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 KOKO 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: True Believers
Artist: Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Springfield, MO
Album: Don't Look Down, 1977
Notes: The down-home band uniformly sporting long hair and beards were founded in 1972 in Springfield, Missouri and scored a big pop/country crossover hit called 'Jackie Blue', sung by their vocalist/drummer Larry Lee. Still going strong today with a nine-member lineup often playing one-off dates around the midwest. Perhaps the only southern country rock act to ever feature the sitar in one of their songs.
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. More at blakemillsonline.com.
Song: All Cried Out
Artist: Fink, England
Album: Biscuits For Breakfast, 2006
Notes: A very cool cover, an unrecognisable update of an A+ lost corker originally recorded by Alison Moyet. The creatively ever-restless Fink is the performing name of singer-songwriter/guitarist Fin Greenall. He got together in 2006 with Tim Thornton and Guy Whittaker in the leafy north London outpost of Hampstead to initially form a trio called Fink and he switches between the solo and band name. John Legend enlisted his talents for a track called 'Move' which appeared on the superb '12 Years A Slave' film soundtrack issued last year and he released a new album, 'Hard Believer' earlier this year. More at finkworld.co.uk.
Song: All Cried Out
Artist: Alison Moyet, England
Album: Alf, 1984
Notes: Long before Adele there was the mighty Alison Moyet, another boomingly talented blue-eyed British pop-soul diva heard here on the original version of the above track. It was a huge hit in her native UK but failed to trouble the Hot 100 over here despite its first-rate radio-friendly musical chops. One of three sensational singles on her fabulous 1984 maiden solo LP, which she recorded after splitting up with Vince Clarke in the short-lived British synth-pop duo, Yaz(oo). There have been eight albums since then, including last-year's under-loved 'The Minutes' and arriving this month 'minutes and seconds live', comprising tracks from her 'The Minutes' tour. More at alisonmoyet.com.
Song: The City Below
Artist: Mackintosh Braun, Portland, OR
Album: The City Below EP, 2014
Notes: A deftly formed and executed track from the duo's upcoming long player 'Arcadia', which is due in January. They're a sadly under-appreciated electro-pop duo comprising Ian Mackintosh and Ben Braun, out of Portland, Oregon, releasing a stunning album four years ago titled 'Where We Are'. Their music has been featured on several TV shows, including 'Grey's Anatomy', which to musicians is what 'Law And Order' is to actors. More at mackintoshbraun.com.
Artist: Milky Chance, Germany
Album: Sadnecessary, 2014
Notes: The marvellous throaty strains of Clemens Rehbein on the briefest of tracks, but no less intriguing, from the duo he formed with fellow German musician Philipp Dausch. Currently making waves with 'Stolen Dance' - but several other worthwhile cuts on their fine freshman set - which is brimming with similarly laid-back indie-folk rock/electronica. They only completed high school a couple of years ago - mercifully they were paying attention in English language classes. Growing up in Kassel, they were members of the Flown Tones jazz quartet before outputting their own music a couple of years ago. More at milkychanceofficial.com.
Song: Somewhere In My Heart
Artist: Aztec Camera, Scotland
Album: Love, 1987
Notes: The Scottish outfit from East Kilbride was formed by 16-year-old Roddy Frame in 1980 and signed to the small but influential Scottish indie label, Postcard Records, which was also home to the marvellous Go Betweens and Edwyn Collins' first band Orange Juice. Collins and Frame are longtime buddies and both emerged around the same time. After going through multiple personnel line-ups, he disbanded the group in 1995, going solo soon after. His first solo set since 2007 emerged earlier this year. More at roddyframe.com.
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. More at celiapaveymusic.com.
Artist: Texas featuring Paul Buchanan, Scotland
Album: Red Book, 2006
Notes: Let me sleep, so I can dream of you' a lovely simple sentiment and a Top 10 hit back in the UK in 2006 from a highly-respected Scottish band led by Sharleen Spiteri, but with the added bonus of special guest vocalist, fellow Scotsman and L&F permanent resident, Paul Buchanan, on a rare uptempo workout for him. After a seven-year hiatus, the band is back with a recent new album, 'The Conversation.'
Song: When I'm With You
Artist: Ben Rector, Nashville, TN
Album: The Walking In Between, 2013
Notes: Just superb, L&F preferred vendor Ben Rector with one of half-dozen worthwhile extracts on his 2013 release - issued on his own aptly named Aptly Named Recordings label. He's originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma but has been based in Nashville for the past few years. There have been five terrific albums since 2007 from the eternally fresh-faced singer-songwriter, who won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2006. Perhaps best known for his 2011 winner, 'Something Like This', but this track is just one of many lost gems which flew under the radar. Earlier this year, he announced on his website that he was retiring from making original music to pursue his long-time dream of becoming the greatest one man Huey Lewis and the News cover band, calling himself Newy Lewis and the Hues. More at benrectormusic.com.
