I don’t have any editorial or observations to share in this new edition of the Report. I am trying something a little different with my layout, returning to a strategy I used in the early days of this blog. I’ve noticed that my blog page is difficult to load on my phone, so it must be difficult for you as well. I think this is because I use numerous video links which are then embedded into the post. So instead, I’m going to embed the video link in the artwork for the song or the artist, which hopefully will allow the blog page to load faster and smoothly. So you now have to click on the photos above the artist and song title to hear the song or watch the video. Let me know how it works for you!
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 focuses on 80’s pop this week with his Classic Five pop hits feature.
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.
JASON MRAZ, “I Feel Like Dancing”
Sometimes returning to a sound that put you on a map can be a really good thing. I adore Jason Mraz’s first two albums Waiting For My Rocket To Come and Mr. A-Z, in which he found a way with some good humour and whimsy, which also translated well into the concert performances I saw. His first hit, “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” was my #1 song of 2003 and a theme song for me for that part of my life. 20 years later, we now have “I Feel Like Dancing”, and you are encouraged to dance along with Jason. Who can possibly resist that hip hop flavoured bass and Jason’s return to astute “Wordplay”, to quote the title of another one of my favourites by him. Like in 2003, this is feel-good, jaunty pop that stands out, but now it’s by a seasoned, twice Grammy-winning performer who has always taken stylistic risks. Mr. A-Z is back and we’re delighted to have him.
AUDIEN, CODEKO, J.T. ROACH, “Antidote”
Even though it doesn’t have anything new to say lyrically, “Antidote” gives you all the feels you’re looking for, thanks to the great reteaming of Grammy nominated producer Audien with UK producer Codeko. It follows up Audien’s huge dance radio hit with UK singer/songwriter Joe Jury, “Drifting Away”. The music is in “Antidote” is all about the early 2010’s, with J.T. Roach’s memorable vocal helping to transport you to some of the best years of electronic dance music. But it’s the refined work of Audien and Codeko which makes “Antidote” a seamless example of fine contemporary record-making.
TYLER LORETTE, “Shattered”
Tyler Lorette is a 19 year old singer/songwriter from Courtice, Ontario, just east of my city, Toronto, who has been dabbling with a pop/country sound over the past few years. His powerful new single, “Shattered”, could easily be his breakout, and was brought to my attention by Hunter Wilbur as a recent “bop of the week” in previous edition of the BILLCS New Music Report. Like songs on Conan Gray’s recent Superache album, Tyler grapples anxiously with heartbreak in “Shattered”, but a graceful arrangement offsets the anguish in the lyrics. I wasn’t sure initially if the almost-acoustic backdrop worked, but after multiple listens, it would be hard to hear it with more production.
NIKO THE KID, MAYLYN, “Only One”
It’s been a while since I’ve written about music by Atlanta-born Niko The Kid, who has since released many songs for an assortment of dance labels, after creating countless remixes for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande, and collaborating on songs by artists like Odesza. “Only One” may need a listen or two, but you’ll find it has just the right amount of spit and polish, with impressive synths that will zing you in the middle of a club set. Go-to Nashville-based dance music singer/songwriter MAYLYN has a voice with the power and conviction to help the song stand out even more. Be sure not to let “Only One” slip by.
KACEY FIFIELD, “Selfish”
“Selfish” is a thoughtful ballad that pushes the envelope stylistically for L.A.’s 18 year old Kacey Fifield, following up her debut electronic pop album from last year, Between The Lines. It’s a bold song where she confronts a partner of a past relationship. She doesn’t mince words, with advice beyond her years for those in her age group, though the effect for the listener is cultivated with a beautiful, often delicate melody courtesy of long-time collaborator and producer Robbie Rosen. Kacey Fifield is carving out her own lane with softer, electronic pop music that often has an edge, and young listeners especially should pay attention.
Afrojack is keeping awfully busy these days, and that also means giving his side project, Kapuchon, some air time. “Education” is a downright catchy instrumental that holds its own for almost five minutes. It’s bound to get some play at festivals where its unique synth work will go over well with the crowds, who are always looking for different vibes to set them off. Its snappy rhythm is hard to resist, and electronic music fans who love instrumentals will find the most favour with “Education”.
