Adam Cohen’s “Like A Man” and October 3 Toronto Show

As I write, Adam Cohen is performing his second Toronto show at the Drake Hotel.  I had the privilege of seeing him perform last night in a small (maybe 150 people) and intimate setting which was perfect to showcase the new songs from his album Like A Man.

Like the first single “What Other Guy”, the songs in Like A Man are mainly love letters to and about various women and relationships.  It’s a soft and romantic record for the most part, very unlike the songs from his self-titled debut or by his rock band Low Millions.  He really does embrace the intellectual and poetic style that surrounded him as growing up as the son of Leonard Cohen, and steps away from dad enough to make it his own.  

I didn’t even know about this album’s release until last Friday.  It’s a most unexpected and joyous surprise to hear what I would call one of the best records of the year in among all of the pop and electronic music I listen to and about which you usually read in these posts.  But I digress – really, I’ve been intrigued by Adam’s music since his first release in 1998.  

Carefully produced by Patrick Leonard (most noted for Madonna, but many others as well, including Elton John and Roger Waters – Leonard also plays on the record), these are apparently songs that could have gathered dust had family and friends not encouraged their release.  The first (and oldest) song, “Out Of Bed”, puts a smile on your face right away, and you can feel the warmth and humour that lay underneath many of the songs throughout the album.  The lyrical persuasion of “Sweet Dominique”, “Girls these Days”, and “Beautiful” are three more essential reasons to listen to Like A Man.  Adam’s lovely and gentle sing-speak, not unlike his father’s at times, suits every moment.  Having friends like Don Was (stand up bass) and Jennifer Warnes (who recorded his father’s songs on her seminal 1986 Famous Blue Raincoat album) in support adds to all of the precision.

Adam performed a generous set for about an hour last night.  It was full of camraderie and anecdotes that made it very special, especially the story about how Sir Paul McCartney spoke with him after a show and told him that he wished he wrote one of his songs – ultimate compliment!  The singer himself said he felt nervous performing despite “this is what I do”, but it really is a fresh start (not disregarding his past works) so that kind of excitement was deserved.  He led us through “Sweet Dominique” (and incorporated a verse of his father’s “Bird On A Wire”), “What Other Guy”, “Girls these Days”, “Beautiful” (which he dedicated to his 4 year old son Cassius and his son’s mother), a stripped down version of Low Millions’ “Eleanor”, plus covers of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” (for a first time performance that completely gripped the audience) and dad’s own “So Long Marianne” (the title is also referenced in “Beautiful”).  Adam’s set was complimented heavily by the talents of cellist/guitarist Mai Bloomfield and multi-instrumentalist (and Low Millions member) Michael Chaves.

Here’s an imaginary glass of Petrone to salute the release of Like A Man and what should be a successful Canadian, UK, and European tour for Adam Cohen, because I think he’s going to find a lot of new fans along the way.  Don’t be surprised if this album shows up on many year-end ‘Best Of’ lists.  Like A Man is available on iTunes or in hard copy CD format.

Getting to Know Adam Cohen Again: “What Other Guy” free download

This week, 39 year old L.A.-based Canadian singer Adam Cohen (son of Leonard) releases a new album called Like A Man on the Cooking Vinyl label (EMI has it in Canada).

The last we heard from Adam, he recorded a top notch album in 2004 with the band Low Millions which yielded a couple of hits with “Eleanor” and “Statue”.  He also released a French language album called Mélancolista which did well in that market.  Prior to that, his only solo effort was in 1998, a self-titled album featuring the Canadian radio hit “Cry Ophelia” and in particular the dramatic and stunning “Tell Me Everything” (whose video you can view at the bottom of this blog), which I still play often along with “Eleanor”, one of my favourite songs of its year.

I’ve been wondering what he would release next, because his songs are often dark, sarcastic, bitter and brooding, not everyone’s cup of tea, but he certainly showed that he could rock out with Low Millions.  He has never shied away from being his father’s son, and he definitely has the pedigree songwriting skills.  And he’s got a voice that commands attention whether singing quietly or loudly and emotionally.

So 2011 brings us his sophomore English language solo album Like A Man, and Adam is showcasing the album in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa this week with some live shows before he heads off to Europe and the U.K.  He’s offered the first single, “What Other Guy”, as a free download which you can get below.  And I’m hoping that it’s a solid preview of the album, because the song is a joyous delight.  This is a beautiful, romantic story in the video at the top of the blog, and thematically is nothing like his past efforts.  So the 13 year gap between English solo albums and 7 years after Low Millions is beginning to play out like an inviting new adventure.

Good on you, Adam 🙂

“What Other Guy” by Adam Cohen – free download using the down arrow on the right of the player

The Year of Frankmusik Continues, plus Kyle Brylin’s “Poison Venus” and “Never Love A DJ”

After what must surely seem like an eternity (especially to him), Frankmusik’s Do It In The A.M. saw official release today and certainly Twitter was all the buzz about it.  The album rocketed to the top regions of the U.S. and Canadian Electronic charts on iTunes, stopped by nothing less than Justice and LMFAO.  And the year of Frankmusik continues.  Do It In The A.M. was more than worthy of the long wait.

