Song: Broken Lines
Artist: Jules Larson, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Let's Stay Young, 2012
Notes: Fine offering from a fabulous maiden album, which also features a neat cover of Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colors' by the LA-based songstress, who has been eking out a living with live gigs and choice placements of her songs on TV shows and movies such as 'Grey's Anatomy', 'One Tree Hill', 'Pretty Little Liars' and 'The Lucky One'. A trickle of EPs and singles over the past six years but only this one long-player thus far. In 2013 she teamed up Adrianne Gonzalez the results of which appeared on the EP 'Jules Larson + AG'. More on her at facebook.com/juleslarsonmusic.
Song: Summer Sun
Artist: Ruen Brothers, England
Album: Point Dume [EP], 2015
Notes: A fresh outing from a new act from Scunthorpe in the north of England - the siblings chose their band name by taking a couple of letters from their first letter, the RU from Rupert, the EN from his older brother, Henry. They were fortunate to be snapped up by uber-producer Rick Rubin who signed them to his American Recordings label a couple of years ago and helmed their first EP, also recruiting session help from the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith and legendary Faces keyboardist, Ian McLagan. More at ruenbrothers.com.
Artist: Andrew Belle, Nashville, TN
Notes: Originally offered on his 'Black Bear' album, but this restrained 'Blackwatch' remix is included on the recently released 'Ten Out of Tenn - 10 Years' collection celebrating a decade of an initiative begun by Kristen and Trent Dabbs to showcase the cream of the other Nashville, the best non-country singer-songwriters from Music City. Its anniversary was celebrated with a knock-out gig at the venerable Ryman Auditorium last month. The Wheaton, Illinois-born Drew Fortson recently established his own 1L Music company, on which his own music appears as well as new signing Watt White - do check it out: 1L-music.com. More at andrewbelle.com as well.
Song: Let The Music Play
Artist: Barry White, Galveston, TX
Album: Let The Music Play, 1976
Notes: Soul dripping disco of the highest order from the 'Walrus of Love'. Born in Galveston, Texas, he grew up on the gangland streets of South Central Los Angeles, even serving time when a teenager for stealing Cadillac tires. He became motivated to follow a career in music when he heard Elvis Presley's 'It's Now Or Never' while incarcerated and soon after his release recorded his first sides as a member of R&B unit The Upfronts, but the 1970s was his decade nabbing a remarkable run of strings-laced chart-toppers as a pioneer of the disco era backed by his ever-present Love Unlimited orchestra.
Song: Way Out There
Artist: Lord Huron, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Strange Trails, 2015
Notes: Reflective, meditative folk-pop from the group's sophomore set. Lord Huron is an indie rock quartet formed and fronted by Ben Schneider based in Los Angeles, celebrating five years together this year. He named his band after Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes of North America and which he visited often while growing up in Michigan. Touring all spring and summer long to promote their highly recommended new set, all dates at strangetrails.com.
Song: Please Forgive My Heart
Artist: Bobby Womack, Cleveland, OH
Notes: Recently gone at the age of 70, the guitarist, singer-songwriter was one of the most authentic 'testifying' soul vocalists to emerge in the 1960s, his beseeching, gravel-filled baritone subsequently earning him the nickname The Preacher and latterly as the self-described Soul Survivor, having outlived his gospel-trained testifying contemporaries, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. This longplayer was his first new work in 18 years, featuring a cool duet with Lana Del Rey and was co-produced by the always busy Damon Albarn of Gorillaz and Blur fame. It's long forgotten that he penned 'It's All Over Now', which gave The Rolling Stones their first British chart topper in 1964.
Artist: Lindsay Perry, Satellite, FL
Album: L.O.V.E., 2015
Notes: After playing 'Slow Creepin'' last week, this is another track from this new singer's debut album. Described as a surfer, model, musician, artist, the 24-year old has worked for Billabong Girls, Spy Optic, Nixon Watches, Lost Surfboard, Osiris Shoes and Taylor Guitars. Her debut album has been more than two years in the making and she recently went down a storm at SXSW. If her musical career turns out to be as successful as her modelling career, then expect big things. Check out all things lindsay at lindsea.com.
