Song: Summer Guest
Artist: Asgeir, Iceland
Album: The Silence, 2014
Notes: One of several treasures from an album by 22-year old Icelandic folktronica tunesmith Asgeir Trausti Einarsson who goes by the single moniker, Asgeir. One in 10 citizens of Iceland now owns this album which came out on home soil in 2012 - fellow singer-songwriter John Grant from Colorado translated the original Icelandic lyrics into English for the international edition which emerged last year - and these original lyrics were co-written by a team of scribes which included Asgeir's 72-year old father. More at asgeirmusic.com.
Song: Sleeping Satellite
Artist: Tasmin Archer, England
Album: Great Expectations, 1992
Notes: A Top 30 smash in more than 10 countries back in the early '90s, but not over here. Archer is a pop songstress from Yorkshire in the North of England who used to be a sewing machine operator before she was discovered as a promising talent by EMI Records in 1990. This irresistable roller was on her maiden effort,but commercial success soon waned for Archer who hasn't released anything new in nearly a decade. All the tracks from her last CD, 'On' in 2006 can still be streamed at tasminarcher.com.
Artist: Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, England/Birmingham, AL
Album: All The Roadrunning, 2006
Notes: Floating along so effortlessly with two evergreen musicians at the top of their harmonic game. They recorded a superb album together on which this track can be found, which was casually assembled over a seven-year period before finally emerging in 2006. All of the A-list tunes on the CD were composed by Knopfler, who has a new solo album out now ('Tracker') - he'll be touring the US this autumn.
Song: White Dress
Artist: Ben Rector, Nashville, TN
Album: Into The Morning, 2010
Notes: Astonishingly - and as catchy and effervescent as this pop/rock bubbler is - it was only a hit in the Phillippines. He's originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma but based in Nashville for the past few years and has released five fab albums since 2007. He's also the youngest recipient of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Currently on the road with NEEDTOBREATHE, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors and Colony House. For dates, go to benrectormusic.com.
Artist: Rachel Platten, Newton, MA
Album: Be Here, 2011
Notes: A deliciously upbeat number about the carefree days of summer at the beach from a singer originally from the east coast but now based in Los Angeles, and devoted to 'creating happy music' just like this track. Her debut album, 'Trust In Me', appeared in 2003, so she's not the most prolific of artists. Now signed to Columbia Records, she's currently polishing off her newest set - the first fruits of which, 'Fight Song' was released a couple of months ago. She'll be back on the road in July. Dates at rachelplatten.com.
Song: Goodbye To Love
Artist: Carpenters, New Haven, CT
Album: A Song For You, 1972
Notes: First-rate vintage pop from 1972, featuring one of the most iconic (and earliest) fuzz guitar solos in popular music, courtesy of session axe man Tony Peluso, who went on to work with Michael Jackson, Seals & Crofts and the Fixx among dozens of other acts. He was asked to perform that solo by Karen Carpenter after she had heard his earlier work with a band called Instant Joy. Hard to believe that Karen died more than 30 years ago at the tragically young age of 32, after amassing 12 Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits with her brother Richard in the Carpenters.
Song: You Will Find Me
Artist: Andrew Ripp, Palatine, IL
Album: She Remains The Same, 2010
Notes: A first-class lost nugget from a singer-songwriter who emerged in 2008 with the album 'Fifty Miles To Chicago'. He followed it two years later with 'She Remains The Same', from which this track comes, since when there have been two more albums, the most recent being 'Simple'. In 2009 he performed for US military personnel in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Italy and Turkey, as part of the Armed Forces Entertainment division of the Department of Defense which has now been operating for 60 years and which hosts some 1,200 shows a year. He's just wrapped up his new album and is currently on the road. More at andrewripp.com.
Artist: Mat Kearney, Eugene, OR
Album: Just Kids, 2015
Notes: Mat consistently dreams up strong hooks and melodies which somehow sound instantly familiar - and never afraid to throw in a surprising rap verse. Nashville-based, he's on the road playing a few dates with Judah and the Lion. More at matkearney.com. Sadly he lost several of his guitars and other equipment during the torrential Tennessee floods in 2010 which saw 19 inches of rain come down over two days.
Artist: Handsome Ghost, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Steps [EP], 2015
Notes: Currently gaining traction with another track called 'Steps', an incoming indie-folk-pop act Handsome Ghost is the new performing name used by singer-songwriter Tim Noyes. A former English teacher in Brooklyn, and on the verge of giving up his nascent music career, he decided to give it one more go in 2013 when he established his Handsome Ghost personae - it's working, not least with three well-received sets at this year's SXSW fest in Austin. More at handsomestghost.com.
