Soft, romantic, and ever-so-sweet: “No One But You” is new R&B-pop for your soul by @justinnozuka and @mahalia

JUSTIN NOZUKA & MAHALIA, “No One But You”

I’ve noticed in the past several months, there has been a real absence of romantic songs, probably in keeping somewhat with the current ongoing situation. So bravo to Toronto’s Justin Nozuka for releasing his first new music in over two years in the form of an R&B-pop ballad with UK singer Mahalia that recalls his cover of Sade’s “By My Side” called “No One Like You”. In years past, this would be called a ‘quiet storm’ track, and could easily be played next to classics of that sub-genre. It’s a lusciously simple song about anyone’s special someone, and it’s complimented by its video above, which reminds us of all of the gentle, sensual, romantic, and often basic aspects of a relationship that take place. “No One Like You” is pop music soul food. This collaboration with Mahalia is certainly one-of-a-kind. She has had her own major label album release to show off her Erykah Badu-meets-Lauryn Hill style, and has recorded with Jacob Collier, Ty Dolla $ign, Kranium, Ella-Mai, and more. I’m so glad to hear new music from Justin, who is always unpredictable but creates from the heart. Listen for more coming soon.

Published in: on October 18, 2020 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Nashville’s @thisisMokita is back with more straight up slice-of-life songwriting with “Ready Yet”

MOKITA, “Ready Yet”

Mokita is a prolific singer/songwriter from Nashville who has been coming into his own with his releases over the last few years. It culminated in a collaboration with R3HAB called “All Into Nothing”, which has acquired over $25 million streams. His originals “London” and “Inside Out” were two of my faves last year, and several singles have been released since his EP 4201. “Ready Yet” is the latest, which might remind listeners a lot of songs by Lauv, though the two have quite different styles. This one’s about not being ready for a relationship, something we don’t hear about often in songs. It’s solid, breezy pop that goes down easy.

Published in: on October 18, 2020 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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L.A.-based singer/songwriter @HVNNIBVL returns with the happy vibes of “Something Special” from his new EP “Reasonably, Relative”

HVNNIBVL, “Something Special”

After writing about his recent singles “Who’s Gotcha” and “Worth It”, and indicating that I wanted to hear more from Buffalo NY native HVNNIBVL, I didn’t realize there was an EP on its way. Now on release, Reasonably, Relative is the title, and among its six songs you will find those two previous singles. Digging into the EP, another highlight is “Something Special”, and it’s for different reasons than the others. While the main focus is on spreading happy vibes, I found “Something Special” reminding me at times of Bruno Mars’ “Treasure”. It’s probably because the song has HVNNIBVL’s best vocal thus far, and the story about wanting to do “Something Special” with your lover or friend is one that’s needed in the world today. And based on what I heard in Reasonably, Relative, if you sat down HVNNIBVL in a room with some established producers, he would have the great songs ready for them, and all they would have to do is add the spit and polish.

Published in: on October 17, 2020 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Heart Stop” is an infectious bass-laden rocker by Boston’s @AlmostOwenmusic

ALMOST OWEN, “Heart Stop”

Boston indie singer/songwriter Almost Owen (aka Isaac Haselkorn) has had a busy, prolific last year, releasing several singles, then two amply-filled EP’s, leading to his latest 3-song effort Felt Cute…Might Delete. “Heart Stop” is the stand out track, with its infectious chugga-chugga bass line that rides underneath a positive message about finding inspiration in yourself again and again to keep your heart beating. I find Almost Owen’s songs usually to be chock-filled with a myriad of thoughts when they hover around the three minute mark. “Heart Stop” takes a slightly different less-is-more approach and comes out a winner.

Published in: on October 11, 2020 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pittsburgh’s @ASummerHigh returns with the playful bop “London”

A SUMMER HIGH, “London”

After starting to make waves a few years ago (when I first wrote about them) with relentless touring, which included gigs in the U.K., Pittsburgh rockers A Summer High have returned somewhat weathered but not beaten – but pared down to the duo of Mason Levi and James Anthony. “London” is as good a relaunch as any. A Summer High were massive fans of 5 Seconds Of Summer, and “London” moves their sound even closer to the music of that band, albeit with early 2000’s inspiration from Blink 182 and others apparent too. “London” is about crushing on a girl in that city and hoping she feels the same way. It’s an energetic, playful bop that shows that A Summer High is back and means business – in the most entertaining way possible.

Published in: on October 6, 2020 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s “10/10” #15!: @chriswallace101 #BewareTheBear & @SeanSmithsolo @HotelGaruda @Lawsonofficial @SamDickinson @BrandonColbein @JayB1rdmusic & @ChandlerBlase @Mollydotmusic @TheTrustedband @theTysonKelly

Surprise! It’s 10/10 – Edition 15!! 

