Check out 90’s inspired alt.rock from Toronto-based singer/songwriter @PaulManchin with “Gratification”

PAUL MANCHIN, “Gratification”

Post-grunge 90’s rock influences seem to be in store for a revival lately, and “Gratification” by Toronto-based singer/songwriter Paul Manchin is part of that inspiration.  Often working in the background as a songwriter or musician, Paul has also released a number of his own albums over the years too, and many of his songs have received placements on TV. While it contains Beatles vibes particularly through the piano melody, “Gratification” also gives nods to artists like Smashing Pumpkins and Beck in terms of vocal style and guitar work.  It’s certainly helped by crisp production by co-writer and Grammy winner David Bottrill, who has worked with not only the Pumpkins, but also Peter Gabriel and Rush. Paul’s voice has a laid back Billy Corgan-meets-John Lennon-esque tone with a soulful side, and even with a myriad of influences, “Gratification” sounds fresh and could easily find a place on alt.rock or college radio station playlists.

Published in: on August 28, 2021 at 10:44 pm  Comments (1)  
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Canadian dance producer @RyShepherdmusic has your end of summer dance anthem with “All The Way Down” with Black Gatsby @BLKGATZ

RYAN SHEPHERD and BLACK GATSBY, “All The Way Down”

Who better to offer up a smashing end of summer dance anthem with a lot of house-meets-disco flourishes than Canadian producer Ryan Shepherd?  He does so in tandem with L.A.-based pop/R&B singer/songwriter Black Gatsby, who has recorded with Zed’s Dead and Chris Lake among others.  “All The Way Down” follows up Ryan’s recent success with “Hello Sunday”, a grower which was given new life through online Sunday performances by Ryan during the pandemic.  “All The Way Down” is about being your best ‘you’ and celebrating that in style.  It’s an obvious dance floor filler that will have fists pumping and people cheering on as we begin to take back our lives for some much needed fun times.

Ryan plays a “Hello Sunday Day Party” at Toronto’s Love Child Social House from 4 to 9 pm on Sunday August 29

Published in: on August 11, 2021 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Toronto-based dance producer @Fambamusic returns with future house-flavoured “Games We Play” with vocalists @meubrando and MKLA @okaytolove

FAMBA, BRANDO & MKLA, “Games We Play”

After the resounding success of “Wish You Well”, “Swear to God” and “Still Call You Mine” at radio in Canada and “Storm” on the dance charts, I was pleased to see Halifax-born Toronto-based dance producer Famba take a few steps back and deliver a more edgy, future house-inspired record in “Games We Play”.  It’s a super-quick (2:26) ride but it’s loaded with polish and character, which is helped immeasurably by standout vocalists Brando and MKLA, who is also from Toronto.  The world knows Brando’s voice quite well from singing on Loud Luxury’s “Body”, and MKLA’s voice has been showcased to terrific effect in recent releases by Steve Aoki (a cover of “Losing My Religion”) and Lukas Estrada (“Never Leave You”).  More suited for clubs, “Games We Play” will need some extended remixes for club DJ’s.  I first wrote about Famba in 2016 and as a next step after his EP Wishes Vol. 1, “Games We Play” continues to show the great strides he continues to make.

Published in: on July 29, 2021 at 9:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Life’s Okay” is one of the more unique songs of the year by Russian producer @Maravamusic and Canadian singer/songwriter #Eadie

MARAVA and EADIE, “Life’s Okay”

“Life’s Okay” is one of the year’s most unexpected treats. It’s an electronic dance tune that mixes in alt.soul vocals and pop melodies with sunny, positive vibes.  It’s brought to you by relatively new Russian producer Marava, who has the art of transformation up his sleeve and usually produces songs with a more progressive edge, and Toronto-based singer/songwriter Eadie, whose soulful Amy Winehouse-inspired voice stands out because she doesn’t quite sound like any current singer that I can think of right now.  The feel-good melody is what will draw you in to Eadie’s lyrics, which in the song’s chorus, beautifully delivered by the singer, will simply make you smile.  It’s refreshing to hear a dance song that doesn’t sound like what’s on the radio and isn’t full of bassy house beats, which you can attribute to Marava’s tidy production. “Life’s Okay” is a winner that should not be overlooked.

 

Published in: on July 29, 2021 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.

 

 

 

 

It’s 10/10 #18: @JarodGlawe @RobinVanemusic @Autografmusic @WinandWoo #Aibai #ColbyHansen @AmyCorreaBell @BeatVent @Daysormay @iamrebelwill @djPromiseLand @DannyDeardenuk @MonsieurAdi #Shoby @wallflowerPerry @dirty__es

My10/10 feature is back with edition #18, the first 10/10 since April.  There are just so many fine releases out right now and I don’t want to cast any aside that deserve your attention.

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.

I must say that edition #18 has quite the global variety of musical flavours for you to check out!

