Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WELCOME BACK

LITTLE BOOTS


Victoria Hesketh or as she's better known Little Boots has ruled the dance floors in recent years with her brand of modern disco anthems. She originally began her music career in college planning on becoming a jazz vocalist before moving in a completely different direction by joining an all-female electronic band, Dead Disco. The new record from the English songstress is called, "Working Girl" and she has worked it out with a another round of shimmering dance-pop tunes. By the way, Hesketh shares her nickname with the depraved Roman emperor, Julius Caesar which in Latin is "Caligula". Be prepared to break a sweat with Little Boots' first single, "Better In The Morning":

"Better In The Morning" - Little Boots (2015) mp3

THE BIRD AND THE BEE


With their jazz-influenced, electro-beat sound, I'm surprised that The Bird and The Bee are not more of a major pop act. They been making music together since 2006 and it's been five years since the L.A. based duo released their excellent tribute album to Hall & Oates but they are both quite busy with their own individual music careers. The vocalist, Inara George is not only a member of Merrick and The Living Sisters but the mother of three children while Greg Kurstin is a very in-demand producer who has worked with top pop artists, Sia, Kelly Clarkson, Beck, Pink and Katy Perry, to name just a few.

The wait is over and their fourth studio release, "Recreational Love" is now out. George's soft and dreamy vocals and Kursin's sophisticated production brings us another smooth album of pop songs with funky beats drifting through. Their sound has never been hard-edged or overly slick which has made it challenging for The Bird and The Bee to get much attention in the current state of pop radio. But they continue to offer a pleasing and refreshing break from the routine. Listen to the first single from the new release:

"Will You Dance" - The Bird and The Bee (2015) mp3


JILL SCOTT


Jill Scott has spent the last few years putting most of her energy in to an acting career but this vocal dynamo has thankfully decided to get back to her musical roots. As a part of the neo-soul movement in the 1990's, the Philly-raised singer merged together classic soul with hip-hop and spoken word. Unlike her contemporaries of that era like Maxwell, D'Angelo and Lauryn Hill, Scott is the only one was has consistently maintained a presence in music. With her latest release, "Woman", Scott delivers another collection of fiery love songs and reflective views on relationships. The first single, "Fool's Gold" is a perfect example of what Jill Scott does best:

"Fool's Gold" - Jill Scott (2015) mp3

Sunday, July 19, 2015

TAKE TWO: TOM JONES


With his big, booming voice, dazzling showmanship and confident swagger, it's no surprise that Tom Jones became not only one of the biggest pop acts of the '60's and '70's but also a major sex symbol. He's the one that inspired hundreds of women to throw their underwear on stage.  Sure, it may be hard to take Jones seriously after he developed his over-the-top, lounge lizard act but there is no denying his dynamic power as a singer or the deep emotion he poured in to a song.

Thomas Jones Woodward was born in 1940 and raised in Glamorgan, South Wales. As a child, he loved to sing and performed wherever he could; family gatherings, school choir and weddings. Woodward developed his own singing style by listening to his favorite American soul and blues artists. In 1957, he married his high-school sweetheart, Melinda Trenchard after they found themselves in the family way and had a son, Mark. Having to put his musical aspirations on hold to help raise his new family, Woodward worked a number of odd jobs.

A few years later, Woodward returned to music by joining a local band, Tommy Scott and the Senators as the lead vocalist. He played with them for a while before being discovered by Gordon Mills, a manager. He decided to have Woodward change his name to "Tom Jones" due to the popularity of the Oscar-winning 1963 film and got him signed to Decca Records. His first single, "Chills and Fever" failed to generate much interest but the follow-up, "It's Not Unusual" made Jones a pop star overnight. The song hit number one in Britain and the top ten in the U.S. in 1965. Jones followed that up with two popular theme songs to movies, "What's New Pussycat?" and the James Bond film, "Thunderball". Jones would take home the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1966.

Mills decided to capitalize on Jones' popularity and got him to perform in Las Vegas in 1967. With the help of half-unbuttoned shirts and very tight pants, Jones caught the frenzied attention of women and became one of the top headling acts in Vegas for many years. Mills also got Jones on television and he hosted a variety show, "This Is Tom Jones" from 1969 to 1971.

By the mid-1970's, Jones was no longer in-demand as a performer but found some success in the 1980's when he began recording country music and had nine songs hit the U.S. Country Top 40. After Gordon Mills passed away in 1986, Jones' son, Mark took over as his manager. He went to work revitalizing his father's career and got him to team-up with avant-garde electronic band, Art of Noise with a remake of Prince's "Kiss" in 1988. This song not only brought Jones back to the pop charts but found him a new generation of fans.

