Your Long Weekend Playlist, Part I: FrankMusik, Bright Light Bright Light, Graffiti6, Charly Mae, Anton Ewald, and Oscar Zia

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FRANKMUSIK “Chasing Shadows”

When you hear the compelling beauty of a song like “Chasing Shadows”, you know that the rest of the songs you haven’t already heard from FrankMusik’s upcoming album Between (due June 8) are going to be equally grand.  It’s a really rich song – almost too rich – that almost makes you want to get sad and teary-eyed.  But no!!  Where his song “Captain” is the chaotic storm, “Chasing Shadows” is the calm resolution where you’ll see the rainbow once you get past the mountain ahead.  The supurb high notes and huge chorus make you feel glad and relieved at the same time.  As his previous EP title said, the journey is ‘far from over’.

Get “Chasing Shadows” on iTunes, but also be sure to listen to and download a song that won’t appear on Between, “One Mile” (below).  As with many of his other songs that don’t fit into the final package, FrankMusik does not just give you filler.  “One Mile” is a joyful and soulful pop confection.

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BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT “Blueprint”

Rod Thomas (who is BLx2) is currently playing a number of shows in the USA (New York, Boston, Washington DC) in advance of the final single release from his 2012 debut album Make Me Believe In Hope.  “Moves” is a brilliant choice, one that I certainly hoped for, since I added it to my chart last year (where it peaked at #6) in-between releases of “Waiting For The Moment” (#1) and “Feel It” (#5).  As an added attraction to the single, BLx2 is including “Blueprint” (first available last year on a limited USA release), which starts off slow and thoughtful as do many BLx2 songs, but gets out in the open and reaches for the sky at about the 2 minute mark and by then you’re just hopelessly hooked.  The “Moves” single including “Blueprint” arrives June 3.

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GRAFFITI6, “Wash My Sins”

After a well-deserved success in 2012 with the enduring “Free” from their Colours album, duo Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers are back with new songs.  “Wash My Sins” is the first taste of new Graffiti6 for your ears, and if you would like a gospel-flavoured dose of pop/R&B to wrestle you out of bed in the morning, then “Wash My Sins” will do just that!  It’s definitely several steps away from “Free” or “Stare Into The Sun”, but it shows you that this duo is muscling ahead and chock full of surprises for you.  Very much looking forward to more new songs from Graffiti6.

CHARLY MAE featuring PW, “Girls Go Hard”

There is no doubt in my mind that I think UK singer Charly Mae is a potent voice waiting to happen.  And “Girls Go Hard”, a powerful female empowerment song that draws on inspiration from Beyonce and Rihanna songs, could help get her there.  It’s probably the most deliberately aggressive song by Charly Mae yet, and the rap by PW is well-placed and memorable.  I would have liked to have heard less power and more vocal range, as in Charly Mae’s covers of Christina Aguilera songs among others, but overall it’s still quite well done.  For another side of Charly Mae, check out the fun duet with Brazilian singer Edoo below on “Scream and Shout”, which to me is an awful song but the two tackle it and make much more of it than I expected.  Watch for more songs from Charly Mae soon!

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ANTON EWALD, “Begging”

I know I’m a bit behind on writing about this one, but it seems like every other year there is a truly winning performance that comes out of Sweden’s Melodifestivalen contest, even if it’s not the song that wins.  This time we have 19 year old singer/dancer/ choreographer Anton Ewald, whose showy presence in “Begging” (which he choreographed – he’s also been a dancer on the show in recent years) comes close to rivalling his friend Eric Saade, who had better keep his eye on that Swedish male pop crown he wears 😉 So many pop singers from Sweden deserve an international shot – the Nordic fans have to let go of them for just a little while so that the rest of the world can embrace them!

