“More Than I Do” by @Saxity featuring @Oferlemusic straddles genres with deep house rhythms

SAXITY featuring OFERLE, “More Than I Do” (free DL)

German production duo Saxity returns to straddle genres successfully with “More Than I Do”.  It may not be as noticeable to European audiences as North American ones, but the bright synths and solid deep house rhythms surround a luscious pop/country concoction that is only made better by the alternating male and female vocals from within Indiana trio Oferle.  It’s a singalong, it’s a dance-a-long, and it further continues in dance music what Avicii started in his 2012 album True with “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother”.  You’ll also recall Saxity’s glowing folk/pop/dance blend from earlier in the year with “Brothers” (which got to #3 on my personal chart).  There have been a lot of bad imitators and successors to the Avicii record, but Saxity continues to find happy places in songs where everything works so well thanks to spot on production and great choices of vocalists.  “More Than I Do” is a free download for you at the link above.

Published in: on October 6, 2017 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Hungry Ghosts” by Canadian duo @TheBigEast offers well-crafted songs for cottage-country fun

THE BIG EAST, Hungry Ghosts

I don’t write about pop/rock records with heavy country music influences a lot unless they are well-sung, genuine songs like from Huntsville, Ontario duo The Big East in Hungry Ghosts, the follow-up album to 2014’s Under Currents.  James Jones and Kip Daynard are here to offer up a good time for all, a signal for you to jump into the vehicle and head to cottage country, and the songs work best when they are full-tilt rocking or soft and heart-felt.  “Too Far Gone” is the winner here, a retro-rocker in the John Mellencamp style of rock that gets things off to a barreling start following the other opener, also a rocker called “The Wild Life”.  Most of The Big East’s inspiration seems to continue to draw from The Eagles and Neil Young, but can also easily appeal to fans of more recent bands such as The Lumineers or Mumford & Sons.  “Love Monkey” is probably the bluesiest and most soulful song within that might catch your ear, but another one worthy of attention is the tender ballad “My Heart Belongs To Me”.  The Big East has already started to receive notable airplay in Canada with some of the fine songs within.  Check out all of the songs on Hungry Ghosts at the link above.

Published in: on May 7, 2017 at 9:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dallas’ @NorthernNatl returns with 5 song EP “The New Age”

NORTHERN NATIONAL, The New Age (EP)

About a year ago I wrote about “Love Is Fire”, a single which came to my attention by Dallas band Northern National.  Since that time, Northern National has become a quintet (though still full of Michaels), and after making themselves a presence on the Texas club and rock circuit, return with an EP called The New Age.  Like with “Love Is Fire”, which is included, a spotlight is on the vocals, which are the driving force behind the songs and I’m sure command attention in concert.  But the music has definitely been fleshed out with the addition of two band members, which is particularly notable in the title song, which is the kind of song that takes them away from initial comparisons to bands like Train and instead towards more cutting edge groups like Cage The Elephant.  There’s still a country-tinged backdrop in some of the songs, and “Dallas” could be played live in any city and you’d still get the lighters and cell phone flashlights igniting the show.  Northern National has the chops to stay on rock fans’ radar in these days filled with all kinds of music.  Give The New Age a listen above and pick it up at your favourite online store.

Published in: on December 18, 2016 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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With UK duo @YESBABEZ ! it’s all about the vocals with fun Bluegrass-flavoured “Round Around”

YES BABEZ!, “Round Around”

You first encountered UK duo Lily and Mick, aka YES BABEZ!, in these blog pages in June with their smile-worthy doo wop-meets-Scandinavian-styled electronica in “Madame Beaujolais”.  The pair returns with the even more decidedly different crowd-pleaser “Round Around”, and hey if Avicii and others can add Country elements to dance music, then YES BABEZ! can flirt with Bluegrass-flavoured indie pop.  The showcase here again is on the effortless vocals, which are imperfectly unpolished and totally suited to the raw Bluegrass and Country tones of “Round Around”.  It’s a brisk 3:25 blast that will win you over like a crisp breeze of morning air.  Check it out at the above link.

