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: Sleeping Giant
Artist: Bootstraps, Los Angeles
Album: Bootstraps, 2012
Notes: Sensational full-on rock and one of several worthwhile cuts on the eponymous freshman set, from an LA-based quartet fronted by Jordan Beckett with his best friend and writing partner Chris Jaymes on piano. The band came together last year as a result of its individuals being hired by Sam Jaeger to write songs for his movie Take Me Home. Some of those songs made their way on to the album. Curiously they recently took on Whitney Houston's dance pop smash I Wanna Dance With Somebody which was cleverly featured on an episode of Grey's Anatomy. The band recently finished up some dates with another hugely under-appreciated L&F preferred band, The Brevet. More at bootstrapsmusic.com.
Artist: Rebecca Roubion, Nashville, TN
Notes: A garden of a song, some cinematic indie-pop class from Ms. Roubion, another promising young newcomer from Nashville. Born in Mobile, Alabama, an alumnus of LSU, she released a couple of EPS in 2012/2013 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'. More at rebeccaroubion.com.
Artist: Haerts, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Hemiplegia EP, 2014
Notes: All the right ingredients for a hit, rightly reissued this year by their record label, but still no joy on the airwaves. A sensational rhythm track underwriting a modern rock corker from a New York based combo fronted by German-Americans, Nini Fabi and Ben Gebert with a multi-cultural transatlantic lineup, its five members variously hailing from the US, England and Germany. More at haertsmusic.com.
Song: Born To
Artist: Jesca Hoop, Santa Rosa, CA
Notes: The standout cut from her fourth album. Singer-songwriter guitarist Jesca mercifully broke away from a strict Mormon upbringing in Northern California, began her recording career in 2004 and has yet to record an uninteresting song. She got a big boost from seminal KCRW tastemaker Nic Harcourt in 2007 and worked as a backing singer for Peter Gabriel couple of years ago.
Song: Brand New Day
Artist: Kodaline, Ireland
Album: In A Perfect World, 2013
Notes: One of the most promising groups to emerge from Dublin in recent years. Although momentum for the band is only just underway, they've actually been together for about six years first performing under the name 21 Diamonds, and were recently one of the final 15 for the BBC's Sound Of 2013 poll. This song has already made an appearance on Grey's Anatomy. They describe making music simply as 'therapy.
Artist: Whitley, Australia
Notes: A fine curiosity from a highly rewarding third offering from singer-songwriter Lawrence Greenwood who hails from Melbourne down under. He describes his music as gloomy ambient folk pop which seems like a fair assessment. This terrific third offering was came out last year - his first release after a five-year hiatus, during which he spent some time living in London and three months living with the Shipibo people on the Amazon in Peru.
Song: Every Bomb You Make
Artist: Sting, England
Album: Not available, 1984
Notes: Sting's re-recorded lyrics and vocals laid over the original Every Breath You Take Police smash, reversioned as a biting call for disarmament, peace, compassion and accountability. Recorded at the request of the producers of the much-missed '80s British TV series, Spitting Image which took a weekly swipe at the good, the bad and the ugly using grotesquely caricatured life-size puppets of the politicians and celebrities they were ribbing. This recording was squarely aimed as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
Artist: Alessi, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Long Time Friends, 1982
Notes: A lovely, mellifluous lost gem produced and co-written by Christopher Cross who just walks away with the recording, harmonizing throughout, performing some nice guitar runs and contributing the delicious extended solo vocal finale. Identical twins Billy and Bobby Alessi started out as members of Barnaby Bye, before breaking through in the late '70s with their hit Oh Lori, which was successful everywhere except their native USA.
Artist: San Fermin, Brooklyn, NY
Album: San Fermin, 2013
Notes: A delicious summery treat. San Fermin is the brainchild of classically trained pianist/songwriter and Yale graduate Ellis Ludwig-Leone, who recruited three top-drawer singers - Holly Laessig (moonlighting from her Lucius combo), Jess Wolfe and the deeper-voiced Allen Tate to sing his ornate, frequently orchestral chamber-pop songs. More at sanferminband.com.
Song: Making Money
Artist: Ben Rector, Nashville, TN
Album: The Walking In Between, 2013
Notes: Charming, plaintive ditty from his fifth long-player. Rector won the annual John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2006, the youngest to ever do so - he's still only 27. Perhaps best known for his 2011 winner, Something Like This, but this track is just one of many lost gems which flew under the radar. He recently announced on his website that he was retiring from making original music to pursue his long-time dream of becoming the greatest one man Huey Lewis and the News cover band, calling himself Newy Lewis and the Hues. More at benrectormusic.com.
Artist: Prefab Sprout, England
Album: Crimson and Red, 2013
Notes: One of several sorely overlooked delights on their drop-dead superb Crimson Red opus from last year which remains mysteriously unavailable in the US. Ten outstanding albums by top tunesmith Paddy McAloon and his band since 1984. If you want to capture a moment of McAloon magic, check out www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhZA8GuZ1SI.
