Song: Right Time To Tell You
Artist: Sugar & The Hi-Lows, Jackson, MS/Boston, MA
Album: High Roller, 2015
Notes: Lost & Found' firm favorites, Amy Stroup and Trent Dabbs in perfect harmony on another superb preview of their upcoming 11-track album, 'High Roller' due next month. Boldly fronting the Other Nashville non-country-fried alternative music scene, they are currently touring in support of the new set. Do not miss them: dates at sugarandthehilows.com, some opening for the wonderful Kacey Musgraves.
Song: Tears From The Moon
Artist: Conjure One featuring Sinead O'Connor, Canada/Ireland
Album: Conjure One, 2002
Notes: Conjure One is an occasional ambient electronic project begun by Canadian producer, Rhys Fulber in 1997 who has two other day jobs as a member of both Front Line Assembly and the better known Delerium, a popular duo he formed with Bill Leeb. This exquisite number is one of several standout cuts from the first of three Conjure One albums, 2002's eponymous effort which also featured female vocalists, Chemda, Marie-Claire D'Ubaldo, Poe and on this track, Sinead O'Connor. On the fab Canadian Nettwerk label, of which there is a superb new collection documenting three decades of the label, called '30 Years of Music'. More at conjureone.com.
Song: I Don't Mind At All
Artist: Bourgeois Tagg, Sacramento, CA
Album: Yoyo, 1987
Notes: A deeply catchy Beatlesque track, produced by the legendary Todd Rundgren, which charted modestly three decades ago. Frontmen Brent Bourgeois and Larry Tagg moved to the Bay Area after high school before teaming up with their bandmates in Sacramento, and recorded a couple of albums in the mid-'80s before splitting up. Bourgeois moved into the Contemporary Christian music field, where he is now a successful writer and producer, working with the likes of Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay and 4Him and released his first album, 'Don't Look Back' in two decades last year. More at brentbourgeois.com.
Artist: Wet, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Deadwater [single], 2015
Notes: Floating along so nicely, a new digital single which has just been released, but bizarrely not included on their simultaneously issued eponymous debut EP. They're a Brooklyn-Based indie-pop trio fronted by the lilting tones of Kelly Zutrau - this track previews their much anticipated first album, 'Don't You', which is scheduled for release in the autumn. A promising start: and their web site domain name is cleverly named kanyewet.biz - which may arguably benefit from the misspellings of those trying to log onto the web site of you-know-who. More information at facebook.com/wet.
Song: Just For Now
Artist: Imogen Heap, England
Album: Speak For Yourself, 2005
Notes: This whispie soprano couldn't be anyone other than Imogen Heap with a lost pearl from her self-produced sophomore album. She first found fame as one half of Frou Frou (the other half being producer Guy Sigsworth), before becoming a solo artist. She's released four solo albums and has garnered two Grammy nominations and the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement in 2010. Astonishingly this lovely song was sampled by rapper Lil B in four separate hip-hop tracks - which seems a bit unnecessary. More at imogenheap.com.
Artist: X Ambassadors, Ithaca, NY
Album: VHS, 2015
Notes: Discovered by Imagine Dragons who urged their record label Interscope to sign them up, X Ambassadors is an alternative folk-rock quartet Hailing from Ithaca, they have been together for about five years fronted by Sam Harris who is showing a real knack for writing a good hook: Rihanna's current single 'American Oxygen' was co-scripted by him. The band is touring all summer long, some gigs opening for Milky Chance - dates at XAmbassadors.com.
Song: Twist In My Sobriety
Artist: Tanita Tikaram, England
Album: Ancient Heart, 1988
Notes: Such a charmingly dark, sober texture to one of several absolute crackers from the maiden CD of a singer born in Munster, Germany and raised by an Indo-Fijian father and Malaysian mother. Her family relocated to Britain when she was a teenager and she left university before graduating to begin a professional career in music. She recorded this track, which was a number two smash in both Germany and Austria and remains her signature hit in Europ,e when she was just 19. The delicious oboe part comes courtesy of Malcolm Messiter. She's still going strong, though there's been no new material since 2012's 'Can't Go Back'. More at tanita-tikaram.com.
