More intriguing alt.rock from new #Toronto duo #Homestead with “Rather Be Friends”

HOMESTEAD, “Rather Be Friends”

If last month’s “Runaway” was an interesting slice of alt.dance music, then “Rather Be Friends”, by Toronto duo Homestead (producer/guitarist Liam DeBoer and vocalist Joël), ups the intrigue ante a few more notches.  You must stick with this one.  The beginning definitely starts off a little slow, but just after the minute mark things start to brew, and electronics creep in.  Then with some change-ups to Joël’s vocal, at times sung/spoken, the mystery of the song starts to reveal itself – who is it that would actually ‘rather be friends’ here?  The last minute of the song is well worth waiting for, as Joël’s vocal totally rocks out and catches you by surprise.  Like with “Runaway”, there’s a lot of mystique in “Rather Be Friends”, but this time it’s more rock-flavoured and could appeal to fans of Toronto’s Edge 102 or Indie-88, where it should find favour on either of their playlists.  I guess we will never entirely know what’s up Liam’s and Joël’s sleeves, and because of this, a few songs in, Homestead as a project has a lot of potential.

Published in: on July 16, 2019 at 9:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#BILLCSTop30 #565 – July 8/19

There’s a lot happening on the new chart.  And it’s a bit of a strange week, because most of the debuts from two weeks ago don’t move up very much, except one, which is the Fastest Riser on the chart.  That’s because a number of long-term favourites are still very much in play up near the top of the chart, and they’ve created a bit of a roadblock which will ease over the next month.  But two classic singers reappear on the chart along with a strong independent release on the rise.

Not about to let go of #1 anytime soon is “Good Things Fall Apart”, the definitive slice of emotional electronica which seems to have increased in popularity this year, by Illenium and singer/songwriter Jon Bellion.  

Nashville’s Mokita has a song about reconciling his feelings for a past relationship called “Kiss And Tell” (above) that advances to #3, which is where his previous song “London” peaked a couple of months ago.  And he’s followed up “Kiss And Tell” with a gentle new electronic pop song called “ICLYA”, which stands for “I Can’t Love You Anymore” (below).

Canadian producer Famba has his second solid radio hit locally with “Swear To God”, and it becomes his second Top 10 song on this chart, moving 11-6.  “Right Here Right Now” got to #2 back in late 2016.

A number of veteran dance producers are releasing some of the best music of their careers this year, and Australia’s Timmy Trumpet is one of them.  The compelling “World At Our Feet” (above) climbs 13-7.  Check our Danny Avila’s spot-on remix below.

Another producer making his Top 10 debut on the chart is France’s Kidswaste, with vocalist KOLE, with the slight melodies of “Sleeping Pills” climbing 12-10.

The next song is definitely competing with other strong songs from Mark Ronson’s Late Night Feelings album, including songs featuring Lykki Li and Camila Cabello.  But it’s “Don’t Leave Me Lonely”, featuring the stunning YEBBA, which takes hold of this chart and moves up 17-11.

Manila Killa recently announced another leg of his 1993 tour, which will actually stop this time in Toronto at the Velvet Underground in October 🙂  In the meantime “Atypical” (featuring GiGi) climbs up a few more notches 16-13.

Breaking through all six of the new entries from two weeks ago to become the Fastest Riser is “Monday Blues”, the super cool house track from L.A.’s Eric Sharp and vocalist Zhao.  It soars 25-18.

Also making a big move is “Even In Confusion” by Italy’s Eric Zava and DJ Mirko B featuring singer Daniel Gorash, rising 28-23.  Mirko previously appeared on the chart at the top of 2017 with “#Bomber” (#17) with Beatmarthz.

The Highest Debut at a stellar #16 is “Higher Love”, the cover of the 1986 #1 hit by Steve Winwood as recorded by Norway’s Kygo, who was given the opportunity of working with archive tapes from the estate of Whitney Houston to bring her classic voice, circa 1990, to a new audience.  It’s a timely release for its message; Arista Records wouldn’t include it in the I’m Your Baby Tonight album at the time because they wanted her to get away from recording cover versions, and the original was still fairly fresh at the time.  But bravo to Kygo and those on the estate who trusted him to represent the singer well – which he does perfectly 🙂  Strangely, it’s Kygo’s first appearance on this chart.  Last year’s “Remind Me To Forget” with Miguel should have charted but I didn’t hear it till well after it peaked.  Whitney only appeared three times on the chart in her lifetime, with “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” and “My Love Is Your Love” (both #9) in 1999, and the underrated duet with Enrique Iglesias, “Could I Have This Kiss Forever” (#15), in 2000.

