Pure Pop Radio’s Holly Jolly Christmas Party Starts Monday, and You’re Invited!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Have a holly jolly Christmas with Pure Pop Radio! We’re celebrating the season by continuing with our 2018 Festive Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, offering up reviews of new and new-to-you melodic Christmas pop songs. And we’ll be giving away some fun presents. It all begins this Monday, December 17! (Click here to join our Facebook event page.)

During our week-long Holly Jolly Christmas Party, we’ll be continuing with our 2018 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, reviewing the latest holiday releases from Ronnie D’Addario, Lannie Flowers, Kai Danzberg, Michael Simmons, Dana Countryman, Brad Marino, and an amazing, top-flight Christmas album from Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, which also happens to be one of 2018’s best melodic pop albums. Plus lots more tuneful tunes from your favorite artists!

Plus, we’ll be spreading some festive holiday cheer by giving away some fun presents, so don’t miss a minute! The fun begins this coming Monday, December 17, right here on the Pure Pop Radio website. Don’t forget to bring your sleigh bells!

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

Our Holiday Gift Suggestions Keep On Coming. Here’s Another One, Full of Love

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Dana Countryman | Cabaret of Love
(Sterling Swan, 2018)
The year is not complete without a musical missive from melodic pop music’s melody and harmony king. Dana Countryman lights December bright with one of 2018’s top long players, a joyous song cycle that surveys the feeling that unites us all.

And that feeling, in case you were unaware, is love. Every number is a winner in this Cabaret of Love. “I Never Knew” sings a sweet song about discovering true love atop an upbeat, seventies track sporting a gorgeous melody and a lively guitar solo from Chad Quist. “Just See If I Care” is a happy-sounding, hit-the-road-Jill Merseybeat-styled rocker featuring the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover singing along and playing lead guitar in quite a Fab way.

My favorite song here is, without question, the Four Freshmen homage, “The Night I Fell in Love With You” (I also hear allusions to the Lettermen and the Manhattan Transfer). This unforgettable, romantic number with an affecting tea room orchestra arrangement and warm lead vocal sung by Tim Smolens from I.S.S. (Ideal Social Situation) should become every couple-in-love’s theme song for years to come.

Dana Countryman, your host in the Cabaret of Love

Cabaret of Love is chock full of guest star turns from such pop favorites as Klaatu’s Terry Draper (who turns in a top-shelf, particularly romantic lead vocal on “I’ll Be Shining Above You”), Klaatu’s Dee Long (electric guitar on “Shout”), and Tiny Volcano’s Scott McPherson (vocals on “You’re Still Number One”). A holiday song with a ’50s-meets-Phil Spector heart, “Gonna Be Home for Christmas” is a particularly welcome bonus track which features Dana’s wife, Tricia, singing along. But perhaps the biggest and best guest star is not actually a guest star at all: this is Dana’s show all the way, and a great and lovely show it is.

The Cabaret of Love

In addition to peerless songcraft and performance, you get a wonderfully impressive package design which extends to the disc label, on which what looks like a coaster from the Cabaret of Love (Dining*Dancing*Drinks) is depicted. The address shown is actually that of the Cabaret in Pioneer Square, an early place at which Dana played with his comedic music group, The Amazing Pink Things (but don’t dial the phone number; it’s made up!).

Cabaret of Love is a glorious gift for music lovers everywhere.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!


Our Gift-Giving Guide Continues With More Great Releases for You and Your Pop-Loving Family and Friends

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

The new and new-to-you melodic pop releases keep coming, and so shall we. In the coming weeks, we will continue to bring you suggestions for gifts for yourself, and for your melodic pop-loving friends and family.

Today’s collection of suggestions kicks off with the latest from…

Pat Buchanan | “Sandbox” b/w “Hello from the Moon”
(Spyderpop, 2018)
My love of Nashville session cat and recording artist Pat Buchanan goes back nearly 20 years to Idle Jets’ Atomic Fireball album, which was played frequently on the old, weekly Pure Pop Radio show. Now, Pat’s back with a new single, and it is, you will not be surprised to know, fantastic. (Find out everything, and then some, about the single’s two songs by listening to the audio interview below.)

