Song: True Love
Artist: Coldplay, England
Album: Ghost Stories, 2014
Notes: A tour de force by Coldplay from their latest long-player, which largely focuses on the conscious uncoupling of a relationship. Jonny Buckland's seemingly dissonant guitar wails perfectly juxtaposed with Martin's mournful lost wolf vocals. For all things Coldplay, check out coldplay.com.
Song: Here It Comes
Artist: Emeli Sande & Rick Smith, Scotland/England
Album: Trance, 2013
Notes: Interesting that Sande's naturally booming vocal is held way back in the mix on this number which is clearly in-synch with the trance-like rhythm track. It's the theme song to Trance, last year's movie from Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle, starring James McAvoy. Co-credited with producer Rick Smith, who's also the keyboardist and co-founder of uber-hip British electronic combo, Underworld, and who scored the entire soundtrack having previously worked with Boyle on Trainspotting, The Beach and Sunshine among other films.
Artist: Tyler Hilton, Palm Springs, CA
Album: Forget The Storm, 2012
Notes: In a dual career as a musician and actor - he appeared in One Tree Hill and played a young Elvis in the movie Walk The Line - Hilton's musical output has been sporadic, with a gap of eight years between his second and third albums. This track features the sweet harmonies of Taylor Swift's backing singer Elizabeth Huett. Recently engaged to his lovely Canadian girlfriend, actress/singer Megan Park, he's touring all summer long. Do not miss him if you care about how you spend your time - dates at tylerhilton.com.
Song: One 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 one of the final 15 for the BBC's Sound Of 2013 poll. In a recent interview they said If you put us in a cave or anywhere, we're always going to write. We write because it's fun, it's never crap, if it ever gets like that, you know it's time to take a break. More at kodaline.com/home.
Song: Deep Down Inside
Artist: Cheryl Dilcher, Allentown, PA
Album: Butterfly, 1973
Notes: Dilcher was an obscure songstress who recorded four hugely ignored LPs in the 1970s during which she had a decent following at folk venues such as the legendary Bottom Line and Bitter End in New York. A review in Variety said that she appeared to be well on the track towards achieving a name for herself. Unfortunately she wasn't and relocated to Los Angeles in the 1980s, where she sadly passed away in 2005. Little is known about her, but a singer she worked with has created a website which provides some of the story - personal.psu.edu/faculty/s/x/sxh36/cheryldilcher.htm.
Song: Slave To Love
Artist: Bryan Ferry, England
Album: Boys And Girls, 1985
Notes: Remarkably Ferry has never had a Top 30 solo hit in the US - and his much revered band, Roxy Music only one - Love Is The Drug back in 1975. He astonishingly turns 70 next year and is currently performing throughout the summer all over Europe. He'll being playing selected dates in the US in September and October. More at bryanferry.com.
Artist: Pharrell Williams, Virginia Beach, 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. He's currently building a $35 million afterschool in his home town. More at pharrellwilliams.com.
Song: Love Out Loud
Artist: Amy Loftus, Chicago, IL
Album: Not available
Notes: A breezy engaging chorus from a singer-songwriter now based in Los Angeles via Nashville. A Chicago-born alumnus of the Second City improv troupe, a former actress - she was on Days Of Our Lives and appeared in Tracey Ullman's hilarious Tracey Takes On... series, and now a yoga teacher, she's released a couple of smartly crafted albums but nothing since 2008 which is mystifying if not disturbing, but the occasional individual new cut pops up on her website from. More at amyloftus.com.
Song: A Little Time
Artist: Beautiful South, England
Album: Choke, 1990
Notes: Immensely popular in their home country, The Beautiful South was formed by two former members of The Housemartins in the late '80s - Dave Hemingway and Paul Heaton, who also wrote most of their consistently witty repertoire with guitarist Dave Rotheray. (The video clip for this number is a real hoot, portraying Heaton and co-lead vocalist Briana Corrigan as a fighting couple.) They clocked up more than 30 hit singles in the UK, with A Little Time being their only chart topper. The group split up in 2007 but two years later Hemingway, Dave Stead and Alison Wheeler returned as The South. More at thesouth.co.uk/band/.
