BILLCS Chart #377 – April 23, 2012

With Springtime just brimming with new music, this new edition of my chart was pretty decisive.

Up top for a second appearance at #1 is a song that doesn’t look like it will let go, unless it yields to another song by the same performer:  “Someday” from River Tiber’s independent album From Now On.  Another brilliant and totally different song from the album, “Symmetry”, soars 7-3.  You can get From Now On (cover below) on iTunes and find out more about River Tiber at http://www.rivertiber.com (including a free download of the EP Massachusetts).  Sandwiched in-between is Eric Saade’s long-lasting “Backseat”, while the Swede sensation’s “Fingerprints” falls to #5.  “Glad You Came” by The Wanted holds steady at #4.

The Top 10 continues to be super busy.  Toronto’s Colin Munroe has another collaboration on deck with RZA called “Invincible” which you will hear more about soon, but in the meantime his pairing with Pusha-T on “The Fight Of My Life” rises to #6.  You can get both for free with an email subscription at http://www.colinmunroe.com.  The release of the Promising Promises album is coming up within a month, and Jon McLaughlin & Sara Bareilles’ duet of “Summer Is Over” climbs to #7.  Turns out I like The Knocks’ cover of “Midnight City” better than the M83 original.  Featuring rousing vocals by Mandy Lee, it rises to #8.  The exuberance of “Call It Want You Want” by Foster The People sends it to #9, and “Stay Awhile” by Ryan Star moves up to #10 as he is about to begin another tour on May 17.  Watch the video for “Stay Awhile” below.

Moving on, Sam Sparro’s perfectly joyful slice of retro soul “Happiness” jumps to #12, while the fastest riser on the chart is by the performer pictured at the top of this post.  Welsh singer Rod Thomas is Bright Light Bright Light, and his long-awaited album Make Me Believe In Hope is due June 4.  Rod specializes in melancholy dance-pop that always has a bright side to it.  Thus we have one of his best releases to date “Waiting For The Feeling”, moving up 23-14, with an EP of remixes on deck on April 30.  To celebrate the upcoming album release, Rod is releasing limited pink cassette bootleg versions of his album which feature some ‘special’ versions of his songs.  So to coincide with the appearance of “Disco Moment” on the stunning This Beat Is Poptronik compilation,  there is “Gypsy Moment” by Bright Light Bright Light vs. Crystal Waters!  Listen below and download for free!

Last week’s other debuts all move up four spots on the chart:  “Music Freak” by Poptronik featured performer Adam Tyler is at #20, Keane’s “Silenced By The Night” is at #21, and Scotland’s Aerials Up rises to #22 with “I Am”.  Watch for these songs to make impressive moves in the coming weeks!

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right hereYou can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.

As I said earlier, the chart was pretty decisive, and I’ve written about all of the chart’s debuts before, the highest two just two weeks ago.  The unique blend of talents that is Mark Foster (of Foster The People) plus DJ/producer A-Trak plus Kiwi sensation Kimbra is featured on “Warrior” (#23), which is a free download courtesy of Converse and Journeys.  Independent of the raucous video, the song is extremely catchy and is definitely hit-worthy unto itself!  Then we have a song whose interest to me was reignited by its stunning video.  That’s “Stupid Mistake” by Darren Hayes which bows at #24 as the fourth single from Secret Codes And Battleships, which contains some of Darren’s best ever vocals.  Then we have the perfect pairing of Vincent Did It, the alter-ego of Frankmusik, and Quigley, who is his gal Casey Carlson (you may have seen her on tour with him when he wasn’t singing with Colette Carr).  From Vince’s free download of The SOPA Opera EP is the beautiful “Notice Me” (#26).  Vince needs no major record label to continue creating stunning new music.  Lastly, from the much-awaited forthcoming album Magic Hour is Scissor Sisters with the Calvin Harris co-production “Only The Horses” at #27.  This instant ear-grabber should put the Sisters back on the map outside of dance clubs.  It’s a perfect pop radio confection – let’s hope it gets there.

BILLCS Top 30 #376 – April 9/12 plus Stunning New Videos from Darren Hayes and Mark Foster/Kimbra/A-Trak

The new chart has another changeover at the top and four debuts, plus I have comments on two new videos in what will likely be my only blog post till the weekend.

