Soulful and tropical: “Secrets” by @TheHim featuring @CubRayanmusic

THE HIM featuring CUB RAYAN, “Secrets” (free DL)

With each release, Dutch duo The Him continue to mix it up for your dancing pleasure.  “Secrets”, featuring new vocalist Cub Rayan, is a sleek soulful song with lots of sexy tropical vibes.  Steven and Jeroen know how to keep their mix tight, so the words and music of “Secrets” form a solid pop song that could fit well on dance music radio, but with enough of a house groove to stand out in a club set as well.  After last year’s “Balance” and this year’s recent “I Wonder”, along with featured sets throughout North America and Europe, The Him remain one of the more impressive and diverse producer/DJ duos out there.  Download “Secrets” for free at the link above.

Published in: on June 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Your personal tropical house party begins with the @KamauMusic remix of @Faydee’s “Nobody” with @KatDeLuna and #Leftside

FAYDEE featuring LEFTSIDE and KAT DeLUNA, “Nobody” (KWM remix)

For North American audiences, the vibrant summer tunes are starting to emerge, and of course one of the first places they might come from is Australia, where their summer is on the wane.  Faydee’s “Nobody”, featuring dancehall singer Leftside and a shining appearance by Kat DeLuna, is most reminiscent of the same kind of tropical party music that Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull marry together and bring to a concert setting.  So in other words, just don’t think, let go, have a great time and dance it up!  The Kamau World Music (KWM) remix amps up the tropical/dancehall party vibe over the original and somehow makes it even more instantly appealing.  “Nobody” has already had success in Australia and Germany, is definitely one to watch.  It could bring the likeable Faydee more North American success after co-writing and appearing on “I Need Your Love” by Shaggy, Mohombi and Costi, a surprise gold-certified Billboard Hot 100 hit in 2014.  Listen and let loose to the KWM remix above.

High quality musicianship, ear-pleasing melodies all showcase @Cloudchord’s excellent new album “Imprint”

CLOUDCHORD, Imprint

Austin-based Cloudchord (aka Derek VanScoten) has released his first album under that moniker called “Imprint”, and it will definitely leave its mark on you, warranting multiple listens to beautifully layered songs full of striking and bright high end that will leave you in a great mood afterwards.  And it’s more likely to make you want to dance than not!

I’ve mentioned it before, but Cloudchord isn’t just an EDM producer/remixer, he’s a studied musician, and his diverse guitar work kicks Imprint up many notches.  The use of other live instruments like trumpet as well as top notch, complex synth melodies should call attention to other producers and arrangers.  The album is mostly instrumental, and seems to take a lot of cues from progressive ambient musicians like Brian Eno and Jean-Michel Jarre, with a lot of heavy jazz influence too from people like Pat Metheny (specifically his 80’s works).  But there are those slamming beats too, which fall out of deep house, tropical and future bass sub-genres, which should totally win over club DJ’s.

The release of Imprint was preceded by two of its songs, the sunny “Golden XO” (which I wrote about a while back) and “Light U”, with its perky rhythm and vocal effects.  The other songs that stand out to me are the imaginative “Aviator”, with all of its lovely melodic shifts – it could be made into a mini-movie in itself – the playful and complex “Lacuna”, “Sidewalk Spirits” (notable guitar work here), “Lavender Mimosas”, and “Birdbath and Beyond” (definitely loving some of the humour in the titles).  

If you enjoy your EDM drenched in variety within that genre, along with countless other influences, then Cloudchord’s Imprint is meant for you for a thorough listen.  Check it out at your favourite digital store using the link above.

