Acoustic Sensations from @RyanStar: “Bullet” and “Here Comes Your Man”

RYAN STAR, “Bullet” and “Here Comes Your Man” (acoustic)

Ryan Star continues to promote his album independently released earlier this year called A N G E L S + A N I M A L S, which contains the singles “Stay Awhile” and “Impossible”.  Like with his previously released EP America, one of Ryan’s great strengths is to take away the band and bring a song into acoustic form.  I’ve seen his concert in full blown electric R&R and acoustic.  So you’ll see in the video for “Bullet” (above) that the song trades intensities from the album version to a bare bones honest acoustic guitar version recorded in a park.  Not one to hide his many influences, Ryan also strips away the post-new wave trappings of The Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man” (below) to a more lyrical piano rendition that is capped by a classic Ryan Star powerful vocal moment around the 1:45 mark.  Ryan continues to sell out shows in New York City, such as on June 20th at Rockwood Music Hall, but announced a second one at the same venue on July 10.  Then he’s hosting and playing acoustic at the “Rockin’ To Save Babies’ Lives” benefit concert on July 23 at the Hammerstein Ballroom alongside A Great Big World, Mary Lambert, and DJ Cassidy (tickets start at $100).  Do yourself a huge favour in the meantime and buy A N G E L S + A N I M A L S on iTunes.

For the Fans: @RyanStar’s New Album “Angels + Animals”

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RYAN STAR, A N G E L S  +  A N I M A L S

After fulfilling his record deal with Atlantic Records, which gave us the terrific 11:59 album in 2010, and after having another go with Island Records, who released the single “Stay Awhile”, Ryan Star took back his new music, created a Pledge campaign, and last week A N G E L S  +  A N I M A L S arrived, after being preceded by the EP Animals late last Summer (which I previously wrote about).  The new album gives Ryan’s fans everything they have wanted – a truly personal, introspective, emotional rock record.  While 11:59 has a set of fabulous pop and rock songs (and lord knows what it took to get them there, being in the works for years), A N G E L S  +  A N I M A L S I believe offers the side of Ryan Star that the corporate world would say wouldn’t fit on one of their releases.  

You can hear the full story of the new album below from Ryan himself, along with a live version of “My Life With You”.  It contains six new songs, including a slower and more deliberate version of the single “Impossible” (the Animals version is also included), plus the four other songs from Animals.  A N G E L S  +  A N I M A L S isn’t a lush affair, but the instrumentation and production sound very precise, leaving Ryan to sing his songs, with intimate and sometimes intense results.  “Sailing On”, “I Will Survive”, and “Where The Island Ends” are the best of the new ones, alternately sweeping you up in the emotion or empowering you to carry on.  

It’s been a long journey for Ryan Star from Elephant and “Rock Star:Supernova”, and he’s now recorded two very different albums.  Hopefully A N G E L S  +  A N I M A L S, will be a successful reminder to the industry about what fans want, and can now get through Pledge/Kickstarter projects, from their favourite performers who know how to deliver the goods.

Published in: on January 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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BILLCS Top 30 #414 – September 23/13

In the Top 5:

“Black Light” by L.A. singer Kaden rides the top of the chart for a third appearance, while Ryan Adamés’ ever-stunning ballad turn of Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” is now at #2.  Just to make it interesting, Toronto’s Neverest glides to #3 with their rivetting “Rewind”.

Fastest Risers:

I’m on a mission to get Miguel’s “Adorn” to be a bigger hit than it was at the top of 2013.  Thanks to an exquisite remix featuring Jessie Ware, the song zips up my chart to #13.

Lady GaGa looks to have one of her biggest charting songs here with “Applause” racing to #6.

“Somebody Loves You” by Betty Who had the viral delight of being featured in a massive marriage proposal announcement video for two men in Salt Lake City.  Indeed it is a beautiful song that fits the occasion and moves up to #16.

Other newcomers to the chart besides “Adorn” last week all climb up six places:  “Love Is A Bourgeois Construct” by Pet Shop Boys (video is on its way), “Headhunter” by Parralox, and “I Remember” by Nick Pes, from the must-have dance compilation This Beat Is…Poptronik Volume Two!

New to the Chart:

I’ve already written about the three premieres, but they are all well worth repeating.

It was almost an instantaneous decision to add the lone new song from FrankMusik’s Between Us acoustic piano album, “Hymn”, and it arrives at #24.  It’s one of Vince’s most painful and beautiful songs to date.  I’ll have to check, but I don’t think there has been a chart in 2013 that has not featured a FrankMusik song!

