Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Hidden treasures

To cheer us all up on a cold January day (actually, forget that – it's been unseasonably mild) I am once again listing some of the artists that I listen to obsessively, just to offset the fact that Rihanna was the most popular artist on Facebook last year. We will overcome!

Beth Hart

You know when someone does a cover of a song which is incredibly famous and brilliant, and it’s as if you’ve never heard the original? Suddenly the words seem fresh and you somehow “hear” them for the first time and remember what the song is all about? For me, this is one of those times.

Part of the exquisite pain of listening to her heartfelt, quavering notes is “Why didn’t anybody tell me about her?” Wikipedia says she “became famous” when one of her songs was used in the last episode of Beverly Hills 90210. (Remember Luke Perry? He was making pet pigs cool while George Clooney was still doing bit parts in the Golden Girls.)

“Famous” or not, I’ve NEVER heard her played on the radio or seen her mentioned in a magazine. Am I not looking hard enough?

Jack and White

Another recent discovery – it reminds me of classic 1970s pop. It’s effortlessly happy-sounding and makes me happy too. Apparently Brooke White was a finalist on American Idol back in 2008 (I KNEW I should watch it every year!) while Jack Matranga was a guitarist for Self Against City (also worth checking out.)

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Another band that doesn't seem to get very much recognition, which is doubly weird when you see how many of their songs have been used in soundtracks (including Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland). Singer Grace Potter also gets out and about on her own, singing on the Tangled (Disney's take on Rapunzel) soundtrack  and Pan Am. She has the most amazing husky voice which can veer from the throaty rasp to squeak with no apparent effort. I her. I just don't understand why they haven't had any singles released in the UK. 

Pistol Annies

Ok, so I know I go on about Miranda Lambert almost as much as Kelly Clarkson, but this is different – it's about her BAND.  They make the kind of old skool, slide-guitar-and-fiddles country music that will get you tapping your toes and chewing on a husk of corn before you can say "Y'all git in the kitchen, the squirrel's ready!" I honestly find it unbelievable that country music is so utterly rejected by the UK, when it means that we miss out on such a huge slice of the musical action from across the pond. 
Spotify, once again, I salute you.

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