Norway’s @Matomaofficial returns with effervescent pop of “Summer Feeling” with vocalist Jonah Kagen

MATOMA and JONAH KAGEN, “Summer Feeling”

After a flood of releases in 2019-20, Matoma is back with his first release in a new chapter of music called “Summer Feeling”. Breaking away for now from a heavier dance style, it’s a sweet electronic pop ode (co-written by Nashville’s Mokita, aka John-Luke Carter) to those special times in the great weather that you will always remember, sung effortlessly and gracefully by US vocalist Jonah Kagen. Check out the video above with its earnest showcase of two lovers enjoying time together while summer lasts.  Whether he’s making a party anthem like “The Bender” or recording with the likes of Enrique Iglesias, Snoop Dogg, MAX, Noah Cyrus or Becky Hill, Matoma’s music always shows you a good time, and now with loads of fans all over the world and songs that have been streamed hundreds of millions of times over the last several years, “Summer Feeling” should find a welcome place on many playlists over the next few months, making it a fine, enduring end-of-summer song.

It’s “10/10” #19: @Gina_Naomi_Baez @MikeLindup #Fubu & @DannyDeardenuk @omgRainMan & @PeteChosen @RobertBallmusic @OsvaldoSupino @TommieSunshine & @theDiscoFries (remixed) @LindaVargmusic @djKarazey & @EstyRichard @iamWiese

It’s time for “10/10” edition #19!  July has been an incredibly busy month for releases and in order not to get overwhelmed or to miss any songs that I think you need to hear, I’ve compiled 10 reviews into one neat blog post package.

For those not familiar with10/10,  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.  Writing 10/10 posts 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.

  • GINA NAOMI BAEZ, “My Time”

There’s a good chance that you’ve seen NYC’s Gina Naomi Baez on “Orange Is The New Black” or Netflix’s “She’s Gotta Have It”, on Off-Broadway, or caught one of her viral You Tube videos that have given her a substantial social media following. However, you may not know Gina the singer/songwriter, and “My Time” is about to change all of that. It’s an immediately inspiring song that challenges you to make the most of your time and strive to new heights for yourself and no one else. Being a cancer survivor as a child, having to challenge herself regularly must be second nature to Gina, and her glorious vocal, which at times recalls the power of Sia, is certainly a knock out. “My Time” is also co-written and produced with extreme precision by Matthew Tryba (Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande).

  • MIKE LINDUP, “Time To Let Go”

If you’re a fan of 80’s pop, R&B or jazz, then you already know keyboardist Mike Lindup as one of the principals and vocalists in the amazing British group Level 42 (“Something About You”, “Lessons In Love”).  If not, then his new solo effort “Time To Let You”, is as good a song to get to know him and his fluid style as a new Level 42 song – and he and Mark King still head up the band to date, which performs live now and again, mainly in England (I saw them perform live back in the 80’s too).  “Time To Let Go” harkens back to earlier fan-favourite Level 42 records such as their self-titled album or The Pursuit of Accidents with its rhythmic jazz-R&B fusion, and will also appeal to fans of jazz masters of that era such as Pat Metheny or Jean-Luc Ponty. Mike’s recognizable tones and falsetto sound marvelous here, and I hope there is more to come!

  • FUBU and DANNY DEARDEN, “Under My Skin”

UK singer/songwriter Danny Dearden returns to “10/10” territory this time in collaboration with Scottish producer Fubu for “Under My Skin”.  You know a solid partnership has occurred when the producer and singer can elevate a song to be more than the sum of its parts.  In other words, Fubu’s no-holds-barred rhythms and Danny’s totally infectious vocal make the most of a song that in other hands could have been… ordinary. Fubu cut his teeth revitalizing songs like Lumidee’s “Never Gonna Leave You”, Blu Cantrell’s “Breathe” and “Freak Like Me” by Adina Howard, so that pedigree speaks for itself. “Under My Skin” is a fine release by a team-up worth repeating.