Artist: Bible, England
Notes: A mellifluous and rather cunning charmer from an English band, around for some five years in latter half of the 1980s, founded and fronted by singer-songwriter Boo Hewerdine, who found more success as a solo artist. The group got back together in 2013 and played a couple of live dates, with Cherry Red Records releasing a deluxe edition version of their second album 'Eureka'. More at thebibletheband.com
Song: Homburg (live)
Artist: Procol Harum, England
Album: Not available
Notes: An almighty, live, beautifully orchestrated version from a November 2014 live concert staged at the Dominion Theatre in London - and a cracking full-throttle update of their 1967 single, the followup to their iconic 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' - indeed both songs were not a million miles away from each other and both all the better for the rich Hammond keyboard sound supplied by Matthew Fisher, who in 2009 finally won a lawsuit on the grounds that his organ solo on 'Whiter Shade' constituted part of the song's composition. The group was founded by Gary Brooker in 1967 and is still going strong - Brooker, who turned 70 on Friday, being its only original member - and played several gigs in the US over the summer. Incidentally a homburg is a stiff felt hat, popularised in the UK by King Edward VII in the 19th century following a visit to the town of Bad Homburg where he discovered the head ware - and Dwight Eisenhower wore one at his 1953 inauguration.
Artist: San Fermin, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Jackarabbit, 2015
Notes: One of the less angular and therefore more rewarding tracks on the new baroque-pop offering from classically trained Brooklyn pianist songwriter and Yale graduate Ellis Ludwig-Leone, who recruited three top-drawer singers Lucius' Holly Laessig moonlighting from her Lucius combo, Jess Wolfe and the deeper-voiced Allen Tate to sing his ornate, frequently orchestral chamber-pop songs. They have a dozen or so dates through August. More on them at sanferminband.com.
Artist: Bruce Hornsby, Williamsburg, VA
Album: Halcyon Days, 2004
Notes: Simple, fluid, the easy-flowing craft of the incomparable Hornsby, a lovely song written for his twin sons and featuring Elton John on co-vocals. The track is buried on a largely unnoticed album, which also featured Eric Clapton and Sting among its stellar guests. Arguably the most creatively restless, imaginative pianist out there, Hornsby will regroup with what remains of the Grateful Dead for their much-heralded alleged final dates this summer in Santa Clara and Chicago. (As the New Statesman put it in a recent article: 'He is also one of just two keyboardists from the Grateful Dead still vertical and above ground'.) More at brucehornsby.com.
Song: The Sweetest Girl
Artist: Scritti Politti, England
Album: Songs To Remember, 1981
Notes: So inventive - some neat reggae bass lines underpinning an otherwise sly electronic pop outing, with the wonderful Robert Wyatt on piano, from more than 30 years ago by an endlessly fascinating band which has always revolved around its distinctive vocalist and main man, Welsh-born Green Gartside. Those nutty Madness boys cut a neat version of the song in 1985. Gartside keeps a low profile these days, although he played a few dates under the Scritti Politti name last year. He contributed a beautiful version of 'Fruit Tree' to the Nick Drake compilation album 'Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake' in 2008.
Song: We're Falling
Artist: Little Children, Sweden
Album: Traveling Through [EP], 2015
Notes: Tender, dark musings in a haunting, stylish Americana-inflected curiosity from, of all places, Sweden. The singular tunesmith Linus Lutti used to be one half of Idiot Kid but has now adopted a new moniker with some Bon Iver, Nick Drake, Will Oldham even John Martyn influences clearly evident. More at littlechildrenmusic.com.
Artist: Joan Armatrading, St.Kitts
Album: Whatever's For Us, 1972
Notes: The closing track on side one of her very first vinyl LP, deeply sad and then conversely joyous. The veteran now 64-year old British singer-songwriter has recorded more than twenty albums over an exemplary 40-plus-year career, every one of them containing at least one lost pearl. She's in the midst of a world tour, which returns to the US in September. Although she says it will be her last, she recently told the New York Daily News 'I'm not retiring by any stretch of the imagination. I'll still do short tours. And I'm a songwriter. I'll stop that when I'm dead.' Dates at joanarmatrading.com/index.php/about/tour.