Right behind at #25 is DATABOY’s devistatingly original mashup “We Can’t Stop Summertime Sadness”, seamlessly blending the Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey songs in an electronica way that you could never have imagined.  And you can see the guys sing their hearts out in the video – can’t wait until they can tour.  More new music on the way soon from Cameron and Adam!  Download it for free after watching the video using the link below the video 🙂  I think the only other ‘mashup’ I’ve charted was Pet Shop Boys’ blend of “Viva La Vida” and “Domino Dancing” a few years back, though another worthy one is Penguin Prison’s “GoldenTrain/Working Day And Night”.

Ryan Star is currently accepting pledges to fund his upcoming album via PledgeMusic.  He’s already recently released a well-received EP of his thoughtful form of rock, and sold out four shows in New York City at the beginning of August.  His single from the EP deserves some belated attention, so “Impossible” arrives at #29, joining a slew of other Ryan Star songs to appear on the chart, including the Top 5 “Right Now”, “Last Train Home”, and “Breathe”.

Listen to the songs or watch the videos using the links on the pictures on the pretty and details web edition of my chart.

Here’s the full basic BILLCS Top 30 🙂

01 01 BLACK LIGHT (Stormby remix) Kaden
03 02 AS LONG AS YOU LOVE ME Ryan Adamés
06 03 REWIND Neverest
04 04 SKIRT Kylie Minogue
02 05 VOCAL Pet Shop Boys
13 06 APPLAUSE Lady GaGa
07 07 DIRTY FLOORS Andy Suzuki & The Method
10 08 HOMEWRECKER Travis Garland
12 09 TAKE BACK THE NIGHT Justin Timberlake
05 10 BEGGING Anton Ewald
15 11 LEARN TO WAIT Sam Dickinson
14 12 ROYALS Lorde
21 13 ADORN Miguel featuring Jessie Ware
08 14 BROKENHEARTED Lawson featuring B.o.B.
19 15 PROBLEM (Kat Krazy remix) Natalia Kills
22 16 SOMEBODY LOVES YOU Betty Who
23 17 LOVE IS A BOURGEOIS CONSTRUCT Pet Shop Boys
18 18 WHAT’S GOING ON Monsieur Adi featuring A*M*E
09 19 LIFE (IS MY REVENGE) FrankMusik
26 20 HEADHUNTER Parralox
27 21 I REMEMBER Nick Pes
24 22 MA RADIO Osvaldo Supino
11 23 REMIX MY LOVE Killian Wells featuring Kristinia Debarge
New 24 HYMN FrankMusik
New 25 WE CAN’T STOP SUMMERTIME SADNESS   DATABOY
17 26 WINNING GROUND Eric Saade
16 27 BLURRED LINES Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams
20 28 HEARTS Dan Black featuring Kelis
New 29 IMPOSSIBLE Ryan Star
28 30 I THINK I LOVE YOU Bongiovanni

@ryanstar’s New EP Animals

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RYAN STAR, Animals (EP)

Following my recent posts about new smashing single “Impossible” and another song on Animals, “Fuck’n Up”, today (August 5, 2013) saw the release of Ryan Star’s Animals EP independently worldwide.  Its songs are as much about reflecting on the past and our hopes and dreams, as they are moving forward boldly, unapologetically, and confidently.  It’s the story of Ryan’s live these past 10 years or so, and with every venture there are so many positives that have been built along the way, resulting in a hugely dedicated fan base that will likely sell out all of Ryan’s shows in NYC this week.  

As introspective as the songs may seem at times, Ryan does not hold back when he wants to rock out, and such a great example of this is in the closer “My Life With You” (below), which transforms into an emotional anthem about half way through.  Other new songs “Bullet” and “The World I Used To Know” all command your attention, “Bullet” particularly drawing you in as the opening song with its 7 minutes + length.  Animals is Ryan Star choosing to wear his honest songs gloriously on his sleeve, but this time the songs are hungrier and raw, and fans old and new will love it.