Song: All I Want
Artist: Max Jury, Des Moines, IA
Notes: Another top-drawer, vintage-sounding ballad from his August-released EP. He's a 21-year old singer-songwriter from Des Moines, Iowa described as coming on like 'the missing link between Gram Parsons and George Harrison' - very much a mature old school '60s/'70s singer-songwriter sound to his work. He began playing the piano at the age of six and wrote his first song at 13, before he enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, but dropped out - twice. He's opened for Lana Del Rey, has just wrapped a tour of Europe and is currently on the road. More at facebook.com/maxwelljury.
Song: Something In The Air
Artist: Thunderclap Newman, England
Notes: Hard to believe that this iconic recording was made in 1969, by a group best-known for its eccentric English dixieland jazz pianist (and Post Office engineer) Andy 'Thunderclap' Newman. However the song was written and sung by a roadie for the Who called Speedy Keen and produced by Pete Townshend and also featured on guitar 15-year-old Jimmy McCulloch who went on to become the lead guitarist for Wings, before dying tragically young at age 26. An uplifting revolutionary opus fittingly recorded at the close of a tumultuous decade, it has been covered by dozens of artists over the years including Eurythmics, Tom Petty and Elbow.
Song: Wait (Kygo Remix)
Artist: M83, France
Notes: Uber-cool electronica-pop from a French quartet from the lovely south coast Antibes region of France, assembled in 2001 and naming themselves after a galaxy of the same name, which is some 15 million light years away from earth. In addition to their fine albums catalog, they've also recorded the full soundtracks to a couple of movies, notably one being the sci-fi 'Oblivion' in 2012 starring little Tommy Cruise. More at ilovem83.com.
Song: Ghost In The Machine
Artist: The Fire & The Sea, Los Angeles, CA/Miami, FL
Notes: The close-harmony class and soul-searching of L&F alumni Kyler England and Adrianne Gonzalez, recently uniting as a new duo. They initially got 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 and last year England had a successful collaboration with DJ Tiesto on the track 'Take Me'. Their new single 'Torn' was released last month. More at thefireandthesea.com.
Artist: Elected, San Diego, CA
Album: Bury Me In My Rings, 2011
Notes: A fine lost indie-pop chugger from a fine album which has half-a-dozen top tracks contained therein - a rarity these days. The Elected is the project name used by a San Diego musician, Blake Sennett, who was also a member of the now defunct Rilo Kiley. Sennett, who was also a noted child actor appearing in more than a dozen TV shows including 'The Wonder Years' and '3rd Rock From The Sun', recorded most of this longplayer on his own in his rural home, saying, 'I played most of the instruments myself, so it was easier to erase stuff without hurting anyone's feelings...' A highly recommended collection of what he calls 'shimmering pop songs reminiscent of mid-century West Coast rock.' More on him and The Elected at theelectedband.com.
Artist: Radio Dept., Sweden
Notes: Swedish dream poppers with a track on the top-drawer 2014 soundtrack to the movie weepie smash 'The Fault in Out Stars'. Formed by high school class mates Elin Almered and Johan Duncanson in 1995 before splitting up in 1998 and then reforming in 2001, adding Larsson's then girlfriend Lisa Carlberg, Daniel Tjader and Per Blomgren. Their freshman set, 'Lesser Matters', was named one of the best albums of the year by influential UK rock mag, the NME. The group has been a trio for close to a decade, now comprising Duncanson, Larsson and Tjader. More at theradiodept.com.
Artist: Charles Aznavour, France
Notes: One of his country's most popular and enduring performers - a national treasure in France, who has written over 1,000 songs, sold more than 100 million records and been honored with every conceivable award. This remarkable ballad was originally recorded for a television series called 'Seven Faces of Woman' and was (poorly) re-interpreted by Elvis Costello for the 'Notting Hill' film soundtrack. He turned 90 this year - two years older than Tony Bennett, and is astonishingly still performing live - he played a sold-out date at Madison Square Garden in September, part of his 'Farewell Tour' which he has been on since 2008. More at charlesaznavour.com.
Artist: Mikey Wax, Long Island, NY
Album: Mikey Wax, 2014
Notes: One of several choice cuts from a consistently strong pop-chopping eponymous album just released. The Long Island native singer-songwriter, who took up piano at the age of eight and graduated from Vanderbilt in Nashville, has been recording for about six years, and has released three tuneful long-players since then. He has just wrapped up a tour with Parachute and Matt Wertz and teamed up last month with mobile app SMULE, which allows you to sing with him karaoke-style on your phone. He has a handful of dates coming up this week. More at mikeywax.com.
