Song: This House Is A Hotel
Artist: The Wind & The Wave, Austin, TX
Album: From The Wreckage, 2014
Notes: In-tune creative duo and best friends, Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker (apparently Baker is the Wind and Lynn the Wave) hail from Austin, Texas. They met in 2009, when music veteran Baker (his song 'Hole' appeared on Kelly Clarkson's 'My December' album) was persuaded to go and see a friend's band - the opening act featured Lynn. This is just one of a half-dozen superior cuts from their stunning freshman longplayer, which is knee-deep in rootsy, rustic golden tunes, highly recommended and one of the best Americana albums of the year. New York Times also raves: 'An eclectic, radio friendly cycle that ranges from dreamy pop to foot-stomping Americana'. A few upcoming gigs and some fun photos at www.thewindandthewave.com.
Song: Nice To Be Out
Artist: Stereophonics, Wales
Notes: A track full of political history and social commentary, thought-provoking with highly literate lyrics, mentioning notes on Nuremberg, the great Jesse Owens, Alcatraz and De Niro's 'Raging Bull' movie, all coming together in an intriguing folk-rock corker. TheWelsh group, fronted by the strident lead vocalist/guitarist Kelly Jones, has been together for more than 20 years and are one of indie-rock's more overlooked combos outside of the UK. British soccer star Wayne Rooney is a big fan, and even has the title of the album tattoed on his right arm. More at www.stereophonics.com.
Song: Cool Kids
Artist: Echosmith, Chino, CA
Album: Talking Dreams, 2013
Notes: Cool vibe faintly recalling Foster The People's 'Pumped Up Kicks' with a splash of Gotye thrown in. The Chino, California based indie-popsters comprise four young siblngs, lead female singer Sydney, Noah, Jamie and Graham Sierota - Jamie is the eldest, the rest are all still teenagers - and spent the summer on the Vans Warped Tour. They hit the road again in late September and into October, mostly playing on the west coast: www.echosmith.com.
Song: Rude (Acoustic)
Artist: MAGIC!, Canada
Album: Don't Kill The Magic, 2013
Notes: A rather nifty acoustic update of the current #1 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 little over a year but have seen this first single also become a big hit in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They're also 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 www.ournameismagic.com.
Song: You Told A Lie
Artist: Camera Obscura, Scotland
Album: My Maudlin Career, 2009
Notes: First class Indie pop-rock from indie-popsters led by Tracyanne Campbell, with her enchanting crystal clear vocal sound. The Scottish band has been together since 1996, since when they have released five albums, the most recent 'Desire Lines' from last year. They've just wrapped up some North American dates. Bjorn Yttling of the rather hip Swedish trio of Peter, Bjorn and John, arranged the excellent strings. More at camera-obscura.net.
Song: Leave A Light On
Artist: Jae Laffer, Australia
Notes: Laffer began his career using his real name, Justin Laffer, as lead singer of indie-pop Aussie combo, The Panics, who have just hit the ten-year mark together. He played nearly all of the instruments on this solo effort, which was recorded in just a few weeks with promising results. Upon release he said 'The Panics are still very much together, but I saw this as an opportunity to take ideas and themes true to myself and see them from start to finish in one burst of inspiration, without looking up'. No website, but more at facebook.com/jaelaffermusic.
Song: Geek Love
Artist: Nerina Pallot, England
Album: Fires, 2005
Notes: Born in London, raised in Jersey, of French and Indian parentage, Pallot was inspired to take up music when she was just 13 after seeing Kate Bush perform her signature ballad 'This Woman's Work' on a TV show. Popular in the UK, indeed nominated in the Best British Female Solo Artist category for the 2007 BRIT Awards, but flying way too far under the radar over here, she's opened for the likes of Ray LaMontagne, Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega and the wonderful Missy Higgins. She's releasing an EP a month, under the heading 'The Year Of The EP', throughout this year. More at nerinapallot.com.
