Boston’s @GillianHeidi returns with heartfelt and relatable “waves”

GILLIAN HEIDI, “waves”

With every release that I hear from Gillian Heidi, I hear growth, whether it’s in her vocal or songwriting.  In “waves”, it’s a little of both, a really tight and well-rounded song that ponders the pressures of becoming an adult, often feeling overwhelmed and in this case underneath the waves of life.  Her sound is similar to a lot of pop-folk artists coming out of England.  However with being in America, it seems more apt to compare her to Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo and the like, though she’s probably right in the middle of it all.  “waves” will make you hang on every word and Gillian’s sweet vocal leaves a long, savoury aftertaste.

Meet London-based Irish folk/pop singer @iamBLANID with the gorgeous “Fool’s Gold”

BLÁNID, “Fool’s Gold”

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be in a Zoom meeting, part of which was a demo listening session.  One of the highlights of that was hearing London-based Irish singer/songwriter Blánid for the first time with her recent single “Fool’s Gold”.  After receiving some notoriety for scaling back the 2000’s europop hit “Dragostea Din Tei” as the acoustic “Numa Numa” last year, she has further invested in her soaring voice and superb storytelling skills in “Fool’s Gold”.  If you enjoy Hozier or Sinéad O’Connor, “Fool’s Gold” is tailor-made for you. It has a deliberate pace that would otherwise be difficult to contain if not for the beautiful control and phrasing in Blánid’s voice.  While it’s not for everyone, “Fool’s Gold” will find favour with folk/pop fans, and I think alternative and college radio stations would love it.

Classical gas: “Vertigo” by Philadelphia trio Time For Three @TF3 shapes beautiful harmonies with violins and string bass

TIME FOR THREE, “Vertigo”

The word for “Vertigo” by Philadelphia trio Time For Three in these busy days of music is Refreshing!  It’s not often that classical music intersects with pop and folk, but when it’s made right, it works oh so well.  TF3 is Charles and Nick (they’re the violinists) and Ranaan (he’s the string bass player), and they have a great project to keep growing with stunning harmonies – they all sing – that are actually front and centre in “Vertigo” more than the classical instruments.  “Vertigo” is a fine song brought resoundingly to life by three talented guys who are presented to you by the same team as YEBBA, and that should speak volumes in itself.  Watch the socially-distanced video for “Vertigo” recorded back in the Spring, above, or listen to it on Spotify below.

10/10 #12!: @RufusWainwright @FrancescoYates #TheBeamishBrothers @Gillian_music @Vampaofficial @KarlWolfs & @iamJuliusWilson J-Mi of @JMiandMidiD @DJDezza @FLouisemusic @Bellsavvy

It’s 10/10 – Edition 12!!

When you don’t write a blog post for two weeks, then the new music accumulates, so I’m glad I have this feature which helps me continue to bring you some new songs you might not otherwise hear.

In 10/10 (or tenoutoften) ,  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.  The song residing at #1 on my current chart, “You’ll Be OK” by Gareth Emery, was featured in a 10/10 blog post back in March.

Writing 10/10 features 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.

  • RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, “You Ain’t Big”

Before I continue, you have to know that I’ve been a huge fan of Juno Award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright since his debut self-titled album was released in 1998.  I’ve seen him perform 6 or 7 times, but not now for many years.  “You Ain’t Big” is the title song from his new EP, his first new pop music since 2012’s album Out Of The Game, after forays into opera and Shakespeare as well as a live album.  It’s a return to the carefree, whimsical songwriting of his earlier career.  To me he’s also in his finest pop voice since 2007’s Release The Stars.  “You Ain’t Big” is the standout, and though no song on the EP disappoints, also check out “Trouble In Paradise” and “Peaceful Afternoon”.

  • FRANCESCO YATES, “Bad Decisions”

My fellow Canadian Francesco Yates is back with another great new song that taps into the punchy R&B-flavoured pop that gave him his start with  jams like “Better To Be Loved”.  To me, “Bad Decisions” is his best one since the early days, it just brims with energy and devil-may-care lyrics about getting into some specific trouble with a special someone.  Like with “Superbad”, Francesco teases us with a short video, with more to come.  Check out this dynamic release with video and full song above.  Canadian radio stations definitely needs to jump on it.

  • THE BEAMISH BROTHERS, “Nature”

Rising and talented siblings from Queensland, Australia, the Beamish Brothers have released their first 2020 single in style with “Nature”.  Ben and Jeremy have been well established as regular voices on several dance tracks over the past couple of years, and started to release their own music last year with the alt.pop EP Brutalism.  “Nature” had the bonus of being featured as a runner-up in February in Eurovision Australia Decides.  It draws from numerous styles which will appeal as much to fans of Paul Simon as it would fans of Years & Years.  The brothers’ seamless vocal interplay is a big draw, and is punctuated by rich and soulful, memorably choir-like bursts of the title.  “Nature” is a classic lesson in the way to make DIY music work wonders.  

  • GILLIAN, “high”

Boston teen pop singer/songwriter Gillian has an unconventional winner with “high”. The song’s protagonist has a major crush on someone who cannot reciprocate the attraction because his priority is to get high. It’s a frustrating scenario when you discover that someone is not who they say they are until you see their true colours, and hope for the best for the protagonist at the end. Gillian’s vocal style is proudly unique, stemming from a long line of singers with similar styles – Jill Sobule, Joan Osborne, Regina Spektor are some names that come to mind. “high” is a strong song with deft execution that makes it memorable.

