Baton Rouge’s @HunterPlake is my underdog – well not anymore – with his cover of @Sia’s “Elastic Heart” on Season 12 of @NBCTheVoice

HUNTER PLAKE, “Elastic Heart”

It doesn’t happen on every season of “The Voice” but I often select a performer who is an underdog that I root for – and sometimes they stick around.  Despite top notch performances which got him through the Battle Rounds (and stolen by Gwen Stefani from Alicia Keys), I was worried when I heard that 20 year old newlywed Hunter was performing Sia’s massively difficult “Elastic Heart” for the live show, which is when teams get cut from six to three members.  But in an extremely clever move, the arrangement for “Elastic Heart” was stripped down, which allowed Hunter’s gorgeous voice to flourish to heightened emotions even though his version could have probably used some better articulation in spots.  Nonetheless it established a distinct sound that none of the other contestants – or any in recent memory – possess.  Now Hunter is in the Top 12 – underdog no more – and has an excellent chance at finishing in the Top 4.  And people are buying his songs on iTunes even before the Top 12 shows, which is amazing! Check out the performance of “Elastic Heart” – totally melt-worthy 🙂

Published in: on April 23, 2017 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Secrets” is another winner for New Haven duo @Opiaofficial with “Secrets” featuring @SamFischermusic

OPIA featuring SAM FISCHER, “Secrets”

In their short career thus far, New Haven duo Opia have a way of tantalizing the listener with rich and vibrant vocals set to songs that seem to tell a story rather than stitched together lyrics for lyrics’ sake.  Their track record so far is pretty impeccable with less beat-heavy electronica:  “Falling”, “Chasing Shadows” and “YDU”, not to mention a joint duo effort with RKCB for “Always”.  Again enriching their vocals they’ve brought in Sam Fischer for the fun on “Secrets”.  This one is a winner rhythmically as much as it is vocally.  Its production is lush and dazzling, changing it up musically and vocally throughout, which would make it sound even more impressive in concert. Keep your ears tuned for Opia throughout 2017 – even better you can catch them on a limited tour with Marian Hill in select cities through June.

Published in: on April 23, 2017 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Classic dance update: @Tiesto’s “Just Be” gets a @Dzekomusic redux

TIËSTO, “Just Be” (Dzeko remix)

It may be a touch daring to update songs that are revered by a lot of dance music fans, but that’s sometimes what makes a remix stand on its own.  Such is the case with 2004’s “Just Be” by Tiësto from the classic album of the same name, also known for including “Love Comes Again” (with BT) and “Adagio For Strings”.  Toronto’s Julian Dzeko is definitely in the good books with Tiësto, so he took some license with the remix.  I like the update overall with its future bass drops and breaks, so it can slide into a set easily and catch folks off guard, though I miss many of the experimental elements of the original.  Kirsty Hawkshaw’s dreamy vocal is intact though of course much is edited out for such a short remix.  All-in-all, with Dzeko & Torres and their distinctive sound on hiatus, a representation of good things to come from Dzeko solo. 

Published in: on April 23, 2017 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Dear Ana” (featuring @JaiWolfx) recounts @MatthewKoma’s battle with an eating disorder

MATTHEW KOMA featuring JAI WOLF, “Dear Ana”

We would never have known looking back five years ago that Matthew Koma, a rocker and songwriter who became a new and perhaps reluctant go-to-voice of dance/EDM music on songs by the likes of Tiësto, Zedd, Alesso, Giorgio Moroder and others, had or would develop an eating disorder that became hidden under his sudden celebrity.  But he was smart, got help before it was too late, and turned it all around, and now, with assistance from the much praised Jai Wolf, has released a song about his battle called “Dear Ana”.  And whether it’s about anorexia or some other ‘ana’ condition/dependency, “Dear Ana” is here to try and also help others.  It’s an atypical, softer Matthew Koma song for this reason and the poignant lyrics, which any listener will appreciate even without the context, definitely drive it home.  Congratulations Matthew, YOU win 🙂

Published in: on April 23, 2017 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Check out @Cazztek’s playful remix of “Hit The Road Jack” by @Throttle

THROTTLE, “Hit The Road Jack” (Cazztek remix)

It’s been hovering under the radar for a few months but Aussie producer/DJ Throttle’s electro-swing cover of Ray Charles’ classic “Hit The Road Jack” gets a playful spin from new and mysterious producer Cazztek (very little available online about this remixer!).  While Throttle’s original mix focused on the mighty soulful uncredited vocal by American singer Jordan Landers,  Cazztek’s remix takes Throttle’s eagerness to entertain sideways with a contemporary bounce and a drop/break that sounds like it could have been borrowed from a Ray Charles concert album, which gives it a reverent old school vibe.  Too good for club DJ’s to pass by, Cazztek’s remix could allow the song to get more notice worldwide.  Listen at the link above but you may find that subconscious boogieing takes over 🙂

Dallas’ @NorthernNatl makes a radio-worthy splash with “MoneyBlind”

NORTHERN NATIONAL, “MoneyBlind”

In a collaborative effort between all five band members, Dallas’ Northern National return not long after the release of their EP The New Age with “MoneyBlind”.  This particular song strays somewhat from the group’s image as resolute rockers who have acquired a loyal concert following in the southern US.  “MoneyBlind” shifts focus to a more pop flavoured sound with enough rocking edges to keep fans happy.  Like their many of their past songs and particularly “Love Is Fire”, “MoneyBlind” is led by a strong, urgent vocal that could call it to the attention of pop or mainstream rock radio.  Give it a listen at the link above and pick it up at your favourite digital store.

