LIFE & LOVE & DREAMS & INSPIRATION: Read “A Far Cry From Sunset” by Billy Franks

I take a sidestep from the new music to fill you in on a special book. I’ve been touting this book long in advance of its recent publication because I am a longtime fan of Billy Franks. Aside from his recent solid self-released solo albums, the UK singer/guitarist/songwriter’s two 80’s albums with The Faith Brothers, “Eventide” and “A Human Sound” (album cover pics at the bottom – get them on iTunes), are two of pop-rock’s best kept secrets – passionate, energetic, and thought-provoking records that fill your head and tickle your fancy. I still play both of these favourites frequently, 25 years later.

A Far Cry From Sunset is the book version of the film “Tribute This!”, in which Billy and three friends decide to live out a search in 2005 for 10 popular singers who would record a tribute album to an unknown singer, that being Billy. Their focus: Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Aaron Neville, Huey Lewis, Steve Earle, Elvis Costello, Bryan Adams, Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen. That they succeed or not is surely of interest, however the story is the sum of all of its parts, and that is actually of greater interest, at least to me.

There are multiple stories, but two in particular. It’s important that the search/road trip is put into context, and thus Billy’s biography of his life up to the late 80’s is alternately heartbreaking, inspiring, harrowing, heartfelt. Here we get to know the earnest-speaking lad who essentially grew up in poverty with making music with his friends as his dream. To a degree, it comes true, with interesting side steps that led to him forming the Faith Brothers and getting a record deal. But life is more than just that and Billy shares his insights that show what led to his quest, the movie, and ultimately the book.

And then there’s the road trip that took the friends to the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, and Spain. Their dedication and good humour to make it happen just shows the power of friendship. Most of their approaches to try and meet or get the attention of the performers that they’re seeking ended up being unique events unto themselves. It’s not as if Billy hasn’t met or associated with rich and famous folks before (with a very special one on cell phone speed dial 😉 and others who still to today are friends). But even a musician trying to convince those who are more famous to have an interest in his plight is sometimes rough going. The performers seem to know when to have their publicity, management, or security teams step in, without giving the idea a chance to be heard. The one particularly climactic episode will be a bit of a kick in the gut for fans of one of the singers. I always thought this singer to be bigger than the behaviour cited in the book, but it’s hard to deny the report from these four friends and kind of makes me think of what success really does to people, even those who did not have it easy when they started. That Billy and friends spent a lot of money and effort to make it all happen is notable; that they had a great time making it happen in unpredictable ways makes the book a swift and always engaging read.

You can find out how to order A Far Cry From Sunset on Billy’s website. I got my copy through Amazon.

Published in: on October 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Tyler Hilton’s new album, Richard Barone’s new video, Roz Bell’s new song, and Billy Franks’ upcoming book

Tyler Hilton, Forget The Storm

Tyler Hilton rocks up a good time on some of the best songs on Forget The Storm and perhaps leaves behind the attractive whimsy that tickled many of us in 2004’s The Tracks Of Tyler Hilton.  But Forget The Storm seems to be a coming of age album in some ways, and in other ways weathering several different storms of sorts that the singer has been caught up in the interim between records, despite acting in One Tree Hill and acquiring thousands of new fans along the way.  But all things happen for a reason, and in turn there are many good reasons to buy Forget The Storm.

Forget The Storm ups Tyler’s rock music ante big time, starting with the opener “Kicking My Heels”, which gives a stylish grandiloquent start to the record.  “Loaded Gun” preceded the album’s release as a crackerjack free download, a song that grows big time with repeated listens with its clever wordplay.  “Ain’t Foolin’ Me” puts you in the middle of a big ol’ bar somewhere in the south for a rocking good time.  And “Jenny” (listen below) is an angry breakup song that drops a line “love is not some fucking movie” – not a lyric that you might have expected in a Tyler record, till now, but the shoe fits and it’s a great song that features lovely harmonies by Elizabeth Huett.

Whether it’s about love or other issues, the thoughtful side of Tyler is always worth hearing.  “Prince Of Nothing Charming” has already had that unassuming, yes charming effect, because it’s lovably understated.  And “Leave Him” and “Can’t Stop Now” tackle serious breakup issues directly with a softer pop or country flavour to change up the mix.  There’s also a redux of Tyler’s “You’ll Ask For Me” from a few years back to keep long-time fans happy.

