
Notes: A mellifluous and winning, pop-reggae track with rhythmic shades reminiscent of the Police and certainly lead singer Sean Kelly sounds a lot like Sting. The horribly under-appreciated group has been together since 1987, although they came close to disbanding in 2008. This, their very first single, was way ahead of its time, from an environmentally conscious bunch of guys. They'll be on the road this summer, promoting their latest album America. Keep up with their various do-goodings and music at thesamples.com.
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson, Staten Island, NY
Album: Lights Out (2014)
Notes: Beautifully constructed, a heartbreaking crescendoing slice of music heaven from her predictably superb new album, her fifth long-player to date, which also features Mat Kearney on another cut. A little check on iTunes reveals that this song is currently the least popular downloaded track. She's currently on the road with her Light Out tour. Lucky Whole Foods shoppers can win themselves a pair of tickets to see one of the shows. More at ingridmichaelson.com.
Song: Old Town
Artist: Phil Lynott, Ireland
Album: Solo In Soho (1980)
Notes: Hard to believe that this song was never a hit anywhere, despite its catchy melody, great lyrics, Darren Wharton's unbelievable piano playing and the exquisite piccolo trumpet solo by the late John Wilbraham, formerly the principal trumpet player with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Lynott was the leader of hard-rocking Irish combo, Thin Lizzy, in the '70s and '80s - best known for their thunderous The Boys Are Back In Town signature song. Their Yellow Pearl track was also used as the theme for the iconic BBC TV weekly chart show Top Of The Pops. He released this, his first solo album - both Mark Knopfler and Huey Lewis were among the music guests - while still fronting the band, on which this gem appeared. He sadly died after years of drug abuse in 1986, but left a wonderful legacy, partly soiled by Mitt Romney using The Boys Are Back In Town without permission during his failed election campaign in 2012.
Song: Lost And Found
Artist: Us & Our Daughters, Nashville, TN
Notes: A real treat, recorded in an old house just outside of Nashville by the duo of husband and wife act, Phillip and Lia LaRue. Phillip started out in the music business when he was 16 as one half of Christian duo LaRue with his sister Natalie. After they split in 2003, he released a couple of EPs in 2009. The sound is raw and stripped down, harking back to their roots of early folk and alternative country albums. The couple calls this EP a celebration of the beautiful and chaotic journey of love.'
Song: Hey Laura
Artist: Gregory Porter, San Diego, CA
Album: Liquid Spirit (2013)
Notes: An old school, nu school jazz-soul sound from the rich, refined baritone of a singer who's been making music since 1998, but whose recording career only got underway in 2010. He's a San Diego native now in his 40s who signed up to the venerable Blue Note label in May 2013. This, his third and best album to date, has been nominated for two Grammys - Best Vocal Jazz Album and Traditional R&B Performance for this song. Currently performing in Europe, he'll be back in the US and Canada for dates in June, before heading off back to Europe for July. He'll be at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Central Park Summer Stage in New York in August. More at gregoryporter.com
Song: Giving It All Away
Artist: Roger Daltrey, England
Album: Daltrey (1973)
Notes: One of the great vocalists in rock history, The Who's Roger Daltrey, with a track from his first solo recording. Despite its obvious charms and indeed his household name fame, it failed to make the Billboard Hot 100 though went Top 5 in the UK. It was written by David Courtney and Leo Sayer, who was virtually unknown at the time, but then went on to a hugely successful career as an artist in the mid to late '0s, scoring worldwide hits with When I Need You and You Make Me Feel Like Dancing. Meanwhile, Courtney virtually disappeared and can now lay claim to being responsible for introducing the first Walk of Fame in the seaside town of Brighton, on the English south coast.