  • JAROD GLAWE and ROBIN VANE, “Belong To You”

Chicago producer/songwriter/engineer Jarod Glawe is still a relative newcomer to the music scene, but he’s moved very quickly to receive remixes by the likes of Thomas Gold and AMPM, and to start his own Sony The Orchard-distributed label, Blu Ember Music.  “Belong To You” is the first release, and you might has well start off with a bang.  It’s a gorgeous deep house track full of emotion that’s heavily reliant on the vocal by Dutch singer/songwriter Robin Vane.  Together Jarod and Robin are a dynamic force.  Outside of the song’s chorus, Robin’s voice at times reminds me of Dan Smith of Bastille when he sang “Happier”, but he has soulful edges that perfectly suit the warmth of this song.  “Belong To You” is a delightful surprise waiting for you to hear it.

AUTOGRAF and WIN & WOO and SINGA, “Break Me Down”

Two of Chicago’s finest house production teams unite for “Break Me Down”.  The duos of Autograf and Win & Woo have released some of their best music within the last two years, particularly Autograf’s “Ain’t Deep Enough” and Win & Woo’s “Sleepwalking” (both landing in the Top 10 of my personal chart last year), so it’s intriguing to hear the results of their collaboration.  “Break Me Down” is a fairly easy going but atmospheric chill house track with lots of interesting synth sounds and an expressive vocal by Philadelphia’s SINGA.  It would be fitting to play this song early on in a club set to get the crowd moving.  Autograf and Win & Woo have given “Break Me Down” lots of layers that pull you in and keep you listening (and dancing).

  • AIBAI and COLBY HANSEN, “Aura”

“Aura” is a lilting and melodic slice of electronic pop from Minnesota, courtesy of producer Aibai and singer Colby Hansen. While the song narrates a queer relationship about being smitten with a cute girl while out dancing and wanting to dance with her, it is easily relatable for all genders. It leaves to chance about whether or not to pursue your thoughts and feelings, and be caught up in the excitement of a first-time encounter. Colby’s dreamy vocal basks in the blurred circumstances, while Aibai’s production will keep your feet moving, though it sometimes overwhelms Colby’s vocal towards the end. Nonetheless these two young women have created a tight collaboration that works.

  • AMY CORREA BELL, “Fuck It I’m Good” ( Beat Ventriloquists remix)

I’ve said many times before in these pages that I’m a big believer in remixes, and how they can transform a song. “Fuck It I’m Good” by San Fernando’s own Amy Correa Bell isn’t a new song, in fact it was released three years ago until the singer got the brilliant idea to reinvent it during the pandemic with a variety of producer friends. The resulting Beat Ventriloquists remix is certainly a fun deep house rework with a funky edge that keeps you guessing where it’s heading, particularly beyond the three minute mark. The new mix adds more spice to the feisty attitude that Amy brought with the original. So if you like your house mixes on the adventurous and unconventional side then be sure to check this one out.

  • daysormay, “Ego”

Vernon, British Columbia trio daysormay tackle Sigmund Freud in their own unique way in “Ego”. The indie rock group take influences from the likes of The Beastie Boys and Blink-182 and roll it all up into a convincing package which is a lot of fun if – when it doesn’t wear out its welcome.  The video for “Ego” is clever, with eyes very hard not to be on lead singer Aidan Andrews, who lends a lot of inspired energy to the proceedings.  Twin brothers Carson and Nolan Bassett round out the group, and they are often hidden under masks when not in synchronized rhythm with Aidan. While obviously filmed on a budget, the video does have its moments (some scenes from The Art Of Noise’s “Close (To The Edit)” come to mind), but like the song itself, is simply too long.  Less is often more but this is a fine first look at daysormay, and I’m looking forward to more from them.

  • iamrebelwill, “Addicted”

iamrebelwill is a talent for the 2020’s.  A queer black singer born in Montreal but based in Toronto, he created “Addicted” as an anthem about being hopelessly in love – and being just fine with that – after spending his early years afraid of being himself.  He’s got an engaging voice and personality in this song, and influences seem to be drawn most from the late 90’s such as The Fugees, Lauryn Hill, and OutKast. With a tight groove and lyrics co-written by Tafari Anthony, whose own music has appeared in these blog pages, there’s a lot to enjoy about “Addicted”, and iamrebelwill is certainly a name worth remembering for future releases.

  • PROMISE LAND x DANNY DEARDEN, “You Turn My Love Around”

Veteran Italian duo Promise Land (Nazario and Fabio) team up with UK singer/songwriter sensation Danny Dearden for house music that oozes positive vibes in “You Turn My Love Around”.  Promise Land has been releasing music for about 12 years, and have had great success with many of their Spinnin’ Records releases, as well as with remixes for Fedde LeGrand, Flo Rida, and especially with Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child”! Danny is becoming a go-to voice in dance music with his versatile tones and seasoned songwriting skills. “You Turn My Love Around” mixes 90’s European house vibes with bright synths. At times the production and its high synth notes seems to compete with Danny’s high register, but it’s a minor quibble in this quick but lively release.