Song: Come Home
Artist: Chappo, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Moonwater, 2014
Notes: A sparkling modern rock collage about love, but also about the freedom of getting rid of all the junk we seem to amass. Chappo is a Brooklyn-based quartet that has been together for about six years, fronted by lead chappie, Alex Chappo, with Zac Colwell (drums), Chris Olson (keyboards) and Dave Feddock (guitar). They released their first album, 'Media Machine', in 2008, followed by 'Moonwater' in 2012 and their new one, 'Future Former Self', has just been issued. They're hitting the road this week to promote the record. More at chappomusic.com. If you like The Klaxons, Interpol or The Flaming Lips you might get a buzz from their work.
Song: No One's Gonna Love You
Artist: Band of Horses, Seattle, WA
Album: From Cease To Begin, 2007
Notes: Other than some understandably strong airplay in their hometown of Seattle, this melodic gem flew too far under the radar (though a Top 30 hit in Denmark). The group's been through several lineup changes in its eleven years together though now seem settled into a sturdy five-piece fronted by Ben Bridwell. Getting more popular with each new release, their fourth album, 'Mirage Rock' in 2012, was produced by the great Glyn Johns, who's worked with everyone including The Beatles, The Clash and The Stones. Cee Lo Green covered the song a few years ago, proving that there are no rules in music. They're on the road throughout the summer. More at bandofhorses.com.
Song: Always You
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson, Staten Island, NY
Album: Human Again, 2012
Notes: I wait in the rain but I don't complain because I wait for you, I don't feel pain, you're like novocain, and I got you - It was always you'. One of the two bonus tracks from her most recent work of art. Just a voice, a piano, some harmonies, the gentlest of backing, a beautiful melody and a tender lyric. She's spending June on the road, with Jukebox The Ghost, Oh Honey, Greg Holden and Secret Someones supporting her, as well as playing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre with Ben Folds and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Dates at ingridmichaelson.com/tour.
Song: Blue and Green
Artist: Wood Brothers, Boulder, CO
Album: Smoke RIng Halo, 2011
Notes: Chris Wood has such a bold evocative deep woods country vocal style on a track recorded with his sibling Oliver. It's tucked away on their third long-player which is stacked with lonesome high harmonies and released on Zac Brown's Southern Ground label. Chris is of course also one third of the critically revered Medeski, Martin and Wood jazz trio, so he's not afraid of mixing up the genres. Currently touring Europe, they'll be back on the road here on June 20th. Check them out at thewoodbros.com.
Song: Gimme Sympathy
Artist: Metric, Canada
Album: Fantasies, 2009
Notes: Lots of neat Beatles and Rolling Stones references and song titles throughout the song and that group just keeps knocking out sterling hook-driven indie rock corkers. It's from their fourth album which was hailed Best Alternative Album of the Year at the Juno Awards in 2010. The quartet hails from Toronoto, ably fronted by guitarist James Shaw and their profoundly cool lead female vocalist, Emily Haines. 'The Shade', their first single in three years, has just been released. More at ilovemetric.com.
Song: I Got You
Artist: Split Enz, New Zealand
Album: True Colours, 1980
Notes: Voted the 11th Best New Zealand Song of all Time in their home country in a poll undertaken about 10 years ago, from one of the most successful bands to come out of New Zealand, founded by Tim Finn in 1973. He recruited his younger brother Neil in 1977 after which the band scored three consecutive LP chart toppers down under. The band split up at the end of 1984, at which point Neil founded Crowded House, recruiting Tim in 1989 before the siblings formed The Finn Brothers. Why this evergreen New Wave tinged nugget never even made the Top 50 here is a mystery. The tune has been much revered in more recent years by many American groups - Semisonic and Pearl Jam sometimes perform their own versions in concert. More on the brothers Finn at timfinn.com and neilfinn.com.