“Sandbox,” written with Pure Pop Radio favorite Bill DeMain, is a lovely slice of melodic pop in which a songwriter looks back at his great songs but cautions that, although everything looks rosy on the outside, inside it’s another story…possibly a sad one. “Hello from the Moon,” written by Terry Simpson, who sings all of the background vocals, is a beautiful mid-tempo ballad about losing a love and trying to navigate the waters.

I spoke to Pat about “Sandbox” and “Hello from the Moon”, about how the songs were written and how they progressed toward the final versions; you can hear that interview below (Fun Fact: “Sandbox” is 20 years old and was originally titled “Continental Breakfast,” and “Hello from the Moon” is even older. This song features a decidedly Andy Partridge/XTC-inspired bridge).

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop

pprListen to my interview with Pat Buchanan, talking about his new single (“Sandbox” b/w “Hello from the Moon”) by clicking the play button on the following player, or click on the Pure Pop Radio button to the left to download (then right click and choose “Save audio as” to save the file to your computer).

The PondHawks | “River Grove” (2018)
Chicago’s PondHawks return with a wistful, nostalgic piece of melodic pop about staying connected with the past while moving on into the future. This beautiful, orchestrated ballad bodes well for future releases from Mario Novelli and Jorie Gracen. Very pretty.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

Thunderegg | Cosmos (2018)
Will Georgantas and crew, a four-piece working out of San Francisco and simultaneously, it appears, in some quadrant of outer space, marry fairly traditional pop and rock songwriting to spacey effects and ambient sound for an 11-song meeting of the melodic minds.

In other words, each song is wrapped in some kind of otherworldly spice to deliver that something extra that expands the soundfield and tickles the senses. There’s a fair amount of catchy R.E.M.-isms floating around these songs, particularly in “Lucky So-and-So,” an upbeat, poppy song that becomes louder as it reaches its end, and “Stupid Town,” another uptempo number.

You’ll also find a nod to Pink Floyd in the final moments of the title song; machinery sound effects echo those heard in Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine.” Also evident: elements of prog, and lots of pleasing melodies. And the odd song out: the faux-country “Math Song,” topped with a light dollop of pedal steel guitar, about a guy who takes a math class just to meet the girl. The upshot: “One plus one is me and you.”

Something different for these ears? Nah, not really. The pop meeting the rock hugging the spacey and ambient sounds really drew me in. Good job, Thunderegg.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes

Tommy and the Rockets & Bikini Wipeouts | Split the Waves (KOTJ, Spain/Roctopus Tea Party, Spain, 2018)
Denmark’s Tommy and the Rockets may be splitting the waves, but they’re also splitting the single…this single, or EP, as it were, with Bikini Wipeouts. Both bands bring two tracks to the communal surfboard and take on the early Beach Boys sound, although they arrive in Surf City with somewhat different approaches.

Tommy and the Rockets hit the waves with the fun, fun, fun “We’re Going Surfin'”, rolling up with great harmonies and a contemporary edge. Their other track is a cover of the Fantastic Baggys’ “Summer Means Fun,” driven uptempo-style to the water’s edge with sweet rock ‘n’ roll guitar.

Bikini Wipeouts’ two tracks, “Pretty Surfer Girl” and “Hawaii,” the latter a cover of the Beach Boys song from 1963’s Surfer Girl album, share a grungy, garage-y approach that suggests their grasp of the Boys of Summer’s sound is a bit closer to the outer reaches of the curl than Tommy and his Rockets, but that’s cool, dudes.

So fun, fun, fun, and far out!

black box Where to Get It: KOTJ, Roctopus Tea Party, Tommy and the Rockets on Bandcamp

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

These Gifts are Easy to Wrap! We’re Spotlighting Some of This Holiday Season’s Melodic Gift Possibilities

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

How is your gift list coming along? Have you matched some (or all!) of the new and new-to-you releases we’ve spotlighted so far as part of our 2018 Festive Holiday Gift-Giving Guide to your melodic pop loving friends and family? Well, we’re not done suggesting just yet. In fact, here are some more suggestions…

Mick Terry | Days Go By
(Kool Kat Musik, 2018)
May I make a prediction, especially if I know in my heart of hearts that it will absopositively come true? Thank you so much. Here it is: Mick Terry’s Days Go By is this year’s standout pure melodic pop album. Every song is extremely catchy and performed with heart. There are enough hooks in these 10 songs to cover a gazillion fishermen on a two-week-long fishing trip. 

