I have a high affinity for the great pop/jazz standards and all the singers that perfected these compositions. From Frank Sinatra to Lena Horne, I consider this the golden era of music. It was the greatest generation.
Through my music travels, I recently came upon the song, “People,” by London based composer and singer-songwriter Natasha Tyrimos. This song is a rare breed as it tied the golden era with today’s popular music.
From the song’s gentle piano opening to Tyrimos vocal layers, one can easily see this performed in the classic halls of New York City’s The Palace Theatre and The London Pladdium. “People” has an elegant, yet simple, orchestration led by a piano with hints of clarinet.
The essence of “People” can take two routes, depending on the listener’s viewpoint. From one angle, the song is a discovery of love declaring, “Will you feel love, love within?” From another view, one can see this song as melancholy with the singer having lost love or a desire to be loved.
These angles are portrayed through Tyrimos rich vocals. Think of her as Sara Bareilles meets Judy Garland, but don’t let this define her. Her voice has a classic breadth mixed with modern stylings.
Bottom line, it’s a must listen. Check out Tyrimos’ Spotify link below and give “People” a listen. Then share it with all those you love. For this song embodies love from all angles and love is a wonderful thing.
Click the album artwork to check out “People” and Natasha Tyrimo’s complete catalog on Spotify.
If you cannot listen in color, then Bond Villain is not the artist for you.
Already in Bond Villain’s limited releases, he has released numerous songs with different facades. He’s a master of reinvention if you will, and his music is innovative. He takes a slice from nearly all-popular musical styles while still maintaining a distinct sound.
How is it innovative? The best way to describe his music is to rid yourself of all ideas of genre. His music doesn’t fit one mold, yet it takes on different shapes cinematically. From the vocals to the music’s orchestration, his music is constantly moving, morphing shapes, and changing colors. It simply doesn’t fit into a category.
Bond Villain’s newest release, “Break On Me,” is no exception. Beginning with melodious piano riffs, the song escalates into dramatic choruses mixed with everything from strings to keyboards. This song has balladesque tendencies mixed with musical warfare. The lyrics are equally perplexing wrapped in what should be simple concepts.
I recently spoke with Bond Villain about his new single “Break On Me,” its inspiration, and how it fits in his young, but varied musical catalog.
What is the overall meaning of “Break on Me?”
‘Break On Me’ is all about vulnerability. When you fall in love with someone, you don’t just experience a new depth of affection – you understand a whole new spectrum of fear, insecurity, and hardship that comes with it. Before love, you are working to protect yourself from hurt and heartbreak. After love, you learn that all things become more meaningful, pleasurable, and painful when you have someone to die for. The term “break on me” refers to this reciprocal vulnerability that occurs, and asking the other person to trust you as you trust them – to experience the good and terrible parts of life together.
This is a detour from Bond Villain’s recent releases. What has returned you to the ballad piano style from your first EP’s, “Let Me Go?”
I absolutely love the sounds that ‘Blackguard’ and ‘What’s Wrong With Me’ bring to our set, and they seem to fill a wonderful space for people who listen to Bond Villain. With that said, the kind of sound from ‘Let Me Go’ and now ‘Break On Me’ is the core of what Bond Villain truly is – epic, conflicting emotions over a powerful range of instruments and sounds. I will always want that drama at the center of my music. It is those ballads that tend to transcend time and fashionable genres.
Who were the primary writers of the song and how did you reach the final conclusion together?
I initially brought the bare-bones idea of this song to my producer, Jean Christophe Santalis, and my co-writer/vocalist, Kimberley Locke, in the form of a piano line and a draft of the lyrics. Over time we fleshed it out into the ballad/pop/orchestral hybrid you hear today. It was fun in particular to collaborate with Kimberley on the vocals – Her ability and delivery is pretty much unparalleled, so having an opportunity for our voices to play off each other, line by line, was a great experience.
What’s next for Bond Villain after this release?
We have a music video and new song coming in October at Halloween – keep an eye out for ‘Die For You.’ Pretty much the most badass song Bond Villain has created so far. We have a few shows in the hopper for the East Coast that we will be announcing soon as well, so everyone should stick to our social media for upcoming news!
With this song, Bond Villain uses many of the techniques he has used previously, yet he still moves the needle forward. There’s always a new mold to be made, a new shape to conquer, more shades of color to discover.
Which made me wonder, what is the exact definition of color? Google states that color is “the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.”
That is the pinpoint of “Break On Me” and the epitaph of Bond Villain’s musical inventory.
Now stop reading and just listen to the damn song.
