Song: I Miss You
Artist: Stevie Nicks, Phoenix, AZ
Album: Trouble In Shangri-La, 2001
Notes: The unmistakable trembling soprano of Stevie Nicks from a sorely underrated 2001 album. She began her professional recording career in 1967 when she was invited to join the Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band by her erstwhile high-school friend Lindsey Buckingham. So devoted to her career in music, she forsook having children to concentrate on her art and craft, revealing in an interview on ABC-TV in 2001, 'My mission maybe wasn't to be a mom and a wife; maybe my particular mission was to write songs to make moms and wives feel better.' The seminal lineup of Fleetwood Mac with Christine McVie back in the mix resumes its world tour on September 30th in Minneapolis - and Nicks' eighth solo album, '24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault' follows a week later, comprising polished versions of demos she originally created between 1969 and 1987. More at rockalittle.com/main.htm.
Song: Seasons (Waiting On You)
Artist: Future Islands, Baltimore, MD
Album: Singles, 2014
Notes: Old school, nu-school synth pop with a modern rock twist from their fourth studio effort. Fronted by Samuel T. Herring, the new wavers got together in Greenville, North Carolina in 2006 before relocating to Baltimore and are now signed to the top-drawer pioneering British indie label, 4AD. The label was formed by music maestro Ivo Watts-Russell way back in 1979 and which has counted the likes of David Byrne, Camera Obscura, Iron & Wine, The Pixies and The Cocteau Twins on its amazing roster. The band is playing a couple of festivals at the end of the month before heading off to Europe for a month-long tour. More at future-islands.com.
Song: My Best Friend
Artist: Kate York, Nashville, TN
Album: Fly Away [EP], 2011
Notes: Yet another sterling non-country performer who makes her home in Nashville, where she's been there since relocating from southern California in 1999. She initially got a job as a recording engineer on Music Row, before deciding she preferred writing songs to recording other people's. After being spotted at 12th & Porter, she recorded half a dozen songs in late 2003, followed by a further six in the summer of 2004. Her first album 'Sadlylove' was released in 2006, her second - 'For You' - came two years later. There's been nothing new since other than a few of her songs finding their way on to TV shows such as 'Grey's Anatomy' and a contribution to 'Cinnamon Girl', a compilation put together for the Women Artists cover Neil Young charity.
Song: 8 Good Reasons
Artist: Sinead O'Connor, Ireland
Notes: One of several sterling cuts from her newest album - her tenth studio release - which sees the now 47-year old songstress donning a wig, full make-up and a tight black latex dress on the cover. Forthright as ever, in a recent interview with the Irish Sun, she said 'I wish I hadn't ever got married. Silly cow. Four times. What a twat. Now I can't ever get married once and properly. Anyway, I look stupid in dresses. And clearly, I'm a crap wife.' She has some North American dates coming up at the end of October. More at sineadoconnor.com.
Song: For One Night Only
Artist: King Creosote, Scotland
Notes: A gloriously rough and chaotic strings-laced Celtic outing from a prolific indie-folkster by the name of Kenny Anderson, who hails from Fife in Scotland. He's released more than 40 albums in less than 20 years and last year was commissioned by the BBC to create a soundtrack to celebrate the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Scotland. He composed 'From Scotland With Love' as an aural backdrop to an archival visual history of the country produced by filmmaker Virginia Heath. He completed the project while also coping with a broken leg and the arrival of a new baby. More at kingcreosote.com.
Song: Bright Morning Star
Artist: Cara Dillon, Ireland
Album: A Thousand Hearts, 2014
Notes: Stunning new Celtic Folk of the highest order, the beautifully modest art and craft of a singer from the town of Dungiven in Northern Ireland. Steeped in traditional music growing up, she won the All Ireland Singing Trophy at just 14 and joined the band Equation in the mid '90s, where she met her future husband, Sam Lakeman, replacing Kate Rusby. She and Lakeman left to form the duo Polar Star before she began a solo career in 2001, which has seen five fine album releases through to her latest, 'A Thousand Hearts'. This track has just been released on the 'Now That's What I Call Chilled' compilation but only in the UK sadly. More at caradillon.co.uk.