Song: I've Got My Mind Made Up
Artist: Jackie DeShannon & Michael McDonald, Hazel, KY/St. Louis, MO
Album: Together, 1979
Notes: Just a sensational vintage ballad, the great Burt Bacharach at his compositional best and Michael McDonald at his vocal peak early in his career on a barely known lost pearl. The song comes from a 1979 movie soundtrack to an otherwise forgettable film starring Jacqueline Bisset as a divorced dress designer. The celluloid was dreadful but the soundtrack is one of Bacharach's finest melodramatic works, with Jackie DeShannon, who had one of her biggest hits with Bacharach and David's 'What The World Needs Now Is Love' back in 1965, providing beautiful co-vocals flitting inbetween McDonald's exquisite lead.
Song: Can't Keep It In
Artist: Cat Stevens, England
Album: Catch Bull At Four, 1972
Notes: Ten Top 40 hits for the venerable Cat Stevens between 1971 and 1975 - but this corker slipped through the cracks. He did of course transition from his early late '60s melodramatic pop sound to a more mellow tunesmith frame by the 1970s becoming a leading light of the literate singer-songwriter genre. Since his conversion to Islam in 1977, many have assumed that his real name was always Yusuf Islam - but in fact he was born Steven Demetre Georgiou to a Greek Cypriot father. After being unfairly regarded as controversial, he was deservedly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year.
Song: Broken Things
Artist: Gabriel, Albany, GA
Album: Albany, 2007
Notes: A divine, tender update of an obscure lost pearl originally recorded by its underrated writer Julie Miller composed in 1999 and subsequently given a stunning rendition by Irish singer Juliet Turner. This version is by a remarkable young southern soul singer, Gabriel Powell from his debut album. Discovered singing in a high school choir when he was still a teenager by Dr. Luke, he's an extraordinary vocal talent, who was all set on joining the military before deciding to follow a career in music. More at gabrielpowell.com.
Song: 7 Seconds
Artist: Neneh Cherry & Youssou N'Dour, Sweden/Senegal
Notes: The magnificent electronic and world music meld of these two artists, which was a huge hit all over the world, but regrettably not in the States. The Swedish songstress sings her lines in English, with the world music great delivering his in French and his native Senegalese 'Wolof' tribal tongue. When he performed this socially-conscience theme corker at Live 8 in 2005, Dido stepped in to sing Cherry's vocal.
Song: Nobody's Diary
Artist: Yazoo, England
Album: You And Me, 1983
Notes: The electro-pop backdrop clearly reminiscent of early Depeche Mode and with good reason. Former co-founder and keyboardist Vince Clarke teamed with the utterly wonderful Alf. They got together for a brief three-year partnership, yielding just two albums, both of them winners, before Clarke went on to form The Assembly and then Erasure, while Alf reverted to her given name, Alison Moyet, and eked out a dazzling solo career. More on them at vinceclarkemusic.com and alisonmoyet.com.
Artist: Trent Dabbs, Jackson, MS
Album: Believer, 2015
Notes: Another deft gem recorded during sessions for his latest album with a typically insightful track. After a busy year celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the Ten Out Of Tenn songwriting collective he co-founded in Nashville, and touring on-and-off with Amy Stroup in their fab Sugar & The Hi-Lows act, Trent's ninth studio album is his most organic offering, about which he says: 'I went to a show late last year at the Ryman (Auditorium) for a folk singer. There were no fancy lights, just a couple microphones and this incredible, raw, intimate sound. The folk singers and their music spoke more volume than the traditional high-production concerts. I wanted this project to emanate that same feeling I felt the night at the Ryman'. More at trentdabbs.com.
Song: Don't Slow Down
Artist: UB40, England
Album: Present Arms, 1981
Notes: Mellow reggae, lovely languorous horns from the veteran British reggae combo with the distinctive lead vocal style of Ali Campbell who's always sounded like he was born in a ghetto in Jamaica, but is actually just a white guy from England's second biggest city, Birmingham. He quit the band in 2008 having fronted some 70 million record sales worldwide during a thirty-plus year association with the band and has recorded five rather underloved solo albums.
