Song: Carry You Home
Artist: Jamie Scott, England
Album: Hurricane (2014)
Notes: This glorious ballad previews the precociously talented singer/songwriter/producer's upcoming sophomore solo set. It's an atypical love song, more about sterling friendship than the usual soppy topic of romance. He released a terrific album in 2007 as Jamie Scott and The Town, before teaming up with Tommy D to form the duo Graffiti6. They have a new album due soon called The Bridge. During his seven-year recording hiatus he has been writing hit records for the likes of One Direction, JLS, Enrique Iglesias, 5 Seconds Of Summer and Christina Perri. More at jamie-scott.com.
Artist: MAGIC!, Canada
Album: Don't Kill The Magic (2013)
Notes: A new rude-boy reggae-flavored pop cut from a new LA-based quartet fronted by Grammy Award-winning producer/writer, Nasri Atweh (one half of The Messengers production team). Rounded out by guitarist Mark Pellizzer, bassist Ben Spivak and drummer Alex Tanas, they've only been together for a year but have seen this first single become a big hit in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They're currently featured on Cut Me Deep, a track from Shakira's latest record. Of their musical approach, Nasri says, It's a stressful time out there, and people are struggling to find hope in balance. This music is meant to put you in a good mood. We want to bring people together to have a good time. More at ournameismagic.com.
Song: Dumb Disco Ideas
Artist: Holy Ghost!, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Dynamics (2013)
Notes: Brooklyn-based synth-pop duo Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser are former elementary school chums who began making music together as part of a hip-hop group called Automato, before striking out on their own back in 2007. They're best known for their remix work for the likes of MGMT, Moby and Donna Summer. They have two long-players to date both released on vinyl, a 2010 EP and a remix album. They'll be performing at the Hudson Project in Saugerties, New York and the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati in Ohio in July and the Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco in August. More at holyghostnyc.net.
Song: Our Movie
Artist: Jimmy Webb, Elk City, OK
Album: Angel Heart (1982)
Notes: The songwriting genius of Jimmy Webb in duet with the hugely underappreciated Leah Kunkel. The legendary tunesmith, who's still serving tenure as the president of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, has written some of the most iconic songs of the popular music era including MacArthur Park, By The Time I Get Phoenix and Wichita Lineman, and may also be the greatest string arranger of the contemporary music era. Kunkel, the younger sister of the late Mama Cass of the Mamas & The Papas, released two solo albums in the late '70s and had a brief stint as one third of The Coyote Sisters as well as gracing many albums with her superb harmony vocals. She is now a highly respected attorney in Northampton, Massachusetts and sadly no longer performs.
Song: To The North
Artist: Matthew & The Atlas, England
Album: Other Rivers (2014)
Notes: One of the more recent signings to the always worthwhile Communion Records label co-founded by Mumford & Sons member, Ben Lovett in London's fashionable Notting Hill, the band is led by Matthew Hegarty. The Independent newspaper describes their music as 'absolutely spellbinding', while Baeblemusic describes the record as 'possessing a beautiful sense of desolation with faintly alarming string and synth arrangements, all of which are held together by Hegarty's shakily hesitant howls. More on them at matthewandtheatlas.com.
Artist: Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose, Dania Beach, FL
Notes: A crossover hit more than 40 years ago from a family group, comprising Carter, Eddie and Rose Cornelius. They were a popular R&B act that made three albums in the '70s, but dissolved when Carter decided to join a black Hebrew sect in 1976, changing his name to Prince Gideon Israel. Carter passed away in 1991, while Eddie became a born again Christian and subsequently a pastor. Rose, still based in Florida, continues to perform in concert.
Artist: The Neighbourhood, Newbury Park, CA
Notes: A California-based indie-rock quintet formed just three years ago by Jesse Rutherford, that enjoyed breakout success last year with the wonderful Sweater Weather. They've had just one long-player to date, last year's well-received I Love You.. They're putting their efforts into the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund charity. Please check it out at charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/549405. The band's on the road throughout the summer. More at thenbhd.com.
