Toronto’s @RiverTiber returns to a more progressive rock style with “Hypnotized”

RIVER TIBER, “Hypnotized”

I can’t believe it’s been almost 9 years since I first wrote about Toronto’s River Tiber, which has mainly been a studio project led by multi-instrumentalist Tommy Paxton-Beesley, though there have been a number of live performances over the years but not at least for the last three or so that I can recall.  “Hypnotized”, which is actually a two-song single, also featuring the instrumental “Rainbow Road”, is only River Tiber’s 5th single release since 2016.  But watch out, when Tommy gets on a creative roll, the fine music just pours out.  Pausing the fascination with R&B and hip hop on River Tiber’s most recent releases, “Hypnotized” is a return to the progressive rock of earlier releases out of which you can currently find When The Time Is Right and The Star Falls on streaming platforms.  Its off-kilter, blurry sounds contrast delightful jazzy elements and Tommy’s clear but laid back vocal.  His stellar guitar work sings through, especially around the halfway mark, which will make this song a treat to hear in performance. “Hypnotized” is an intriguing welcome back for River Tiber, and I’m curious where it will lead.

Published in: on January 2, 2021 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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After 2020, the music world needs some fun and Toronto’s @ShuffleDemons have got it with “Crazy Time”

SHUFFLE DEMONS, “Crazy Time”

As I witnessed at a free live show in Toronto in summer 2019, Toronto’s alt-jazz troupe Shuffle Demons are still going as strong as ever some 35 years after the seminal “Spadina Bus” became an alternative radio and video channel favourite across Canada.  The bleakness of 2020 has given the guys perfect ammunition to look on the brighter, sillier side of things with “Crazy Time”, the title song and video (above, directed by Kurt Swinghammer) from their latest album.  They choose to skewer fake news and social media stories in particular, and surround it all with their trademark three-saxophone sound, supported by drums and stand-up bass.  If you’re looking for something off the beaten path that will put a smile on your face, then seize the moment and check out “Crazy Time”.

Published in: on January 2, 2021 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Savour the sweet and sensual soul vibes of “Arms Around Me” by Toronto’s @officialDixon

D!XON, “Arms Around Me”

“Arms Around Me” is a new pop-R&B hybrid that will have you swaying to its irresistible rhythm, while you enjoy its sensual, lush, all-embracing message of love.  It’s performed by non-conforming 2SLGBTQ+ multi-talent D!XON, a Torontonian of Trinidadian and Guyanese descent who is already noteable as the creator of the City of Toronto’s Drag Masterclass which featured Priyanka, the winner of Drag Race Canada. D!XON has amazing presence as a performer, as you will see in the video above for “Arms Around Me”.  His soft tones are reminiscent of an amalgam of Michael Jackson, Prince, and The Weeknd, while his striking appearance recalls Janet Jackson, Ginuwine and the late Jermaine Stewart. In the video, you’ll see a variety of cameos, including celebrity director Dan Lemoyne, Hollywood Jade (Drag Race Canada resident choreographer) and Marc Andrew Smith (Drag Race resident stylist). “Arms Around Me” succeeds with D!XON’s inspiring intentions with his music.  I’m hoping in the new year it may ind its way to Canadian radio stations.  D!XON is a dynamic and diverse performer to watch.

Published in: on December 28, 2020 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Canada’s @WeAreFurymusic bring a potent @Synymata remix to “Don’t Know Why” with vocal by @NDanyka

WE ARE FURY and DANYKA NADEAU, “Don’t Know Why” (Synymata remix)

Rising Canadian production duo We Are Fury continue to bring the goods, this time with a remix of “Don’t Know Why”, a track from their recent album Duality which features talented Toronto singer/co-writer Danyka Nadeau.  Milwaukee producer/remixer Synymata takes a very good song on its own and elevates it in a potent future bass remix.  This remix makes the song larger and more emotional at times, separating out the lovely flow of the original into segments punctuated by some formidable synth work.  Future bass and progressive electronica enthusiasts will be completely in their element, and those who have enjoyed We Are Fury’s album will be keen on this one. “Don’t Know Why”, as remixed, will sound great in big venues and could work well in a video game soundtrack too.

