Meet British folk singer @KateyBrooksOFCL with the compelling and heartfelt “In Your Arms”

KATEY BROOKS, “In Your Arms”

Folk music is hardly what I would call a genre that I actively listen to a lot, but much of today’s pop music was founded on what we would now call the music of folk singers who long preceded the pop and rock era (say, before 1955).  And when a voice is as commanding as that of British singer and guitarist Katey Brooks, then I want you to know about it!  You may hear, as I did, potential influences from classic singers like Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins or Stevie Nicks in “In Your Arms”.  The song starts off so quietly as if to not really want to grab your attention.  But once you start hearing the story, her voice becomes an expressive charmer – duly compared to Florence Welch for power – and there is no turning back.  And then, a bit more than 3 minutes later, the song just stops tidily, leaving you to ponder.  Even though she is British, Katey’s music reminds me of how the songs and poetry of Patti Smith somewhat symbiotically connected with the rock audience of the late 70’s.  In today’s alt-pop and alt-rock, which includes folk music, you’ll find other talented women, and Katey Brooks can certainly compete with the best of them.

Published in: on January 12, 2019 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Meet L.A.-based synth-folk duo @PublicArtmusic with “Montreux”|

PUBLICART, “Montreux”

Incorporating elements of folk into pop/dance music may seem to be a bit of a trend, but when it works well it’s worth checking out.  And L.A.-based duo PublicArt certainly have the pedigree to get it all across.  Singer Stevvi Alexander is the touring lead for the Game Of Thrones live production, while collaborator Jan Ozveren is Charlie Puth’s guitarist on record and on tour.  From their forthcoming EP Modernika, “Montreux” is about the aftermath of a relationship that wasn’t meant to be – the repeated phrase “but we faded away” is guaranteed to stick in your head.  The song has an 80’s new wave electronica sensibility that surrounds both folk and soul influences, and Stevvi definitely has a spot-on voice from which you will want to hear more.  There’s even more diversity in the EP, which gravitates more to pop and jazz at times with an electronic foundation.  PublicArt are off to a great start but to me “Montreux” will be their calling card.

Published in: on September 1, 2018 at 3:23 pm  Comments (2)  
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Netherlands-based producers @Revelriesmusic score with dreamy mid-summer song “Infinitum” with Australia’s #BeamishBoys

REVELRIES and THE BEAMISH BOYS, “Infinitum”

You can tell the guys behind Dubai-bred, Netherlands-based Revelries (they would be Nik and Abhi) are not only producers but musicians as they follow up their successful take on Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still” (featuring Henri Purnell) with the glorious escapism of “Infinitum”.  Not only does “Infinitum” have great melody, instrumentation and song structure, but Revelries have partnered with young Australian duo The Beamish Boys (Ben and Jeremy) for some compelling, diverse vocal work that makes the song soar even more.  “Infinitum” is a dreamy mid-summer alt.dance.pop song for those clear starry evenings when nothing else matters, with sparks of love and affection in the air, and anything is possible.  There are lots of folk/pop elements that creep in with some effective acoustic guitar work that helps guide the song along and make it quite accessible for radio play.  “Infinitum” is highly deserving of your attention and placement on your favourite Spotify playlist using the link above.

Gentle and reflective “Vice” is new from Australia-based indie singer/songwriter @Vincent_Pine

VINCENT PINE, “Vice”

I wrote about “Perfectly Familiar”, the debut release by Australia-based indie singer/songwriter Vincent Pine earlier this year, and it threw me back to the late 80’s and early 90’s and some wonderful songs of a similar fashion which came out of Britain at the time (the artist is originally from the UK).  With his rich and deep vocal, fine song structure, and production here which saves the best for last, Vincent’s guitar-based songs are well-suited to fans of Classic Rock, Folk, and Americana genres.  “Vice” is a gentle and reflective song where a familiar story unfolds and at around the 3 minute mark the song rocks out nicely in a way that would be perfectly suited to a live performance.  The music of Vincent Pine may seem to be very unassuming but it’s certainly convincing and well worth hearing as his style and songwriting develops.  