Artist: Paul Simon, Newark, NJ
Notes: The telling the story of a fisherman's son who is unable to sleep, ruminating on his life decisions during an overnight stay in a cheap motel room. This demo version was recorded in February 1971 in San Francisco and appeared the following year in finished form on Simon's first solo album after the dissolution of Simon and Garfunkel. Interestingly both Simon and Garfunkel recorded parts of their respective albums in San Francisco and both used the rhythm section of Larry Knecthel, Joe Osborn and Hal Blaine, who played on many of the duo's most enduring songs, including Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon will be performing at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum 75th Anniversary Concert in August. More at paulsimon.com.
Artist: Public Symphony, England
Album: Public Symphony (2006)
Notes: A superior ballad from the London-based electronica/pop duo of James Reynolds and Dobs Vye. They've been making music for a decade now, releasing just one album, which they revisited in 2010, remixing and remastering their debut in its entirety. Vye's wife Natasha Marsh guests on two of the tracks. Reynolds is an in-demand mixer, working on tracks by Jessie J, The Wanted, Pixie Lott and Tinie Tempah. More on them at publicsymphony.com.
Song: Queen of the Supermarket
Artist: Bruce Springsteen, Long Branch, NJ
Album: Working On A Dream (2009)
Notes: Written about a supermarket that opened up near where he was living at the time, Springsteen described his thoughts behind the lyric: There's millions of (supermarkets), so it's kind of a song about finding beauty where it's ignored or where it's passed by. The press were less kind calling it The worst song Bruce Springsteen has ever written (Detroit News) and Maybe the worst song Springsteen has ever released (Philadelphia Enquirer), but surely the unkindest cut of all came from Blender, which said At the 3.00 mark, it accidentally turns into a Meatloaf song. The Boss has just finished the US leg of his High Hopes tour. More at brucespringsteen.net.
Artist: Rebecca Roubion, Mobile, AL
Album: Break [single] (2014)
Notes: An alumnus of LSU, born in Mobile, Alabama, Roubion released a couple of EPS in 2012 and 2013 funded by a 164% crowdsourcing effort. A gifted pianist and singer-songwriter, much influenced by the music of Carole King and the late Eva Cassidy among others, she says that she was 'born of an oversized heart, raised by her hands and voice, every composition is a child'. This track features Jake Etheridge, he of Cherrycase, on vocals. More at rebeccaroubion.com.
Artist: Pharrell Williams, Virginia Baech, VA
Notes: A superior new love song from the most successful singer-songwriter-producer of the past two years. He has been writing, producing and recording hit music either on his own or under his formative production unit, The Neptunes, for more than two decades and as one-half of the N.E.R.D. act, with Chad Hugo, racking up dozens of hits for more than 100 artists, but only releasing two albums himself in that time - one in 2006 and one last year. Featured as the main guest artist on the two biggest hits of 2013, Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines and Daft Punk's Get Lucky, he's a multi Grammy award winner, a co-founder of two clothing brands and owns several media companies. More at pharrellwilliams.com.
Song: Heaven's On Fire
Artist: Radio Dept., Sweden
Album: Clinging To A Scheme (2010)
Notes: A lovely mid-'80s sounding British indie-rock from a Swedish duo. Formed by high school class mates Elin Almered and Johan Duncanson in 1995 before splitting up in 1998 and then reforming in 2001, adding Larsson's then girlfriend Lisa Carlberg, Daniel Tjader and Per Blomgren. Their freshman set, Lesser Matters, was named one of the best albums of the year by influential UK rock mag, the NME. The group has been a trio for close to a decade, now comprising Duncanson, Larsson and Tjader. More at theradiodept.com.