After reaching #5 on this chart late last year with “Wild Sun”, UK singer/songwriter Sam Dickinson is back with the hearfelt “All We Are” at #26.  This one is receiving regular BBC radio play and hopefully its audience will grow with each spin.  Like with “Higher Love”, the message is extremely timely.  It’s from Sam’s new EP From The Glass House Part 2.  “All We Are”, like “Wild Sun”, is also available on an EP of a variety of remixes for your dancing pleasure.

The third debut is from a performer who last appeared on this chart in 2003, which to date has been her only appearance.  That’s Celine Dion, whose new song “Flying On My Own”, is nothing short of inspiring and bows at #29.  Her previous entry on the chart?  Her cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “I Drove All Night”, which in its Hex Hector remix version reached #16. Watch the live performance of “Flying On My Own” above.

View the full BILLCS Top 30 right here!  Click on the hyperlink on the song titles to hear the songs or watch the videos!

Listen to the BILLCS Top 30 Songs on Spotify! Click on this link to take you there, and follow me on Spotify: BILLCS Top 30 Songs

Check out and ‘like’ the BILLCS Music Projects Facebook page 🙂

Call it the new Power Pop: “Out Of Body” is the debut album by Nashville’s @weareApolloLTD

APOLLO LTD, Out Of Body

I must admit I do not listen to full album releases much these days.  But after a couple of promising single releases, you owe it to yourself to check out Nashville duo Apollo LTD’s debut album Out Of Body.  It puts all of their singles and two previous EP’s into one convenient place, and shows how cohesive these songs sound when you listen to them all consecutively. 

Call it today’s Power Pop – incredibly strong melodies that naturally blend pop, rock, and dance genres, featuring multi-layered stories that can apply to anyone.  The tight production has a wall-of-sound effect which gives the music a retro-classic kind of feel.  Jordan Phillips is the vocalist with the affecting tones while Adam Stark handles production but both handle the various instrumentation.  The combined sounds of synths with live instruments also offers a big, full sound on the album.  

I’ve already written about “Misfits”, “On The Way Up”, and the ballad “Heaven (All Around You)”.  The latter song also appears in its more uptempo version, while “On The Way Up” has been re-recorded and seems to emphasize more anthemic dance qualities than the mainstream sound of the original.  “On The Way Up 2.0” (above) is probably my favourite on the album, with “Misfits”, “Supernatural” (also above), “Drive”, and “Tired Of L.A.” all memorable in their own special ways.  

Out Of Body is a consistent effort from Apollo LTD with undeniably fine songwriting and production that sets their songs apart from the rest.

Ukrainian dance ensemble @Kazakyofficial returns with compelling strutter “Push”

KAZAKY featuring GASPAR, “Push”

After calling it quits about 4 years ago, Ukrainian dance ensemble Kazaky is back with “Push”.  It’s a compelling strutter, perfect for transitioning into the wee hours in clubs, and is accompanied by the requisite video with yet again amazing choreography which they were doing long before BTS.  You know you’re in for a treat when those heels emerge, and the video takes a not unexpectedly darker turn.  Kazaky is now a quintet, with focus on original member Artur Gaspar in “Push”.  The song is extremely catchy and memorable, reminding me of Malcolm McLaren’s “Deep In Vogue” somewhat in attitude and approach, and will appeal to those who enjoy Madonna’s more seductive works (Kazaky made an appearance in Madonna’s “Girl Gone Wild” some years back).  Club DJ’s should definitely get behind this winner and its eye-popping, extremely well-directed choreography which you can witness in the video up top.

Published in: on July 5, 2019 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Boston’s @AlmostOwenmusic rocks out with “One Lucky Man”

ALMOST OWEN, “One Lucky Man”

In early May, I introduced you to Boston’s Almost Owen through a delightful acoustic indie bedroom production.  He’s followed that up with a full blown alt.rock effort called “One Lucky Man”.  He’s got a great voice and like with many classic rockers, he can sing a lot of powerful, meaningful lyrics and draw the audience into his story without worrying that he’s actually singing too much.  The song has a straight-forward arrangement with a steady rhythm that steers it quickly through three and a half minutes without it seeming even as such.  Definitely keep your ears open for Almost Owen – he’s a sharp songwriter who knows what his listeners want to hear, and delivers a great message with “One Lucky Man” in the process.

Published in: on June 30, 2019 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Feels Like Summer” is a bright pop song with R&B influences from UK singer/songwriter @SamuelJackmusic

SAMUEL JACK, “Feels Like Summer”

It seems easy enough to think that a song called “Feels Like Summer” might be a simple, straight-forward pop song about fun in the summer.  But UK singer/songwriter Samuel Jack was raised partially in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his interest in music was sparked by Paul Simon’s Graceland.  So I’m confident there is a myriad of influences brewing inside, which leads to Samuel’s rich, R&B-inspired vocal that gives “Feels Like Summer” extra depth.  The song itself is reflective, looking back on a teen romance that brings back the summer setting all over again, even when it isn’t even summer.  All too many of us can relate to those feelings, which is why “Feels Like Summer” is a charming winner and Samuel is a singer to watch.  If you like music by Hozier and Passenger then add Samuel Jack into the mix.