Published in: on August 5, 2013 at 11:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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@RyanStar Waxes Eloquent About “F*ck’n Up”

RYAN STAR, “F*ck’n Up”

After previously debuting the emotionally charged single “Impossible” at the end of July, we are now on the eve of the arrival of Ryan Star’s Animals EP, due Monday.  Last week, ARTISTDirect debuted another song, “F*ck’n Up”.   It’s a slow and deliberate ode to what anyone can do as we grow up – screw up royally.  And while it doesn’t seem like it at the time, life does go on though it has been inextricably changed.  Ryan has so very eloquently written how to get this across to just about anyone, and I’m sure when he holds court at 4 gigs in NYC next week, “F*ck’n Up” will be one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of each evening.  Listen above.

Published in: on August 3, 2013 at 11:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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Ryan Star returns with “Impossible”

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After his major label debut in 2010 with the long-awaited 11:59 album (which got to the Top 40 of the Billboard 200) and long-lasting songs like “Right Now”, “Breathe”, and “Last Train Home”, as well as last year’s “Stay Awhile” on a different label, Ryan Star is back with his new independent release, the EP Animals, due August 5.  From that, as reported by Billboard today, “Impossible” will be the first single.

By far, this is one of the best songs from Ryan to date, another empowering set of lyrics reminiscent especially of “Breathe” carried by a live off the floor performance that resonates with honesty and fervour.  This is not entirely unexpected from Ryan, who leaves himself on the stage whenever he performs.  I’ve seen him twice in concert, in 2010 and last year in my city (when I got to chat with him), and “Impossible” looks to be great start to the 2013 Animals phase for Ryan.  You can pre-order Animals on iTunes.  Listen and add your comments at Billboard’s Soundcloud link below.

https://soundcloud.com/billboard/ryan-star-impossible/s-GL9VB#new-timed-comment-at-158542

Ryan is playing four shows to launch the Animals EP in New York City:

Joe’s Pub, August 6

Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, August 7

Pianos, August 8

Mercury Lounge, August 9

Published in: on July 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #60 to #41

Today I bring you the big middle bit of the list, a delightful array of 20 songs that more than tickled my fancy throughout the year.  So this post is a little long, but bear with me…

Click here to view songs #75 to #41  :)

Three singers in this list escaped from an often horrible fate in the music industry – record company hell.  Tyler Hilton had never been away from the music scene, and of course showed up on TV quite regularly in One Tree Hill as Chris Keller.  After many delays in trying to release a sophomore album, seven years perhaps is a long time between albums but his TV and film popularity preceded him and Tyler definitely grew in that time.  So he ended up releasing his album Forget The Storm independently, and toured throughout North America, the UK, and Europe.  It’s a fine rocking effort and gave Tyler the opportunity to connect with many fans who have been waiting for him, and “Prince Of Nothing Charming” became yet another Top 10 entry on my chart for him.  Ryan Star is another fantastic singer whose previous record company was doing nothing to help the release of new songs after some success in 2010 with the album 11:59.  So he switched to Island Records and saw his single “Stay Awhile” (video below) released while he works on a new album.  Phenomenal piano man Jon McLaughlin also parted ways with his previous record company only to sign a new deal with Razor & Tie after releasing the exceptional (and now, no longer available) Forever If Ever album independently.  Two of his songs slid into the Top 10 and both long runs on the chart.  “Promising Promises” was originally featured on Forever If Ever but ended up being the title song of his re-released album.  And to whet our appetite for that album, Jon teamed up with Sara Bareilles in one of those pairings where the voices just go so well together.  A rerecording of “Summer Is Over” (video below) was the song the singer was waiting for to throw him back into the spotlight after touring North America for most of the year.

His initial songs didn’t really draw me in, but I thought “Better Than I Know Myself” by Adam Lambert had a lot of personal conviction in the vocal performance, and showed a more vulnerable side of the singer, so it became his first chart entry for me.  Darren Hayes’ third and final entry in this list peaked in January where some chartphiles carried over “Bloodstained Heart” from 2011 (that song was #22 on last year’s list).  “Black Out The Sun” is a lilting and sombre affair led by another wonderful vocal by Darren.  Another darker song captured with a fine and appropriate vocal is Jane Badler’s theatrical “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” (video below), a song that gets better with repeated listenings (there are also many delightful remixes available).  The Australia-based actress best known for TV’s “V” is well on her way with another career as a pop singer.  And did funky pop seem out of vogue?  Not if you’re Sam Sparro, who released his sophomore album Return To Paradise mid-year with lead single “Happiness” in advance.  The album is a moody but always danceable affair, and is much better as a long-player than to isolate most of the songs individually.