Published in: on May 31, 2018 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Father Time” is @iamaxelm Axel Mansoor’s rumination on a mid-20’s fast-paced life

AXEL MANSOOR, “Father Time” (free DL)

Taking a deliberate stance away from what you might expect to hear on the radio or in a night club, L.A.-based singer/songwriter Axel Mansoor returns with the gentle and acoustic folk-pop of “Father Time”.  While I do have my own children in their teens and twenties, it is too hard for my generation to put itself into their shoes, so instead we offer advice and experience, while they, like Axel in song, observe and tell us all about their lives.  These days time goes fast at any stage of life you’re in – ask my very healthy 80+ parents – so it’s important to consciously put on the brakes and enjoy and celebrate it whenever you can.  “Father Time” is an important reminder that he is always around us and not to take time for granted.  Like with his other songs that you know from reading this blog – “Wasted My Love”, “Out Of My Head”, “Talk To Me” – Axel has a unique songwriting approach which sometimes works best, just like with “Father Time”, stripped down to his vocal and guitar.  Download “Father Time” for free while you can at the link above.

Published in: on May 21, 2018 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Meet Southern California’s @JayBirdmusic with folk-inspired electronica of “Up Here”

JAY BIRD, “Up Here” (free DL)

Taking his years of playing in folk/rock band The Jaybirds and applying that style to future bass electronica isn’t an easy feat, but California producer, singer and songwriter Jay Bird has achieved it with “Up Here”.  It’s a song that requires multiple listens to embrace its authenticity around the need for escape and fantasy in our lives.  We’re still the same people even if we dive into our hobbies and interests for a while, despite what others may think, and you can always find the ‘real’ us – if you really want to.  The production is smooth and top notch, you’ll definitely want to sway away to “Up Here” while you hold your significant other tight.  However the vocal is raw, not what you’d expect in this kind of production, and you’ll understand why when you listen closely to the lyrics.  Jay Bird’s “Up Here” is an out-of-left-field indie alt.electronic charmer and you can add it to your inspiring mid-tempo dance playlist using the Spotify link above.  It’s also available as a free download at the Soundcloud link below.

Published in: on January 27, 2018 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#BILLCSTop30 #527 – January 22/18

Edition #527 of my chart, now in its 20th year, begs the question:  What do you do when you enjoy all of the songs at the top of your chart so much?

The answer:  You put them on hold!  But something’s gotta give in two weeks 🙂

There are three debuts, including the one right below:

The Top 10

So in a BILLCS Top 30 chart first, songs 1 through 7 remain the same.

  • Miguel’s “Pineapple Skies” gets its 3rd appearance (6th week, above) at #1, while Billboard Top 40 hit “Sky Walker” stays steady at #3, and “Told You So” (below) rises 20-17.  They’re all from the compelling and enjoyable War and Leisure album.
  • YEBBA’s “Evergreen” (above) holds tight at #6, while her duet with Sam Smith, “No Peace”, inches up to #12.  This compelling new singer continues to be one to watch, and more proof is available in the form of a song recorded live called “My Mind” (below), which is available for free download, or you can make a donation, with proceeds going to Bring Change To Mind, an organization to assist people with mental illnesses.  It’s available from her website right hereIts video has over a million views.

 

  • Nora En Pure’s gorgeous “Tears In Your Eyes” climbs 9-8, and I’d love to see this song set to some lovely choreography 🙂
  • New to the Top 10 is SoCal production duo waitwhat with “Alive” rising 11-9 featuring a provocative vocal by Rielle.

Movin’ On Up

The songs just below the Top 10 are kind of stuck this week, slinking up the chart by 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 positions, save one song, the fastest riser.

  • The fastest riser on the chart belongs to Mako’s “Breathe” which jumps 25-19.  And this is just as Alex’s tour kicks off, with a stop this week in Toronto on Friday January 26, as before, at The Velvet Underground 🙂
  • “Moves” will keep you dancing courtesy of Italy’s Big Fish featuring American singer Mike Gomes, rising 26-21.
  • It’s a 2-for-4 deal with River Tiber’s “Patience” (above) climbing 24-20, while K-POP stars BTS are up 27-23 with “DNA” (below).

  • Keeping the doors wide open is Mika with the jaunty and inspiring “It’s My House” climbing 22-18.

Three Debuts

  • Putting a huge wrinkle into the chart which will ultimately play out in two weeks is Troye Sivan’s new single “My My My!” (at the top), which soars into the chart at #16.  It would have been higher had most of the songs above it not been frozen this week.  This is the breakthrough single that everyone had hoped for, a joyous mid-tempo dance song that sees Troye flashing his moves in the fun video.  It was immediately followed up this week by the more pensive “The Good Side” (below performance from Saturday Night Live).

