Song: Cedar Lane
Artist: First Aid Kit, Sweden
Album: Stay Gold, 2014
Notes: Yet one more beautiful swayer from the first-rate latest offering from the Swedish sister act of Johnna and Klara Soderberg, despite their utterly authentic American alt-country stylings. They became critics' darling a couple of years ago and it's 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 served up sweet but Nordic - dates at www.thisisfirstaidkit.com.
Song: Give Thx
Artist: Nightmares on Wax, England
Album: Feelin' Good, 2013
Notes: Top-line trip-hop vintage soul grooves from English DJ George Evelyn, now making Ibiza his home. Weaned on the music of Curtis Mayfield, Quincy Jones and old school hip-hop he also moonlights as DJ Ease and has been expanding his ever-creative soundscapes, mixing rap, electronica and vintage soul since bowing in 1991. His eighth set, a best-of collection titled 'Now Is The Time' was released in June, with its accompanying Rollo Jackson-directed documentary. More at nightmaresonwax.com.
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'. On the road through November 9th and some fun photos at thewindandthewave.com.
Song: Bullet And A Target
Artist: Citizen Cope, Washington, DC
Notes: Laid-back rootsy, raspy vocals from a singer the Washington Post regards as 'the city's most soulful export since Marvin Gaye'. Initially a DJ for hip-hop group Basehead, Cope (real name Clarence Greenwood) has been making some wonderful music for the past decade, when he started as a solo artist, writing and singing 'Sideways' for Carlos Santana's 'Shaman' album. He's also opened for the likes of Eric Clapton, Santana and Dave Matthews and has been polishing off what will his sixth album and is now on the road with his 'The Clarence Greenwood Recordings - 10th Anniversary Tour'. More at citizencope.com.
Song: Let Me In Your Life
Artist: Bill Withers, Slab Fork, WV
Album: Still Bill, 1972
Notes: A quiet masterclass from the best of the best, the writer and original performer of iconic recordings like 'Ain't No Sunshine' and 'Lean On Me' and who has influenced successive generations of folk/soul stylists. Mainly down to his disgust and mistrust of the record label system as well as a feeling he'd said what he had to say, he left the building in 1985 and has enjoyed family life ever since. Late last year, his nine albums for Sussex and Columbia were released as a box set under the title 'The Complete Sussex And Columbia Albums.'
Artist: Flume, Australia
Album: Flume, 2012
Notes: Intriguing ambient electro-pop from a 22-year-old electronica whiz from Down Under, whose real name is Harley Streten and is joined on this track by guest vocalist Moon Holiday. Born and still based in Sydney, his boundary-pushing album emerged in the US last year and was well-received by genre freaks worldwide but is still only a commercial success in his home country, where it topped the chart. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper last year, shortly before walking away with four ARIA awards, he said 'I'm just trying to work out how to write music now, because I've never had the opportunity where my number-one priority is writing music. I don't know how my brain works yet'. More on him at flumemusic.com.
Artist: Acid House Kings, Sweden
Notes: Light, airy modern pop, effortless and easy-flowing from a group founded in 1991 by brothers Niklas and Johan Angergard and Joakim Odlund. Odlund left in 2002 and was replaced by the brothers' sister-in-law Julia Lannerheim. Five albums during that time, but nothing since 2011. More at acidhousekings.com.
Artist: Correatown, Yuba City, CA
Album: Spark, Burn, Fade, 2009
Notes: Sweet, dreamy indie pop - a tender tale that was featured during the series finale to ABC-TV's 'Ugly Betty' series in 2010 - from Los Angeles songstress and pianist Angela Correa. Her music has also been featured on 'Grey's Anatomy', 'Brothers And Sisters' and 'How I Met Your Mother'. She flits between her solo moniker and that of Correatown - and even more confusingly she occasionally moonlights with Tom Brousseau as part of the folk duo Les Shelleys. More at okcorreatown.com and myspace.com/lesshelleys.
