Artist: Lord Huron, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Lonesome Dreams, 2012
Notes: An old-time fairground feel on a conversely dark but warm lullaby from their 2012 debut. The indie rock combo, formed and fronted by Ben Schneider, is based in Los Angeles, and is celebrating five years together this year. Schneider named his band after one of the five Great Lakes of North America and which he visited often while growing up in Michigan. It's taken three years, but their sophomore album is due this week. For details, check out strangetrails.com. They're on the road promoting the release, tour dates at facebook.com/lordhuron.
Artist: The Tallest Man On Earth, Sweden
Album: Dark Bird Is Home, 2015
Notes: Intricate, but still melodic and accessible, and a preview from the fourth set by an artist measuring about 5' 9 in height, but calling himself The Tallest Man On Earth, Kristian Matsson sounds mid-way between Dylan and recent young pretender Jake Bugg, though astonishingly he's Swedish. He has an ever-growing, but still sadly niche following over here, with three long players and a couple of EPs since bowing in 2006. More at thetallestmanonearth.com. (The actual tallest man on earth is Sultan Kosen from Turkey, who dwarfs Matsson at 8' 3'.)
Song: Two Shots
Artist: Elle King, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: Astonishingly still unreleased, yet arguably her strongest cut and recorded as a demo prior to her signing with RCA last year. Born Tanner Elle Schneider in Los Angeles, the daughter of comedian Rob Schneider and model London King, brought up in Ohio and now living in Brooklyn, she's just getting started on her career and has just the one EP to date. Elle's opened for Of Monsters And Men, Train, Dashboard Confessional and Ed Sheeran. More at elleking.com.
Song: My Love Has Gone
Artist: Josh Rouse, Paxton, NE
Album: Nashville, 2005
Notes: Wistfully sad, easy-flowing singer-songwriter fare from a sometime resident of Nashville but mostly based these days in Spain with his wife Suay and their two children. Recording since 1998, he's released eleven underloved long-players since then, including his latest 'The Embers of Time', out this week. Some neat streams and a backstory video to his art and craft at joshrouse.com. He'll be coming to the US for a short tour at the end of next month. For dates, go to joshrouse.com/wp/shows/.
Song: Go Gentle
Artist: Robbie Williams, England
Album: Swings Both Ways, 2013
Notes: Some delicious horn runs and a spot of cool whistling gracing this old school pop ditty, universally ignored by all and sundry - although the Lebanese made it a Top 5 hit. Such a clever and simple affectionate delight written when his daughter was born with the promise to always protect and love her. Indeed in an interview Willams said, 'Go Gentle is a promise I'm making to my daughter. It was written when she first arrived on the planet and I'd been a selfish popstar for most of my life and then all of a sudden I've been asked to take care of this whole person. I still am scared that I'm not up to the task!' One of the biggest pop stars on the planet over past two decades - he is reportedly worth north of '100 million but he's never scored a hit on these shores, another weird music mystery.
Song: All The Pretty Girls
Artist: Kaleo, Iceland
Notes: A four-piece from Iceland who have been around for about three years, making their debut at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in 2012. Just one self-titled album to date which hit pole position in their home territory. This number is a one-off digital single from January which has sadly already gone overlooked. They just stopped off at SXSW during a US tour which runs through this month. For dates, to go officialkaleo.com.
Artist: Clubfeet, Australia/South Africa
Album: Gold On Gold, 2010
Notes: A top-drawer infectious dance pop/rock track from the five-piece Australian/South African combo which has been featured on 'L&F' before. Led by Sebastian Cohen from Cape Town, but based in Melbourne, they've released a couple of albums - this rolling cracker is on their debut album, but their 2013 sophomore set 'Heirs & Graces' is also well worth checking out. More details at helloclubfeet.com.
Song: Silver Eagle
Artist: Mark Knopfler, England
Album: Tracker, 2015
Notes: Knopfler continues to make music even better than from his Dire Straits days, and this simple, restrained, modestly executed cut is one of several choice cuts from his eighth and latest solo offering which is also available as a double vinyl release. He'll be arriving on these shores for a major US tour in September. More at markknopfler.com.