Singles still go very steady in my musical world.  “Champagne” gave the start of the year its fizz courtesy of Australian singer Nelson Clemente.  Converse shoes had a stroke of brilliance by creating a free download with a highly entertaining video (below) to promote its products.  So Foster The People head honcho Mark Foster gets paired up with Canadian producer/DJ extraordinaire A-Trak for the song “Warrior”, and who gets to save the day not only in one of the year’s most entertaining videos, but as the song’s vocalist?  New Zealand chanteuse Kimbra, who duetted with Gotye on the year’s biggest song “Somebody That I Used To Know”.  US production duo The Knocks did the rather unthinkable – they transformed M83’s ethereal “Midnight City” into a 3 minute pop song with the help of singer Mandy Lee, in a free download and a fine video (also below) to showcase the singer.  I ended up liking it even better than the original so it ranks in the Top 50.  Minnesota’s Nicole Brenny, known as Vague-à-bonde, is an emerging talent to watch who is recording a new album as well as a video for the song that reached the Top 10 on my chart, “Evolved”.  The song has a gentle vocal whose toe-tapping refrain throttles you and makes you want more.  UK quartet Boy Banned seemed on the bubble to go on to big things by the end of 2011, however the bubble exploded when they split after the release of the immensely likeable “The Stars Are Saying Yes” and its utterly charming video (also below).  “Only The Horses” by Scissor Sisters proved that this outfit can produce fine original pop singles that sparkle amid an inconsistent album, outside of its engaging presence in the dance/EDM community with fun records like “Let’s Have A Kiki”.  “Horses” became their first Top 5 hit on my chart.

The remaining songs in this group are featured in albums that have held their own since their release.  “Unheard” is a jaunty album track from Netherlands singer Jeronimo, whose song “It’s A Fun Thing” is the Cartoon Network theme song in the south Pacific part of the world.  His unique voice and eagerness to please made his album One Kiss one of the most solid records of the year, even if it didn’t receive release in North America.  Another song from that record ranks higher up on the list 🙂 Markus Riva’s “How It Feels To Be A Man” is the Latvian singer’s second entry on the chart, and one of the highlights of the year’s best dance compilations This Beat Is…Poptronik Volume One that morphed into a summer dance festival on the beaches outside of Barcelona.  Volume Two and another festival are in the works for this year.  Another song from the compilation is featured later on as well.  I proclaimed Brooklyn’s Matt & Kim as pop music’s hardest working duo after partaking in their most enjoyable show, where they had to work around a power failure (with the effortless help of the audience).  “Let’s Go” is the song and video (below) that took them back to a simple and basic but high energy sound on their latest album Lightning.

Boston sextet Gentlemen Hall are one of my 13 Performers to Watch for ’13 and mix journeyman rock in with powerful, lush instrumentation on their EP When We All Disappear, which is still available for free on their website.  While every song on that EP is strong, it was the joyous “All Our Love” and its accompanying video (below) that captured my attention this past Spring.  And what would the year be without me including two songs from Austin duo DATABOY’s Dreams Are Gold album?  “Lotion” was initially released on the free Summer Now EP, which led up to the release of their long-awaited full album.  That record contains some of the most entertaining and heartfelt songs of the year, all also designed to make you dance, one being “Genius”, which could be the new unofficial theme song for “The Big Bang Theory”.  Without question, Dreams Are Gold is my favourite album of 2012, and you’ll find two more DATABOY songs much higher on this list in the next few days 🙂

BILLCS Chart #378 – May 7/12

The new chart is anchored at the top once again by Toronto group River Tiber, with the rocking “Someday” at #1 for a third appearance (6 weeks) and the quiet and thoughtful “Symmetry” moving up to #2.  The band is working on their next album, and will be playing in Toronto on Saturday June 16 as a part of NXNE at C’est What restaurant and bar.  Check them out if you’re in Toronto!

Closing in at rapid speed though is “Waiting For The Feeling”, the latest single by Bright Light Bright Light, from the upcoming Make Me Believe In Hope album, due now in a month.  If the lyrics don’t strike you at the first couple of listens, they do hit home not long after.  Hence “Waiting For The Feeling” is the fastest riser on the chart, moving 14-3.  Rod Thomas (aka Bright Light x2) has already had two #1’s on my chart, “A New Word To Say” and “Love Part II”, in 2010.

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.  Any free downloads that are identified are sanctioned by the performer.