Artist: Kyler England, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Golden [EP], 2014
Notes: A new breathless gem from an L&F singer-songwriter veteran who is based in Los Angeles and who is also one quarter of the excellent folk-pop-rock combo the Rescues. She also added her great voice to Dutch DJ Tiesto''s 'Take Me' last year as well as opening for the likes of Annie Lennox, Sting and Avril Lavigne. More at kylerengland.com.
Song: Way To Blue
Artist: Nick Drake, England
Album: Five Leaves Left, 1969
Notes: Deft, restrained, luminous, erudite, original. Recorded while he was still a student at Cambridge University and produced by the legendary Joe Boyd, he was born in Burma but grew up in England. He was a shy, reticent performer recording just three long-players before dying from an overdose of anti-depressants at the age of just 26. Those three LPs have influenced successive generations of acoustic tunesmiths and his stature in rock history today is far greater today than it ever was. Interestingly, he may be the only well-known musician in the rock era for whom there is no film footage either in concert or in the studio - all that is left are some still photographs and a timeless, evergreen trio of unimpeachably classic albums.
Artist: David Pack, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: A hit from yesteryear and this week's guilty pleasure from former Ambrosia frontman with A-list guest singers Michael McDonald and soul stirrer James Ingram trading blissful vocal blows throughout, especially at the mighty climax. He went solo in 1984 and also then began a very successful career as a producer for the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Wynonna and Kenny Loggins. More at his rather dusty website at davidpack.com.
Song: Lovesick Mistake
Artist: Erin McCarley, Garland, TX
Album: Love, Save The Empty, 2009
Notes: A first-rate lost diamond from a delicious debut in 2009. Sadly her followup album, 'My Stadium Electric', in 2012 was a poor miscue by comparison, but let's hope her new set, which is due any now, sees her back on top form. She started out her musical career in San Diego after graduating from Baylor University. Now based in Nashville, she writes top-notch melodic pearls and has been part of the admirable Ten Out Of Tenn collaborative. If you look closely at the ABC TV musical drama series 'Nashville' you might see her popping up from time to time. Keep up with her news at facebook.com/erinmccarley.
Song: Let It Be
Artist: Labrinth, England
Album: Let It Be [Single], 2014
Notes: A spanking new soul-dipped corker from renaissance man Timothy McKenzie, a British multi-genre DJ, producer, musician and songwriter. Preternaturally talented and ambitious, he's achieved more and collaborated with more artists than someone twice his age, and at just 25 has already teamed up with the likes of Emeli Sande, Tinie Tempah, Ed Sheeran and Plan B among others. He's also notable as being the only signing to Simon Cowell's Syco music label who hasn't appeared on a TV talent show. More at labrinthofficial.com/us/home.
Song: White Lies
Artist: Max Frost, Austin, TX
Album: Low High Low [EP], 2013
Notes: The fun peppy beats belie a rather bitter and twisted lyric about a poor chap who's discovered his girl cheating on him. The young Austin, Texas tunesmith was already playing shows by the age of 12, collaborating with L&F favorite Bob Schneider and in 2012 he dropped out of college to pursue a career in music. He was snapped up by Atlantic Records at 21, but we're still awaiting his full-length debut set. More at maxfrost.net, where you can stream all the tracks from his debut EP.
Song: Carry On
Artist: Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Los Angeles, CA/Dallas, TX/England/Canada
Album: Deja Vu, 1970
Notes: Hard to believe that this classic never made the Billboard Hot 100, though of course one of several seminal tracks from their landmark LP. Written by Stephen Stills - interestingly only one song on that iconic 1970 longplayer was composed by more than one member of the group, each of its tracks only written by a single artist with the exception of the album closer, 'Everybody I Love' inked by Stills with Neil Young. 'D'j' Vu' ranked at #147 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list. CS&N, sans Young, are currently on a west coast tour and sounding as good as ever. More at crosbystillsnash.com/tour-dates/.