  • Arriving at #26 is NYC singer Reigen with “Dreams”.  I wrote about this cover of The Cranberries 1994 hit shortly before the sudden passing of its singer, Dolores O’Riordan.  Reigen recorded it as an ode to the marriage of his friends.  While his version has suddenly taken on a bittersweet quality with Dolores’ passing, Reigen’s cover should always be regarded for what was intended.  It’s Reigen’s second chart appearance, following 2014’s #2 “Come Back To Me”.

  • Debuting on the chart as lead artists rather than remixers are L.A. duo Two Friends with “Just A Kid” at #27, featuring a playful vocal by singer Kevin Writer.  Matt and Eli have already been to the Top 10 twice with their fine remixes of Mako’s “Way Back Home” (#10) and MAX’s “Lights Down Low” (#3), which looks to finally crack the Billboard Top 40 after nearly two years on release!!

View the full BILLCS Top 30 right here, and be sure to click on the photos to hear all of the songs.

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 new BILLCS Music Projects Facebook page 🙂

 

German producers @VeniceandBoujee bring you the inspiring “My Time Will Come”

PAUL VENICE & DAN BOUJEE, “My Time Will Come” (free DL)

New German production duo Paul Venice and Dan Boujee are off to a great start out of the gate with “My Time Will Come”.  It’s an inspiring slice of folk story pop that happily marries dance rhythms to a memorable guitar-driven melody rather than the usual dose of synths.  What it also offers is an inspiring story of confidence and determination, which no one can get enough of these days.  The vocals are a bit on the raw side but after repeated listens you realize they totally suit the production and the approach of the song.  Best of all it’s a free download.  Add it to your story-telling dance playlist on Spotify or download it right here.

Published in: on January 19, 2018 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“High Tide” is gentle and inspiring folk/pop EP from Toronto’s @JustinNozuka

justinnozuka10

JUSTIN NOZUKA, High Tide (EP)

It’s so hard to believe that Justin Nozuka’s first album Holly was released 10 years ago this Fall, and the thoughtful and emotion-wrenching lead single “After Tonight” became one of my go-to songs for not only the next year but forever more, it has endured so very well.  Flash forward and we’re now at the start of a fourth album release for Justin.  He’s chosen to release it in EP parts instead of all at once, so the first three-song offering is called “High Tide”.  It’s a gracious blend of folk and pop and rock like no one else is making.  Inspired greatly by love and nature, you can feel the gentle power particularly in “No Place In Mind”, which reminds me a lot of songs from Justin’s 2010 album You I Wind Land & Sea.  Opener “All I Need” is satisfying and slicker pop, and could be a nice slice of ear candy for pop/adult/alternative radio.  “Hourglass” takes some kind early advice from parents to reflect on and use as empowering self-realization.  High Tide is a true pleasure to hear, with a lot to say crammed into the thoughts of three songs.  You can check out the entire EP at the Spotify link below, but be sure to pick it up at your favourite digital store too.

“Fade” by @Kidswaste featuring duo @Hunting_Stories is an impressive electronic folk-pop hybrid

KIDSWASTE featuring HUNTING STORIES, “Fade”

French producer Kidswaste (Quentin Beauvois) returns to stretch the edges of pop and electronic dance music once again, this time with the anthemic “Fade”, featuring New York vocal duo Hunting Stories.  His EP from earlier this year, “Spleen”, was ambitious and accessible enough to catch the ears of Ultra Records, chock full of sophisticated electronic pop.  And Kidswaste also surprised us with a sparkling (but unofficial) redux of Lemaitre’s “Playing To Lose”.  “Fade”, however, is entirely different – an electronic folk-pop hybrid which might have you recalling  songs from Avicii’s landmark True album in terms of style and intent but without the big beats.  A more current potential companion song from these blog pages comes more quickly to my mind – Lars Beck & Henri Purnell’s “Silent Games”, which features the folk storytelling anchor of vocalist Zekt.  The guys in Hunting Stories also give “Fade” its earnest beating heart while Kidswaste builds his complimentary musical storyboard around it.  “Fade” is not entirely an easy sell and you have to stick with it.  But once you do, I can guarantee repeated plays will occur!  Counter Records – home of Giraffage, ODESZA, and RAC – steers the ship for this one.

kidswaste

Published in: on August 23, 2017 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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