This week’s blog post taps into the best of everything that I hear each week – piano ballads, bluesy rockers, thoughtful singer/songwriters, whimsical pop, progressive electronic dance music, and deep house bops.
You can also 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 offers a varied selection from the 1960’s in his Classic Five pop hits. Plus I recap this week’s BILLCS Top 30 new #1 and the Fastest Rising song on the chart.
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.
BENEDICT CORK, “Dream of You”
I can just hear the oohs, the aahs, the sighs and… the silence. UK singer/songwriter Benedict Cork returns with his first release since earlier this year with “Dream of You”. Fans of Adele, Sam Smith, Richard Marx, Alicia Keys, and others who craft their songs with piano in mind will simply adore “Dream of You”. Who can’t relate to this simple story of fantasizing about a lover who you may or may not seek out. Benedict provides one of his best vocals and I can just imagine “Dream of You” playing to a hushed audience where everyone has all eyes on the singer. And while Adele can drive it out of the park anytime she releases something new, there have been a number of piano ballads that have crossed my ears recently, so maybe it’s time for a mini-comeback? I don’t think anyone would mind Benedict Cork and other similarly talented artists singing more songs like ‘Dream of You”. The deepest sighs win here!
COBI, “Just My Luck”
Minnesota-born singer/songwriter Cobi consistently releases new songs, but “Just My Luck” stands out for his edgy, bluesy vocal and excellent guitar playing. In the light of recent successes of performers such as Steve Lacy, it’s great to hear Cobi reaching down deep into Led Zeppelin and Lenny Kravitz territory, which makes you hang on every note of “Just My Luck”. The audio above has great harmonies and terrific production, but watch Cobi’s studio clip of the song below, when he brings the piano up in the mix, which gives the flavour of the song some extra dimension.
THE BOY FROM THE SOUTH, “Stereotypes”
If you’re looking for your songs to be light-hearted and upbeat, but with the odd important message nestled within, then be sure to check out “Stereotypes” by Barcelona-based singer/songwriter The Boy From The South. Six singles in and he’s racked up over 3 million streams to date, which has opened doors for more things to happen in a short period of time. The Boy From The South (who you can find on Instagram) has a whimsical style that recalls UK group The Beautiful South or American singer Jason Mraz. And “Stereotypes” has an amusing video, below, but you can see that other characters in the story look at The Boy’s lead character differently when he breaks his bubble cover, which certainly provides food for thought. There’s more coming next year from a very enthused The Boy From The South and you can also check out a new single called “Welcome To The South”.
DAN AURA, “Living Room”
UK indie singer/songwriter Dan Aura reaches out to homebodies with mental health issues in “Living Room”. He sets his topic to a vibrant, uptempo beat, with a bit of encouragement to confront the issues. His analogy to not being able to leave one’s home is that you become part of the living room furniture. In the pandemic, many of us felt that way. But it’s not a temporary thing for people who either don’t like going out or don’t like socializing. Dan wants to tap into that inner voice that says to go out and make it a more regular thing. He’s got a gentle, appealing vocal that sometimes will remind you of Troye Sivan, and at other times perhaps Ed Sheeran. But with “Living Room” he’s on the right track as a thoughtful singer/songwriter from whom you’ll want to hear more.
BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT, “I Don’t Know What I’m Gonna Do”
“I Don’t Know What I’m Gonna Do” is the latest release for NYC-based, Wales-born Bright Light Bright Light, who has been featured numerous times in this blog over the last 10+ years. After celebrating the 10 year anniversary of his album Make Me Believe In Hope and subsequent related releases, “I Don’t Know What I’m Gonna Do” has BLx2 waxing his eloquent melodies to lyrics about what sounds like a devastating breakup. If you’ve ever been in that situation, you’ll find that song is honest, heartfelt and direct, and particularly beautifully sung, a nice combination of everything that we’ve grown to expect from a BLx2 release. I’m sure it’s a stalwart introduction to BLx2 mach 2023, and we can look forward to much more.
NGHTMRE, ZED’S DEAD, TORI LEVETT, “Shady Intentions”
A similar theme that started with the animated video for “Fall Into Me” continues with “Shady Intentions” from NGHTMRE’s DRMVRSE album. The song is in collaboration with Canadian progressive electronic group Zed’s Dead and vocalist Tori Levett, and digs more into what’s happening behind the scenes that led to this video and the other recent one for “Fear & Love”. And as is common in sci-fi themes, a corporate entity is the culprit here which seems not to bode well for our hero and the female alien to whom he seems to be mentally and emotionally connected. It’s really well done and helps make “Shady Intentions” shine even more, so hopefully there will be more of these videos for NGHTMRE to tie the stories together.
KEYS N KRATES, “Get Up”
If you enjoy your contemporary electronic dance music with 70’s R&B and disco flair, then “Get Up” by much acclaimed Toronto trio Keys N Krates is just what you’ll want to hear. They sample the lesser known 70’s R&B track “Sounds Ridiculous” by Alice Taylor to form the basis of “Get Up”, but bearing that in mind, they build a fun dance floor filler around it. And while Keys N Krates have been at this kind of great musical fun for years, they join artists like A Trak, LF System, Todd Terry and Mercer, who infuse the vibe of older songs into new ones and create an entirely fresh sound. “Get Up” will make you do just that so don’t say you weren’t warned!
MAHALO & DLMT, “Body Love”
After their #1 dance radio hit “So Cold” back in 2019 and follow up release “Destination” last year, it was inevitable that L.A.’s Mahalo and Canada’s DLMT would regroup for more releases. “Body Love” is a clubbier release with an infectious piano melody underneath some propulsive beats that keep the song moving along. If my ears are hearing right, then I’m pretty sure the uncredited vocalist is Canadian singer/songwriter Cat Lewis, who previously graced a number of my favourite late 2010’s Mahalo releases. Everything adds up in “Body Love” that should make it a dance floor favourite.
HARRIET, “Nothing Hurts Like You”
UK pop singer Harriet returns with her first new music in about 5 years with “Nothing Hurts Like You”. Her voice often reaches that mellifluous tone that Karen Carpenter had in her voice. And her traditional vocal style is perfectly suited for “Nothing Hurts Like You”, whose story unfolds when the protagonist sees her former lover with a new flame, which unleashes a barrage of internal emotions while still feeling rather immune to the circumstances. The song makes you wonder how she will deal with it all going forward. “Nothing Hurts Like You” is classy, well-produced pop and I look forward to more of what Harriet will bring us next year.
AMELIA WRAY, “Disappear”
You might recognize Amelia Wray’s name more as a TV actress – Sophia on the Disney+ show “Sydney To The Max” – than you would as a singer. “Disappear” is a promising uptempo pop release as only her second single to date. It masks a tale of teenage heartbreak through a lovely, shifting melody that’s highlighted by Amelia’s captivating vocal. The story unfolds when would-be-lovers end up more as friends, then the relationship fizzles, and one of them pretends like it never happened, which makes the various uses of “disappear” throughout the song all the more effective. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of Amelia Wray’s vocal and songwriting talents and what else she has to offer for her pop music fans.
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.
“Satisfaction” by Sweden’s Darin
BIG DADDY” RUSS HORTON’S PICK OF THE WEEK
Montreal rockers The Damn Truth with “Look Innocent”
HUNTER J. WILBUR’S PICK 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.
British group The Wombats cover Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” for Triple J Like A Version
“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
“The Boss” by Coopex, Charles B, and Robbie Rosen
BILLCS Top30 FASTEST RISER
“Yours” by Conan Gray (22-6)