Song: When You're Gone
Artist: Hannah Boleyn, England
Notes: A bitter break-up percolator with Frank Farianesque percussion on a self-penned retro gem from a sultry British newcomer. Just 23, she's on record as saying about breaking away from her performing school training: 'I decided to do things my way. I ditched the jazz shoes and ballet bun for killer heels, big hair and mini-skirts.' A coup in itself to have Ash Howes agree to produce her debut, considering his resum' includes female singers such as Dido, Ellie Goulding, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Hudson, Lindi Ortega, Kylie Minogue - even Susan Boyle. More at hannahboleyn.co.uk.
Song: Good Morning Mr. Wolf
Artist: Patrick Watson, Canada
Album: Love Songs For Robots, 2015
Notes: The timeless treble of an under-appreciated singer-songwriter/pianist and from his typically artful, ambient new set. His work maintains consistent melodic melancholia and haunting thoughtful lyrics and vocals - clearly reminiscent of Nick Drake and sometimes Jeff Buckley. Patrick Watson is also the name of his band. He's lived in Canada since he was a kid though was born in California - incongruously beginning his music career in a high school ska band. More at adventuresinyourownbackyard.com.
Artist: Bird & The Bee, Los Angeles, CA
Notes: A crisp, bouncy, yet faithful and respectful cover of the Daryl Hall and John Oates' classic from the always intriguing duo of Inara George and Greg Kurstin off their tribute album, which also featured Shirley Manson adding backing vocals to 'Maneater.' Voted Number 6 on VH1's list of 'The Greatest Songs Of The '80s,' it was the Philadelphia duo's fourth chart topper. For added street cred, the song has been sampled by Simply Red, Stereo MC's, De La Soul, 2 Live Crew, Heavy D and Plan B, among others. 14 of Hall and Oates' iconic songs have invidually been played on American radio more than 1 million times each.
Song: Waiting For You
Artist: Good Lovelies, Canada
Album: Burn The Plan, 2015
Notes: Shades of Wilson Phillips from a Juno-winning Canadian country/folk/pop trio comprising Caroline Brooks, Sue Passmore and Kerri Ought. The track is from their self-released recent collection and they've just uploaded a decent film about the making of their new album at goodlovelies.com.
Song: Santa Maria
Artist: Gotan Project, France
Album: La Revancha del Tango, 2000
Notes: Sounding distinctly South American with its tango beats and accordionic rhythms but from a French band, led by Argentinian Eduardo Makaroff who relocated to Paris in the early 1990s. The eminently rhythmic nugget was featured in the 2004 dance-themed film, 'Shall We Dance' starring Richard Gere.
Song: Every Car You Chase
Artist: Snow Patrol vs. The Police, Northern Ireland/England/Alexandria, VA
Album: Not available
Notes: Conceived and executed by Bay Area DJ and mixmaster Ben Gill, who likes to go by the name Party Ben, this is a spot-on mash up of two monster hits: 'Chasing Cars' and 'Every Breath You Take.' Party Ben is a perfectionist blender, taking it upon himself to also cunningly mash Green Day with Oasis, Travis with Eminem even General Public with Rihanna. He's originally from Nebraska and calls his performing moniker, Party Ben, 'the dumbest name in showbiz.' Clever stuff though.
Song: Bottled Up Tight
Artist: Luke Sital-Singh, England
Album: Old Flint [EP], 2013
Notes: Promisingly fresh singer-songwriter magic from a young 20-something Anglo-Asian tunesmith from London. His first EP 'Fail for You' emerged in 2012, followed by a debut album, 'The Fire Inside', last summer. More at lukesitalsingh.com, where you can download the track 'Nearly Morning'.
Song: All The Seasons
Artist: Tracey Thorn, England
Album: Songs From The Falling, 2015
Notes: A sweet, simple two-minute ditty from her new eight-song 'The Falling (Original Film Music)' soundtrack. One half of Everything But The Girl of course, indeed she and longtime music partner Ben Watt finally got married 27 years into their relationship in 2008 - the longest courtship in rock history for sure. No new albums from the duo since 1999, but mercifully the pair continue to release essential solo recordings. More at traceythorn.com.
Song: Country Girl
Artist: Primal Scream, Scotland
Album: Riot City Blues, 2006
Notes: Terrific rollicking country punk from the veteran Scottish combo, fronted by Bobby Gillespie. They've been going strong for more than 30 years, originally formed in Glasgow in 1982 a tremendous band fronted by the ever-creative and uncompromising Gillespie. He was also drummer for another classic Scottish alt-rock combo, The Jesus & Mary Chain way back when. They've played around with several genres over a rich, diverse career and released their last album, 'More Light,' in 2013.
