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Listen to Laura Welsh 'Cold Front' (Russ Chimes Remix)

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Laura Welsh is stirring up a storm among tastemakers in the U.K. with her debut single "Cold Front" that will be released on July 15 on Polydor/Outsiders. It's her first for the label and it's the follow-up to her acclaimed debut single "Unravel" that garnered her a whole lot of new fans (and plenty of great reviews).

After collaborating with Dev Hynes (Sky Ferreira, Solange Knowles), Welsh worked with Robin Hannibal on "Cold Front" who is mostly known for his work with Rhye. A press release aptly describes the song as "a spellbinding slick-pop underscored with a bittersweet edge and armed with an indelible, impossibly hooky chorus."

Ultimately, Welsh's songwriting is driven by her aim to challenge herself artistically and push herself in new creative directions to be the best she can be. "“I don’t hold back in saying what I think,"” she says, “"but that’s because I want this record to be the best it can be.” There are no half measures, no compromise." Along with Dev Hynes and Robin Hannibal the Staffordshire-born singer-songwriter has teamed up with Lana Del Ray and Bruno Mars producer Emile Haynie for her forthcoming debut record.

Soundboard maestro Russ Chimes gives "Cold Front" a fresh new twist of his own on a new remix of the song that was unleashed this morning. Chimes infuses the moody and gently gritty original with a buttery bassline, subtle synth flourishes and a slick new arrangement. The result is a glowing funky disco number that doesn't stray too far from the original but is a brilliant new interpretation of it. Highly recommend. File next to recent work by Jessie Ware, Adele, Marina & The Diamonds, Ellie Goulding and Solange.

June 24, 2013 | Permalink

Hot New Talent Alert: Listen to Johnny Stimson 'Human Man'

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Pop newcomer Johnny Stimson likes to describe his new single, entitled "Human Man," as "funky sunshine pop dance." It's a fitting description for a song that's rooted in optimism and encourages listeners to live in the moment. It's a vibrant cheer of carpe diem with a soulful twist. "[The song] is the start of something groovy," the Texas singer explains in a press release, "All my new songs are made with '70s back up dancer boom boom moves in mind. I just decided to get groovy this time. Disco started spinning in my head and I think it's going to hang for a while."

Disco never goes out of style and it sure helped Stimson to find an exciting new groove. "Human Man" demonstrates that perfectly. The song highlights a sound that is retro in its origin, yet forward thinking in its execution with a glittery synth arrangement. It's the perfect complement to Stimson's soulful vocals and the song's warm melodies that bathe the entire production in an old school-disco glow.

"Human Man" is the perfect marriage of style and substance that packs a message about staying grounded to emphasize the things that really matter in life. " I wrote it to try to point out some of the joys of just being alive and particularly, being present," Stimson tells PopShade. "Sometimes we get caught up in the mechanical repetition of technology in our daily lives and forget that the sun is still shining, people are still falling in love, and kids are finding caterpillars in the yard--I mean those are things we remember." (Support new pop and download Johnny Stimson 'Human Man" on iTunes now.) 

June 23, 2013 | Permalink

Robyn Crushes Gender Stereotypes in New Video for 'U Should Know Better'

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While Robyn is diligently working on her next project, the Swedish pop pixie decided to film a video for "U Should Know Better" that she unleashed on YouTube this morning. The song first appeared on Robyn's Body Talk Part 2 EP back in 2010, but packs a powerful message that still rings true today. Playfully rapping and raving together with Snoop Dogg, Robyn spits lyrics about equality and female empowerment. "We need a black pope and she better be a woman," she argues. 

Robyn explains in a previous interview with Billboard that she had fun working with Snoop Dogg on the track. "It was really cool to be able to be in the studio with him," she says. "First because I always was a fan but also because he was really creative and we had so much of an exchange in being there together, both as vocalists. I had an idea and he really got it and got into it, which was awesome."

Robyn collaborated with her long long-time stylist and choreographer Decida of 2FACED1 on the video concept for "U Should Know Better." 2FACED1 is best described as a movement that aims to crush existing stereotypes related to ethnicity, color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and class so people can choose to be whoever they want.

The video plays right into that notion of transnational identities and explores what would happen if Robyn and Snoop swapped genders, backgrounds and locations. Robyn explains in a press release, "Decida came along for a part of the European tour I was doing, we had dinner, drinks and laughs with Decida´s friend Pernilla and we were talking about how much Pernilla looks like Snoop. It was there and then that Decida and I decided to pursue our idea of making a video for 'U Should Know Better' where Snoop and I switch gender."

Decida agrees with Robyn and explains how much fun they had exploring the video's concept. "Hopefully the 'U Should Know Better' video sparks some laughs, but also thoughts on what identity really is. Would you be the same person in another context? Does society have certain expectations of a person based on class, gender, colour, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and cultural background? How much do these expectations then affect your so called self?

"I kind of like the idea that we grow up in a transnational pop cultural mosh pit were you can choose who you want to be instead. All of this is what our 2FACED1 project is about, to know identity is dependent on context and therefore is something fluid."

