Soul-tinged, intense new pop/dance from Copenhagen’s @FabianMazur “Settle”, with L.A. singer/songwriter @ZacPoor

FABIAN MAZUR and ZAC POOR, “Settle”

Copenhagen’s Fabian Mazur, very well known in Europe these past 8 years, opts for more pop/dance/soul flavours with “Settle”, a release for The Music Elk.  It’s an intense, deliberately-paced dance song featuring the welcome return of L.A. singer/songwriter Zac Poor, who I’ve written about several times in these pages.  Zac sings and co-wrote the song.  His vocal has a gritty, soulful quality here that usually doesn’t appear on European dance songs, thereby making it seem like something hailing from the UK when it’s not.  And I have definitely missed hearing his power and range!  In fact, “Settle” recalls the soulful dance of 90’s groups like Stereo MC’s but wrapped up with a lot of contemporary finesse.  Fabian definitely knows how to swing a few hooks, and the electronic elements of the song keep it brewing steadily.  “Settle” may not be instantly memorable by title but chances are you’ll be adding it to a playlist or three of your own.

Published in: on December 14, 2018 at 12:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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It’s finally time for a gorgeous new song by @ZacPoor, “The Way It Feels”

ZAC POOR, “The Way It Feels”

I’ve had really good feelings about the music of singer/songwriter Zac Poor since I first heard and wrote about him around five years ago.  It looked like something was about to blow up in 2012 when he sang a cover of “Skyscraper” that totally floored me, and I wrote about him again at year’s end that year as one of the most promising new talents going into 2013.  Well it’s taken more time but new music from Zac, who relocated to Australia, is finally here.  And he’s kept a collaboration with the extremely talented producer/songwriter MdL for “The Way It Feels” from the upcoming EP The Crossroads Sessions.  Zac’s vocal is such a highlight in this song that you almost forget what a gorgeous and gentle song it is!  Zac has this ability to hover a full-sounding voice in this almost-whisper zone (which first appears after around the 40 second mark) which helps make “The Way It Feels” so unique and appealing.  His voice doesn’t soar like in “Skyscraper” but I’m sure he’s saving that for other songs.  For now, it’s time to (re)introduce yourself to Zac Poor.  If “The Way It Feels” is just the start a new beginning, I’ll be along for the rest of the ride!  Listen from his Soundcloud link above.

Published in: on July 23, 2015 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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13 Performers To Watch for ’13

One of the most popular blog post’s I’ve written – even these past three years, it still receives many views – is 10 Performers to Watch in 2010.  I revived the format of that post for 2013, as there are too many promising performers who should not go without notice.  My criteria for this list is that the performer is releasing songs either for purchase or free download, and did not just issue one song in 2012.  The performer could be releasing a debut or sophomore album, and may already be signed to a major label.

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BAIYU   exquisite vocalist to soar beyond “The Next”

I was absolutely delighted when New York singer Baiyu was set to appear as a contestant on the CW’s talent contest “The Next”.  She also released a high quality mixtape called Hunter, which contained beautiful ballads, such as the duet with American Idol contestant Paul Kim on “Make Believe” (video below), and sinewy uptempo songs such as the title song.  She didn’t win the New York auditions on “The Next” (to me the show compromised the singer’s style with what they wanted to show on TV) but received exposure to-die-for, and recorded a few other viral cover versions including Melanie Fiona’s “4 AM” and even the Jonas Brothers’ “Paranoid” to tantalize Jonas Brothers fans who got to know her through “The Next” (since Joe Jonas was a judge).  I’m not sure what Baiyu has planned for ’13, but I expect it will be well-planned and chosen, and I can’t wait.  Her gorgeous Beyoncé-like voice at times could put her easily in the big leagues.

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CODY BELEW  our likeable multi-talented underdog from “The Voice”  

Nobody, but nobody, captured my attention on this past season of “The Voice” like Cody Belew.  From his initial performance of “Hard To Handle” (which caused coach Cee-Lo Green to turnaround at the last moment) through compelling renditions of “Jolene”, “Somebody To Love”, the deliberately and massively campy “Crazy In Love” (video below, because it’s just so much fun), and especially George Michael’s “One More Try”, it was easy to root for Cody, who just seized every opportunity to win over both coaches and fans alike.  The transition to nation-wide concerts will be easy, but more critical will be what he records.  All eyes and ears on Cody in ’13!

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BIM   UK duo flaunts their emotions

As I predicted last September, Bim’s EP Lifelines has become one of my favourite and most consistent records of 2012, and their second album is on deck for early ’13.  I stand by my earlier statement that every song within Lifelines – particularly “Lights Out”, current single “Burn” (video below), and “Scream” – is full of intense emotion, powerful vocal interaction, and key lyrical moments that resonate long after the song is over.  Rebecca Rosier and Denmark Davis are a dream team, and I for one can’t get enough.