Toronto’s @CrashAdamsmusic switches it up with kind and gentle rocker “Delicate”

CRASH ADAMS, “Delicate”

While Toronto duo Crash Adams continue to make buzzworthy moves with fun videos and unpredictable cameos by that red couch in the artwork above throughout the city, they are on their game in terms of great songs too.  “Delicate” is the latest of these, and it trades more good timey fare for a kind and gentle rocker.  For yes, men cry, have feelings, and can be hurt easily – there are those who could also be self-described as “Delicate”.  And chalk this one up for Crash Adams for being able to convey a sensitive message in a positive way in these times when machismo and brawn often call the shots.  Don’t get me wrong – “Delicate” still rocks out as a bouncy, upbeat, tightly played track.  That these guys have been able to mesh everything together into one tidy, enjoyable and meaningful package makes “Delicate” a winner.

Published in: on November 15, 2020 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Rolling Papers” is unexpectedly light-hearted and playful from Brandyn Burnette @EMAN8 and Toronto’s @leFrenchBraids

BRANDYN BURNETTE and FRENCH BRAIDS, “Rolling Papers”

“Rolling Papers” is one new song that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  Brandyn Burnette has been hard at work in 2020 as both a solo and feature artist, regularly releasing new songs to showcase his pop, hip hop and R&B styles.  “Rolling Papers” might be a bit of a crapshoot but it’s a whole lot of fun.  The singer shows off his deft wordsmithing and is aptly supported by rising Toronto electronic producer French Braids (aka Sean Fischer), with whom Brandyn worked earlier this year on the track “Legend”.  But in “Rolling Papers” it’s great to hear Brandyn’s verses freewheelin’ in a lighter, feel-good setting, and that is a big win for fans and new listeners.

Soft, romantic, and ever-so-sweet: “No One But You” is new R&B-pop for your soul by @justinnozuka and @mahalia

JUSTIN NOZUKA & MAHALIA, “No One But You”

I’ve noticed in the past several months, there has been a real absence of romantic songs, probably in keeping somewhat with the current ongoing situation. So bravo to Toronto’s Justin Nozuka for releasing his first new music in over two years in the form of an R&B-pop ballad with UK singer Mahalia that recalls his cover of Sade’s “By My Side” called “No One Like You”. In years past, this would be called a ‘quiet storm’ track, and could easily be played next to classics of that sub-genre. It’s a lusciously simple song about anyone’s special someone, and it’s complimented by its video above, which reminds us of all of the gentle, sensual, romantic, and often basic aspects of a relationship that take place. “No One Like You” is pop music soul food. This collaboration with Mahalia is certainly one-of-a-kind. She has had her own major label album release to show off her Erykah Badu-meets-Lauryn Hill style, and has recorded with Jacob Collier, Ty Dolla $ign, Kranium, Ella-Mai, and more. I’m so glad to hear new music from Justin, who is always unpredictable but creates from the heart. Listen for more coming soon.

Published in: on October 18, 2020 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Late Night Love” allows @FrancescoYates to stretch his talents to the max

FRANCESCO YATES, “Late Night Love”

To say that I’ve been impressed by my fellow Toronto native Francesco’s 2020 releases is an understatement. To me, the singer/songwriter/guitarist is putting out the best music of his career right now independently. No longer the teen pop talent who broke out in 2014 with “Better To Be Loved”, Francesco tapped into deeper songwriting on his EP Superbad with songs like “Queen Street Blues” and the title track in particular. “Late Night Love” really allows his talents to be stretched to the max. It’s a sexy and risqué track that’s going to make a difference, featuring a blistering performance that could go entirely over the top if he let it. Instead it’s bound to make you turn your head and pay close attention. Check it out up top.