Being a former college radio programmer, I have always been a huge supporter of independent music.  And while independently released music has appeared in my chart over the years, it wasn’t until around 2009 when the calibre and quantity of quality independent music appeared to dominate the commercial releases through major record labels.  So more than half of my current chart currently consists of independently released songs or ones that are not yet available in North America.

Advancing to the top therefore is the independent release of “Someday” by Toronto band River Tiber.  “Someday” is a song that slowly draws you in, basking in some great guitar work, and then takes you on a little journey that keeps you hanging in till singer Tommy Paxton-Beesley’s last breath at the end.  River Tiber also has a quieter more moody song in the Top 10 at #7 with “Symmetry”.  This one relies on a vocal climax followed by relaxing jazzy instrumentation and has an incredibly dreamy feel-good vibe.  Be sure to buy River Tiber’s From Now On album on iTunes.  You can view the videos for both songs by reading my comments about From Now On right here.

All eyes are on One Direction and The Wanted right now, but the latter’s “Glad You Came” has won me over and soars to #4 on my chart.  Ya gotta admit – everyone has their favourite boy-band songs.  For me, the last one that was special was the BT-produced “Pop” by N Sync, which got to the top of my chart for a month in 2001.  In addition to “Symmetry”, song on the rise in the lower Top 10 include “Something” by JMSN at #6 (the drums/percussion arrangement alone is outstanding), “Summer Is Over” by Jon McLaughlin & Sara Bareilles at #8, and Colin Munroe’s magnificent “The Fight Of My Life”, featuring Pusha-T at #9.  I can’t wait for more from the talented Colin, including perhaps a video for this song?  Listen below.

The rest of the chart is jam-packed with great songs, some of which by all rights should be in my Top 10 if there wasn’t so much fantastic music out right now.  As M83’s “Midnight City” slides down the chart, the unique cover by The Knocks featuring Mandy Lee is the fastest riser, climbing 19-11 and about to pass the #10 peak of the original.  Nadia Ali is one of the busiest female singers in dance music today, and she lends her many talents to Spencer & Hill’s “Believe It” which ranks #12.  Ryan Star is about to embark on another tour in support of his upcoming album, led by the single “Stay Awhile”, which climbs to #13.  

“Could It Be Magic” by Elouise revives Barry Manilow and/or Take That via Donna Summer’s rendition at #15, followed by “Happiness” by Sam Sparro (making us anxiously wait for the Return To Paradise album) at #16, Foster The People’s “Call It What You Want” at #17 (which makes a great mix with Scissor Sisters’ “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'”), Kaya & Pierre Lewis’ beauty of a ballad “When I Was Blind” at #18, “Hand Dance” by that tantalizing teasing trio Liquid Diet at #19, and “Prince Of Nothing Charming”, the understated lead single from Tyler Hilton’s top notch Forget The Storm.  I’ll have my own review of Forget The Storm soon – I didn’t realize it until reading further about it, but Tyler released Forget The Storm through his own Hooptie Music label (whose name comes from Tyler’s song “When it Comes”).

Debuting in this edition though are four songs, the first of which you can view at the top of this blog post.

Rod Thomas under his Bright Light Bright Light moniker is a performer whose releases I always listen for since I first heard “A New Word To Say” more than two years ago.  “Waiting For The Feeling” is classic Bright Light x2 as Rod always finds those moments in time in-between everything and captures them beautifully in words and music.  His Make Me Believe In Hope is now due in June and I just can’t wait to hear it in full.  “Waiting For The Feeling” debuts at #23 and will undoubtedly join his best songs near the top of my chart very soon.

Next up is “Music Freak” by Adam Tyler from his Shattered Ice album.  As “Like A Drug” departs my chart (but is still in the midst of full-on promotion thanks to its compelling video), I’m adding “Music Freak” because over the several months since the release of Shattered Ice, the lyrics of this song have become increasingly important to me as a music fan.  Being a music freak myself, I can’t let it hide in the midst of several strong songs on the album, so “Music Freak” debuts at #24.  You can listen to it right here.