Song: It Will End In Tears
Artist: Philip Selway, England
Album: Weatherhouse, 2014
Notes: Like the step-child of Elbow and Harry Nilsson, Radiohead drummer Philip Selway with a track from his last album. As a member of Radiohead for twenty years, he released his first solo set, 'Familial', in 2010, and this last record - although credited as a solo work - features Adem Ilhan, who produced the album, and Quinta. Selway said of the collaborative process, 'From the outset we wanted the album to be the three of us, and we covered a lot of instruments between us. With a studio full of inspiring gear and a great-sounding desk, we felt like a band.' He'll be at Coachella in the next couple of weeks and then return to the US for Lollapalooza at the end of July. More at philipselway.com.
Song: Fresh Blood
Artist: eels, Los Feliz, CA
Album: Hombre Loco, 2009
Notes: A mesmerizing alt-rock number with gothic wolverine rumblings released back in 2009. Celebrating 20 years together this year and led by the creatively restless Mark Oliver Everett who likes to be called simply 'e', the eels are based in Los Feliz, California. If you watched the recent HBO docu-series, 'The Jinx' you might have heard this dark tune as its closing theme. More at eelstheband.com.
Song: Why We Try
Artist: Matthew Mayfield featuring Chelsea Lankes, Birmingham, AL/Los Angeles, CA
Album: Wild Eyes, 2015
Notes: An old-school, classically formed pop-rock ballad, from the Birmingham, Alabama-based songsmith who describes his sound as 'a bipolar musical disorder', which seems to fuel his fire for the creative process. His latest album, 'Wild Eyes', which was released back in January was recorded in a small studio in the heart of Los Angeles' Koreatown and is a significant departure from his last, 2012's 'A Banquet for Ghosts', but still trademarked by his gritty soulful vox. More at matthewmayfield.com. Guest vocalist is relative newcomer Chelsea Lankes who's released three singles to date, the most recent, 'Down For Whatever', came out last month.
Song: Just Kiss Me
Artist: Rachael Taylor, Boston, MA
Album: It Would Seem [EP] (2010)
Notes: A rather cute affectionate pop shuffler with a retro-electric guitar rhythm refrain from a Boston-based songstress and guitarist. She is an alumnus of that city's venerable Berklee School of Music and a founding member of the folk-roots trio, Maeve. Her most recent EP, 'Heartbreak Is For Everyone' was produced by Peter Hayes of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, with whom she has toured along with Vance Joy and Sixpence None The Richer. For more on Ms. Taylor, check out racheltaylormusic.com.
Artist: Field Mice, England
Notes: Effortless dreamy indie pop from a London-based band who were only around for about four years in the late '80s. Described by one critic as the missing link between the Smiths and Belle & Sebastian, they were fronted by a talented tunesmith named Bobby Wratten. On splitting, Wratten formed Yesterday Sky, then Northern Picture Library before finally founding Trembling Blue Stars in 1995. He kept them going for 15 years, with seven albums and little success before calling it a day in 2010.
Song: Make Up Your Mind
Artist: CherryCase featuring Rebecca Roubion, Lexington, SC/Mobile, AL
Notes: An acoustic combo formed by leading light Jake Etheridge in 2006 and influenced by the likes of Ryan Adams, Dashboard Confessional and Coldplay, featuring L&F favorite, the lovely Rebecca Roubion. Various worthwhile tracks available on their bandcamp page: cherrycase.bandcamp.com, and his own website is worth checking out, jakeetheridge.com. He is also a member of Dutch group The Common Linnets, who came second in last year's Eurovision Song Contest and were recently named Best International Newcomer Act at the 2015 Echo Awards.
Artist: Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, England
Notes: A mid-seventies pop-rock corker, a big hit in Europe way back when, but completely missed the boat Stateside. The former rock journalist, heavily influenced by the vocal style of David Bowie with a fascinating track, which has been much covered over the years not least by Duran Duran and Erasure. Recorded at Abbey Road with the sublime acoustic guitar solo runs courtesy of Jim Cregan, who was Rod Stewart's guitarist for many years. The group will be hitting the road at the end of the year on their 'The Best Years Of Our Lives - 40th Anniversary Celebration Tour'. More at steveharley.com.