Artist: Electric Light Orchestra, England
Album: Secret Messages, 1983
Notes: Long after their career peaked commercially they were still making top-drawer melodic pop rock. Lead singer and songwriter of all their material, the prolific Jeff Lynne has an extraordinary gift for composing and executing timeless hooks and melodies. After disbanding ELO in 1986, he focused his considerable talents in the area of production, producing ace albums for the likes of George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Randy Newman - and of course was one of the Traveling Wilburys in the late '80s. He then joined up with the remaining Beatles to oversee the reworking of a couple of lost Lennon songs which emerged as new Beatles tracks for their 'Anthology' series, in fact Lennon once said that ELO were what The Beatles would have sounded like if they had still been together in the 1970s. Lynne teamed up with ELO bandmate RIchard Tandy for the first time in more than 25 years in September headlining BBC Radio 2's Festival In 'A Day in Hyde Park London' - with the 50,000 tickets selling out in 15 minutes. The live return was greeted with rapturous reviews and the normally shy studio-bound band leader hinted that a full ELO reunion tour might take place in 2015.
Artist: Lamb, England
Album: What Sound, 2001
Notes: From their third album in 2001 which also featured guest musicians Me'Shell Ndeg'Ocello and Michael Franti, a haunting winner by English electronic trip-hoppers, who are the Manchester-based duo of producer Andy Barlow and ethereal female vocalist, Lou Rhodes. Rhodes also has a parallel solo career which is conversely folk-based, while Barlow has just produced David Gray's new album 'Mutineers'. There's a terrific career compilation called 'Best Kept Secrets - The Best Of Lamb 1996-2004' which is well worth tracking down and a brand new album, their sixth, 'Backspace Unwind', was released last month. More at lambofficial.com.
Song: Keep It On The Inside
Artist: Matthew Perryman Jones, Levittown, PA
Album: Land of the Living, 2012
Notes: One of several worthwhile cuts on his fifth album, partially funded through Kickstarter. Since performing his first gig at the venerable Eddie's Attic acoustic venue in Atlanta in 1997, he has produced a collection of ace music, but he still remains largely unknown. Originally from Pennsylvania but long-based in Nashville, he has had dozens of song placements on TV shows over the past seven years including 'Private Practice' and 'Bones'. He's also one of the original members of the 'Ten Out Of Tenn' collaborative. More at mpjmusic.com.
Song: Your Design
Artist: Grace Mitchell, Portland, OR
Album: Design [EP], 2014
Notes: Blessed with authentic songwriting chops and just 16 years old, Grace Mitchell also boasts a remarkably mature vocal range. This cut is yet another winning curiosity from her first EP. Hailing from Queensland, Australia but now based in Portland Oregon, her only previous release was a smart cover of the Hall & Oates oldie 'Maneater' included on last year's 'The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty' soundtrack. More at gracemitchell.com.
Artist: New Musik, England
Album: From A To B, 1980
Notes: A dead catchy ditty on a fine album which is finally available in digital form. Despite recording several immensely accessible synth-pop confections in the early '80s, New Muzik never scored a hit on these shores. They were an English outfit fronted by songwriter/producer Tony Mansfield who went on to have a successful career as a top producer for other artists including Aztec Camera, The B-52's, The Damned and Mike Oldfield - but before all that he recorded three cracking albums as New Musik. More at their unofficial website - new-musik.co.uk.
Song: Old Friend
Artist: Lyle Lovett, Klein, TX
Album: I Love Everybody, 1994
Notes: First class alternative folk/country from the king of the genre. Almost impossible to categorize and all the better for it, a real musical purist - quirky actor, bandleader, erudite singer-songwriter, never seen in public without a tie and, most of all, super dapper. His wife at the time he recorded the parent album was Julia Roberts who can be heard singing backing vocals on several cuts. More at lylelovett.com.
Artist: Tom Odell, England
Album: Long Way Down, 2012
Notes: The faint, plaintive ruminations of a fresh-faced 23-year-old pianist, singer-songwriter, discovered by fellow countrywoman Lily Allen and signed to her own In The Name Of label. Former Squeeze pianist and longtime TV show host Jools Holland was also an early fan asking Tom to appear on his superb 'Later ... With Jools Holland' show, which is an ever-reliable platform for emerging talent. The venerable British music magazine, the NME, somehow gave the album a scathing review with zero points out of ten - and just to prove how badly that music critic got it wrong, Odell was subsequently named songwriter of the year at the prestigious 2014 Ivor Novello Awards. More at tomodell.com.