Song: Slice of Heaven
Artist: Magnet, Norway
Album: The Simple Life, 2007
Notes: The pseudonym used by the ingenious and ever-creative tunesmith, Even Johansen and virtually unknown outside Scandinavia. Likened by UK music paper the NME to Tim Buckley and Coldplay, he's cut five albums since his 2000 debut, although there's been nothing from him since 2011. More at magnetmusic.no. or facebook.com/pages/Magnet/126072640763543.
Artist: Echocell, Orange County, CA
Album: Babylon (single), 2013
Notes: An ace rather hypnotic chorus by the fresh synth-pop duo of Turkish born singer Belinda Kazanci and electronic whiz/producer Adam Beltran, who came out of Orange County in 2000. They describe their music as a catalyst fusing the organic with electronic environment, combining darkness, light and everything in between. They're in the midst of some selected dates in the Los Angeles area. More at echocell.com.
Artist: Jamie Scott, England
Album: My Hurricane, 2014
Notes: Another fine taster for his new My Hurricane album this summer. He released the terrific Park Bench Theories 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: Chromeo, Canada
Album: Fancy Footwork, 2007
Notes: A well-crafted retro disco groove from a Canadian electro-funk duo, comprising Patrick Gemayel and David Macklovitch. They've been together about a dozen years and are based in Montreal and are a rather unique pairing given their individual heritage - indeed they describe themselves as 'the only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of culture'. Macklovitch is also a PhD in French Literature, and lectures in French at Barnard College. The duo recently issued its fourth album, White Women.
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'. There's a limited edition CD of her maiden album The Old, The Young now available at her website RebeccaRoubion.com. Well worth the $10 investment.
Song: Hold Onto Hope Love
Artist: Amy Stroup, Boston, MA
Album: The Other Side Of Love, 2011
Notes: Such a shame that music this good gets lost in the relentless modern day rush for mediocrity. Actually an update of a song originally recorded in 2009 and recently used for the promo of NBC's new show Ready For Love. Check out the rather lovely video that accompanies the song now streaming on vevo or a youtube near you. The Nashville-based singer-songwriter is currently working on a side project with another L&F favorite, Trent Dabbs, as Sugar & The Hi-Los.
Song: New York Morning
Artist: Elbow, England
Notes: Fronted by the distinctive vocal strains and literate lyrical imagination of Guy Garvey, who wrote this song about a trip he made with his ex-girlfriend, Emma Jane Unsworth to the Big Apple. Indeed much of the album is laced with romantic affection and regret following his breakup with her, as well his great fondness for Brooklyn to where he frequently commutes from the band's base in Manchester in the north of England. More at elbow.co.uk.
Artist: Daniel Johnston, Sacramento, CA
Album: Retired Boxer, 1984
Notes: A few seconds shy of two-minutes of the simplest most authentic folk, a one-take ditty with an affectionately wavering imperfect vocal. An uncompromisingly raw talent Johnston is a singer-songwriter, artist and author - dozens of exhibitions of his drawings and paintings have taken place over the years and an unending stream of inconsistent but fascinating albums - some 20 since 1981 make up his music catalog. The Texas-based musician was the subject of a critically revered 2005 documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston which chronicled his biography with a focus on his severe bipolar disorder diagnosis and schizophrenia. The previous year the various artists compilation The Late Great Daniel Johnston - Discovered Covered, on which Beck covered this song, was released. The Guardian newspaper described him as lo-fi's very own Brian Wilson. More at hihowareyou.com.
Song: Spirits (Having Flown)
Artist: Bee Gees, Australia
Album: Spirits (Having Flown), 1979
Notes: The rewarding ever-mellifluous title cut from their 1979 multi-platinum opus, but never released as a single Stateside. Still carrying the torch and the magic of the Bee Gees legacy - his younger brothers Robin and Maurice passed away in 2003 and 2012 respectively - with solo outings, the 68-year-old Gibb recently wrapped up a US tour with a performance at the famed Hollywood Bowl. More at barrygibb.com.