Song: All Of God's Children
Artist: Jon Foreman, San Bernardino, CA
Notes: The warm, finely crafted final cut housed on his recent 6-track EP. Belying the tenderness of this recording, Jon is also the leading light in the alternative rock band Switchfoot out of San Diego and has been simultaneously releasing solo EPs and singles since 2007. More at jonforeman.com.
Artist: Kenny Thomas, San Jose, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: A really neat, hook-filled groove from a single father, musician, producer and engineer alumnus of the Huntington Beach Academy of Radio Broadcasting. Based in San Jose, he's a big fan of L&F, keeping it simple here with some rather old school synth rhythms and runs, but showcasing strong melodic sensibilties and a grit-filled soul vocal. If you go a-googling him, make sure to key in kennythomas and the southern baptists - he's not the only musical Kenny Thomas out there.
Song: Whatever Happens
Artist: Bill Withers, Slab Fork, WV
Notes: A quiet masterclass from the best of the best, the writer and original performer of iconic recordings like 'Ain't No Sunshine' and 'Lean On Me,' who has influenced successive generations of folk/soul stylists all the way up to Michael Kiwanuka, who recently broke through. 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, he left the building in 1985 and has enjoyed family life ever since. His nine albums for Sussex and Columbia were released as a boxed set under the title 'The Complete Sussex And Columbia Albums' in 2012. Check out the riveting 2009 documentary 'Still Bill,' which goes some way to understanding this extraordinary man.
Song: Together Alone
Artist: Malojian, Northern Ireland
Album: Southlands, 2015
Notes: Cat Malojian was a duo from Northern Ireland - one half of the collaboration was a seriously underrated musician called Stephen Scullion who went solo a couple of years ago and now performs simply as Malojian. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol fame is a big fan along with a host of top music critics. More at malojian.com.
Song: One Lovely Day
Artist: Citizen Cope, Washington, DC
Album: One Lovely Day, 2012
Notes: A lovely languorous cut from a singer the Washington Post regards as 'the city's most soulful export since Marvin Gaye'. Initially a DJ for hip-hop group Basehead, Cope (real name Clarence Greenwood) has been making some wonderful music for the past decade, when he started as a solo artist, writing and singing 'Sideways' for Carlos Santana's 'Shaman' album. He's in the midst of a US tour, supporting Counting Crows as well playing several dates on his own. For details go to citizencope.com.
Song: Swallowed In The Sea
Artist: Coldplay, England
Album: X&Y, 2005
Notes: Get lost and we'll get found, and you'll come back to me.' Another song of yearning devotion and commitment from the pen of Chris Martin and his Coldplay chums. Incidentally one of the best run, most complete band websites out there is coldplay.com - well worth a gander. The band is currently in the studio working on their new album called 'A Head Full of Dreams'.
Artist: Moody Blues, England
Album: A Question Of Balance, 1970
Notes: Recorded in one take, this Justin Hayward song was a Top 30 hit back in 1970. He also wrote the band's iconic 'Nights In White Satin'. Although still going strong, they haven't released any new material since 2003's 'December'. Now comprising Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge, they're set to embark on their latest 'Moody Blues Cruise' next February from Key West. The four day jaunt travels to the Bahamas and fellow guests include Christopher Cross, The Zombies and Ambrosia, amongst others.
Song: Here It Comes
Artist: Emeli Sande & Rick Smith, Scotland/England
Album: Trance, 2013
Notes: Interesting that Sande's naturally booming vocal is held way back in the mix on this number which is clearly in-synch with the trance-like rhythm track. It's the theme song to 'Trance', the 2013 movie from 'Slumdog Millionaire' director Danny Boyle, starring James McAvoy. Co-credited with producer Rick Smith, who's also the keyboardist and co-founder of uber-hip British electronic combo, Underworld, who scored the entire soundtrack having previously worked with Boyle on 'Trainspotting', 'The Beach' and 'Sunshine' among other films.
Song: Short Change Hero
Artist: Heavy, England
Notes: Only previously heard as the theme to the ridiculous but mildly entertaining action series 'Strike Back' which saw two seasons air on Cinemax. The multi-cultural quartet forges some really tight, shuffling melodic grooves throughout their sturdy repertoire. They're from the Roman city of Bath in the west of England, fronted by singer Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor. Their third CD 'The Glorious Dead' emerged in 2012. More at theheavy.co.uk,.