This is the first 10/10 post since August.

In 10/10,  I write about 10 hot and fresh songs in no particular order, for your kind consideration and attention.

I continue to write individual blog posts about certain songs.  That does not mean that songs in the 10/10 lists are any less than those featured individually, and they are not listed in any particular order.  Songs by Bright Light Bright Light and Pawl & Discrete that were featured in edition #14 debuted yesterday on my personal chart 🙂

Writing 10/10 posts means I can cover more songs in one shot.  So you get to learn about more new music that I hear but don’t always get a chance to write about. 

  • CHRIS WALLACE, “Daydreaming”

L.A. based singer/songwriter Chris Wallace has been busy regathering his many fans, and a number of new ones too, after resurfacing this year after several years’ absence on the recording scene, though he continues to be a sought-after songwriter (such as for The Vamps). “Daydreaming”, his most recent release, is a certified bop, guaranteed to make you groove and revel in all those things you long to do. It’s delightfully straight-forward and guaranteed to offer you a great time.

  • BEWARE THE BEAR and SEAN SMITH, “Wishing On The Water”

“Wishing On The Water” is British singer/songwriter Sean Smith’s second collaboration with Portsmouth duo Beware The Bear, following last year’s “Show Me Love”, which ended up receiving international attention when featured in the TV show “MotherFatherSon”. “Wishing On The Water” is definitely a smooth, radio-ready pop song which takes a few spins before you latch onto its hook. Sean sounds wonderful in this more uptempo setting, and I’ll direct this one to the enjoyment of fans of Bastille and Coldplay.

  • HOTEL GARUDA, “Leave You”

I’ve been enjoying all four songs from Hotel Garuda’s latest EP This Tension, but have zeroed in on the playful-sounding positivity of “Leave You”. The man known otherwise as Aseem Mangaokar has taken a break from the deeper house vibes, which I’ve had the pleasure of hearing in concert, in favour of a highly danceable but more pop-flavoured sound, likely the result of working with a number of different contributing producers and writers. Despite its title, “Leave You” is about not wanting to leave someone, and the high level of energy is definitely in the spirit of loyalty, companionship, and love.

  • LAWSON, “Four Letters”

The engaging British quartet who were stars in their native country have returned this year after a four year absence with a number of solid new songs, and even performed online a few weeks ago to the delight of their fans. “Four Letters” is probably the best of these new songs, and it’s also exceedingly familiar, with a hook that is like a companion to their previous hit “When She Was Mine”. This all works wonderfully well, and in particular vocalist/songwriter Andy Brown is at his best here.

  • SAM DICKINSON, “Nothing’s True”

UK indie singer/songwriter Sam Dickinson continues to preview his much-awaited second full album Off Script, due in October, with “Nothing’s True”. This album is full of assorted soulful, danceable pop songs, and this new one does not disappoint. Taking big cues from 70’s and 80’s disco and UK soul, “Nothing’s True” contains a sharp vocal and some excellent guitar work which make this one stand out in Sam’s growing repertoire.

  • BRANDON COLBEIN, “Mean To Me”

“Mean To Me” by California-based singer/songwriter Brandon Colbein is a fascinating new song about staying in a flawed relationship when you don’t know what else to do about it. It’s catch line is “I let you be mean to me because of what you mean to me” – and that’s a real dilemma when you may be choosing your idea of love over your own well-being. Some people stick it out in that relationship and succeed; others do not. Brandon often zeros in on affecting topics that have different perspective. The song features one of his best recent vocals, and you can find other songs that he’s written, but not recorded himself, through recent releases by Zayn, Liam Payne, Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani, among others.

  • JAY BIRD and CHANDLER BLASE, “Storm”

“Storm” is an atmospheric, quieter lyrical slice of electronica from California producer Jay Bird and featuring the gentle voice of Chandler Blasé. It continues Jay Bird’s transition into a producer and performer whose music will appeal to fans of Illenium, Crystal Skies, Said The Sky, etc. more than many of his previous songs. The song is sung from the perspective of a lost lover who knows that her special someone will be out there for her whether or not she makes it through her “storm”. Its hopeful message will definitely resonate with listeners and the music is solid and restrained.

  • MOLLY., “Paradise”

“Paradise” serves as a song of reassurance for many people whose mental health has taken its toll during the pandemic. Molly. is a new singer/songwriter and guitarist from Lancaster, England whose vocal tones are reminiscent of Florence Welch and Sigrid, while taking cues from classic songs by the likes of Fleetwood Mac. “Paradise” is a refreshing earworm which should bring the singer attention thanks to tight songwriting bridged by her spot-on vocal.