Sonically, the album is fantastic.  I have been expounding on the wonders of Mr. Frank’s voice throughout the year and there is no disappointment here, he sounds especially good on “We Collide” (the album’s opener and my new favourite) and “Ludicrous”.  Other notable songs, besides the summer jam title track and current fun-filled single “No I.D.” (featuring Colette Carr), include “Wrecking Ball”, which sounded massive in concert, “Brake Lights”, one of my top singles of the year “The Fear Inside”, and an uptempo redux of a previously free download “Cut Me Down”.  It must have been difficult to whittle the selection down to 13, given how prolific Frankmusik has been this year.  But the emphasis is on danceable, mainly electronic songs, which gives the record a consistent party-filled sound.  Would I have chosen some of the songs?  Probably not “No Champagne” or “Footsteps”.  I might have substituted the stunning ballad “Hurt You Again” or even his cover of Erasure’s “When I Start (To Break It All Down)”.  But that’s just me.  This album’s gonna grow on you, too.

Frankmusik has generously offered many free downloads this year, even in the face of an early leak of the album.  And what’s to come if you buy Do It In The A.M. on iTunes?  A free download per week until the end of the year – you can view more info by clicking right here.  Frankmusik is very eager to please and you owe it to yourself to Do It In The A.M. a little more often… keep going full steam ahead into 2012!!

Listen to “We Collide” below.

I teased you the other day with the clip excerpting two new Kyle Brylin songs, and they have hit various online sites today (such as Amazon and Beatport).  

Kyle opts this time for an almost 90’s retro techno sound, which goes all frenetic on the big diss of “Never Love A DJ” (which hopefully doesn’t apply to former DJ’s like me 😉 ).  There’s a lot of release in this song, both in the emotional sense and in a crowded club party sense – it will give you a true workout!  “Poison Venus” takes us to a futuristic kind of world where a price is paid… and in the process we’re taken through a languid electronic whirlwind and a Tron-like high speed chase.  

Kyle and his songwriters are never short of imagination and both songs, particularly “Never Love A DJ”, which seems like an anti-club raveup that would actually work well in late night clubs, put his continued progression on full display.  Listen to “Never Love A DJ” below.

“Never Love A DJ” by Kyle Brylin

Smasheroo: Matt Blue “Can’t Help Myself (Keep Dancing)”

Ever since I found his spot-on cover of Jason Derulo’s “What If” earlier this year, I’ve been touting 19 year old Dutch singer Matt Blue for great things.  He’s apparently signed to a major record label in Europe, and until recently had been teasing us for the past three months of so with a snippet of his single “Can’t Help Myself (Keep Dancing)”.  You may have also heard him on the club track by Bass Robbers called “Another Dimension”, which focused on a particularly soaring high note of his.

Well the video dropped today:  A star is definitely born, and you know it exclusively from the 18 second mark through to 1:18 – club setting, Blue lighting, Blue clothing… all eyes on talented Mr. Blue!  The rest of the video takes us to good times on a beach and showin’ off some moves in front of a great looking car (my bad, I don’t know the make 😉 ).  The song itself is contagious in its simplicity with the same positive vibe as Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart” and Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”.

Don’t think about this one too much.  Matt Blue has arrived.  Keep dancing.  🙂

Tuned-On! Top 30 #362 – September 26/11

As Autumn is upon us, like the leaves that begin to fall, some recent favourites of mine drop off my personal chart to make room for some noteable new blood.  You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right here.  You can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.

There is no moving the Top 4 songs, no sirree they just aren’t a budging.  “Wicked Baby”, the insanely catchy song that updates the Ace of Base vibe courtesy of Ro Danishei & Simon Curtis hangs on to #1 vying with Simon’s own victory cry “Laser Guns Up” in second place.  “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People keeps its summery lustre long enough for another chart at #3, while “Disco Moment” by Bright Light Bright Light is solid and still on the rise at #4.  The only change-up in the Top 5 sees Jessica 6’s duet with Antony Hegarty on “Prisoner Of Love” belatedly making a big gain in the face of so many great songs on the chart.  A video for the song is forthcoming!

The rest of the Top 10 sees a major shakeup.  The intense emotions of Matthew Kurz’s “Fix Me” often give me pause for many thoughts, and the song soars 11-6.  Do check out this talented singer/songwriter’s FREE mixtape using the link on my chart page.  October 18 is the North American street date for Penguin Prison’s self-titled album.  As Chris Glover and band continue to play dates throughout North America, they are present on the chart with both “Multi-Millionaire” at #7 and “Fair Warning” rising to #14.  To entice you more, Penguin Prison has a FREE download of “Don’t Fuck With My Money” available with an email subscription right here.  You can hear that song above this paragraph.  Then, our favourite “Bad Dog” is on the loose!  Neon Hitch played a well received gig last week in New York City, and her song is propelled to #8.  Adele’s enduring and powerful “Set Fire To The Rain” takes 9th place, while the heartfelt “Never Will Be Mine” by Rye Rye featuring Robyn lands at #10.