  • VAMPA, “Dark Matter”

“Dark Matter” is the title song from the recent EP by relative newcomer, the Chicago-based bass music producer VAMPA, whose heavy and melodic style could easily fit alongside releases by Rezz, Kai Wachi, Zed’s Dead, and Wooli.  “Dark Matter” instantly slams with the best of them and I think it’s her flair for melody and ear-popping synth effects that will get listeners’ attention.  VAMPA’s vocal narrative at the beginning also nicely sets up what’s to come and flows into the rest of the song with ease.  

  • KARL WOLF and JULIUS WILSON, “City Of Lies”

It’s been a slice since Karl Wolf was all over the radio in Canada with his huge cover of Toto’s “Africa” and other songs such as two with Kardinal Offishall, “Ghetto Love” and “Amateur At Love”. You may not know though that he was a co-writer of bülow’s debut “Not A Love Song”, among his many other songwriting credits.  He’s back with an infectious, retro R&B flavoured dance pop song called “City Of Lies”.  It features the striking voice of Halifax-born (of Jamaican and Bajan heritage) Julius Wilson, whose diverse vocal fits snugly into the hybrid electronic pop mix of the song.  The video above offers a glowing backdrop of Toronto which makes us pine for the nightlife that is currently missing from our lives.  “City Of Lies” is from Karl’s forthcoming album Night Of The Wolf.

  • J-MI, “On Our Own”

“On Our Own” is a most pleasant and refreshing surprise. Sherbrooke, Quebec-based producer J-Mi, forever active on the gamer circuit, returns to pop music with her take on the 1989 Bobby Brown classic from “Ghostbusters 2”. Strangely and somewhat out of sync with these times, its production (by J-Mi with long-time collaborator Midi-D aka Dave Phaneuf) remains glued to the new jack swing vibes of the original. While that may leave you scratching your head, the results are charming and brimming with enthusiasm (with J-Mi being an ultimate “Ghostbusters fan). J-Mi has put loads of effort over the past few years into honing her vocals, and the results are flattering. Unabashedly bold, the aim of “On Our Own” is to leave you smiling and it is completely on point with that.

  • DEZZA and MIKE SCHMID, “Carry Me”

“Carry Me” is sophisticated, emotional house music for your soul and feet, brought to you by Halifax producer Dezza, and co-writer and veteran vocalist Mike Schmid, who has performed in concert with the likes of The Chainsmokers, Troye Sivan and Miley Cyrus.  Dezza has been releasing music consistently for the last few years as either a producer or remixer, with much success in Europe in the company of the likes of Armin van Buuren.  “Carry Me” stands out as a pensive house track with elegant synths that support Mike’s soothing voice.  While atypical, “Carry Me” will win you over with a few listens.

  • FRANCESCA LOUISE, “Ride The Waters”

I’m bringing you another song by British pop/folk singer Francesca Louise after I first wrote about her a month ago.  Her voice is a breath of fresh air, with its own unique spin on pop music, which in “Ride The Waters” recalls the confidence of a Christine McVie or Sheryl Crow, while retaining her own sound.  In fact the song is about being successful on your own terms and directs an empowering message towards young women.  So this is not dreary folk music from another era.  “Ride The Waters” is spirited and engaging and deserving of your attention.

  • BELLSAVVY, “Queen Of My Mind”

Bellsavvy is a new voice to get to know, and she hails from London but was raised in Brazil.  The daughter of a pop star in Brazil, Bellsavvy follows mom’s lead after a modelling career with the potent “Queen Of My Mind”.  It’s an ode to self-realization after the singer herself faced mental health issues.  With production from David Lei Brandt, who worked with Lady Gaga, there will be the inevitable Gaga comparisons, which are completely justified.  Bellsavvy has a well-honed, stunning tone in her vocal, and “Queen of My Mind” will also appeal to fans of Kiesza, Charli XCX, and Madonna.  “Queen Of My Mind” is a striking debut indeed!

Toronto’s @RiverTiber returns with gentle, soulful alt.pop of “Taurus”

RIVER TIBER, “Taurus”

There have only been a handful of songs released by Toronto’s River Tiber since the acclaimed Indigo album a few years back.  Multi-instrumentalist Tommy Paxton-Beesley must definitely have a few cards up his sleeves to help guide us where he is going next after an album full of hip hop and electronic influences that showed he can tackle any style and succeed.  So with “Taurus” – and I do understand Tommy falls under that sun sign – we have a gentle, soulful alt.pop song with some folk influences that seems to bring out in its lyrics some common traits of a Taurean – being committed and resolute.  There are no drums here, just guitar, bass and piano, all of which are played by Tommy, with ever-able assistance from long time pal Justin Nozuka, who also sings backup vocals.  So while “Taurus” goes down easy, it does make you wonder what’s coming, always worth the wait in the evolution of River Tiber.

Meet Boston indie pop singer/songwriter @AlmostOwenmusic with the reflective “Something In You”

ALMOST OWEN, “Something In You”

If you think that indie bedroom pop simply can’t be compelling then I’m happy to make you think otherwise by introducing you to Boston singer/songwriter Almost Owen.  His latest release, “Something In You”, indeed is a bedroom studio production.  But his voice is rich and full of defined tones, definitely reminiscent of early John Mayer, and the song captures simple jazz and folk flavours that make it easy to stick with even the fussiest of listeners.  Originally a drummer as a child, Almost Owen (aka Isaac Haselkom) traveled the world to hone his craft, working with the likes of Paul Simon (undoubtedly a huge influence) as well as jazz greats like Joe Sample and Wayne Shorter.  Songs like “Something In You” only signal promise for what Almost Owen has to offer music fans.

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.

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.

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

https://soundcloud.com/vincent_pine/vice

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.