Song: Lovers Are Fools
Artist: Korby Lenker, Nashville, TN
Album: Korby Lenker (2014)
Notes: A rather appealing classic pop/rock retro feel though it's actually a new recording housed on the artist's latest self-titled album. Originally from Twin Falls Idaho, but inevitably based in Nashville, he's a talented tunesmith flying too far under the radar. He counts Damien Rice, the Violent Femmes and Matthew Sweet among his influences and has opened for the likes of Ray LaMontagne, Tristan Prettyman and Nickel Creek. Much of his repertoire is more folk-based so this is an atypical but highly rewarding departure for him. He's currently on the road. More at korbylenker.com.
Song: Lazy Eye
Artist: Silversun Pickups, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Carnavas (2006)
Notes: This modern rock lost classic got a fair bit of alt-rock radio attention back in 2007, but never cracked the Billboard Hot 100. It's been featured in a number of video games and tv shows including The O.C., Reaper and Criminal Minds and, together with Panic Switch is among their signature repertoire. The LA-based rock quartet, which currently comprises Brian Aubert, Christopher Guanlao, Joe Lester and Nikki Monninger, formed in the Silver Lake area in 2002. Their The Singles Collection was released at the beginning of the year.
Artist: Paul Carrack, England
Album: I Know That Name (2009)
Notes: The warm vocal harmonizing of Eagles alumni Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit with some tastefully restrained Memphis horns on the artist's own song. He wrote the song for The Eagles who recorded it for their 2007 album Long Road Out Of Eden. The much in-demand journeyman, who as an 11-year-old saw The Beatles in concert in his hometown of Sheffield, has been working with some of the very best over four decades. He was the singer on hits like Tempted by Squeeze, the evergreen How Long by Ace and most notably of course on 'The Living Years' by Mike & The Mechanics. He's about to go out on the road with Eric Clapton again. More at paulcarrack.net.
Song: Cripple Me
Artist: Rebecca Roubion, Mobile, AL
Album: Forests (EP) (2013)
Notes: A woman so defeated by the loss of the man in her life that she is emotionally paralyzed, unable to move on, unable to think or feel beyond her present loss and pain, almost drowning in the memory of the way they were - a remarkable song from a native of Mobile, Alabama. An alumnus of LSU, this gifted pianist and singer-songwriter has released a couple of EPs over the past few years. She released a brand new single last month, called Break, featuring Jake Etheridge. More on her at rebeccaroubion.com.
Artist: Wind & The Wave, Austin, TX
Notes: A thigh-slapping acoustic winner by the very relaxed laissez-faire creative duo and best friends, Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker, who hail from that marvellous music city of Austin, Texas. Regrettably this catchy nu-folk ditty isn't available just yet but should be included on their debut album, From The Wreckage, which is due any day. There are some tour dates (they're currently on the road through early August) and some cool pictures at thewindandthewave.com.
Artist: Naomi, Germany
Album: Everyone Loves You (2002)
Notes: Smart, soothing electronica pop from the debut set from German duo of Nico Tobias Wirtz and Bernd Lechler. They have been working together since the late '90s based in Berlin, and recorded this first CD in their apartment studio. Amnesty International used the number in an awareness promo some years ago. More at thisisnaomi.com.
Artist: Karmin, Boston, MA
Album: Pulses (2014)
Notes: Atypical 40-second intro from their up-tempo electro-pop debut album by the Boston-based duo of Nick Noonan and Amy Heidemann. 2008 graduates of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, they are best known for their 2012 smash Brokenhearted and Heidemann's appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone's Women Who Rock contest. They're currently on the road promoting the new album. More at karminmusic.com
Song: What's Going On
Artist: Bowman Husk/Marvin Gaye, Washington, DC
Album: What's Going On (1971)
Notes: Newcomer Bowman Husk with a cool treatment of Gaye's classic merging into the mighty original: the song was inspired by an incident of police brutality by Four Top member Renaldo Benson and marked the change in Gaye's career from soul singer to social commentator. It went on to sell two million copies and is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's The Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll and ranked fourth in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All TIme.