Published in: on September 24, 2020 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Party at the office? Call on @CrashAdamsmusic who bring on the fun with “Too Hot To Touch”

CRASH ADAMS, “Too Hot To Touch”

I’m not sure how I missed out on the release of this single and its totally engaging video this past Spring, but there’s no time like the present to catch up, and you need check out “Too Hot To Touch” by Toronto rock duo Crash Adams. Though the guys have had a red couch surface as the constant in video and public appearances, the couch takes a pandemic break while Crash Adams (expanded to a four piece unit) rocks out in an empty office in the video up top. The well-directed video captures the ribald good-timey spirit of the band, who should be a club draw by the time things reopen if they keep on releasing records like this. “Too Hot To Touch” is also extremely radio friendly – highly recommended for college and alt.rock radio stations.

Published in: on September 17, 2020 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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10/10 #12!: @RufusWainwright @FrancescoYates #TheBeamishBrothers @Gillian_music @Vampaofficial @KarlWolfs & @iamJuliusWilson J-Mi of @JMiandMidiD @DJDezza @FLouisemusic @Bellsavvy

It’s 10/10 – Edition 12!!

When you don’t write a blog post for two weeks, then the new music accumulates, so I’m glad I have this feature which helps me continue to bring you some new songs you might not otherwise hear.

In 10/10 (or tenoutoften) ,  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.  The song residing at #1 on my current chart, “You’ll Be OK” by Gareth Emery, was featured in a 10/10 blog post back in March.

Writing 10/10 features 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.

  • RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, “You Ain’t Big”

Before I continue, you have to know that I’ve been a huge fan of Juno Award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright since his debut self-titled album was released in 1998.  I’ve seen him perform 6 or 7 times, but not now for many years.  “You Ain’t Big” is the title song from his new EP, his first new pop music since 2012’s album Out Of The Game, after forays into opera and Shakespeare as well as a live album.  It’s a return to the carefree, whimsical songwriting of his earlier career.  To me he’s also in his finest pop voice since 2007’s Release The Stars.  “You Ain’t Big” is the standout, and though no song on the EP disappoints, also check out “Trouble In Paradise” and “Peaceful Afternoon”.

  • FRANCESCO YATES, “Bad Decisions”

My fellow Canadian Francesco Yates is back with another great new song that taps into the punchy R&B-flavoured pop that gave him his start with  jams like “Better To Be Loved”.  To me, “Bad Decisions” is his best one since the early days, it just brims with energy and devil-may-care lyrics about getting into some specific trouble with a special someone.  Like with “Superbad”, Francesco teases us with a short video, with more to come.  Check out this dynamic release with video and full song above.  Canadian radio stations definitely needs to jump on it.

  • THE BEAMISH BROTHERS, “Nature”

Rising and talented siblings from Queensland, Australia, the Beamish Brothers have released their first 2020 single in style with “Nature”.  Ben and Jeremy have been well established as regular voices on several dance tracks over the past couple of years, and started to release their own music last year with the alt.pop EP Brutalism.  “Nature” had the bonus of being featured as a runner-up in February in Eurovision Australia Decides.  It draws from numerous styles which will appeal as much to fans of Paul Simon as it would fans of Years & Years.  The brothers’ seamless vocal interplay is a big draw, and is punctuated by rich and soulful, memorably choir-like bursts of the title.  “Nature” is a classic lesson in the way to make DIY music work wonders.  

  • GILLIAN, “high”

Boston teen pop singer/songwriter Gillian has an unconventional winner with “high”. The song’s protagonist has a major crush on someone who cannot reciprocate the attraction because his priority is to get high. It’s a frustrating scenario when you discover that someone is not who they say they are until you see their true colours, and hope for the best for the protagonist at the end. Gillian’s vocal style is proudly unique, stemming from a long line of singers with similar styles – Jill Sobule, Joan Osborne, Regina Spektor are some names that come to mind. “high” is a strong song with deft execution that makes it memorable.