Tyler is in the midst of a tour that’s going to take him to the UK, Ireland, and Europe starting in June.  Forget The Storm is an enjoyable and diverse way to try and catch our boy before his music blows up real big everywhere.

Richard Barone, “Hey, Can I Sleep On Your Futon?”

The talented New York-based singer who came back (but was never really away) with his thoroughly likeable album Glow (the title song is still my unofficial theme song for NYC 🙂 ) is one of several performers who appear on the upcoming Occupy This Album (including Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, and many, many others).  He also celebrates his 25th anniversary of his debut solo album Cool Blue Halo.  I stay away from politics, and I don’t entirely agree with the “Occupy” movement, but will always support stellar music.  I think Richard’s latest, co-written with Matthew Billy, says a lot in both words and images:  Help the people that deserve it because the economy is preventing them from getting ahead.  I think the video for “Hey, Can I Sleep On Your Futon?” could reach new heights just like “Breathe” by Ryan Star in 2010 actually helped some of the people in the video get jobs.  The sentiment is genuine here and Richard’s performance is a delight.  Watch the video above (and take a look at “Breathe” again below while you’re at it).  EDIT:  Courtesy of Richard himself, also below is an interview video about the song, which is actually based on the classic “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”.

Ryan Star “Breathe”

Roz Bell, “Half A Man Down”

Toronto singer Roz Bell always writes songs that sink in more than just like a slice of life.  You know him from 2008’s The First Sunbeams, which featured the hits “Yesterday Man” and “Papercut”.  It was followed in late 2009 with a deeper and somewhat darker digital release October, and then the pensive and free The Gran Cavallo Mixtape.  According to his tweets, Roz has been doing a lot of writing in Nashville, and the brooding spirit of that city shows in “Half A Man Down”.  The song holds back no punches about the way the singer feels as a relationship crumbles away while he tries to keep his head straight.  It’s another generous free download from Roz – get it right here and watch for more music ahead from the talented singer.

Billy Franks’ upcoming book A Far Cry From Sunset

UK singer Billy Franks always has a place in my heart as one of the most underappreciated singers in the 80’s as a leader of the band The Faith Brothers, whose two stunning albums Eventide and A Human Sound I still play to this day quite regularly.  The singer is finding a new audience through writing, and the premise behind his book A Far Cry From Sunset is this:  Could 4 friends who travelled to America a few years back try to convince 10 superstar singers to appear on a tribute album to Billy?  So who did they try to approach?  Start big with McCartney, Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, Jon Bon Jovi, and also try Elvis Costello, Huey Lewis, Aaron Neville, Tom Petty and Steve Earle.  The book  intends to explore how all of the approaches occurred and what happened in the midst of what is essentially a road trip.  You can find out much more about how you can get involved as well as purchase the book when it’s published at http://www.billyfranks.com/AFARCRYFROMSUNSET.   I’m sure this will be a once-in-a-lifetime and very telling story, and don’t plan on missing it.  What about you?  Listen to one of my favourite solo songs by Billy, “My Beautiful Heresy”, below.

Tuned-On! Roundup!

Roundup Spotlight:

JACKANORY & THE BALL “EP”

I must say, London duo Jackanory & The Ball know how to make one satisfying four song EP.  Singer/songwriter Tom Skelton and producer/DJ/pianist Michael Rendall have a strange kind of fusion going on – and this kind of strange is really strong and entertaining.  I could be wrong, but I think it might start with some jazzy Steely Dan influence, moving through new wave and pop electronica of the 80’s, then into some hip hop and dance club sounds of the 90’s, yielding a pastiche of sometimes humorous pop that sounds as theatrical as it does melodic.  The duo is like a British companion-piece to American veteran duo They Might Be Giants (“Birdhouse in Your Soul”, one of my faves from 1990).  Be sure to check out “Audio Precision”, perhaps the most accessible track – listen for Pac-Man – with bouncy rhythm and sing-along lyrics.  The other tracks – “Not The One”, “Too Long” (the most R&B/hip hop oriented track), “Come Away with Me” – are equally unique, with rich melodic weaves but straight forward words and themes.  All in all, it’s an EP full of promise which lends natural curiosity to how Mssrs Skelton and Rendall can perform these songs in a live show.  Be sure to check them out if you’re in England (and let me know!).