Whew. Yes, I am in love with this album. It captured me hook, line and sinker (okay, I’ll stop with the fishing puns). Mick Terry’s follow-up to 2010’s The Grown Ups was released only in England and only on vinyl, until Kool Kat Musik’s Ray Gianchetti welcomed it with open arms and released it this month on CD. Yay, Ray.

And yay you and me and every last living soul who craves pure pop music. Heck, everything I’ve done with pop music over the past 23 years has revolved around the pure sounds of melodic pop–the kind of pop that used to jump out of transistor radios way back in the when. What Mick Terry has done here is bring our ears back to those lovely days, when a click of the dial made us tap our feet and sway to the music.

Every one of these 10 songs are golden. Witness: “Emily Come Back,” an upbeat, poppy tune that’s sure to please and features this album’s title in the lyric. “Everybody’s Talking” is an upbeat, sixties influenced Motown-meets-Billy Joel song (think around the time of Joel’s An Innocent Man album), a toe-tapping classic if ever I heard one. “Friends Like That” is another upbeat gem with a great melody, handclaps, horns and a crazy, meaty guitar solo.

Witness, also, what I predict will wind up being my favorite song of the year: “Pop’s a Dirty Word,” in which the youngsters who think that’s the case get schooled by a succession of clever name drops who, along with their compatriots from far and wide, made pop one of the great things in life.

In this great song, Terry sings about the Dansette (a famous British brand of music players), “flippin’ over b-sides,” and name checks some of pop’s greatest artists, like Linda, Paul and Denny, Supertramp, and Todd Rundgren, and slips in some notice for the great pirate radio ship, Radio Caroline. There are some great lyrics here, my favorite being “Sweet Baby James Taylor/Beach Boys’ ‘Sail On Sailor’.” So great.

And, of course, there’s more, many more shining examples of how to make great, pure pop music on this incredible, wonderful Jim Boggia-produced album. Boggia and Terry quite simply are clicking together on all musical cylinders from first note to last. It’s a clear winner you won’t want to miss adding to your gift list.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Mick Terry on Bandcamp

Fernando Perdomo | Zebra Crossing (2018)
Recorded in famed Abbey Road Studios and in Perdomo’s own Reseda Ranch Studios, the wearer of many musical hats’ fourth album is a rich tapestry of styles centered around the artist’s considerable composing and instrumental prowess. It’s a clear winner.

Highlights are many. The gorgeous ballad, “I’m Here,” is as good and classy an opening track as one could imagine; a strong melody and emotive vocals make the proceedings shine. The poppy “Sometimes I Feel Like Nothing at All,” cowritten by Beach Boys lyricist Stephen Kalinich, is an inviting tune topped by sensitive strings. And popster Ken Sharp guests on guitar on the should-be-a-radio-hit “Find Love,” a spectacular upbeat, McCartneyesque pop song.

Sharp also provides backing vocals on the nostalgic ballad “We Were Raised With Headphones On,” which features a lovely vocal turn from Perdomo. The title track stitches together varying tempos, stylistic turns and instrumental showcases (you will dig the lead guitar runs) for a truly dramatic and spectacular seven minutes that suggests time and again a Fab connection.

Speaking of Fab connections, an all-in, emotionally reverent cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” credited to the Zebra Crossing All Star Band, finds guest vocalists Diane Birch, Shawn Lee, and Jason and Daphna Rowe and lead guitarist Perdomo taking center stage for a thrilling album closer. What better Beatles track to cover for an album named in tribute to the area in front of the studio the Fabs called home?

