Song: No More I Love You's
Artist: Lover Speaks, England
Album: Lover Speaks, 1986
Notes: A short-lived trio comprising David Freeman, Joseph Hughes and Barry Gilbert with the debut single from their sole album. Freeman and Hughes had been the driving force behind the punk band The Flys throughout the latter part of the 1970s before signing a publishing deal with Dave Stewart's Anxious Music. They opened for Eurythmics on their 1986 Revenge World Tour and later Annie Lennox covered this song for her first solo single. Gilbert left the band and the duo's follow-up The Big Lie wasn't released by their label, after which they went their separate ways.
Song: My Silver Lining
Artist: First Aid Kit, Sweden
Album: Stay Gold, 2014
Notes: This delicious folk-pop ditty from the sister act of Johanna and Klara Soderberg is picking up airplay on the more tasteful radio stations. They became critics' darlings a couple of years ago and good to see that Columbia Records has snapped them up for their third album. Their world tour to support the album is underway and will swing into the USA on October 24th - well worth seeing live if you like your Americana indie folk served up sweet but Nordic. More at thisisfirstaidkit.com.
Song: Forgotten Town
Artist: Christians, England
Album: The Christians, 1987
Notes: A sorely under-appreciated corker by a soulful British pop rock combo who were around from 1986 through the early '90s. Three brothers in the lineup, Garry, whose distinctive voice can be heard on the record, Russell and Roger Christian, rounded out by Henry Priestman. They're from the legendary music city of Liverpool and are still going strong today though only Garry remains from the original band. They toured the UK with fellow late '80s bands Go West and Hue & Cry recently and have a new album released in October through Pledgemusic. Sadly, Roger Christian died from a brain tumour way too young, just 48 in 1998, while Priestman moved to North Wales and has released two solo albums since. More at thechristianslive.co.uk and henrypriestman.com.
Song: Times Like This
Artist: Slim Dunlap, Minneapolis, MN
Album: Times Like This, 1996
Notes: Authentic rootsy folk from the Minnesota born and raised Bob Dunlap, a singer-songwriter/guitarist who released just two longplayers in the mid '90s after earlier replacing Bob Stinson in the popular college band The Replacements in 1987, a position he held for four years. Very much part of the local music scene in Minneapolis throughout his career, he sadly he suffered a severe stroke in 2012. Check out songsforslim.com, a site devoted to raising money for Dunlap and his family to pay for his long-term care.
Song: To Protect
Artist: Mackintosh Braun, Portland, OR
Album: Where Are We, 2010
Notes: A catchy chorus on a splendid electronica rumbler by a Portland, Oregon-based synth pop-rock duo boasting Ian Mackintosh and Ben Braun. They issued a stunning debut album three years ago titled Where We Are, which was chock full of melodic chestnuts. As Mackintosh explained at the time - We both wanted to create something exciting and innovative, but something that's also familiar. They're currently polishing off their third long player. More at mackintoshbraun.com.
Artist: William Fitzsimmons, Pittsburgh, PA
Album: Derivatives, 2010
Notes: From an uber-cool, remarkably creative and worthwhile collection of radical remixes of formerly acoustic nuggets by the Illinois-based former mental health therapist and singer-songwriter. The original acoustic version of this lovely song is also included on the album. Lyrically it's actually a rather sad offering despite the chilled out, electro treatment. Like many L&F favorites, Fitzsimmons has seen his material placed on such TV shows as Grey's Anatomy, Brothers And Sisters and One Tree Hill More at williamfitzsimmons.com.
Song: Denis (Denee)
Artist: Blondie, New York, NY
Album: Plastic Letters, 1977
Notes: The gender-changing new wave punkish cover of Randy & The Rainbows' 1963 classic Denise. A hit around the world, except in the US where punk largely remained on the fringes of mainstream radio. CBGB, an interesting bio-film that features an early performance of Blondie's Denis (Denee), was released last year. Starring Alan Rickman as Hilly Kristal the uncompromising owner of the legendary New York club which became the seminal fertile launch pad for a sucession of punk and new waves acts including The Ramones, Blondie, Television, Talking Heads and Patti Smith, it also features Malin Akerman as Debbie Harry.
