Spring Popervescence 2: Albums by Jamie Woon and April Smith & The Great Picture Show, and More Singles!

Popervescence is turning into a mighty strong force this Spring, for I have two terrific new albums and several fantastic singles to talk about.

April Smith & The Great Picture Show

“Songs For A Sinking Ship”

Though this record came out last year, I was fortunate enough to discover it in full on a recent trip to Nashville (more on that later), though I did know about it.  This four piece band based out of Brooklyn NY is led by feisty and powerful singer New Jersey-born April Smith.  Songs For A Sinking Ship is full of all kinds of character for its influences in music extend back nine decades.  Yup – Tin Pan Alley, big bands, Broadway, blues, rock, pop, and soul – they’re all here.  

That’s not at all to say that the record isn’t contemporary, for it is in spades.  These are story-songs for a new generation.  “Movie Loves A Screen” and “Terrible Things” (video below) are the opening songs immediately grabbing your ears with well-structured songs led by April’s commanding voice.  After that the quirky-but-it-works mix starts happening with the 40’s inspired “Drop Dead Gorgeous” and almost southern kind of retro with “Dixie Boy”.  The record is not without a ballad, but I would say “Beloved” is more of a direct descendant of Rufus Wainwright’s debut album than anything else.  Other strong songs come in the form of “What’ll I Do”, “Colors”, and “The One That Got Away”, but all in all this is a tightly crafted, well-played and jubilantly sung album that breezes by like a sunny day.

When I was in Nashville on Record Store Day, I made plans to go to a local store called Grimey’s.  Little did I know they were having bands play in their backyard until I arrived.  While I was there, April and her band launched into a set that instantly caught my attention.  And there’s a bit of a strange connection to all of this that I’ll share.  My 10 year old daughter is a competitive dancer and singer also named April Smith.  So I was able to chat with April after her set for a few minutes to tell her about this odd coincidence.  I guess some things were just meant to happen 🙂

Jamie Woon “Mirrorwriting”

UK singer 27 year old Jamie Woon is a sensation in the making.  Mirrorwriting is full of atmospheric, moody, and soulful songs that can strike you differently at any point in the day in which you play them.  I’ve already been raving about first single “Night Air” with its haunting and sparse melody as well as Jamie’s striking voice.  Second single “Lady Luck” has subtle dubstep rhythm set to an interesting story.  

But beyond the singles there is so much more to Mirrorwriting.  The album is carefully and deliberately produced and arranged.  I love the composed pauses, the chunky bass, and the simplicity of the strumming of acoustic guitar in various songs.  For music aficionados, you can go to town on the variety of inspirations because Mirrorwriting is deep and rich within the pop spectrum.  Most noteworthy are “Waterfront” (watch the video below), “Shoulda”, and “tmrw”.  I’ve often compared Jamie to my fellow countryman Justin Nozuka.  They both have old-world qualities about their voices and songs.  They both have ages-old wisdom about them in their lyrics.  But whereas Justin’s music I feel draws more from gut-wrenching emotion and old-style blues, Jamie’s music speaks old school UK R&B and soul as well as more contemporary acts like Fine Young Cannibals, Jamiroquai, and perhaps even Terence Trent D’Arby.  You cannot go wrong with Mirrorwriting.

Kyle Brylin “S&M”

I am nowhere near over the haunting and danceable “Everything I’m Missing” when our Kyle launches his own version of Rihanna’s “S&M”.  Having enjoyed Rihanna’s version immensely (#2 posting on my chart), I was very dubious as I am with just about any cover version.  But Kyle sends his version into hyper-velocity, strips the song of its campiness, making it an outright dancefloor assault.  Definitely surpasses my expectations!  Buy it on iTunes.

Elouise “The Lover’s Rumba”

(Ricardo Autobahn 12″ remix)

There’s nary a moment goes by that I can’t say enough nice things about ever-so-talented UK singer Elouise.  Last week it was her stunning cover of “Tainted Love” (now available on iTunes US (but alas not in Canada!).  This week, it’s something totally unexpected, given the singer’s dynamic flair for torch and show.  So Elouise gives us a spicy contemporary rumba in remixed version from the wonderful Ricardo Autobahn, who has retooled recent efforts by Adam Tyler and Kyle Brylin among others.  While keeping your booty plenty happy, Elouise extends her range by demolishing the dance floor with this effortless knockout.  Download it for free from her website with a subscription to her newsletter.  

Monsieur Adi “Chariot”

Regular readers of this blog know I love me a good danceable instrumental.  In recent years I can name Russ Chimes “Never Look Back” and Tiesto’s “He’s A Pirate” as favourites within the dance realm.  Outstanding producer/remixer Monsieur Adi (Ellie Goulding, Javi, Noah) is about to unleash his latest project, and to give us a taste in advance we have “Chariot” which was recently available as a free download.  It’s a fun throwback to late 70’s disco (love the robotic voices) and has a real cinematic quality to it along with an infectious if militant beat.  Can’t wait to hear more.

Native Underground “Night Vision”

And speaking of Javi, the New York singer along with house veteran Henry Maldonado as Native Underground follow up the effortless 80’s inspired “Till It Hurts” with “Night Vision”.  The song seems to draw from early 80’s UK electro more this time with alternately restrained and punchy soulful vocals by Javi.  And the keyboard hook that creeps in reminds me a lot of the strings from the classic “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by the Temptations.  Watch the video below.

Benny Benassi featuring Gary Go “Cinema”

You may know Benny Benassi’s name recently because he is featured in Chris Brown’s uncharacteristically electro hit “Beautiful People”.  But he’s actually been a major dance force for most of the last 10 years, ultimately winning a Grammy in 2008 for his remix of Public Enemy’s “Bring The Noise”.  The Italian producer/remixer is back and looking to follow in David Guetta’s steps with “Cinema”, a winning, sparkling effort from his upcoming album Electroman featuring the talents of UK singer Gary Go (whose “Wonderful” was one of my favourites of 2009).  “Cinema” is going to turn into a summer singalong.


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […]  Then at #27 you’ll find “Cinema” by Benny Benassi featuring Gary Go, which was discussed in these pages last week.  Finally, in anticipation of next week’s show in London, England with Simon Curtis and Ro […]

  2. […] the pieces begin to come together. Little did I know, my feature a few weeks back on “The Lover’s Rumba” by Elouise was the start, and I did not know the song was to be part of this project, though Miss Elouise did […]

  3. […] the pieces begin to come together. Little did I know, my feature a few weeks back on “The Lover’s Rumba” by Elouise was the start, and I did not know the song was to be part of this project, though Miss Elouise did […]

  4. […] of “The Lovers’ Rumba” by UK sensation Elouise, which I blogged about a in Spring Popervescence 2 in its Ricardo Autobahn remixed form.  While I love the remix, the short version zeroes in on […]

  5. […] to book a club tour, I would put them on the same bill as April Smith & The Great Picture Show (who I blogged about last Spring).  You can listen to Hatchet on the band’s website, and then purchase it on iTunes.  Mojo […]


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