Published in: on April 12, 2017 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rejoice in your own “Nostalgia” by Victor Perry @perksofbeingvic in a playful @RyanLee1993 remix

VICTOR PERRY, “Nostalgia” (Ryan Lee remix)

You never know what a solid set of songs on a shining EP might start!  Southern Georgia-based R&B/pop singer Victor Perry’s 4 A.M. Nostalgia begat the simply lovely “Rainbows” and a slew of intriguing remix interpretations.  Zewmob’s Ryan Lee has got the goods with “Nostalgia”, which gleams colourful 1990’s dance party but is also spiked with 80’s synth drum sounds and lots of high end to compliment Victor’s shining vocal (and wait for a glorious few moments before the 4 minute mark).  You can’t go wrong with this joyous, happy song 🙂 but be sure to pick up your copy using the “BUY” button at the link above (you may just be able to get it for free, too).

Published in: on January 16, 2017 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#BILLCSTop86Songsof2016

Trying to find time to write everything I want is always an issue.  I present to you my Top 86 Songs of 2016, with this blog post based on the radio program which aired on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day on http://www.planetradio.ca 🙂  Here’s my commentary on my Top 30 Songs with the complete list following.  Links to my Top 10 Songs are featured further down…

#30:  Brandyn Burnette’s “Made Of Dreams”, the title song from his first EP, and the first of four songs by or featuring him on this year end list. The song was greatly enhanced by a feel-good tropical mix from Chicago remix duo Win & Woo collaborating with Kiso Armic, also from Chicago.

#29 – L.A.-based singer/songwriter Simon Curtis with “Super Psycho Love” from his album Super 8bit Heart, first of two songs from that album in this list. That album was a 2016 reimagining of Simon’s 2010 free online mixtape still available from his website called 8bit Heart, which to me is one of the most endearing recordings of the decade. “Super Psycho Love” benefited most from an update and appeared on my chart for the first time.

#28 – courtesy of Canadian duo Young Bombs, who also have two remixes in my list. They brought the bounce to a fine record out of Norway from a young newcomer named Jesper Jenset called “High”.

#27 – belonging to Canadian brothers Chris and Alex from Orangeville Ontario – DVBBS! They’ve been on this list before (in 2015 and 2014), but this year they included Toronto’s Dante Leon on vocal for the toe-tapper “Angel”.

#26 – a taste of 80’s flavoured funk courtesy of NYC producer/remixer Jenaux with the rollicking original “Get It On”. Jenaux also partnered with Texas duo Tritonal for the song “Broken” (#45), and has another remix in this list.  

#25 – more Canadians 🙂 with a creative and funky remix by Chicago’s Snøwmass of a song by Montreal production duo Sterling Grove who are paired with Toronto pop/jazz vocalist Ellyn Woods for the mysterious “Sound Of Home”.

#24 – one of the most provocative and surprising albums of 2016 was Blue Neighbourhood by South Africa-born, Australia-based singer Troye Sivan, who had a world-wide following on You Tube before making records. It consists of beautifully crafted, poignant songs which meant a lot particularly to many teens, and scored the Top 20 hit “Youth”. I dove deeper into the album for the evocative “Talk Me Down”.  My bigger list also includes “Wild” (#35)  and “Fools” (#40), all BILLCS Top 30 Top 10 songs.

#23 – belongs to California duo Mako with their dance radio hit “Smoke Filled Room”. As remixed by Elephante, who appears two more times in this list, “Smoke Filled Room” set the stage for a crush of a now-grown up woman.

#22 – on the rise in 2016 was L.A. producer and singer Mi Disguise (aka Louie Garcia), and with his pal Rouse created a wonderful dance mix EP called NGHT LFE for summer clubbing. Their song “Her And Him” is an inspiring song for late night romance.

#21 – the song I liked best on Adele’s album 25 next to last year’s “Hello”, “All I Ask” is another knockout performance and stood out from the rest of the songs on the album.

#20 – if there was any song in 2016 that would instantly make you feel good it’s one by veteran producer Tony Moran and singer Jason Walker and his amazing range. “So Happy” was a deserved #1 Billboard club hit.