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, Kool Kat Musik

Peter Baldrachi | “Change” (2018)
Long-time popster Baldrachi blazes through power chords and unbridled energy to tell the story of a partner who must learn to plow through that which is keeping her from enjoying life. There is hope, as a chorus of voices sings: “We’re gonna turn it around.” Certainly, the happy-peppy tune that Baldrachi has conjured up can contribute to that eventuality. It certainly keeps the ears tuned to this modern power pop classic.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Kirk Adams Band | Night Owls Boogaloo and Bottle Club (2018)
Pop 4’s Adams is a steady live player in and around his home base of St. Petersburg, FLA; the eight songs on this fantabulous EP emerged from on-stage jams and inspired ad libs. Clearly, blood, sweat, tears and a couple of scoops of imagination were all it took to create these catchy sonic blasts.

In the four-on-the-floor, guitar-driven “Mexican Wrestler,” a guy’s love gets scooped up by someone stronger than he. The rollicking Bakersfield-inspired Los Straitjackets-meets-Nick-Lowe rocker “Every Little Look” recalls the best of Walter Clevenger. The bluesy, Lennonesque love-song-at-all-costs “Drawn to You” features a great, emotional vocal from Adams.

But wait…there’s more. The lighthearted, genial “Alien Implant,” about a sci-fi-ish personal invasion, recalls the vibe of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.” And the EP closer, “Down Below,” is a tremendous blues shuffle with a fuzz guitar (or possibly a bass) that stands in for a trombone.

A can’t miss collection from an indie artist whose grip on ears everywhere should be firmer from here on out.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving

We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases recently, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):

radio1

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

“I’d Love One of Those Great Melodic Pop Albums for My Holiday Gift.” That’s Easy.

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Our 2018 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide is in full swing. We’ve got more suggestions for great gifts for your melodic pop-loving friends and family. We lead off today’s post with the new album from Louise Goffin…

Louise Goffin | All These Hellos
(Majority of One, 2018)
An exceptional dialog driven by melody and emotion, All These Hellos is a steamer trunk full of memories placed under a microscope to help us figure our place under the sun.

Anchored by Goffin’s lovely, fragile vocals and superb playing from star musicians such as Fernando Perdomo (whose latest album is reviewed tomorrow), these 10 songs are quite an attractive showcase for superlative songwriting. The artist is clearly invested in these slices of reflective pop; such is the strength of communication with the listener.

The mystical duet with Rufus Wainwright, “Chinatown,” benefits from a lovely melody, peerless singing, and an exquisite string arrangement by Van Dyke Parks. This song, about magic and inspiration alive in a moment, is perfectly placed, coming right before the equally spiritual feel of “Turn to Gold,” its ambience bolstered by a stream of percussive and instrumental grace.

Goffin embraces her pop side with a number of straight ahead, upbeat charmers. “Good Times Call” is a soulful and very catchy sixties-esque pop number about being in love and feeling it. “Life Lessons,” another upbeat pop tune with piano at its core and punctuated by horns, is about being true to yourself and following your heart. And the title song is an inviting mid-tempo number about needing the memories of a childhood place to fade.

“Bridge of Sighs,” the mid-tempo ballad that closes these proceedings, is about investing in a relationship while wondering what the payoff is. The gorgeous chorus is sung in harmony; wordless bursts of harmony come alive towards the end.

It’s difficult to talk about a Louise Goffin album without broaching her lineage. She is, of course, the daughter of… well, if you don’t know, you’ll investigate, and if you do, consider yourself ahead of the game. Adding All These Hellos to your shopping list puts you ahead of the game, too.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

Kai Danzberg with Lisa Mychols | “Just Let Me Know”
(Big Stir, 2018)
Up-and-comer Kai Danzberg teams with powerhouse singer-songwriter Lisa Mychols for a catchy, high-energy pop tune that is sure to please. Heavy snare hits, guitars, keys and thumping bass merge for a breathless, explosive four-minute thrill ride that bodes quite well for Danzberg’s upcoming 2019 album on Big Stir, Not Only Sunshine. Terrific.

Where to Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles

Super 8 | Hi Lo
(Futureman, 2018)
He said he’d pull off the tough go of a 2018 hat trick, getting three albums out in a single year, and he’s done it, done it good.

Paul Ryan, d/b/a Super 8, has ended the year with another top-flight recording, 11 strong songs about employing hopefulness along one’s path through life. A fine slice of subject matter, you’ll likely agree.