Song: The Good Times
Artist: Matthew Puckett, Brooklyn, NY
Album: The Goodbye [EP], 2008
Notes: A Brooklyn-based tunesmith and also an in-demand producer and TV/film composer - he actually composed the main theme 'Everything I Want' and indeed the score for the ABC television series Boston Med, he's an alumnus of the High School of the Performing Arts in New York and has been recording since 1998. More at matthewpuckett.com.
Song: Move Together
Artist: James Bay, England
Notes: Sporting long locks and a stylish black hat, a new young British singer-songwriter with a charming acoustic swayer with shades of both Ray LaMontagne and James Morrison. He made his name performing regularly at Communion Records' monthly musical showcases at the uber-cool Notting Hill Arts Club before filling opening slots for Kodaline and John Newman and has just featured way down the bill of one of the British Summer Time festival days headlined by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, in London's Hyde Park. He's released just two EPs to date and begins a US tour in Nashville on September 29, running through until early November. More at jamesbaymusic.com.
Song: All My Days
Artist: Alexi Murdoch, England
Notes: Much featured in TV shows such as Grey's Anatomy, The OC, Without A Trace and Scrubs, but never a hit. Long tipped for the big time he remains a largely well-kept secret outside film and television circles. Born in London but brought up in Scotland from the age of 10, he relocated to the US to attend Duke University in the early '90s. His debut EP, Four Songs, sold more than 50,000 copies through CD Baby and he followed it with his 2006 debut LP, which received dozens of placements on TV and film. Now living in Berlin, Germany, he has only released one album since his debut - rhe 2011 Towards The Sun. More at aleximurdoch.com.
Song: My Sad Captains
Artist: Elbow, England
Notes: In a recent interview with The Observer newspaper, Guy Garvey described My Sad Captains, its title taken from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra at the recommendation of his former girlfriend Emma Unsworth, as mourning the end of the 15-strong three-day bender in favour of one or two people's company and getting proper into your cups. Maybe having your mind changed by something somebody says. That's my favourite kind of socialising now. But I still think wistfully about those crazy, hedonistic 15 years that I had. Interestingly, and in addition to being influenced by the music of Talk Talk and Radiohead, Garvey cites Genesis as leaving the greatest impression while growing up, saying, 'I grew up listening to every Genesis record. And I learned to write harmonies by listening to Peter Gabriel. Very much a part of the cultural fabric in their native UK, a bit maddening that they've never featured on the Hot 100 over here despite a succession of first-rate singles.
Song: Rip It Up
Artist: Orange Juice, Scotland
Album: Rip It Up, 1982
Notes: Before he embarked on a successful solo career, Scottish rocker Edwyn Collins - he of A Girl Like You fame - served a post-punk apprenticeship in Orange Juice, part of the Sound Of Young Scotland scene, and whose four 1980s albums were recently reissued by the Domino label. The cool sax work on this track comes courtesy of veteran jazzer Dick Morrissey. Collins is stil going strong, releasing his eighth solo album, Understated, last year on his own AED Records label. A recent documentary about Collins' recovery from a life-threatening cerebral hemorrhage in 2005 has been getting rave reviews. There's a showing at the Don't Knock The Rock annual film festival at the Cinefamily Cinema in Los Angeles on July 31st. More at edwyncollins.com.
Song: Anymore Of This
Artist: Mindy Smith & Matthew Perryman Jones, Long Island, NY/Levittown, PA
Notes: Recently featured on the ABC-TV series Switched At Birth and featuring the combined talents of Miss Americana, Mindy Smith and the deeply under-appreciated Matthew Perryman Jones. Her first 45 was a duet with Dolly Parton, on the latter's Jolene a decade ago. (Dolly was instrumental in bringing her music to the fore.) Jones' last album, Land Of The Living, is well worth checking out. Check out their websites at mindysmithmusic.com and mpjmusic.com respectively.