Song: I'm Doin' Fine Now
Artist: New York City, New York, NY/Savannah, GA
Album: Super 70's, 2010
Notes: Sounding for all the world like the Spinners out of Detroit but an R&B vocal group, originally named the Tri-Boro Exchange but switching to NYC under the direction of producer Thom Bell - arguably one of the Top 5 all-time great producer/songwriters - and was also responsible for all those vintage similar-sounding soul hits by the Spinners. New York City only survived a couple of LPs - both worth tracking down for serious soul fans.
Song: Dirty Paws
Artist: Of Monsters & Men, Iceland
Album: My Head Is An Animal, 2011
Notes: Before they hit the big time with 'Little Talk' and 'Mountain Sound' they were an L&F secret find. The six-piece folk rockers are based in Reykjavik, Iceland, helpfully recording entirely in English, and feature the intimate, honeyed vocal style of lead singer Nanna Hilmarsdo?ttir. The parent album 'My Head Is An Animal' ended up going platinum over here, one of the most complete long players in the alternative rock space in recent years. Sophomore set currently under construction. More at ofmonstersandmen.com.
Artist: A Lanky Swede, Sweden
Album: Soon, Soon, Soon, 2012
Notes: After playing 'Yellow Lights' from the same album last week comes another track from A Lanky Swede. He is in fact Ola Kl'ft, the leader of The Perishers, but now on what seems to be a permanent sabbatical from that band. He moved to Vancouver in 2010 and released his solo debut 'Soon, Soon, Soon' in 2012. Last year, he was back gigging in Sweden, but there's no news of any new material.
Artist: Oasis, England
Album: Heathen Chemistry, 2002
Notes: Everyone still plays 'Wonderwall' and 'Champagne Supernova' and rightly so, but this corker went largely unnoticed in the US in 2002. It was predictably a big hit in their native UK, written as ever by older brother, Noel Gallagher, who told the press in August 2009 he 'could simply no longer go on working with [his] brother Liam' - and quit the band. He went on to form his High Flying Birds combo, with a new album, 'Chasing Yesterday', due in March, while Liam headed his own sub-par Beady Eye band until he announced their demise last month. There's a rumor hot off the presses that the band will reform for next year's Glastonbury Festival, but as Noel stated this past week that Oasis split up over a leather jacket, that might be somewhat of a stretch.
Song: Turning Blue
Artist: Adam Agin, Nashville, TN
Notes: From his splendid set from 2012, the sorely underrated singer-songwriter, originally from Anderson, Indiana, is often referred to by those who know better as Nashville's best kept secret. He's released one EP and two lovely albums to date, and took him two years to record this mini-LP, composing and playing tunes at his home in Music City. He now spends more time in the duo Neulore with William T. Cook. More at neulore.com.
Song: Pack Up
Artist: Eliza Doolittle, England
Album: Eliza Doolittle, 2010
Notes: As this weekend sees millions remember the sacrifices made by some many a century ago as World War I began its tortuous four-year horror, comes a song borrowing the marching song 'Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag' written in 1915, with the 'pack up your troubles' vocal refrain in the chorus provided by gospel singer, Lloyd Wade. Ms. Doolittle's real last name is Caird - a Londoner in her mid-20s, and the daughter of John Caird, a reknowned theatre director whose work has been seen at both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, and Frances Ruffelle, an actress who won a Tony Award for her performance in 'Les Miserables'. More at elizadoolittle.com.
Song: Nobody Knows
Artist: Paul Brady, Ireland
Album: Trick Or Treat, 1991
Notes: The immensely under-rated Irish singer-songwriter with another exquisite lost gem. A musicians' musician, his songs have been recorded by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Trisha Yearwood and Cher, though few except his ardent fans know of his work. It's been five long years since his latest album, other than 'Dancer In The Fire, an anthology released two years ago. More at paulbrady.com.
Artist: Ragaia Ishag, England
Album: Not available
Notes: Completely unavailable, can't be found or downloaded legally or illegally, and exclusive to L&F - the closing titles theme to an important and disturbing 2010 film, 'I Am Slave' - a tender slice of World Music divinity by Ragaia Ishag backed by the Hungarian Studio Orchestra. This is so obscure that a google search on Ms. Ishag reveals absolutely nothing - although it's believed she lives in London.
Song: God Only Knows
Artist: Various/BBC Music, The World
Notes: The BBC recently relaunched its BBC Music broadcast initiative with a version of The Beach Boys' 'God Only Knows'. Produced by Ethan Johns and with 32 separate singers featured, including (an incomplete list) Dave Grohl, Lorde, Pharrell, Chris Martin, Florence Welch, Jake Bugg, Chrissie Hynde, Elton John, Baaba Maal, Jamie Cullum and most notably the song's originator Brian Wilson. To see the video, go to www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2R3PxWX7hzMb8lNZs3Ngz5L/god-only-knows.