The middle of the chart is nothing less than busy.  “Pull The Trigger” is the hottest song on Adam Tyler’s very good Shattered Ice release, with it’s sad-but-gotta-do-it lyrics married with an anthemic house rhythm.  It’s also the hottest song on the chart as the Fastest Riser, moving 22-12 and you can listen to the song above.  Then, we have the ultra-prolific Kyle Brylin with a real pick-me-up if there ever was one, “My Fizzy Pop” at #13.  Not only did Kyle cover Rihanna’s “S&M” earlier this year, but perhaps he’s drinking the same water, since she’s coming out with new stuff as frequently.  He teases you below with a preview of the hard hitting trance track “Never Love A DJ” and “Poison Venus” below this paragraph.  Full comments about these songs later!  And by no means should you think that “Stupid With You” by Eric Saade is done, after moving one place to #15.  It’s a fantastic pop song, one of many on Saade Volume One as we await Saade Volume Two sometime in November!

At the top of this blog, you watched the new video for Darren Hayes’ Australian single “Bloodstained Heart”, which climbs to #17.  I’m hoping it will be released to the rest of the world after “Black Out The Sun”.  In particular, I enjoy Darren’s soothing high register and the dramatic crescendo halfway that serves as anticipation for the final scene of the video.  Darren’s album Secret Codes And Battleships is released October 17 in the UK and October 21 in the rest of the world.  Right below “Bloodstained Heart” we see the debut song from Florence & The Machine’s sophomore album Ceremonials.  “What The Water Gave Me” moves up 26-18 in this chart edition.

The rest of the chart sees six debuts!  It’s a huge week ahead for Frankmusik as his second album Do It In The A.M. sees release on September 27.  The latest single, “No I.D.” featuring the delightful Colette Carr, arrives on the chart at #20 and is gradually becoming one of the must-hear songs of the year along with its “Grease”-y video above.  2011 has been one heck of a ride for Frankmusik and it hasn’t stopped yet!  Next up is the beautiful song from Nick Hagelin that I cannot get enough of right now.  “Metaphor” (which I blogged about last week) premieres at #23.  Further down at #26 is a song that has hung on throughout the summer despite no North American release for the singer’s album.  “The Way I See” doesn’t appear on Will Young’s latest album Echoes, but you can get it in a FREE download from a link in my chart (the song was previously available for free through Amazon UK).  It’s Will’s first appearance in these pages, and I look forward to paying closer attention to the songs in Echoes.

An impressive video for “Famous” by Audio Playground featuring Kardinal Offishall quickly arrived on our doorstep (above) and debuts at #27 on the chart.  The song’s a certified hit, conquering Canadian radio by being added to practically every pop station in the country, while the French language version featuring Randy Raymond is everywhere in Quebec.  Then at #28 we have Ms Grace Jones, sounding like she never left the music scene with her first release in 22 years called Hurricane.  From that album we have the sinewy and compelling “Williams Blood”, which is available in the FREE Aeroplane remix radio edit (link in on my chart page).

This edition closes at #29 with a song hot off the presses this week by a singer whose voice I adore.  Agnes Carlsson had a massive year in 2008/09 with her European album release Dance! Love! Pop! which contained the UK Top 5 and Billboard Dance Club Play #1 hit “Release Me”, one of my Top 10 favourites of that year.  With voice to rival no less than a Leona Lewis, Agnes is back with a tougher and equally powerful pop/dance song that will turn more heads around the world this time.  Watch “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (not the Elton John song) above and keep your ears peeled for much, much more from Agnes throughout the year and into 2012.

Thanks for reading!  Watch for changes to this blog coming soon too.  One thing I hope to change after this week is to give you shorter and more timely blogs, as well as the longer bi-weekly recap of my chart.  

Long On Charm: Quick Bits About New Records by Nick Hagelin, Pierre Lewis, John Nathaniel, Bright Light Bright Light

Nick Hagelin “Take Off” (EP)

My comment about Nick Hagelin’s cover of Eric Benet’s “Sometimes I Cry” from back in April holds very true: YOU.WILL.MELT.  That’s one of the shortest reviews I’ve ever written.  But the New York bred, Georgia resident has laid a solid foundation of cover songs on You Tube ranging from Benet’s song to Taylor Swift.  So with this amazing talent comes a debut EP, Take Off, currently available for free on Nick’s website.  From positive, summery-sounding, danceable pop of “I.C.U.” and “Ocean”, through to the ever so Jason Mraz take on “Your Love”, to the grooving, embedded R&B/Hip Hop of the Naughty By Nature revisited vibe of “People Go Wild”, Take Off is a showcase designed to tickle whatever fancy you might be feeling.  Lastly, and best of all, there’s the equally embedded R&B/Soul of the title song and especially my favourite, the careful and precise, romantic ear-tugger “Metaphor” (which you can hear below).  Melt all over again – score!

