little known musicians we should hear

I know i'm missing out on some great obscure or relatively obscure music. please give me your recommendations. include anyone (or any lp) you love and recommend without reservation, if it may not be well known.

my short list would be:

alejandro escovedo-singer/songwriter/gtr player/band leader
the hank dogs - u.k. folkies w/ 2 albums
anne briggs - more folk from the u.k.
richie haven's new lp "the well" (if you ever loved any of his stuff, you need this!)
I just don't know any great obscure classical, jazz or rock...uh, the velvet who?

honourable mention:
"u.s. mombs" (my 16 yr old's a drummer. this is her thrash band. so sue me, I like seeing it in print)
Solution - Dutch fusion band from the '70's. Some vocals

Kaptain Kopter & the Fabulous Twirly Birds -
Randy California from the band Spirit.
Great '60's acid rock

David Sancious & Tone - Transformation and Speed of Love"
Unreal hard-rock/jazz fusion

Stomu Yamashta - "Go Too" Soft Fusion w/some vocals

I think that all this stuff is vinyl only. Sorry CD guys.

Some of these are "obscure"--others are simply underrated. Off the cuff, these are the first few that come to mind:

-Jeb Loy Nichols (a recent discovery, love his stuff)
-Imperial Teen
-Neko Case (especially her new album, 'Blacklisted')
-The Go-Betweens (most underrated band of the '80s)
-Freedy Johnston (especially 'Can You Fly' and 'Never Home')
-Amy Rigby (criminally overlooked)
-The Bottlerockets ('The Brooklyn Side' and '24 Hours a Day')
-Yo La Tengo (indie legends, deserve bigger following, especially recommend "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One')
-Richard and Linda Thompson (both have done some excellent solo work, but their albums together are not to be missed)

And my personal favorite obscurity...Human Switchboard's album "Who's Landing in My Hangar?" To my knowledge, it is out of print and not available on CD (was released in the early 80's). Too bad. It is raw, intimate, deeply personal--just about the most uncommercial album imagineable.

There is so much good music out there that most people never get to hear. I am looking forward to the recommendations of others.
three words you should research:

Cul De Sac.

It's not jazz it's not trash it's not punk it's just

Cul De Sac.
harry menks, think i spelled it right.

plays a mohanvina, pronounced the way i have spelled it. 13 string guitar. studied in india with a master, V.M. Bhatt who played with ry cooder on A Meeting by the River, Waterlily Acoustics... another great cd no vinyl available even though it was recorded analogue!

Anyhow Menks live is incredible and his recorded music is wonderful.
Since you mention Alejandro Escovedo first (he is so amazing, if it weren't for corporate radio, he'd be a star and "A Man Under the Influence" would be a best selling album), I'll make a few obscure and not so obscure (just in case) additions:

Steve Earle
Lucinda Williams
Joe Ely's "Love and Danger"
The Flatlanders' "More a Legend Than a Band"
Sid Griffin (Western Electric, The Lost Ryders, The Coal Porters)
Gram Parsons
The Golden Palominos' "This Is How It Feels"
Richard Buckner's "Bloomed"
Greg Brown's "Dream Cafe"
Rosanne Cash's "Ten Song Demo"
Wilco's "Being There"
Old 97's
Chris Smither's "Live As I'll Ever Be"
Townes Van Zandt

That's enough for now. Some of these are OOP and you'll have to search ebay and the used bins. Unfortunately, again because of corporate radio, the good die young.
And THANKS for the recommendations from all -- I'll check them out, too!
Curve - THE best band too few have heard of. Their first albums are choice.