Song: Words of Mine
Artist: Cary Brothers, Nashville, TN
Album: Lovin' On You [EP], 2015
Notes: A tender highlight from his highly recommended new four-track EP. 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 is currently on the road opening for Joshua Radin. For details, go to carybrothers.com, where there's also a free four-track music sampler. A nice quote from Cary which accompanies his 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: Lonesome Dreams
Artist: Lord Huron, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Lonesome Dreams, 2012
Notes: The rewarding title cut from the 2012 debut set, which also includes 'Lullaby', spun by L&F last week. 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.
Song: Hey Ho
Artist: Gin Wigmore, New Zealand
Album: Holy Smoke, 2009
Notes: A real cracker from her first album and subsequently featured in the TV series 'Weeds.' Backed by The Cardinals and featuring a Day of the Dead mariachi solo, she co-wrote it with the seemingly omnipresent Dan Wilson. New Zealand-born Wigmore is a still-promising singer-songwriter, just 28 years old with a couple of intriguing albums and a deuce of EPs since bowing in 2009. Her third album 'Blood To Bone' is due in June. More at facebook.com/GinWigmore.
Song: A Cycle
Artist: Moses Mayfield, Birmingham, AL
Album: The Inside, 2007
Notes: Before he went solo, the sorely under-appreciated top vocalist and songwriter Matthew Mayfield fronted the group Moses Mayfield - heard here with a track from their 2007 collection. The Birmingham, Alabama combo only cut two albums before disbanding in 2008 - both of them still worth checking out. His latest solo effort, 'Wild Eyes' 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.
Artist: Smiths, England
Album: Hatful of Hollow, 1984
Notes: This was iconic alternative rock band's fourth single, and reputedly about Morrissey's brief relationship with Billy Mackenzie, the lead singer of another British band around at the time, the Associates. Interestingly the more famous 'How Soon Is Now' made its bow as the B-side of this record. Morrissey has just announced a US tour over the summer with some special performances by Blondie and Amanda Palmer, guitarist Johnny Marr continues to make records and tour, bassist Andy Rourke moved to New York in 2009, where he had a program on East Village Radio, while drummer Mike Joyce is also a DJ and broadcaster back in the UK.
Song: The Book of Love
Artist: Gavin James, Ireland
Album: Live At Whelans, 2014
Notes: Originally written and recorded by the Magnetic Fields in 1999, covered with popular distinction by Peter Gabriel in 2004 for the 'Shall We Dance' soundtrack but updated here with deft aplomb by a young 20-something singer-songwriter from Ireland who's already popular on home turf, though nothing of consequence is yet available in US except for a recent live EP. Based in Dublin, he's a soulful new presence who's already won the Irish Choice Song of the Year award. He arrives in the US next week for a short tour, before opening for Ed Sheeran in his hometown city in July. More at gavinjamesmusic.com.
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 last year. The latest iteration is currently on the road. More at themotels.com.
Song: I Need
Artist: Maverick Sabre, England
Album: Lonely Are The Brave, 2012
Notes: The performing name of Anglo-Irish singer/songwriter, 24-year-old Michael Stafford with a track stewed in R&B, folk, electronic and vintage blue-eyed soul - even a hint of hip-hop, and for good measure some strings and Hammond organ. His new single, 'Walk Into The Sun', a taster for his second album, 'Innerstanding', is due this month. More at mavericksabre.com.
Artist: David Mead, Nashville, TN
Album: Wherever You Are [EP], 2005
Notes: A lost classic, an outstanding ballad from an overlooked EP issued in 2005. A sorely underrated tunesmith, who is yet another non-country performer remaking the soundscape of Nashville, his last album was entirely financed by 253 fans through Kickstarter, including John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Joe Jackson and Shelby Lynne. As his website so succinctly put it - 'The yield on the investment? Pure pleasure, with humor, mystery, emotional wallop and dudes of all ages lurking behind a hundred unforgettable hook'. Check out his website - davidmead.com and help yourself to a complimentary download of 'Bocce Ball' from the album.
Song: A Matter of Minutes
Artist: Shawn Colvin, Vermillion, SD
Album: Whole New You, 2001
Notes: Hard to believe that Shawn will turn 60 next year. Best known for her Grammy-winning smash 'Sunny Came Home', but few artists have as many disgracefully overlooked diamonds in their rear view mirror as dear Ms. Colvin. 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 currently playing some solo dates before embarking on some summer gigs with Marc Cohn. More at shawncolvin.com.