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GENTLEMEN HALL  Boston collective’s fans are its anchor

After catching the sextet’s appearance at Canadian Music Week in March, I found their EP When We All Disappear growing on me throughout the year, and it is one of my most played records.  The multi-layered instrumentation (including glorious flute) and compelling lead vocals from Cobi Mike and Gavin Merlot made each song from the record a rich experience, especially “All Our Love”, “Blush”  (below), and “Take Me Under”.  Gentlemen Hall has a dedicated following, and quite frankly they could be contently touring every club in North America to appease their fans instead of signing their lives away to a record deal.  But I think the right deal will come along in ’13 for Gentlemen Hall that will take them to the next level for which they clearly are more than ready.

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IN MY COMA  Toronto trio brings out the rocker in you

It’s been on release for more than a year now, but Magnets & Miracles, the debut album by Toronto rockers In My Coma, definitely has durability with its contemporary take on 90’s alt.rock styles through songs like “Believe Me” (video below), “Dreamers”, “Hit Them Down Kid”, and “Losing Sleep”.  Part of the reason for the appeal, which seems to be increasing month-by-month, is the band’s ability to connect with fans and pull out the rockers in them which keeps them coming back to their shows, to the point where they won a contest to open for Sum 41 in Toronto in the Fall.  Keeping this strategy in place, the next logical step is a new record of songs, always tough to do when gigs are what bring fans to the table.  Timing will be everything for In My Coma in ’13 to maintain their momentum – but with their determination they can do it!

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MATTHEW KOMA  major pop voice sounds like no other

Regular readers will know that part of the last quarter of 2012 was spent with me raving about Matthew Koma, his collaboration with Zedd on Billboard’s #1 Dance Club Play chart single of the year “Spectrum”, and his diverse EP Parachute.  Matthew is Major Pop 2012, signed to Cherrytree/Interscope, and his distinct voice sounds like no other – in fact you might think on “Spectrum” and other songs that he is a teen instead of a mid-20-something.  Matthew’s finishing off his upcoming album which is a high priority for me to hear in 2013.  That he is also guy-friend to my fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen is pretty sweet, too.

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MATTHEW KURZ  supurb singer/songwriter has it almost in spades

Matthew Kurz has tantalized me throughout the last two years, first with his free mixtape from last year featuring the gripping and emotional “Fix Me”, and then with a series of originals and cover versions that were posted through You Tube.  Though he hasn’t released much for commercial sale or for free this year, 2012 is pointing in all of the right directions for Matthew with “Moving On” (available on iTunes), but most particularly “One Night (Damn!)” (below), and an absolutely stunning rendition of David Guetta & Sia’s “Titanium”.  While the latter wisely does not attempt to replicate Sia’s higher register, Matthew makes the song his own with its raw urgency.  While I believe he has a songwriting publishing deal, Matthew Kurz’s many talents and music should find a wider audience in ’13.

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LAWSON  UK quartet on the bubble for North America

While the year started off with talented UK foursome Lawson opening in North America for The Wanted, the band was also in the process of recording its debut album for Polydor/Universal UK, Chapman Square.  So once that was done they made a retreat to their native UK to promote singles  “When She Was Mine” (video below), “Standing In The Dark”, and “Taking Over Me”, all significant hits in the UK.  Chapman Square was released… but not in North America.  But upcoming club dates over here should draw out the fans who have become familiar enough with this band that writes its own songs and plays its own instruments to divert their attention from One Direction and The Wanted.  Lawson has the goods and 2013 should be a breakout year for them.

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ANDREAS MOE  can sing anything. writes his own songs too.

2012 has been a whirlwind for Swedish singer/songwriter Andreas Moe.  Dance music fans discovered him as a featured vocalist on songs by Avicii (with whom he performed in Japan!) and John De Sohn (“Long Time” is one of the biggest hits of the year in Sweden).  But Andreas wisely used these successes as a springboard for his own solo work, captured beautifully in his EP Collecting Sunlight, and especially on the title song (animated video below), “My Side Of The Bed”, and his acoustic rendition of “Long Time”.  He even posted a sparkling acoustic performance of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” right after its release.  But Andreas has one of those grounded and diverse voices that can sing anything.  I think greater things are in store for him as both a songwriter and a performer in ’13!

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CARLOS NOBREGA  balancing the pop and EDM worlds and more

Like a few other performers this year, I first discovered Portugal’s Carlos Nóbrega through the essential dance compilation This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One, where his plaintive pop song “Pitiful” was featured.  With the EDM community embracing the singer as a result of this affiliation, Carlos next released “Turn It Up” in June, and the infectious chorus of this song will lift you up and keep you on a high.  Then he collaborated with producer/DJ Sky Santos for the sultry “I Miss You”, which led in nicely to one of the best (and still somewhat undiscovered) dance party songs of the year, “Music Makes You Lose Control”, a record that reached #1 on my personal chart.  Carlos is another performer who can do it all – sing, write, act, dance, and release all of his songs independently.  The sheer quality of his releases and his determination should make heads turn when his album is released in 2013.

