Long Weekend Tunes: Audio Playground, Kyle Brylin, Ballroom Remixed…Remixed, Pierre Lewis, and the return of The Waterboys

Audio Playground featuring Kardinal Offishall “Famous”

One of the most exciting new records to drop out of Canada in 2011 is “Famous” by Audio Playground.  At first listen, you might think it plays closely… perhaps too closely… to a formula started by Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart” or “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” by Usher.  What puts this song over the edge is that it’s engaging and tight – before you know it, the song’s over and you want more!

So who are these guys anyway?  Well you may have heard AP’s well-done version of Erasure’s “A Little Respect” over the past few years on radio or in dance clubs.  Based out of multiple cities such as Edmonton, Toronto, New York, and L.A., Audio Playground is a trio comprising producers Rubix & DRC along with vocalist Anthony Gitto.  “Famous” is their third release as they head towards releasing an album.

But first, there is a plan for global domination for “Famous”.  Ambitious?  Yes – and not only do we have a crisp English version featuring none other than Canada’s best rap export Kardinal Offishall (ab0ve), but a French language version is already tearing up charts in Quebec featuring vocalist Randy Raymond (below).  And “Famous” will soon be famous in other language versions to tap into the global marketplace that is now our Internet, since AP’s songs have found their way into dance clubs world-wide.  It’s not a new idea, but can you think of anyone who’s tried it lately, particularly in the last decade or so?  Audio Playground is creating an intriguing blueprint, and I can’t wait to hear more from them.

Kyle Brylin “Bay”

It seems like every few weeks I’m writing about Wisconsin singer Kyle Brylin.  There’s good reason for that.  Young Kyle continues to make amazing progressions with each song he releases.  This considering I wasn’t overly fond of the songs he released a few years back.  The turning points for me this year were the sexy and danceable delights that are “Everything I’m Missing” and his cover of Rihanna’s “S&M”.  These were reinforced with incredible strong songs in the “Telephoto Lens” EP, including a current fave of mine, the blissful “My Fizzy Pop”.

So now we have yet another side of Kyle that was explored on some early songs, one that’s more emotional and lyrical.  “Bay” is well-rounded lyrically and seems to capture the ups and downs of being in a relationship from all vantage points.  The melody and vocals are, for lack of a better word, sweet, in total contrast to the more aggressive lyrics and forceful beats in something like “Everything I’m Missing”.  Kyle’s very prolific, but when the quality, with help from various songwriting partners or on his own, is this good, then each release has its own merits.  Get “Bay” on iTunes.

Less Ballroom…More Remixed

Readers of this blog know how much I took to heart the music from the Spring release of Ballroom Remixed.  It’s a record where you can’t go wrong:  Ballroom music styles contemporized by a host of rising pop stars.

Two of my favourites get retweaked for clubdom and two others are improved somewhat in redux form.  The full version of Ricardo Autobahn’s remix of Elouise’s “The Lover’s Rumba” has been available for free via talented Elouise’s newsletter.  Autobahn’s edit makes the affair more compact for club DJ’s to zero in on its many charms.  My most favourite song on the original record is the jive of “Out Without Your Boyfriend” by Jerry Reid.  It’s too hard to improve on such a fun song, so Autobahn pretty much takes away the jive in favour of a successful transformation favouring European-flavoured club sounds and rhythm.

Then we get to two major improvements.  I’ve enjoyed the campy fun of “I’m A Man (Not A Piece of Meat)” by (yes him again) Kyle Brylin.  But here Autobahn carves out a European house groove that enhances Kyle’s playful vocals in an entirely different way.  You can hear it below.  Tammy Jay & Kally’s “I’m The One” is immensely improved in a more languid and dramatic version that better showcases the voices and the song’s lyrical qualities.  Also included are Autobahn’s “Theme From Ballroom Remixed” and a remix of Jenny McLaren’s “You Were Never Really Mine”.  Great value for those who want the beats and style more 2011 without taking anything away from the original songs themselves.  Get it on iTunes!

Pierre Lewis “One Girl Show”

We’re getting closer to the September 19 release of Pierre’s EP Transitions, from which I previously brought to your attention the Michael Jackson meets Robin Thicke R&B/pop stylings of “Out Of My Mind”.  In a similar vein comes “One Girl Show”, which does the job of creating more anticipation for this UK singer who has loads of potential to breakout big after amassing a huge online following.  Hear it above and watch for Transitions later in the month.  The clip below finds the singer talking about Transitions a few months back.

The return of The Waterboys with An Appointment With Mr. Yeats

An all-time favourite of mine is back with a return to form of their 80’s releases.  I can remember vividly squeezing into Toronto’s El Mocambo on December 6, 1984, to hear then band-of-the-moment The Waterboys.  The Irish band, led by singer Mike Scott, completely mesmerized the small crowd of mainly music industry insiders with a very different version of emotional rock rooted in Irish traditions, in support of their first two releases, The Waterboys EP and A Pagan Place, with another, This Is The Sea, soon to follow.

Aside from a few come-and-go members, the band eventually became just another name for Mike Scott, who took it in a late 80’s, early 90’s detour of albums deeper in Irish traditional music.  After a misfired relationship with Geffen in the early 90’s for the Dream Harder album, Scott started recording under his own name, starting off with two fine ‘solo’ albums, particularly Bring ‘Em All In.  The Waterboys came back in 2001 with A Rock In The Weary Land, a mixed bag with some strong songs, strong enough to take them back out on tour for some excellent shows.  A few more releases later, we find Scott creating songs based on poems by Irish poet W.B. Yeats in An Appointment With Mr. Yeats, due out in the U.K. on September 19 (I’m interested to see if a Canadian release date will be concurrent or if we’ll have to wait till 2012).  The two songs from it that Scott has posted on Soundcloud, “Sweet Dancer” and “White Birds”, are two of the best songs I’ve heard from him since Bring ‘Em All In.  So now, I can just taste what might also be included in the Yeats album as well as a possible concert.  Mike Scott and The Waterboys, you don’t know how nice it is to have you back!   Listen to “Sweet Dancer” and “White Birds” below.

The Waterboys “White Birds”

The Waterboys “Sweet Dancer”