Published in: on December 6, 2016 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Fight” is an energetic, promising new song by Andy Suzuki @andtheMethod (@AndyxSuzuki and @Kozza)

ANDY SUZUKI & THE METHOD, “Fight”

Can it be four or five years now since I first heard “Fairytale” by NYC’s Andy Suzuki & The Method?  Riding high on devout fandom from the Malaysian country of Brunei, the duo of singer/songwriter/guitarist Andy Suzuki and songwriter/percussionist Kozza Babumba (grandon of Grammy-winning Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji) returned to their city, playing club gigs around the USA to support their EP Ghost Stories.  Come 2014 they issued a top notch mix of country, folk, rock, and pop in their album Born Out Of Mischief, and I caught the hella-nice pair performing in NYC on one of my visits.  Up next, after touring on rock music cruises as well as with Joshua Radin, Marc Broussard, Amanda Palmer, and others, is a brand new album in early ’17 called The Glass Hour.  In advance of the album we have post-USA election encouragement with “Fight”, sure to be a crowd-pleaser.  I particularly enjoy the arrangement, which sends the bass in and out of the mix to focus on the high end of the song.  This is definitely not the diverse kind of rock music you’ll hear on the radio, but it has everything it needs to attract more new fans, and maybe even get them back to Brunei 🙂  Check out “Fight” at the link above. 

Published in: on November 26, 2016 at 10:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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@TwoFriendsmusic show their flair for melody in their remix of “Something Better” by @Audien and @LadyAntebellum

AUDIEN & LADY ANTEBELLUM, “Something Better” (Two Friends remix)

It’s hard to follow up a #1 club smasheroo like Audien and Lady Antebellum’s “Something Better”, and hardly the first time a country music song or performer found its way into clubs – anyone recall the disco mix of Dolly Parton’s 1978 hit “Baby I’m Burnin'”? 😛  And the clue for us was when Lady A performed with Zedd at last year’s CMT Awards.  Well Matt and Eli, aka Two Friends, have this amazing flair for melody, so they picked up the essence of “Something Better” and ran with it to make a remix definitively their own.  Hence, immediate reaction that followed even despite the song already being quite well-known.  Kudos to Two Friends who can show off this unique collaboration with their own stylish effects and instrumentation.  It’s no wonder Las Vegas already loves them.  Get the Two Friends remix of “Something Better” above for free.

Two Friends perform at the LINQ Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday May 14.

Published in: on May 8, 2016 at 10:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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You should hear Melissa Manchester’s new single “Open Spaces and Gas Stations” @Melissashares

melissamanchester

MELISSA MANCHESTER, “Open Spaces and Gas Stations”

Grammy-winning superstar Melissa Manchester carves out some new territory in her illustrious and busy career with “Open Spaces and Gas Stations”.  What pop music fan doesn’t own at least one of her records? 🙂 This new single follows the New York-born singer’s recent pop/jazz success with You Gotta Love The Life, which features Al Jarreau and Dionne Warwick among others.  The singer has nary skipped a beat over the years with album releases, performing, and teaching, and “Open Spaces” switches pop styles for Melissa, in this collaboration with Toronto-based singer/songwriter James Collins, who co-wrote Melissa’s “My Christmas Song for You” as well as the much-played “Frozen In Time (The New Wedding Song)”.  “Open Spaces” treads successfully into Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac territory – think of Stevie’s duet with Don Henley on “Leather and Lace”, or maybe Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” or “As Long As You Follow”.  The former to me is the best reference, which also captures not only the standout country-flavoured backdrop but also the delicate, seasoned production.  It’s the kind of gentle song that makes you feel good and will hush an attentive audience in concert.  It may not necessarily sound too much like Melissa Manchester in her heyday, but audiences will find much to enjoy with “Open Spaces and Gas Stations”.  Give it a listen below.

Just Reminiscing: The video for “Time” by @SteveGrandmusic

STEVE GRAND, “Time” (video)

Because I’m so supportive of the Steve Grand crowd-funded project which just brought us his fine, fine album All-American Boy, I have to include words about the video for his recent single “Time” (which peaked at #9 on my personal chart), which I believe was also funded by that project.  