MONSIEUR ADI, “Guardian”

In true surprise fashion, French-American musician/producer Monsieur Adi returns to the music scene rather inauspiciously with “Guardian”. In the former part of the last decade, Adi remixed songs by the likes of Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Ellie Goulding and Lana Del Rey, and also released a number of solo releases which often had vocals by others.  In 2014, he was the opening DJ on Beyoncé’s “Mrs. Carter” European tour, and was poised to break out with his rework of Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life” as “What’s Going On” (featuring A*M*E, which peaked at #2 on my personal chart). Since that time, he’s released a scattered few singles, so it’s nice that “Guardian” surfaced as some of our strange times are coming to an end. It’s a warm and mellow song, almost like a fable that unfolds about some unknown presence who is there to guide and perhaps look after you.  The vocal for “Guardian” is also by sung Adi for the first time and it’s a pleasing performance. Hopefully “Guardian” will be followed up soon with more new music from Monsieur Adi.

SHOBY & VICTOR PERRY, “Hero”

It’s not covered very often, but there’s no one else I could think of who could do Enrique Iglesias’ smash from the early 2000’s more justice than NYC singer Victor Perry.  It’s a faithful version of “Hero” which is turned into a mid-tempo house number spiced with a lot of sax sounds by German producer Shoby.  It was especially important to my ears to get the bridge down right and Victor embraces it right down to the quiver in his voice.  The pair bring the song up to date while paying homage to it, so be sure to give it a listen particularly if you’re a big fan of Enrique or the song itself. “Hero” has also been released through Warner Denmark, no less.

DIRTY RUSH & GREGOR ES, “The Rhythm”

Dirty Rush and Gregor Es are two Polish producer/DJ’s who have a pretty wild output of house-flavoured music. They are tamed somewhat in their latest release “The Rhythm”, which shows off their slick skills without needing to embellish them too much with effects or crazy ideas.  The beats are huge, with plenty of bounce, so it’s not hard to picture “The Rhythm” being played around midnight in a club to crank up the party.

 

Watch out for Toronto’s @_MaxParkermusic with pop earworm “Good Time”

MAX PARKER, “Good Time”

You won’t find a much more ear-catching pop tune around than “Good Time” by new Toronto pop singer/songwriter Max Parker.  This one is already being played nationally on radio in Canada, much thanks to Max being named as an iHeart Radio Future Star.  Max also previously had one of his songs featured among the Top 12 of one of CBC Radio’s previous Music Searchlight competitions.  So it’s quite clear that  his talent is shining through the rest, and comparisons to the music of fellow Canucks Tyler Shaw, Johnny Orlando or even Justin Bieber are not unwarranted.  Max Parker is definitely one to watch in 2021.

Published in: on June 14, 2021 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Canada’s @TheBoomtangBoys have a pop zinger with “You Ain’t Gonna See Me” featuring @Katrinaastasia

THE BOOMTANG BOYS and KATRINA ANASTASIA, “You Ain’t Gonna See Me”

Canadian dance producers The Boomtang Boys have released an original follow-up to their return to the pop music scene recently with a gentle cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”.  Once again using the delightful talents of Toronto singer Katrina Anastasia, “You Ain’t Gonna See Me” is a flirty and fun summer song that would sound great on the radio next to songs by Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, SZA and Ava Max.  It’s brisk and uncomplicated with a catchy chorus that you’ll find yourself humming to when you’re not realizing it.  The Boomtang Boys are masters of dance pop and it’s great to have them back!

Meet Toronto teen singer/songwriter Cmagic5 @5cmagic with sophisticated and danceable “Love Me If You Can”

Cmagic5, “Love Me If You Can”

“Love Me If You Can” is one of those songs that immediately prompts your ears to perk up when you hear it.  And when you find out that the singer/songwriter, Toronto’s Cmagic5, is still a teenager with such a well-honed voice, then you can see that there is enormous potential in her vision of creating dance/pop with a message and a sophisticated backdrop beyond her years.  While this singer of Portuguese heritage won’t reveal her name just yet, Cmagic5’s moniker includes her actual first initial “C”, while “5” represents her birthday, May 5.  With its polished production that still offers some soulful grittiness, “Love Me If You Can” is culled from her album Ready To Run.  The song speaks to mental health mainly of young adults and teens by encouraging them to love themselves first and then spread that love as well.  Fans of Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, and SZA will enjoy what Cmagic5 brings to the new music scene.

Published in: on May 16, 2021 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Toronto’s @iamDabinLee and Nashville’s @thisisMokita team up for lovely sweeping anthem “Drown”

DABIN & MOKITA, “Drown”

Even on paper, pop and electronic music fans seeing the names Dabin and Mokita in the same song know that something good has been in the works.  “Drown” is a definite winner, and happily, not a cover of the recent Martin Garrix song of the same name.  This one is an original sweeping electronic anthem about being there for your significant other no matter what.  Dabin’s ongoing association with Illenium and his core team has undoubtedly helped give him much deeper roots as a producer. He knows how to bring the mood down to touch those raw emotional nerves, and then before it gets too deep, he brings you out of it with a magnificent build up.  “Drown” also contains one of Mokita’s best vocals to date, with his voice soaring like on no other song that I’ve heard by him.  “Drown” should become a staple at EDM festivals once they are back in swing.

Published in: on May 6, 2021 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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