Tuned-On! Top 30 #363 – October 10/11

October is proving to be a watershed month in 2011 for album releases – yes that’s right album releases!  As many of you know, I’m a singles-going-steady kinda guy, one song will do it for me over an entire album.  So we have no shortage of album releases this month – priorities for me by Darren Hayes, Erasure, Penguin Prison, Chris Isaak, Florence & The Machine (Nov 1), and the already released Adam Cohen – plus Evanescence, Kelly Clarkson, Drake, Coldplay all on deck too… well the iTunes gift cards will be bountiful this year.  So my new personal chart is a transitional one until the floodgates open.  And I’m still waiting for some highly anticipated singles to drop – “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy and “Can’t Help Myself (Keep Dancing)” by Matt Blue to name two.

So something will likely give at the top of the chart in two weeks, and 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.  But for now it continues to be “Wicked Baby” by Ro Danishei and Simon Curtis at the top but virtually neck and neck with Simon’s own “Laser Guns Up” in second place.  Rumour has it that Ro is now signed to Sony BMG – fantastic! – but I’m not sure of details, and I’m sure they will be forthcoming at some point.

“Disco Moment” by Bright Light Bright Light should by all rights join “A New Word To Say” and “Love Part II” as number ones on this chart, but may get shortchanged in the coming weeks, so it jumps to #3 for now.  New York’s Jessica 6 will be starting a small North American club date tour soon, which will then take them to Europe.  “Prisoner Of Love”, their unique splash of disco nightlife pairing with Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons, climbs to #4.  I’m anxiously awaiting the video for this song!

The Top 5 is rounded out by the Fastest Riser on the chart.  “No I.D.” by Frankmusik and Colette Carr are in the running for the top as the song surges 20-5, thanks to relentless touring – now that the Erasure/Frankmusik tour is wrapping up overseas, there will be another tour for both performers along with fellow Cherrytree Records signees LMFAO and Far East Movement, starting very soon!

Songs 6 through 12 are trapped in the middle and some should break loose in two weeks.  “Fix Me”, the stunning ballad by L.A.’s Matthew Kurz and his free download mixtape, holds at #6, while “Bad Dog” by UK singer Neon Hitch (and that’s her real name too!) jumps to #7.  And what would a chart be without Adele?  “Set Fire To The Rain” is her third Top Tenner for me from the 21 album, currently one of my favourite albums of the year along with others such as R∆  by Simon Curtis, Eric Saade’s Saade Volume One, and Do It In The A.M. by Frankmusik.

Contemporary electro pop is all a flutter right now as represented by a delightful next bunch:  Adam Tyler’s “Pull The Trigger” becomes his third Top 10 entry at #9; “My Fizzy Pop” by Kyle Brylin follows “Everything I’m Missing” as his second Top Tenner; Penguin Prison does not look to miss the Top 10, making it five in a row in two weeks with “Fair Warning”; and “Stupid With You” by Eric Saade is simply charming pop at its best.

“Bloodstained Heart” by Darren Hayes can only be purchased in Australia right now, but will be on release worldwide in two weeks when his album Secret Codes And Battleships arrives.  The song continues to rise up to #14.  Florence & The Machine’s “What The Water Gave Me” is holding at #18 while their new album Ceremonials is on deck.  And four more of last week’s debuts make headway.  Will Young’s free download of “The Way I See” climbs to #22, while Swedish pop queen Agnes moves 29-23 with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”.  Nick Hagelin’s tender R&B ballad “Metaphor” also climbs to #20 and is a free download from his website.  With every week that passes, “Famous” by Audio Playground manages to find more radio stations playing it in Canada – Top 50 on the Billboard Canadian Top 100.  This past week saw the debut of the video of the French version of the song, featuring Randy Raymond.  Watch it below.

I’ve spent the past week blogging and tweeting about Like A Man, the fresh start of a sophomore release by Adam Cohen (son of Leonard), as well as his lovely and intimate show I saw in Toronto this past week.  His beautiful and thoughtful single “What Other Guy” (available as a free download) arrives at #24.  One of Kyle Brylin’s latest releases, the propulsive and somewhat gleefully cynical “Never Love A DJ” joins “My Fizzy Pop” on the chart at #27.  Lastly, on the more raucous side, Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim have been promoting the hell out of last year’s release Sidewalks.  I saw them perform last Fall, and they won me over with their energy and crowd interaction.  “Block After Block”, from Sidewalks, keeps grabbing my attention, and with a spot-on performance on the Jimmy Fallon show this summer, the song arrives on the chart at #25.  If you don’t know about this fun pair, watch the Fallon performance by clicking on the link below, as well as the official video at the top of the blog, and you will be converted.