Polyphonic Spree - a new band I recently saw whose name is the descrpition of thier music (they have a chior). They do what few can, marrying happiness and talent.
T Bone Burnett has been around for some time but I only recently discovered his CD of the same name. Not sure what to call it-folk, country, or blue grass but it doesn't stray far from the top of the stack.
Paul Weller's solo albums (since 1990).
I like a lot of Jam songs and some Style council, but his solo albums are really far and away his best material. Poignant lyrics, great melodies, and good musicianship.
He's well known (revered) in the UK, but doesn't seem to have crossed the Atlantic.
Meat Beat Manifesto-dark and electric.
The Gentle People-romance in a spacey 60's.
Scott Walker-Sinatra gone insane.
Elysian Fields-Sexy,bluesy with a touch of angst.
Spirit-These guys were so good, you'd have thought they were
English.Great 60's rock
Gong, Van der Graaf Generator and King Crimson(pre-90's)-
shake hands with progressive rock.
Billbored? Never heard of it.
i'll continue my list with increadible and innovative jazz musicians that have already decades of performances but only on small and private surroundings:

phillip johnston,
matia bazar,
evan parker,
hugh hopper,
wayne horvitz,
torsten de winkel,
ravi coltrane,
sasi shalom,
sergey kuriokhin,
vladimir chekassin,
aleksander ganelin,
aleksey kozlov,
igor butman.
this is great! you all are mentioning stuff I have never heard (cul de sac, harry menk, Polyphonic Spree, Imperial Teen, Solution) stuff i've almost bought 100 times (like scott walker and Neko Case), stuff I forgot about and now can't wait to hear again (like 10 song demo and bloomed).

thanks to all and please keep 'em coming. don't hesitate to add more as they spring to mind. this'll end up being a killer (and dangerous) list to carry to the record store, hunt online with etc.

i'll be the first with additions:
kim richie
david blue's lp w/'i'll be true to you" on it
the silos
marc benno (with and w/out leon russell)
mcdonald and giles lp
garmana's "vengeance" (filed under nordic)
all fred neil (some has been newly pressed on vinyl)
the groove collective's s.t. first cd
The new Patricia Barber- Verse, Charlie Watts- Long ago & far away, yes the Stones drummer with a very smooth big band that is wonderful and the last cd you need to hear is Randy Waldman - Unreel. Barber's cd is in the same league as Cafe Blue. Charlie watts plays light drums and no he doesn't sing Bernard Fowler handles vocals. Waldmans cd is uptempo "hot" jazz, great sound on Concord Jazz.
If you like the blues, Little Toby Walker-Cool Hand (acoustic and alone) Kerry Kearney Band-Welcome to the Psychedelta (good mix blues, delta, rock-high energy stuff). Bought these recently on Long Island, NY after seeing them preform at a blues festival. Good stuff
Ncarv, Towne Van Zandt is great! I think he did something with Steve Earl recently (maybe it was a tribute). A few others:
Osibisa (african "rock/jazz")
Colin James & the Little Big Band (two albums)
Laurie Lieberman -- she may be pretty well known
Government Mule -- they should be familiar, but just in case
My two cents:

After Crying - progressive rock (although the denomination is a little... limiting? there's much more than "rock" in their music).
a sample review of an After Crying album
Talented and sophisticated musicians from Hungary. Many say (and I agree) they are at least as notable as King Crimson.