#19 – I was wowed by MAX when I saw him perform in October 2015, and since then he has been a steady presence on the BILLCS Top 30. Singer and actor Max Schneider brought us a full album called Hell’s Kitchen Angel. The album contained a sweet ballad called “Lights Down Low”, but it was the smashing uptempo remix by L.A. duo Two Friends that took it to new heights. It’s the first of two in this list by MAX.

#18 – producer/remixer Tim Wu calls himself Elephante and from his EP I Am The Elephante recorded “Plans” featuring BILLCS favourite Brandyn Burnette on vocals, and I hope the pair will repeat this collaboration soon.

#17 – back and as grand as ever in 2016 was the classic dance duo Pet Shop Boys from their album Super with the lead off single “The Pop Kids”, which got club goers out onto the dance floor in the Spring.

#16 – a very distinct song that found its way out of its native Norway to become a worldwide pop and dance club hit. Featuring a unique vocal by a singer named Iselin Solheim, it’s “Faded” by newcomer Alan Walker.

#15 – Dutch duo The Him released an irresistible deep house club hit “Balance”, which features L.A. based Dutch singer/songwriter Oktavian. Watch for more great music from The Him in 2017 as they wrapped up the year opening for The Chainsmokers on their European tour.

#14 – one of the most poignant songs of 2016 is based on a coincidence of real-life events of loss, by Brandyn Burnette called “Lost” from his EP Made Of Dreams. Brandyn auditioned for American Idol at the top of the year and took a risk by performing this original, which the judges loved, though Brandyn chose not to continue on the show. “Lost” is the third of four songs in the Top 30 by or featuring Brandyn.

#13 – preceding Hell’s Kitchen Angel in 2016 was MAX’s EP Wrong. The title song is a hip hop flavoured rave up featuring rapper Lil Uzi Vert who scored with his own album and songs in 2016 as well. A BILLCS Top 30 #1.

#12 – featuring an incredible gritty vocal by American singer Brayton Bowman is “Shy” by Belgian producer The Magician, who released “Shy” and songs by others in 2016 on his own label Potion Records. Watch for more of this incredible music from The Magician and his stable of artists in 2017.  A BILLCS Top 30 #1.

#11 – “Kiss The Sky” by NYC duo The Knocks featuring none other than The Fugees’ Wyclef Jean on vocals. The Knocks created a grand party when I saw their show in January, proving themselves to be slick entertainers as well as producers. Their album 55 continued the dance party, and they found themselves opening for Justin Bieber on his European tour in the latter part of 2016. “Kiss The Sky” is sheer dance music escapism at its best.  A BILLCS Top 30 #1.

#10 – the third entry on the list by Elephante is “Closer”, which became his signature song after being heard in many remixes which included worthy ones by the likes of producers Aash Mehta and Speaker Of The House. The vocalist on “Closer” is Portland, Oregon’s Bishøp and it’s one of the best of 2016. 

#9 – “Dreamin’” by British producer/remixer Embody featuring fellow Brit vocalist Camden Cox. It’s somewhat hard to believe that the song that could transport you most to a hot beach party in 2016 was brought to us from two talented Brits. “Dreamin’” is 2016’s best tropical mix.

Songs 8 through 1 all were BILLCS Top 30 #1’s 🙂

#8 – belonging to my fellow Canadian The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, and Abel grew up not far from where I grew up, but in a community of 90’s Ethiopean immigrants, which makes his success all the more formidable. The Weeknd collaborated with the award-winning French duo Daft Punk for “Starboy”, from the diverse album of the same name, which also gave him his first Billboard #1 hit. 

#7 – Brandyn Burnette has his final song of 4 in the Top 30 (and 8 on the full list, plus one by his duo Cosmos & Creature with his gal Molly Moore) from his special EP Made Of Dreams with “Nothing At All”. It’s a sparse production that brings out the progressive soul vibe of the song, which made the Made Of Dreams EP all the more listenable. Brandyn’s putting finishing touches on his third release due in January.