Song: Call To Arms
Artist: Laura Welsh, England
Album: Not available, 2014
Notes: A promising preview of her full-length maiden album which should drop soon. The London-based songstress who first performed as Laura and the Tears and then Hey Laura, but now just settled on her solo name, has worked with John Legend and Emeli Sande among others. Her song Here For You has racked up a million plays in one month. More at laurawelsh.com.
Song: The Wilhelm Scream
Artist: Bamboos featuring Megan Washington, Australia
Album: Medicine Man, 2012
Notes: A 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 on their website thebamboos.com. The album, from which this comes, 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. More at bamboos.com.
Song: We Will
Artist: Gilbert O'Sullivan, Ireland
Album: Himself, 1971
Notes: A better wordsmith than he was ever given credit for, no doubt partly due to his manager's decision to dress him up in short trousers and a silly cap at the start of his career. Best known of course for his painfully sad 1972 chart-topper Alone Again Naturally, he has been quietly perfecting the art of clever, deceptively simple top notch tunes for nearly 50 years. He is still going strong today, with 18 albums to his name. In a typically modest quote from an interview a few years ago, he said: I write pop songs. That's all I wanted to do. End of story.
Artist: Chloe Howl, England
Album: Rumour EP, 2014
Notes: Just 19, Chloe grew up in the lovely county of Berkshire near London, recorded her first home-made CD at the age of 10 - a collection of Christmas covers which she sold to help raise money for her primary school and was wisely snapped up by Columbia Records at 16. The first fruits of her major label contract emerged last year, now collected on the Rumour EP. She's opening for Ellie Goulding this summer in anticipation of her self-titled debut album in September. More at chloehowl.com.
Song: Till The End
Artist: Rictor, Nashville
Album: Till The End EP, 2014
Notes: Engaging indie-folk roller from Kyle and Kelsey Rictor, both members of the marvelous General Ghost combo which is frequently featured on L&F. The pair's debut EP, 'Till The End,' is now available, not a duff track contained therein.
Artist: Mark Knopfler, England
Album: Privateering, 2012
Notes: Another beautifully crafted tale from his first double album which is finally available on iTunes in the US after an 18 month delay from its European release. The ever modest and artfully restrained Knopfler gets better with each release, somehow continuing to mature and refine his music while others of his generation fall away. Latest news on what he's currently up to on markknopfler.com.
Song: Nice Girls
Artist: Any Trouble, England
Notes: Channeling early Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello, underrated singer-songwriter Clive Gregson with his former band Any Trouble with an erudite lost corker. Clive formed the post-punk new wave outfit in the north of England in the late '70s - they recorded five fab totally overlooked albums before he went solo in 1985. More at clivegregson.com.
Song: Say The Words
Artist: Satellite, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Calling Birds, 2013
Notes: Shades of Embrace and early Snow Patrol on this worthwhile anthemic pop-rock number from an alternative rock four-piece, comprising Steve McMorran, Mitch Allan, Josh Dunahoo and Erik Kertes. They released the EP Ring The Bells in 2010, and released their debut album last year. Hardly newcomers however: Allan is a Grammy-nominated composer (Bowling For Soup's 1985) and has written for the likes of P!nk, Daughtry, Joe Cocker, Simple Plan and Faith Hill, while McMorran's music has found its way to Celine Dion and David Archuleta. More at wearesatellite.com.
Artist: David Mead, Nashville, TN
Album: Wherever You Are EP, 2005
Notes: A lost classic, an outstanding ballad from an overlooked EP issued in 2005. A sorely underrated singer-songwriter, who is yet another non-country performer remaking the soundscape of Nashville, his last album was entirely financed by 253 fans through Kickstarter, including John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Joe Jackson and Shelby Lynne. As his website so succinctly put it - The yield on the investment? Pure pleasure, with humor, mystery, emotional wallop and dudes of all ages lurking behind a hundred unforgettable hook. Check out his website - davidmead.com and help yourself to a complimentary download of Bocce Ball from the album.'
Artist: Foxes, England
Album: Glorious, 2014
Notes: Magical melodrama on the underloved orchestral version of a song which has recently swirled around US dance clubs in a weaker dance mix. Louisa Rose Allen - aka Foxes - won her first Grammy as the featured vocalist on Zedd's 2013 hit Clarity, which was named Best Dance Recording at this year's awards. The Southampton, England native is to go on tour with Pharrell Williams in Europe this fall and will be featured in an upcoming episode of Doctor Who. More at iamfoxes.com.
Artist: Al Green, Memphis, TN
Album: Don't Look Back, 1993
Notes: Originally recorded for his 1993 CD (and now obviously unavailable) Don't Look Back, this soul shuffler was also featured in the closing frames of the Hugh Grant/Sandra Bullock starring romcom, Two Weeks Notice. He marvelously ad-libs the titles of six of his earlier hits at the end of the song. Irrespective of your faith or indeed lack thereof, it should be on everyone's bucket list to visit the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis to see the Reverend Al Green deliver a service which he still does most Sundays - it's a sight to see and hear, just up the road there from Graceland.