Artist: Christian Burghardt, Portland, OR
Notes: A 26-year old Korean-American from the north-west, an alumnus of the University of Oregon where he honed his songwriting and performing chops after breaking his leg playing college football. He was signed by uber-producer Lukasz (Dr. Luke) Gottwald to his Kemosabe Records with his first EP released this past week. He describes this song as 'about going through the motions and not doing what you really want to do with your life. For me, it's about the moment when I decided that I was going to do music 100 percent. I thought, If I want to do this, I have to go for it all out. It drives the entire song'. He's currently on tour through the end of October. More at christianburghardtofficial.com.
Song: I'm Gonna Miss You, Girl
Artist: Michael Martin Murphey, Dallas, TX
Album: River Of Time, 1988
Notes: Another lost gem 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 michaelmartinmurphey.com.
Artist: Dana Falconberry, Dearborn, MI
Notes: An intriguing meld of dream pop and electro-folk from an Austin, Texas-based songstress. Originally from Dearborn, Michigan, but relocated south a decade ago, where she's been recording for the past seven years - four indie albums and a couple of EPs since then, and now the bright 12 single 'Public Hi-Fi Sessions', which - rather neatly - was released on Record Store Day back in April. A popular regular at SXSW, you can found out more about her at danafalconberry.com.
Song: Worn Out Blues
Artist: Gotye, Belgium/Australia
Album: Like Drawing Blood, 2006
Notes: 38 seconds of weary balladic bliss by the Belgian-born Wouter Andre De Backer and the closing track on his sophomore album. He moved with his family to Australia when he was two, developing a love of music early on. He founded his first band, Downstares, while at high school and began recording while at the University of Melbourne, cutting a four-track CD before releasing his debut, 'Boardface', in 2003. Three years passed before his follow-up, 'Like Drawing Board', and another five before his breakthrough 'Making Mirrors' which featured his Grammy-winning global chart-topper 'Somebody That I Used To Know'. More at gotye.com.
Artist: Colony House, Franklin, TN
Album: When I Was Younger, 2014
Notes: Promising stuff, great driving music from a 2014 debut CD by the tight indie rock trio of brothers Caleb and Will Chapman and Scott Mills from Franklin, Tennessee - indeed they named themselves after the modest Colony House apartment complex they lived in on the town's 11th Avenue. They're touring nearly every day all autumn long around the US, dates at colonyhousemusic.com where you can also watch a nifty video of this very track.
Song: Sit Down
Artist: James, England
Album: Gold Mother, 1990
Notes: Founded more than thirty years ago as part of the fertile Madchester scene in Manchester in the north of England and still going strong; indeed their newest album 'La Petite Mort' - their 13th - is released in the US this week. Fronted by the bald but bearded Yorkshireman, Tim Booth, they've had minimal success over here, in fact only their 1993 single 'Laid' made the Billboard Hot 100, whereas in their native country they've racked up more than 20 chart hits. More at wearejames.com.
Song: Did We Live Too Fast?
Artist: Got A Girl, Los Angeles, CA
Notes: Retro-styled, too-cool-for-school blend of '60s French pop, vintage 007 backtracks and some psychedelic pop thrown in for good measure, all graced by the seductive vocal stylings of actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead - who paired with San Francisco producer-whiz Dan Nakamura aka 'Dan The Automator' in 2012 for a side career in music. They first met on the set of 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' in 2010 in which Mary starred as delivery girl Ramona Flowers. Plenty of actors try and fail to be decent musicians - Ms. Winstead may be different. More at got-a-girl.com.