Artist: Cary Brothers, Nashville, TN
Album: From All The Rage [EP], 2004
Notes: Yet another highly skilled Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter (his website heading reveals that Cary Brothers is just one guy ...) making a better living licensing his music to TV shows and films - this corker has been featured on both Scrubs and Bones. He runs his own record label, marvelously named Procrastination Music and has released two smart, erudite, melodic folk-rock long-players to date, with a third one on the immediate horizon, and a handful of EPs. More at carybrothers.com.
Artist: Michael Buble, Canada
Album: Call Me Irresponsible, 2007
Notes: A superior soppy lost ballad which managed to make it all the way to #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite its note-perfect composition and execution. Co-written by the crooner with fellow Canadian Jann Arden and his regular pianist Alan Chang, it was inspired by the split from his then fiancee Debbie Timuss. It became a staple on the AC chart, but mainstream radio didn't want to know. Bubl� is in the midst of a US tour through the beginning of August. More at michaelbuble.com.
Artist: Smiths, England
Album: The Queen Is Dead, 1985
Notes: There's a lovely one-take innocence to this recording with the unmistakeable vocal warblings of Morrissey - one of The Smiths' early singles which was universally ignored at the time but now much revered. A standout cut on their third album that was released on the seminal British indie label Rough Trade Records, Morrissey claimed that the thorn in the song's title referred to the music industry and all those people who never believed anything I said, tried to get rid of me and wouldn't play the records. His latest album, World Peace Is None Of Your Business, hits the streets this week.
Song: Love Me Anyway
Artist: AG + Silver, Grand Rapids, MI
Album: Not available
Notes: A worthwhile new ballad from Adrianne Gonzalez and Jeremy Silver. Gonzalez is a self-taught singer-songwriter who's been making music since 1999, born in Miami but long-based in Los Angeles. She was also a member of the Rescues with Kyler England, initially getting together in 2008 as part of the quartet The Rescues, becoming known for their song My Heart Is With You, which was featured in Pretty Little Liars. (AG + Silver may need to change their name sharpish given the existence of a Michigan-based band called AG Silver.)
Artist: Mozella, Detroit, MI
Album: Not available
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.
Artist: P.M. Dawn, Jersey City, NJ
Album: Jesus Wept, 1995
Notes: Founders of their own unique Daisy Trip-Hop musical genre, PM Dawn were the Jersey City duo of siblings Attrell and Jarrett Cordes, raised by their mother and stepfather, George Brown, one of the founding members of Kool & The Gang. They used sampling more creatively than any other act, cunningly borrowing just the right notes from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Deep Purple, Spandau Ballet, George Michael, although this track ironically is sample-free. Following their 1995 Jesus Wept LP, they released two more albums - the second in 2000 by mail order only. Attrell suffered a massive stroke in 2005, which curtailed the duo's career. Their paternal first cousin, Doc. G, took his place and the duo has played live occasionally, but not returned to the studio.
Song: Tequila Eyes
Artist: Us & Our Daughters, Nashville, TN
Album: All That We Once Were, 2014
Notes: Engaging, sweetly flowing acoustic folk from the duo of husband and wife act, Phillip & Lia LaRue. Recorded in an old house just outside of Nashville, the sound is raw and stripped down, harking back to their roots of early folk and alternative country albums. 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 couple calls this EP a celebration of the beautiful and chaotic journey of love.'
Song: Devil or Angel
Artist: Lou Doillon, France
Album: Places, 2013
Notes: Madamoiselle Doillon is already an accomplished actress but has moved sideways over the past couple of years to try her hand at singer-songwriting, with some success. The photogenic 30-year old is the daughter of Francophile British actress/singer, the lovely Jane Birkin, she of Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus notoriety. If you're looking to brush up on your French, check out her website - loudoillon.fr.