Artist: Celia Pavey, Australia
Album: Bodies [EP], 2014
Notes: Celestial folk-pop from a singer/songwriter from the small town of Forbes in New South Wales, Australia. She came third in last year's Australian version of 'The Voice', coached through the series by Delta Goodrem. Of this confessional EP, she says, 'I'm a very honest person so I like to write about real things that are happening in my life rather than make up stories.' As far as is known, this is the first radio show in the US to play anything by young Celia - it's a sparking debut, produced by Eric Dubowsky who also produces fellow Aussies Chet Faker and Flume (see above). More at celiapaveymusic.com.
Song: Bad, Bad World
Artist: Guster, Boston, MA
Album: Easy Wonderful, 2010
Notes: Despite its title, this is a rather optimistic offering with rather engaging World Party-ish backing vocals in the chorus. The tight quartet has been recording highly accessible melodic indie rock over six albums for nearly 20 years, but still flying too far under the radar. They have a new album out in January called 'Simple Machine'. More at guster.com.
Artist: Blake Mills, Santa Monica, CA
Album: Heigh Ho, 2014
Notes: A rather neat blues-folk shuffler from the California-based musician's just-released second CD. He occasionally stages ad-hoc collaborative music evenings at his local Mollusk Surf Shop in Venice Beach which have featured the likes of Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, Jenny Lewis, Dave Rawlings and Jackson Browne and he's received the ultimate accolade from Eric Clapton who describes him as 'the last guitarist I heard that I thought was phenomenal' after his performance of 'Save The Last Dance For Me' at Slowhand's Crossroads Guitar Festival last year. He's playing a series of dates through October 9th. More at blakemillsonline.com.
Song: Wake Up Everybody
Artist: Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Philadelphia, PA
Album: Wake Up Everybody, 1975
Notes: Truly the sound of Philadelphia from the mid '70s, an old-school slice of impeccable soul with a fine message for society at large. Although Melvin was the original band founder and leader, it was the voice of the mighty Teddy Pendergrass, originally their drummer, who was the sound of this band. Pendergrass went on to have a successful solo career, but suffered a serious car accident in 1982 which left him paralyzed. He sadly died too young in 2010 at the age of 59. Melvin himself was a year younger when he passed away in 1997.
Artist: Hannah Georgas, Canada
Album: Hannah Georgas, 2012
Notes: Vancouver-based indie popster smartly combining her whispie vocal charms with some retro new-wave vibes. She's been recording for some five years and her biggest success to date was when her compositon 'You've Got a Place Called Home' was used in a Wal-Mart commercial in 2009. She took part in fellow Canadian Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair collective the following year - and this summer toured with Sara Bareilles. She has a new single out called 'Robotic'. More at hannahgeorgas.com.
Song: Birds of St. Marks
Artist: Jackson Browne, Germany
Album: Solo Acoustic Vol. 1, 2005
Notes: Eloquence refined and defined from one of the pre-eminent singer/songwriters of the past 40 years. The son of an American serviceman (hence his Heidelberg, Germany birthplace) and a Norwegian mother, he was managed by David Geffen and Elliot Roberts, who when they failed to find a record company interested in his talent, set up Asylum Records. The five other acts signed in the label's first year were Judee Sill, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, John David Souther and Glenn Frey, who soon teamed up with Don Henley, etc. to form the Eagles. Interestingly a new version of this lost nugget is currently being plugged as a brand new single in a more uptempo guitar-fashioned version leading off his upcoming album, 'Standing In The Breach' coming out next month, which he is promoting on his fall tour which begins on September 27th. More at jacksonbrowne.com.
Song: Across The Stream
Artist: Elsiane, Peru
Album: Hybrid, 2007
Notes: An ethereal musical stew combining classical influences, with electronica and dream pop, from Peruvian singer Elsianne Caplette and drummer Stephane Sotto. The couple met in Montreal a decade ago releasing the aptly named and well-recommended debut 'Hybrid' in 2007 and its followup, 'Mechanics Of Emotion' a couple of years ago. More on the stylish duo at elsiane.com.