I’ve already posted blogs about the next two songs, but they bear repeating!  Keane has come out of the gate blazing with “Silenced By The Night” at #25, the first gorgeous single from the upcoming Strangeland album.  Watch the video below.  And lastly, Scotland’s Aerials Up is a talent to watch for with their independent release of “I Am” at #26 – video is posted again below.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right hereYou can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.

Darren Hayes “Stupid Mistake”

I got up this morning to find that Darren had posted his new video for “Stupid Mistake”, which I had heard was to be the fourth single from the singer’s fourth brilliant solo album Secret Codes And Battleships.  The video is captivating in its simplicity, which shows Darren alternately in stage make up or in the process of removing it.  In relationships whether we know it or not we all put on masks, which eventually get stripped away like make up.  And if you keep the mask on too long, then you lose yourself in your daily life which becomes a performance and ultimately will hurt the ones you love.  Watch it all the way through, it’s amazing!  Those of you who have had long-term relationships end will completely relate.

Mark Foster + Kimbra + A-Trak = “Warrior”

It’s a sly bit of promotion for Chuck Taylor Converse shoes and Journeys, but what a cool way to do it!  Who’d have ever thought Foster The People’s Mark Foster, New Zealand singer Kimbra, and Canadian DJ extraordinaire A-Trak would all get together for a project, let alone film a highly entertaining video?  “Warrior” is a must-view and listen, and could be a sneaky hit in the making for the trio.  I seriously wonder how many bruises were achieved during the making of the video.  I’m not into watching wrestling but the entire concept is spot on.  Best of all, you can download “Warrior”for free from the Journeys website right here.  Kudos to whoever planned this project – more please!

Quick Bits: New Songs/Videos from Jon McLaughlin, JMSN, Aerials Up, Gravitonas, Bim, Elspeth

Jon McLaughlin featuring Sara Bareilles “Summer Is Over”

It’s taken a awhile, but to bridge the time until the release of Jon’s upcoming Promising Promises CD comes the video for “Summer Is Over”.  The duet featuring Sara made a very good song even that much better.  The video is easy to relate to, with Jon and Sara on duelling pianos under a weird old tree in the middle of somewhere.  More tour dates for Jon at his website – be sure to check out his show!

JMSN “Jameson”

Another chapter in the talented mind of Christian Berishaj, aka JMSN, in this latest video for “Jameson” from an album that still intrigues two months after release, †Priscilla†.  With this sad tale about temptation and the loss of innocence, JMSN and his team continue to startle and captivate.  Be sure to purchase †Priscilla† on iTunes if you haven’t done so.  And if you’re baffled about the video, you can go to JMSN’s Tumblr for an explanation.

Aerials Up “I Am” (vide0) and “The Old And The Innocent” (new single)

The Scottish collective that I want you to hear has just released a new single to iTunes, “The Old and The Innocent”.  Like its predecessor “I Am” (a new favourite of mine), the music of Aerials Up is a lively blend of pop/rock with beautifully arranged additions of violin and cello into the mix.  I’m predicting big things for this band – watch for their album soon!

Gravitonas, “Call Your Name”

Over at the My Fizzy Pop blog, Paul is often right about a lot of great new acts, it sometimes just takes me a few more songs to catch on.  The buzz on Gravitonas didn’t hit me until their Ballroom Remixed contribution called “Fun and Games”.  But the duo’s latest “Call Your Name” is shimmery Swedish electropop heaven perfect for a hot summer’s day.  Gravitonas comprises singer Andreas Öhrn and ex-BWO/Army of Lovers legendary Swedish producer Alexander Bard.  A new album is due later in the year.  Watch the somewhat peculiar video below… to me the song’s the key here.

And just a friendly reminder to remember to check out videos for British duo Bim’s “Scream”, which I told you about a few weeks back, as well as Ireland’s Elspeth, whose debut album Coax is imminent.  I wrote about the band back in the Fall, so have another look at “Think Back”.  My recent ramblings on post-grunge music making a contemporary comeback seem to be on the mark.

Published in: on April 3, 2012 at 11:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BILLCS Chart #375 and Canadian Music Week Update

My new personal chart is taking a backseat to my Canadian Music Week update.  Despite lots and lots and lots of walking as well as shifting my regular body clock a few times to accommodate some shows, I was really glad I decided to purchase a Canadian Music Week wristband this year.  I had been to shows during CMW in the past but I really had the urge to get out and see some shows, since my winter months were pretty concert-deprived.