Artist: James Vincent McMorrow, Ireland
Album: Early In The Morning, 2010
Notes: An Irish indie folkster who wrote this track and its accompanying album in virtual seclusion in a remote Irish seaside cottage 2009. He's signed to the ever reliable Vagrant Records whch includes Dashboard Confessional, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and PJ Harvey on its roster. This sublime first effort grazed the album charts around Europe as did its 2014 followup, 'Post Tropical'. More at jamesvmcmorrow.com.
Song: Breathe In
Artist: Lucie Silvas, England
Album: Breathe In, 2005
Notes: Hook-filled lost treasure by the British singer-songwriter/pianist (though half Scottish, half Kiwi.) She wrote her first song at the age of 10, was a backing singer for Judie Tzuke (who co-wrote this track), and her compositional chops are much in demand by other artists. She recently wrote some songs for NBC-TV's 'SMASH', and has just released her latest effort - a five-track self-titled EP. She's opening for Daughtry on a few shows at the end of the month. More at luciesilvas.com.
Song: New Worlds
Artist: King Baby James, Nashville, TN
Album: Not available
Notes: Yet another radio premiere by an obscure new act from Nashville which goes by name King Baby James. They are the duo of producer Jon Howard and vocalist Armon Jay - both of whom we've played on the show before - releasing a sole EP last year, the excellent 'Golden Casket' and one single from earlier this year. Only a twitter thing if you want to follow them at, oddly, @mrkingbabyjames.
Song: Never Stop Loving You
Artist: Graphite Man, Nashville, TN
Album: Not available
Notes: This delightful confection has been featured on 'L&F' before - but is clearly too good for one spin. It's a deceptively simple but ace offering by the multi-faceted Music City tunesmith Kyle Rictor, who is one-half of the L&F-featured Rictor combo with his wife Kelsey and also a leading light in General Ghost, now ghost-writing under the name Graphite Man. You can stream this exquisite gem again on his Soundcloud page (https://soundcloud.com/graphite-man/never-stop-loving-you) - and keep up with all things Rictor at rictormusic.com.
Song: Let's Be Still
Artist: The Head and The Heart, Seattle, WA
Album: Let's Be Still, 2013
Notes: Title track from a 2013 CD by Seattle-based indie folk-rockers who are signed to the city's legendary Sub Pop Records label. The group coalesced around mic nights at the city's Conor Byrne pub and includes one of that establishment's former bartenders, Chris Zasche. Josiah Johnson leads the quintet which has opened for the likes of Dave Matthews, Death Cab For Cutie and My Morning Jacket. They're currently working on their third album. A pleasing video clip for this track is still streaming on their website at theheadandtheheart.com.
Song: Better Place
Artist: Rumer, England
Album: Colour, 2014
Notes: Hard not to love the easy-swaying mellow tones of a singer parked midway between Dusty Springfield and Karen Carpenter. Another old-school pearl, the optimistic, kind-hearted track, one of several standout cuts on her delicious long-player from last year. The British-based chantueuse, whose real name is Sarah Joyce, was actually born in Pakistan. She's on the road this month including a stop in Los Angeles on the 23rd with the legendary P.F. Sloan as her special guest. More on Rumer at rumer.co.uk.
Song: Who Are You
Artist: Elected, San Diego, CA
Album: Bury Me In My Rings, 2011
Notes: A half-dozen top undiscovered songs on an album by an underrated singer-songwriter by the name of Blake Sennett. California-based, who you might know from his past work with the now defunct Rilo Kiley, he 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.' After a long hiatus, Sennett has just returned with Jarrod Gorbel as The Night Terrors of 1927. More at nightterrorsof1927.com.