  • RAIN MAN & PETE CHO and REBECCA BRUNNER, “Over It”

“Over It” has designs on transporting you out of pandemic fatigue to either get prepared for or back out into the night life, depending on where you are in the world.  Chicago’s Rain Man and Pete Cho along with vocalist/co-writer Rebecca Brunner will make sure that you get there with a brisk rhythm track and zesty synths gliding underneath Rebecca’s world-weary but encouraging vocal. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from either Rain Man or Pete Cho, so “Over It” marks a welcome return for both. Rain Man of course had a huge dance radio hit a few years back with “Bring Back The Summer” (which landed on my personal chart too) and, as its third original member, was also the anchor of Krewella’s initial success with their hit “Alive”. Pete has had sporadic but consistently solid releases over the past few years after being a successful restauranteur for many years. I think club DJ’s will love “Over It” as a part of club goers’ return to nighttime living.

  • ROBERT BALL, “I Need A Man”

Toronto-born singer/songwriter Robert Ball is not a new name to performing or to Canadian music, having performed in theatrical productions at Stratford, Ontario, on Royal Caribbean cruises, and opened for or recorded with fellow Canadians such as Shawn Desman, Keshia Chanté, Maestro, and Saukrates.  And as a gay man, Robert lays his soul bare with his new single “I Need A Man”. It’s as if someone had transported early 70’s cabaret through the soft and sultry voices of Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross and Jeffrey Osborne into a passionate, expressive song whose vulnerability will reach beyond LGBTQ2S+ audiences, making Robert Ball a vocalist to watch for and remember.

  • OSVALDO SUPINO, “Lights Down Low”

It’s been a few minutes since I’ve written about the songs of Italian LGBTQ2S+ singer Osvaldo Supino, who had some memorable moments in the last decade with beauties such as “I Have A Name” and “Goodbye”.  While he’s continued to record since that time (sometimes in Italian too), “Lights Down Low” came to my attention recently.  The song’s production endows it with a much-needed mystique to support Osvaldo’s soft but enticing vocal.  The video above also shows what you can create with a variety of costume changes to enhance his performance. “Lights Down Low” is another solid addition to Osvaldo’s repertoire and I think dance mixes could help send it over the edge at clubs.

  • TOMMIE SUNSHINE and THE DISCO FRIES, “Don’t Look Back” (Gerd Janson vocal remix)

When you just see the artists’ names, you know that a track like “Don’t Look Back” simply can’t miss. But what you might not know is that this is a remix of a song that Tommie Sunshine and The Disco Fries originally released in 2011, reviving Avicii-era vibes in a progressive remix by veteran German producer Gerd Janson.  Gerd melds the vocal track creatively with layers of synths for intriguing and contemporary results, making this one an easy mixing choice for club DJ’s.  Tommie and the Disco Fries guys have both made signature leaps and bounds over the years and “Don’t Look Back” is a cool choice for a revival.

  • LINDA VARG, “Standing In The Middle Of The Road”

Currently taking a path that isn’t often pursued these days, Sweden’s Linda Varg has massive music industry pedigree which includes being a finalist in Swedish Idol in 2010 and having a major label deal with the group Supernatural. “Standing In The Middle Of The Road” is a straight-forward, even retro-sounding pop-rock track with synth elements that give it a rich scope, and it will appeal to fans of Bebe Rexha and One Republic. “Standing” has a strong message and imagery – don’t wait for people to run over you and shatter your dreams, and, as Linda says “don’t live as a victim of your own bad thoughts.” Her unique persona and this energetic song (co-written by one of Sweden’s best internationally known talents, Ulf Nilsson, with whom Linda has previously recorded) should help Linda acquire worldwide attention.

  • KARAZEY and ESTY RICHARD, “Through My Mind”

“Through My Mind” is a breezy, effervescent pop/dance track brought two you by two artists from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, producer Karazey and vocalist Esty Richard.  With its delightful, pulsating rhythm and a vocal by Esty that could remind you alternately of Halsey or Emily Warren albeit with some gentler tones. Karazey is another producer who is coming to your attention while still a teenager. He knows how to build good momentum and provide focus on the strong vocal while creating a backdrop that’s not flashy while still being memorable. “Through My Mind” is a fine introduction to both artists.