Song: Saving Grace
Artist: Pete Murray, Australia
Album: Summer At Eureka (2008)
Notes: Three of his five fine albums have reached the top spot in his native Australia but he's still undiscovered over here. He took up the guitar at the age of 22 having rejected a future as a professional athlete following a serious injury - he was a first-rate rugby player and swimmer and also thought of pursuing a career in sports medicine. He'll be playing seven dates in Canada in late June/early July, but will not be crossing south of the border. More at petemurray.com.
Song: All I Know
Artist: Five For Fighting, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Chicken Little (2006)
Notes: Back in the late '60s/early '70s, Jimmy Webb had the world at this feet after winning multiple Grammys before he'd barely turned 21. One of the by-products of this enormous success was the opportunity to date beautiful women - one of whom was Miss World Rosemarie Frankland. He wrote this song for her. Her response was That's silly. When Art Garfunkel was looking for songs for his solo debut, this is one of the ones he chose. Five For Fighting aka John Ondrasik, whose real first name is Vladimir, cut this equally superb version back in 2006 for the movie Chicken Little.
Artist: Pauline, Zimbabwe/Sweden
Notes: A hook-filled perky pop/dance cut from Pauline Kamusewu, a Zimbabwe-born songstress long-based in Sweden where so much catchy pop fare is consistently crafted. She's been making music for more than ten years, when she was named Best Swedish Newcomer upon her arrival in 2003. No website, but more at myspace.com/paulineartist.
Artist: Teddy Goldstein, Haverford, PA
Album: Backseat (2008)
Notes: A singer/songwriter who has been flying too far under the radar since bowing in 1998 following his graduation from the esteemed Berklee School of Music in Boston. His first ever performance was incongruously singing Jim Croce's Bad Bad Leroy Brown at the age of three at his brother's Bar Mitzvah. Since his 1998 debut he has released five solo CDs, the most recent being Alright Is The New Fantastic, under his band's name Teddy Goldstein and The Goldsteins, in 2010. He's playing a pair of shows in New York and Boston in the next two months. More at teddygoldstein.com.
Artist: Perishers, Sweden
Album: Let There Be Morning (2003)
Notes: A top-drawer lost indie rock track from Sweden, from a band led by singer Ola Kluft. They've been around since 1997 and have cut four albums since 2002. Still no hits in the US but their music is occasionally tastefully selected for inclusion in TV shows such as Veronica Mars, Grey's Anatomy, and One Tree Hill. Sarah McLachlan asked the group to open her 2005 Afterglow tour. Nothing from them since 2011, when it seems Kluft resurfaced as the solo artist A Lanky Swede in Vancouver.
Artist: Little May, Australia
Album: Boardwalks [single] (2013)
Notes: An extremely promising indie-folk roller and a one-off digital single from last summer - in fact one of only two tracks available by an obscure band who hail from Sydney Australia. They're a vocal trio comprising Liz Drummond, Hannah Field and Annie Hamilton who started performing at open mic nights in a pub. In an interview late last year, Drummond said, Trust your instincts, write honestly, sing and play with feeling, and remember that if your music sounds good, it sounds good. More at facebook.com/littlemaymusic/info.
Song: One Perfect Day
Artist: Little Heroes, Australia
Notes: Formed in 1980 from the remnants of pub-rock band Secret Police, fronted by Roger Hart. After releasing their debut album for the Giant label, they signed with EMI, releasing a further two albums before Hart announced his departure from the band in 1984. He went on to become an author and meditation trainer under the name of Roger Wells. Describing his time in the band, he says, We made three albums, a hit single and were quite famous. But we were never a great live band, and I think in Australia you really need to be good live if you're going to make it. I mean, I loved performing - just didn't like all the ridiculous poncing about that went with being a pop star.
Song: Hole In You
Artist: Jennie Abrahamson, Sweden
Notes: Based in the beautful city of Stockholm, Abramson clearly exhibits shades of Kate Bush in her vocal delivery. Formerly a baker and a teacher but mercifully now committed full-time to her music - this track comes from her third album, she claims to be inspired by 'fine music, good books - and bad people'. She recently completed a European tour opening for Peter Gabriel on his Back To Front sojourn. More at jennieabrahamson.com.