“Angels and Neil Diamond” is a tremendous piece of writing, an easygoing, acoustic look back on childhood’s glory days, reliving one’s youth through good times and bad. It’s a lovely, affecting song that is followed by proof that the title is holly holy. Ryan presents a clever take on Diamond’s wonderful “Cherry, Cherry,” which is pretty life affirming on its own, especially in Ryan’s recasting of the tune as part garage, part coffee house, and all Super 8.

The Rolling Stones nod, “Good Times” (“Had enough of the bad times”), is a happy stroke in the running order, as is the pop-folk hybrid “Bob Dylan Said That,” about getting by in life with your own vision, and, no doubt, following on from what you’ve learned from the bard’s poetry.

The hits just keep on coming; you’ll love every one of them, delivered in Ryan’s emotive style. And for those of you wondering why the man didn’t go for four albums in a single year, just remember…there’s always 2019.

Where to Get It: Futureman, Kool Kat Musik

P. Hux | This is the One
(Nine 18, 2018)

Eleven songs strong, as much rock as pop, with typically melodic and memorable results, This is the One is a great addition to the Parthenon Huxley catalog. Hux handles all of the guitars and pours the coffee; the supporting players, from drummer Ricky Wise and bassist David Phenicie to keyboard player Dan Clarke and beyond, keep the melodies flowing in catchy numbers like “Running Home to You,” “Real Tough Day,” a mid-tempo melodic relationship song, and the quite catchy “Honey Sweet Baby.” Hux fans: this is the one for you.

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon, P. Hux Store

More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving

We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases recently, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):

radio1

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

The Melodic Pop Treasures are Plentiful. Give ’em as Gifts This Holiday Season. We’ve Got Some Suggestions

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Our 2018 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide is in full swing, with reviews of new and new-to-you releases that make great gifts for your melodic pop-leaning family and friends. We lead today’s post off with a new song from New Jersey’s Fab Four…

The Weeklings | “Running Away” (Jem, 2018)
Something different from the Beatles-inspired fab foursome from New Jersey way? Sure, why not! Gritty, hard-hitting and a bit persnickety, and with just a few itty-bitty gear references (a bit of “I Am the Walrus,” a snip of “Revolution 9”), this is really more a faster, teeth-gritting take on the sound of the Rembrandts’ “My Own Way” from that band’s L.P. release (at least, that’s how I hear it). Lefty Weekling dishes up a growl of a lead vocal, and Smokestack Weekling makes every urgent whack of his drums count like they’re everybody’s business. It’s entirely possible I missed a whole heap of the usual contingent of Easter eggs that these boys usually bury in their works, but in the case of this blast of a tune in which the Weeklings mix it up, I don’t think that really matters. Taken at face value (and no, that’s not a Phil Collins reference), this is killer..

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

Bill Lloyd | Working the Long Game (Spyderpop, 2018)
Bill Lloyd, one of melodic pop’s most distinguished practitioners of the art, has released one of the very best albums of the year with which you will fall in love.

Now that I’ve got that not-really-a-surprise statement out of the way, let’s dig in. Working the Long Game’s dozen melodic pearls, whether written solo or with top song scribes like 10cc’s Graham Gouldman, Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson, and Wanderlust’s Scot Sax, are gorgeous, instantly classic gems of the Lloydian variety.

Perhaps the most endearing of this album’s top tracks is Lloyd’s cowrite with Graham Gouldman. “What Time Won’t Heal” is about letting love in again after a relationship withers away (“What time won’t heal/Love will repair/And if you open up your heart/You’ll find it there”). This is a very Gouldmanesque track sporting a lovely melody, which sounds for all the world like something that might have been penned and recorded back in the glorious 1960s. And you know that’s the kind of thing that floats this old pop fan’s boat.

“Yesterday,” cowritten with Petersson, is an outstanding, insanely catchy upbeat pop tune in which the events of the previous day, among which was the breakup of a relationship, are cataloged. The outlook for the new day is sunnier: “I won’t miss a day like yesterday.” In a perfect world, this song should be zooming up the charts and exploding at radio. And you’d better believe that if Pure Pop Radio were still streaming out to the masses, it would be. Lloyd shines on drums and guitars, and Petersson makes his bass sing.