  • WIESE, “Hear Me”

The positive post-lockdown songs of the pandemic continue with “Hear Me” by Norwegian producer Wiese. He’s from Bergen – the same place from which hail Kygo and Alan Walker.  He’s definitely got a talent for creating a mix influenced by R3HAB and Imanbek in “Hear Me”, an uplifting song about all of the possibilities life still has to offer post-pandemic. Wiese’s mix of deft female vocal and pitched-down male vocal – likely by the same uncredited singer, Erin Jarvis – offers a welcome dynamic, and “Hear Me” works well for the dance floor with radio potential too.

 

 

 

 

“Kiss That” peppers a theme of obsession with R&B flavours by Norway’s F/L/P @flp_music

F/L/P, “Kiss That”

F/L/P is a new performer from Norway who is quickly coming into his own with the sensual and atmospheric “Kiss That”. Though he’s only released a few singles to date, F/L/P (otherwise known as Philip Dementiev) grew up surrounded by music that ran the gamut from classical to hip hop in a multi-cultural household raised by Russian parents.  Currently based out of Boston and attending Berklee College of Music, F/L/P uses his vocal astutely to alter the mood of “Kiss That”, from passionate to seductive to obsessive.  The production is carefully crafted, paying attention to fine details which make the backdrop really pop.  Though some of the lyrics sound a little cliché at times, “Kiss That” comes together nicely as a whole, making it well worth your attention.

Norway’s @Dunisco returns with @RobbieRosenlive’s killer vocal on deep house banger “When I Lost You”

 

DUNISCO and ROBBIE ROSEN, “When I Lost You”

There’s always room in my book for a dance banger of some sort, and 2020 and 2021 are good years for memorable ones in the deep house genre.  Norwegian electronic dance producer Dunisco gives “When I Lost You” all the sheen that’s needed, with punchy synths and memorable drops which work in tandem with a killer vocal from NYC singer/songwriter and “American Idol” Top 20 contestant Robbie Rosen.  And it follows up some great songs by both artists, those being Dunisco’s fervid “Heaven In A Heartbreak”, and Robbie’s “Fantasy” (with Saxity and Victor Perry) and the electro-ballad “Last Breath” (with Kacey Fifield), all of which I’ve written about.  The dynamite chorus of “When I Lost You” will have you singing and the beats will keep you boppin’ along.

“I Don’t Know Why” is shiny danceable pop from Sweden’s @NOTD and Norwegian singer @AstridSofficial

NOTD and ASTRID S, “I Don’t Know Why”

Following up their 2019 massive dance and pop radio hit “So Close” (with Felix Jaehn, Captain Cuts and Georgia Ku) is Swedish production duo NOTD with “I Don’t Know Why”.  Not long out of high school, these young lads continue to be in demand as producers, remixers, and songwriters with their bright, cheery, synth-driven takes on pop and dance music.  Here they partner with on-the-bubble Norwegian singer Astrid S, who has already had in concert showcases in the US and Europe.  The song is summery ear candy of all of the best flavours with a standout vocal that engages its listeners.  All parties continue to have enormous potential and “I Don’t Know Why” scores big time in both melody and hook departments.

Norwegian duo @Richellomusic make a splashy return with radio-friendly “All We Are”

RICHELLO, “All We Are”

The social media for Norwegian producers/remixers Richello went quiet in early 2016, some time after what was once a duo became a one-person project.  The break proved fruitful so for the first time in about 6 or 7 years, Richello is once again a duo.  And with major label deal in hand, “All We Are” sounds like it should be both an immediate pop and dance radio hit.  The first thing you’ll notice are the good-timey vibes and synth flavours which are a throwback to the start of the decade.  The second thing you’ll notice is that the song has a few bars that are quite similar to The Wanted’s huge 2012 hit “Glad You Came”.  And while some songs have been interpolating lyrics of other famous songs into their choruses and such, this comes as no surprise, even if unintentional.  It all works and the vocals give that friendly anthemic punch that will sound great in the summer months.  So it should be ‘all systems go’ for Richello with “All We Are”!

Outstanding remixes reboot “Tongue Tied” by @mahalo_dj @discokillerz and @EMAN8 and “Naked (With My Headphones On)” by @RatCity and @Kiesza

MAHALO, DISCO KILLERZ and BRANDYN BURNETTE, “Tongue Tied” (Danny Quest and Frank Pole remixes)

RAT CITY and KIESZA, “Naked (With My Headphones On)” (Tungevaad, VIDA and Blinkie remixes)

I’m a firm believer that in some cases official remixes can improve on a good song’s success.  Here we have two cases that clearly support what I believe.