As much as I love the dance music that takes regular residence on my chart, getting away from autotune and seeing mainly raw live performances was well worth it.  I got to meet a lot of great people which shows me that the people making music out there are still the ones I enjoy most.  There are many talented people behind the scenes, but too much of a requisite amount of a-holes.  I used to find that with performers, too, but not in recent years.

So here are my highlights – if you follow me on Twitter, you pretty much realized that I needed to be cloned 😉

THE TEMPER TRAP:  The Aussie quintet is back with its self-titled follow up to Conditions due this Spring.  The group provided an entertaining mix of savvy pop, rock and dance music, capped with its big hit “Sweet Disposition”.  The new songs sound very gripping and I can’t wait to hear them.  Dougy Mandagi is an engaging front man.  Check out the video for new single “Need Your Love” below.

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT:  It was way too long since I last saw Martha open up for her brother Rufus in one of his shows about 7 or 8 years ago.  I saw an in-store 20 minute acoustic set, and she was very inspiring and in fantastic voice.  Another upcoming album that will be well worth the wait.

AERIALS UP:  The first of my pop collectives, as I blogged about last week, the 7 piece Scottish unit led by Alan Kemlo offered up one of the very best shows I saw with a perfect balance of instrumentation.  The band was totally wrapped up and in the moment on stage, and the songs from their upcoming album due in April sounded fabulous.  Despite an effort to see them a second time that was screwed up from wrong information I received from the venue, I will look forward when Aerials Up return to Toronto.  I think they made a whole lot of fans here.

GENTLEMEN HALL:  Despite mediocre and sometimes distorted sound, the 6 piece Boston rock band led by Gavin Merlot and Cobi Mike who were my second pop collective stirred up a tempest on stage.  With synthesizers prominently in the mix, the band did not hesitate to add heavy guitars or some lovely melodies for a diverse set.  I got new appreciation for their song “Gravity Will Break Our Bones”.

IN MY COMA:  Though I didn’t get to see their CMW show, I did catch a set by the three piece Toronto band led by Jasper James that I wrote about recently a few days before CMW.  The band is tight with a rich contemporary take on post-grunge rock that is presented in their finely crafted CD package Magnets And Miracles.

BIG SCARY:  Big Scary is a duo from Australia comprising Tom Iansek and Jo Syme.  Lest you think that a the market for a two piece band with a female drummer comprised The (now defunct) White Stripes and Matt & Kim, we’ll you’re wrong.  Big Scary indeed does have a big rock sound (guitar/keyboards/drums) that takes inspiration from post 80’s new wave.  There seems to be lots of room for anything in their mix so I’ll look forward to hearing songs from their recent album Vacation.

THE SLAKADELIQS:  I’ve written about this Toronto outfit led by Slakah the Beatchild twice now, and was fortunate to catch their premiere public show.  Despite being sabotaged by poor sound, the band invited guest vocalists up on stage, to give their show a real community vibe.  This in turn was enhanced with their guitar players alternating with some fantastic dual cello work!  Best of all at the end came Justin Nozuka, who lifted the set into an entirely different game with his vocals for “Keep Breathing” and “Love Controls The Sun”.

RIVER TIBER:  It was very cool for me to actually meet Tommy Paxton-Beesley at The Slakadeliqs show, before I saw his band play their own set in a well-attended graveyard shift (3:00 a.m.) the next night.  River Tiber delivered the goods in performance especially on “Someday”, “These Are Centuries”, and a well-chosen rendition of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun”.  As I wrote a few weeks back, River Tiber’s From Now On is one of the few Must Hear records of 2012 thus far.

With that having been said, let’s move into chart mode 🙂

I could not leave Eric Saade stranded at #2 with “Backseat” after 10 weeks.  The last song I remember in a similar situation was “Crush (1980 Me)” by Darren Hayes, which got one appearance at #1 in 2002, but became one of my 10 favourite songs of the last decade!  I love the rock flavour and sexual undertones in “Backseat”.  If you haven’t heard it yet, listen below.  His other song on the rise on the chart, “Fingerprints”, slides up to #3 too.