Song: True Love
Artist: Neville Brothers, New Orleans, LA
Album: Family Groove, 1992
Notes: A soulful Hammond organ, big easy harmonies and the unmistakable vocal sound of Aaron Neville and his Neville Brothers. Nothing new out of the studio from the brothers for ten years and counting, though they continue to reassemble for the occasional gig. Aaron continues to record solo and tour most years, and released a strong album last year via the venerable Blue Note label called 'My True Story'. More at www.nevilles.com for the group and at www.aaronneville.com for Aaron's solo career.
Song: Portions For Foxes
Artist: Rilo Kiley, Los Angeles, CA
Album: More Adventurous, 2004
Notes: Solid indie rock grooves from the now defunct Los Angeles-based band which was fronted by singer-songwriter, Jenny Lewis. She began her entertainment career acting in a Jell-O tv commercial and undertook lots of acting before focusing on her music career - though she does still pop up in the occasional film including this year's 'Comedy Bang Bang'. Taking their name from a fictitious Scottish sports athlete for reasons best known to themselves, they called it quits in 2011 (although there was a compilation released last year called 'Rkives'), with Jenny going solo full-time - indeed she recently released her much-touted third solo set, 'The Voyager'. She was also a member of The Postal Service and moonlights as one half of Jenny & Johnny with her boyfriend Johnathan Rice. Currently touring the UK, she'll be on the road in October. More at www.jennylewis.com.
Song: Stolen Dance
Artist: Milky Chance, Germany
Album: Sadnecessary, 2013
Notes: Finally making waves on the more tasteful stations, the laid-back laconic stylings of a German folk-pop duo comprising Philipp Dausch and Clemens Rehbein. Growing up in Kassel, where they were schoolfriends, they were members of the Flown Tones jazz quartet before outputting their own music a couple of years ago. This infectious curiosity was actually issued more than a year ago and became a surprise hit around continental Europe. More at www.milkychanceofficial.com.
Song: Hard Times
Artist: Eastmountainsouth, Birmingham, AL/Roanoke, VA
Album: Eastmountainsouth, 2003
Notes: Featured on the Cameron Crowe-directed 'Elizabethtown' film soundtrack in 2005, but originally the lead-off cut from their seminal self-titled CD, their drop-dead perfect dustbowl update of the classic Stephen Foster parlor song composition from 1854. Eastmountainsouth were the painfully overlooked duo of L&F permanent resident Peter Bradley Adams and Kat Maslich-Bode who regrettably parted ways after recording one of the finest one-off long-players of the past 25 years. 15 tracks, each as good as the rest, if it's not in your collection then your collection is incomplete. Bradley Adams continues to make great music on his own. More at www.peterbradleyadams.com.
Song: So Good, So Right
Artist: Brenda Russell, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Brenda Russell, 1979
Notes: Brenda is an A-list pianist singer-songwriter, both Grammy and Tony nominated, now in her 60s, her fabulous repertoire and vocal pipes have been used by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and Donna Summer. Both her parents were singers - indeed her father was once a member of the Ink Spots - she's recorded only eight albums over the past 35 years, the last coming in 2004. More at www.brendarussell.com.
Song: Charmed Life
Artist: Mick Jagger, England
Notes: Originally recorded for his third solo album 'Wandering Spirit' with producer Rick Rubin and daughter Karis on backing vocals, it was deemed unsuitable for that project so sat unused for a while. 15 years later, Ashley Beadle remixed it and it became one of three previously unreleased songs on his 'Very Best Of' set, when it was then much used in a Dell notebook computer tv commercial in 2008 although never charting anywhere. In fact, Jagger's had anything but a charmed life as a solo performer - aside from two duet hits with respectively the Jacksons and David Bowie, he's never scored a solo Top 10 hit in either the US or the UK.
Song: Just Like You
Artist: Keb' Mo', Los Angeles, CA
Album: Just Like You, 1996
Notes: Such a terrific talent, Grammy winning roots/blues great, born Kevin Moore, ably helped out on this number by both Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne on vocals. Originally from Los Angeles but long embedded in the ever-vibrant music scene in Nashville, he has such a masterful but effortless style - 11 splendid albums since his major label bow with an eponymous classic in 1994, his latest 'BLUESAmericana' released earlier this year. He's on tour through September before hitting the road again in November. More at www.kebmo.com.