Artist: Chet Faker, Australia
Album: Built On Glass, 2014
Notes: Chet Faker - clearly a homage to the late jazz great - is in fact Nick Murphy, who signed to Downtown Records in the US a couple of years ago. Already a big deal in his home country of Australia where this album topped the chart, he is primarily an electronica musician, influenced by Bob Dylan, the aforementioned Chet Baker and the Motown catalog. There's a highly original roller-skating babes video clip of this number which is well worth a look on youtube. He's playing three US dates in October in Miami, New York and San Francisco. More at chetfaker.com.
Artist: Bill Withers, Slab Fork, WV
Album: Still Bill, 1972
Notes: A gritty, urban funked-up soul groove from the unimpeachable Withers. Check out the A+ documentary about him also called 'Still Bill' which emerged in 2009 - it reveals the past master's dismal view of the record business which has been largely responsible for his reluctance to record or issue anything new since his last studio outing, the superlative 'Watching You Watching Me' in 1985.
Artist: Pacific Air, Santa Ana, CA
Album: Stop Talking, 2013
Notes: Such an airy infectious chorus from a quirky indie-pop duo comprising brothers Ryan and Taylor Lawhorn. Formed as KO KO in 2012, they released three songs through Bandcamp before changing their name to Pacific Air, releasing the EP 'Long Live KOKO' later that year followed by the album 'Stop Talking' last year. More at pacificairmusic.com.
Song: No Mermaid
Artist: Sinead Lohan, Ireland
Notes: An absolute corker by the other Irish Sinead who's flown under the radar for too long and one of many highlights on a meticulously curated soundtrack collection which also featured choice nuggets by Beth Nielsen Chapman, Edwin McCain, Sheryl Crow and Sarah McLachlan. A folk singer-songwriter from County Cork in Ireland, she recorded two long-players in the 1990s, since when - nothing.
Song: Leave The Lights On
Artist: Meiko, Roberta, GA
Album: The Bright Side, 2012
Notes: Lead-off cut from her brilliant sophomore album which was issued in 2012, some five years after her splendid maiden long-player: both are stuffed with first-rate melodic singer-songwriter confections showcasing her engaging breathy vocal style and clever way with words. One-quarter Japanese, she grew up in Roberta, a small hamlet in Georgia. More on her at meikomusic.com.
Song: The Day Before You Came
Artist: Abba, Sweden/Norway
Notes: A highly inventive, superb melody with curious well-written lyrics based on a woman's diary entries documenting her mundane, habitual single life on the very brink of finding the man of her dreams. Only the Beatles have been offered more hard cash to reunite than Abba, but it never happened and never will (they recently admitted they had turned $1 billion to do a comeback tour). As they were the second biggest industry in Sweden behind car makers Volvo, they probably don't need to. A new solo album from the otherwise extremely engimatic co-vocalist Faltskog emerged last year simply called 'A.'
Artist: Coldplay, England
Album: Ghost Stories, 2014
Notes: The confessional scars and bruises from Chris Martin's recent uncoupling from his wife are in every groove of Coldplay's melancholic sixth album, not least right here on this plaintive gem. Many so-called critics have hammered the album, many of them citing self-indulgence and a too-maudlin vibe: well, all art is arguably self-indulgent and Coldplay are past masters of sensItive, rather sad, reflective songs. The band is giving a one-off live performance at the iHeart Radio Festival in Las Vegas at the end of the week. More at coldplay.com.
Song: Inside The Love
Artist: Nada Surf, New York, NY
Album: Let Go, 2002
Notes: An exceptional lost corker from a splendid album of which Entertainment Weekly wrote 'A dozen near-perfect pop songs, each one teeming with joyful desperation'. They're a tight alternative rock trio based in New York, who were brought to major label attention in the mid '90s, by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, since when they have released seven CDs. Lead singer Matthew Caws teamed up with Julian Hatfield to form the duo Minor Alps, releasing the album 'Get There' last year. The group's latest effort, a collection of B-Sides appropriately called 'B-Sides', came out a couple of weeks ago. More at nadasurf.com.