Pierre Lewis “Transition” (EP)

I’ve already tipped you off to two of the four songs on Pierre’s new EP Transition.  Now here’s someone from England who can easily tap into Robin Thicke’s North American market given all the right steps.  Transition has a mid-90’s R&B/Hip Hop vibe happening.  The best song is the current video, “Out Of My Mind”, which captures Pierre’s diverse appeal and charm oh so well.  “One Girl Show” is more R&B/Pop ear candy, while “Stay” focuses on Pierre’s ability to tap into his best Michael Jackson.  “Testify” features rapper Strike, striving for a street feel that to me is becoming a little dated.  Pierre Lewis has so much more to offer with that stunning soulful voice.  Catch the video for “Out Of My Mind” again below.  Transition is available worldwide on iTunes.

John Nathaniel “Intoxicated”

Montreal rocker and award-winning producer (Marie-Mai, Pat Groulx, Long Story Short) John Nathaniel returns with a song more on a softer Colbie Caillat-styled pop tip than some of his past releases.  “Intoxicated” is a breezy ride that takes you on a rock-tinged picnic through the countryside on a sunny day.  Hear the song below and pick it up on iTunes.

Bright Light Bright Light “Disco Moment” (EP)

And this last review is just a friendly reminder to indulge in the many charms of Rod Thomas as Bright Light Bright Light with his EP of “Disco Moment”.  Not only do you get the radio edit, 12″ extended version (in which I keep hearing “The Neverending Story” rhythm more and more!), and a quirky but spot-on Fear of Tigers remix of the gloriously moving title song, but there’s another Rod original “Being Sentimental”.  Rod finds these easy ways to get in your head by capturing emotional slices of life, giving you lots of food for thought along the way as you head to leave it all on the dance floor.  Can’t wait for the proper album release!  In the meantime, get it on iTunes – you do need to view the stunning video for “Disco Moment” again below.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #361 – Sept 12/11 plus Erasure and Frankmusik Concert in Toronto!

Last week was exceptionally busy and while I had already decided on my new chart rankings by Friday, I did decide to attend the Erasure and Frankmusik show at Sound Academy in Toronto, hence today’s belated blog.  More on the show later, on to chart news.

I’m still riding the Rainbow – End of the Rainbow that is – thanks to one of the best records of 2011!  That would be the sinfully delicious “Wicked Baby” by Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis (click to listen) that ascends to #1 on the Top 30, and looks like it might hold grip in wicked ways for the next several weeks.  That “Wicked Baby” should blitz the chart all the way to the top is even surprising to me.  And hand in hand with Simon’s anthem “Laser Guns Up”, which rises to #2, it knocked down what I thought was a sure thing for #1, which is “Made Of Pop” by Eric Saade, which now resides at #5.  Two further items of note:  Ro Danishei’s arrival at #1 is the first for a female singer on my chart since Lady GaGa’s “Teeth” back near the beginning of 2010 (I know I’m…. wicked).  And Simon Curtis packs a 1-2 punch holding court in the Top 2 for at least likely the next month.  If you have not sought out these talented singers, be sure to check out their respective albums (End Of The Rainbow for Ro, R∆ for Simon) on iTunes!

Definitely in the mix are the song that everyone’s trying to figure out, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People, at #3, and Bright Light Bright Light’s “Disco Moment” at #4.  In any other year they would both be chart toppers.  Right below you can check out the “So Hard” mix of “Disco Moment” by Blx2 himself, Rod Thomas, also available on Blx2’s official site 🙂  Do I detect early 90’s Pet Shop Boys?  Hmmm.

Next up are late night New York dance delights in the forms of Jessica 6’s “Prisoner Of Love”, which climbs to #8, and yet another Top Tenner for Chris Glover’s Penguin Prison and “Multi-Millionaire” at #10.  Penguin Prison’s much-awaited self-titled debut album is out everywhere but in North America now (due date October 18).  I’m also charting the Dirty Vegas remix of “Fair Warning”, which hops to #18 and will certainly join “Multi-Millionaire” as a Top Tenner sometime soon.

Outside of the Top 10 there are several songs looking in with confidence!  Matthew Kurz’s amazing independent ballad “Fix Me” is now at #11, followed immediately by the glorious Adele with “Set Fire To The Rain” at #12, and then the Rye Rye and Robyn duet of the inspiring “Never Will Be Mine” at #13.  Neon Hitch’s “Bad Dog” is turning into a new favourite as it’s the Fastest Riser on the chart, up 25-15.  It’s followed immediately by a third song from Saade Volume One, “Stupid With You” by Eric Saade (watch for Volume Two later this year and hear this song in a concert clip below) and Kyle Brylin’s effervescent “My Fizzy Pop” at #16 and #17 respectively.

Our three debuts were previewed for you two weeks ago at around this time.  “Pull The Trigger” is vying with “I Won’t Let You Go” as my favourite song from Adam Tyler’s independent debut album Shattered Ice, and soars into the chart at #22, as the singer completes a North American club tour and is off to Japan.  I can’t wait to see the video for Darren Hayes’ Australian single “Bloodstained Heart” which arrives at #24.  Don’t rule out a debut for “Black Out The Sun” sometime soon… there’s just that much competition right now!  And lastly, powerhouse Florence Welch previews her forthcoming untitled album with “What The Water Gave Me” at #26.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right here.