Song: Tell Her This
Artist: Del Amitri, Scotland
Album: Twisted, 1995
Notes: So many great songs by this band which just haven't been played on radio. The Scottish rockers formed in 1983 in Glasgow but founding members Justin Currie and Iain Harvie worked on solo projects following the group's final album in 2002 - pleased to report however that they reformed last year for a well-received UK tour which yielded the live album Into 'The Mirror' and Currie did a month-long US club tour last September and October. More at delamitri.com.
Song: Cut To The Chase
Artist: Fort Lean, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Quiet Day, 2015
Notes: A Brooklyn-based quintet who have been around since 2011. Led by Keenan Mitchell, they released a self-titled EP the year they formed followed by the single 'Sunsick' and a second EP 'Change Your Name' in 2012. Two years passed by until the late 2014 release of this single, as a trailer to their just released debut album. They've just recorded some songs for Jam In The Van for SXSW down in Austin. More at facebook.com/fortlean.
Artist: Lex Land, Orange County, CA
Notes: Another underrated songstress based on the west coast, a quirky 26-year-old (born Christmas Day) singer-songwriter whose real name is Alexa Holland. She's the daughter of Dexter Holland, the lead singer and founder of Orange County punksters, the Offspring. She made her recording debut in 2008 with the album 'Orange Days On Lemon Street,' since when there has been a live album, two singles and her 2011 album. More on her at lexland.net, which sadly has been dormant since December 2013.
Song: When A Woman Loves
Artist: R. Kelly, Chicago, IL
Album: Love Letter, 2010
Notes: Stylistically channeling the very best doo-wop R&B and soul from the '50s and '60s and a latent answer back to the Percy Sledge classic 'When A Man Loves A Woman' and one of several R&B rubies on his truly outstanding 2010 retro-soul-stuffed album. Despite personal life controversies and the ever-changing soundscape of rhythm and blues music over the years, he remains relevant and ever-successful - astonishingly each of his 12 albums over the past 22 years has cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard chart. Not a patch on Percy Sledge's soul standard though - another soul great who passed away recently. More at r-kelly.com.
Song: The Wrong Year
Artist: Decemberists, Portland, OR
Notes: The delightful indie-folk stylings of the Portland-based band, celebrating 15 years together. Inspired by a December 26th revolt in Imperial Russia in 1825 known as the Decembrist Uprising. They made their recordindg debut with 'Castaways And Cutouts' since when there have been a further six albums, including the chart-topping 'The King Is Dead' in 2011. They're just about to hit the road for the summer. For dates, go to decemberists.com.
Artist: Penny & Sparrow, Dallas, TX/Austin, TX
Album: Tenboom, 2013
Notes: Another act new to L&F that was featured last week. Former room-mates and now band mates, Texan tunesmiths Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke teamed up as Penny & Sparrow, influenced by the likes of Bon Iver and Mumford & Sons. So far they've released two finely crafted lo-fi Americana albums - 'Tenboom' and last year's 'Struggle Plenty'. More at pennyandsparrow.com.
Song: I Hate Seagulls
Artist: Kate Nash, England
Album: My Best Friend, 2010
Notes: Certainly quirky but highly rewarding from an artist who apparently hates buying toothpaste and rude ignorant people, but seems to love picking strawberries, enjoying cream teas and ghost stories. Three literate albums since she burst out of the gate in 2007 with 'Made Of Bricks', this number was tucked away on her sophomore set, which was produced by Suede guitarist Bernard Butler. There's been no new material since 2013's 'Girl Talk'. More at katenash.com.