  • VAMPA, “Dark Matter”

“Dark Matter” is the title song from the recent EP by relative newcomer, the Chicago-based bass music producer VAMPA, whose heavy and melodic style could easily fit alongside releases by Rezz, Kai Wachi, Zed’s Dead, and Wooli.  “Dark Matter” instantly slams with the best of them and I think it’s her flair for melody and ear-popping synth effects that will get listeners’ attention.  VAMPA’s vocal narrative at the beginning also nicely sets up what’s to come and flows into the rest of the song with ease.  

  • KARL WOLF and JULIUS WILSON, “City Of Lies”

It’s been a slice since Karl Wolf was all over the radio in Canada with his huge cover of Toto’s “Africa” and other songs such as two with Kardinal Offishall, “Ghetto Love” and “Amateur At Love”. You may not know though that he was a co-writer of bülow’s debut “Not A Love Song”, among his many other songwriting credits.  He’s back with an infectious, retro R&B flavoured dance pop song called “City Of Lies”.  It features the striking voice of Halifax-born (of Jamaican and Bajan heritage) Julius Wilson, whose diverse vocal fits snugly into the hybrid electronic pop mix of the song.  The video above offers a glowing backdrop of Toronto which makes us pine for the nightlife that is currently missing from our lives.  “City Of Lies” is from Karl’s forthcoming album Night Of The Wolf.

  • J-MI, “On Our Own”

“On Our Own” is a most pleasant and refreshing surprise. Sherbrooke, Quebec-based producer J-Mi, forever active on the gamer circuit, returns to pop music with her take on the 1989 Bobby Brown classic from “Ghostbusters 2”. Strangely and somewhat out of sync with these times, its production (by J-Mi with long-time collaborator Midi-D aka Dave Phaneuf) remains glued to the new jack swing vibes of the original. While that may leave you scratching your head, the results are charming and brimming with enthusiasm (with J-Mi being an ultimate “Ghostbusters fan). J-Mi has put loads of effort over the past few years into honing her vocals, and the results are flattering. Unabashedly bold, the aim of “On Our Own” is to leave you smiling and it is completely on point with that.

  • DEZZA and MIKE SCHMID, “Carry Me”

“Carry Me” is sophisticated, emotional house music for your soul and feet, brought to you by Halifax producer Dezza, and co-writer and veteran vocalist Mike Schmid, who has performed in concert with the likes of The Chainsmokers, Troye Sivan and Miley Cyrus.  Dezza has been releasing music consistently for the last few years as either a producer or remixer, with much success in Europe in the company of the likes of Armin van Buuren.  “Carry Me” stands out as a pensive house track with elegant synths that support Mike’s soothing voice.  While atypical, “Carry Me” will win you over with a few listens.

  • FRANCESCA LOUISE, “Ride The Waters”

I’m bringing you another song by British pop/folk singer Francesca Louise after I first wrote about her a month ago.  Her voice is a breath of fresh air, with its own unique spin on pop music, which in “Ride The Waters” recalls the confidence of a Christine McVie or Sheryl Crow, while retaining her own sound.  In fact the song is about being successful on your own terms and directs an empowering message towards young women.  So this is not dreary folk music from another era.  “Ride The Waters” is spirited and engaging and deserving of your attention.

  • BELLSAVVY, “Queen Of My Mind”

Bellsavvy is a new voice to get to know, and she hails from London but was raised in Brazil.  The daughter of a pop star in Brazil, Bellsavvy follows mom’s lead after a modelling career with the potent “Queen Of My Mind”.  It’s an ode to self-realization after the singer herself faced mental health issues.  With production from David Lei Brandt, who worked with Lady Gaga, there will be the inevitable Gaga comparisons, which are completely justified.  Bellsavvy has a well-honed, stunning tone in her vocal, and “Queen of My Mind” will also appeal to fans of Kiesza, Charli XCX, and Madonna.  “Queen Of My Mind” is a striking debut indeed!