“Interrupted,” another upbeat specimen, written with Sax, is another can’t-miss track that puts the spotlight on Lloyd’s energetic and expressive drumming and in-your-face guitar work (shredding is this tune’s buzzword). And the closer, “Shining,” is a beautiful ballad of the one-man-band variety that features some lovely sixties-inspired guitar lines and harmonies. The narrator sings about his true love and you will feel the emotion (“When I was there all alone/You pointed me home”).

Fall in love with one of this year’s best albums.

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop, Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, CD Baby

Caper Clowns | A Salty Taste to the Lake (2018)
The mighty Caper Clowns, whose fantastic debut album was featured in these pages back in November 2016, are back with their sophomore long player, another well-crafted collection of top-flight melodic pop gems.

From the undeniably catchy opening confection “The Way I Dream,” which sports a clever acoustic guitar riff and an enchanting melody, to the pretty ballad “Kissing Daylight” and the upbeat, harmony-infused “Me for a Friend,” from which this album gets its title, A Salty Taste to the Lake is a winner all the way. Perhaps my favorite track is “Sacre Bleu,” a piano-based, harmony wonder that sounds like the kind of song radio should be embracing and sending up to the top of the charts.

I love Caper Clowns, and you will too. Pick up this second in what we hope will be a long line of great releases, and while you’re at it, add their debut to your collection. You won’t be sorry.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, iTunes, Amazon

Mothboxer | Open Sky (2018)
Dave Ody’s outfit stretches into some of the most creative, expression-filled songs of its long history on an album steeped in clever songcraft. A coming together and pulling apart experience built around surprising chord changes and elastic melodies, set against primarily alternative instrumental backings, Open Sky is aptly named. Because the canvas on which Ody is working is open and expansive.

“Sunshine Sound” leads the pack as a slow-to-mid tempo song set sound-wise vaguely in the Beach Boys’ Holland era. Songs like “We Could Be Right” bristle with an inventive melody and chord structure, ending in a guitar/drums battle. A number of songs fall directly into each other: “All that Goes Around” connects to “Never Enough,” an atmospheric ballad with lots of air and breathing space, which hits into “Million Miles Away,” perhaps the most immediate sounding song on the album, a piano-based tune with harmony vocals that shine.

And there’s more, many more delights to be discovered in Ody’s latest collection, including a song just added to the album at the very last minute because, well, it’s a late-blooming keeper with a great, catchy chorus. It’s a thumper with a great melody, and it’s called “Five Long Days.”

Open Sky is a keeper, maybe Mothboxer’s best.

black box Where to Get It: Open Sky is set for a December release. Watch this space, or visit the Mothboxer website for up-to-the-minute details on where to get this terrific album

More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving

We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases recently, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):

radio1

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

Need Gift Ideas for the Melodic Pop Fans In Your Life? For You? We’ve Got ’em, All This Week

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We are now officially in the 2018 holiday gift giving season. I know…it seems like only yesterday, blah blah blah… Well, it does, but here we are again, faced with making those decisions that, year after year, are just plain hard to make.

Well, we’re here to make it all easier for you. We’re here to help you to choose gifts for the melodic pop fans in your lives (and for yourself). Relax. Below, you’ll find  new reviews of new 2018 releases, in-depth as always, along with links that will take you to the very websites from which you can purchase them. You’ll also find links to previously posted reviews of albums you should consider.

Be with us every day this week. There’s a whole lot of gold out there from which to choose the perfect melodic pop presents for your friends and loved ones. Let’s get started.

Mikah Wilson | Sunshine Grooves
(You are the Cosmos, Burger Records, 2018)
A real find, Los Angeles’s Mikah Wilson pretty much defines the state of sunshine pop in 2018. Let’s just say that if your jam is 1960s Beach Boys, Curt Boettcher, current sensations the Wrecking Two and their like-minded compatriots, this will be your jam, too. Comprising “Sunshine Grooves” and the two songs contained on the “Sweet Jules” single (“Sweet Jules” and “Look at the Way”), this is the soft-pop EP of the moment. Don’t miss it.

black box Where to Get It: You are the Cosmos, Bandcamp

Various Artists | White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams
(Curry Cuts, 2018)

Curry Cuts’ loving tribute to singer, songwriter and all-around entertainer guy Paul Williams, White Lace and Promises, releases on December 7 in digital form and around a week or so later in physical form and on streaming platforms. I’ve already sung its virtues here, where I waxed poetic about some of the tracks. I’ve now heard the entire megillah, so it seems prudent for me to wax poetic some more.