Artist: Amos Lee, Philadelphia, PA
Notes: Few current tunesmiths so consistently mix evocative lyric writing with organic melodious tunes and soulful 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. Unmissable live, he's playing late summer and fall dates around the country - www.amoslee.com has all the details.
Song: Knife-Grey Sea
Artist: Pilot Speed, Canada
Album: Into The West, 2006
Notes: Heavy shades of U2 both in overall feel and especially the lead singer Todd Clark's Bono-ish delivery. Pilot Speed was an alternatve rock band from Toronto, a quartet of college grads which assembled in 1999 first using the band name Pilate, but changing to their latter moniker in 2006. They released three sturdy long-players over a decade and despite becoming a popular live fixture in Canada they called it quits in 2010. Clark as continued as a solo career and songwriter, penning a track for Phillip Phillips' sophomore album as well co-writing 'Last Hot Night' with Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rzeznik.
Artist: Simple Minds, Scotland
Notes: Despite having never made the Billboard Hot 100, this lush cracker has become one of the band's most popular live songs. Released at the height of the British New Wave synth movement in the early '80s, it marked a transition for the band away from its awkward post-punk roots to a more melodic stadium-ready pop-rock sensibility which climaxed, of course, with 'Don't You Forget About Me.' Lead singer Jim Kerr and co-founder Charlie Burchill and their underrated tub-thumper, Mel Gaynor, are still going strong some 35 years after first assembling in Glasgow. A sparkling, remastered greatest hits collection called 'Celebrate' came out last year, and a new album, their 17th, titled 'Big Music' is set for release in October. More at www.simpleminds.com.
Song: For You
Artist: Judie Tzuke, England
Album: Welcome To The Cruise, 1979
Notes: Multi-layered exquisite a cappella vocals turning into chamber orchestrated bliss, an unknown pearl by the veteran songstress. She signed to Elton John's Rocket Records label in 1977, who saw fit to release the song as her debut single. Her daughter, Bailey, who has toured with her mother for years, had a Top 10 UK hit in 2007 as the featured artist on the Freemason's 'Uninvited.' Her entire 24-strong album catalog is available for sale directly from her website, simply www.tzuke.com.
Song: You and I
Artist: Foy Vance featuring Bonnie Raitt, Northern Ireland/Burbank, CA
Album: Joy Of Nothing, 2013
Notes: The Northern Irish tunesmith was first featured on L&F in the summer of 2011 when he was still just a struggling musician. Since then he's become a critics' darling, notably with the release of his major label debut CD last year which was crammed with tasteful indie-folk nuggets - like this one on which he was joined by the inimitable Bonnie Raitt. A hard-working road troubador, he performed for inmates in various prisons around Britain in 2008. Two gigs he's giving this week in his native Northern Ireland are going to be recorded for his first live album. A very tasteful mini-documentary on the singer called 'Recording Nothing' is available at www.foyvance.com.
Artist: Bonnie Raitt, Burbank, CA
Notes: An absolute diamond that was released as a single in 1994 peaking at a mighty #92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album from which it came featured truckloads of A-list guest musicians, including David Crosby, Levon Helm of the Band, Richard Thompson, Paul Brady - all co-produced by Bonnie with the great Don Was. The daughter of Broadway star John Raitt, who created the role of Billy Bigelow in 'Carousel' in 1945, she has probably done as much as anyone to bring the blues into the mainstream. After a series of critically-acclaimed albums, it wasn't until 'Nick Of Time' and 'Luck Of The Draw' were released that she finally turned that acclaim into sales success. The latter album featured what is probably now her signature tune, 'I Can't Make You Love Me'.
Song: Double Barrel
Artist: Dave & Ansell Collins, Jamaica
Album: Double Barrel, 1971
Notes: The unrelated Dave Barker and Ansel Collins were a Kingston Jamaican duo working for legendary reggae producer Lee Scratch Perry - who went on to work with the Clash. They were signed to the legendary Trojan Records label in Britain which did so much to export the rock-steady sound of ska and reggae around the globe in the 1970s. This track is also notable as the very first recording to ever feature one of the great rhythm session drummers of all time, Sly Dunbar, he of Sly & Robbie fame, who was just 18 when he thumped the tubs on this corker.