Moving along, Toronto’s Colin Munroe is also working on a highly anticipated album, but in the meantime “The Fight Of My Life” climbs to #5, followed behind at #6 by “Call It What You Want”, the insanely catchy song that is the true follow up to “Pumped Up Kicks” by L.A.’s Foster the People.  I’m looking to catch Ryan Star’s show in Toronto on June 5 at Lee’s Palace when he opens up for The Parlotones.  In anticipation of a follow up album to 2010’s 11:59, “Stay Awhile” rises to #9.

Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right that “Happiness” by Sam Sparro and “Could It Be Magic” by Elouise have only inched up to #11 and #12, but there’s a load of competition brewing underneath.  “Prince Of Nothing Charming” by Tyler Hilton jumps to #13 – I have my tix to his May 17 show at The Virgin Mobile Mod Club here in Toronto.  As far as I know, it’s Tyler’s first show in Toronto since 2006.  Adam Tyler’s “Music Freak” can be found mid-way at #15, followed by the soaring “Silenced By The Night” by Keane at #17 (and another Toronto concert on deck, for June 19 at Sound Academy), and the three-fold punch of “Warrior” by Mark Foster/A-Trak/Kimbra at #17.  “Only The Horses” by Scissor Sisters is turning into a current favourite with its bright melody and urgent Jake Shears vocals at #19, followed by “Stupid Mistake” by Darren Hayes at #20 (live clip from his New Year’s show is below).

(Psssst watch Twitter and Facebook for what will be surely some online celebrations of Darren’s 40th birthday on Tuesday May 8!)

I’m hopeful for some success of the five very strong debuts which have hit the chart.

My raving about the supurb dance compilation This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One continues, as some favourites from that record have surfaced to rank alongside the six songs on the record that have already appeared on my chart during the last year.  There are so many great songs inside that I play regularly, but there are two that I’m going to more often.  The one that’s grabbed me and won’t let go is the Lindsay Lohan-inspired “Celeb” by half-Dutch, half-Japanese singer Tao Hypah, which bolts onto the chart at a stunning #14.  The bouncy and fun vibe of this song is worth your time as Tao Hypah prepares to release more new songs, including his latest “Play The Girl”, whose video will be online in a few weeks (pic from the video is above).  In the meantime, you can get “Celeb” on the Poptronik release, though it has been available as a free download on Soundcloud for quite sometime as well and you can get it right here.

Also very impressive and bowing at #27 from the Poptronik album is “How It Feels To Be A Man” by Latvian sensation Markus Riva.  Markus is a true DIY performer – already a noted singer, actor, and model in his home territory – so “How It Feels” serves as a sturdy breakout for him (he also directed the video, above).  Some genuine lyrics carried by Markus’ rich voice, which reminds me a lot of British singer Peter Murphy’s low timbre (listen to “The Sweetest Drop” for example), make the theatrical-sounding song highly recognizable.  I’d love to hear some remixes too!

Two songs immediately carry over from my last post to arrive quickly on the chart.  Jeronimo’s “One Kiss” spells Mass Appeal and has the potential for worldwide success.  It’s from Jeronimo’s upcoming album and bows at #24.  “Can’t Say No” by UK sensation Conor Maynard is a nice companion to “One Kiss” with its good-natured fun, and premieres at #28.

Lastly at #25 is a song whose intriguing video of psychological drama (ab0ve) I wrote about a few months backQuigley (aka Casey Carlson) hits the chart with “Inkblot Game”, from her brand new EP Pleiades.  Pleiades is a star cluster within Taurus, hence why lovely Quigley released the EP on her Taurian birthday!  The EP is available for free download at http://www.quigleyofficial.com and “Inkblot Game” arrives concurrently with her featured vocal on “Notice Me” by Vincent Did It (aka FrankMusik) moving up to #22.  Of course “Inkblot Game” and the two other gorgeous songs in Pleiades (which all also appear in instrumental form) are all produced by FrankMusik.  The music of Quigley and Frankmusik will not be free forever.  This is high quality craftmanship most deserving of way more than online success.  FrankMusik has also posted a few more of his demos for you to hear on his Soundcloud page.  I just can’t get enough 🙂

Final chart geek note:  You’ll notice on my chart that “Memorize Me” by Rune RK & Databoy has hit the magic mark of 11 appearances (22 weeks) on the chart.  One of my few rules is that songs drop off after a 10 appearance run, but because “Memorize Me” has had two non-consecutive runs, it continues past the 10 appearances 🙂

