What unknown musical artist would you like to share with your fellow audiophiles?


When it comes to music, about half of my friends are "collectors" and the other half are true audiophiles. It seems the collectors are so obsessed with the size of their collections, that they leave no room in their budget for quality audio equipment. I think the audiophiles, with their focus on quality over quantity, are the ones with their priorities straight. So, unless you are on an unlimited budget, I'm guessing that audiophiles are more selective in their musical purchases. That being the case, I'm curious about what "buried treasures" have you been able to find? Thanks for responding and I look forward to discovering some good music, based on your suggestions.

I'll lead off with the band Crack The Sky, most notably their first two albums: "Crack The Sky" (1975) and "Animal Notes" (1976). I would describe them as a cross between Be Bop Deluxe and Frank Zappa. Their music is unique and totally unmistakable with anyone else. Choice cuts from the debut album are: "Ice;" She's a Dancer;" "Mind Baby" & "Sleep." Choice cuts from Animal Notes are: "Animal Skins;" "Wet Teenager;" Virgin....No" & "Maybe I Can Fool Everybody."
mitchagain
That’s pretty much where I spend my most of my time.
Brian Davison, every which way-- US Mercury is fine. Not crazy expensive for a clean copy. Sounds a lot like early Traffic. White boy blues shouter plus jazz and exotic motifs.
Blast Furnace- S/T Danish RSD copy- You won’t want to spend the money for an original Danish pressing. Interesting mix of hard rock and almost Broadway show tune melodics.
Air-Air (Googie Coppola) on Embryo or the Be With remaster (cheaper and very close, despite digital sourcing)- a lost voice, stunning, the band was Herbie Mann’s back up band, some stellar players. If you like jazz rock of the old style with a really good female voice, this is one such record.
To name a small handful.
Lately, I’ve been spending time in the spiritual jazz space, but the price of original pressings has skyrocketed. Some of the Strata-East catalog has been reissued by Pure Pleasure and makes the records more accessible; some of the more obscure stuff, like Lloyd McNeill, which were issued on his own, private label, Asha (also the name of an album)-the masters are gone, the reissues are needle drops and don’t convey the same way an original pressing does.
There are a million more. It’s a fun process to discover them.
PS: I'm not sure there is a real way to characterize collectors vs audiophiles as to who holds the right priorities. I find a lot of audiophiles stay with very safe stuff that has been audiophile approved and is reissued again and again. I like to play outside the sandbox a little. The trick is to find musically satisfying  or interesting (to you) material that hasn't been done to death and also sounds good. I'll often down tick a little on sonics out of musical interest or variety. I grew up in the 'audiophile' community and eventually found that very limiting in terms of musical choice. I like to encourage people to get out of the "rut" and play whatever the XXXX they like: proto-metal, reggae, fusion, hard prog, early stoner rock. Whatever. Turns. You. On. 
Duncan Browne - The Wild Places, Streets Of Fire, Songs Of Love And War

The Tear Garden (band formed by Skinny Puppy's cEvin Key and Legendary Pink Dots' Edward Ka-Spel)

Hybrid - Wide Angle
Although 90% of the time I listen to jazz these days, my interests remain quite diverse.  I recently discovered the Japanese psychedelic rock band Kikagaku Moyo that I've been listening quite a bit lately.  They blend rock, psych, prog, and shoegaze together nicely with their eastern influence.  I think they only have 4 studio albums but it's pretty cool stuff.

By the way @mitchagain, I recall Crack the Sky well!  Growing up in Maryland in the 70s and 80s they were a local fav for sure.

One man’s unknown artist is another’s very well known one. Audiogon members are unusually aware of cult-level artists, unheard of by the great unwashed.

But I must take issue with your opening premise @mitchagain, that audiophile’s "are the ones with their priorities straight". I was a music lover long before an audiophile, and my hi-fi is nothing more than a conduit to the music I love. Excellent sound is nice, but the music comes first. A fair percentage of my favorite music is of marginal sound quality; I’m not going to not listen to it because of that.

"Audiophiles are more selective in their musical purchases"? Because their systems are better than non-audiophiles, they are more selective? In terms of sound quality, sure. But I know a lot of non-audiophiles whose musical tastes are at least as "selective" as that of many audiophiles, if not more so. Ah, the audiophile bubble!

@bdp24   Well put!
Ted Russell Kamp. An example of his music, which is mostly in the country, Southern rock, and Americana genres:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nvUoT0HnPM

One wouldn’t necessarily guess from his music that he grew up in an affluent suburb of New York City.