Song: Love You Forever
Artist: Ryan Huston, Santa Rosa, CA
Album: Love You Forever [EP], 2008
Notes: Like so many melodic singer-songwriters these days, Huston is earning a crust mostly from song placements in TV shows and commercials - including spots for A&E and Lifetime shows and for Abercrombie and Fitch. From Santa Rosa in California, he's now located in Portland, Oregon. Nothing since his 2012 album 'This Life'. More at ryanhuston.com.
Song: Forget You In LA
Artist: Poema, Albuquerque, NM
Notes: A gritty departure for the normally easy-flowing acoustic light duo comprising sisters Elle and Shealeen Puckett from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Now based in Nashville, they began performing together as teenagers in 2008 winning a local Battle of the Bands competition. A trickle of singles and EPs and just the one long-player to date - and the just released five-track 'Pretty Speeches' EP. More at poemamusic.com and facebook.com/poema.
Song: Hide and Seek
Artist: Howard Jones, England
Album: Human's Lib, 1984
Notes: Brilliant, melodramatic synth-pop balladry at its finest, tucked away on his debut album from 1984. Jones is still recording and touring - he's playing a dozen or so US dates in August and September, but with a lot less hair and otherwise living quietly in Somerset in England. More at howardjones.com.
Artist: Lindsey Buckingham, Palo Alto, CA
Album: One Man Show, 2012
Notes: A concert update of his 1981 solo hit recorded live in Des Moines, Iowa in 2012 and released for download only via iTunes. Still underrated as one of the most dextrous guitarists of any era, he's back with his Fleetwood Mac mates on their seemingly never-ending 'On With The Show' tour which will finally come to an end in New Zealand on November 22nd.
Song: Never Forget You
Artist: Noisettes, England
Album: Wild Young Hearts, 2009
Notes: A reverential drop-dead homage to the best pop/soul of the 1960s, and sounding a bit like L&F permanent resident MoZella. Despite their retro flavor, they are actually an indie rock combo, comprising guitarist Dan Smith and singer/bassist Shingai Shoniwa who got together while both were studying music at the BRIT School of Performing Arts in 2003. Used in a TV commercial in Italy for Vodafone, the song was a mini-hit around Europe and was used as the theme tune to Ronnie Wood's excellent if rambling radio and TV show. More at noisettes.co.uk.
Song: Alberta Bound (Live)
Artist: Bryan Adams, Canada
Album: Alberta Bound [Single], 2011
Notes: Released as a digital single from the veteran singer-songwriter who's still on a seemingly endless tour (dates at bryanadams.com). When he performs this song he changes the city name from Alberta to whichever city he's playing that night - and of course, the audience goes nuts. The song reached Number 100 on the Canadian chart and didn't score on any other chart anywhere else in the world.
Song: I'm In Love
Artist: Ruby Turner, Jamaica
Notes: A sorely overlooked pop soul gem from a sensational soul singer, Jamaican-born Ruby Turner who moved to England with her family at the age of nine. She became a much in-demand session singer, performing with the likes of Mick Jagger, Bryan Ferry, Steve Winwood and UB40 over the years. Almost 30 years since her debut album, she released 'All That I Am' last year to great acclaim. More at rubyturner.com.
Song: You Do
Artist: Aimee Mann, Richmond, VA
Album: Magnolia [Soundtrack], 1999
Notes: Erudite, thought-provoking balladry of the highest quality, one of nine absolute pearls written and recorded by the terrific singer-songwriter, which comprised the soundtrack to the 1999 film drama. Many of the songs subsequently appeared on Aimee's third album, 'Bachelor No. 2' which was issued the following year. The movie was directed by art-house hero, Paul Thomas Anderson, who also created 'Boogie Nights', 'There Will Be Blood' and 'The Master' among others.
Song: The Keeper
Artist: Chris Cornell, Seattle, WA
Notes: Top-drawer, rootsy, acoustic rumbler by the Soundgarden frontman for the Gerard Butler action bio flick, which was based on the true story of a former gang biker who became a preacher in Africa. He also recorded 'You Know My Name' for the 007 reboot 'Casino Royale' in 2006. Cornell reunited with his former band mates in the seminal grunge combo Soundgarden a few years ago following some intermittent solo work, although he's back on the road with a solo acoustic tour this September. More at soundgardenworld.com.