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RIVER TIBER  engaging and unique talent not to be missed

The music of Toronto’s River Tiber has been discussed at length in these posts since the Spring, after I became acquainted with their album From Now On, from which three songs landed on my personal chart, with “Someday” at #1 for six weeks and “Symmetry” reaching #2.  Three concert performances later, and the third one, which I wrote about right here a few weeks ago, speaks for itself.  River Tiber releases its next effort Synapses on January 1, and there will be much more influence in this record by experimental electronica than in From Now On.  It is not to be missed.  Let the additional raves begin.  Watch out 2013!

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STONE WALTERS  honest-to-goodness earthy UK soul

One of the first free downloads I heard to make its way up my personal chart in 2012 was “Home” by Stone Walters.  The song has lyrics rooted in values that anyone can relate to – you know the same ones that you feel at the end of “The Wizard Of Oz”.  Stone has one of those silky smooth voices that could be as easily influenced by classic Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder, as it could by more contemporary singers like Terence Trent D’Arby or Jay Kay of Jamiroquai.  Stone also showed that his boundaries stretch beyond soul with the pop tune “World Keeps Turning” and his softened-down version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”.  While he had a taste of some success a few years back, his more recent songs sound more honest-to-goodness.  Stone Walters deserves another shot as he will easily find an audience that will gravitate to his style and music.


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ZAC POOR  no vocal talent contest required

L.A. based singer/songwriter Zac Poor came to my attention a few years back with an initial release of his own songs such as “She’ll Be Breaking Hearts” and “Silver Screens”, which all attracted some significant buzz… and then it went quiet for a bit.  I think Zac has either a songwriting or record deal that has not yet come to fruition.  But two cover songs he released this past year will surely change that.  The first one is his take on Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper”.  It’s been oft-covered, but never this well, and it totally blows the doors off of the original with a vocal performance that is sheer perfection, and understated production by MdL.  Had it seen proper release, it could have been a hit all on its own!  Next up was an appealing version of Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House”.  All of this bodes very well for something significant to happen for Zac Poor in ’13.

Gorgeous African Charity Single, plus new songs from ZACPOOR and Roz Bell

We now return you to our semi-regular blogging habit which is next only to listening to music new and old.

Above you will see the link to the video to “The Beautiful Game”, a lovely treasure of a tune by UK singer Billy Franks.  The proceeds to this song, which you can buy on iTunes, go to Prince Harry’s charity to benefit African children.  The timely theme, of course, is soccer, so the song serves a dual purpose for the love of the game played by so many African children.  It’s definitely an atypical song in these electronic times but its simplicity is contagious in the same way that took Paul Simon’s Graceland to build 24 years ago.  Billy Franks is a veteran singer who I was glad to learn was still making music a number of years back.  One of my favourite unheralded 80’s groups was UK’s Faith Brothers, of which Franks was lead vocalist.  They released two supremely excellent albums, Eventide and A Human Sound, which I’m happy to say are available most places now on iTunes.  View the video for the Faith Brothers’ 1985 track “A Stranger on Home Ground” below and get acquainted with a song that will make you want to hear more (I love YouTube for stuff like this 🙂 ).  And don’t forget to buy “The Beautiful Game”!

ZACPOOR, as he is billed, is a new Los Angeles talent that I discovered through our friends at Electroqueer.  I swear some of the best new voices around are discovered through the BlogVerse!  The song that strikes me most, which you can hear on his MySpace (as well a taste of the live rendition below in which you can hear the unique timbre in his voice) is “Silver Screens”.  Zac is obviously a songwriter who lives through his songs and would appeal to fans of someone like Jon McLaughlin as well as harder edged storytellers like Lifehouse.  If you’re in SoCal you can catch Zac live through July.

Roz Bell is a Toronto singer whose tunes I always look forward to hearing, since his laid-back and good-natured style captured me on his 2008 debut The First Sunbeams, which featured the singalongs “Yesterday Man” and “Papercut”.  A live set in Toronto in Spring 2008 broadcast on CBC radio gave him a nice showcase, and Roz followed up that album with the digital release October last Fall, which yielded another Canadian hit with “Heart Attack”.  And his soulful collaboration with 100 Akres for the free download of the funky  “Pink Cadillac” was one of my favourites of last year.  The upcoming CD is called Songs For Leaving, and from it comes the new single “Endless Summer Night”, which as the title expounds is for those clear, warm – but with a hint of breeze – city summer nights and havin’ a good time.  No brain surgery here folks – the friendliest of 2010 summer songs to make it all worthwhile.  Smells like a hit to me.  Enjoy!