Song: Hello Mr. Sun
Artist: Joe Brooks, England
Album: Constellation Me, 2010
Notes: 27 years old, but still looking like a teen, this up-and-coming English tunesmith has released just one album and four EPs so far. From the southern coastal town of Southampton, he began his career posting his music on MySpace back in 2005. In 2008, he became the 'Number 1 Unsigned Artist in the UK' on the site with a reported 11 million plays. He signed with Lava/Republic but was dropped soon after and is now unsigned and settled in Los Angeles. He teamed up with actress/singer Tammin Sursock earlier this year to cut a great version of 'Say Something'. More at www.joebrooks.com.
Artist: The One AM Radio, Los Angeles, CA
Notes: The soothing ambient folkish vision of a talented electronic whiz kid called Hrishikesh Hirway, who's based in Los Angeles, but originally from Massachusetts. He began recording under this moniker while studying film and art at Yale University - yet another artist making a living by licensing his literate, melodic repertoire to television shows and movies - including placements on the likes of 'One Tree Hill', 'Gossip Girl' and 'The End Of Love' - and also as an in-demand remixer. More at www.theoneamradio.com.
Song: Ring of Truth
Artist: Michael Martin Murphey, Dallas, TX
Album: Michael Martin Murphey, 1982
Notes: Another slow gem from a long deleted LP released in 1982 by a singer-songwriter who continues to make great music 50 years on from forming The Trinity River Boys with ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith. His songs have been covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers and Lyle Lovett among others. Still a virtual fixture on the road, he'll be performing his Cowboy Christmas Tour between Thanksgiving and Christmas. More at www.michaelmartinmurphey.com.
Song: Mad About You
Artist: Hooverphonic, Belgium
Album: The Magnificent Tree, 2000
Notes: A grand cinematic feel to this sensational slice of tripped out electronica pop from the Belgian combo, Hooverphonic. They're a relatively unknown trio originally fronted by the translucent vocals of lead singer Geike Arnaert, who quit the combo in 2008. As you might imagine their songs are occasionally picked up for TV shows like 'Cold Case' and for TV commercials. More at www.hooverphonic.com (but translate first).
Song: Let The Light In
Artist: Bob Schneider, Austin, TX
Album: A Perfect Day, 2011
Notes: Such a strong melody and smart lyrics, cleverly and evocatively using characters from 'The Wizard of Oz' to tell his tale of unexpected new love from a classy singer-songwriter who has been plugging away creating top-notch, erudite melodious fare for a long time. A local musical hero in his home town, where he's won no less than 24 trophies at the city's annual Music Awards since being named Musician of the Year in 1999. His 12th studio album, 'Burden Of Proof,' also worth a gander. (Most of his live shows are recorded and then made available to his audience on their way out.) Check out where he'll be on his wonderful website, www.bobschneider.com.
Song: Over You
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson featuring A Great Big World, Staten Island, NY/New York City, NY
Album: Lights Out, 2014
Notes: A new modern classic - sheer class, superior emotive genius on an insanely beautiful diamond of a song recorded with A Great Big World - the duo of Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino, who broke through big-time with last year's best-selling ballad, 'Say Something'. The chamber orchestral arrangement which graces the song half-way through takes this gem to a different level. More at ingridmichaelson.com and agreatbigworld.com.
Artist: Belouis Some, England
Album: Some People, 1988
Notes: In the tradition of Howard Jones and Duran Duran, the singular artist Belouis Some, whose real name was the more vanilla Neville Keighley. British synth-pop artist who was popular back in the UK for 15 minutes in the mid-'80s - and a big star in South Africa at the time - if you've got the classic 'Pretty In Pink' soundtrack collecting dust in your record collection, then you might be familiar with him - it included his 'Round Round' track. This nugget got a few spins way back when, enough for it to make #88 in the Hot 100, but no further. More at www.belouissome.com.