BILLY FRANKS “Euphoria”

UK singer Billy Franks had generously put his Euphoria compilation online for free.  It’s a cozy and energetic 12 song record compiled from six releases from the Faith Brothers leader and creator of the charity single “The Beautiful Game”.  Despite the varying production qualities from track-to-track, Euphoria has a terrific pub-next-door feel – its genuine warmth overall is contagious.  And if you’ve ever heard the Faith Brothers, no one, but no one, writes emotionally rich songs like these like Billy Franks.  With live tracks like “Sleep A Little Easy When It Rains” as well as other songs full of beautiful and brutal honesty like “Just”, “Beautiful Heresy”, “She’s The Messiah In Me”, and “50/50 America”, it’s easy to get caught up in such fine and raw veteran musicianship.  Be sure to provide a donation if you can.

COLIN MUNROE “I Would Die 4 U”

Toronto’s Colin Munroe came to my attention in 2008 with the release of his adventurous mixtape Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero, which featured covers as diverse as songs like U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and originals, sometimes with some better known friends, such as the shouldabeenahit “Will I Stay”, featuring Wale and Dallas Austin.  Well this singer/producer/DJ is back in the aftermath of what sounds like a record deal gone (near?) sour, and he’s boldly chosen a Prince cover to stage his re-entry.  Yes, “I Would Die 4 U” is a favourite of many Prince fans, but Colin has slowed it down a bit to give it more emotional, almost retrospective or even introspective quality.  And no, that is not autotune folks.  It’s free with subscription to Colin’s newsletter – worth it always to find out what he’s up to next!

PETER KATZ “Dangerous”

The iTunes single of the week feature often brings intriguing tracks and artists to the attention of the public, and being from Canada I see a regular and different selection.  Toronto-based Peter Katz’s “Dangerous” is edgy, thoughtful folk/pop that stays in your head, and reminds me of Michael Penn’s best efforts of the early 90’s.  It’s from his fourth release, and first through Sony, called First Of The Last To Know, and you can hear tracks from it at his website .  And it looks like he’s touring a lot, so check out his tour schedule too.

DARIN  “Lovekiller”

OK hit me over the head with a large plank or something, but after many repeated plays, Darin’s “Lovekiller”, a Swedish #1 hit, has finally sunk in.  I thought the song was perhaps too derivative of too many other songs that I could think of  (including the beginning, sounding a lot like INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart”, or as a male version of “Unfaithful” by Rihanna), but the slow-burning mystery appeal has finally sunk in.  Strange, because I was a big fan of 2008’s “Flashback”, which featured the Kat DeLuna duet “Breathing Your Love” and the “Just Dance” soundalike “Girl Next Door”, both of which landed in the Top 5 on my chart.  But the new record is definitely more mature and better written, and perhaps I just wasn’t expecting that.  Darin should be Sweden’s next natural pop export.  I can’t see why this song shouldn’t do well internationally.


ADAM TYLER “Over The Top”

Ah yes LA’s Adam of the “Friction”, one of my current favourite songs, alerted me a few weeks back through Twitter that “Over The Top”, one of the songs recorded for his upcoming Lullabies for Rattlesnakes release, had been leaked online.  It’s a mid-tempo pop/dance track not too far removed from “Friction”.  It has an undeniable hook but could benefit from a perkier remix.  You can either check out a clip of the song from Adam Tyler’s official site or try to locate it in its leaked version online.

SHANE HARPER “Dance With Me” and “Good Friends”

Another new guy from LA, Disney Channel fans already know singer/actor/dancer Shane from a supporting role in the new show “Good Luck Charlie”.  And his first could-be hit “Dance With Me” is pure teen/tween late-night-on-the-beach confection, sort of what Jesse McCartney started a few years back before the more grown up Departure album.  Top marks though for Shane’s very good voice and dance moves in the video.  As a bonus, he’s made the ballad “Good Friends” available as a free download with an email subscription to his newsletter .  Shane Harper definitely has my curious ear at hand – and I like triple threats!