Song: Come Home
Artist: Findlay Brown, England
Album: Separated By The Sea, 2007
Notes: A deftly formed melancholic lost diamond by the British tunesmith who recently relocated to New York City with his girlfriend. He described his preparation for the album, which he began work on as he was recovering from a broken leg after being hit by a cab: I revisited and rediscovered do-wop, Elvis, Roy Orbison, as well as a lot of soul music like Motown and other '60s black music. I was really doing my homework. His website (findlaybrown.com) announces Slow Light Coming Soon and nothing else.
Artist: Nina Simone, Tryon, NC
Album: Baltimore, 1978
Notes: A remarkable reggae-tinged, soulful interpretation of Randy Newman's Baltimore from an extraordinary album of the same name: one of those rare long-players where every song is worth its weight in rare earth. It's been a decade since she passed away after battling breast cancer, but her remarkable talent lives on.
Song: Bringing Back Paradise
Artist: Noonie Bao, Sweden
Album: Not available, 2014
Notes: The catchy vocal stylings of a 20-something Swedish songstress, who quit school at 16 and left Stockholm, initially moving to a mountain village in Switzerland before heading to Paris, France to work on her songs in a recording studio. On her return to Stockholm, she signed with EMI, and has since released one album and a sprinkle of one-off singles released to date. Her second long-player is being polished off as we speak and hopefully this song makes the cut.
Song: Suitcase Full Of Sparks
Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov, South Africa
Album: The Weatherman, 2013
Notes: A simply superb new organic Americana offering by a South African who grew up in Philadelphia and now calls Nederland, Colorado his home. Much influenced by the music of Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter has released five albums over the past decade. One of his songs, 'Big Black Car,' was used in a 2012 McDonald's commercial, while a reversioned 'Running Home,' with Seven Hats' vocalist Julie Davis out front was featured in the Lifetime TV movie 'An Amish Murder,' which aired in January. He's a sustainable gardener in his spare time. More at www.gregoryalanisakov.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 super gay and married her girlfriend Kristin Russo, co-founder of EveryoneIsGay.com, last summer.
Song: Biddy Mulligans
Artist: Sean Taylor, England
Album: Chase The Night, 2013
Notes: North Londoner Sean Taylor with the story of Biddy Mulligans from his tasteful and otherwise rather bluesy 2013 CD which he wrote as a 'celebration of my home town - from the drinkers of Kilburn, to the ravers of Brixton, from the bohemia of Camden to the golden glow of the Thames'. Comparing him to John Martyn, Mojo wrote of the album Sometimes he describes the world through the bottom of a glass in a Waitsian kind of way, but rather than sinking into his cups or over romanticising his characters, Taylor sidesteps cliche. He feeds off the energy of London at night, and brilliantly distils it into song. More at seantaylorsongs.com.
Song: Is This All There Is
Artist: Nanci Griffith, Seguin, TX
Notes: Too sad for words from the Americana queen, a couple at the end of the road, their love broken in two, one half reflecting mournfully on the collapse of the dearest relationship of her life, reflecting on all the lost treasure they've left behind, the future absence of their union - a song on which she is backed by Crickets' Jerry Allison, Sonny Curtis and Joe B. Mauldin. Griffith, who turned 60 last year, spends much of her time on charitable causes these days and there's been no music from her since her 2012 album Intersection. More at nancigriffith.com.
Artist: Smoove & Turrell, England
Album: Antique Soul, 2009
Notes: Retro-groove belter with fab intermittent horns by a British duo from the northern English city of Newcastle, comprising producer and clever beat-boffin Jonathan Watson (Smoove) and blue-eyed soul singer John Turrell. Their third album, Broken Toys, has just been released and they received the ultimate accolade with the use of their song Hard Work in a TV commercial for IKEA, whose founder was once the richest man in the world, more by accident than by design. More at smooveandturrell.com.
Artist: Stealers Wheel, Scotland
Notes: From 1974 a middling-chart record from the Scottish duo of Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan. Rafferty died at the age of just 63 in 2011 - the same year we lost Jerry Leiber of the iconic Leiber and Stoller songwriting duo - who, astonishingly, produced - not wrote - this Stealers Wheel number (and also the band's biggest hit, the Stuck In The Middle With You). The duo were at odds with each other most of the time and also feared that Leiber and Stoller might actually make them too successful.
Song: Lost in the All
Artist: Todor Kobakov, Bulgaria
Notes: Delicious World Music and electronic flavors under a rich sonic landscape, a lost gem from The Samaritan film soundtrack. Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Kobakov moved to Canada when he was 16 and graduated from the University of Torono. He began writing commercials and got involved with the local indie scene. He now has eight movie scores to his credit and is also in demand as a string arranger. More at todor.ca.
Song: Say Something
Artist: Clubfeet/James, Australia/England
Album: Gold On Gold, 2010
Notes: A stripped back electro-pop update from the five-piece Australian/South African combo which has been featured on L&F before. Led by Sebastian Cohen from Cape Town, but based in Melbourne, they've released a couple of albums which are well worth checking out. More details at helloclubfeet.com. James remain virtually unknown in the US, despite selling some 25 million copies worldwide since their debut in 1986. This track comes from their 1993 Laid album which was produced by Brian Eno. They have a brand new album release, La Petite Mort. More at wearejames.com.