Song: Ruined In A Day
Artist: New Order, England
Album: Republic, 1993
Notes: A first-rate single which somehow went nowhere. There was a great video for this song that features a game of charades with a bunch of Buddhist monks. Well worth a view on YouTube. The reformed band's long-awaited 10th studio album, and first proper one in a decade should finally emerge this year - they signed a new worldwide record deal last year with iconic indie label, Mute Records. More at neworderonline.com.
Artist: Harry J All Stars, Jamaica
Notes: The delicious hammond organ runs played by session musician Winston Wright are just wicked on this rocksteady ruby from 1969. Harry J was Harry Zephaniah Johnson, a legendary Jamaican reggae producer and studio owner. Indeed his Harry J Studio became home base for several albums by Bob Marley in the 1970s and also hosted the likes of The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones and The Who. The ace rhythm section heard on this cracking number include Aston and Carlton Barrett who went on to become Wailers with Bob Marley. Harry lost his battle with diabetes at the age of 67, passing away in April 2013, but left a remarkable and influential legacy. Premier League Champions Chelsea Football Club have been playing this reggae rumbler before kick-off at their Stamford Bridge ground since the 1970s.
Song: The New Hello (Hers)
Artist: The Hawk In Paris, Nashville, TN
Album: Freaks, 2013
Notes: An avalanche of anthemic pop-rock electronica from an outfit put together as a side project in 2009 by Jars Of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine, the trio also comprises two of his former college friends, Jeremy Bose and Matt Bronleewe. Influenced by British electronic music of Thomas Dolby, New Order, Eurythmics and Depeche Mode, they have released two EPs to date. They take their name from a 1956 album by legendary tenor saxist Coleman Hawkins. More on them on facebook - just add thehawkinparis or their website: thehawkinparis.com.
Song: Wherever I Go
Artist: Mark Knopfler, England
Album: Tracker, 2015
Notes: Knopfler in close harmony with Ruth Moody, a founding member of the Canadian female group, the Wailin' Jennys, on yet another choice cut from the former Dire Strait frontman's eighth and latest solo offering. Here's some narrative from his website: 'You won't be seeing Mark Knopfler in melodramatic newspaper headlines or on talent show panels. The much-travelled craftsman prefers to reside wherever the song takes him, from writing room to rehearsal space, recording studio to concert hall. He is, as tirelessly and inquisitively as ever, on the trail of some musical truth, just as he has been since the 45s of Ricky Nelson and Lonnie Donegan, or the playing of Hank Marvin and Duane Eddy, sent him down a path that led to 125 million record sales.' More at markknopfler.com.
Song: Saturday Smile
Artist: Gin Wigmore, New Zealand
Album: Gravel & Wine, 2011
Notes: Lovely simple string arrangement and a smokey, earthy vocal style on a number from a New Zealand singer-songwriter, who sounds like a mix of Macy Gray and Mozella. Still in her mid-20s, she was inspired to take up songwriting after hearing David Gray's brilliant 'White Ladder' album. A fair number of her songs pop up in tv shows and commercials from time to time. Her third album, 'Blood To Bone', is due next month. More at ginwigmore.com or facebook.com/GinWigmore.
Artist: Turin Brakes, England
Album: Ether Song, 2003
Notes: A sturdy all-American sound, therefore surprising that they're actually a modern folk-rock duo from south London in England, comprising Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian. Childhood friends who formed their musical unit in 1999, they've released six studio albums and are currently working on their seventh. More at turinbrakes.com.
Song: Running Home
Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov, South Africa
Album: Not available
Notes: Long based in Colorado and much influenced by the music of Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter has released five albums over the past dozen years. One of his songs, 'Big Black Car,' was used in a 2012 McDonald's commercial, and this track was originally recorded with his own vocal, but subsequently reversioned with Seven Hats' vocalist Julie Davis out front for inclusion in the Lifetime TV movie 'An Amish Murder,' which aired in 2013 and was also heard on 'Royal Pains'. He's also a sustainable gardener in his spare time. He'll be playing four dates over the summer. More at gregoryalanisakov.com.