Artist: David Byrne, New York, NY
Album: Grown Backwards, 2004
Notes: Best known for his work with Talking Heads, he's actually made more solo albums than he did with the group, the ever creatively-restless Byrne is currently performing his 'Here Lies Love' theatrical event at the Public Theater in New York through May. Don't expect a much desired Talking Heads reunion any time soon - never one to dwell on the past, he is on record stating that there's still some bad blood between him and his former Heads bandmates. Erstwhile colleague Tina Weymouth said in 2005 to the Glasgow Herald newspaper, that she thought that he was 'a man incapable of returning friendship.'
Song: As Lovers Do
Artist: Any Trouble, England
Album: Wheels in Motion, 1981
Notes: A yesteryear British new wave combo fronted by the underrated tunesmith Clive Gregson, who formed the post punk outfit in Crewe in the north of England in the late '70s. They recorded five woefully overlooked albums before Clive went solo in 1985, since when he's recorded a much more folkish body of solo work and worked quite a bit with Nanci Griffith which you'd never guess from this song. The band has just reformed, with a new album, 'Present Tense', due soon with some expected live shows in support of its release. More at clivegregson.com.
Artist: Emeli Sande, Scotland
Notes: One of six absolute pearls from her breakout album from a couple of years ago. Born Adele Emily Gouraguine in England to a Zambian mother, but brought up in Scotland from the age of four, she wrote her first song at eleven and was originally going to pursue a career in medicine before thankfully committing to music instead. Already a successful songwriter for other British acts including Leona Lewis, Susan Boyle and the overrated Cheryl Cole before taking solo flight, her debut album was a multi-platinum success around the world. More at us.emelisande.com.
Song: Midnight In Chelsea
Artist: Jon Bon Jovi, Perth Amboy, NJ
Album: Destination Anywhere, 1997
Notes: Arguably the best businessman/performer in rock history, Jon Bon Jovi on L&F with a little played and bizarely overlooked nugget from 1997, which for some reason did absolutely nothing over here - perhaps too much of a literate departure from the muscular anthems of his group. It was written about Chelsea, a fashionable area of London, though its video was filmed at the famous Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan. It was produced and co-written by ex-Eurythmic Dave Stewart, who helmed all of Jon's sophomore solo album. More on Jon and his band at bonjovi.com/news.
Artist: Alexander O'Neal, Natchez, MS
Album: Hearsay, 1987
Notes: The trademark sound of producers and writers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on a 1980s classic. O'Neal was originally in the R&B troupe Flyte Tyme with the pair, emerging alongside Prince in the Minneapolis funk scene in the 1970s. Jam and Lewis went on to become a hitmaking machine, writing and producing hits for the likes of Janet Jackson, the Human League and George Michael. O'Neal's most recent work was back in 2010, but he recently signed a new management deal, so hopefully this forgotten talent will be heard from again. More at facebook.com/alexanderonealofficial.
Song: Forbidden City
Artist: Electronic, England
Album: Raise The Pressure, 1996
Notes: Biting goodbye lyrics from one of the coolest ad-hoc bands ever formed, based around New Order's lead singer Bernard Sumner and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. It's a glorious overlooked rock gem from their sophomore set. Upping the cool factor even more on this numbe: it was co-written by Karl Bartos, who was a member of Kraftwerk between 1975 and 1991. Sumner got back together with New Order in 2013 with a new album 'Lost Sirens,' while Marr released his second solo set, 'Playland', last year.
Song: Wrap Your Ams Around Me
Artist: Gareth Dunlop, Northern Ireland
Notes: A terrific blue-eyed soul singer-songwriter talent, a 24-year-old tunesmith who was named Young Songwriter of the Year at the 2011 Annual Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival which musically unites the two cities. His grossly overlooked 2011 EP 'Devil Mocks Me' is also well worth a listen or two. He's opened for the likes of Nanci Griffith, Jeff Beck, and Imelda May. More at garethdunlop.com.
Song: Four Leaf Clover (live)
Artist: Abra Moore, San Diego, CA
Notes: A blistering live version of her signature song which grazed the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1997. Born in San Diego, brought up in Hawaii, she joined the multi-genre Poi Dog Pondering combo in her late teens and embarked on solo pursuits in 1995 and also a sometime actress who made her film debut in the 1991 film, 'Slacker'. Sadly no new material since 2007. More at abramoore.com.