L.A.-based Mahalo is extremely prolific and with a song like “So Cold” becoming such a major dance radio hit last year, it’s important that every release since that one must stand out.  Despite the talent in partnership with Disco Killerz and EMAN8 (billed as Brandyn Burnette), two remixes of “Tongue Tied” actually add more to enhance the original song.  Florida’s Danny Quest pumps up the rhythm with an arrangement that enhances Brandyn’s vocal (above).  And Italy’s Frank Pole lends a Eurohouse vibe that will assuredly draw dancers to the club floor (below).

“Naked (With My Headphones On)” is such a strong song by Norway’s Rat City with my immensely talented fellow Canadian Kiesza singing it, and it has endured through social media since its release last Fall.  A trio of remixes is definitely helping to reboot the song’s infectious appeal.  Norway’s Tungevaad brings a European trance flavour to the proceedings in a shorter, tighter version of the song (above).  London’s Blinkie offers similar sped up trance-y vibes while newcomer ZIDA focuses on Kiesza’s vocal and strengthens the pop appeal of the song (both are below).

If you checked out and loved the originals of “Tongue Tied” and “Naked (With My Headphones On)” then do yourself a favour and listen to the remixes too!

Norwegian rockers Beach Of Diamonds bring us 2000’s retro vibes with “She Makes A Mess Everywhere She Goes”

BEACH OF DIAMONDS, “She Makes A Mess Everywhere She Goes”

Norwegian rock duo Beach Of Diamonds takes us back to the 2000’s specifically around 2003-04 when Blink-182 and Green Day ruled and other alternative rockers like AFI, My Chemical Romance, and Fall Out Boy were also establishing themselves.  Throw in hints of similar but more commercial-oriented acts at the time like McFly and American Hi-Fi and you’ll get the vibe of BoD’s latest single “She Makes A Mess Everywhere She Goes”.  Though they say they wrote it for Greta Thunberg, it’s an energetic and I believe humorous song about a gal who leaves relationships in dire straits and then moves on.  The vocals and guitar work are grabbers and the song could fit like a glove in North American mainstream or alternative radio faster than you can say “American Idiot”.

Add sparks to your “Sunday Morning” by @Matomaofficial and @JosieDunnemusic in an @iamAlyxAnder remix

MATOMA and JOSIE DUNNE, “Sunday Morning” (Alyx Ander remix)

An acclaimed debut album of 2018 that still seemed to fall somewhat under the radar was Matoma’s One In A Million.  With four stellar singles recorded with Becky Hill (“False Alarm”, #6 on my personal chart), MAX (“Lonely”, #10), Enrique Iglesias, (“I Don’t Dance (Without You), #20), and The Vamps (“All Night”), the multi-talented Norwegian musician and producer proved beyond a shadow of the doubt that he could flourish in dance, electronic, and pop genres.  Single #5 from the album is “Sunday Morning”, featuring Nashville-based vocalist Josie Dunne.  It gets a sparkling remix by Miami’s Alyx Ander that will make you want to put on your dancing shoes instead of stumbling out of bed for your coffee on a Sunday.  When the song isn’t full throttle in pick-you-up mode, it beautifully focuses on the soulful edges in Josie’s voice, making there plenty of reasons to enjoy the song.  It also happens to make a perfect companion to mix into Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!”, so your Sundays really may never be the same again!  

“Strangers Do” is a sultry downtempo release from Norway’s @JonasAden

JONAS ADEN, “Strangers Do”

Refueled and re-energized after taking a break from the business to work on his production techniques with the likes of fellow Norwegian Alan Walker, Jonas Aden is back with “Strangers Do”, following up “I Dip You Dip”, which received high level DJ support across Europe.  Led by a sultry uncredited female vocal, “Strangers Do” is about letting yourself lose control to the charms of a stranger.  The video shows a young woman alone at various remote locations while the fires of past relationships burn in front of her.  For the dance clubs, “Strangers Do” is a downtempo strutter that will work well in the late evening.  Jonas’ production is totally on point but I think some supportive remixes would be beneficial.

JonasAden