It’s obvious, to me at least, that the artists who have signed on to Andrew Curry’s latest tribute harbor a great affection for Paul Williams’ work; each of the 23 tracks here functions as a great big hug, a happy thank you to the artist for doing what he does so very well.

Here are some of my favorites, standout tracks all:
* “Someday Man.” Zach Jones turns in an affectionate, somewhat faster version than Paul Williams’ cut
* “You and Me Against the World.” Lisa Mychols ramps up the tempo on this classic. The harmonies and electric guitars really shine
* “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Cliff Hillis sings this lovely song, made famous by Karen and Richard Carpenter, solo
* “I Won’t Last a Day Without You.” Chris Price gives the Carpenters’ version a bit of a run for its money, turning in a lead vocal that is sincere and without question his best yet
* “You Give a Little Love.” This song from famed film Bugsy Malone gets a joyous Broadway kind of treatment from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, and it’s fabulous
* “An Old Fashioned Love Song.” Cait Brennan turns one of Paul Williams’ greatest songs into a deeply-felt, alternative romp, centered around Cait’s intense, emotional vocal

“You know you’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do,” Karla Kane sings as part of “You Give a Little Love.” Wise words that have deep meaning. The world is going to remember the great works of musical art that Paul Williams and his collaborators have given to the world; here, 23 artists have paid homage to that art, and we, the world’s listeners, are the grateful recipients. White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams is essential listening.

black box Where to Get It: Releases December 7 in digital form and about a week later in physical form and on streaming platforms; you can pre-order on Curry Cuts’ Bandcamp page

Karla Kane | “Goodguy Sun” b/w “Sisters of the Pollen”
(Big Stir, 2018)
Bkarla kane - sisters of the pollen coverkarla-kane-goodguy-sun-coverig Stir Records, helmed by good guy Rex Broome and good gal Christina Bulbenko from the Armoires, have set into motion a series of delicious digital singles with this double-sided wonder from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, whose 2017 folk-pop solo album, King’s Daughters Home for Incurables, was a big spinner on Pure Pop Radio.

“Goodguy Sun,” written by Cleaners from Venus’s Martin Newell, is a charmingly melodic, very British mid-tempo ballad with the Bye Bye Blackbirds’ Bradley Skaught playing alongside usual fellow travelers Khoi Huyhn and KC Bowman (Gina Sperindle contributes lovely vocal harmony). Kane’s “Sisters of the Pollen,” a mesmerizing folk-pop pearl recorded with husband Huyhn, closes out with an a cappella workout and the actual sound of bees doing their business. Delicious.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Big Stir Records

Irwin | Ride On (2018)
Jamie and Steve’s Jamie Hoover worked with Bill Irwin, from late-1980s-1990s Georgia pop-rockers Impulse Ride, to produce this tasty EP, pairing four new tracks with two previously unreleased Impulse Ride tracks from 1994. The new tracks, mostly mid-tempo, tuneful slices of pop, were written by Irwin and Hoover and feature both on a variety of instruments. Of the new songs, “King,” a soulful Beatlesque power ballad with Paul McCartney-inspired bass and an indelible melody, and “Georgia Peach,” an easygoing sway of an Americana-soaked pop song with a lovely, joyous melody, are tops.

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon

Kenny Herbert | “I’m Growing Old With You” (2018)
Kenny Herbert’s charming pop confections were a mainstay of my playlists throughout Pure Pop Radio’s 23-year history. I continue to be enthralled by everything Kenny adds to his considerable, collectible catalog. His latest release is a typically melodic, uptempo love song, inspired by Caroline, the love of his life. It has a lovely Bobby Goldsboro-meets-Gallagher and Lyle vibe about it. It’s one of those very special recordings that just makes you feel good to be alive.

Here’s a live take on this wonderful song:

Where to Get It: iTunes

More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving

We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!