Artist: Larkin Poe, Atlanta, GA
Album: Kin, 2014
Notes: America's most stylish home furnishings store Restoration Hardware, or RH as they now brand themselves, has recently set up its own record label and this groovy singalong corker is its first release. Larkin Poe is a riff-heavy roots rock group from Atlanta led by 20-something sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell who initially started performing simply as the Lovell Sisters before forming Larkin Poe in 2010. Following a few self-released EPs, they were snapped up by the RH label last year which will issue their maiden long-player titled 'Kin' on October 14th. They went down a storm at this summer's Glastonbury Festival in England and big things beckon. They'll be playing a handful of US dates from October 21st. More at larkinpoe.com.
Song: How Long
Artist: Karla Bonoff, Santa Monica, CA
Album: New World, 1988
Notes: She's made her living mostly from writing huge hits for the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Wynonna Judd and Bonnie Raitt, but cut four sensational albums between 1977 and 1988, all of them worth picking up. She began her career as a member of Bryndle in the late '60s with Wendy Waldman, Andrew Gold and Kenny Edwards, who was her long-time guitarist until his too-early passing in 2010. She's playing a small number of selected dates in late October and November, and if you haven't see her live - make sure you do this time around. Details at karlabonoff.com.
Artist: Mike Doughty, Fort Knox, KY
Album: Stellar Motel, 2014
Notes: If the voice sounds familiar it's because he was the founder and frontman of Soul Coughing in the 1990s. They disbanded in 2000 while he struggled with addiction to heroin and opiates at large, a trip he documented in some detail in his 2012 memoir, 'The Book Of Drugs'. His new solo album, the crowd-funded 'Stellar Motel' hit retail last week following hot on the heels of a live album called 'Live At Ken's House'. He's hitting the road on October 4th through December. More at mikedoughty.com.
Song: Wild Fire
Artist: Natalie Taylor, Mechanicsburg, PA
Album: Not available
Notes: Another L&F exclusive from the Pennsylvania-born singer-songwriter who grew up in Alabama but is now based in Nashville. A few of her tunes are now being picked up by TV shows, and a single cut, 'Come To This' was recently made available on iTunes, but regrettably very little material by her is currently available to download though a fair sprinkling of unreleased songs to stream on her website. Her influences include Jon Howard, John Mayer and Sara Bareilles. More at natalietaylormusic.com, where she declares 'I do musical things, am an esthetician, and could do R&B riffs in harmony for days. Oh and Roll Tide ;)'
Song: Count Me In
Artist: Early Winters, Los Angeles, CA/England/Canada
Album: Early Winters, 2012
Notes: Unpretentious, melodic, intimate and utterly charming from a four piece comprising a British singer, Carina Round, Canadian singer-songwriter and Juno nominee Justin Rutledge and a couple of Los Angeles-based musicians, Zac Rae and Grammy nominee Dan Burns, who actually wrote and completed several songs on their first EP using Skype, video chat and email - since each of them was working in different corners of the world. Round moved to the US in 2005 to record 'Slow Motion Addict' with producer Glen Ballard. in 2009 she became a touring member of Puscifer (as well as finding time to be part of the Tears For Fears' touring band), with Early Winters becoming a side project. More at earlywintersmusic.com.
Song: Ten Million Slaves
Artist: Otis Taylor, Chicago, IL
Album: Recapturing The Banjo, 2008
Notes: Using the banjo in his deep roots blues - it was of course an African instrument long before being co-opted by American bluegrass musicians - from an always interesting artist. He quit the music business in 1977 and didn't return to it until the mid '90s when his first album was released. Along with the likes of Keb' Mo' and Alvin Youngblood Hart, Taylor has led the banjo-based blues movement which has steadily grown over the past 20 years. He's originally from Chicago, but based in Denver, and is now 66 years old. This song was featured in the trailer for the Michael Mann movie 'Public Enemies' featuring Johnny Depp.
Song: Say What You Want
Artist: Texas, Scotland
Album: White On Blonde, 1997
Notes: The marvellous rock/soul of a Glasgow group put together by Johnny McElhone, formerly of Altered Images and Hipsway, back in 1986 and fronted by lead singer, Sharleen Spiteri. They're still going strong - 35 million records sold later, with their eighth long-player issued just last year. They released a remix of this track in 1998 inexplicably featuring Method Mad and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, which was absolutely dreadful.
