I’m hoping that you are enjoying the updated format of the BILLCS New Music Report, which I began at the end of October, to reduce the pressure of writing every day or every other day, and to compact my reviews into a tidy, weekly showcase mainly for songs that are released independently. In 13 weeks, that has allowed me to write about over 100 songs which I put forward for your enjoyment. It’s impossible to keep up with the pace of releases, so I’m always happy when I even find a great song or two to write about that is still within 6-8 months of its release date. It’s all about discovery.
With the latest revival of older releases which I wrote about two weeks ago, the often offered insight by writers and other people in the biz that songs which were released more than two or three weeks ago are no longer up for consideration/their attention is hereby tossed into the waste bin. It’s no surprise that some independent performers are looking into their back catalogue of releases to ignite interest in songs that did not get their fair due at the time. To paraphrase the adage, “miss it once, shame on you, miss it twice, shame on me”.
In addition to the posts about individual songs, you can read about my pick of the week, along with picks from online radio buddies “Big Daddy” Russ Horton and Hunter Wilbur. “The Musicman” James Rogers has a thing about songs from 1991 – the year of the big rock ballad – this week with his Classic Five pop hits feature. Because I’m always crazy about charts and lists, you’ll see what’s #1 and the Fastest Riser on the BILLCS Top 30, and I also include a list of the songs that were #1 on my chart this week over the past 25 years – so hard to believe that Martin Garrix’s “Animals” is 9 years old!!
The BILLCS New Music Report is a work-in-progress and I welcome your suggestions so feel free to contact me @billcs on Twitter @thebillcs on Instagram or @BILLCSMusicProjects on Facebook.
PATRICK WOLF, “Enter The Day”
It was so nice to learn (thanks to Stephen Sears) of new music by London’s Patrick Wolf, his first in 11 years! The creative, unorthodox alternative pop singer/songwriter is known primarily for his albums The Magic Position (2007) and Lupercalia (2011), and their delightful songs “The Magic Position” and “The City”, both of which appeared on the BILLCS Top 30, reaching #4 and #10 respectively. “Enter The Day” is an entirely different affair though, a lyrical and thought-provoking song that extends hope to someone who is going through rough times in their life and hoping they “land in the golden mean” “where they oughta be”. Patrick gives a magnetic performance and, accordingly, the song immediately pulls you in. He’s got more music up his sleeve too. To coincide with the 20th anniversary of his debut release Lycanthropy, an EP called The Night Safari is due later this year.
BOY ARIES, “Drive”
Toronto duo Boy Aries follow up their single “Comets + The Death of Time”, which I wrote about recently, with an even more compelling song called “Drive”. The song’s about calling out someone when they’re wrong, and when apology is clearly due. Jordan Radics’ commanding, inspired vocal turns the four words “turn your car around” into a signature unto itself – and the signal to do the right thing and mend fences. The production by Chris Perry with music by Turbo Bobbi is haunting and relatable. It will transport you back in time to a similar situation where you may or may not have received an apology. Certainly, “Drive” is slow and moody, but it’s an easy, fascinating listen thanks to a standout vocal.
COBI, “All On You”
I am all for Cobi’s current era of bluesy pop and rock songs that work so well with his voice. He scales it back to acoustic guitar for “All On You” to make both his voice and the lyrics in the song positively gleam. The harmonies break up the mix from being too static. “All On You” is simply a great song and with its fine performance it doesn’t need any additional trappings to change it or make it work any better.
SURF MESA, SELAH SOL, “City Of Love”
After breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling unexpectedly with the Dance Club Play chart #1 and Hot 100 Top 30 hit “ily (i love you baby)” in 2019, Seattle’s Surf Mesa (aka 22 year old Powell Aguirre) is back with the wistful bop “City Of Love”, which follows up last year’s wild “Marching Band” with Nitti Gritti. Led by a fresh vocal from newcomer Selah Sol, who sounds like a cross between Brandyn Burnette and Brando (singer on Loud Luxury’s “Body”), “City Of Love” is about trying to escape loneliness in the big city after a relationship has ended, but the thoughts of that person won’t go away. The song has a fine house bounce to it, which will go down well at festivals. I’ve seen Surf Mesa perform a super fun set in concert. He’s got great ears for mixing and for keeping the flow going in concert, so be sure to check out his show and listen for “City Of Love” in the mix.
R3HAB, AFROJACK, “Shockwave”
“Shockwave” is one of those short (2:03) blasts of solid fun that’s destined to be a club and crowd pleaser. It slams hard from the first note and is produced in a classic electronic banger structure – that could go on a lot longer with more drops – from veterans R3HAB and Afrojack. As much as I enjoy “Shockwave”, I’d love it if they’d team up next time for something even more powerful (which each has done many times before solo) that will really get under your skin.
JAMES PATTERSON, “To A Disco”
James Patterson (aka Mr JPatt) is one half of The Knocks, hardly strangers to these blog pages or my chart over the last 10 years, and “To A Disco” is his first solo release. Anyone who has ever attended a show by The Knocks is sure to love this funky ode to disco and its related good times in the 70’s – even though the artist himself was not around for it – because that’s the spirit they embrace without any pretentions. The Knocks often use other vocalists but at other times when Mr JPatt takes the lead the results have been smashing (example, “The Key” from their album 55). Any dance music lovers who know that disco is not a dirty word will thoroughly embrace “To A Disco”.
