Music you might have missed

Category: Music

I've been wanting to do this for awhile now. Everyone has in their music collection some real sonic gems that for whatever reason have remained relatively unknown. I've got several in my collection most people have never heard of and thought I'd share a few here. Hopefully others will let us in on some of their own little-known jewels as well. In no particular order...

Joanne Shenandoah--Matriarch
Overheard this gem in an audio store where a guy was auditioning some Wilson speakers. Joanne has taken Native American songs and polished them up for us. Fairly simple, straightforward and maybe a bit repetitive at times, but Joanne's lilting siren voice is wonderful. Check this one out.

Loreena McKennitt--The Book of Secrets
Ok, maybe this one is well known. But if you haven't heard it, you're missing out. In the same genus as Enya but is its own species (and probably better). Just discovered this one and have really enjoyed it.

Fred Benedetti and Peter Pupping--Here Comes the Sun
These two guitarists have put together all-guitar arrangements of popular songs from the 60's and 70's (Beatles, Cat Stevens, Simon & Garfunkel and more). They have a couple different CD's out. This just happens to be one. Great guitar work and well recorded. And the songs are played straight up; they don't try to mess with a good thing.

John Denver--The Wildlife Concert
We've all heard Denver before, but this dual CD is something special. I wasn't a fan of his at all until I heard it. The backup musicians are all top drawer and these renditions of almost all his hits surpass the original versions in every way. This is also available on DVD. I've got both and have really enjoyed them.

Crash Test Dummies--God Shuffled His Feet
Don't let the quirky name fool you. This is good stuff. The lyrics are bizarre but lead singer Brad Robert has a rich baritone voice that makes it all work. I turned my fifty-something-year-old mother into a convert.

Mecano--entre el cielo y el suello
Mecano hail from Spain, and they're virtually unheard of in America unless you happen to speak Spanish. If you don't, you'll miss out on some very unique and poetic lyrics. But the music alone might make it worth it for you. Hard to nail them down, but in general they're sort of a sophisticated Pop sound. Mecano is one of my all time favorite bands.

Soundtrack to The Power of One
If you like Hans Zimmer's The Lion King, you'll enjoy his earlier work here. The Lion King was good, but this is considerably better. It's African choir music with a western touch. Very nice.

Of course, music is a very individual thing, so your mileage may vary. I recommend you log on to a site like or and listen to snippets of these CDs before you lay down the long green. But I've enjoyed each of these quite a bit. Hopefully, some of you will find these right up your alley. I'd love to hear recommendations from others. Enjoy!
Lak & BlBloom: I just picked up the Beaters Request CD a few weeks ago. Used to see them quite a lot in LA when I first moved out here. Now I am looking for "Jack Mack and the Heart Attack's" CD's.
Variety folks, it's all about variety : )

Skyclad: Irrational Anthems

Even though they are one of my favorite bands with about 10 - 12 albums out, they are virtually unknown over here and their discs are VERY hard to get in America. Kind of a cross between traditional Celtic music mixed with hard rock / metal. Heavy commentary on politics, religion, society, etc.... i.e. "angry lyrics" with an upbeat tempo. Has some cool "fiddle playin'" (courtesy of a girl named "George") along with the standard guitars, drums, etc... Not necessarily a "great recording", just a good time with a lot of "flavour".

Loreena McKennitt: The Mask and Mirror

While the whole disc is excellent, the first tune is quite possibly the most "engulfing", "deep" and "airy" tune that i have ever heard. If you have a good system, the sound literally floats around you. Hearing this on a pair of well set up E-stats, Planars or omnidirectional speakers will make you want to throw your "boxes" out... I would love to hear this on Albert's SoundLab's : ) Macm is right though. Loreena's discs (this disc / performance in specific) makes any Enya disc sound "lo-fi".

David Johansen and the Harry Smiths

Didn't know what to expect from this one other than a "great recording" courtesy of Chesky. Didn't get it in my opinion. Some of the songs have a completely different feel than others i.e. a throw back to "old timey" blues recordings. Also has a somewhat strange selection of songs in my opinion. Nonetheless, a disc that kind of snuck up on me. David's voice is still as identifiable as ever and plenty strong. I just never pictured him "singing the blues". Then again, i never pictured him as "Buster Poindexter" either : )

Pink Floyd: The Division Bell

I like this album. A LOT. Too bad i never see it mentioned by "fans of Floyd". Even though it lacks a lot of the "flash" and "effects" that made Waters and Gilmour famous, there is something about this disc that i find lacking from other Floyd efforts.

Antony Michaelson: Mozart Clarinet Concerto K622 in A Major

Courtesy of Audio Advisor, the President of Musical Fidelity "cranks out" some nice "tunes". A VERY short but VERY listenable disc. Good enough that i'd like to hear more from him on a regular basis.

Wire: Pink Flag / Chairs Missing / 154

Their first three albums. You can't have one without the other two. Best to listen to them in the order that they were released so that you can follow the progression / transition a little easier. While they wanted to hang out with the Sex Pistols initially, it's pretty obvious that these guys also listened to Floyd and Hawkwind. While the first album (Pink Flag ) is much faster / rawer / harder / shorter (even though it had 21 songs on it) than any of their others, you still get a glimpse of the "damaged art" that was soon to follow. Some critics even referred to them as "the Pink Floyd of Punk Rock", as they slowed down quite a bit and ventured into various "imagery". I might even venture to say that they "inspired" some of the very early and original "industrial" bands. Not only did Steve Simels' love them, Wire was the band that inspired Michael Stipe (REM) to want to be in a band ( his own words ). Colin Newman (lead singer) later went on to record a couple of discs supported by a small orchestra that are also worth checking out.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed thus far. The little bios really help, too. I'll be looking into each of your recommendations.

I have to list two more that I forgot to mention:

Mark Knopfler--Sailing to Philadelphia
Mark's the former lead singer for Dire Straits. If that doesn't excite you, no worries. I wasn't really a Straits fan either. Mark has definitely mellowed in the years since. This is just a great album. Kind of folkish with a little blues thrown in. Lots of good cuts on this one, not the least of which is the title track which he sings with James Taylor. This one is highly recommended.

David Gray--White Ladder
Bares some definite similarities to Bob Dylan, but Gray has a better voice (not surprising). "Babylon" is the best song, although certainly not the only thing to recommend the entire CD.

Susan Tedeschi, her first album, ok believe it or not, sometimes she's got the presence and power of Janis Joplin. And she plays a great blues guitar.

Dan Bern, self titled album. Give it a chance and he will make you smile. He's an underground artist, friend of Ani Difranco. She produces some of his music. If you ever get a chance to see his live shows, don't pass it up.

Clarence Gatemouth Brown. The album with "Don't get Around Much Anymore". Great blues guitar and big band sound. This album makes people want to jump up and dance.

Patty Larkin, Tango. She is simply a great guitarist.

Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder. Two great guitarists playing African Blues "world music".
Couple of Canuck bands you really ought to check out. Blue Rodeo is a crossover country/pop band. Well written lyics, laid back and enjoyable music, mostly acoustic sounds. Try to pick up "5 Days in May". The Tragically Hip. Jeez I love the Hip, they are a huge hit in their home country (Canada) but virtually unknown elsewhere. The Hip release a new record, it's automatic 1 million sold in Canada. Straight ahead rock, eclectic lyrics. Pick up "Day for Night", you'll end up buying the entire catalog. If any of you try this stuff out, please let me know your thoughts once you've spent some time listening. Jeff