Aother great artist: I was wondering if there are any Leon Redbone fans in the Audiogon community?
There are thousands of little known musicians who have made brilliant recordings and are (imho) criminally under appreciated. Almost everyone hates some great artistic achievments,(most oprea or c&w efforts usually hit the gag reflex here). Few people easily break out of the "I like what I know and I know what I like" syndrome, as a result we miss out on alot of asthetically rewarding stuff. If you listen to King Crimson,(early Bruford era), Mahavisnu Orch. (1st two), Capt. Beefheart, Massacre (Fred Frith), most of Can and the stuff really sinks in (plays back in yer' head alot), you are in trouble. You will probably be broke from a need to score stuff like: Acme Rocket Quartet (1st), Air (w/Fred Hopkins), Amoebic Ensemble, Arcana, Area (start w/ Crac), Art Zoyd, Arti+Mestieri, Attention Deficit,Back Door, Banyan, Joey Baron, Bass Army, Bella Band, Gregg Bendian, Tim Berne, Bi Kyo Ran, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Ed Blackwell, Blast, B.L.U.E., Raoul Bjorkenheim, Blind Idiot God, Hamiet Bluiett, Boom, Christer Bothen, Francois Bourassa Trio, Brand X, Anthony Braxton, Caspar Brotzmann, Alain Brunet, Hasse Bruniusson, Buckethead, Don Caballero Uri Caine Alex Candelaria, Cartoon, Chainsaw Jazz, Thomas Chapin, Gigou Chenevier, Nels Cline, Clubfoot Orch. Roberto Columbo, Conglomerate, Graham Connah, Conventum, Cos, Vincent Courtois, Curlew, Andrew Cyrille, DFA, Dark, Data Direct, Daniel Denis, Jean Derome Deus ex Machina, Doctor Nerve, Dave Douglas, Paul Dresher, Marc Ducret, Dun, Trevor Dunn, Dysrhythmia, Either Orchestra, Embryo, James Emery, Ensemble Nimbus, Equip Out, Ellery Eskelin, Etna, and Everyman Band to name a few from the A - E crowd.
Jellyfish ... great Pop

The Producers ... California intelligent pop

Kevin Gilbert - a Deceased genius again from CA.

Gentle Giant - The kings of 70's Prog... IMHO

Jack Johnson. The album is called Brushfire Fairytales and I have had it in my rotation for over a year, that is a personal record for me. An exceptional album.

String Cheese Incident. An amazing jam band that has a number of live and new material albums. Highly recommended.

Ryan Adams. He was with the band Whiskeytown and released two solo albums, Heartbreaker and Gold, in the past two years. Exceptional Alt Country Rock albums. He is gifted in that he writes great tunes and he has a great voice.

Brad. Side project by Pearl Jam member Stone Gossard. New album, it is in the car and I cannot name it off the top of my head, in good. Some of the tunes are excellent. Worth listening to.

Sunny Day Real Estate. This was, in my opinion, the best band that came of Seattle during the heyday. The album is called Diary and it is really great grundge. I believe that a few of the members of this band wound up with Dave Grohl and formed the Foo Fighters. I am not sure if they are still with him.

Flaming Lips. Very interesting albums from this band. The newest, Yoshimi, and the previous album, Soft Bulletin, are great. Very entertaining albums. Not mainstream, but well worth listening to.

Wilco. Great band. Not all that unknown, but I would feel guilty if I did not mention their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Great album that gets better everytime I listen to it.

Ben Harper. Also not all that unknown. If you have not heard his music immediately go to your local record store and pick up Fight For Your Mind, The Will To Live, and Burn to Shine. Great albums, great musician.

Many others, some have already been listed, but a good start. I look forward to reading everyones suggestions.

I love these posts. It give me new msuic to try. Here are some I like Eddie Reader-simple soul ; Angels & Electricity. Kieran Kane-dead rekoning. HartRouge-dark blue window. And on vinyl, Ted Hawkins-the next hundred years. Carmel-everyone' got a little...soul. and anything by philadelphia feryy ricks-empty bottle blues This guy is the real deal, smokin.
Stuff that I like that many people have not heard, but when I play it for them they LOVE:

Daves True Story (see these guys are not only recorded VERY well (Chesky records them), their lyrics and music are a lot of fun (and funny)

Rebeka Pidgeon: Also recorded by Chesky (see Chesky's webside), Mrs. Pidgeon has more tallent in her little pinky than I could hope to ever have. Not only does she write and sing wonderful music, she is a great actress (see her in State and Main). She is also married to David Mammet (amazing writer/director).

The Jade Warriors: this fusion group from the 70's is very rare, but very cool. They play a mix of Jazz/New Age/Rock/Far East music. It is really quite entertaining, and they tended to record it pretty well.

Until the the End of the World/Far Away So Close Soundtracks compiled by Wim Winders: These movie soundtracks are two of the best ever done. I am not big on the movies... but these soundtracks are really good.

Passion, The Last Temptation of Christ Soundtrack, Peter Gabriel, No audiophile should be without this disc.