Song: Call Someone
Artist: Thirteen Senses, England
Album: Contact, 2007
Notes: Clearly too good for prime time and yet another fabulous lost treasure from a band that emerged as part of same Brit-Pop movement which spawned Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol. They've been around for more than a decade, releasing four sensational albums over that time - all of them bizarrely overlooked by nearly everyone. They've just uploaded two cracking archive recordings at Soundcloud - soundcloud.com/thirteensenses/a-new-kind-of-light and soundcloud.com/thirteensenses/heal-to-let-it-go. More at thirteensenses.com.
Song: The Conversation
Artist: Mat Kearney featuring Young Summer, Eugene, OR/Washington, DC
Album: Just Kids, 2015
Notes: A sweet duet with DC-based songstress Bobbie Allen aka Young Summer, from Mat's latest long-player which he recorded at his Nashville home, on his tour bus and in Sweden. A talented soccer player in his youth Mat earned an athletic soccer scholarship to Cal State in Chico, but a career in music eventually called as did a move from his hometown of Eugene Oregon to Nashville. The track is available as a free download at youngsummermusic.com/mat-kearney-just-kids/.
Song: Now That I Know
Artist: Shannon McNally, Hempstead, NY
Album: Jukebox Sparrows, 2002
Notes: A country-laced corker from a singer, reminiscent of Sheryl Crow but with an Americana twist. She began performing while still at college, busked for a while on the streets of Paris, before being signed by Capitol Records in 1997. Currently living in Mississippi, she released a terrific seven-track EP in 2012 with Amy Lavere called 'Chasing The Ghost - Rehearsal Sessions' followed by 'Small Town Talk,' honoring the songs of legendary Louisiana songsmith, Bobby Charles, in 2013. She recently took part in 'Leadbelly At 125 - A Tribute To The American Songster' at the Kennedy Center. More at shannonmcnally.com.
Artist: Simple Minds, Scotland
Album: Sparkle In The Rain, 1983
Notes: Although most people think that 'Don't You Forget About Me' is their signature song - it was certainly their biggest hit - the band and its loyal following believe that this corker is their defining anthem - it's certainly their most popular number in concert these days, but was never a hit in the US. Produced by the great Steve Lillywhite and adopted by the Sheffield Wednesday English soccer club as their home games' theme song, which is a bit cheeky since the band is as Scottish as they come. Incidentally the repetitive bass line underpinning this rocker throughout is in fact just one note - a D - simple indeed. More at simpleminds.com.
Artist: Hudson Taylor, Ireland
Album: Battles [EP], 2012
Notes: A bustling nu-folk rumbler with some terrific harmony work by the young brothers, Harry and Alfie, who are based in Dublin. This track comes from their first EP, released in 2014, which was quickly followed by another, 'Cinematic Lifestyle'. Their debut album, 'Singing For Strangers', has just emerged. Quite a few Mumford copycats out there at the moment, but this duo are a cut above the rest. More at hudsontaylormusic.com.
Artist: Steve Moakler, Pittsburgh, PA
Album: Watching Time Run, 2011
Notes: Outstanding piano- backed track by the superlative singer-songwriter who's been featured on L&F for some time now. This beautiful song with a lovely cello part and sweet harmony vocals should no longer be overlooked. Still releasing records for his own Free The Bird label, find out more about him at stevemoakler.com.
Song: Reason With Me
Artist: Sinead O'Connor, Ireland
Notes: Recorded live at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, this ballad about the toil and trouble of drug addiction, co-written with Geoff Smith, finds the incomparable Irish songstress in top form. No matter how troubled her poor soul seems to be (she recently had a five-minute marriage and a severe bout of depression), she just can't help but make stunning emotive music. Produced by John Reynolds, the first of her four husbands and father of her son Jake, with whom she continues a good musical relationship and who is about to make her a first-time grandmother. More at sineadoconnor.com.