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OSCAR ZIA, “#Fail”

16 year old Swedish singer Oscar Zia has released one of the year’s delightful trifles, “#Fail” (aka “Hashtag Fail”), and I’m hoping pop philes will help spread the word to take the song around the world.  File it less next to Anton Ewald – whose “Begging”, ironically, beat out “”Jalla Dansa Sawa” by Behrang Miri in Melodifestivalen, a song in which Oscar provides vocals – and Eric Saade, and more beside the feel good pop of Dutch singer Jeronimo.  Oscar gives a much more mature performance than his years with a lot of help from great songwriter pedigree 🙂  It’s already been #1 on Sweden iTunes – big, fun, shiny tunes like this should rarely be kept under wraps!

BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #30 to #21

#30  John De Sohn featuring Andreas Moe “Long Time”

One of Sweden’s best exports in 2012 is “Long Time”, a huge domestic hit that became a Top 25 North American dance club hit as well.  It also had the distinction of being picked up for Tiesto’s Club Life Miami Calling Volume 2 compilation alongside of tunes by its creator and remixes of songs by Gotye, Coldplay, The Young & Famous, Afrojack and more.  It was also the first time some of you heard Andreas Moe, who is one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13 and had my #36 hit of 2012, “Collecting Sunlight”.

 

#29  Lifehouse featuring Natasha Bedingfield “Between The Raindrops”

While it may not have been a complete surprise that Natasha (long a friend of the band) was featured on the lead off single from Lifehouse’s Almeria album, it may have struck fans that this country-tinged song took two steps back from those on their rocking last album Smoke And Mirrors.  But “Between The Raindrops” is a real grower and the harmonies between Jason Wade and Natasha couldn’t be better.

 

#28  Adam Tyler “Music Freak”

The last of two songs from Shattered Ice to appear in this list, “Music Freak” is one of Adam Tyler’s songs that I can totally identify with 🙂  So it’s great for the rest of us long time music fans and chart buffs to know that the singer is in this club too.  It’s also one of his best singalong songs to date.  Hear the song on Spotify at the link below, and watch the video below when Adam performed in Miami (he also performed in Stockholm, London, and Barcelona this year!).

#27  The Wanted “Glad You Came”

A #1 hit in the UK in 2011, it was no shocker that both The Wanted and One Direction arrived on the scene at the same time and have both had significant success, not unlike Backstreet Boys and *N Sync at the end of the 90’s.  What makes “Glad You Came” stand out is the lilting melody that transforms into an almost traditional UK folk-oriented club hit, complete with soulful vocals from guys who can sing.  The Wanted are expected to release two albums in 2013, one that is scarily replete with major guest stars.  We’ll wait to see if their talent shines through and they have the same caliber of songwriting (keeping Ed Drewett in the mix might be worthwhile).

 

#26  Colin Munroe featuring Pusha T “The Fight Of My Life”

After disappearing from view for a while to regroup after personal and professional losses, Toronto’s Colin Munroe came out punching with a free download album Unsung Hero, which attracted names like Pusha T, RZA, Kendrick Lamar, and Cassie to the table, as well as a new record deal.  It’s an outstanding album that’s hard to classify (lots of pop, R&B/soul, and rap within) full of soaring, triumphant moments like “The Fight Of My Life”.  Colin’s vocals are alternately heartfelt and soaring – let’s hope his next release brings him the commercial success that he deserves.

 

#25 Foster The People “Call It What You Want”

No, Foster The People are not one-hit wonders after last year’s massive hit “Pumped Up Kicks”.  Follow up singles “Don’t Stop” and “Helena Beat” did moderately well in North America (better in places like Australia), while clubs favoured two other songs, one being the playful “Call It What You Want”.  The video is also kind of irresistible and enjoyable in a ‘what will happen next’ sense.

 

#24 Graffiti6 “Free”

After being lavished with praise by bloggers and tastemakers a few years back, London duo Graffiti6 (Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers) signed to a major label in 2011 and by the end of the year released an EP followed by the album Colours in 2012.  “Free” became one of a few songs on this listing ‘that could’ – it gradually found fans, radio station adds, sales, and even airplay in supermarkets.  Its vibrant melody as well as vocals by Jamie that are exuberant and full of personality completely sold me, and I expect great things from Graffiti6 to follow.