THE SCRIPT’s “Science & Faith”

The Irish trio’s sophomore album after its very long-lasting 2008 debut has joined what looks like a wonderful week of record releases starting September 13 (also including Bright Light Bright Light’s “Love Part II” and Brandon Flowers’ “Flamingo”).


CLAYTON SENNE’s “And Her Name Is Music”

Kansas-born but Florida-based piano man Clayton Senne tweeted a few weeks back that he would release his second album on January 1, 2011 – for binary code fans that’s 010111 🙂 On Saturday, August 29, he performed a new song full of urgency with oodles of potential called “Floodgates” on Orlando Live Streaming , during which he also announced that the title of said release would be “And Her Name Is Music”.  I hope to be blogging a bit more about this talented new artist and this record in the coming months, so watch for it!  In the meantime, check out his official site.


RICHARD BARONE “Glow”

The former Bongos member and creator of a number of fine solo albums, including 1990’s Primal Dream and 1994’s Clouds Over Eden, is back with his new CD “Glow” (also due next week, on September 14), and will be performing several club dates in the New York/New Jersey areas.  I saw Richard in concert many years ago in Toronto and he can captivate an audience very easily.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #334 – August 30/10

As the end of summer approaches, another season of music begins, and I’m pleased that it includes the artists of my top two songs.

I was fortunate enough to see Brandon Flowers in concert on Wednesday, August 25 at the Mod Club in Toronto.  It was a good – but not great – 50 minute show to focus on his upcoming solo debut Flamingo (picture of deluxe version cover above), which drops on September 14.  There are definitely some solid songs which I’m looking forward to hearing on my stereo  – Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts, Playing With Fire, Magdalena.  Brandon was in good voice but his Killers band members were sorely missed.  In any event, “Crossfire” is still the best song of the bunch thus far, and it retains its #1 status on my personal chart this week.  At the bottom of this post are some pics from the concert 🙂

Rod Thomas aka Bright Light Bright Light (or Bright Light x 2) is one of 2010’s pop music treats, and I can’t wait enough for a full album.  Former #1 “A New Word To Say” holds tight at #2, while “Cry At Films”, the B-side of the forthcoming “Love Part II” single, arrives on the chart at #25.  For me, the ‘B-side’ no longer has the same meaning as the halcyon days of 45 vinyl singles.  Rather than filler, sometimes the B-side is better than the track being promoted.  And while that’s not the case – as you’ll find out in two weeks, when “Love Part II” is released and debuts on my chart 😉 – it’s easy to revel in the soft, emotional, and danceable qualities that Rod brings on “Cry At Films”.

The Top 10 has a change-up that still allows Two Door Cinema Club’s “Something Good Can Work” – one of the more chipper songs of the year – to advance to #3.  British duo Bim – whose lush and emotional album Scatterheart you must check out – score in the Top 5 with “Head Over Heels”, and L.A.’s Adam Tyler’s “Friction” is contagious enough in its Ricardo Autobahn edit to become the Fastest Riser on the chart, up from 14 to 7.  Toronto’s Roz Bell is one of Canada’s most interesting and underrated talents, whose third effort Songs For Leaving will be well worth the wait when it arrives.  In the meantime, bask in “Endless Summer Night”, which climbs to #8.

I expect a chart housecleaning in two weeks, which will get rid of a log jam of wonderful songs stuck behind each other in the Top 20.  I’m eyeing songs by Chris Mann, Elouise, Ryan Star, and perhaps Hanson to bust out and eventually they all may land in the Top 10, pending competition.  And Billy Franks’ “The Beautiful Game”, now at #17, keeps reminding me that humility and a great tune will do wonders with each listen.  Maroon 5’s fun “Misery” lands at #20… which feels somewhat underwhelming for such a good band, but there are indeed many stronger songs out there, and we’ll have to see how powerful the other songs are on the forthcoming Hands All Over album.

“Dear Dictator” by Saint Motel continues to get stuck in my head and advances to #21, with The Script’s “For The First Time” not behind at #23.  The other new songs this week arrive in a revisit to Lady GaGa’s The Fame Monster album, allowing “Dance In The Dark” to bow at #24.  And at #26 is a new Detroit-raised singer who comes via L.A. with a great summer song.  Christian TV’s flirty and maybe a tad naughty “When She Turns 18” is a grower and may yet become a hit going into the Fall months.  Check out the video below.