Regards,
-- Al

My meaning of being "selective" when it comes to music is purely about your personal music budget. We all have our own ideas on what the proper balance is between our equipment budget versus our music budget. 

Having been a former "collector" myself, I got cured from that because I was tired of the "comepletist syndrome." Once cured from that, I had more to budget towards the equipment, which I think is almost as important as the music (because it enhances the musical experience).

I realize that audiophiles are often stereotyped as being elitist or narrow minded; so, I'm hoping that some of these posts about your rare musical finds will prove that theory to be wrong.
I'm not really sure how "rare" these are but a few gems come to mind:

Clem Snide
Forest For The Trees
The White Fronts
Disco Biscuits
moe. 
Jason Molina
Kiln
LOW
Bardo Pond

All of the above are different variations of "rock-type" bands. I'm travelling this week so I'm not able to reference my collection. If this is what you're looking for, I'll add some more next week. 


@ Three_Easy_Payments

Thanks for the Kikagaku Moyo suggestion. I listened to their latest release "Masana Temples" and it was very interesting. I'll certainly check out the rest of their stuff.

Since you're a Crack The Sky fan, do you know about the double live acoustic release of theirs called "For Catherine?" It is essentially a band sanctioned bootleg of a show that they did in 2008 to raise money for a cystic fibrosis charity. It's an excellent recording with a great set list! 
@mitchagain  I had no idea Crack The Sky had been playing at all recently in the last decade but after googling now I see they've been active and even putting out new albums in 2018.  That's crazy.  I haven't lived in the Balto area for over 25 years but before leaving I recall going to see Carey Ziegler (occasional CTS bass player in the 80s) playing several times in tiny venues with Paul Reed Smith (of Annapolis guitar maker fame) in a fun side project (really just fun) called Band of a Thousand Names.  

Glad you found Kikagaku Moyo interesting!  I'm always on the hunt for an original sound.

Folk 

  • Bill Staines
  • Good starting points - 1) The First Million Miles and 2) The Second Million Miles

Country & Western

  • Whitney Rose
  • Good starting point - 1) Whitney Rose 

1970's Rock - Psychedelic & otherwise

  • White Witch

As for collector vs audiophile ... I am both ... guilty as charged.

Curious as to why categorizing myself would matter.


Rich 
@rar1 

Rich, I'm not interesting in categorizing anything or anybody. All I did was report on the people that I know.

The purpose of my post was for two reasons:

1) I've been very disappointed with the current music of the 21st century. I can count the number of newer artists on both hands that I've bought more than 1 album or CD of theirs. So, I was interested in how many responses mentioned current music versus music from the 20th century.

2) Knowing that most of us are on some kind of budget, I was wondering how that affects our ability to uncover unknown or at least fairly obscure music. After all, life tends to be a numbers game; so, if your budget is limited, one would think that would limit your opportunities to uncover buried treasure. Although I must admit, because the internet basically makes the whole world your record store, perhaps that's enough to offset any perceived budget issues. The internet surely allows us to now be more "selective" in our musical purchases. 
The Autumn Defense...a side band led by John Stirrat and Pat Sansone of Wilco, with drummer "G-Wiz" Greg Wieczorek also in Norah Jones' band and bassist James Haggerty. If you like Simon & Garfunkel, CSN and Big Star, check them out. I'd start with "Circles". Cheers,
Spencer
@Three_Easy_Payments:

The live acoustic CD is not available on the band's website. I found it when I looked up a live clip of "Ice" on YouTube. As far as I know, this is the only clip that was filmed from this show, which was in someone's basement with 50 people in attendance.

Scroll thru the comments and you'll see a web address to contact a guy named Markus to purchase the CD. Turns out he is the guy who mixed and mastered the CD. The double CD is only $20, including shipping. 
If music doesn’t come first, there’s simply no point in pursuing this so-called audiophile hobby. At least that’s my POV.

Music first, sound quality second. Always.
Jazz fans should take a listen to anything by Oded Tzur (available on youtube)
@Three_Easy_Payments

Check out a British band called I Am Kloot. They're a mixture of styles/genres (like Kikagaku Moyo), but with a heavy emphasis on lounge jazz. 

Their first two albums are the best ("Natural History" & "I Am Kloot"); but, there are gems to be had on their other releases too.
I agree with bdp24 in regard to being a music lover and an audiophile. Being an audiophile puts icing on the cake but the cake is the music. I have enjoyed and been moved by music coming out of the crudest devices since I can remember.