Artist: Weepies, Cambridge, MA
Album: Sirens, 2015
Notes: A second play for this beautiful and winsome title cut from their latest set, the ever tender and rewarding Weepies. So many delightful undiscovered acoustic numbers just lying in the vault from them. They're the married duo of Deb Talan and Steve Tannen originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they were both solo artists until they met at one of Tannen's shows at Club Passim. Their debut album, 'Happiness', emerged a couple of years later, since when there have been a further four albums. Their music making was put on hold with the news that Deb had been diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2013, but she has been in remission since last June. More at theweepies.com.
Song: Here He Comes
Artist: Brian Eno, England
Notes: After he left Roxy Music as its first keyboardist and before he began pioneering the Ambient music genre, Brian Eno recorded a series of fascinating and hugely overlooked mainstream pop/rock albums. He has long been an important ingredient in Coldplay's success over the last decade, adding clever sheen and dazzling soundscapes to the group's material, as well as producing albums for U2, Grace Jones, James, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson and countless others.
Artist: U2, Ireland
Album: The Unforgettable Fire, 1984
Notes: Recorded at Slane Castle in Dublin, the unmistakeable sound of U2 from way back when with a 1984 opus, expertly co-produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Eno and their first of four U2 album collaborations together. The band is on its virtually sold-out iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour. Dates at u2.com/tour.
Song: Say Goodbye
Artist: Matt Simons, New York, NY
Album: Catch & Release, 2014
Notes: Too sad for words, a man deciding to close the door, disappointed and heartbroken by the lies, deception and indifference on show from his partner, he can no longer recall why he even loved her - it's time to say goodbye. The New York-based tunesmith, who grew up in Palo Alto, is currently more popular in the Netherlands where an earlier tune 'With You' became one of the Top 30 best-selling singles of 2013. Conversant on both the piano and sax, he's a big drawer in parts of Europe but still consigned to playing small clubs and bars in the Big Apple - he's playing seven dates in the US in July. Two long-players to date, both revealing a keen sense of songwriting and melody. More at mattsimonsmusic.com.
Song: Love Love Love
Artist: Avalanche City, New Zealand
Album: Love Love Love [EP], 2012
Notes: The jaunty folk stylings of New Zealander Dave Baxter with a simple, pleasing ditty which topped the chart in his home country. His debut album 'Our New Life Above The Ground' was snapped up by Warner Bros. over here but they decided not to release it - so only a four track EP from 2012 available over here. More at avalanchecity.com.
Artist: Cat Malojian, Northern Ireland
Album: Cat Malojian, 2008
Notes: Extremely obscure old country banjo-led stylings of the now defunct pairing of Steve Scullion and siblings Jonny and Rachel Toman described as a 'folk/twee band' from Lurgan in Northern Ireland. The seriously underrated Scullion went solo over a year ago, releasing the EP 'The Broken Deer.' Check out malojian.com for more on him and his new album 'Southlands'.
Artist: Geoffrey Oryema, Uganda
Album: Exile, 1990
Notes: The lovely rather restrained acoustic-guitar sounding instrument which hallmarks this track is a Nanga - a 7-string zither used to great effect by the Ugandan singer-songwriter. His aural art was given an international introduction by Peter Gabriel in the early 1990s - and the album on which this song appears was produced by Brian Eno. More at geoffrey-oryema.com.
Song: Love Will Tear Us Apart
Artist: Susanna and The Magical Orchestra, Norway
Album: Melody Mountain, 2006
Notes: A two-man orchestra comprising Norwegians Susanna Wallumrod and Morten Qvenild with a cover of the Joy Division 1980 classic, that has been featured in both 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Skins'. The duo went their separate ways in 2009, since when Susanna has cut four solo albums and last year one with Jenny Hval. More at susannamagical.com.
Song: Love Will Tear Us Apart
Artist: Joy Division, England
Notes: The original version of this legendary track by the post-pnk quarter, led by the doomed Ian Curtis who committed suicide, aged 23, on the eve of the group's first American tour. His bandmates went on to form New Order and are still going strong, currently working on a new album through Mute Records. Curtis' memorial stone at Macclesfield Cemetery bears the inscription 'Ian Curtis 18-5-80 Love Will Tear Us Apart'. More at joydiv.org.