Some artists music has a timeless tone. Whether you were born when they originally made the music or are listening to it years later, there is a hint of nostalgia that follows their albums. One of those artists is Sonny and Cher.
I have been going through my vinyl collection and revisit old favorites that I haven’t listened to in years. While I was cleaning records the other night, I came across The Wondrous World of Sonny and Cher. This album is the iconic duo’s second, right after Look At Us, which contained the hit single “I Got You Babe.”
Although this album was not as popular or successful as their previous, it still contained the top twenty hits “But You’re Mine” and “What Now My Love.” The album also takes a deep dive into the groove that Sonny and Cher moved too. Even in the liner notes Sonny and Cher Write:
In our first album we introduced our family to you …on this album we thought it would be nice if we got to be friends personally.
The album opens with the Gershwin tune, “Summertime.” Cher’s vocals are very jazzy and I would love to lift them off this recording and set them to a piano or jazz quartet.
Unlike some of their previous recordings, Sonny had his own verse in nearly every song on this album. He often gets slack for his perceived lack of vocal talent, but he carried “Summertime” and many of the other tunes. The same can be said for “I’m Leaving it Up to You” and “Set Me Free.”
Side 2 opens with “What Now My Love.” This is one of my favorite songs, but I usually fancy the more ballad-esque version. Their version of this classic tune was the only version that reached the top twenty in the U.S. and U.K. Sonny and Cher made this song their own by giving it a 1960’s pop twist while leaving the ballad elements behind.
The shining moments on this album were Sonny and Cher’s solo pieces. Sonny sang “Laugh at Me,” which he also wrote, while Cher sang Harry Belafonte’s “Turn Around.” Sonny’s “Laugh at Me” is an anthem of self-acceptance, basically saying that “normal” doesn’t exist. Sonny is telling people to do what you want and express yourself. You have just as much right to be yourself as they do to criticize.
Then there are Cher’s haunting vocals on “Turn Around.” This is a gem of her early career that gets overlooked. It is a heavy Phil Spector inspired ballad that I think could have been a hit.
What I take away from this album are Sonny’s vocals. Although we know him as always being the butt of the joke and second when it comes to Cher’s vocals, he really is underestimated in what he can do. I’m not saying he’s Pavarotti, but he shouldn’t be tossed under the table. Read my article over his only solo album here.
Sonny and Cher will always have that special nostalgia. No matter where you are, or what song you hear them singing, it reminds you of something. From memories of watching the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour to having just pure joy when you hear their voices, their music is timeless and affects every age. They truly created a wondrous world that has stood the test of time.
Lately, I have been listening to a lot of newer music. I go through phases. I generally listen to older artists. Sometimes I lose all hope in music being released today, then I find some kick ass artist that renews my hope in humanity. That happened.
Last night, I tuned into Bond Villain’s Facebook Live. I recently heard his collaboration with Kimberley Locke on “Dangerous Woman,” and I thought it was legit music made with real talent (I’m also a sucker for anything Kimberley Locke lends her vocals too). Now it was time to give Bond Villain a shot on other material.
The first song they shared was “Dying Star.” This is one of their earlier compositions. In Bond Villain’s explanation, this song is about either a romantic relationship or about a family relationship. The song boils down to someone who is burning their life out. This is someone you love, yet they are toxic in where you are in your life right now.
When this song began I thought an army was marching, but then it transitioned to a simple piano riff that hooks you in. The vocals are the sinker. The song crescendos at the chorus giving way to a sound that was equally as epic, or more, as the beginning. The climax (bridge) of the song goes into a near military march of emotion, lyrically and musically, while ending with a simple piano. The song comes full circle.
Secondly, they shared “Body Like a Knife” This song is a little less heavy on lyrics while staying incredibly creative. This song is a mix of EDM, hip-hop, and pop. This song was made for the stage. It is filled with dramatic elements, including another epic bridge. Again, it’s the vocals that get you.
The next song “Let Me Go” is my personal favorite. This is a relatively new song for Bond Villain. He describes this song as a mix of emotions that are nostalgic, equating them to a place in your childhood. This place once meant something to you, but its meaning has changed. You find loved ones who had an impact on your life, but you now realize you are different now then who you were then.
For me, this song deeply relates to my life. I am upcoming on my one year anniversary of moving to New York from my childhood home of Oklahoma. As I reflect on the last year I have discovered a new person; a person, who I think is more of who I am. I have a lot of situations and people back home that I need to let go and that need to let go of me.