  • THE TRUSTED, “Wild Love”

The Trusted are a new four piece outfit from Southend-On-Sea, England who have a lot going on in their new EP Love And Suicide. All of the songs go by quickly with boundless energy and charismatic vocals by Tom Cunningham. The Trusted reminds me more of bands from the American alt.rock scene than from the UK. Nevertheless, I’m drawn to “Wild Love”, the song that concludes the EP, which stands out as the sum of all its best parts along with its relateable escapist theme. The Trusted are definitely one band to watch and I’m sure will deliver the goods in concert.

  • TYSON KELLY, “Am I Ever Gonna See You Again”

Tyson Kelly is a California-based indie singer/songwriter to watch with his new EP Plastic Rockstar. Taking cues from music of The Beatles and Talking Heads and spilling it into translation to the 2020’s is a challenge, which makes the EP fun to hear. “Am I Ever Gonna See You Again” tells the familiar road story of a fan falling for a rock star while on tour – which means, essentially, a one-nighter. The saga is in stark contrast to the upbeat, sometimes soulful vibe of the music, which even has Beach Boys qualities about it. Tyson is the son of renown songwriter Tom Kelly (Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”, Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional”), so his evident talents are in his blood, and he has appeared as John Lennon in Broadway’s “Let It Be”. His solo songs do break away from a Beatles-ish sound and, while some of the songs in the EP sometimes sound over-exaggerated and perhaps try too hard, he comes off as an affable original performer.

#BILLCSTop30 #597 – September 28/20

This week, the BILLCS Music Blog turns 11! And this week I will be working on a new project that will support the blog and chart, and a great deal of new music and artists, if it all works out. So watch for more news on that front.

In the meantime, the new chart had four new entries while the upper region continues to look similar to the past four weeks of music.

What will Joel Corry do next for dance music, following the success of “Lonely” and “Head & Heart”, which continues at #1 on my chart for a third appearance (six weeks). Collaborating with co-writer and singer MNEK was definitely a blessing, and I hope they will reteam in the future. In the meantime, who will be next?

“Dancing Next To Me” by Greyson Chance is a dance anthem for anyone who’s been cheated or denied their opportunity to be with someone of mutual attraction. It moves up 3-2.

Greyson or the song at #3 seem poised to challenge “Head & Heart” in two weeks. And that song is “Undo My Heart” by Karen Harding & Digital Farm Animals, climbing 4-3. This one can go side-by-side with the likes of “Nobody’s Supposed To Be There” or “Un-break My Heart” in my books!

Also moving up from 6-5 is “Naked” by another dream team, which is British producer Jonas Blue and NYC singer/songwriter MAX. Both artists had huge events this past week. Jonas performed the virtual show Electronic World this past weekend; long-time fave and chart veteran MAX released his new album Colour Vision, and performed all of the songs virtually (and solo, where there are usually collaborators). Check out MAX’s amazing song with BTS’ Suga called “Blueberry Eyes” below.

UK indie singer/songwriter Benedict Cork has more new music this week just ahead of the release of his new EP Piano Tapes Vol. II. “One Last Song” continues its upward movement, rising 10-8. Watch for “Wild One” on Wednesday!

Giiants obtain their second Top 10 on my chart with their latest single “Waiting For You”, which climbs 13-9. They previously reached #3 with “Small Talk”. And of course two of the members, Cam and Adam, also recorded as DATABOY, who had three #1’s here in the last decade.

The Fastest Riser on the chart, for the second time in a row, is a blazing instrumental that will make you get out of your seat and move! That is mission accomplished for “House Is Happiness” by Germany’s Stan Sax, which soars 18-10!

L.A.-based trio Fames have a catchy winner with “scared of the dark”, which moves up 25-20.

“We Are Home” by Florida-based singer/songwriter Lauren Mayhew and Moroccan producer Mariline moves up a brisk 27-22. It’s also the second entry on the chart for indie dance label Tipsy Records!

The Highest Debut on the chart is the first entry for Sweden’s Pawl & Discrete with the irresistibly infectious, snappy house track “Type Like That”, which arrives at #24. It’s also the first release on the chart for dance label LoudKult.

Returning for the first time to the chart as a solo artist since 2011 is Sweden’s Agnes Carlsson with “Fingers Crossed” at #26. She of course was part of Avicii’s belated but amazing “Tough Love” last year, which got to #3. Agnes’ “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” was her last solo entry, which reached #7, but her first entry in 2009, “Release Me”, went to #1.