Song: This Is Not America
Artist: Pat Metheny & David Bowie, Lee's Summit, MO/England
Notes: Rarely played these days, an outstanding collaboration by the top jazz-fusion guitarist Pat Metheny and his group, with the Thin White Duke. The Sean Penn-starring movie, directed by the great John Schlesinger, was based on a true story of two young Americans who sold classified government secrets to the Soviet Union in the mid-'70s.
Song: Carry My Body Down
Artist: Nick 13, Ukiah, CA
Album: Nick 13, 2011
Notes: A lovely rolling number from a chap called Kearney Nick Jones, who's also the frontman of psychobilly combo, Tiger Army. He's based in Berkeley, California, and has only one CD to date also called 'Nick 13' from 2011 which was firmly in a country/Americana vein. Check out his youtube channel at youtube.com/Nick13.
Artist: Rachael Yamagata, Arlington, VA
Notes: She brings an authentic emotion, effortless melodic mood, an intelligent, clever script to all of her work, all trademarked by one of the best voices around gracing everything she writes and performs. Now in her mid-30s, originally from and still based in Arlington, Virginia, she's much in demand for collaborations with the likes of Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne and Jason Mraz among others and has just finished a tour supporting David Gray and Amos Lee. More at rachaelyamagata.com.
Song: Single Girls
Artist: Laura Jansen, Holland
Album: Bells, 2009
Notes: A plaintive but top-notch ballad about being single after a failed relationship, from a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Born in Holland, but with dual citizenship, she has been making things happen out of her Los Angeles base for a few years. She has been on a couple of tours with another one of L&F's favorite musicians, Joshua Radin and released her second album titled 'Elba' back in 2013. More at laurajansen.com.
Song: Feels Like Love
Artist: Max & Simon, New York, NY/Los Angeles, CA
Album: Max & Simon, 2014
Notes: Hard to believe that despite having their music featured in a couple of commercials for JC Penney and TV shows like 'The Biggest Loser', they remain unsigned and horribly under-appreciated. They consistently deliver ultra-catchy nuggets. Interestingly they are neither a duo nor do any their members have the name Max or Simon - they're actually a trio of Blake Healy, Kevin Bard and Mark Rosas, alternately based in New York and Los Angeles, who describe their mission to 'make the world a better place one sunny day at a time?' Healy was a member of the short-lived Metro Station, while Bard still fronts Stereo Skyline. More at facebook.com/maxandsimon.
Artist: Alanis Morissette & Salif Keita, Canada/Mali
Album: The Prayer Cycle, 1999
Notes: Aural divinity, an operatic world music lost diamond from the vocal chords of Alanis Morissette and Salif Keita and one of many standout collaborations on the must-have orchestral/choral album titled 'The Prayer Cycle', which also featured the talents of James Taylor, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Linda Ronstadt. The brainchild of composer Jonathan Elias, the album was sung in twelve languages with Alanis and world music legend Salif respectively trading vocals in Hungarian and Swahili on this lost corker.
Song: Lost In The All
Artist: Todor Kobakov featuring Lindy Vopnfj'r', Canada
Notes: Delicious world music electronic flavors and a rich sonic landscape from a Bulgarian maestro who has written the score for some eight movies in addition to his own solo work and provided imaginative string arrangements for the likes of L&F favorite Sara Bareilles. He now makes Toronto his home after graduating from the University of Toronto. More at todor.ca. Lindy Vopnfj'r' is a fellow Canadian musician, who fronts indie rock band Major Maker while running a parallel solo career.
Song: Our House
Artist: Anna of the North, Norway
Album: Our House [Soundcloud], 2015
Notes: Studying in Melbourne, Australia, the Oslo native met producer Little Dreamer who suggested she take up singing. Her debut single 'Sway' followed last June. Since then she's cut a handful of tracks, including this magical re-working of the Madness classic More at facebook.com/annaofthenorth.
Song: Our House
Artist: Madness, England
Album: The Rise & Fall, 1982
Notes: Known over here for this song and not much else, Madness are a national treasure back in the UK. They came together in the Camden Town district of London in 1976 and put together a string of 22 consecutive hit singles over a seven-year span. They've broken up a couple of times but then reformed, but even now not all of the original members join in the fun. They were the opening act at the closing ceremony for the London Olympic Games in 2012 and still perform live, playing sellout dates in massive venues. Indeed their latets tour is billed 'Grandslam Madness - The Greatest Open Air Tour in the History of Rock & Roll'. More at madness.co.uk.