Alt.Disco? Jessica 6 May Know Something About It…Plus: Armin van Buuren/Nadia Ali, Penguin Prison, Gavin Mikhail, Collin McLoughlin

Jessica 6 featuring Antony Hegarty “Prisoner of Love” (and more)

As much as I search for my own musical finds, the collective world of the BlogVerse is not only daunting for all of the knowledge that my fellow bloggers possess, but also for the numerous treasures that they find.

Courtesy of xolondon comes New York trio Jessica 6 (the name comes from the sci-fi book/film “Logan’s Run”) with their debut album See The Light, featuring singer Nomi Ruiz, keyboardist Morgan Wiley and bassist Andrew Raposo.  The group finds a happy middle ground between alternative rock and dance that doesn’t take a pure pop road, something that Nomi  knows all too well from working with the acclaimed Hercules & Love Affair.

And it reminds me specifically of the territory once covered in the late 70’s and early 80’s by the unique performers who were signed to ZE Records.  From eccentric “mutant disco” (Bill Laswell’s Material, early Was (Not Was)) to full throttle disco (Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band) and eventually to their most accessible and successful act (Kid Creole & The Coconuts), ZE Records had the underbelly between rock and dance covered.

And I’m in total agreement with xolondon, and in somewhat amazement, at Jessica 6’s best song, “Prisoner Of Love”.  Lyrically, there’s nothing new that hasn’t been said equally as well elsewhere.  But the vocals and arrangement are what make this song so special.   What starts off as slick mid-evening rhythmic pop sung by Nomi segues into an-almost duet with the influential Antony Hegarty (he of Antony & The Johnsons).  I say ‘almost’ because Antony scores the lead in the second part of the song.  The remainder is derived so much from impromptu vocal jazz collaborations, when all that’s sung is the title, and then the voices are caught up in a whirlwind of what I can only describe as disco rapture.   It’s one of the very best performances of the year.

The group shows its further 70’s and 80’s R&B and funk influences with the polished “East West Funk” (reminds me of early 80’s George Benson songs if his songs had a dash of Parliament/Funkadelic) and the enchanting sleazy pleasure of “Fun Girl” and “White Horse” (not the Laid Back hit from the 80’s – video below).

One thing’s for sure:  If they want to call it Alt.Disco, Jessica 6 has the category all to itself.  That is, until word spreads like wildfire while the band plays shows on the East coast.

Armin van Buuren featuring Nadia Ali “Feels So Good”

Dutch performer/DJ/producer van Buuren and dance doyenne Ali are a match made in heaven in “Feels So Good”.  It makes you wonder why the collaboration hadn’t happened sooner since both performers have kind of led parallel careers.  Van Buuren has made much fine dance music with an intense emotional quality about it over the last decade including such diverse hits as “Yet Another Day” (featuring Ray Wilson, 2003) and “Going Wrong” (featuring Chris Jones, 2008), both of which got to #1 on my personal chart.  Ali of course was the lead voice of the duo IIO, whose “Rapture (Tastes So Sweet)”, “At The End”, and “Smooth” all found their way into my chart’s Top 5, along with her stunning 2009 solo effort “Love Story”.  So while the angle of “Feels So Good” isn’t so fervent this time round, the sensuality and delight delivered courtesy of Ms Nadia leave their mark.

Penguin Prison “Fair Warning” (official video)

The video speaks loudly – want wait for more live shows from PP and the upcoming self-titled album!

Gavin Mikhail “The A Team”

I’ve been thoroughly impressed at the quality of singer/pianist Gavin Mikhail’s music over the past few years, and he’s still releasing amazing music independently while raising a young family.  Following his bang-on version of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” from late last year comes a cover version that’s a little bit more unexpected.  Ed Sheeran currently has a #3 hit in the UK with “The A Team”, which has struck me as an edgier side of someone like Jason Mraz.  Gavin once again makes this song his own with his precision playing and this time a softer interpretation.  He knows how to play to the song’s strong points and send it home.

Collin McLoughlin “Save The World (Tonight)”

Similarly to “The A Team”, New York singer Collin McLoughlin, whose rocking “Back To The Wall” impressed me this past Spring, has bested Swedish House Mafia themselves with his acoustic cover of their pop/dance hit “Save The World (Tonight)”.  Collin’s version simplifies the emotional content of the song by stripping away the overwrought side of the original.