“Let Me Go” comes with another dramatic intro that immediately takes me home through its lyrics. I find myself walking the corridors of where my life once was (minus the cow patties). The chorus is mid-tempo, but the passion is astounding. It’s a precursor to what the song morphs into. The song then takes on a gospel vibe, with Bond Villain being joined by what sounds like choir. Locke lends her voice here to add some diversity in vocals, passion, and soul. This is the goosebump moment.
This song is a ballad in nature, yet it stretches the elements. “Let Me Go” moves ballads into a new era. It has the same sentiment of a ballad and the orchestration of the song has many of the same elements. What this song does is combine orchestration and vocals into one unit. You don’t hear a singer, then a piano, some beats, and back ups. You hear one full composition. This song is simply innovative. It’s moving into my favorite rack.
Lastly, Bond Villain shared the video of “Dangerous Woman” with Kimberley Locke. One would initially consider this song a cover of Ariana Grande, but really it’s anything but. Grande is the original singer, but Bond Villain and Locke make it completely new, bringing it a fresh identity through heavy piano and elastic vocals.
Tonight I listened to a lot of music. I always say my musical choices are a little ADD. I can go from one extreme to the other. That is what happened tonight, yet it came from one artist instead of many. This combination doesn’t show a lack of direction from Bond Villian, yet it creates determination. A determination that is willing to push music past it’s proper composition. A determination defined by a placement of a note beyond the staff. An idea that music is anything but restrictive.
Anybody that knows me or has just steadily kept up with my blog knows that I am unapologetic Cher fan. I have nearly all her albums, read numerous books on this legend, and I buy concert tickets whenever she performs. Naturally, I would have to write about her for Women’s History Month.
Tonight, for a little nostalgia, I decided to revisit The Sonny Side of Cher. This album is important to understanding Cher’s career trajectory and how she became the artist she is today. I truly believe she is one of the best, yet underrated, vocalists of our time.
The Sonny Side of Cher opens with Cher’s biggest solo hit to that time “Bang, Bang.” This Sonny penned tune is a tale of two lovers explained as children. I love this composition. I love the exotic feel this song brings. It sounds a bit country at times, it is definitely pop, it takes advantage of 60’s folk, and there is a little Scottish flare for fun. It’s easy to see how this song claimed the number 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Elusive Butterfly” and “The Girl From Ipanema” are among Cher fan’s favorites from this era in her career, but the songs that really take the cake for this album are “Old Man River” and “Like A Rolling Stone,” a Bob Dylan cover.
“Old Man River” comes in at number 1 on this album for me, right behind “Bang Bang.” When I hear Cher sings this song I just picture tears streaming out of some bodies deeply wounded eyes. I literally feel I can reach into this song and drench myself in emotion.
If you have any interest in Cher’s career or the culture of the 60’s, this album is essential. As a bonus, this record is sprinkled with Phil Spector’s fingerprints as Sonny Bono, once Spector’s employee, produces the full album. This is pre “glam” Cher, but post “I Got You Babe” Cher. This small era in her career was a gem in her soon to be legendary status.
Key Tracks: “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” “Elusive Butterfly,” “The Girl From Ipanema”
Deep Cuts: “Old Man River,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Where Do you Go”
Another week is upon us which only means one thing…it’s another week to celebrate female musicians for Women’s History Month!!
For my second installment to celebrate women’s history, I bring you the blonde haired, blue-eyed soul of Dusty Springfield.
Dusty is consistently on my list when I record shop. I discovered her a few years ago when I was in a job that was not personally fulfilling and I desperately needed an out. I can not even remember what brought her to my attention, but thank goodness for neglecting my duties!
Tonight, years later, I find myself sitting and listening to the first Dusty Springfield album I ever purchased. It was her second album she released in the United States, but it was really her first record she released in Britain. In the United States, this album is known as Dusty and in Britain, it is known as A Girl Called Dusty.
Although this album was not met with as much praise as her first release, Stay Awhile/I Only Want to Be with You,it is still filled with some of my favorite Dusty tunes. For starters, it has her modest pop hit “All Cried Out.” This song blends 1960’s soul and pop seamlessly, which is exactly what Dusty did perfectly.
The album possesses some great covers of Dusty’s soulful contemporaries including “Can I Get a Witness” by Marvin Gaye and “Don’t You Know” by Ray Charles. There are some great Dusty originals here as well like the mysterious “Guess Who” and “Nothing.”
Then there is the commanding and dramatic ballad, “Summer is Over.” This song has some of Dusty’s best early vocals. It shows how she isn’t merely a little singer, but that she can belt and deliver a song with the best of them. This song was co-written by her brother Tom Springfield.