Chess, the Musical, If you remotely like musicals or the game of Chess or Bobby Fisher, or the song: One Night in Bangcock... This is a great musical for you to hear. Great lyrics.

Assassins, the musical, Sondheim, If you have no idea who Sondheim is... well you are missing out. He does musicals about stuff no one else has the balls to touch. Assassins is a musical about all of the attempted and successful USA presidential assassins in the history of the United States. It is a dark comedy that is hilarious. This is my favorite Sondheim musical followed by Into the Woods.


Yes, Ozfly, Townes Van Zandt & Steve Earle, along with Guy Clark, had a 1995 performance recorded, two years before Townes died. It was released last year, called "Together at the Bluebird Cafe".
Steve Earle once said of Townes that he is the best songwriter out there, "and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say it."
Kelly Willis - "What I Deserve", a great C.D. She also has a new release called "Easy". It's a bit mellower then the first.
Good for you Jasman. Yes, "What I deserve" is excellent....I'll pick up her new one when I get to town.
Hank Cramer: You can find him via "Google". I believe his CDs can be ordered from
...David Olney was his favorite songwriter- try any of Olney's albums; the latest, "Omar's Blues", however, isn't his strongest.

Amen to Jade Warrior- the "Elements" retrospective on Island is excellent.

Pearls Before Swine (Tom Rapp)- unsurpassed 60's folkadelia. Rapp put out "Journal of The Plague Year" a coupla years ago, 1st new music in 25 years. Brilliant songwriter.

If talent translated directly into dollars, Graham Parker and John Hiatt would be anything and play it LOUD.

Guy Clark's new release "The Dark" is very, very good.

Subdudes- they may not be together still- great New Orleans gumbo funk.
I wouldn't necessarily classify these all as 'little known', but here's what comes to mind:

1. XTC (Albums Nonesuch, Skylarking, English Settlement, Apple Venus 1 & 2..) These guys put out perenially outstanding music. Boggles the mind how little they're revered. This may seem like sacrilege to some - but I would stack up Mr. Partridge & Mr. Mouldings songwriting catalog(and the intelligence/wit of their lyrics in particular) against the Beatles' any time. Just go listen to songs like "Satellite", "The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul", "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead", "Knights In Shining Kharma", "The Man Who Murdered Love".

2. Patrick O'Hearn, Richard Burmer, Steve Roach or Harold Budd - great ambient artists. Some really good stuff if you're into it. has some free downloads for those interested in checking it out.

3. David Sylvian - formerly of the group Japan. Hard to classify, but almost any album a 'must listen'

4. Horselips (Album - The Man Who Built America) Obscure Irish band.

5. Have to echo the comment about Peter Gabriel's "Passion" - Haunting sonics.

I'm sure I'll think of more....

Just thought of another - Talk Talk. In particular the album 'The Colour of Spring'.

A classic. Emotion, beautifully arranged, haunting, excellent recording. It has it all. I have never played it for anyone who hasn't ended up loving it.

I don't claim to be any kind of music expert, but I think I know what sounds pretty damn special, and this is one. A 'hair standing up on the back of your neck', goosepimple recording. I can only scratch my head when I look at the Rolling Stone site and see a 1 star review. Most of the site visitors rated it 5 stars. A little known gem.

Lambchop - Is A Woman (mellow, breathy, country)
Ida - Will You Find Me (acoustic, harmony, lots of tone)
Can - Tago Mago (german 70's electric, beating)
Zero 7 - Simple Things (alternative, acoustic & synthesizer)
Jeanie Bryson - Some Cats Know (mellow jazz - Peggy Lee
standards done right. BTW Dizzy Gillespie's daughter)

thanks everyone

can not wait til my After Crying CD gets here
Dizzy's daughter? very interesting, intriguing even. gotta check her out. thanks for the suggestions, to you and all others who've posted. i've been adding many to my list.
so far i purchased the current neko case and walter was right about her. she and her band are very fine. now i know not to miss her live in nyc (she's playing here soon).