#6 – one of the most emotional songs of the year, the second one on the list called “Lost”, this one by British Columbia native Connor Phillips. In its original version, the song is a short acoustic ballad, but Canadian remix duo Young Bombs once again gave their redux an extra wow factor by washing it in enough synths to make your eyes wet. If you find yourself wanting to hug someone, blame it on the power of music.

free download:

#5 – the second song from Super 8bit Heart on this list is “8bit Heart”, a personal favourite of mine from 2010 that was redone for 2016. “8bit Heart” is a song like none other to me, it’s a song full of love and heart that totally captivated me 6 years ago in its original version, and was my #4 song of that year. Simon kept it real in 2016 and made the redux of “8bit Heart” the lead companion song for his book Boy Robot. 

#4 – released in late July, it was hard to believe that “Closer” by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey would become one of the biggest hits of the decade, with 12 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Chainsmokers, who are the NYC duo of Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, appeared on my list last year but more than any act in 2016 outdid themselves with their relentless performing and recording schedules. But the best of it all, is that they remained truly down-to-earth and supportive of other breaking acts in the dance community. “Closer” resonated with me too.

#3 – this song really kicked a funky butt into the proceedings in 2016, being the song that followed The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” at #1 on my regular chart of the BILLCS Top 30. It’s “Native Son Prequel” by producer/remixer Gramatik featuring London-born American vocalist Leo Napier. It’s a song told from the perspective of a pimp, and aside from that odd story angle, NYC remixer Jenaux gave it a spirited 70’s funk flavour that could only make you think of the character Huggy Bear from TV’s Starsky & Hutch 😛 

#2 – Toronto duo Dzeko & Torres collaborated with Sweden’s Hellberg for their free download release of “Care For Me”, which is my #2 song of 2016. While the performers may have considered “Care For Me” to be a great free promotional vehicle for their music in 2016, it was in fact a fabulous arrangement featuring an uncredited vocal, whose lyrics also struck an emotional nerve with me. Dzeko & Torres have since decided to pursue other efforts, with Julian Dzeko continuing to record while Luis Torres ventures into the production side of things, and I’m glad I caught their show in Toronto in April. Jon Hellberg on the other hand featured prominently on the BILLCS Top 30 in 2016 with both “Synchronize” and “All The Way”.

#1 – my favourite song of 2016 was brought to my attention courtesy of an excellent innovative remix, one of the best of the year, by relative newcomers EDWYNN x TIKAL (also known as Swedes Thor Lundberg and Leonard Palmberg) and Spirix (who is American producer/remixer Devain Doolaramini). The song is “So Bad” by L.A. singer/songwriter Brandon Skeie, who didn’t release more than a handful of songs in 2016 but is set out to conquer 2017. A protege of Semi-Precious Weapons frontman and noted songwriter Justin Tranter, who co-wrote Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries” among others, Brandon has an amazing high register, which helped send “So Bad” into the history books for me. It’s one of the best songs ever about longing for someone who you may or may not get to have in your life. 

Original:

Remix (free download):  

The full list, web version:  BILLCS Top 86 Songs of 2016

Spotify playlist of most of the songs:  BILLCS Top 86 Songs of 2016

Bouncing a fine line: Supurb deep house-meets-tropical in”Balance” by @TheHimofficial feat. @Oktavianmusic

THE HIM featuring OKTAVIAN, “Balance”

“Balance” is a supurb, effortless slice of bouncy deep house with tropical delights added for good measure, courtesy of Dutch duo The Him (aka Jeroen and Steven), and featuring silky smooth R&B vocals by L.A.-based fellow Dutchman Oktavian.  

TheHim

It almost goes by too fast – 2:47 is wicked tight and makes you want an extended version.  “Balance” will throw down nicely in a mid-evening set when you want to see your audience at their peak energy.  And you won’t be able to get enough of all of the goodness going on, from the honest vocal through to the well-knit electronics.  The Him proudly have had all of Tiësto, Martin Garrix, Pete Tong, and The Chainsmokers in their corner, so the writing is on the wall:  “Balance” is one of 2016’s summer club bangers to remember.  Listen above or check it out on Spotify.