Song: Crazy Love
Artist: Irene Diaz, Los Angeles, CA
Album: I Love You Madly [EP], 2013
Notes: An alternative Latino contemporary torch singer and multi-instrumentalist from Los Angeles blessed with stunning vocal chops, backed by some neat ukulele on the number. She began performing in coffee shops and bars in 2011, raised $10,000 via Kickstarter to record her maiden effort the following year and filmed a video for that song which appeared on her 'I Love You Madly' EP which emerged in 2013. She's currently polishing off her first full-length collection, for more go to irenediazmusic.
Song: All Of My Heart
Artist: ABC, England
Album: Lexicon Of Love, 1982
Notes: First-class theatrical '80s synth-pop rock from the New Romantic combo best known for 'When Smokey Sings' and 'Be Near Me,' boasting the powerful lead vocal chops of band founder Martin Fry. They're still going strong today though there have been no new recordings since 2008. This track was produced by Trevor Horn, who always creates a distinctively rich multi-layered production: he's the man behind dozens of big hits including 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart' by Yes, 'Crazy' by Seal, 'Relax' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and 'Video Killed The Radio Star' by Buggles - of which he was one half.
Song: Nobody's Empire
Artist: Belle & Sebastian, Scotland
Notes: From the wistful Scottish indie-popsters' recent and ninth studio effort which they recorded in Atlanta. Longtime critics faves, the sextet was formed in Glasgow by a couple of Stuarts, Mr. Murdoch and Mr. David in 1996. An original copy of their first album 'Tigermilk' of which only 1,000 copies were pressed on vinyl now goes for about $600 among record collectors. Their US tour kicked off in Boston at the beginning of this week and continues through the end of April with the second of two appearances at Coachella. More at belleandsebastian.com.
Song: Lovin' On You
Artist: Cary Brothers, Nashville, TN
Album: Lovin' On You [EP], 2015
Notes: Originally from Nashville, but long-based in Los Angeles, he first came to wide attention with his 'Blue Eyes' contribution to the 'Garden State' film soundtrack in 2004. The two albums and a slew of EPs he's issued over the past decade are simply first-rate and all worth checking out, but he earns his bread and butter from the frequent use of his songs in film and on TV. He's also the co-founder of the Hotel Caf' Tour and has opened for the likes of Sara Bareilles, Imogen Heap and The Fray and has just finished an extensive tour opening for Joshua Radin. More at carybrothers.com, where there's also a free four-track music sampler. A nice quote from Cary which accompanies this latest EP: 'Maybe the most subversive thing you can do in 2015 is to be hopeful. I'll leave the cool songs to the cool kids this time because sunshine, puppies, hugs, and kindness need their own time in the sun, too.'
Song: I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Artist: Sleeping At Last, Wheaton, IL
Album: Covers, Vol. 1 [EP], 2014
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' - in fact two of them graced the final episode of the Season 10 finale. 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'. This is an unimaginably tender, deft, stripped-down update of the Proclaimers 1988 recording 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)' which was used for the Budweiser Super Bowl ad. More at sleepingatlast.com.
Song: All This Time
Artist: Boom Circuits, Los Angeles, CA
Album: The Boom Circuits [EP], 2010
Notes: Describing themselves as an electro/indie/rock pop combo, they comprise the duo of former Casteneda singer Vega Schenk and Black Lab guitarist/programmer producer Andy Ellis and are based in Los Angeles. Like many artists these days they're doing things they're own way - trying to make it happen without a record label. Their song 'Everything And Nothing' made its way on to 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2' soundtrack album. After a couple of sparkling EPS, their freshman album, 'If and Or' finally dropped last May. Check them out facebook.com/TheBoomCircuits.
Song: 69 Police
Artist: David Holmes, Northern Ireland
Notes: A curious but engaging hook and all manner of swirling electronica from a Northern Irish musician, composer and sometime DJ. He's put together a solid body of film work over the past fifteen years, and he's often called upon to do cunning remixes for the likes of Page & Plant, Primal Scream, U2 and even Ice Cube. His latest score has been for the phenomenal film ''71'. More at facebook.com/DavidHolmesProducer.