Then back we go to Tommy Paxton-Beesley and River Tiber.  “Someday” is currently taking over my iTouch and it climbs 11-2 to challenge for #1 in two weeks.  Not only that, but another River Tiber song “Symmetry” will grab you when you’re not looking.  It debuts at #12.

The rest of the Top 10 shapes up with single point gains with songs by Graffiti6, JMSN, and Joe Jonas.  M83 enters at #10 with “Midnight City”, but it’s The Wanted that unexpectedly storm the Top 10 with “Glad You Came” at #9.  Oh, and boy bands are NOT back.  They never went away.

As the release of his Promising Promises album arrives in May, the stirring duo of Jon McLaughlin with Sara Bareilles on “Summer Is Over” inches towards the Top 10 at #11.  On a different bent, Colin Munroe’s inspiring “The Fight Of My Life” draws me in listen after listen and moves up to #13.  Last week’s other debuts all fare well.  The Knocks’ take on “Midnight City” rises to #19; “Could It Be Magic” is transformed by Elouise and climbs to #20; “Happiness” by the ever-talented Sam Sparro jumps to #22 (video is below); Kaya and Pierre Lewis  take “When I Was Blind” to #23; and “Call It What You Want” is at #24 for Foster The People.

It’s been almost 5 years since Tyler Hilton appeared in my chart with “You’ll Ask For Me”, but in the interim he’s been busy performing both on stage and on camera in film and on TV (“One Tree Hill”).  It’s hard to believe that Forget The Storm will only be his sophomore full album release, his first being 2004’s The Tracks Of Tyler Hilton.  But if the pensive and laid back “Prince Of Nothing Charming” (debuting at #26 – his 7th entry on my chart though!) proves anything it’s that Tyler Hilton is on his way to continuing to please his many fans and expand worldwide.  Watch for the release of Forget The Storm on April 3.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right hereYou can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.

The Return of Pop Collectives: Aerials Up and Gentlemen Hall

Music festivals always bring out a variety of performers.  Two that I’m looking forward to seeing at Canadian Music Week are multi-member pop collectives.

Alan (Kemy) Kemlo leads Scotland’s Aerials Up, a 7 member band that features the classic pop/rock band instrumentation, which is in turn augmented by violin and cello.  Their hit-bound pop/rock arrangements then make my ears perk up as the additional instruments round out the sound and give it alternately playful, folky, and classy tones.  The group is in the process of putting final touches on a full album, and have opened for the likes of fellow countryfolk Snow Patrol and Paolo Nutini.  

Aerials Up has already released the downright infectious crowd-pleaser “I Am” and a 3 song EP called Superglue, whose title song grabs you with its classical start up but takes you to rockland with some highly complimentary harmonizing.  These days you do indeed need superglue to keep pop collectives together, but from what I hear, Aerials Up is one tight unit and I look forward to listening to much more from them.  Listen to “I Am”  and “Superglue” below and buy them on iTunes.

Aerials Up performs twice during Canadian Music Week, first on Thursday March 22 at 11:00 pm at the Drake Underground (sold out to the general public already), and then on Saturday March 24 in the international music showcase at the Global Village Backpackers, Departure Lounge (doors are at 7:30 pm).

“I Am”

“Superglue”

It’s a bit hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since Boston’s Gentlemen Hall came into the mass public’s eye on the Billboard Music Awards, after which I blogged about their engaging song “How Long Have They Been Watching?”.  A six piece band, the emphasis here is on captivating lead vocals carried by vintage 80’s synth sounds and other instrumentation such as flute and piccolo.  Since that time there has been much, much touring and a six song EP called When We All Disappear, which you can get for free from the band’s Facebook page with an email subscription.  

The EP has some lush sounding production, but it was the band’s strong  showcase on that awards show plus some of their performance videos that sold me, so I’m looking forward to seeing Gavin, Cobi, and bandmates now that they’re in my city.  Listen to “Gravity Will Break Our Bones” and “Take Me Under” below.

Gentlemen Hall perform during Canadian Music Week tonight at midnight at Lee’s Palace, and then again on Saturday March 24 at midnight at Sneaky Dee’s.

“Gravity Will Break Our Bones”

“Take Me Under”

Published in: on March 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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