My unknown artist du jour is rapidly becoming 'known'. A band called The Struts out of England. Modern take on glam rock. Maybe glam pop is a better term.  Hard touring, hard working band. Saw them live. Loads of fun. No single member is any sort of musical genius but the front man is one of these types that owns the stage and the crowd. Sadly, production quality of CDs is rather poor. But this isn't the type of band you sit and listen to with a martini in your hand.
@n80                                                                                                          Thanks for tip tip on The Struts. I've recently started hearing some buzz about them, so I'll need to check them out. 

Your description reminds me of a band that I caught at SXSW two years ago called Low Cut Connie. They're like the J Geils Band crossed with Jerry Lee Lewis, with a very charismatic front man. There's no sitting still at their shows!
Not unknown but not very well known.
Nils Petter Molvaer - Live&direct. On youtube.
Elend - The Umbersun. CD.
Sussan Deyhim - Madman of God. CD.
I’m not an audiophile, just a music lover, But can suggest Toshiko Akiyoshi (formerly married to Charlie Mariano and then known as Toshiko Mariano).

Great unsung jazz artist in both modern big band and small ensemble work. There is an extremely elegant and forward looking quality to her work without sacrificing tension or texture
She isn't new or unknown is some circles but Sue Richards isn't a name familiar around this forum. If you like traditional Celtic music give her a try. I like Her CD Grey Eyed Morn.
I'm going to throw Dead Can Dance out there. It seems so few people are familiar with their stuff. It's very unusual stuff. I'm not really sure how to classify it. Their most recent album is worth a serious listen. 
kosst +1 for Dead Can Dance

A few more worth mentioning:
The Magnetic Fields
Future Bible Hero's 
Lambchop
Sparklehorse
Eels
John Vanderslice
Spiritualized
Bowerbirds
"Living with the Animals" by "Mother Earth" with Tracey Nelson as lead singer circa 1968. Parts of this long out-of-print album have appeared on Tidal. Powell St. John (a sometime member of the 13th Floor Elevators, an important proto-psychedelic rock group from Austin, Tx) was also a member.
"On the Shore" by the British psychedelic folk-rock group "Trees" is interesting as is the classic cover art by Hipgnosis (circa 1970). This album is also out-of-print but some vinyl copies are/were available at Acoustic Sounds.
I have an enduring weakness for "The Loading Zone" (available originally as an RCA vinyl pressing of dubious sonic merit: out-of-print now), the "house band" at the Fillmore. Linda Tillery (now a gospel singer) could really belt out the cover songs.
I’m new to Audiogon and this is my first post! Just getting into Hi-Fi and have been doing a lot of lurking and trying to learn.

There is a Chicago Guitarist named Joel Paterson that all audiophiles should check out. He released a Christmas album last year titled “Hi-Fi Christmas Guitar.”  It’s available on CD and vinyl (although I think all the vinyl is currently sold out), and can be streamed on Tidal, etc.  Joel has terrific tone and the whole album is very enjoyable.  If you are feeling in the holiday mood definitely give this one a listen.

@mitchagain  Thanks for recommendation.  About to check out I Am Kloot!  Always looking for new stuff.

I hesitate suggesting any artist, as someone here is bound to have heard of him or her, some even having actually heard his or her music. For instance, some have never even heard of Dave Edmunds, others are very aware of him (and his band with Nick Lowe, Rockpile). Same with NRBQ, and lots of other great bands.

But I feel safe in recommending a few:

- Van Dyke Parks. Brian Wilsons' collaborator (lyrics) on the ill-fated Smile album, his first album Song Cycle is like nothing else you have ever heard. Not Rock, not even Pop, it is indescribable. Not for dummies ;-) .

- Iris Dement. Not for those who have a low tolerance for Bluegrass or Hard Country, she is held in very high esteem by her contemporaries Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Joan Osborne, and many others.

- Julianna Raye. She hasn't made an album in many years, but her Jeff Lynne-produced Something Peculiar is fantastic.

Dead Can Dance unknown ? Even Eskimo know them.
@kacomess- On the Shore is a very good record. It fits in with some of the other early 'freak folk' including Comus, First Utterance and Mellow Candle’s Swaddling Songs. Meg Baird, who is prolific, had a group of out Philly called Espers- also in the same vein, but more recent psych-folk. The vinyl is out of print as far as I know, but The Weed Tree is an especially good album. 
@bdp24 - "hard country' used to be called "country" until the advent of 'modern' country, which is really '70s rock, re-hashed. Kind of like undecaffeinated coffee. :)

Exactly @whart. Modern "Country" became big business with that ass hat Garth Brooks, but is even worse now. How disgusting are Rascal Flatts? There’s a couple hundred phony Country acts now, one worse than the next. Johnny, Merle, Buck, and Hank are puking in their graves.