Erasure and Frankmusik, Sound Academy, Toronto, Sunday September 11/11

Erasure and Frankmusik performed excellent sets last night which for me were just what the doctor ordered 🙂  I was anxious to see what Mr. Frank (Vince Turner) had to offer up for his debut performance in Toronto, since he is also the producer of Erasure’s upcoming Tomorrow’s World album (due October 4 in North America).  The last time I saw Erasure in concert was in 2003 for their Other People’s Songs tour.  In this show, there were no covers (yes, no ABBA, no Blondie), but they weren’t missed at all.

This was the fifth time I’ve seen an Erasure show, and I think this was one of their best and most engaging shows yet.  Singer Andy Bell was definitely glad to be back in Toronto (“Toronto always makes me horny”).  Andy looked extremely fit and basked in the audience’s gaze, while keyboardist/guitarist/producer Vince Clarke looked dapper in red and black behind his gargoyle-like keyboard.  

They had an attentive audience that soaked in their new songs like “When I Start (To Break It All Down)” (which is bound for my chart), “A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot” and “Fill Us With Fire”, which may be some of their best songs in the last 10 years, and fell contently into place next to their hits.  And what choices of hits they were!  “Blue Savannah”, “Drama!”, “Ship Of Fools”, “Chorus” (view a clip of the song from the show at the top of the blog), “Love To Hate You” (I was singing every word to those last two), “Chains of Love”, and “A Little Respect”, and even something a little more obscure going back to 1986, “Push Me, Shove Me”, which most of the audience didn’t know (but I did since I have the Wonderland album).  Their 90 minute set closed with the glorious “Oh l’amour” and, naturally, “Stop!”.  

While a replay of greatest hits isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, when it’s this well done (despite some poor sound) and highly entertaining, then I’ll gladly have Erasure coming back again and again.  The set certainly exceeded my expectations.

Frankmusik’s new album Do It In The A.M. is due at last on September 27, and to get word out in person, he’s opening for Erasure on their entire North American tour.  Vince and band performed a 45 minute non-stop set that not only set the stage for Erasure, but showcased the clever singer/songwriter/producer’s repertoire and some of his inspirations. So he mixed in older songs like “Better Off As 2”, not only with excellent new songs like “Do It In The A.M.”, “Struck By Lightning”, “Ludicrous”, and my favourites of the evening “Wrecking Ball” and “No ID” (featuring his gal Casey Carlson subbing for Colette Carr), but with either sung verses from noteworthy hits “You Can Call Me Al”, “Disco Inferno”, and “Music Sounds Better With You”, or well-placed samples of Eric Prydz’s “Call On Me” and Daft Punk’s “Around The World”.  Frankmusik wrapped the audience up tightly in his set and the unpredictability of it won them over.  The cheerful club party vibe and Frankmusik’s eagerness to please made for an exceptional set.

Last week, we saw the premiere of the video for “No ID” by Frankmusik and Colette Carr.  I’m so glad some of today’s videomakers are looking back to not too long ago (well, maybe before they were born but not me) for simple stories, inspiration (in this case a certain movie from the 70’s) and positive attitude with some fun choreography.  If it doesn’t put a big smile on your face then back to bed with you!  Watch in particular the scenes with Vince and Colette in the video below.  And there’s a familiar male dancer in the blue sweater with Boy Robot glasses…

Be sure to leave any comments you might have, and thanks for reading :)

Long Weekend Tunes: Audio Playground, Kyle Brylin, Ballroom Remixed…Remixed, Pierre Lewis, and the return of The Waterboys

Audio Playground featuring Kardinal Offishall “Famous”

One of the most exciting new records to drop out of Canada in 2011 is “Famous” by Audio Playground.  At first listen, you might think it plays closely… perhaps too closely… to a formula started by Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart” or “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” by Usher.  What puts this song over the edge is that it’s engaging and tight – before you know it, the song’s over and you want more!

So who are these guys anyway?  Well you may have heard AP’s well-done version of Erasure’s “A Little Respect” over the past few years on radio or in dance clubs.  Based out of multiple cities such as Edmonton, Toronto, New York, and L.A., Audio Playground is a trio comprising producers Rubix & DRC along with vocalist Anthony Gitto.  “Famous” is their third release as they head towards releasing an album.

But first, there is a plan for global domination for “Famous”.  Ambitious?  Yes – and not only do we have a crisp English version featuring none other than Canada’s best rap export Kardinal Offishall (ab0ve), but a French language version is already tearing up charts in Quebec featuring vocalist Randy Raymond (below).  And “Famous” will soon be famous in other language versions to tap into the global marketplace that is now our Internet, since AP’s songs have found their way into dance clubs world-wide.  It’s not a new idea, but can you think of anyone who’s tried it lately, particularly in the last decade or so?  Audio Playground is creating an intriguing blueprint, and I can’t wait to hear more from them.

Kyle Brylin “Bay”

It seems like every few weeks I’m writing about Wisconsin singer Kyle Brylin.  There’s good reason for that.  Young Kyle continues to make amazing progressions with each song he releases.  This considering I wasn’t overly fond of the songs he released a few years back.  The turning points for me this year were the sexy and danceable delights that are “Everything I’m Missing” and his cover of Rihanna’s “S&M”.  These were reinforced with incredible strong songs in the “Telephoto Lens” EP, including a current fave of mine, the blissful “My Fizzy Pop”.

So now we have yet another side of Kyle that was explored on some early songs, one that’s more emotional and lyrical.  “Bay” is well-rounded lyrically and seems to capture the ups and downs of being in a relationship from all vantage points.  The melody and vocals are, for lack of a better word, sweet, in total contrast to the more aggressive lyrics and forceful beats in something like “Everything I’m Missing”.  Kyle’s very prolific, but when the quality, with help from various songwriting partners or on his own, is this good, then each release has its own merits.  Get “Bay” on iTunes.

Less Ballroom…More Remixed

Readers of this blog know how much I took to heart the music from the Spring release of Ballroom Remixed.  It’s a record where you can’t go wrong:  Ballroom music styles contemporized by a host of rising pop stars.

Two of my favourites get retweaked for clubdom and two others are improved somewhat in redux form.  The full version of Ricardo Autobahn’s remix of Elouise’s “The Lover’s Rumba” has been available for free via talented Elouise’s newsletter.  Autobahn’s edit makes the affair more compact for club DJ’s to zero in on its many charms.  My most favourite song on the original record is the jive of “Out Without Your Boyfriend” by Jerry Reid.  It’s too hard to improve on such a fun song, so Autobahn pretty much takes away the jive in favour of a successful transformation favouring European-flavoured club sounds and rhythm.

Then we get to two major improvements.  I’ve enjoyed the campy fun of “I’m A Man (Not A Piece of Meat)” by (yes him again) Kyle Brylin.  But here Autobahn carves out a European house groove that enhances Kyle’s playful vocals in an entirely different way.  You can hear it below.  Tammy Jay & Kally’s “I’m The One” is immensely improved in a more languid and dramatic version that better showcases the voices and the song’s lyrical qualities.  Also included are Autobahn’s “Theme From Ballroom Remixed” and a remix of Jenny McLaren’s “You Were Never Really Mine”.  Great value for those who want the beats and style more 2011 without taking anything away from the original songs themselves.  Get it on iTunes!

Pierre Lewis “One Girl Show”

We’re getting closer to the September 19 release of Pierre’s EP Transitions, from which I previously brought to your attention the Michael Jackson meets Robin Thicke R&B/pop stylings of “Out Of My Mind”.  In a similar vein comes “One Girl Show”, which does the job of creating more anticipation for this UK singer who has loads of potential to breakout big after amassing a huge online following.  Hear it above and watch for Transitions later in the month.  The clip below finds the singer talking about Transitions a few months back.

The return of The Waterboys with An Appointment With Mr. Yeats

An all-time favourite of mine is back with a return to form of their 80’s releases.  I can remember vividly squeezing into Toronto’s El Mocambo on December 6, 1984, to hear then band-of-the-moment The Waterboys.  The Irish band, led by singer Mike Scott, completely mesmerized the small crowd of mainly music industry insiders with a very different version of emotional rock rooted in Irish traditions, in support of their first two releases, The Waterboys EP and A Pagan Place, with another, This Is The Sea, soon to follow.

Aside from a few come-and-go members, the band eventually became just another name for Mike Scott, who took it in a late 80’s, early 90’s detour of albums deeper in Irish traditional music.  After a misfired relationship with Geffen in the early 90’s for the Dream Harder album, Scott started recording under his own name, starting off with two fine ‘solo’ albums, particularly Bring ‘Em All In.  The Waterboys came back in 2001 with A Rock In The Weary Land, a mixed bag with some strong songs, strong enough to take them back out on tour for some excellent shows.  A few more releases later, we find Scott creating songs based on poems by Irish poet W.B. Yeats in An Appointment With Mr. Yeats, due out in the U.K. on September 19 (I’m interested to see if a Canadian release date will be concurrent or if we’ll have to wait till 2012).  The two songs from it that Scott has posted on Soundcloud, “Sweet Dancer” and “White Birds”, are two of the best songs I’ve heard from him since Bring ‘Em All In.  So now, I can just taste what might also be included in the Yeats album as well as a possible concert.  Mike Scott and The Waterboys, you don’t know how nice it is to have you back!   Listen to “Sweet Dancer” and “White Birds” below.

The Waterboys “White Birds”

The Waterboys “Sweet Dancer”

Tuned-On! Top 30 #360 – August 29/11 plus new music from Darren Hayes, Florence & The Machine, and Adam Tyler

The bi-weekly Tuned-On! Top 30 looked to be going in a topsy-turvy direction this week, so the only way to contain all of the insanity was to take some good listens to my favourite songs.  As much as I’ve been obsessed with Ro Danishei & Simon Curtis’ sensational “Wicked Baby”, it debuts in the stratosphere at #3.  That leaves “Just Once” by Databoy (#1) and “Made Of Pop” by Eric Saade (#2) to hold court for a second time as the last full month of summer comes to an end.  Judging from the activity below, topsy-turvy may be the expression that stays intact in two weeks.  Not surprisingly, “Laser Guns Up” by Simon Curtis is the fastest riser, blasting up the chart 16-4, while the breezy “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People arrives at #5.  Be sure to check out the free euro-trance Skeet Skeet Show remix too.

Four out of the next five songs in the Top 10 are movin’ on up.  In any other year, these songs would be destined for #1, but because of competition some may even fall short of the Top 5!  Bright Light Bright Light’s “Disco Moment” climbs to #6, while Ro Danishei hangs in the Top 10 with a second hit, “Prey To The Beat” at #7.  I can’t get “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera out of my head, so it continues up to #8, and NYC late night contemporary disco is in the form of “Prisoner Of Love” by Jessica 6 featuring the unique vocals of Antony Hegarty at #10.

Trying to break through the Top 20 are more songs on the rise.  The Shook remix of “Multi-Millionaire” by Penguin Prison climbs to #12, and while we’re in anticipation of the self-titled PP album, I’m debuting the smoking Dirty Vegas remix of PP’s “Fair Warning” at #24.  Amazing new L.A. singer Matthew Kurz jumps 21-15 with the stunningly beautiful “Fix Me”, while Wynter Gordon’s party anthem “‘Til Death” continues to move up to #16.  A cornerstone of the 21 album is Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain”, which rises to #17, while the infectious “Never Will Be Mine” by the duet of Rye Rye and Robyn jumps to #18.  The man-who-would-portray Jeff Buckley, Reeve Carney, inches up to #20 with “Rise Above 1”.

Don’t be fooled by small moves by “Stupid With You” by Eric Saade and the exuberant “My Fizzy Pop” by Kyle Brylin, they both have to wait for other songs to move out before moving up more.  Our last debut this week is one of the most energetic and catchy songs around, UK singer Neon Hitch with “Bad Dog” at #25.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right here.  Be sure to leave any comments you might have, and thanks for reading :)

Darren Hayes Times Two:  “Black Out The Sun” (video) and “Bloodstained Heart”


Well it’s fortunate for the Internet that we all get to see and hear two more songs from Darren Hayes’ upcoming album Secret Codes And Battleships.  Australia gets “Bloodstained Heart” as the second single, and it’s an intensely emotional ballad that reminds me a lot of the sentiment from “How To Build A Time Machine” and “Casey” from This Delicate Thing We’ve Made.  And if that’s not enough, the song has one of Darren’s most beautiful and affecting vocals, as well as lush instrumentation that sticks in your head.  The UK and the rest of the world gets “Black Out The Sun”, which is more familiar to Darren fans who liked “Who Would Have Thought” from Delicate Thing, as well as his Savage Garden ballads.  But the song would not be out of place next to darker tunes from Darren’s 2004 album The Tension And The Spark, such as “Unlovable” and “I Like The Way”.  It’s a sad song to be sure, but with an emotional purpose.  It looks like the rest of the songs from Secret Codes And Battleships may exceed all of our expectations!

Florence & The Machine “What The Water Gave Me”

Florence & The Machine’s Lungs was one of the most compelling releases of 2009, spawning memorable hits like “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” and “Dog Days Are Over”.  Those two hits and other songs from the album transcended the last two years thanks to the band’s touring and Florence Welch’s magnetic presence on shows like this year’s Grammy Awards.  So riding the wave of all of this is “What The Water Gave Me”, and if it’s of any indication, the sophomore album should outdo Lungs.  Like with “Rabbit Heart” and “Dog Days”, “What The Water Gave Me” is a frenzy of musical power along with Florence’s vocals which evoke shades of no less than Siouxsie Sioux, Sinead O’Connor, and Annie Lennox.  It’s scary to think that Florence & The Machine could also grab the ride that Adele got on at the inset of 2011.

Adam Tyler’s debut album Shattered Ice

It’s taken a long time to arrive, but an independent release has to be done just right in order to succeed.  I think that Adam Tyler’s Shattered Ice has a stamp of success awaiting it.  Earlier this year, we received a major taste of the LA-based singer/songwriter’s best work with “I Won’t Let You Go”, whose unique blend of affecting europop resonated through the Interweb.  The full release of Shattered Ice also builds nicely on Adam’s 2010 single release, the frenetic “Friction”.  

The album contains a varied mix of pop, dance, and three acoustically arranged versions of songs on the album, with credit to Sky Felix and his collaborators for the imaginative production.  Best of all is “Pull The Trigger”, an intriguing mix of europop and 90’s styled house carried by the phrase “bang bang baby cry”.  Hear the song at the end of the blog.  While the song does the trick in its current version, it cries out for a remix that has a screaming bass undercurrent!  Next up we have “Emergency”, an urgent song about shattered emotions that does very well in its original pop/dance mix, showcasing particularly strong vocals by Adam surrounded by some fun production tricks and instrumentation.  But it’s also available in a softer and beautiful orchestral version.  “I Won’t Let You Go” also appears in a stripped down piano version.