Song: Quiet Night
Artist: Anna Ternheim, Sweden
Album: Not available
Notes: Well used as the faint, haunting ethereal closing theme to the second series of the original Swedish TV crime series, 'Wallander' - not the subsequent British remake starring Kenneth Branagh. Not included on any of her four solo albums, but tucked away as the final cut on a 2011 TV soundtrack 'Wallander The Music' credited to Fleshquartet, a Swedish intrumental unit which provided the instrumental music to the series. Needless to say the soundtrack is not available in the US, so this cut is another exclusuive to L&F from this 30-something Stockholm anti-folk songstress. More at annaternheim.com.
Song: The Copper Top
Artist: Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat, Scotland
Notes: No one seems to notice my entrance though, I suppose they must be used to mourners in the nearest pub to the crematorium. I don't think I could've coped with the wake, I had to make a quick exit to be alone with my memories. I look up and see the pub's once brilliant copper roof has oxidized over the years and it's now a dull, pastel green. Everything's getting older.' The ultimate despair of a man struggling with the death of a loved one on a funeral day, reflecting on the sad march of time which accompanies everyone and everything, even the copper roof on the pub where he pauses for a pint. Throw in the mournful piano refrain and some tender horns and you have the saddest song of all time. Moffat is the former front man of Arab Strap and this collaboration won the inaugural Scottish Album of the Year Award. They have just released a follow-up called 'The Most Importante Place In The World'. For more go to aidanmoffat.co.uk/index.php/site/news/.
Song: Falling In Love
Artist: Us the Duo, Los Angeles, CA
Notes: Plenty of mainstream buzz over the past couple of years for the married duo of Michael & Carissa Rae Alvarado aka Us The Duo - including huge streaming #s on YouTube and Vine. More at ustheduo.com.
Song: I Second That Emotion
Artist: Japan, England
Album: Assemblage, 2006
Notes: A terrific ambient instrumental bridge two thirds of the way through this cut which informed much of David Sylvian's subsequent solo work, this was his former band with their rich, textured treatment of Smokey Robinson's timeless 'I Second That Emotion'. Doing his very best Bryan Ferry impersonation on this cut, Sylvian disbanded the British new wave combo in 1982 to focus on what became a prolific and increasingly avant-garde solo career. Now in his mid-50s, he suffered a lower back injury in 2012 which has taken him out of the live arena in recent years. Plenty of information on what he's currently up to at davidsylvian.com.
Artist: Lightning Seeds, England
Album: Cloudcuckooland, 1990
Notes: Pure, perfect pop rock sensibilities from a solo artist passing himself off as a band - the individual in question being the ever inventive Ian Broudie from Liverpool, who was part of proper combos Big In Japan and Care before going solo in 1989. The band is currently in the studio working on a new album. More at thelightningseeds.net.
Artist: The Wind & The Wave, Austin, TX
Album: Covers One [EP], 2105
Notes: A re-working of the Simple Minds' classic featured on a brand new seven-track EP of cover versions, that also includes Simple Minds' 'Don't You Forget (About Me)' (played a couple of weeks ago), Stevie Nicks' 'Edge Of Seventeen', Metric's 'Gold Guns Girls', R. Kelly's 'Ignition', Regina Spektor's 'You've Got Time' and Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time'. The Wind & The Wave are the harmony-dipped creative duo of Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker - a couple of best friends who hail from Austin, Texas. They're playing a handful of dates in the north east over the next couple of weeks. More at thewindandthewave.com.
Artist: Sia, Australia
Album: 1000 Forms of Fear, 2014
Notes: The first single from her sixth long-player released in March of last year. Despite her growing success and popularity, Sia has become extremely uncomfortable with the public demands of fame and refused to undertake nearly all promotion for the album - indeed the very reason she was singing in the corner with her back to the camera throughout her performance at this year's Grammys. She battled a serious episode of depression and anxiety a few years ago, before hitting the big-time as a co-writer for huge hits by Flo Rida, Rihanna and Beyonce. Adelaide born Aussie, Sia Kate Isobelle Furler is now one of Australia's most successful female songwriters. More at siamusic.net.