Debuting on the chart are the brothers Lynch, Ross and Rocky, aka The Driver Era, with the beautiful “Take Me Away” at #27. When she was a pre-teen, my daughter was a big fan of Ross’ TV show from early last decade, “Austin & Ally”, and I became acquainted with his music and additional talent by taking her to a couple of shows by his family band R5. Since then Ross has developed quite a resumé as an actor – I watch him in episodes of “The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina” – and as a singer, even recording with the likes of dance producers Tritonal a few years ago. The Driver Era is a cool alternative pop/rock project that deserves to flourish.

The fourth new entry is by another one of my chart veterans, Bright Light Bright Light, who has been going strong in my music world since 2010! With the recent release of his fourth album Fun City, there is so much great music from which to choose, but the unbridled anthemic joy of “It’s Alright, It’s OK” resonates with me and it arrives at #28. It’s a collaboration with a trio of talented women from Montreal called Caveboy. The first single from Fun City, “This Was My House”, peaked at #5 this past summer.

A reminder that the music from my chart and blog are featured regularly on the new online radio station Radio GTA. You can hear their Big 20 on Wednesday evenings with ‘The Musicman’ James Rogers and listen for songs from the chart too 🙂 Scroll down the station’s main page to listen to lots of variety from across the decades!  I’m the new music consultant for the station so you can expect even more in 2020 🙂  You can start by joining Radio GTA’s new interactive Facebook group too!!

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 🙂

Want to see what I’ve been listening to and charting for the past 22 years?  Rummage through the BILLCS Top 30 Archive (where you can click on the link within) when you have a chance!! 

“Tinseltown In The Rain” is a gorgeous, wistful #BlueNile cover by pop/electronic producers @MattMancid and @ColorTheory

MATT MANCID and COLOR THEORY, “Tinseltown In The Rain” (original and Big Rhythm mixes)

One doesn’t come along very often, but “Tinseltown In The Rain” is a classic example of a song that combines delightful synth work and rhythms with a wistful melody, courtesy of two pop/electronic producers, Germany’s Matt Mancid and California-based Color Theory (aka Brian Hazard). The song also conjures up images of Hollywood besieged by rain pouring down on all of the glamourous folks we associate with its yesteryear. It’s no surprise that it’s a bit reminiscent of an 80’s Alan Parsons-kind of release, but it’s actually an inspired cover of a track by Scotland’s acclaimed The Blue Nile from their 1984 album A Walk Across The Rooftops, and Color Theory’s engaged and passionate vocal totally nails it. “Tinseltown In The Rain” therefore is not to be overlooked, either in its original slower version or the powerful Big Rhythm mix, both designed for dancing. Matt Mancid and Color Theory last appeared together on my personal chart with “Headphones” back in late 2013, which quickly shot to #1. Could “Tinseltown” do the same?

Among the treasures in @BrightLightx2’s new album Fun City is “Good At Goodbyes”, a potent duet with @Erasureinfo’s Andy Bell

BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT and ANDY BELL, “Good At Goodbyes”

A week ago, Bright Light Bright Light’s fourth album Fun City was released, and today it ranked as the #1 album on the UK Dance Chart. Despite its title, and while the album has ‘fun’ at its core, with several upbeat dance tracks, there are also a number of learned-life stories, as one can often expect from the unique perspectives of Rod Thomas. Having toured with Erasure in the past few years, it’s still incredible to hear the amazing Andy Bell in duet with Rod on “Good At Goodbyes”. Whether his voice is intended to be that of a past lover or an inner-conscience, Andy’s vocal offsets Rod’s lead story-teller just beautifully. The song keeps you on edge about a guy who’s trying to be strong after a relationship has ended, while resigning himself to his memories and sadness with lack of closure. Fun City has many other glorious collaborations including those with Sam Sparro, Brendan Maclean, Jake Shears, KAYE and several others who you should get to know. It also includes the previous diverse singles “This Was My House” (which reached #5 on my personal chart), “Sensation”, “I Used To Be Cool”, and “It’s Alright, It’s OK”.

“Late Night Love” allows @FrancescoYates to stretch his talents to the max

FRANCESCO YATES, “Late Night Love”

To say that I’ve been impressed by my fellow Toronto native Francesco’s 2020 releases is an understatement. To me, the singer/songwriter/guitarist is putting out the best music of his career right now independently. No longer the teen pop talent who broke out in 2014 with “Better To Be Loved”, Francesco tapped into deeper songwriting on his EP Superbad with songs like “Queen Street Blues” and the title track in particular. “Late Night Love” really allows his talents to be stretched to the max. It’s a sexy and risqué track that’s going to make a difference, featuring a blistering performance that could go entirely over the top if he let it. Instead it’s bound to make you turn your head and pay close attention. Check it out up top.

Published in: on September 24, 2020 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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