Song: Ugly Little Dreams
Artist: Everything But The Girl, England
Album: Love Not Money, 1985
Notes: Apart from the monster hit Missing in 1995, this much-revered English duo has been largely ignored by American radio over the years, despite cutting 11 terrific albums. They were the husband and wife team of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn - they're still very much a couple but haven't released any new material together for more than a decade, though Tracey's carefully crafted solo career continues, often with contributions from Ben. He's suffered some health setbacks with an auto-immune disease which he documented in a superb autobiography titled Patient which was published in 1996.
Song: I Wish
Artist: Toni Braxton & Babyface, Severn, MD/Indianapolis, IN
Notes: Another song from an album simply brimming with rewarding soulful outings - neither artist has ever compromised their desire to simply create well-crafted, highly melodic pop/soul - Babyface in particular incapable of writing or producing mediocre fare. Braxton, describes the union with her musical husband: My voice is a thick chocolate milkshake, and Kenny's the straw that comes in and helps you drink it a lil bit. She has just published Unbreak My Heart - A Memoir - more at tonibraxton.com, and the pair have a few Northeastern dates coming up later this month. For details go to babyfacemusic.com.
Song: Good Fire Goin'
Artist: Don Williams, Floydada, FL
Album: New Moves, 1986
Notes: An uncomplicated timeless vocal delivery by country legend Williams - paired with the melodic story-telling songwriting chops of the wonderful Dave Loggins - who had a big hit with his own Please Come To Boston eons ago. Winning an alarm clock for coming first in a talent contest more than 70 years ago, Williams has quietly amassed a collection of work that is second to none. Still touring and recording, his latest effort came out January and features songs by Merle Haggard, Townes Van Zandt and Jesse Winchester. Describing the process of picking songs for an album, he said: 'The only description I've ever had for songs I choose to do is that they affect me emotionally and that, hopefully, they have something to say that will touch other people. Having just wrapped up a short US tour, he's back on the road in September. More at don-williams.com.
Artist: Prefab Sprout, England
Album: Crimson/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: Sweetest Smile
Artist: Black, England
Album: Wonderful Life, 1987
Notes: An original synth-driven, noirish pop-soul gem from Black, the performing name of Liverpool singer-songwriter Colin Vearncombe, from his debut album on A&M which had worldwide sales of more than a million and a half. Two more A&M albums followed, after which he made a series of records under his own name as well as Black on his own Nero Schwarz label. He has a new album funded through pledgemusic due early next year. More at colinvearncombe.com.
Artist: Noah Gundersen, Olympia,WA
Album: Ledges, 2014
Notes: A promising recent single from an album that emerged in February, recorded at the Seattle home studio of Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard. Described by USA Today as 'a precociously graceful and thoughtful songwriter', Gundersen is also based in Seattle - and his three siblings, backing singer Elizabeth, violinist/pianist Abby and drummer Jonathan all feature on the long-player. He'll be performing at the annual Newport Folk Festival at the end of the month. More at noahgundersenmusic.com.
Artist: Tennis, Denver, CO
Album: Young & Old, 2012
Notes: Husband and wife duo of Alaina Moore on vocals and keyboards and guitarist Patrick Riley with a curiously-engaging track from their sophomore set, which was produced by the Black Keys' drummer, Patrick Carney. The couple met at college while both were studying philosophy, and have been recording for a couple of years focused on a surf-laced brand of electro-indie pop. More on them at tennis-music.com, where you can stream plenty of goodies.
Song: Everybody's Someone
Artist: LeAnn Rimes & Brian McFadden, Ireland/Jackson, MS
Album: Whatever We Wanna, 2006
Notes: A one-off combination between leading country light and former member of Irish boy band Westlife performing a song penned by Michael Sutton and Christopher Neil, who between them (together and separately) have penned or produced hits for Mike + The Mechanics, Celine Dion, Sheena Easton and Shakin' Stevens.