Song: Glory of Love
Artist: Andrew Simple, Nashville, TN
Album: Not available
Notes: A surprisingly good acoustic folkish update of the too-cheesy, way-over-the-top Peter Cetera 1986 hit original from a Nashville-based folk/pop tunesmith from a musical family, once again making a living mostly through song placements and as an in-demand co-writer. Currently in the studio where, in his words, he is 'creating new songs virtually on a daily basis. I counted the other day that I've written and recorded over 500 songs in the past three years, and feel like I'm just getting started'. More details at www.andrewsimple.com.
Song: Feel The Need In Me
Artist: Detroit Emeralds, Little Rock, AR
Album: Greatest Hits, 1988
Notes: From a period awash with splendid r&b/soul groups came this sextet comprising the four Tilmon brothers and James Mitchell and Marvin Willis. Originally called The Emeralds out of Little Rock, Arkansas, they moved to Detroit (hence the name change) with Tilmon brother Abrim its driving force, writing and arranging most of their material. They went their separate ways in the mid '70s with Mitchell and Willis putting together The Floaters. In 1982, with talk of a reunion, Abrim Tilmon died suddenly from a heart attack at the age of just 37.
Song: Baby Please Come Home
Artist: John Martyn, England
Album: Grace And Danger, 1980
Notes: A man who screwed up, said things things he can't take back, pleading for one more chance, his solo state now insufferable, desperate for the one he loves to simply come back home: made all the poignant and depressing by some deliciously sad instrumention. The mournful quiet howl and understated talent of the veteran singer-songwriter, regrettably an autobiographical plea written to his then wife Beverley during their divorce. Indeed the entire LP which housed this ballad was deemed too depressing for commercial release by Island Records boss, Chris Blackwell who delayed its issue for over a year. Sadly Martyn passed away in early 2009 in Ireland, where he had lived for many years.
Song: Mississippi Isabel
Artist: King Charles, England
Album: Loveblood, 2012
Notes: An engagingly melodic glam folk roller by Charles Costa, a graduate from Durham University who truly thinks he's a 21st century King Charles the II, sporting full wiggish hair and period clothing. He's a real dandy, sort of the Russell Brand of indie-rock, a multi-instrumentalist from West London who formerly fronted a band called Adventure Playground. A few one-off singles and a couple of EPs have been released since 2009 and he now fronts his own trio which opened for Mumford & Sons a couple of years ago. More at this wonderfully eccentric Brit at www.kingcharles-music.com.
Song: Break It Down Baby
Artist: Robinella, Knoxville, TN
Album: Solace For The Lonely, 2006
Notes: The progressive blues-dipped sound that combines so many musical genres it's like a L&F show all on its own - a bit of bluegrass, jazz, blues, folk - just a magical stew. Robinella was a group led by Robinella Bailey. Now solo, her last album, 'Fly Away Bird', came out in 2009, but there's a neat live update available of this song on her well-titled concert set 'Sunday Kind Of Love' - all can be streamed directly at www.robinella.com where you can also see forthcoming dates.
Artist: Thomas Newman, Los Angeles, CA
Notes: The curcumin-spiced title theme to the marvellous 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' movie from 2012, starring Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith along with the always excellent Bill Nighy. Newman is quite simply the greatest modern film scorist around, although his cousin Randy Newman is a close second. His father Alfred Newman composed the iconic 20th Century-Fox fanfare, and older brother David is no slouch as a movie composer either. Check out his extraordinary discography on Wiki, which includes 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' soundtrack due early next year.
Song: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Artist: Jetta, England
Album: Not available
Notes: An unreleased cover of the Police smash, by a young singer 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, musically influenced by Annie Lennox, Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman and based in London since 2007. 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 www.jettaofficial.com.
Song: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Artist: Police, England/Alexandria, VA
Album: Zenyatta Mondatta, 1980
Notes: The second single from the band's Grammy-winning LP 'Zenyatta Mondatta'. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1988, Sting gave an explanation for the seemingly nonsensical title. 'I was trying to make an intellectual point about how the simple can be so powerful. Why are our favourite songs 'Da Doo Ron Ron' and 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy'? In the song, I tried to address that issue. But everyone said, This is bullshit, child's play. No one listened to the lyrics. Listen to the lyrics. I'm going to remake it again and put more emphasis on what I was talking about.'