Song: Take It Easy
Artist: Jetta, England
Album: Start A Riot (EP), 2014
Notes: Favorably compared to Florence + The Machine and already an opening act for the likes of Paloma Faith and Cee Lo, the Liverpool born Jetta John-Hartley is now taking center stage. Based in London since 2007, musically influenced by Annie Lennox, Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman, Jetta began writing songs on her laptop at the age of 16 when she also made her first performance in a small bar in Liverpool with her mum on backing vocals. More on her rising star at jettaofficial.com.
Artist: Alexander O'Neal, Natchez, MS
Album: Hearsay, 1987
Notes: The trademark sound of producers and writers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on a 1980s classic. O'Neal was originally in the R&B troupe Flyte Tyme with the pair, emerging alongside Prince in the Minneapolis funk scene in the 1970s. Jam and Lewis went on to become a hitmaking machine, writing and producing hits for the likes of Janet Jackson, the Human League and George Michael. O'Neal's most recent work was back in 2010, but he recently signed a new management deal, so hopefully this forgotten talent will be heard from again.
Song: Walk On By
Artist: Noosa, Australia
Album: Noosa (EP), 2012
Notes: A rather lovely ambient electro sound which the singer herself describes as 'fairy pop'. The New York-based songstress Sky Barbarick was inspired to name her act Noosa after visting the Shire of Noosa which is some one hundred miles north of Brisbane in Australia. More at noosasounds.com or facebook.com/noosamusic.
Song: The Sun The Trees
Artist: Russian Red, Canada
Album: Fuerteventura, 2011
Notes: The sweet jangly summer sound of the Spanish-born Lourdes Hernandez. She made her debut in 2008 with the album I Love Your Glasses and released her third - Agent Cooper, recorded in Los Angeles with producer Joe Chiccarelli, back in February. Sometimes known as The Spanish Feist, she takes her name from her preferred lipstick colour. More at russianred.es/uk/home.
Song: Downtown Lights
Artist: Blue Nile, Scotland
Album: Hats, 1989
Notes: Sparkling, hypnotic, conversely downbeat and upbeat, simultaneously discordant and yet highly melodic, at once peaceful and yet desperate - how does he do it? Paul Buchanan with his erstwhile band and a magical lost classic. Mr. Buchanan's last solo album 'Mid Air' is quite simply one of the best albums in any genre released this millennium.
Song: Hungry Eyes (Acoustic)
Artist: Nonono, Sweden
Notes: Impish acoustic alternative folk-pop from a new trio, comprising production team Rocwell and Astma and vocally fronted by female songwriter Stina Wappling. They assembled in Stockholm a couple of years ago after Stina returned from the UK armed with a degree in psychology. They've just undertaken a buzz-filled US tour opening for Twenty One Pilots, which included several sold out dates.
Song: What's It Gonna Take
Artist: Sarah McLachlan, Canada
Album: Shine On, 2014
Notes: One of two bonus cuts on the deluxe version of her latest long-player. She wrote the song for the stage musical King Kong which premiered in Australia last year and is scheduled to open on Broadway sometime soon. It's hard to believe that she has been making albums for more than a quarter of a century, her latest mostly inspired by the death of her father. She's promoting her new collection with a 30-date US summer tour - dates at sarahmclachlan.com. Always giving back to various causes and charities - notably the ASPCA of course - she opened the Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Vancouver in 2011, a free music academy for at-risk youth.
Artist: Chris Rea, England
Album: Water Sign, 1983
Notes: Another percolating pop-rock winner by Chris Rea, who made inroads in the US with his debut record Whatever Happened To Benny Santini? back in 1978, since when - despite releasing a string of first-rate albums - has had little success over here. He is still musically active, although he hasn't released any new material since 2011. More at facebook.com/ChrisReaOfficial.
Song: I'm Easy
Artist: Keith Carradine, San Mateo, CA
Album: Nashville, 1975
Notes: WrItten and recorded for Robert Altman's seminal Nashville, for which several of the songs were written and performed by the actors appearing in the movie. In addition to being a dab hand on the acoustic guitar, Carradine can play virtually any instrument including the bagpipes and the French horn. He followed up his freshman album with the superbly titled Lost & Found in 1978. I'm Easy won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1976, beating out Do You Know Where You're Going To from Mahogany.