Despite the lack of blogs within the last two weeks I have been listening to a lot of music, and expect to update you all on some of the better ones over the next few days.  Enjoy!


Tuned-On! Top 30 #333 – August 16/10

Elouise

It’s now a few weeks away for the release dates of what could be a few of the year’s great records.  One of those belongs to Killers singer Brandon Flowers – his solo debut Flamingo is due September 6, and “Crossfire” has wasted no time in attaining the pole position on my chart.  It steals it away after one appearance from Bright Light Bright Light’s “A New Word To Say”, which slips to #2, but Rod Thomas and friends of course have the utterly brilliant “Love Part II” coming for official release on September 13.  Expect that song to chart here in two weeks.

Two Door Cinema Club’s Tourist History is quietly becoming one of the albums that should be heard right now.  The Irish band is coming to my city (Toronto) in October, complete with Penguin Prison as opener!!  “Something Good Can Work” finds a weak part of the Top 10 and takes advantage of it, moving 9-4.  Evan Taubenfeld’s “Pumpkin Pie” and David Guetta’s “Gettin’ Over You” both move up a notch.  Three new songs join the Top 10 – the sublime 70’s disco influence of Goldfrapp’s “Dreaming”, the modern electro-punk energy of “Your Body Is A Machine” by The Good Natured, and the tears behind the pop smile of Bim’s “Head Over Heels”.

The middle of this chart continues to be log-jammed with great songs.  The ones more likely to cut through are this edition’s fastest riser, the gorgeous Steve Anderson-produced torch song “Pretender” by UK’s Elouise, climbing 27-18.  Londoners be sure to check out her show for me on September 11 at the Tabernacle! Then we have boy power pop courtesy of Adam Tyler’s “Friction” and its free propulsive Ricardo Autobahn edit.  Still awaiting the Lullabies for Rattlesnakes album! The Top 10 will also have to make way for Roz Bell’s should-be-summer-anthem “Endless Summer Night”, while other songs by Reni Lane, Lifehouse, Chris Mann, Hanson, and Kylie Minogue are all just plain solid.  Maroon 5’s “Misery” pulls up the rear and advances 28-24.

I’m going to continue to plug “The Beautiful Game” by UK singer Billy Franks, which moves up to #19.  It has a lot of hidden quiet power in its melody and emotion, and proceeds go to a charity set up by Prince Harry to help African children, and you can purchase it on iTunes.  Billy – the former leader of one of the 80’s treasures called The Faith Brothers – has also made available for free download a full album of music called Euphoria, which I expect to blog about in the coming weeks.  Download it right here.

On to the debuts.  Surely it’s no surprise after his August 3 concert that another track from Ryan Star’s 11:59 appears (while “Breathe” tumbles to #8)!  And yes it’s “Start A Fire”, which is about to blaze a path of glory in these parts, arriving at #22.  Then we have the fun and slightly eccentric dance sounds of Saint Motel.  The LA quartet lands at #27 with the Sam Sparro remix of “Dear Dictator”.  Finally, The Script haven’t been away from this chart for long, as the long legs of the band’s self-titled debut album have proven a lasting commercial success.  From their upcoming sophomore record Science and Faith comes “For The First Time” at #28.  It’s very samey-sounding to songs off the debut record but it certainly grows on you, and their audience sure enjoys the earnest and emotional style of this Irish trio.

It’s been a quiet, dull live concert scene in Toronto for me this summer.  Most of the artists I’ve wanted to see did not come to my town.  A whole bunch – Two Door Cinema Club, Penguin Prison, Florence & The Machine, Matt and Kim, Miike Snow – are coming within weeks of each other in October – and Brandon Flowers is performing a show for Virgin Mobile members only (you must be a member – which I am 🙂  – to enter the contest, so I’m crossing my fingers!!).  And I’m hopeful that others like Lifehouse, The Script, and Ryan Star, will find there way here to make the winter months more pleasant.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #332 – August 2/10

Bim "Scatterheart"

This will be a quick and early blog as I am off to New York City tomorrow for 5 days with my daughter, during which time we will see Phantom Of The Opera, Ryan Star’s CD release show (Ryan hangs at #5 with “Breathe”), and perhaps visit the Jewish history museum as well as other sites.