What I found extremely interesting was the elegant soul she brought to this album with the songs “My Coloring Book” by the famed Fred Ebb and John Kander, and “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Both of these writing combinations have become staples in today’s cabaret, ballad, and American Songbook ethos.
“My Coloring Book” was originally recorded by Barbra Streisand and Dusty’s version differs drastically. Where Barbra sang it proficiently, Dusty’s vocals brought a childlike perspective to the song while maintaining its sad tone. Dusty’s version of “I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” is by far my favorite. It is the impeccable mix of classic vocal style with 60’s pop.
The album Dusty began to truly shape her future recording career, while providing an innovative style in a time when music desperately needed to find itself.
As if Dusty’s music wasn’t enough, she also created an iconic image with her bleach blonde bouffant style hair and her excellent showmanship. Add on a lot of eyeliner, and you have one of the biggest influences on popular music. She is the original Adele and based on their voices, they could be mother and daughter.
Sadly, Dusty left this world in 1999 due to breast cancer, but her influence will continue to live on both in what she was and her innovative image and vocal combination. She pushed the envelope in a doo-wop society and helped bring soul music to the forefront of American and British culture.
To say the least, all my pop and soul vinyl post-1963 is a bit Dusty…
Vinyl and its sound is a culture. As I have gone through collecting vinyl and the many artists that have albums, I have noticed that only certain voices are deserving of this medium.
This medium only does justice to true performers and musicians. Vinyl has depth and soul that reads artists correctly. Some musicians today haven’t been pressed on vinyl, but are truly deserving of this vinyl culture. One of these artists is Leslie Becker.
On the surface, Becker is a theater extraordinaire. She has a vast resume in musical theater playing roles that are accolades just to play. Once one digs deeper into her career, they quickly discover her songwriting and her many recordings. This performer’s talent does not stop when the spotlight is off. I recently had the chance to sit down with Leslie Becker in New York City to talk about her work and her vast array of talents.
From the moment we sat down, I was taken aback by the warmth of Becker’s personality and her genuine sincerity. I had to begin talking about one of her latest accomplishments, her song “Slow Burn.”
“Slow Burn” is currently sitting at around 20,000 spins and charted at number 4 on Billboards Hot Adult Contemporary chart. It’s video, which I have included at the end of this post, is also under the Grammy’s consideration for best music video. This song was solely written by Becker and produced by Joe Vulpis of AP Music, who is well-known for kick starting Lady Gaga‘s career and his large array of work in the music industry.
Ironically, Becker says that she originally wrote “Slow Burn” for another artist. But when she cut the scratch vocal for the demo, Vulpis was blown away and they decided to make it her debut radio single. She largely credits this song’s appeal to letting her be herself. This seems to be her success factor in many of her musical ventures, and its true vessel is writing.
Becker is an accomplished songwriter whose compositions go across pop, cabaret, musical theater, and country. She often wrote for other artists in the earlier stages of her career and recorded many scratch vocals on her material. It wasn’t long though until somebody noticed that she was not just a scratch vocalist. Her love for songwriting largely opened up through country music.
Many of her songs can be heard on SoundCloud, but one must brace themselves before they dive in to this musical playground. You will continually be aghast at the range her lyrics and voice can reach. Just when you think you have her figured out, she throws a wrench into the production. Leslie doesn’t fix things that aren’t broken, she just tweaks them to near musical perfection.
Her writing does not stop at just composing music. She is also a librettist with her first show, A Proper Place, opening in Seattle, Washington next year. There isn’t much in the music and theater field that Becker hasn’t ventured into.
What sticks out to me above everything else is Ms. Becker’s voice. It is a unique blend of warm tones, with pop personality loaded with emotion. Just like her song writing, her voice effortlessly goes over musical genres and finds its niche in each. Her voice can easily morph into many characters and embody the complete emotion of her new alter ego. At one moment she can sing a song of heartbreak while moving into a song of new-found love.
Leslie Becker produces competent pop music through her multi-faceted voice and pristine song interpretation. She is pretty much Judy Garland mixed with Lady Gaga.
This is why Leslie Becker’s belongs within the vinyl culture. Vinyl culture isn’t about just having your material pressed on vinyl, it’s about possessing the talent that shoots straight for the soul. This talent does require pomp and circumstance. It’s a vocalist who is just at home at the piano as well as with a dance tune.
Leslie Becker’s career is going to continue to burn with the flame getting hotter. Right now, she has barely scorched listeners with her talent. Her voice and career is moving into a full-blown fire.
Don’t forget to follow Leslie Becker on Twitter at
Check out Leslie Becker and other AP artists on December 20th at the AP music showcase. She will be performing her hit song “Slow Burn” along with others.