 

#23 Tao Hypah “Celeb”

It was pretty instantaneous… the best dance compilation of 2012 This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One already featured songs that were known to me, and it got better with the inclusion of others that weren’t familiar to me like #53 “How It Feels To Be A Man” by Markus Riva, “Pitiful” by Carlos Nóbrega (one of my 13 Performers to Watch in ’13), and “Celeb” by half-Japanese Netherlands singer Tao Hypah.   “Celeb” is one of the most original records of the year, offered initially as a free download, which spins the tale of a guy who catches the coattails of an A list gal on the way back to the D list (one specific name comes to mind!).  Its refrain will leave you humming for weeks and if you catch yourself singing, just mind the line about snorting cocaine out in public 😉

 

#22 Stone Walters “Home”

Another of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13 is UK soul singer Stone Walters.  His song “Home” (a free download) is one of those songs of the year that became my rock, that would ground me when I was pondering other important issues – you can never reinforce the importance of home and family enough, and “Home” celebrates just that.  Stone is a diverse singer who can sing R&B/soul one moment, and pop/rock the next.  I think he has a great future ahead.

#21  RAC featuring Penguin Prison “Hollywood”

RAC stands for Remix Artist Collective, a trio of US based DJ/producers who have remixed or worked with the likes of Foster The People, Gossip, Tokyo Police Club, U2, Bloc Party, and Chromeo.  “Hollywood” is their first single release, with no one better to sing it than Chris Glover of Penguin Prison (who has another song higher in the list).  Its funky groove, sense of whimsy, and interesting story along with Chris’ trademark vocals made it one of my go-to songs mid-year.  Penguin Prison also performed the song in concert when I saw them in June, which was a treat.  

BILLCS Chart #375 and Canadian Music Week Update

My new personal chart is taking a backseat to my Canadian Music Week update.  Despite lots and lots and lots of walking as well as shifting my regular body clock a few times to accommodate some shows, I was really glad I decided to purchase a Canadian Music Week wristband this year.  I had been to shows during CMW in the past but I really had the urge to get out and see some shows, since my winter months were pretty concert-deprived.

As much as I love the dance music that takes regular residence on my chart, getting away from autotune and seeing mainly raw live performances was well worth it.  I got to meet a lot of great people which shows me that the people making music out there are still the ones I enjoy most.  There are many talented people behind the scenes, but too much of a requisite amount of a-holes.  I used to find that with performers, too, but not in recent years.

So here are my highlights – if you follow me on Twitter, you pretty much realized that I needed to be cloned 😉

THE TEMPER TRAP:  The Aussie quintet is back with its self-titled follow up to Conditions due this Spring.  The group provided an entertaining mix of savvy pop, rock and dance music, capped with its big hit “Sweet Disposition”.  The new songs sound very gripping and I can’t wait to hear them.  Dougy Mandagi is an engaging front man.  Check out the video for new single “Need Your Love” below.

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT:  It was way too long since I last saw Martha open up for her brother Rufus in one of his shows about 7 or 8 years ago.  I saw an in-store 20 minute acoustic set, and she was very inspiring and in fantastic voice.  Another upcoming album that will be well worth the wait.

AERIALS UP:  The first of my pop collectives, as I blogged about last week, the 7 piece Scottish unit led by Alan Kemlo offered up one of the very best shows I saw with a perfect balance of instrumentation.  The band was totally wrapped up and in the moment on stage, and the songs from their upcoming album due in April sounded fabulous.  Despite an effort to see them a second time that was screwed up from wrong information I received from the venue, I will look forward when Aerials Up return to Toronto.  I think they made a whole lot of fans here.

GENTLEMEN HALL:  Despite mediocre and sometimes distorted sound, the 6 piece Boston rock band led by Gavin Merlot and Cobi Mike who were my second pop collective stirred up a tempest on stage.  With synthesizers prominently in the mix, the band did not hesitate to add heavy guitars or some lovely melodies for a diverse set.  I got new appreciation for their song “Gravity Will Break Our Bones”.

IN MY COMA:  Though I didn’t get to see their CMW show, I did catch a set by the three piece Toronto band led by Jasper James that I wrote about recently a few days before CMW.  The band is tight with a rich contemporary take on post-grunge rock that is presented in their finely crafted CD package Magnets And Miracles.

