March and April have been chock full of great new songs, so my feature “10/10” returns for a 25th edition! In “10/10”, I write about 10 hot and fresh songs in no particular order, for your kind consideration and attention. I continue to write individual blog posts about certain songs. That does not mean that songs in the “10/10” lists are any less than those featured individually. So you get to learn about more new music that I hear but I wouldn’t otherwise get to write about. Songs often end up on my personal chart, the BILLCS Top 30, or receive airplay on one of the many affiliate online radio stations that are learning about my blog choices and finding them good fits for radio shows such as “Your Weekend New Music Mix” or “The Big 20”!
- OLIVER SIM, “Romance with a Memory”
Until I saw the video, all I could think about was how splendidly Prince-influenced “Romance with a Memory” sounds, as recorded by The xx bassist and vocalist Oliver Sim. It’s an unconventional song musically and lyrically, and perhaps not what The xx fans might expect. Oliver has a marvelous voice to be now front and centre, and the deeper vocal touches near the end provide an interesting contrast. The video features “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Dragula” performers Charity Kase, HoSo Terra Toma, and Gena Marvin decked out in a variety of odd outfits performing to the song. And as a solo artist, Oliver Sim is one to keep a close ear on.
- HUGEL & LOVRA, “Madonna”
“Madonna” is a fun track that I heard while watching French producer Hugel spin a set during Miami Music Week. In collaboration with female German producer Lovra, “Madonna” is a scrappy, manic dance track that will have prospective dancers moving within about 20 seconds. There isn’t much to it lyrically, with a sneering, edgy vocal that will grab you as being a little out of the ordinary for this kind of record. All in all “Madonna” is loads of high energy fun that will rev up a set.
- JAK LIZARD, FATHERDUDE & JULIA ZIVIC, “Ride Home”
Home is where the heart is, and NYC’s Jak Lizard knows that in spades as he expresses in his new single “Ride Home”. The first artist it reminded me of is Arrested Development, the now seldom-heard Grammy-winning 90’s R&B group who for a while dominated with their unique, often chill spin on life with songs like “Tennessee”. “Ride Home” is similarly easy going, with delightful features from Julia Zivic and go-to guy Fatherdude. Jak Lizard’s influences are rooted in classic R&B like Sly & The Family Stone, and the welcoming groove and lyrics of their music is felt in “Ride Home” too. If you’re looking for a classy soulful spin on pop/R&B, then look no further.
- A.J. SMITH, “Nobody”
While in Miami last month, I heard one of A.J. Smith’s earlier songs “Misfits” while having lunch at a cool cafe I found on a previous visit, so I decided to check out more of his songs. This is one of those happy cases where I’m glad I did, otherwise I wouldn’t have heard the delightful whimsy in “Nobody” or got to see his clearly “Bridgerton”-inspired video. It turns out A.J. is New York-based, hailing originally from Denver, who can play 10 instruments and has a Master’s Degree in songwriting from NYU. Like many others with the passion to create perform, he has chosen the artist path, which so far has led him to open up for the likes of The Eagles and Lindsey Stirling, and to perform off-Broadway too. “Nobody” is an inspiring song for the underdogs of the world, and the twists and turns of events in the video provide a surprising and satisfying finale.
- BLACK SANDS and ISADORA, “Deserve”
American electronic producer Black Sands returns with a refreshing pop and R&B mix in the form of “Deserve”, featuring Australian R&B singer Isadora. While Black Sands – aka Andrew Balfour – put a nice spin on The Weeknd’s soulfulness in last year’s “Used To It” (featuring Weeknd soundalike Martino) – “Deserve” is brighter and more playful, and harkens back to Ariana Grande’s duet with The Weeknd on “Love Me Harder”. But lyrically, Black Sands is in a different place, wanting to embrace dark and light, with a swaying rhythm intended to move like the ebb and flow of the sea. So “Deserve” will keep you listening with a bang-on vocal by Isadora and some slick harmonies.
- STUCKER, “Exhale”
“Exhale” is hard alternative rock from Stucker, a new five piece band hailing from Belgium. Their influences range from Arctic Monkeys to Queens of the Stone Age, so you’re in for some jagged, tight guitar-filled music with an angst-ridden vocal that doesn’t let up, that sometimes reminds me of Canada’s Billy Talent. So just when you might think the song sounds a little ordinary, the band members switch things up lyrically or musically to sustain your interest. Stucker is a band determined to bring the flavours of 90’s alternative rock back to the forefront, and hey with Nirvana’s “Something In The Way” getting new life through “The Batman” movie and even an Illenium remix, their approach may be timely. “Exhale” will help keep you rocking.
- LISA WRIGHT, “Ready Now”
“Ready Now” is powered by an excellent vocal by its singer/songwriter, Essex-born Lisa Wright. Her commanding, vulnerable presence on this song could easily hush a room, so it’s no wonder the BBC are supporting her as an emerging British talent. Lisa has a voice that could sing any kind of song, and though she indicates she is influenced by the likes of Carole King and Alison Krauss, I’ll bet she could handle a traditional country song, a Broadway ballad, or a sultry soul number with ease. The song is about getting up the courage to fall in love again, and your ears will be glued to it as Lisa’s story unfolds.
- NIVIRO and HARLEY BIRD, “The Edge”
Give me a well-done early 2010’s-influenced melodic house track, and I’m a happy camper! Belgian dance producer Niviro and L.A. vocalist Harley Bird team up for “The Edge”, which has early Avicii and Hardwell to thank, adding some equally punchy, energetic rhythms which are saturated in exuberant, splashy synths. You heard Harley Bird recently on his song with Jay Bird and TWSTD ZOO’s called “Float”, which got to #3 on my personal chart. “The Edge” is a different but equally suitable setting for his voice as Niviro also twists and alters it to great effect. Add a compelling and cathartic story about finding yourself standing at the edge of something critical in life, and you’ll find plenty to enjoy in “The Edge”.
- LUCY WROE, “Same World”
“Same World” is the title song from an EP by new London singer/songwriter Lucy Wroe. It’s classic R&B-influenced upbeat pop that goes down as easily as you might take in songs by Jessie Ware and YEBBA. “Same World” is buoyed by an insistent guitar hook, and the sparse but tight arrangement gives plenty of room to showcase Lucy’s sparkling vocal. “Same World” also has a refreshing theme of the wonder of a new relationship as it’s starting out, a break away in general from many songs about them falling apart.
- CHARLES B & JUSTMYLØRD, “Losing My Mind”
“Losing My Mind” is a percolating slice of deep house from French producers Charles B and Justmylørd. Both gents have already received support from the best producers in the biz and have released on most of the prominent dance labels – Spinnin’, Revealed, and more. “Losing My Mind” is an intense song for late nights led by an uncredited female vocal, and when the beat kicks in you can just picture all of those flashing lights on the dance floor. It’s polished songs like “Losing My Mind” that could easily help producers like Charles B and Justmylørd to another level of international recognition.
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