While most of my blog posts are about independent performers, occasionally the opportunity to write about some bigger names arises, and this week’s New Music Report is one of those times. Everything But The Girl and Peter Gabriel both released new songs in the last week, and I’ve written about neither in the last 13 years because these are their first releases in over 20 years. And I also get to revisit a rebooted version of a song by Manila Killa that I wrote about almost exactly five years ago!
You can also read about my pick of the week, along with picks from online radio buddies “Big Daddy” Russ Horton and Hunter Wilbur, and “The Musicman” James Rogers also has his Classic Five pop hits feature which zeroes in on songs from 1980. You can also find out what was my #1 song of the week on the BILLCS Top 30 as well as the Fastest Riser on the chart. Plus I recap the top five songs from the BILLCS Top 30 from this week 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago.
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.
EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL, “Nothing Left To Lose”
Everything But The Girl, the British duo of vocalist Tracey Thorn and producer/musician Ben Watt, are back with “Nothing Left To Lose”, their first song together since the 1999 release of their album Temperamental, from a forthcoming album called Fuse.
Starting as an almost retro acoustic act at the tail end of the new wave era, EBTG found their own niche with alternative music fans which sustained them for about 10 years. Then noted dance producer Todd Terry remixed their acoustic ballad “Missing” (from 1994’s Amplified Heart album), which sent the song to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and opened unforeseen opportunities for them with dance music audiences for the rest of that decade. Having seen them in concert in 1985 (at Toronto’s small El Mocambo) and being a fan of their early songs, I was totally onboard for this new found success, which resulted in the stunning Walking Wounded as well as Temperamental, two of my personal favourites of the 90’s.
“Nothing Left To Lose” is like a clean slate for them, a bouncy electronic release that could set a template for other artists this year. Carried by Tracey’s deeper tones, the song has a passionate, memorable chorus while Ben’s sonic flair – featuring a beautiful bassline that pervades the song, as well as a lot of interesting, insistent effects – will be a tantalizing listen for even the best young producers. Can’t wait for the album! Check out the fantastic choreography in the video above – all done in one take!
PETER GABRIEL, “Panopticom” (Bright Side mix)
Now here’s a name that you didn’t expect to return with a self-released song almost 21 years after his last album. While reverent fans will remember him for his early work in Genesis, and most others know him from his 80’s peak with songs and eye-popping videos like “Sledgehammer”, “Big Time” and “Digging In The Dirt”, “Panopticom” transports us melodically back to the early, creative Peter Gabriel solo period from 1975-1980. This is kind of strange since “Panopticom” is a very modern and fresh sounding release with its themes of information overload and social media running through the lyrics. Peter’s voice sounds ageless here and I expect this will be a huge hit at rock and alternative stations in the months to come.
MANILA KILLA, NEVVE, “Everyday, Everyday” (Live Edit)
It’s hard to believe that this song is five years old (read my write up about the original version), but “Everyday, Everyday” remains a timeless slice of emotional dance/pop with an inviting piano melody. The electronics are stripped back for this extended “live edit” and Manila Killa has done a great job at shining the spotlight on his lyrics and vocalist Nevve, and giving the jubilant chorus an anthemic extra lift. It more than holds up for over 6 minutes and I’m hoping this crisp new version will give the song renewed attention, particularly after the success of Manila Killa’s top notch album Dusk last year.
MAJESTIC, KAREN HARDING, “Sweat”
Banger alert! There haven’t been too many around lately, so this solid teaming of British producer Majestic with house music queen Karen Harding is a great fit for “Sweat”. The song doesn’t really cover new ground, but has an infectious 90’s flavour in the synth work, and Karen shifts into house diva mode which delivers. Majestic was the producer who successfully got his remix of Boney M’s “Rasputin” onto the worldwide pop and dance charts a while back, so with its let-it-all-loose vibe, “Sweat” should not be underestimated!
MIKE ROGERS, “Get High”
Like with last Spring’s “Can’t Stop”, the latest release by Dutch trio Mike Rogers is meant to be heard live, and has that live-off-the-floor feel to it. Once again led by the potent voice of Micha de Jonge – who to me sounds somewhat like Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers at times here – “Get High” is a new breed of alt.rock song, sung from the point of view of a drug dealer, which heavy on melody and tight instrumentation. What really helps the song though are the handclaps, which add to the live flavour of the sound. The tight arrangement makes “Get High” an easy listen and another reason to check out the songs of Mike Rogers.
BARRON, “Without You”
Harrison Barron is a 27 year old electronic pop artist from Nashville, who is attracting listeners after a few releases with his sparkling synth pop sound which often touches an emotional nerve. His new song “Without You” captures those points in time when you miss someone and are reunited with them, and the mood of the song shifts accordingly. Barron’s voice focuses on his higher register and is further back in the mix than usual, which makes an intriguing effect. His slighter sound is polar opposite of future bass, yet his songs include similar themes. So if you like your electronic pop light and bright, then “Without You” is perfect for you.
KLAAS, “Heart Swipe”
“Heart Swipe” is a beautiful slice of europop from veteran German producer Klaas, who once again teams up with the always reliable songwriter Daniel Volpe. The song is a grower and focuses on the fakery of social media, from dating sites like Tinder, or others that focus on images and videos like Tik Tok, with the female protagonist of the song deciding to do her own thing instead to find someone real. The song is brisk with a slick bass synth line underneath with lots of pop crossover potential.
JAKE HUFFMAN, “Martyr”
Connecticut-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (including drums) Jake Huffman delivers a soaring melodic alt.rock song full of guitars with “Martyr”. What I like about “Martyr” is that it doesn’t go over the top, say Imagine Dragons-style, and focuses on Jake’s compelling vocal and the arrangement. Where it gets a little lost is with the lyrics, which seem to be about someone who always tries to get others to feel sorry for him, and seem to take second fiddle to what else is going on in the song. But “Martyr” is the kind of song that will sound great live, and fans of artists like Foster The People, INXS, Cage The Elephant and Young The Giant will take easily to Jake Huffman’s style. An interesting bit of trivia about Jake as an aside is that he’s written several songs for TV’s “Sesame Street”!
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.
Martin Garrix and JVKE team up for “Hero”
“BIG DADDY” RUSS HORTON’S PICK OF THE WEEK
Nashville duo Apollo LTD with “Run”
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.
Ian McConnell reworks Bastille’s smash “Pompeii”
“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.
THE BILLCS TOP 30 – 5-10-15-20…
The Top 5 songs from the BILLCS Top 30 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago…
- PINEAPPLE SKIES Miguel
- CRAZY (Tiësto’s Big Room Mix) Dzeko
- SKY WALKER Miguel featuring Travis Scott
- EVERYBODY HURTS The Him featuring Ivy Adara
- BODY Loud Luxury featuring brando
- PARACHUTE Matthew Koma
- YEAH YEAH Willy Moon
- 1998 Matthew Koma
- PLAY THE GIRL Tao Hypah
- TIME BOMB (WALK AWAY) Chris Wallace
- HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE Darren Hayes
- PAPERCUT Roz Bell
- DON’T STOP THE MUSIC Rihanna
- CALABRIA Enur featuring Natasja
- BEST DAYS Matt White
- THE SOUND OF VIOLENCE Cassius featuring Steve Edwards
- SERVE THE EGO (Gabriel & Dresden remix) Jewel
- SOMETHING Lasgo
- JAMES DEAN (I WANNA KNOW) Daniel Bedingfield
- DISEASE Matchbox Twenty