Song: Instant Crush
Artist: Daft Punk feat. Julian Casablancas, France/New York, NY
Notes: Casablancas, the lead singer of indie rockers The Strokes, met the Daft Punk duo while working on the Tron - Legacy soundtrack in 2010. They wrote this song together and recorded it for the helmeted Frenchmen's mega-million selling Grammy-winning album last year, with the great Nathan East on bass and John Robinson on drums. A Top 10 hit around Europe last winter without ever cracking the Billboard Hot 100. More at juliancasablancas.com.
Artist: Aaron Hendra Project, Australia
Album: Octobersong (2013)
Notes: A tight pop/rock chugger that flew under the radar last summer, it has all the right muscular melodies and a strong vocal turn. Originally from Australia but now based in Dallas, Hendra was working construction after a couple of promising major label deals fell through, before eventually managing to build his own recording studio in Beverly Hills, teaming with drummer Gigi Gonaway in 2009 to form the Project. Hendra describes their mission as wanting 'to use the gift of music and what we do to help those in this world who can't help themselves'. More at aaronhendra.com.
Song: Could I Be Your Girl
Artist: Jann Arden, Canada
Album: Living Under June (1995)
Notes: Plenty of commercial success and Juno music awards in her native Canada where she's a top celebrity - she even carried the Olympic torch for Canada at their 2010 Winter Olympics - but she remains virtually unknown here. Her tenth album in 20 years of recording, Everything Almost was recently issued, produced by the great Bob Rock. She's also an accomplished author with three books to her name, including a best-selling memoir Falling Backwards. More at jannarden.com.
Artist: Air Traffic Controller, Boston, MA
Notes: An enchanting vocal bridge showcasing the haunting lead vocal of Casey Sullivan matched with ATC frontman, Dave Munro, and a nice preview of their upcoming third album. Munro actually was an air traffic controller in the US Navy and recorded some neat demos before delisting about five years ago. The group is Boston-based and has built a loyal regional following around New England. Do catch them live if you get the chance, they often perform with a complete string section to quote 'capture and recreate its brilliant, full sound'. More at airtrafficcontrollermusic.com. (Not to be confused with the legendary Canadian band Air Traffic Control.)
Song: Waking Up In Paradise
Artist: Cisco Adler featuring the North Mississippi Allstars, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Aloha [EP] (2012)
Notes: A fun, perky vibe, a breezy hip-hop reggae-splashed pop/soul vacation from an LA-based alternative funkster and hip-hopper, and the son of producer and record industry legend, Lou Adler. The 35-year-old was in Whitestarr with Roy Orbison's son Alex before leaving the band in 2007 to team up wth hip-hopper Shwayze for three albums. The North Mississippi Allstars are a southern blues rock combo who opened for Robert Plant on some concert dates a couple of years ago. More at facebook.com/CiscoAdlerPresents and myspace.com/ciscoadlerpresents. The Allstars are on tour through the summer. More at nmallstars.com.
Song: When The Night Comes
Artist: Dan Auerbach, Akron, OH
Album: Keep It Hid (2009)
Notes: The softer side of one-half of indie rockers the Black Keys with the gorgeous soft folk shuffler from his 2009 solo effort, which remains his only solo outing to date. Born and still based in Akron, Ohio, he began his musical career in The Barnburners, who released one record, The Rawboogie EP, before he teamed up with drummer Patrick Carney to form The Black Keys in 2001. The duo will be on tour throughout this summer promoting their brand new album Turn Blue. More at theblackkeys.com.
Artist: Amos Lee, Philadelphia, PA
Notes: Currently streets ahead of the competition, the new king of soulful folk-inflected American. Few current tunesmiths so consistently mix evocative lyric writing with organic melodious tunes and authentic believable vocal delivery, the Philly born, University of South Carolina alumnus goes from strength to strength. Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin and Alison Krauss all feature on cuts from his latest album. He's out on the road this summer, with several interesting dates including an appearance with the Colorado Sympony Orchestra at Red Rocks. More at amoslee.com.