BIG SCARY:  Big Scary is a duo from Australia comprising Tom Iansek and Jo Syme.  Lest you think that a the market for a two piece band with a female drummer comprised The (now defunct) White Stripes and Matt & Kim, we’ll you’re wrong.  Big Scary indeed does have a big rock sound (guitar/keyboards/drums) that takes inspiration from post 80’s new wave.  There seems to be lots of room for anything in their mix so I’ll look forward to hearing songs from their recent album Vacation.

THE SLAKADELIQS:  I’ve written about this Toronto outfit led by Slakah the Beatchild twice now, and was fortunate to catch their premiere public show.  Despite being sabotaged by poor sound, the band invited guest vocalists up on stage, to give their show a real community vibe.  This in turn was enhanced with their guitar players alternating with some fantastic dual cello work!  Best of all at the end came Justin Nozuka, who lifted the set into an entirely different game with his vocals for “Keep Breathing” and “Love Controls The Sun”.

RIVER TIBER:  It was very cool for me to actually meet Tommy Paxton-Beesley at The Slakadeliqs show, before I saw his band play their own set in a well-attended graveyard shift (3:00 a.m.) the next night.  River Tiber delivered the goods in performance especially on “Someday”, “These Are Centuries”, and a well-chosen rendition of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun”.  As I wrote a few weeks back, River Tiber’s From Now On is one of the few Must Hear records of 2012 thus far.

With that having been said, let’s move into chart mode 🙂

I could not leave Eric Saade stranded at #2 with “Backseat” after 10 weeks.  The last song I remember in a similar situation was “Crush (1980 Me)” by Darren Hayes, which got one appearance at #1 in 2002, but became one of my 10 favourite songs of the last decade!  I love the rock flavour and sexual undertones in “Backseat”.  If you haven’t heard it yet, listen below.  His other song on the rise on the chart, “Fingerprints”, slides up to #3 too.

Then back we go to Tommy Paxton-Beesley and River Tiber.  “Someday” is currently taking over my iTouch and it climbs 11-2 to challenge for #1 in two weeks.  Not only that, but another River Tiber song “Symmetry” will grab you when you’re not looking.  It debuts at #12.

The rest of the Top 10 shapes up with single point gains with songs by Graffiti6, JMSN, and Joe Jonas.  M83 enters at #10 with “Midnight City”, but it’s The Wanted that unexpectedly storm the Top 10 with “Glad You Came” at #9.  Oh, and boy bands are NOT back.  They never went away.

As the release of his Promising Promises album arrives in May, the stirring duo of Jon McLaughlin with Sara Bareilles on “Summer Is Over” inches towards the Top 10 at #11.  On a different bent, Colin Munroe’s inspiring “The Fight Of My Life” draws me in listen after listen and moves up to #13.  Last week’s other debuts all fare well.  The Knocks’ take on “Midnight City” rises to #19; “Could It Be Magic” is transformed by Elouise and climbs to #20; “Happiness” by the ever-talented Sam Sparro jumps to #22 (video is below); Kaya and Pierre Lewis  take “When I Was Blind” to #23; and “Call It What You Want” is at #24 for Foster The People.

It’s been almost 5 years since Tyler Hilton appeared in my chart with “You’ll Ask For Me”, but in the interim he’s been busy performing both on stage and on camera in film and on TV (“One Tree Hill”).  It’s hard to believe that Forget The Storm will only be his sophomore full album release, his first being 2004’s The Tracks Of Tyler Hilton.  But if the pensive and laid back “Prince Of Nothing Charming” (debuting at #26 – his 7th entry on my chart though!) proves anything it’s that Tyler Hilton is on his way to continuing to please his many fans and expand worldwide.  Watch for the release of Forget The Storm on April 3.

You can view the full chart using the link under ***BILL’S PERSONAL CHART*** to the right, or you can click right hereYou can hear all of the songs on the chart or watch their videos by clicking on the pics on the chart page.