Song: Bound By Love
Artist: Gran Bel Fisher, Sabina, OH
Album: Full Moon Cigarette, 2006
Notes: Brilliant and completely unknown, a really well-crafted, pop-rock riffer from a talented long-haired singer-songwriter by the name of Jesse Littleton who's from the single-stop light town of Sabina, Ohio. Astonishingly he's only released one long-player to date, that was hailed by the Associated Press as the quote 'most overlooked album of the year'. He flies well under the radar but re-emerged in 2012 with one new cut and a bandmate, George Byrd. More at facebook.com/granbelfisher.
Song: Shark Fin Blues
Artist: Missy Higgins, Australia
Album: Oz, 2014
Notes: The standout cut from her lovely recent long-player - this track written by Gareth Liddiard who is lead singer for Australian rock outfit, The Drones and was recently voted Australia's greatest song in a poll of fellow musicians undertaken by the country's leading rock radio station. Already Top 10 in her home country, the album is an often lush, orchestral affair on which she tackles covers of songs by other fine Aussie tunesmiths. In addition to being one of Australia's best singer-songwriters in her own right, she is also a strident animal rights and environment campaigner and a top vegan. More at missyhiggins.com.
Song: The Time I've Wasted
Artist: Lori McKenna, Stoughton, MA
Album: Numbered Doors, 2014
Notes: Too sad for words, a woman who's run out of patience, run out of sympathy, exasperated by the self-piteous misery of her partner, reflecting on how much time she's wasted in a doomed relationship, wounded to the point of a final goodbye. The Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter and mother of five made her first album back in 2000, since when there have been seven more - the latest being last year's 'Numbered Doors'. More at lorimckenna.com.
Song: Love Wars
Artist: Womack & Womack, Cleveland, OH/Chicago, IL
Album: Love Wars, 1983
Notes: The husband and wife pairing who recorded together for about ten years back in the 1980s before relocating to Nigeria. This lost nugget was the title cut from their debut collaboration, which also included a great soul cover of the Rolling Stones' 'Angie.' Cecil, who was the brother of soul legend Bobby Womack, passed away in 2013 in South Africa at the age of 65. Linda, who just turned 62, is of course the daughter of Sam Cooke, whose widow Barbara married Bobby Womack.
Song: The Good Times
Artist: Matthew Puckett, Brooklyn, NY
Album: The Goodbye [EP], 2008
Notes: A Brooklyn-based tunesmith and also an in-demand producer and TV/film composer - he actually composed the main theme 'Everything I Want' and indeed the score for the ABC television series 'Boston Med', he's an alumnus of the High School of the Performing Arts in New York and has been recording since 1998. More at matthewpuckett.com.
Artist: P.M. Dawn, Jersey City, NJ
Album: Jesus Wept, 1995
Notes: Founders of their own unique Daisy Trip-Hop musical genre, PM Dawn were the Jersey City duo of siblings Attrell and Jarrett Cordes, raised by their mother and stepfather, George Brown, one of the founding members of Kool & The Gang. They used sampling more creatively than any other act, cunningly borrowing just the right notes from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Deep Purple, Spandau Ballet, George Michael, although this track ironically is sample-free. Following their 1995 Jesus Wept LP, they released two more albums - the second in 2000 by mail order only. Attrell suffered a massive stroke in 2005, which curtailed the duo's career. Their paternal first cousin, Doc. G, took his place and the duo has played live occasionally, but not returned to the studio.
Artist: Sleeping At Last, Wheaton, IL
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 - on which this track appeared on the final episode of Season 10 back in April. 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.
Artist: Police, England/Alexandria, VA
Album: Ghost In The Machine, 1981
Notes: Written by Sting before he moved from his native Newcastle-upon-Tyne to conquer the world. He sang the song when he auditioned at the Zanzibar in London's Covent Garden only to be told We need commercial hit songs. We don't need this kind of stuff. What happened to the person who gave him the piece of advice at the Zanzibar after it became The Police's fourth UK #1 is unknown.