Artist: John Newman, England
Album: Tribute, 2014
Notes: A brassy soul-pop belter from a big new talent from the UK, at the forefront of the new pop/soul movement which has exploded out of Britain in recent years led by Adele, Emeli Sande, Sam Smith - his voice has even been compared to Adele's and Amy WInehouse's. This 24-year old Yorkshireman scored a UK number 1 with his first single Love Me Again last year and this followup, heavily influenced by Motown, Stax and homegrown Northern Soul, made the Top 10. He started playing guitar and writing songs at 14 and got his breakthrough in 2012 when he was featured on Rudimental's smash Feel The Love. He keeps a record of achievement from his school. It includes the question: Where would you like to be in 20 years? He wrote underneath: I'd like to be building my own cars in my own garage. Probably not anymore. More at johnnewman.co.uk.
Song: It Used To Be Me
Artist: Bill LaBounty, Oregon
Album: Bill LaBounty, 1982
Notes: A man strong enough to let the love of his life leave for another man while quietly yearning for her return, sadly reflecting on his shortcomings while they were together, sending her a bittersweet message, hoping that her new love proves better than him. A lost pearl by a much overlooked tunesmith, a past master of the soft rock genre who released a succession of worthwhile singer-songwriter fare in the late '70s and early '80s. Originally from the north-west, he moved to Nashville in 1983, since when he has amassed a canon of more than 100 songs recorded by others, resulting in 25 BMI Awards, including 10 Million Performance awards. More at billlabounty.com.
Song: Mirror Man
Artist: Human League, England
Album: Fascination!, 1982
Notes: Cunningly fusing Motown-inspired beats and backing vocals with synth pop rock from one of the leading electronic new wave bands of the late '70s/early '80s, led by Phil Oakey, who boasted one of the silliest haircuts of the period. Years later Oakey revealed the lyrics were about Adam Ant and how he was dealing with fame - which as it turns out was quite prescient, becoming involved in a few bizarre episodes over the past decade or so, though he seems to be doing much better these days, having recently completed a string of well-received US dates. The Human League is still going strong too, occasionally popping up at major festivals around the world and recording at their own studio in Sheffield in the north of England.
Song: Feels Like Coming Home
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, she 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 mom on backing vocals. More on her rising star at jettaofficial.com.
Artist: Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: A curiously simple, sultry winner and the very first recording by a new LA-based combo, comprising the husband and wife team of Jason and Victoria Evigan with ex-Wonderland Effect tunesmith, Joaquin Howard completing the trio. Victoria and Joaquin write the songs and Jason produces the results.
Artist: Sleeping At Last, Wheaton, IL
Notes: Consistently writing and recording highly melodic, literate fare, but too much of it going largely unnoticed, Sleeping At Last is the performing name of multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter Ryan O'Neal, a Wheaton, Illinois indie-rocker. Like so many indie artists, he ekes out a living from his songs appearing on TV or in film, notably on Bones, Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy - on which this track appeared on the final episode of Season 10 back in April. He has released no less than 23 EPs since bowing in 1999 - most of them comprising a series of monthly EPs, beginning with October in 2010 and ending in September twelve months later. Now he's onto his Atlas series, which so far have comprised Darkness, Light Space (1 and 2), Land and Oceans.
Artist: Police, England/Alexandria, VA
Album: Ghost In The Machine, 1981
Notes: Written by Sting before he moved from his native Newcastle-upon-Tyne to conquer the world. He sang the song when he auditioned at the Zanzibar in London's Covent Garden only to be told We need commercial hit songs. We don't need this kind of stuff. What happened to the person who gave him the piece of advice at the Zanzibar after it became The Police's fourth UK #1 is unknown.