Artist: Little May, Australia
Album: Little May (EP), 2014
Notes: Another extremely promising indie-folk outing by Little May an obscure combo 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 a couple of years ago. 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: Born In Time
Artist: Eric Clapton, England
Album: Pilgrim, 1998
Notes: He's recorded 21 solo studio albums since 1970, with this superb reimagining of a Bob Dylan composition coming from his 13th. Combining effortlessly and surprisingly well with producer Simon Climie, former lead singer of pop duo, Climie Fisher, Clapton was backed on the album by the likes of Steve Gadd, Joe Sample, Nathan East, Greg Phillinganes and his now-regular keyboard touring pal, Paul Carrack. Next month sees the release of a new album, The Breeze (An Appreciation Of J.J. Cale. More at ericclapton.com.
Artist: Mostar Diving Club, England
Album: Triumph Of Hope, 2013
Notes: Steadfastly refusing to use samples or computers in his music making, the intriguingly named MoStar Diving Club, an experimental side project by a London-based Damian Katkhuda. His sophomore album Triumph Of Hope was rightly described by the Sunday Times newspaper as 'achingly lovely'. The group name is taken from a town in Bosnia from where Damian's father's family hailed; as a right of passage into adulthood, young men dive from an old bridge into a very shallow river below, a distance of some thirty meters. He's an indie-folk singer-songwriter most of the time as well as being the leader of Obi, who've been around on and off since 2000.
Song: Back With Me
Artist: Jason Reeves, Nashville, TN
Album: Songs Are Silent Films, 2012
Notes: A native of Texas who moved to Iowa City when he was three and then to California in 2005, where he began co-writing with Colbie Caillat (including Bubbly). Having been signed, then dropped by Warner Bros., he released his last album on his own abeautifularmyoftrees label. He's now firmly lodged in Nashville and is also a fine photographer - check out his facebook page and just add Jason Reeves.
Artist: Kate Earl, Chugiak, AK
Album: Kate Earl, 2009
Notes: Originally from Alaska but with a fascinating family lineage - she's part Welsh, part Filipino, part Dutch - she took up the piano at the age of four but only got to the guitar at seventeen. She's released three albums to date, which are all worth a listen. She's currently looking for funding to make her new EP Ransom. More at kateearlsongs.com.
Song: You Get Me
Artist: Seal featuring Concha Buika, England/Spain
Album: Commitment, 2010
Notes: A soulful slowie with a world music vocal twist, courtesy of Spanish chanteuse Concha Buika, who was born in the beautiful island of Majorca. SInce recording this album, Seal has been a vocal coach on the Australian version of The Voice. This track was written by the terrific singer/songwriter Teitur and Pam Sheyne, who also contributed to Genie In A Bottle, Irresistible and Mirror Mirror and produced by David Foster.
Song: It's Cool
Artist: Presets, Australia
Album: Pacifica, 2012
Notes: Another terrific track from the electronic duo comprising keyboardist/singer, Julian Hamilton and keyboardist drummer, Kim Moyes, who met at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1995, while studying classical music. Their love of 1980s music is clearly shown here with this New Order-influenced track. Already big time down under, they performed at Coachella a couple of years ago and several other acts have commissioned them to remix their tracks including Kings of Leon and Lenny Kravitz.
Song: Somewhere Only We Know
Artist: Lily Allen, England
Notes: Selected by the John Lewis department store for its annual Christmas TV advertisement in Britain, Allen's version of the Keane classic topped the UK Singles chart this past year, giving her her third number one. The seasonal ads have become a tradition in recent years, with Ellie Goulding and Gabrielle Aplin having smash hits with their contributions.
Song: Somewhere Only We Know
Artist: Keane, England
Album: Hopes And Fears, 2004
Notes: The original version now a decade old and one of the biggest-selling records worldwide in 2004. Founded in 1995 in the town of Battle in the south of England by childhood friends Tim Rice-Oxley and Tom Chaplin, they have released four top-notch albums in the past ten years. The group has a tendency to disappear every now and then and after last year's world tour to promote their Higher Than The Sun album, expect silence for a while. More at keanemusic.com however.