Been a minute since my last Underappreciated. My bad, I suck, here it goes.
Write me, tell me what you hate or like, or what gems I might be missing at email@example.com. And more importantly: if you like any of these artists, show them some love.
“Sweet Life” by Frank Ocean (Channel Orange)
The song I actually wanted him to perform on the VMAs, but fortunately he disagreed and was right going intimate with “Thinkin’ Bout You.” Still, “Sweet Life,” produced by Pharrell Williams, would really fit alongside a Marvin Gaye album from the ’70s — just a great soul groove with Frank’s killer voice.
“Happy” by Laura Reed (Live at Tree Sound Studios)
A soulful simple take on being happy from somewhere down in the Bayou. Love this song, can’t really find out much about Reed or her latest work (please send me info if you have it), but this one is fun.
“Everything All the Time” by the Dreaming Spires (Everything All the Time) Good Kooks-like romp from this brand new band about high expectations of wanting everything all the time. Why the hell not, gotta shoot for something.
“Glad & Sorry” by Golden Smog (Down by the Old Mainstream)
Members of Soul Asylum and Jayhawks got together for a guitar-driven rocker taking the best of both (Dave Pyrner solo stuff to follow on a subsequent Underappreciated list). Emotional ups and downs — this one will start your day with some nice mood elevation.
“Your Eyes” by Allen Stone (Allen Stone)
There’s a new nerdy soul movement and this guy will be around for a while. Think of him as the male Joss Stone, plus this recently released album is really solid, front to back.
“1972” by Josh Rouse (1972)
Arguably the most underappreciated modern troubadour singer-songwriter on the road today. Great guy, great songs, killer melodies and lyrics. Start here and then go to Under Cold Blue Stars.
“James” by Huffamoose (We’ve Been Had Again)
Really nothing better than a great story set to music. This is one about coming to terms with your adolescent dreams — which I hope I never do. The lyrics get me every time, because “James is a freedom fighter who sees the world through a rainbow.”
“Even Further Behind” by Dave Derby (Even Further Behind)
A perfect straight up pop song, which is easier said than done. Thanks to my old-school friend-Hal for passing this one on.
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.