Song: Me & You
Artist: Rachel Brown, New York, NY
Album: Me & You, 2014
Notes: The hypnotic beats of a half Ethiopian/half-Bermudian singer/songwriter based in New York and graduate from Harvard University, who began writing her own material after leaving high school and has since then opened for the likes of John Legend, Quincy Jones, Wyclef Jean and Mary J. Blige. More on young Rachel at rachelbrownmusic.com where you can watch her rather nifty mashup of Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me' with a dash of Tom Petty thrown in for good measure.
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 have also been featured on 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: Let Me Down Easy
Artist: Paolo Nutini, Scotland
Album: Caustic Love, 2014
Notes: Finally beginning to live up to all the hype, Nutini is a 27-year-old Scot of Italian descent, who resisted the temptation to take over his father's fish and chip shop to pursue a career in music. This second single from his new album samples Bettye LaVette's 'Let Me Down Easy' from 1965. Already a huge star in the UK, he was signed to Atlantic Records at the age of 18, and has since released three critically revered albums. He begins a US tour this week in Washington, DC, ending in Austin, Texas on October 10th. More at paolonutini.com.
Song: Streets of Your Town
Artist: Go Betweens, Australia
Album: 16 Lovers Lane, 1988
Notes: One of the most endearing jangly tunes from a band based in Brisbane down under, founded by singer-songwriter/guitarists Grant McLennan and Robert Forster. They never quite got the mainstream attention over here that they deserved - 'Was There Anything I Could Do?' was a Top 20 hit on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. They were around on and off from 1977 up to 2006, disbanding when McLennan sadly died suddenly and too soon from a heart attack at just 48. The group's two female members, drummer Lindy Morrison and violinist Amanda Brown went to become a part of The Rainy Season.
Song: Every Time It Rains
Artist: Randy Newman, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Bad Love, 1999
Notes: An artist who been nominated and awarded mulitple times for Grammys, Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes and goodness knows what else and yet half a century on still writes some of the most literate and searching music of any composer. Going back to his wonderful 'Just One Smile', a hit for Gene Pitney in 1966, his catalog of songs seems never ending. Everyone probably has their own favorite, but this song from his first album in almost a decadein 1999 is about as good as it gets - and to think Michael Jackson rejected it. Newman's own take on the song is that he wouldn't be surprised if it was 'the easiest to take for people who've never heard me before'.
Song: Total Control
Artist: Motels, Berkeley, CA
Album: The Motels, 1979
Notes: Best remembered for their early '80s modern rock hits, 'Only The Lonely' and 'Suddenly Last Summer', this track was their very first single when they were more new wavish and which completely flew under the radar. The band formed in Berkeley in 1971, fronted by Martha Davis, perhaps best described as a brunette version of Debbie Harry. They moved to Los Angeles in 1975, changing their name from The Warfield Foxes to Angels Of Mercy before settling on The Motels. More than two dozen singles followed until the band split in 1987. Davis went on to cut some solo sides before reforming the band as Martha Davis and the Motels. Original keyboard player and saxophonist Marty Jourard - heard in top form on this early number which he also co-wrote with Martha - returned to the lineup earlier this year. More at themotels.com.
Song: Breathe Easy
Artist: Rachel Sermanni, Scotland
Album: Black Currents [EP], 2012
Notes: Intriguing and rewarding music from a singer of Italian ancestry born and raised in Scotland, who cites her influences as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and the late great Eva Cassidy. She's opened for Elvis Costello and Rumer among others with just one album and a few EPs under her belt to date, and a lovely live set, recorded at the Dawson City Music Festival in Canada, was released back in April. For more, check out rachelsermanni.net.
Song: A Matter of Minutes
Artist: Shawn Colvin, Vermillion, SD
Album: Whole New You, 2001
Notes: In a recording career spanning nearly a quarter of a century, the Grammy-winning performer has constantly produced the highest quality music. Well worth a look is her fascinating memoir 'Diamond In The Rough,' published last year - a really frank and at times highly amusing warts 'n' all autobiography. She's playing a few dates with Steve Earle at present. More at shawncolvin.com.