Song: New Year
Artist: Beach House, Baltimore, MD/France
Album: Bloom (2012)
Notes: A duo comprising guitarist Alex Scally and singer/organist Victoria Legrand, the niece of legendary film composer Michel Legrand. They are signed to the venerable Sub Pop label, which made its name with Nirvana a couple of decades ago. Earlier this year, the duo hosted a limited four gig mini-tour performing The Byrds' co-founder Gene Clark's seminal 1974 No Other album in its entirety with a number of guest vocalists, including Iain Matthews and Robin Pecknold. (Check out a superb movie documentary on Clark called The Byrd Who Flew Alone.)
Song: Empty Hearts
Artist: O.C. Smith, Mansfield, LA
Album: Together (1977)
Notes: Ocie Lee Smith, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 69, was an R&B chart mainstay in the late '60s and early '70s, known for The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp and Little Green Apples, but then faded from view despite recording this truly superb album. In the early 1980s he became founder and pastor of The City Of Angels Church in Los Angeles. Both Alison Krauss and Michael Johnson have cut superlative versions of this beautiful song penned by Michael McDonald.
Song: Rain or Shine
Artist: Five Star, England
Album: Silk & Steel (1982)
Notes: The lightest, crispest of British soul pop, a cheesy rhythmic backdrop more than slightly reminiscent of Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It. A 1980s sibling vocal group formed by their father Buster Pearson as a sort of latter day British Jackson 5, Five Star were huge in the UK throughout much of that decade, but made little headway on this side of the pond, with just one Top 50 hit in the shape of Can't Wait Another Minute. This highly infectious pop confection was co-written and produced by Billy Livsey and Pete Sinfield, who was formerly the lyricist and co-founder of progressive rock pioneers, King Crimson as well as producer of the debut album by Roxy Music.
Artist: Samite, Uganda
Album: Embalasasa (2005)
Notes: The peaceful heavenly world music vocal class of Samite Mulondo who goes simply by his first name. He plays a variety of instruments including the flute and African thumb piano known as a kalimba, made famous by Earth, Wind & Fire. He was forced to flee his home country in 1982 and immigrated to the US in 1987 where he now lives in Ithaca, New York with his wife Sandra. He's also a noted humanitarian founding the Musicians For World Harmony project and often performing at functions for the Dalai Lama. More at samite.com.
Artist: Katie Herzig, Fort Collins, CO
Album: Walk Through Walls (2014)
Notes: A long time L&F favorite with one of several worthwhile cuts from her fifth studio album. She was given a guitar by her father in her senior year of high school and to show her appreciation began playing it. In 1997 while at the University of Colorado she formed The Newcomers Home, which continued after she graduated, breaking up in 2006. By then she had already relased her solo debut Watch Them Fall. Four more solo albums have followed. She wraps up a tour promoting her new album this week with shows in Memphis and Nashville. More at katieherzig.com.
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson, Staten Island, NY
Notes: Part of a five-track EP, which also includes her covers of Fleetwood Mac's The Chain, Eminem's The Way I Am and Nickelback's Far Away and her own Be OK. Her tour promoting her new Lights Out album continues through the summer (A Great Big World will be joining her in Boston this week). More at ingridmichaelson.com.
Artist: Radiohead, England
Album: Pablo Honey (1992)
Notes: The alt-rock quintet burst on the scene in 1992 with this their debut single. Apparently Thom Yorke wrote the song in the late '80s while studying at Exeter University. Some of the shine was taken off the success of the record when Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood successfully sued for plagiarism because of the song's similarity to their The Air That I Breathe. Following a solo appearance at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville in April, Jonny Greenwood told Nashville Cream that the band would be meeting up at the end of the summer, and we'll make a plan. But, you know, we're a slow-moving animal, always have been. I guess we'll decide then what we do next.