Published in: on June 30, 2019 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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You won’t get it out of your head: “Shotgun” is jazzy pop from Canada’s @MonkeyHouseband

MONKEY HOUSE, “Shotgun”

It’s a bit off the path from a lot of today’s pop music, but that’s probably what makes it refreshing:  “Shotgun” is new jazzy pop from Canadian band Monkey House.  Canadian radio listeners will be familiar with them from the 90’s and early 2000’s with such songs as their cover of Steely Dan’s “Lazy Nina” as well as the original “Big Money” receiving regular airplay.  Led by pianist, Emmy Award winner, and Juno Award nominee Don Breithaupt, Monkey House’s “Shotgun” has an 80’s vibe about it that will appeal to fans of artists of that era such as Matt Bianco.  But it’s the summery chorus that you won’t get out of your head and can easily be earmarked as a great summer driving song.  It comes from the forthcoming album Friday with a video to follow that will be directed by Oscar winner Miles Dale.  Don’t let this one slip by – definitely one fine summer bop!

Published in: on June 23, 2019 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Show Me Love” is uplifting pop-rock from UK band #BewareTheBear featuring a change of pace for singer @SeanSmithsolo

BEWARE THE BEAR and SEAN SMITH, “Show Me Love”

“Show Me Love” is proof positive that sometimes it just takes a solid vocal to take a song to the next level.  And UK band Beware The Bear – who seem to be rather elusive in social media circles – have given the vocal showcase to Sean Smith on this particular occasion.  Of course readers of this blog know Sean well for his own songs like “Magic” and his recent unique dance collaboration with Peter Wilson called “Verona”, and fans of pop music in the UK also know him from his Same Difference days.  “Show Me Love” is a different setting for Sean from his recent music, and perhaps in some ways leans back to more straight-forward pop-rock of Same Difference.  In any case, Sean’s voice is the right fit for this song and allows him to exercise his range and versatility.  “Show Me Love” has wide appeal and is a worthwhile addition to upbeat pop-rock playlists.

Published in: on June 16, 2019 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” becomes reflective and @YearsandYears’ “Desire” full of intense longing, both in ballad form by @JonMclaughlin

JON MCLAUGHLIN, “So Emotional” and “Desire”

As readers of this blog are aware, I am not big on cover versions and they really have to impress me to write about them.  So when a singer/songwriter like Indiana’s Jon Mclaughlin decides to release a cover version – or two – then some undivided attention is a must. 

Jon boldly takes on Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” (above) as a reflective ballad, and its transformation is a brilliant success.  It’s not sombre by any means, it has become a story about a past lover and the resulting feelings from that relationship.  Ballads can be sped up and dance songs can be slowed down, but it has to be done right.  And with his on point vocal and piano playing, “So Emotional” is given real credibility as a ballad. 

Also be sure to check out Jon’s cover of Years & Years’ “Desire” (below), which is the second part of this double-A sided single release.  I’m still a bit too attached to the original of four years ago but slowing down this particular dance song fleshes out the intense longing of the lyrics.

Revel in the fun and joyous debut album by @EMAN8 called “Emanate”

EMAN8, Emanate

He did it his way and the results are in:  Brandyn Burnette’s transformation into EMAN8 as a performer is now complete with the release of his debut album titled Emanate (Brandyn’s actual middle name).  And while it is now years away from some of my favourite songs by him such as “I Wanna Be (Free)”, “Nothing At All” and of course “Thanks For Nothing”, a new and adventurous chapter is unfolding.  And I’m pretty certain it’s going to be an enjoyable ride.

As I’ve already mentioned in past posts about the songs that preceded the release of Emanate – “Amen”, “Inspired”, and “Grateful” – Brandyn-as-EMAN8 is now focusing on the joyous and fun aspects of his music, while continuing to be the humble and intriguing artist we have grown to enjoy.  And while “Amen” and “Grateful” to me are two of the album’s better songs, there is still a third within and it’s called “Time” (featured above).  The song veers away from the blues-influenced progressive soul of most of the tracks on Emanate and into progressive electronica, not surprising considering Brandyn’s involvement in dance music over the past few years working with artists like Elephante, Two Friends, Vicetone, Win & Woo, and more.  Also very successful are “Sympathy”, hip hop inflected dance music featuring Kelechi, and “Stir”, featuring more words of positivity.  The only song that doesn’t work for me is “Reese’s Pieces”, which has a great rhythm track but doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the songs.

Be sure to check out EMAN8 if you haven’t already for some mighty fine songs within the album Emanate brought to you by a very deserving artist who is creating his own path his way.

Published in: on June 16, 2019 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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