Tom Jones is still quite active at the age of seventy-five recording and touring. He has sold over one hundred million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. Despite his over fifty years of marriage to Melinda, Jones has made no secret of his numerous affairs. In fact, he claims to have bedded at least two-hundred and fifty groupies during the height of his career. Here are two of my favorite songs by Mr. Tom Jones:

"It's Not Unusual" - Tom Jones (1965) mp3

"If He Should Ever Leave You" - Tom Jones (2008) mp3

This bonus video features two of the sexiest people alive; Mr. Jones and Miss Tina Turner performing a sizzling duet of "Hot Legs":

Sunday, July 5, 2015

HOT AND FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN

CONCHITA WURST - "CONCHITA"


After a brief stint as a member of an Austrian boy band in 2007, Tom Neuwirth decided to put on a wig, wear a pretty dress along with a full beard and became Conchita Wurst. The singer received plenty of notice for her look and talent which eventually lead to Wurst representing Austria in the popular Eurovision Song Contest in 2014. Wurst's entry of "Rise Like a Phoenix" took home the top prize (the country's first in over fifty years) and catapulted the self-proclaimed "bearded lady" to international acclaim.

Now comes the inevitable first album simply entitled, "Conchita". Wurst's androgynous look is certainly attention-grabbing but it's the music that really counts and the singer delivers. Fans of shameless Euro-pop will enjoy this lively collection of songs about love and empowerment.

"You Are Unstoppable" - Conchita Wurst (2015) mp3

MIGUEL - "WILDHEART"


Two years ago, L.A. based musician, Miguel released a very sexy love ballad, "Adorn" from his second album, "Kaleidoscope Dream". The song was one of the biggest hits of that year and won the singer a well-deserved Grammy for Best R&B Song. The long-awaited follow-up album, "Wildheart" is now out and clearly he had no interest in making a predictable soul record.

With a nod to one of his idols, Prince (right down to the album's artwork), Miguel has created an introspective work of guitar-driven funk with a pulsating sensuality driving through each song. While it certainly doesn't fit comfortably in the rigid terrain of current pop radio, "Wildheart" is bold, inspired and deserves to be heard.

"Coffee" - Miguel featuring Wale (2015) mp3

TORI KELLY - "UNBREAKABLE SMILE"


Everybody was wondering "Who is that girl?" performing a fiery version of "Who's Loving You" during a tribute to Smokey Robinson on the recent BET Awards. That girl is Tori Kelly and she's on the verge of breaking out in a major way. At the age of fourteen, Kelly turned to You Tube as an outlet for her music and found an small audience. She auditioned for "American Idol" at sixteen and made it through to Hollywood week on the program but was eventually eliminated. Kelly continued to work on her music by releasing self-produced EPs until Capitol Records took an interest and signed her to the label.

The twenty-two year old has just released her debut studio album, "Unbreakable Smile".  It's a solid pop/soul record with slick production by hit makers Max Martin and Toby Gad. But Kelly is not a parrot and was completely involved in the writing and production of her album. Fellow musician, Ed Sheeran (who Kelly opened for on tour) pops up to lend a hand on a track.

"Should've Been Us" - Tori Kelly (2015) mp3

LEON BRIDGES - "COMING HOME"


Growing up in Fort Worth, TX, Leon Bridges wanted to be a singer. Like most teenagers today, Bridges was inspired by hip-hop and performed at open-mikes in the area. A friend asked if he was a fan of Sam Cooke but Bridges was unfamiliar with the legendary soul singer. This prompted him to seek out the music of Cooke and other artists of the era. Bridges connected so strongly to this particular sound in r&b that he decided this was the style of music he wanted to make.

For his first album, "Coming Home", Bridges teamed up with Austin-based rock musicians, Austin Jenkins and Josh Block of the band White Denim to help write and produce. The singer 's warm voice, masterful songwriting and the retro styling perfectly reinvigorates the fading artistry of classic soul music.

"Smooth Sailin"" - Leon Bridges (2015) mp3

The British neo-soul singer, Lianne La Havas found great success with her 2012 debut, "Is Your Love Big Enough" throughout the globe except here in the states. She is back with new music and hopefully will receive more attention in this country. Here is the music video for the second single, "What You Don't Do" from La Havas' upcoming sophomore release, "Blood" due out later this month:

NEW SOUNDS

WHITNEY HOUSTON Words cannot express how much I miss the glorious voice of Whitney Houston . It's been five years since her passing...