That new pop meister extraordinary, Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light, grabs #1 on the new chart with “A New Word To Say”, a free download that will hopefully be on BrightLightx2’s upcoming album.  That having been said, I can’t wait for the official release of “Love Part II!

It looks like Brandon Flowers’ “Crossfire” is destined for the top, as it zips into the Top 5 at #2.  “Pumpkin Pie” by Evan Taubenfeld and “Gettin’ Over You” by David Guetta move up in the Top 10, and Two Door Cinema Club’s “Something Good Can Work” does get there amid stiff competition.  As you will see, every song from 11-19 moves up, and really good stuff like “Broken Tonight” by Armin Van Buuren featuring VanVelzen gets stuck at #13 in a year rife full of grand pop songs.  So how does one compete with songs that rev in my mind like those on the chart from Goldfrapp, The Good Natured, Reni Lane, Lifehouse, and Roz Bell?  Last week’s debuts by Adam Tyler and Chris Mann shove along into the lower teens, with Bim’s gorgeously contagious “Head Over Heels” as the fastest riser (and congratulations on the release of the Scatterheart album, now available in iTunes!), moving up 27-17.  Still further down, songs by Hanson and Billy Franks continue to make inroads.

The debuts will continue to bend my ear for months.  How can one resist the happy feet dances generated by Kylie Minogue’s “Get Outta My Way” (her first appearance on my chart since 2004’s “Slow”), the powerful show-stopping drama of Elouise’s “Pretender”, and the sarcastic wit of Maroon 5’s “Misery”?

To see the full chart, click on the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or click right here.  Any comments are more than appreciated 🙂

I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to blog while I’m away but you can check in on me on Twitter.

Tuned-On! Top 30 #330 – July 5/10

As we now sit two weeks into summer and into the second half of 2010, Simon Curtis returns to #1 after a month’s absence, this time with the title track to his mixtape 8-bit Heart – view the charming acapella video here.  While the song initially struck me during my first few listens earlier this year, I set it aside in favour of  the excellent “Beat Drop”, “Delusional” and “Joystick”.  It wasn’t until I realized that the song was the emotional core of the mixtape that my initial perspective returned, hence it arrives at the top of my personal chart.  That makes it 3 #1’s for Simon since last December 🙂

Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me” and Christina Aguilera’s “Not Myself Tonight” look to be peaking in the Top 5, while Bright Light Bright Light’s “A New Word To Say” looks to charge up the middle and end up in the Top 5 in two weeks.  Justin Nozuka’s beauty that is “Unwoken Dream (King with Everything)” – though I’m becoming awfully partial to “Heartless” from his You I Wind Land And Sea CD – and Ryan Star’s “Breathe” arrive in the Top 10.  I’m looking forward to the release of Ryan’s full length major label debut 11:59 on August 3, the same date as his concert at Irving Plaza in NYC which I will be attending.

The Top 10 looks to be an interesting place in two weeks as two Evan Taubenfeld tracks, “Pumpkin Pie” and “It’s Like That” are held at bay, followed below by summer party jam “Gettin’ Over You” by David Guetta, Chris Willis, Fergie and LMFAO.  Two Door Cinema Club’s “Something Good Can Work” sends positive thoughts through to summer listeners in the Top 20, while solid second chart moves come from Goldfrapp’s “Dreaming” (the fastest riser), Reni Lane’s “Place for Us”, and The Good Natured’s “Your Body Is A Machine”, which is now available on iTunes.

I’ve already discussed at length recently this week’s debuts by Roz Bell “Endless Summer Night”, Billy Franks “The Beautiful Game”, and Hanson “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin'”, so I’ll move to the other debuts.  Lifehouse’s Smoke & Mirrors CD has been keeping me plenty company since its arrival last Spring, and the second official single arrives on the chart, “All In”.  It’s a tougher single than “Halfway Gone” but pop radio needs a good rocking charge right now anyway.  And last but by no means least is the debut single from Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers.  “Crossfire” simply said strikes the listener so immediately with piano hook, straight forward melody, and highly identifiable vocal that it becomes an instant classic.  If by chance you haven’t heard it yet, please listen below and watch for the video on July 8 (starring Oscar winner Charlize Theron).

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!