Oh, and for you young fellers who haven't heard (or even heard of) Dave Edmunds, do yourself a huge favor and pick up his Get It album. You will hear Rock 'n' Roll performed as Keith Richards wished he was capable of. Chuck Berry guitar, Everly Brothers harmonies, and Sun Records production. 100 proof, Grade A, All American Rock 'n Roll, baby. His 1970's and 80's albums (and productions of other artists) are absolutely essential listening.

I’ve worked with many astonishing musicians I otherwise would never have heard of (live sound mixing, not booking the artists), and one worth mentioning is a fave, Anais Mitchell...did some shows with her over the years and recently saw her again simply as an audience member (just like you!) and was blown away...again...a beautiful singer songwriter who is about to become actually famous when her musical "Hadestown" hits Broadway in April.

A note about Dave Edmonds...I thought Rockpile was a great thing and he's a prolific producer also, but somewhere in the late 60s I heard an album of this burning blues stuff from a band called Love Sculpture, and I was amazed to later find out it was Edmonds playing guitar. A monster musician.

Yeah wolf, Edmunds made two Love Sculpture albums, one sort of Progressive, one pure Blues, like Peter Greens’ Fleetwood Mac. But it was when he went solo that he really found his forte. His hit single of Smiley Lewis’ "I Hear You Knocking" in 1970 (on his debut album, ironically entitled Rockpile) provided him with the $ to invest in Rockfield Studios in Wales, where he spent the next few years teaching himself how to recreate the sound of both the Sun Records Rockabilly he loved, and the Phil Spector Wall Of Sound he used on his second album, Subtle As A Flying Mallet. My all-time favorite Rock ’n’ Roll guitarist/singer/producer.

Speaking of under-acknowledged guitarists, Danny Gatton is as great a player as the world has ever heard. Vince Gill, himself a fine guitarist, nicknamed him The Humbler. A Telecaster master.

I think that when we talk about new or different or 'unknown' those terms are relative. Probably not many quality recorded acts that no one here will have never heard of. But there will be lots of those that not many of us have heard of.

I mentioned The Struts. They've been on the late night shows and were sort of the anchor act for the Victoria Secret Fashion show recently. So hardly unknown and they've been touring for 4 years. Still, a lot of folks here probably haven't heard of them.

One of my favorite and much lesser known acts is the Teskey Brothers. Heard of them here on Audiogon. If you like R&B in the vein of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, etc, you'll like these white kids from Australia. Good stuff. I emailed their agent a few weeks ago and they will be touring the US this summer.
For the Dead Can Dance fans:

You might want to check out Volume 1 of the KCRW "Rare On Air" series of CD's, as it contains Brendan Perry doing a great acoustic version of "The Captive Heart."

Some other highlights from these series are:

Volume 2 contains Lloyd Cole's stunning cover of Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat;" and, this is one of the only recorded versions that you'll find of this song.

Volume 3 has a haunting version of "She's Gone" by The Tindersticks.

Volume 4 has a very good version of "So Real" by Jeff Buckley.
I've worked with 2 current Telecaster geniuses, Julian Lage and Jim Campilongo, neither of whom are well known really except to anybody who has heard them play. Lage turned to Telecasters after years with hollow bodied jazz boxes and acoustic guitars being his thing, and now with his trio and the most recent Nels Cline "Currents, Constellations" album (mind blowing) he's soaring out there. His two trio albums are pure magic. Just saw his trio at Berklee and he's simply amazing for both his beautiful technique and songwriting, and really among the best. I've been a fan of Campilongo since the "Little Willys" Nora Jones thing and saw his trio the first time at the now defunct Living Room in NYC. Did a show with him later in CT and man...there's a mind blowing Tele player right there, with an astonishing command of the thing...above the nut harmonic bends galore. Brilliant.
Wayne Stewart and Friends title  Aspen Skyline

Although we have an international music scene, there are still many artists that don't seem to cross the pond. There are many US artists here that are new to me, so here are a couple of UK artists that might be new to you.

John Martyn, a great Singer Songwriter, Folk Rock artist, who died too young, another victim of drink and drugs.