Tyler Hilton’s new album, Richard Barone’s new video, Roz Bell’s new song, and Billy Franks’ upcoming book

Tyler Hilton, Forget The Storm

Tyler Hilton rocks up a good time on some of the best songs on Forget The Storm and perhaps leaves behind the attractive whimsy that tickled many of us in 2004’s The Tracks Of Tyler Hilton.  But Forget The Storm seems to be a coming of age album in some ways, and in other ways weathering several different storms of sorts that the singer has been caught up in the interim between records, despite acting in One Tree Hill and acquiring thousands of new fans along the way.  But all things happen for a reason, and in turn there are many good reasons to buy Forget The Storm.

Forget The Storm ups Tyler’s rock music ante big time, starting with the opener “Kicking My Heels”, which gives a stylish grandiloquent start to the record.  “Loaded Gun” preceded the album’s release as a crackerjack free download, a song that grows big time with repeated listens with its clever wordplay.  “Ain’t Foolin’ Me” puts you in the middle of a big ol’ bar somewhere in the south for a rocking good time.  And “Jenny” (listen below) is an angry breakup song that drops a line “love is not some fucking movie” – not a lyric that you might have expected in a Tyler record, till now, but the shoe fits and it’s a great song that features lovely harmonies by Elizabeth Huett.

Whether it’s about love or other issues, the thoughtful side of Tyler is always worth hearing.  “Prince Of Nothing Charming” has already had that unassuming, yes charming effect, because it’s lovably understated.  And “Leave Him” and “Can’t Stop Now” tackle serious breakup issues directly with a softer pop or country flavour to change up the mix.  There’s also a redux of Tyler’s “You’ll Ask For Me” from a few years back to keep long-time fans happy.

Tyler is in the midst of a tour that’s going to take him to the UK, Ireland, and Europe starting in June.  Forget The Storm is an enjoyable and diverse way to try and catch our boy before his music blows up real big everywhere.

Richard Barone, “Hey, Can I Sleep On Your Futon?”

The talented New York-based singer who came back (but was never really away) with his thoroughly likeable album Glow (the title song is still my unofficial theme song for NYC 🙂 ) is one of several performers who appear on the upcoming Occupy This Album (including Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, and many, many others).  He also celebrates his 25th anniversary of his debut solo album Cool Blue Halo.  I stay away from politics, and I don’t entirely agree with the “Occupy” movement, but will always support stellar music.  I think Richard’s latest, co-written with Matthew Billy, says a lot in both words and images:  Help the people that deserve it because the economy is preventing them from getting ahead.  I think the video for “Hey, Can I Sleep On Your Futon?” could reach new heights just like “Breathe” by Ryan Star in 2010 actually helped some of the people in the video get jobs.  The sentiment is genuine here and Richard’s performance is a delight.  Watch the video above (and take a look at “Breathe” again below while you’re at it).  EDIT:  Courtesy of Richard himself, also below is an interview video about the song, which is actually based on the classic “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”.

Ryan Star “Breathe”

Roz Bell, “Half A Man Down”

Toronto singer Roz Bell always writes songs that sink in more than just like a slice of life.  You know him from 2008’s The First Sunbeams, which featured the hits “Yesterday Man” and “Papercut”.  It was followed in late 2009 with a deeper and somewhat darker digital release October, and then the pensive and free The Gran Cavallo Mixtape.  According to his tweets, Roz has been doing a lot of writing in Nashville, and the brooding spirit of that city shows in “Half A Man Down”.  The song holds back no punches about the way the singer feels as a relationship crumbles away while he tries to keep his head straight.  It’s another generous free download from Roz – get it right here and watch for more music ahead from the talented singer.

Billy Franks’ upcoming book A Far Cry From Sunset

UK singer Billy Franks always has a place in my heart as one of the most underappreciated singers in the 80’s as a leader of the band The Faith Brothers, whose two stunning albums Eventide and A Human Sound I still play to this day quite regularly.  The singer is finding a new audience through writing, and the premise behind his book A Far Cry From Sunset is this:  Could 4 friends who travelled to America a few years back try to convince 10 superstar singers to appear on a tribute album to Billy?  So who did they try to approach?  Start big with McCartney, Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, Jon Bon Jovi, and also try Elvis Costello, Huey Lewis, Aaron Neville, Tom Petty and Steve Earle.  The book  intends to explore how all of the approaches occurred and what happened in the midst of what is essentially a road trip.  You can find out much more about how you can get involved as well as purchase the book when it’s published at http://www.billyfranks.com/AFARCRYFROMSUNSET.   I’m sure this will be a once-in-a-lifetime and very telling story, and don’t plan on missing it.  What about you?  Listen to one of my favourite solo songs by Billy, “My Beautiful Heresy”, below.