Published in: on April 23, 2017 at 5:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Double your @musicbyBrooks pleasure with pairings with @Martin Garrix “Byte” and @Showtek “On Our Own” feat. @itsNatalieMajor

MARTIN GARRIX & BROOKS, “Byte”

SHOWTEK & BROOKS featuring NATALIE MAJOR, “On Our Own”

It looks like Dutch producer Brooks (aka Thijs Westbroek) is having simultaneous breakout moments paired in two heavy-hitting releases, the instrumental “Byte” with fellow countryman Martin Garrix, and “On Our Own”, and returning in a collaboration with Showtek with a slick vocal by Natalie Major.  While Brooks has worked with people like Bassjackers in the past and remixed Morgan Page and David Guetta as well as both Martin and Showtek, this one-two punch should not be ignored.

It’s hard to pass up such a big song as “Byte”, with a (needlessly) flashy video (I would have much preferred seeing the two producer/DJ’s hard at work) that has had almost 8 million You Tube views already.  The song is full of huge moments which help sustain the four minute length, not the least being what sounds like a few bars of signature trappy Martin Garrix, recalling his earlier work.  “On Our Own” isn’t quite as heavy but powerful nonetheless.  Showtek has already released some interesting and varied songs thus far in 2017 and seems to be moving into a new direction with this one.  

Both songs will send club goers spinning on the dance floor and it’s great to see someone talented but less prominent like Brooks benefit from the exposure amid what is obviously a lot of hard work to make these songs happen.  Watch the video for “Byte” above, and check out “On Our Own” on Spotify at the link below.

Published in: on April 20, 2017 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New “With You” mixes it up musically for Dutch producer @OttoKnows

OTTO KNOWS, “With You”

After a sizzling recent collaboration with Lindsey Stirling and Alex Aris on “Dying For You”, Dutch producer Otto Knows is back with a new original called “With You”.  Foregoing guest appearances – you’ll recall he got Avicii for one – in favour of what got him a UK pop hit a few years back with “Million Voices”, Otto brings more live instrumentation into the mix (including harmonica, stealing a page perhaps from Avicii) and a bouncy, almost reggae-infused percussion-laced rhythm that doesn’t quite sound like anything else out there until a familiar anthemic chorus by an uncredited male vocalist comes into play.  The well-placed vocal breaks will leave club goers waiting to bounce some more, and “With You” is certainly energetic enough to cross over to pop radio.  Check it out at the Spotify link above.

Published in: on April 20, 2017 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New music from @CallMeKarizma connects again with pensive “Leave Me Alone. Sad”

CALL ME KARIZMA, “Leave Me Alone.Sad”

Minnesota’s engaging rapper and sometime singer Call Me Karizma continues to regularly bring us new songs, this time with “Leave Me Alone. Sad”.  It’s all about being trapped with conflicting emotions, questioning what many younger folks experience when trying to devote as much time to friendship and companionship, leaving less time for oneself, particularly when down or sad.  ‘Riz quickly and softly gets to his point in mainly a pretty minimal arrangement which picks up and gets a little meatier musically in the song’s last minute or so.  Few singers and songwriters can get inside the thoughts of their audiences like Call Me Karizma, which is simply why his fan base continues to grow and grow, as his recent U.S. tour has also proven.  Check out “Leave Me Alone. Sad” at the Spotify link above.

Published in: on April 20, 2017 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Let’s get it started: “P A R T Y” by @NIGHTS_official

N I G H T S, “P A R T Y”

Following up their initial slice of soulful EDM “Irreplaceable” again comes Philadelphia duo N I G H T S with “P A R T Y”, which is perhaps even better suited for the dance floor.  Like “Irreplaceable”, “P A R T Y” woos you in with its smooth vocal, alternately breathy and soulful, and then around the minute mark brings in a surprising and resolute drop which sends the song into full gear.  The house-heavy banging is fairly brief, however, in favour of showing off more of what N I G H T S has to offer vocally.  The beats do return but at just over 3:06 “P A R T Y” is begging for an extended deep house remix, where it may become more of a party launcher than simply part of the mix.  These guys are off to a fine start so soul and house music fans should check out “P A R T Y” to get a taste and download it for free at the link above.

Published in: on April 20, 2017 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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