 "Solid Air" is one of my all time favourites, or "The Apprentice", or anything

Kate Rusby, a great Yorkshire folk singer,

 Again you could buy anything, but "10",  "Sleepless", "Underneath the Stars", are all wonderful.

Thanks for all the suggestions


@bdp24 

Since you like Danny Gatton, you might want to check out either Duke Levine or Monte Montgomery. With Monte, you'll want to stick with his live releases: a) Caravan of Dreams  b) Work Play or c) New & Approved.

Thanks @mitchagain. I know of Duke from his work with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, and Bill Morrissey, and I have his own Lava album on CD. Great player! As is Jim Campilongo, who is pretty well known in the Bay Area, where I grew up. Jim has worked with another Telecaster player (pretty much all my favorite guitarists play them) I like a lot, Al Anderson, formerly of NRBQ.

I myself have worked with quite a few Tele players, including Gattons’ old friend and bandmate, wildman Evan Johns. When I recorded with him (on his Moontan album), he plugged straight into a Fender blackface Super Reverb, cranked up to 10. Damn was that thing loud! His normal rig was a Deluxe Reverb, but he didn’t have it with him in Atlanta for the albums’ recording. Evan finally died of liver failure (my God did that man drink) just last year.

Another unknown group that's been around for about 20 some odd years , Small Potatoes,  they have a couple CD on tidal " Waltz of the Wallflowers" is pretty good. American folk I know not everyone's cup of tea but a fun little group to listen to. 
City Boy, Dinner at the Ritz

N
Thanks @djones51. I'll check them out just based on their "name." I've actually discovered a lot of good artists that way, with Prefab Sprout being just one example.
Thanks @bdp24 for your stories. As for Duke Levine's session work, I'll add the early Jonatha Brooke albums to your list of where I first heard Duke's playing. I just thought of another guitar player......are you familiar with Johnny A? I like him a lot; but, his use (or over use) of reverb drives one of my friends crazy.
I think you can be a collector without being an audiophile or a music lover. Collecting often takes on its own reason to exist. What is collected can become secondary to the collecting or the collection.

I think you can be an audiophile without being a collector or a music lover. Equipment can get to be the focus or a certain effect like sound stage or holography can become more important to the music.

I think you can be a music lover without being an audiophile or a collector and just enjoy music when and where you find it.

I think being a music lover and an audiophile opens a lot of avenues for enjoyment and appreciation. Add collector to those two and those avenues can become broader or even narrower depending on the impulse to collect.

I’m a music lover first, audiophile second, collector is way down the line even though that impulse might be latent.

I also agree about 21st century music. Especially rock. I know you can find decent stuff if you spend the time and do the legwork. But in years past there was a lot, and I mean a lot, of good stuff right there in your face. I struggle to find new bands that give me any hope for rock and roll. That’s one of the reasons I like The Struts so much. In the same way the Teskey Brother give me hope for the bluesier R&B scene which is pretty stagnant too.

One of the things I like about both of these bands is that even though they are retro, it isn't kitchy or cheesy. They love the older music and are putting their hearts into it. They aren't just cover acts trying to be someone else. They are using the old flavors but making their own dish.
Tash Sultana - New album Flow State released in Sept 2018. Maybe Jimi Hendrix reincarnated.
A great Canadian group that is under the radar in the USA is The Tragically Hip. Lead singer recently died of cancer and the group is no more but check out the first 4 releases. They are the easiest to get into. The newer stuff is also very good but I do love the first few.

Up to Here
Road Apples
Fully Completely
Day for Night


One way I am discovering music is via ROON (or maybe Tidal). I am getting artists added to my virtual library based on the music I have played. I am now starting to appreciate this feature. I know a lot of people complain about this feature because it clutters up their library but I don't mind having to wade through unknown artists on my virtual library.
How about Gary Clark, Jr? He's been around a little while but you won't hear him on many radio stations. 

Very hard to put him in a box. Amazing Hendrix like rock guitarist and on his debut album Blak & Blu there are a couple of very hard rocking songs and a remake of Henrdrix' Third Stone from the Sun which will pin your ears back. But on the same album he has smooth R&B and even a tinge of hip hop. His second album has less hard rock sound but more blues to it. His acoustic song "Church" is stunning in its soulfullness, sadness, and simplicity.

https://youtu.be/FgbUcJA6ivE
+1 for "The Tragically Hip"

Another interesting band (one I'm listening to right now) is "The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy"