Gorgeous African Charity Single, plus new songs from ZACPOOR and Roz Bell

We now return you to our semi-regular blogging habit which is next only to listening to music new and old.

Above you will see the link to the video to “The Beautiful Game”, a lovely treasure of a tune by UK singer Billy Franks.  The proceeds to this song, which you can buy on iTunes, go to Prince Harry’s charity to benefit African children.  The timely theme, of course, is soccer, so the song serves a dual purpose for the love of the game played by so many African children.  It’s definitely an atypical song in these electronic times but its simplicity is contagious in the same way that took Paul Simon’s Graceland to build 24 years ago.  Billy Franks is a veteran singer who I was glad to learn was still making music a number of years back.  One of my favourite unheralded 80’s groups was UK’s Faith Brothers, of which Franks was lead vocalist.  They released two supremely excellent albums, Eventide and A Human Sound, which I’m happy to say are available most places now on iTunes.  View the video for the Faith Brothers’ 1985 track “A Stranger on Home Ground” below and get acquainted with a song that will make you want to hear more (I love YouTube for stuff like this 🙂 ).  And don’t forget to buy “The Beautiful Game”!

ZACPOOR, as he is billed, is a new Los Angeles talent that I discovered through our friends at Electroqueer.  I swear some of the best new voices around are discovered through the BlogVerse!  The song that strikes me most, which you can hear on his MySpace (as well a taste of the live rendition below in which you can hear the unique timbre in his voice) is “Silver Screens”.  Zac is obviously a songwriter who lives through his songs and would appeal to fans of someone like Jon McLaughlin as well as harder edged storytellers like Lifehouse.  If you’re in SoCal you can catch Zac live through July.

Roz Bell is a Toronto singer whose tunes I always look forward to hearing, since his laid-back and good-natured style captured me on his 2008 debut The First Sunbeams, which featured the singalongs “Yesterday Man” and “Papercut”.  A live set in Toronto in Spring 2008 broadcast on CBC radio gave him a nice showcase, and Roz followed up that album with the digital release October last Fall, which yielded another Canadian hit with “Heart Attack”.  And his soulful collaboration with 100 Akres for the free download of the funky  “Pink Cadillac” was one of my favourites of last year.  The upcoming CD is called Songs For Leaving, and from it comes the new single “Endless Summer Night”, which as the title expounds is for those clear, warm – but with a hint of breeze – city summer nights and havin’ a good time.  No brain surgery here folks – the friendliest of 2010 summer songs to make it all worthwhile.  Smells like a hit to me.  Enjoy!

Tuned-On! Top 30 #329 – June 21/10

Summer is upon us, and the music in this edition of my personal chart is generally very sunny and Popervescent!  And that’s always something I can turn to, especially during the past few weeks where life has been full throttle and I’ve just been unable to find the words to write… hence this is my first blog since June 7!  Well that’s an exception… Tomorrow, I hope to write about a few more tunes and artists that have interested me over the past while.

Penguin Prison’s “The Worse It Gets” puts me in a good mood whenever I play it, so it hangs onto the #1 spot for a 3rd chart (6 weeks).  Just below it, Simon Curtis’ “Beat Drop” stays put at #2 and I’ve now resigned myself to the fact that it is indeed my favourite track from Simon’s 8-bit Heart mixtape – I had previously wrote that “Delusional” (which like “Beat Drop” held court at the top for 4 charts) was my fave… but they’re awfully close!  Simon’s got some new music up his sleeve for sometime during the summer too.  The title track from his mixtape also lands at #4 and is surely a contender for #1.  Right behind him at #5 is Mike Posner, whose “Cooler Than Me” is now a North American hit.

The more negativity I read about Christina Aguilera’s “Not Myself Tonight”, the more it seems I appreciate it.  The song jumps 10-7… flashy and edgy video aside, you folks are missing a good song with a terrific vocal if you shunt it aside.  The Gossip lands in the Top 10 with “Pop Goes The World”, and Welsh singer Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light, has the fastest riser on the chart with the taste he’s providing of his upcoming album, “A New Word To Say”.

Below the Top 10, there’s a great deal of activity with songs pushing their way to the Top 10, including those by Justin Nozuka, Ryan Star (whose album release show in NYC I will be attending on August 3!), Evan Taubenfeld x 2, Armin Van Buuren, David Guetta, Drake, Travis Garland, and Two Door Cinema Club.  You will certainly get an infectious case of good cheer by listening to many of these songs successively!

The debuts this week all belong to women with unique vocal stylings.  First up is actually a UK trio called The Good Natured, fronted by lead singer Sarah, who could be the happy result of Adele-meets-Tracey Thorn with her own brand of intrigue.  Their track “Your Body Is A Machine” as remixed by Baby Monster debuts at #26 – a delightful acoustic video clip of the song is at the top of this page.  Next up, Goldfrapp arrives on this chart for the first time with “Dreaming”, a track from the duo’s latest album Head First.  I’ve never truly got to appreciate Goldfrapp’s past efforts beyond passing listens, and the songs from Head First have yet to really gel with me – almost an about-face for the duo to create a record that might be over-the-top commercial.  But within it is “Dreaming”, which captured me with it’s heavy late-70’s disco influence while also giving a tip of the hat to Kate Bush along the way.  Last up, Reni Lane is an American singer whose album Ready dropped last Fall.  “Place for Us” has been gracing my iTouch for a while now, and the haunting quality of her voice in the Will Eastman remix has sunk in.  You can check out the video of the original mix at the bottom of this page.

You can view the chart in its entirety by clicking on the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or by clicking right here.

Thanks for reading and any comments that you have are greatly appreciated!

My next chart will be posted early in two weeks as I will be on a family vacation during the first week of July.

Pop Goes The Summer?: Tuned-On! Top 30 #328 – June 7/10

There’s way too much going on in my life right now… including a ‘magic’ birthday of mine later this week… but Music is  among a select few things that I can count on 🙂

Penguin Prison’s “The Worse It Gets” hangs on to the #1 spot for a second chart, and despite its melancholy sounding title, it’s a rather chipper song for a long drive… I like to think of driving along the ocean in L.A.  And there’s a great late-70’s-sounding remix by Starsmith that’s perfect for the sunniest of days.  Kelis’ knowing “Acapella” moves up to #3, so we’ll see if she can challenge Mr. Chris Glover for the top.  Clayton Senne’s energetic “Wonderland” has been patient but gets up to #4 – worth the wait!

Simon Curtis had his second live set in Kansas City this time, and while the glorious “8-bit Heart” continues its rise to #6, he also got to perform “Joystick” for the first time (definitely nice to hear more of Simon in the live mix this time too)… video is at the bottom of this blog.  A guy he’s praised, who is also his competition in some ways, is Mike Posner, whose playful “Cooler Than Me” glides  up to #7.  Even though the movie fell short at the box office – and I still want to see it – Mika’s “Kick Ass” climbs to #8.  And a needlessly maligned “Not Myself Tonight” by Christina Aguilera lands in the Top 10 – it’s only her fifth chart appearance in Tuned-On! land, but they’ve all gone Top 10, too.

This week’s fastest riser is a song that’s grown on me immensely during the last few weeks.  Australian trio The Gossip spice up the upcoming summer with “Pop Goes The World”.  I know a lot of people prefer other tracks from Music For Men, but I really like Beth Ditto’s vocals on this one.  The glory of “Unwoken Dream (King With Everything)” by Justin Nozuka looks Top Ten bound, as does journeyman rocker Ryan Star’s “Breathe”, which is becoming a force to be reckoned with almost a year after first appearing in iTunes.  Rod Thomas aka Bright Light Bright Light is performing showcase shows in England in anticipation of his first official release.   In the meantime, enjoy “A New Word To Say”, which is the highest rising of the last chart’s debuts at #18.

This chart’s newbies are a varied lot.  We start with the party-hardy of “It’s Like That”, another track from Evan Taubenfeld’s winning Welcome To The Blacklist Club digital release.  Then we have what could be this summer’s jam.  Yes it’s VERRRRY familiar – almost a knock off of 2006’s “Love Is Gone” mixed with a few other catchy and borrowed hooks – but David Guetta has it together with fave vocalist Chris Willis, as well as Fergie and LMFAO (who also graced one of last year’s big jams, “Shooting Star” by David Rush), and it’s just impossible to resist – witness the video at the bottom of this blog.  Next up, newcomer Travis Garland’s first single is “Believe”.  I heard it before his American Idol appearance and didn’t even see it – just heard about it.  This one has mass appeal and shouldn’t be ignored.  Lastly, Irish band Two Door Cinema Club grow on you with tracks from their CD Tourist History, most notably with “Something Good Can Work”.

Enjoy the full chart using the link to the right under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** or simply click right here.

David Guetta & Chris Willis featuring Fergie & LMFAO “Gettin’ Over You”

Simon Curtis “Joystick” live in Kansas City (June 5)

Random but Interesting: iTouch Shuffle

This random selection helped make a long drive into work bearable on Tuesday morning…

  • Anna Domino “Summer” (1986) from album ‘Anna Domino’
  • Blondie “Call Me” (1980)
  • Roz Bell “Night To End” from album ‘October’
  • Searchers “Love Potion Number Nine” (1965)
  • New Order “Mr. Disco” (1989) from album ‘Technique’
  • Dan Black “Wonder”
  • Raspberries “Go All The Way” (1972)
  • Howard Jones “And Do You Feel Scared (Eric Prydz mix)” (2006) a redux of “Things Can Only Get Better” 20 years later
  • Mika “Blame It On The Girls”
  • Jay-Z/Linkin Park  “Numb/Encore” (2005)
  • Kane Gang “Gun Law” (1984)  see video below from album ‘The Bad & Lowdown World of The Kane Gang’
  • Thunderheist “Jerk It”
  • Alicia Keys featuring Tony Toni Toné “Diary” (2004)
  • Alicia Keys “Harlem’s Nocturne” (2004)

The Story Behind Javi’s “Situation”

It’s one of the more unassuming songs of 2010 – suddenly, from out of nowhere, it’s got you by both ears.  That’s “Situation” by New York singer Javi Silva, a pop/dance shaker which I tweeted about as early as last February that’s one of my favourite songs of the year, and has an interesting back story in the singer’s own words:

My producer gave me this disco beat and I just got this image of this smooth operator on the prowl at a club.  The song is his internal monologue. The main mix of the song isn’t even done yet. That [Monsieur] Adi remix got out really early.

The wonders of the BlogVerse and Internet made this happen, and we’re all the luckier for it.  Can’t wait to hear the original as well as other versions of “Situation”, a song that will make remixers very happy indeed.

You can download “Situation (Monsieur Adi remix)” for free right here.

Summer of ’10 Make Up Song: Sam Taylor’s “It’s A Mistake”

Picture those final summer episodes of TV shows with romantic sub-plots when the guy and gal make-up.  Sam Taylor’s “It’s A Mistake” is the potential soundtrack to many of those scenes.  It’s a stunningly simple pop song that suits Sam’s pitch-perfect voice to a tee.

Sam’s one of my 10 Performers to Watch in 2010, based on his 2009 songs “Run Away” and “Sometimes I Need You”.  “It’s A Mistake” just straight up gives me chills.  Don’t underestimate the power of a song this unassuming.

Someone please give us a full, proper Sam Taylor album later in this year (oh, and please include a duet or two?) 🙂

Listen to “It’s A Mistake”:

Superior Power Pop: Evan Taubenfeld’s “Welcome To The Blacklist Club”

After numerous delays, it was great to see the digital release of LA-based singer/guitarist/songwriter Evan Taubenfeld’s Welcome To The Blacklist Club, which has been in the works for the last several years.  May is the perfect month in which to release a record like this because it has Sunny Days and Warm Beaches stamped all over it.

This release has many pluses to it but for the less casual listener, it may not offer much that is innovative-sounding or groundbreaking in its slightly more than 30 minutes of tunes.  Simply put, it’s superior power pop for the new decade, full of zippy melodies, infectious vocalizing, solid musicianship, and most of all, Evan’s songwriting, which is alternately down-to-earth, witty, or cynical.  The hopeless romantic in you will find favour with tracks like “Story of Me and You”, the new single “Pumpkin Pie”, or “Waiting”.  The cynical rocker in you will like the bite of last year’s initial iTunes single “Cheater of the Year” or “Better Than You”.  And the party hardy will enjoy the fun release of “It’s Like That” and the numerous pop culture references in last year’s first official single “Boy Meets Girl”.  Quirkier yet are “Razorblade Limeade” and “Evan Way”, which features good friend Avril Lavigne (who also co-wrote it).

Many of the songs make you feel you’re not alone in this world with falling in and out of love, and not necessarily being successful at it.  But it also puts aside sentimentality in favour of rocking out and having a great time.  This is where Welcome To The Blacklist Club is at its best – in Evan’s rock’n roll world, everyone is welcome (“It’s Like That” is testament to that – “from California to Iraq”), and you’ll be glad you joined.

Check out songs from Welcome To The Blacklist Club on Evan’s MySpace page. They sound great in concert so be sure to check out Evan’s show when he’s on tour.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #327 – May 24/10

As we get closer to the summer months (and at least with some summer weather where I’m from), all kinds of bright and shiny new music continues to surface.  But first things first:  A new #1!

Penguin Prison’s “The Worse It Gets”, a great song for a spring/summer drive (the last such escapist song about cars recently that comes to mind is Darren Hayes’ “Casey”) in a car called Jenny, steals #1 away from the very busy Simon Curtis who spent 4 charts (8 weeks) atop with “Beat Drop”.  Javi’s gorgeous “Situation” slides up 4-3, while “Acapella” by Kelis (who looks like she will be touring with Robyn) looks like a future #1 as it moves up 12-5.

Our favourite new and Florida-based piano man, Clayton Senne, soars 10-6 with the rollicking “Wonderland”, while long-lasting songs by BT (“Suddenly”) and Vampire Weekend (“Cousins”) continue to rise within the Top 10.  And there he is again – the emotional centrepiece to our Boy Robot’s same titled mixtape, “8-bit Heart”, is the fastest riser on the chart, moving 21-10 for Simon Curtis.

In a competitive mid-chart, songs by Mika, Christina Aguilera, Mike Posner, Fabio Lendrum, and Matt Morris either get stuck or hold for two more weeks until other songs above begin to tumble.  This leaves last week’s remaining debuts by Justin Nozuka, The Gossip, and Ryan Star to all rise 6 positions on the chart and stake their claims!

Back to those debuts.  They comprise a bright and shiny mix of electronica, dance, pop/rap, and power pop.  Bright Light Bright Light is really Welsh singer/songwriter/producer/remixer Rod Thomas, who is getting a lot of attention in the BlogVerse (brought to my attention by Paul at MyFizzyPop) with the 80’s post-new wave vibe of “A New Word To Say”, which debuts at #24 (you can hear the song at the top of the page and can download it from the BrightLightx2 official site when you subscribe to Rod’s newsletter).  Next up, Holland’s Armin Van Buuren never fails to disappoint every few years with an intense brand of emotional electronica that is rarely found elsewhere.  Teaming with vocalist VanVelzen, who has a beautifully imperfect voice with great range, his latest is “Broken Tonight” at #25 (see the video at the bottom of the page).  Just on sheer personality alone, my fellow Canadian Drake’s “Over” has immense appeal and it debuts at #26.  And this past week saw the digital release of Evan Taubenfeld’s Welcome To The Blacklist Club, which opens with his latest single “Pumpkin Pie”, which I blogged about previously and now debuts at #27.

Coming August 3: Ryan Star “11:59”

It was announced on Ryan Star’s website today that his album 11:59 will see a release date of August 3, 2010.  For those of us who have enjoyed “Last Train Home”, “Right Now”, and “Breathe” over the past two years, the long wait is over!  No album track listing yet – I hope all three are on the CD, but I know “Breathe” will be.

Cool ‘n Quirky iTouch Shuffle

On my drive out of town today, one of those cool ‘n quirky mixes of music that you like happens and you don’t end up pushing the skip button.  Great tunes to keep you company always make for a pleasant and fast drive!

Gary Wright “Dream Weaver” (1976)

Remy Shand “The Colour of Day” (2002)

Human League “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” (1983)

The Midway State “Fire Keeps on Burning”

Matt & Kim “Daylight”

Roz Bell “Break of Night”

Adele “My Same”

Electronic “Dark Angel” (1996)

Spoons “Talk Back” (1984)

The The “Perfect” (1983)

Dennis Coffey “Scorpio” (1972)

Mitchell Hunter “They Might Say” (2004)

Darren Hayes “The Future Hold’s A Lion’s Heart”

Jaimie Vernon “(Letter to a) Dear Chum”

Faith Brothers “That’s Just The Way That It Is With Me” (1987)

Any comments or other quirky playlists, please reply with comments/lists! 🙂