Published in: on July 5, 2016 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Slick as thieves: Smooth chilled-out house by @LoudLuxury x @Shoffymusic “Villains”

LOUD LUXURY x SHOFFY, “Villains”

Hot off the presses today, promising Toronto duo Loud Luxury (Joe and Andrew) team up with intriguing vocalist Shoffy (who has already got the attention of Spinnin’ Records) for “Villains”.  If there’s such a thing as smooth chilled-out house music, then these guys have it down in spades.  There’s an R&B flair in Shoffy’s voice that recalls the best of the 90’s (the style of Brian McKnight comes to mind) and it’s matched with a genuinely interesting mix of tropical-infused house music.  This kind of dance music goes down really easy and the song conspicuously perks your ears up along the way.  Download “Villains” for free at the link above.

Published in: on June 29, 2016 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#KPop and #EDM Pop done right: “Into You” by @KOLAJband x @EricNamofficial

KOLAJ x ERIC NAM, “Into You”

“Into You” is one of those WOW records that gets you from the first few verses and the exchange of attractive, soaring female/male vocals.  KOLAJ is an EDM duo who have already been signed to Interscope but have paired up nonetheless with K-Pop star Eric Nam for “Into You” – and the buzz of the day online as a result has been about “K-TROP”.  Indeed the song has a bright, tropical vibe and lush saxophone riffing that heightens the romantic tension offered by the two vocalists.  Despite the focus on dance music, “Into You” is quite the pristine pop record too (not to be confused with the Ariana Grande song of the same name) and could be one of those kind of breakout records.  Kudos to everyone involved on this fine pairing, I’m very excited about it, and you can pick up “Into You” on all platforms.

 

Published in: on June 13, 2016 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gone troppo: “Still Young” by @WilTril & @Aayiomusic (featuring @MatthewJohnKurz :D )

WILTRIL & AAYIO, “Still Young” (featuring Matthew Kurz)

I happened upon “Still Young” by producers WilTril and Aayio, recently released by Ultra music.  It’s a terrific summery retrospective kind of song, perhaps you could call it the “7 Years” of tropical EDM.  The buoyant, winning tone of the song is captured by the uncredited vocal of Miami-based singer/songwriter Matthew Kurz.  I’ve written about Matthew many times, but it’s now been about three years, so I’m glad to see a discreet breakout moment happening for him through this fine dance track for which he deserves much attention.  One of my 13 Performers to Watch in ’13, Matthew has many great songs available on You Tube through his mixtape or covers like “Titanium”.  WilTril and Aayio are gonna go big with this one and having Matthew’s honed vocal is such an amazing bonus.  Listen above and pick it up on iTunes.

Published in: on May 25, 2016 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Summery Sleeper Creeper: “Afraid Of Heights” by @Couzareofficial featuring @itsAprilCheung

COUZARE featuring APRIL CHEUNG, “Afraid Of Heights”

It’s all about starting off in style… TropiKult Records launches with a summery song for the upcoming Spring months.  It’s what I call a ‘sleeper creeper’ – it’s gonna take a few listens but it will seal the deal – “Afraid Of Heights” by German producer/DJ Couzare featuring new vocalist April Cheung.  Get past the slow fade in and you will find a lilting tropical vibe that resonates with a warm feel-goodness.  It’s aided by April’s droll kind of vocal, which immediately brings to mind singer Dev – yes she of Far East Movement’s 2010 #1 “Like A G6” and her own “In The Dark”.  “Afraid Of Heights” is one of those songs that’s not only destined to be a surprise for clubs, but will also sound great on amusement park rides (particularly those ones that go high up, of course).  Stream it above and pick it up on all platforms.

Published in: on February 18, 2016 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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