PETER WILSON, “Simone” (Matt Pop remix) and “Gone for Good”
It’s always a pleasure when two Peter Wilson delights come to my attention, but I must say I’m remiss for not knowing about the release of the Aussie singer/songwriter’s album The Great Unknown last summer, which includes both songs. But “Simone” (above) gets a percolating Matt Pop remix, which is always a good thing, adding zest to a lovely song about losing someone, which Peter conveys so well. “Gone For Good” (below) has the benefit of being co-produced by Stock-Aitken-Waterman mixmaster extraordinaire Pete Hammond. Indeed, fans of S-A-W will be mighty pleased with its slick arrangement which incorporates familiar Italodisco elements that always suit Peter’s voice, and are particularly engaging on this track.
LORI CULLEN, BETA ONE, “Here’s Where The Story Ends”
90’s alternative music fans will know right away that “Here’s Where The Story Ends” is indeed a cover of The Sundays’ memorable 1990 release. The singer is Toronto’s Lori Cullen, who has previously been a Juno Award nominee in the jazz category. She’s supported by Canadian electronic producer Beta One (aka James de Pinho) who gives the song a modernistic backdrop. Lori’s cool tones are definitely the star, and she evokes the same appeal of Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays, which will appeal to fans of the original. The pace is a bit slower and deliberate but that does not get in the way of enjoying “Here’s Where The Story Ends” for the fine electronic pop interpretation that it is.
AXEL MANSOOR, “Frame Of Mind”
After a lot of soul searching and travelling which has taken him away from creating music over the past few years, L.A.’s Axel Mansoor is back with a snappy ditty called “Frame of Mind”. It’s a really short (2:02) ode to being positive, and enjoying how you feel while it’s happening. After his more recent, complex and deeply personal and cathartic releases, “Frame of Mind” is hopefully a taste of even more good songs to come soon. Axel has been nominated for a daytime Emmy Award, was the face of Clubhouse for 7 weeks, was a contestant on TV’s “Songland”, and has even got to #1 on the BILLCS Top 30, twice! I’m sure there’s a lot brewing behind-the-scenes that I’m confident is waiting for us to hear!
BILL’S NEW MUSIC PICK OF THE WEEK
My New Music Pick of the Week is a 5-7 minute radio segment that airs more than 20 times/week on online radio stations around the world.
Everything But The Girl’s “Nothing Left To Lose” and its cool one-take video
“BIG DADDY” RUSS HORTON’S PICK OF THE WEEK
“Pepper” by Death Cab For Cutie
HUNTER J. WILBUR’S BOP OF THE WEEK
Hunter J. Wilbur is the host of the online radio shows “Modern Hype” and “Addictive Energy” which can be heard on several online stations including Classic Hits Canada.
“Kelly Time” by Owl City, who brought us “Fireflies” back in 2009
“THE MUSICMAN” JAMES ROGERS’ CLASSIC FIVE
“The Musicman” James Rogers is the owner and host of The 3D Variety Show heard Tuesdays on Planet Radio Canada. The Classic Five is “pop music 101” of the post-Beatles era – classics you need to know! Each title is linked to a Spotify stream of the song.
BILLCS Top 30 #1 SONG
“Satisfaction” by Darin
BILLCS Top30 FASTEST RISER
“Wish On An Eyelash, Pt. 2” by Australian singer Mallrat and The Chainsmokers (19-12)
25 YEARS OF BILLCS TOP 30 #1’s
Songs that rocked my personal chart at this time during the last 25 years.
1998 ANGEL Joée
1999 LOST ONES Lauryn Hill
2000 FADED soulDecision
2001 HANGING BY A MOMENT Lifehouse
2002 COME ON DOWN Crystal Waters
2003 THE SOUND OF VIOLENCE Cassius featuring Steve Edwards
2004 MY TIME Dutch featuring Crystal Waters
2005 THE LETTER SONG Tyler Hilton
2006 THUNDER IN MY HEART AGAIN Meck featuring Leo Sayer
2007 DOCTOR BLIND Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
2008 HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE Darren Hayes
2009 YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK Jon Mclaughlin
2010 DELUSIONAL Simon Curtis
2011 GOLDEN TRAIN Penguin Prison
2012 MEMORIZE ME Rune RK & DATABOY
2013 1998 Matthew Koma
2014 ANIMALS Martin Garrix
2015 GOIN’ DOWN Deniz Koyu vs Twoloud
2016 NOTHING AT ALL Brandyn Burnette
2017 D E E P IN NY Bobby Nourmand featuring DOC & Goodmorning
2018 PINEAPPLE SKIES Miguel
2019 DJ’S GOTTA DANCE MORE A-Trak featuring Todd Terry
2020 FLAMES R3HAB, Zayn & Jungleboi
2021 GIVE IT BACK The Disco Fries & GIIANTS featuring Allison Park
2022 UNBREAKABLE TELYKast featuring Sam Gray