Song: Carry You Home
Artist: Jamie Scott, England
Album: My Hurricane, 2014
Notes: This glorious ballad is the standout track on the precociously talented singer-songwriter-producer's sophomore solo set. It's an atypical love song, more about sterling friendship than the usual soppy topic of romance. He released a terrific album in 2007 as Jamie Scott and The Town, before teaming up with Tommy D to form the duo Graffiti6, which released a new offering called 'The Bridge' in 2014. During his seven-year recording hiatus he has been writing hit records for the likes of One Direction, JLS, Enrique Iglesias, 5 Seconds Of Summer and Christina Perri. More at jamie-scott.com.
Song: Many Shades of Black
Artist: Adele featuring the Raconteurs, England/Detroit, MI
Album: 90210 [Soundtrack], 2009
Notes: Only originally available on the '90210' soundtrack released in 2009, though also subsequently included as a bonus cut on the deluxe version on the expanded version of her debut album '19', the unmistakable blues/soul bliss of the mighty Adele, backed by Jack White's band, the Raconteurs - who actually wrote and recorded the original version of this blues number for inclusion on their Consolers of the 'Lonely' CD from 2008.
Song: Whole Heart
Artist: Taylor Berrett, Potomac Falls, VA
Album: Great Falls, 2015
Notes: A Washington DC-based newcomer with a simple but sweet ballad from his brand new debut album. There's a free download if you connect with Taylor on either Facebook or Twitter - details at taylorberrettmusic.com. A straight down the middle pop singer-songwriter snapped up last year by Warner Bros.
Song: Sad Eyes
Artist: Bats for Lashes, England
Album: Fur and Gold, 2006
Notes: Bats for Lashes is the performing name of British Pakistani songstress Natasha Khan, the daughter of former top ranked squash player, Rahmat Khan. She sought refuge on the piano after her father left the family when was 11. Since her debut album in 2006, which was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, losing out to The Klaxons, she has released two further albums, 'Two Suns' (2009) and 'The Haunted Man' (2012). Last year she told The Guardian newspaper that new album would 'arrive in its own good time'. More at batforlashes.com.
Song: It Gets Better
Artist: Preatures, Australia
Album: Blue Planet Eyes, 2014
Notes: Borrowing some crisp guitar licks from their countrymen forefathers INXS, this quintet has been setting the charts alight in their native Australia for a while now and radio over here is now getting behind the less worthy lead-off single 'Is This How You Feel', which was a huge smash on home turf picking up an ARIA Award nomination along the way. One of the best rock combos to emerge down under in recent years, they assembled in 2010, and are fronted by 'Izzi' Manfredi. More at thepreatures.com.
Artist: Bayete, South Africa
Album: Mmalo-We, 1993
Notes: Top-drawer, easy-flowings World Music beats, instruments, vocals and overall grooves from the venerable South African band from the famous township of Soweto. Led by an exceptional performer and songwriter/singer called Jabu Khanyile, who performed several times for Nelson Mandela, and was at the South African staging of Live 8 in 2005. He sadly died too young at the age of 49 the following year.
Song: Fountain of Sorrow
Artist: Jackson Browne, Germany
Album: Late For The Sky, 1974
Notes: The son of an American serviceman (hence his Heidelberg, Germany birthplace) and a Norwegian mother who began his career more than 40 years ago. 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. This masterful track was released as a single in an edited down version but failed to chart and is widely assumed to document his brief relationship with Joni Mitchell.
Song: Grandma's Hands
Artist: Meg Mac, Australia
Album: MEGMAC [EP], 2014
Notes: Handclaps and synth stabs accentuate this sparkling remake of Bill Withers' 1971 classic. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter from Down Under made her US debut last month at SXSW before playing a few dates with UK band Clean Bandit. Describing her influences she says: 'When I was 17, I was obsessed with the French singer Camille, and she had this album where it was all made of vocals and vocal layers, and I was in shock at how you could use your vocals to do weird stuff. ' I was just like, 'Oh my gosh, I didn't know you could do that!' My whole world opened up with endless ways of using my voice.' More at facebook.com/MegMacMusic.
Song: Grandma's Hands
Artist: Bill Withers, Slab Fork, WV
Album: Just As I Am, 1971
Notes: The original version of the song by the legendary soul singer, written about his maternal grandmother Lula Galloway, who was born three years after the end of the Civil War. 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, Withers left the building in 1985 and has enjoyed family life ever since. In 2012, his nine albums for Sussex and Columbia were released as a box set under the title 'The Complete Sussex And Columbia Albums.' Essential listening.