Robyn explains that finding a little Robyn took a little time that delayed the making of the video. "Tyler came to a casting we held in London and I felt like we had found our guy," she says. "Even though 'U Should Know Better' was released a couple of years back on Body Talk Pt 2, I wanted to make this video now anyway because the song is still banging and we had too much fun with this video idea to just sit on it."

June 21, 2013 | Permalink

Avicii Announces Debut LP, Releases New Single 'Wake Me Up' with Aloe Blacc

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Avicii caused a wild stir at Miami's Ultra Music Festival back in March when he premiered a few brand-new tracks that sounded a quite bit different than the big hits he's known for. After kicking off his set with fan faves (including "Levels"), Avicii paused for a couple of minutes and invited Aloe Blacc ("I Need A Dollar") on stage to perform "Wake Me Up" that had thousands of fans guessing what was happening.

Genre-pushing collaborations with people like Audra Mae and Joakim Berg followed that showcased an exciting, dancefloor-savvy sound perfectly uniting Avicii's keen (and Swedish) sense of melody with live instrumentation. Sadly, some fans were less than impressed and outright angry with Avicii. "Well to sum up the night I'll just say that Avicii totally destroyed his career," wrote one individual on Twitter. 

I spoke with Aloe Blacc for Beats TV the day after he performed with Avicii at Ultra. He explained to me that a great deal of thinking and preparation had gone into the set. He also confided how inspiring it was to work with Avicii and write with him side by side on new music. "He's a fantastic songwriter," Blacc noted. 

This week, Avicii finally unleashed the official and fully authorized extended edit of "Wake Me Up" for the world to enjoy. The song is taken from his hist forthcoming debut LP, entitled #TRUE, which will be released on PRMD/Island Def Jam on September 17. "Wake Me Up" will be available on iTunes in the U.S. on June 25. It's a hooky, pop-oriented tune ruled by a scuffed guitar riff and a stirring lead synth riff that is complimented by Blacc's soulful vocals and rich storytelling.

In a press release, Avicii explains that after the success of tracks like "Levels" and "Silhouettes" it was important for him to try something new. "This album really changed the way I think, the way I see music," said Avicii. "I worked with all these people from different genres. They all bring their own influences into my work and it’s so interesting to hear what comes out."

What I find truly exciting about Avicii's new direction is that he challenged himself creatively and pushed the mainstream EDM frontier forward in the process. Instead of serving up the same old combo of bassline, synth and drop, Avicii set out to take people a journey and introduce an adventerous new sound to his legion of fans. His new music also emphasized his songwriting talent, which is way too often overlooked.

June 20, 2013 | Permalink

A Few Words About Backstreet Boys and Their New Single 'In World Like This'

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Backstreet Boys are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year with the release of their highly-anticipated eight studio album, entitled In A World Like This, that firmly positions the group as one of the greatest pop acts of all time.

Think what you want about Backstreet Boys, boy bands or pop music for that matter, the group of Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson deserve nothing but respect. Over the past twenty years, the pop quintet has received countless awards, toured the globe over and over, and sold more than 130 million albums worldwide.

The reason for all that success over the years is simple. Backstreet Boys have been able evolve, adjust and grow as artists along with their fans while never losing sight of what made their music so special and unique.

When I last caught up with Backstreet Boys around the release of This Is Us in 2009, they group credited their longevity as a band to challenging themselves creatively while also really enjoying to perform for their fans."  The creative aspect is very important to us and we want to be trendsetters," AJ McLean told me. "We also find it important to make music for the masses and perform. We definitely want to make more records as long as the fans want us to keep doing it."

On their forthcoming new LP, the group teamed up with their old pal Max Martin. The iconic Swedish hitmaker was instrumental in helping to shape the the group's sound together with the late Dennis Pop who passed away in 1998.

Martin and Pop produced Backstreet Boys' very first single "We've Got It Going On" that laid the foundation for their global success. The rise of Backstreet Boys in the mid-nieties together with producer Max Martin also marked the rise of a new generation of pop that paved the way for many superstars since then.

Backstreet Boys recorded In A World Like This in London and Los Angeles with Max Martin, plus  Martin Terefe, Morgan Reid & Prophet, Dan Muckula and Justin Trugman. Going into this new project the group's aim was simple. "We always want to top our previous albums. That’s always our objective," Nick Carter told Rolling Stone Magazine in a recent interview. "All five of us were determined to create an album where every song could be a single."

The LP's title track (and new single) is perfect example of that. Introduced by a gentle guitar riff, the song is a mightily infectious pop confection (with a brilliantly soaring pre-chorus and equally stellar middle eight) that neatly spotlights the group's signature vocal harmonies that are truly one of a kind. Instead of chasing the (EDM) sound of the moment, Backstreet Boys stay firmly in their own lane with a skillfully crafted sound that is a welcome alternative to the bombast that is ruling the pop charts. (Backstreet Boys In A World Like This will be released on 7/30. Pre-order.)

June 19, 2013 | Permalink