Also check out the intense “Music Freak”, more hearts on the sleeve in the title track, and a mid-tempo companion piece to “I Won’t Let You Go”, “Taking Back My Love”.  To me sometimes the album gets caught up in arrangements that overwhelm Adam’s voice or overshadow some of the weaker songs.  But pop music lovers will find much more to delight them on Shattered Ice.  Get it on iTunes!  “Pull The Trigger” by Adam Tyler

Wicked New Music from Ro & Simon, Frankmusik, Jerry Reid, Long Story Short, The Midway State

Ro Danishei featuring Simon Curtis “Wicked Baby”

Can’t.Get.It.Out.Of.My.Head.  I love it when a song does that to me.  But I didn’t expect that it would be this one.  There’s a perception sometimes that only throwaway songs that didn’t make the cut the first time are added on to records which have already been released.  But when an album is being put on iTunes after being available for free for most of the year, those songs had better be good, DAMN good, to change that perception.  And I even tipped you off to this one earlier (in June).  

So one of the completely unanticipated and precious gems of 2011 belongs to singer Ro Danishei with “Wicked Baby” from the ‘deluxe’ edition of End Of The Rainbow, the original version about which I blogged earlier in the year, complete with five new tracks (two new songs and three remixes, including two killer remixes of “Blackout”, by Paul Hetherington and producer Jeff “Jadion” Wells).  And while I’ve been wrapped up with songs like “Prey To The Beat”, “Drunk Txt”, and “Michelle” throughout the year, it’s her new duet with Simon Curtis (who also collaborated on “Michelle”) that now really brings the power of this record home.  

While “Michelle” was filled with high energy and anger, “Wicked Baby” is pure sizzle and joy.  It revels in reggae-tinged late 80’s and early 90’s pop which screams Sweden!!! and in particular Ace of Base’s worldwide hits.  But the real ear-opener in this song is the 18 second vocal break in which producer Jadion contemporizes the style and finishes it off in party central.  

For a smashing review that took many of my words out of my head before I could write them 😉 check out My Fizzy Pop.  I’ve run out of superlatives for “Wicked Baby”, so you’ll just have to listen to the song below and watch for my new chart on the weekend to see where it places!

Frankmusik “When I Start (To Break It All Down)” Erasure cover

Last week became a week when a performer’s worst fears come to life.  Fortunately one of the most versatile performers around, Frankmusik, had already recorded “The Fear Inside” late last year, and the theme of that song served to counter whoever so cruelly decided to leak music from his forthcoming album Do It In The A.M. (due September 27).  

Frank fought back – with incredibly cool, quickly recorded songs that he made available for free download – and fans (and particularly a bunch of NEW fans I’m sure) reaped the benefits.  He also previewed songs from the album at various blog sites, including the full version of his choice pairing with newcomer and labelmate Colette Carr, “No I.D.”, which you can hear at Arjan Writes’ blog right here.

So because Frankmusik produced the upcoming Erasure album Tomorrow’s World, and is opening for them on their North American tour, I’ve chosen to post his spot-on cover below of their new single “When I Start (To Break It All Down)”.  You may not know it, but 2011 is the year of Frankmusik…

Jerry Reid previews his new album

You first met Detroit’s Jerry Reid through the sensational Ballroom Remixed project this past Spring, when he gave the Jive some bad boy R&R style on “Out Without Your Boyfriend”, powered by Ben Waters’ zinging keys.  And you’ll get a chance to hear a Ricardo Autobahn remix with the release of the forthcoming Less Ballroom, More Remixed.  Jerry gets to show his stuff on his upcoming album, which is previewing on his website through six songs at Jerry Reid Online.  These are pretty tasty tunes, throwing you back into the late 80’s where you might swear that Jerry could cover songs by both INXS and Tommy Page in the same breath.  The rollicking “Radar” is mighty ear-catching, while “Young Wolves” I would say is simply Michael Hutchence-exy.  Songs like “The Drive” help spell out the unique charm of Jerry Reid.

Long Story Short “Girl Without A Name”

I’ve been talking up the merits of duo Long Story Short for a good part of the year since I met Daniel Luka and Nicky James back in February, and told you about their debut album What A Scene.  The deluxe version of What A Scene will be on iTunes very soon, and will include their latest single “Girl Without A Name”, which is also available on iTunes.  The song follows in the uptempo rock vein of their free download “Venom” (currently #7 on my personal chart, and it will also be included in What A Scene), but with a much more lilting and lyrical style as well as a genial melody, that climaxes with shiny strings as it rocks to a close.  So like with Ro Danishei’s “Wicked Baby”, saving some great songs to complement an already very good album is fine strategy indeed.

The Midway State “Run To You” Bryan Adams cover

If you live in Canada, you can’t watch the CBC without seeing a commercial for the show “Camelot”, and hearing a clip of The Midway State’s rendition of “Run To You”, a classic international hit from 1985 by Canada’s Bryan Adams.  The quartet previewed this song when the CBC was promoting their “Cover Me Canada” show – and quickly demonstrated how to revamp a song and make it your own.  The band had already proven this in the past when they performed with no less than Lady GaGa on a duet of Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up”, as well as with their version of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” right after he passed away.  That “Run To You” is taking on a life of its own while The Midway State promote their sophomore record Paris Or India is a testament to their exemplary choices of songs.  I’m still trying to latch on to some key songs from the well produced and thoughtful songs on Paris Or India, so until I’m ready to write about that, this cover of one of my favourite all-time Canadian songs will fare just nicely.