Song: Back Burner
Artist: Amy Stroup, Nashville, TN
Album: Tunnel, 2014
Notes: Her second full-length album is knee-deep in lost treasures, which in the words of the Nashville-based songstress represents 'a process of healing and a place to express the small self actualizing truths I've learned over the last couple of years. In February, Amy and her Sugar & The Hi Lows partner Trent Dabbs began collaborating with the Nashville Ballet company for an original work called 'Attitude' set to the iconic music of Johnny Cash - the CD for which 'Wild Desire (Johnny Cash Live Sessions)' was released last month. More on that fascinating project at amystroup.com.
Song: The Weakness in Me
Artist: Joan Armatrading, St. Kitts
Album: Walk Under Ladders, 1981
Notes: A woman torn between two lovers, unable to choose, afraid to lose, clinging on to the bedrock of her longtime partner but unable to resist the burning flame offered by a new love: the human condition of infidelity burning deep in the soul of the veteran singer-songwriter with one of the finest recordings in her remarkable repertoire - more than 20 albums over a 40-plus career - every one of them containing at least one lost pearl. The singer was recently awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from the Open University. She has also just joined the world of tweets @ArmatradingJoan.
Artist: Icicle Works, England
Album: Icicle Works, 1983
Notes: This could only have been recorded in the 1980s judging by its instrumentation and production. The much-overlooked British indie rockers were part of the class of neo-psychedelica new-wave bands which burst out of Liverpool in the early '80s, which included fellow alumni The Teardop Explodes, Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds and Echo & The Bunnymen. The group was led by its exuberant frontman, Ian McNabb, who went on to have a solo career after the band split up - and who inked the rather amusingly titled autobiography a few years ago called 'Merseybeast.'
Song: Where You Are
Artist: Lonesome Animals, Pisgah, IL
Album: Lonesome Animals [EP], 2010
Notes: Quiet, graceful, austere music from a rather obscure new band which describes itself as a small, independent musical collective hailing from the Midwest. On their facebook page they claim to be 'Inspired by solitude, good coffee, and John Steinbeck' (their name comes from the Steinbeck line 'We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome), adding that 'having not yet found a suitable plant water-er in our absence, the group has yet to tour or perform live'. Their second EP, 'Soft Light', released last year, was produced by Williams Fitzsimmons. More at facebook.com/pages/Lonesome-Animals/165223300181020.
Artist: Habib Koite, Senegal
Album: Soo, 2014
Notes: For his new album, World Music singer-songwriter and guitarist from Senegal, but long based in Mali, let go of his standard rhythm guitar and replaced it with the banjo, and with wonderful results. He's made seven albums since his 1995 debut, 'Muso Ko' and has worked with Bonnie Raitt and Eric Bibb. More at habibkoite.com, but you'll need to brush up on your French.
Song: No Rain (Chorale)
Artist: Dave Lichens, Portland, OR
Album: Not available
Notes: Originally recorded back in 1992 by Blind Melon, this new version sees the former guitarist of Christian rock band Petra put his own individual stamp on the song. After leaving the band, he relocated to Los Angeles where his songs soon gained traction for use in TV and film. 'Let Go' was featured in the movie 'She's The Man', while other songs have seen the light of day in 'After Sex', 'Saved!' and 'The Water Horse'. In 2010 he contributed as both writer and producer to Fefe Dobson's 'Joy' album and has also been pursuing a parallel career with The Heavy Steadies, a band lead by former 'American Idol' contestant, Jason Castro.
Song: No Rain
Artist: Blind Melon, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Blind Melon, 1992
Notes: Released as the second single from the group's debut album and best remembered for its 'bee girl' character, it went on to become the band's biggest chart single. After breaking up in the late '90s before reforming in 2006 with new lead singer Travis Warren, and then taking a hiatus in 2009, they got back together in 2010 and are still performing today, making a handful of festival appearances this summer, but there's been nothing new on the recording front since 2008's 'For My Friends'. More at blindmelon.com.