Artist: Josh Osho, England
Album: L.I.F.E., 2012
Notes: Old school new school R&B from a young singer with a musically and lyrically uplifting track with a terrific rap from actor/writer/comedian Childish Gambino. Just 22 years old, he's the son of an Irish mother and Nigerian father who left home at 16 but ended up becoming homeless. He got his act together a couple of years later determined on a career in music and was quickly snapped up by the venerable Island Records label. He's already toured with another new L&F preferred vendor, Emile Sande - and he co-wrote some songs a couple of years ago with none-other than Sir Tom Jones.
Song: So Far From Me
Artist: Brett Dennen, Oakdale, CA
Album: Hope For The Hopeless, 2008
Notes: A gorgeous acoustic nugget from a singer/songwriter who's made a series of quality albums since his 2004 debut. In 2008 he opened for John Mayer and was named an 'Artist To Watch' by Rolling Stone and one of its eight 'Guys On The Rise' by Entertainment Weekly. His song 'Comeback Kid (That's My Dog)', from his 2011 album 'Loverboy', is the featured theme to the NBC-TV sitcom 'About A Boy'. He hits the road at the end of the month, performing through October 23rd before heading to the UK to support Paloma Faith on a month-long tour. More at brettdennen.net.
Song: Freezing Rain
Artist: Hurricane Bells, Rochester, NY
Album: Tonight Is The Ghost, 2009
Notes: Splendid indie-Americana rock from Steve Schiltz who has fronted Longwave since 1990. This rolling belter was written, recorded, played and mixed entirely on his own on his MacBook. More at hurricanebells.com, which - if you join their mailing list - will provide you with a free MP3 of 'Before I'm Gone'.
Song: Falling or Flying
Artist: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Waitsfield, VT
Album: This Is Somewhere, 2007
Notes: Potter is a singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist from Vermont who has been fronting the Nocturnals for a dozen years. Much of their rootsy blues-tinged catalog is often used in TV shows, this track once popping up in both 'ER' and 'Grey's Anatomy'. There's been nothing new since 2012's 'The Lion The Beast The Beat', but they're a busy live band, playing two dates in Las Vegas at the end of the month. Potter is playing a solo gig at the deliciously titled 'Emeril Lagasse Foundation's Boudin Bourbon And Beer' show in New Orleans next month. More at gracepotter.com.
Song: El Bandido
Artist: Nicolas Jaar, New York, NY
Notes: Chilled-out world music electronica from an American-Chilean composer and techno whiz from one of his earliest recordings tucked away on an obscure various artists EP and which samples heavily from Geraldine Hunt's disco smash 'Can't Fake The Feeling'. The still young Jaar - he cut this track in his teens - released the album 'Space Is Only Noise' in 2011, before teaming up with Dave Harrington as Darkside for the 2013 record 'Psychic'. Earlier this year he collaborated with Sasha Spielberg for the single 'Don't Tell Me', under the name Just Friends. More at nicolasjaar.net.
Song: Here Comes The Sun
Artist: Colbie Caillat, Malibu, CA
Album: Imagine That, 2009
Notes: A faithful rendition of the Beatles' classic by the daughter of noted producer Ken Caillat (he co-helmed both 'Rumours' and 'Tusk' for Fleetwood Mac) who always produces tuneful, clever pop that is reliably melodic. This cut was one of twelve Beatles songs featured in the Eddie Murphy 'Imagine That'. She's playing a series of dates through to the end of the month. More at colbiecaillat.com.
Song: Here Comes The Sun
Artist: Beatles, England
Album: Abbey Road, 1969
Notes: Written by George Harrison in the garden of Eric Clapton's estate Hurtwood Edge back in April 1969 and recorded by The Beatles that July, although without John Lennon who was recuperating from a car crash he'd had in Scotland the previous week. Although considerably less prolific than Lennon and McCartney, at his best he was as a good a songwriter, and this song and 'Something' would be standouts in anyone's canon.