It’s a poignant and thought-provoking story that only Steve and his team could envision, continuing from the viral success of “All-American Boy” and “Stay” in 2013.  It clearly depicts how a relationship begins and develops, taking the same route of many of us when we become part of a couple whether straight or gay.  You do what feels right and goes with the flow.  Only when commitment wanes does it come into question, and fortunately for us, the videomakers allow us to come to a conclusion without it being decided for us.  While it lasts, Steve’s on-screen interracial relationship makes us all reminisce fondly of our own enjoyable times, which come hand-in-hand with the challenges and temptations.

Watch the video above and don’t forget to purchase Steve Grand’s All-American Boy on iTunes.

Published in: on March 30, 2015 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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@SteveGrandmusic rocks out with diverse debut crowd-funded album “All-American Boy”

STEVE GRAND, All-American Boy

The wait is over, and one of the most incredible and engaging crowd-funding experiences has allowed Chicago’s Steve Grand to release All-American Boy tomorrow, Monday, March 23.  If you’ve been hiding in the bushes for close to the last two years, you’ve missed Steve soaring to international attention with “Stay” and of course the country flavoured title song (and its viral video, taking the singer to new heights as an inspiring, grounded gay role model) , as well as a classic-pop piece of storytelling with “Back To California”.  They are all included in All-American Boy.

This led to the Kickstarter campaign which raised over $300,000 for Steve to use to create All-American Boy with all of the proper bells and whistles and behind-the-scenes costs covered.  Through it all though Steve has remained an unstoppable force, following through personally on every pledge, making it a one-of-a-kind experience, and continuing to receive exposure through touring to key destinations, including many gay pride events last year.  To think this is only the beginning!

All-American Boy is to me a rock album with many classic pop flourishes and lots of roots sown in country and blues music, and solid musicianship and harmonies throughout to support it.  When Steve isn’t looking to have a grand time with you 😛 he’s pensive and reflective, with recent single “Time” probably most representative of this.  Steve wasn’t born in the 80’s but the album is full of arrangements which recall the early part of that decade, specifically classic rock and pop by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Billy Joel, and perhaps others like Rick Springfield, Queen, Foreigner, and Journey.  It’s no surprising that some of these performers are his key influences, he sings and plays their inspiration proudly.  The best parts of All-American Boy are when Steve gets to let loose.  “We Are The Night” (which will be a concert favourite and could be a subsequent single) and the Springsteen-ish “Run” are fine anthems, and jaunty lead single “Whiskey Crime” and “Soakin’ Wet” are just down home fun.  “Say You Love Me” is the winning opening song, while “Next To Me”, “Better Off”, and “Red, White and Blue” are well-crafted pop songs.  Along with “Back To California” and “Time”, “Lovin’ Again” slows it down at the piano as Steve sings about one of those romances that makes you question if you’d do it all again.

All in all, the next few years for Steve Grand are going to be amazing.  He has a natural, honest charm that can win over the strictest of nay-sayers.  And while his success has elevated him to be a spokesman for gay and equity issues, if the music and the talent weren’t already front and centre, this album would not be here.  I admire Steve’s determination and confidence and look forward to seeing his show when he’s next in my city.

Be sure to pick up All-American Boy on iTunes!

Published in: on March 22, 2015 at 12:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer: @SteveGrandmusic Serves Up “Whiskey Crime”

STEVE GRAND, “Whiskey Crime”

Chicago’s Steve Grand is now everyone’s All-American Boy and one of music’s hardest working new talents.  His All-American Boy album, funded by you, is set for release on March 23, and I have, happily, my own advance copy to write about closer to that time.  In the meantime, Steve’s new single “Whiskey Crime” dropped this week.  It aptly prepares you more for the classic pop/rock influences that pervade the album, but also carries on the good-natured fun led by his initial singles “All-American Boy” and “Stay”, both of which also had significant Country music flavour.  But really, with Steve, you’re going to have to learn to expect the unexpected.  “Whiskey Crime” is as much about George Thorogood and Bruce Springsteen as it might be about George Strait or Garth Brooks.  Steve’s got this winning, contagious, no-holds-barred delivery in this song that’s sure to make you smile whether or not you like the hard stuff or even an Appletini 🙂 Let your hair down, kick back, and pick up “Whiskey Crime” on iTunes.   Watch the lyric video above.

Published in: on March 12, 2015 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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