THE 004, “Home”
The 004 is a Dutch pop trio of Mike, Kelly and Janet, who have actually sung together for 20 years, but have only recently started releasing music. “Home” is their second single and is like a warm hug that will make you smile at the end, even though the song is about the loss of a loved one. The singers’ rich tones and pleasant harmonies go a long way. While “Home” is just lovely, better production could take everything to another level, as you can only go so far on basic, acoustic arrangements. But I’m hopeful that this can occur so that The 004 can receive more attention outside of The Netherlands.
TOMMY NEWPORT, “Fate”
UK-born, US-raised Tommy Newport returns with his first full length album in five years called Glasshead, which includes previous single “Tongue and Cheek” as well as the melodic new track, “Fate”. While “Fate” doesn’t tell us anything new, part of the appeal of Tommy’s music is its low-fi, psychedelic pop sound, which gives it fanciful authenticity and looks back to the 1960’s as an influential. And that compliments his vocal too, which allows you to easily tune in to what he’s singing about. In April, Tommy will be touring the west coast on selected dates, and you can learn more about them right here.
NIKOLAS IV, “Cut Me Out”
Nikolas IV is an enigmatic new name in the alt.pop world and his brutally honest “Cut Me Out” is a great start. The L.A.-based singer-songwriter gets great help with production by none other than Frankmusik, and “Cut Me Out” is co-written with Grammy-nominated songwriter Jesse Saint James, best known for co-writing Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”, but who has also written songs for Britney Spears, Kim Petras, Lauv, and many others. The lyrics are full of regret, but what Nikolas is singing about is clearly in the past, so time and reflection has softened the initial pain. A lot of folks will relate to “Cut Me Out”, so Nikolas IV is another new name to add to your watch list.
LØRD, D’AMICO & VALAX, “Power”
“Power” is engaging europop-flavoured tech house by rising producers who all hail from Italy, newcomer LØRD (aka Luis Rodriguez) and the duo D’Amico and Valax, which follows up their recent release “Shine”. The heart of the song is an uplifting, Gospel-flavoured chorus that would easily lift a club set midway. The rest of “Power” is carried by a driving, tech house rhythm and some busy, ear-catching synth work which makes it distinct. Although over 3 minutes long, the song comes and goes quickly, so enjoy the ride.
FRANCESCA LOUISE, “The Sea”
“The Sea” is the kind of soft, serene release that requires your undivided attention. That seems to be a goal of fresh-voiced British singer/songwriter Francesca Louise, who was a contestant on The Voice UK last year. And Francesca has the vocal prowess to do it – you may recall her tribute to a lost loved one last year called “For Michael”. “The Sea” is an ode to the city of Rome, drawn from her personal experiences developing friendships and loving relationships there. This sweet song is accentuated by understated strings and acoustic guitar work, but it’s Francesca’s committed, lovely tone that is the star. Pick your quiet moment to enjoy everything that “The Sea” offers.
33 BLACK, “Edge of the Knife”
33 Black is the northern California-based duo of Travis Rigsbee and Jed Sprague who are intent on crowd-pleasing with their new album Out Of The Clouds, which contains 16 tracks and has uniquely been funded by the band’s fans! These guys know what they’re doing in the studio, and though some of their songs contain too many country elements for my tastes, the majority of them are rockers influenced by the best groups of the 90’s, such as Collective Soul, Counting Crows and Third Eye Blind. “Edge of the Knife” is a fun rocker that comes out of the gate with guitars blazing and a jaunty rhythm. The melody is really strong and the hand claps help turn it into a song that would win over a small club audience in concert.
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.
“Enchanté” by British producer Lewis Thompson and singer/songwriter Clementine Douglas
“BIG DADDY” RUSS HORTON’S PICK OF THE WEEK
“Big Daddy” Russ Horton is the owner of online stations Radio GTA, Halton Hills Radio Online, & FM108.ca.
“Catalonia” by Australia’s Vance Joy
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.
“Heartworks” by San Francisco producer Wingtip
“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.
Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
Whitney Houston – The Greatest Love Of All
Berlin – Take My Breath Away
Billy Vera & The Beaters – At This Moment
Quincy Jones featuring James Ingram – Just Once
BILLCS Top 30 #1 SONG
“Hero” by Martin Garrix & JVKE
BILLCS Top30 FASTEST RISER
“I Go Dancing” by Frank Walker featuring Ella Henderson (29-17)
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