BILLCS Chart #377 – April 23, 2012

With Springtime just brimming with new music, this new edition of my chart was pretty decisive.

Up top for a second appearance at #1 is a song that doesn’t look like it will let go, unless it yields to another song by the same performer:  “Someday” from River Tiber’s independent album From Now On.  Another brilliant and totally different song from the album, “Symmetry”, soars 7-3.  You can get From Now On (cover below) on iTunes and find out more about River Tiber at http://www.rivertiber.com (including a free download of the EP Massachusetts).  Sandwiched in-between is Eric Saade’s long-lasting “Backseat”, while the Swede sensation’s “Fingerprints” falls to #5.  “Glad You Came” by The Wanted holds steady at #4.

The Top 10 continues to be super busy.  Toronto’s Colin Munroe has another collaboration on deck with RZA called “Invincible” which you will hear more about soon, but in the meantime his pairing with Pusha-T on “The Fight Of My Life” rises to #6.  You can get both for free with an email subscription at http://www.colinmunroe.com.  The release of the Promising Promises album is coming up within a month, and Jon McLaughlin & Sara Bareilles’ duet of “Summer Is Over” climbs to #7.  Turns out I like The Knocks’ cover of “Midnight City” better than the M83 original.  Featuring rousing vocals by Mandy Lee, it rises to #8.  The exuberance of “Call It Want You Want” by Foster The People sends it to #9, and “Stay Awhile” by Ryan Star moves up to #10 as he is about to begin another tour on May 17.  Watch the video for “Stay Awhile” below.

Moving on, Sam Sparro’s perfectly joyful slice of retro soul “Happiness” jumps to #12, while the fastest riser on the chart is by the performer pictured at the top of this post.  Welsh singer Rod Thomas is Bright Light Bright Light, and his long-awaited album Make Me Believe In Hope is due June 4.  Rod specializes in melancholy dance-pop that always has a bright side to it.  Thus we have one of his best releases to date “Waiting For The Feeling”, moving up 23-14, with an EP of remixes on deck on April 30.  To celebrate the upcoming album release, Rod is releasing limited pink cassette bootleg versions of his album which feature some ‘special’ versions of his songs.  So to coincide with the appearance of “Disco Moment” on the stunning This Beat Is Poptronik compilation,  there is “Gypsy Moment” by Bright Light Bright Light vs. Crystal Waters!  Listen below and download for free!

Last week’s other debuts all move up four spots on the chart:  “Music Freak” by Poptronik featured performer Adam Tyler is at #20, Keane’s “Silenced By The Night” is at #21, and Scotland’s Aerials Up rises to #22 with “I Am”.  Watch for these songs to make impressive moves in the coming weeks!

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.

As I said earlier, the chart was pretty decisive, and I’ve written about all of the chart’s debuts before, the highest two just two weeks ago.  The unique blend of talents that is Mark Foster (of Foster The People) plus DJ/producer A-Trak plus Kiwi sensation Kimbra is featured on “Warrior” (#23), which is a free download courtesy of Converse and Journeys.  Independent of the raucous video, the song is extremely catchy and is definitely hit-worthy unto itself!  Then we have a song whose interest to me was reignited by its stunning video.  That’s “Stupid Mistake” by Darren Hayes which bows at #24 as the fourth single from Secret Codes And Battleships, which contains some of Darren’s best ever vocals.  Then we have the perfect pairing of Vincent Did It, the alter-ego of Frankmusik, and Quigley, who is his gal Casey Carlson (you may have seen her on tour with him when he wasn’t singing with Colette Carr).  From Vince’s free download of The SOPA Opera EP is the beautiful “Notice Me” (#26).  Vince needs no major record label to continue creating stunning new music.  Lastly, from the much-awaited forthcoming album Magic Hour is Scissor Sisters with the Calvin Harris co-production “Only The Horses” at #27.  This instant ear-grabber should put the Sisters back on the map outside of dance clubs.  It’s a perfect pop radio confection – let’s hope it gets there.