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I decided to let the 15-year-old girl in me take over for these first few selections:
"Aretha" by Rumer (Seasons of My Soul)
Okay all you Adele fans, check out this homage to Aretha by UK-by-way-of-Pakistan singer Rumer. Who can deny a Brit singing about the virtues of Aretha Franklin? Seasons of My Soul was released in the UK a little over a year ago but never came out in the States. She'll likely get more attention here in the States now that she's managed by Green Day's exceptional dude, Pat Magnarella.
"Kaleidoscope" by Jill Cunniff (City Beach)
Tell me you didn't dig Luscious Jackson (who were, if you'll remember, brought to us by the Beastie Boys' label, Grand Royal). Well, Luscious is actually back together recording, but during their hiatus Cunniff put out an eclectic album with lines like, "I'll warm you like Mexico." This is mellow stuff with a Mojave 3/Zero 7 feel.
"Concrete Sky" by Beth Orton (Daybreaker)
"Stuck" by Lauren Pritchard (Wasted in Jackson)
Not sure why this never landed in the U.S. either -- it's soulful, builds and Lauren Pritchard got some potency in her vocals.
"Flower" by Amos Lee (Mission Bell)
Amos Lee is a soulful folk singer-songwriter who deserves his due. Here's a great one from his fourth album, Mission Bell .
"Burn the Bridge" by Jesse Malin (Live It to Life)
Just had dinner with Jesse Malin right before Paul Weller's show at the former CBGB space (which could be a top 10 performance for me). Anyway, Jesse is a great guttural NYC rocker and here he just nails a quintessential rebellious adolescent tune.
Some blue-eyed soul:
"I Believe" by Jai (Heaven)
Jai (Jason Rowe) came and went with one great record called Heaven. That album begins with this track, and also including a great cover of the JJ Cole song "Magnolia." Somebody let me know where this guy went.
"Happiness" by Jonathan Jeremiah (A Solitary Man)
Jonathan Jeremiah was a discovery from Pandora and Q reviews, this song is irresistible.
"Holdin' on Together" by Phoenix (Alphabetical)
Phoenix have some real gems on their early records -- this is one of them off the Alphabetical record.
"Free" by Graffiti6 (Colours)
This song shoulda been a hit this year. Graffiti6 are a new British band with great songs and a new vibey soul mix. Make it happen Wanda!
Van Toffler is President of MTV’s Music & Logo Group. He’s a fan of sugary cereal, a good tequila and watching TV late at night, without the audio.
Listen to a playlist of tracks from this week's column, below: