Jamie & Steve’s Circling: An Exciting Paradise

Jamie & Steve's Circling

Jamie & Steve’s Circling

Jamie & Steve | Circling | Loaded Goat (2014)

*****

There is a certain safety in knowing that you are in good hands–hands that have seen much the same landscape as you, hands and heads and hearts that have witnessed what you have, even if such witness comes from a slightly different perspective. In our lives, especially as we get older, we are either strong in our resolve to carry forth with a determined effort and create art that lives and breathes with a force of strong will, or we coast on our past triumphs, our heads held in our hands and pointing down, down, down.

Thankfully, the team of Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, Spongetones and Van DeLecki’s and writers and co-writers and solo and duo performers on the world music stage, have the strength and resolve to carry on swinging for the fences. Their guitars and mandolins and percussion instruments tuned and strung and subsequently alive, they continue to perfect their sound, always looking to raise their bar and achieve something new and grand and simply outstanding.

When, not too long ago, the power went out in the venue they were playing one fateful night, Jamie and Steve took the ball and punted. They created, on the spot and in the moment, the concept of circling, of eschewing the stage and performing on the floor, the patrons surrounding them–circling them–as they hung their acoustic guitars over their shoulders and simply played. Lit candles, their flames glowing, added more than a touch of intimacy to the proceedings. The duo played and sung their hearts out, and those patrons, witness to a new and exciting concept in performance, came away with an experience they would remember always.

In this newly-charged manner of performance, the audience circles around Jamie and Steve, who become the inner circle. This concept of circling, a term which, if all is fair, will enter the various dictionaries that watch the language of the world, has given way to the fourth Jamie and Steve release, an EP called Circling, a six-song collection in which the duo applies the very idea of circling to their always fertile imaginations. Just as they have invented a new way of performing, they have come up with new ways of giving birth to songs, of surrounding them with their deep skill and delivering a new experience to their audience. Thus, at least two of the songs on Circling take the collective output of Jamie and Steve and turn it on its very head.

Jamie & Steve's Circling (Back Cover)

Jamie & Steve’s Circling (Back Cover)

The opener, the upbeat, propulsive, sort-of psychedelic “Origami Woman,” is one example of Jamie and Steve’s bold new approach. With electric guitars that sound like they were borrowed from Queen’s Brian May, the song starts out with a pseudo-Who vibe and quickly sports a complex chord structure and a couple of rhythmic shifts. Steve’s bass is a standout as the story of the vision of a woman who appears through the smoke and mirrors of, perhaps, a dream is laid out: “like a paper just unfolding/turns to vapor as I’m holding/bits and pieces tiny creases/revealing secrets of/my Origami woman.” Mysterious and tantalizing–a dream turns to reality turns to…

Another song that surprises with new touches of bold creation is the rather amazing and vital “Spin Drift,” which begins life as a pretty ballad, telling the story of perhaps the most perfect place on earth and then the sudden, as the music turns dark and stormy and percussive, tumbling down into waves of turmoil: “Down down to see the headlights next to bones of Atlantic sea flights/Cold and darkness it bubbles up eventually to see the…Sunlight!” and then calmer seas and sky erase the scare of the ocean… “Such a perfect place to be found/Bleeding me of desire to ever go home/I’ll spin and drift.” The moral of the story: Even paradise has its dark corners. But never has paradise, even with its hidden treachery, seemed to exciting.

Two of Circling’s songs are straight-ahead, linear pop numbers with lovely melodies and, especially in the wonderful “You,” delicious chord changes and harmonies. “Wonder Girl” sits firmly in A Hard Day’s Night ballad territory, with a delectable guitar solo pulled straight out of the 1964 George Harrison playbook. The rather contemporary, upbeat pop song, “Skeletons,” and the gorgeous ’60’s vibe of the title song, a  jazzy specimen thanks to an understated horn arrangement, complete the latest Jamie and Steve package.

What occurred to me as Circling played through was that if musicians are on top of their game, they will deliver disc after disc of purely magical songs. Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel have been on top of their game for more than three decades. Here, for 21 minutes, they are more than on top of their game. They are just about floating above it. They have worked hard on these songs, and it shows. You, thankfully, don’t have to work as hard. You just have to listen.

Alan Haber

February 27, 2014

Visit the official page for Jamie & Steve’s Circling EP at Jamie & Steve’s website. And while you’re there, why not purchase a copy of the EP? It’s Pure Pop Radio approved!

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Lisa Mychols Guests on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on March 4 and 5

Lisa Mychols' latest album is Above, Beyond & In Between

Lisa Mychols’ latest album is Above, Beyond & In Between

We are honored and thrilled to welcome Lisa Mychols as next week’s very special guest on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation.

Lisa has been a longtime favorite at Pure Pop Radio since the very early days of her career. During this wide-ranging interview, we hear from her about her music making process and spin some Mychols classics, including a track from her latest and perhaps best album, Above, Beyond and In Between. We also find out about Lisa’s life process, about her spirituality and her pure and honest approach to life. We can guarantee that you have never heard Lisa reveal so much about herself. If you’re a fan of this truly gifted artist, you won’t want to miss this 80 minute chat.

Air dates are next Tuesday and Wednesday, March 4 and 5, at 8 pm ET. Please join us for a very special Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation.

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Richard Barone Guests on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation Tomorrow, February 25

The Bongos in front of Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey

The Bongos in front of Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey

We’ve got a wonderful treat for you tomorrow night: Richard Barone joins us on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation for a wide-ranging chat about his musical life with the Bongos and as a solo recording artist and performer.

Just released this past week on February 18 is a 27-track reissue of the very first Bongos platter, Drums Along the Hudson, and it’s on Jem Recordings, where it belongs. Richard talks extensively about this welcome release, his growing up days as a young deejay and musician, his upcoming tribute (put together with Alejandro Escovedo) to Lou Reed at this year’s South by Southwest festival, and his solo career, among other important topics. He also talks about his feelings toward his friend and mentor, Lou Reed, and another good friend and mentor, Pete Seeger. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Richard Barone, including choice cuts from the Bongos and Richard’s solo years.

Listen to this historic conversation with Richard Barone tomorrow night, February 25, at 8 pm ET. The show repeats on Thursday, February 27, at 8 pm ET. It’s all for you on your original 24-hour-a-day home for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe–Pure Pop Radio.

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

I Love that Song! #1: “Honey, Honey” by Abba

ABBA (Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida) - Waterloo (1974)

ABBA (Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida) – Waterloo (1974)

I heard the most wonderful sounds coming from my radio. “Waterloo” immediately struck me as such a perfect pop song, with its insistent beat and that wonderful, hooky melody, punctuated by Benny Andersson’s classically-influenced piano stabs. And that chorus: kind of an amalgam of fifties, sixties and contemporary influences. It all sounded so good, so sweet, so charming coming out of those speakers, like a gift settled before me that came from heaven.

And then, when I got the album and dropped the needle gently upon the first track on side one, I found that heaven, all 11 songs of it, was indeed within my ears’ grasp, nestled comfortably within the commanding sleeve which depicted the four members of Abba (and a reasonable facsimile of Napoleon). I loved it all, from that glorious hit single and the pounding “King Kong Song” to the soulful, rhythmic bounce of “My Mama Said” and the jangly, poppy “Suzy -Hang-Around.”

But the song that I especially loved–the one that caught my ears in a take-no-prisoners kind of way–was the side two opener, the luscious, entrancing “Honey, Honey.” That upbeat number started in overdrive with a runaway bass guitar, swirling orchestration and a percussive bottom. The melody, crafted with care by Andersson and his songwriting partner Bjorn Ulvaeus, surrounded me and hugged me tight, especially during the middle section which started at 1:04: “I don’t want to hurt you baby, I don’t wanna see you cry…” Those notes, full of life and taking me somewhere other than here, simply slayed me like so many songs I have heard since have failed to do. It’s hard to explain, but when that middle section repeated at 1:59, and the words in the first lines of the lyrics were replaced by orchestration, my knees became weak and my legs turned to jelly, such was the enormity of the effect.

ABBA's "Honey, Honey"

ABBA’s “Honey, Honey”

I found, perhaps for the first time, what is was like to be in love with an ABBA melody line. The group, of course, went on to record many more exciting, wonderful songs and albums, but, for me, as much as I loved all of their output, no song of theirs ever topped the effect that “Honey, Honey” had, and still has, on me. “There’s no other place in this world that I’d rather be.” Those words were as true as a sunny sky back then. They still ring true today.

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing Puts the Fab in Your Life Tonight!

Ken Michaels' Every Little Thing...For the Beatles Fan Who Craves All Things Fab! Airs Every Monday at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio!

Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing…For the Beatles Fan Who Craves All Things Fab! Airs Every Monday at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio!

It’s time for round two of Ken Michaels’ fab Beatles show Every Little Thing on Pure Pop Radio. Tonight is our second airing of pure fabness–our second broadcast of the syndicated version of Ken’s gear show. It’s Beatles, solo Beatles, your weekly fab trivia question and more–one solid hour of your own personal shot of Beatlemania! Set your alarm clocks and crowing roosters for tonight at 9 pm ET.

Remember that Every Little Thing  airs each and every Monday at 9 pm ET. Ken Michaels, the Beatles and Pure Pop Radio–what a great combination! Mark your calendars and enjoy!

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Don’t Forget: We Have New Listen Links

Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio

As we noted on February 4, Pure Pop Radio has switched to a new licensing company, StreamLicensing. The old listening links that brought you our stream through LoudCity will no longer work after February 28.  So that you can continue to hear the greatest melodic pop music in the universe, please start using either the blue or red “Listen Live!” links pictured below right away. Alternately, you can click on the Pure Pop Radio logo below to listen.

Sorry for any inconvenience. Rest assured, the links depicted below will connect you to your original, 24-hour-a-day home for melodic pop hits from the ’60’s to today, Pure Pop Radio. Thanks, as always, for listening and for your support.
Alan

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

We’ve Got a Winner!

Brandon Schott and Andy Reed's vinyl release, the A-B EP

Brandon Schott and Andy Reed’s vinyl release, the A-B EP

Our latest contest has come to a close and, true to form, we have a winner. It’s Rob Wilson. Congratulations, Rob, and thanks for putting your name into the proverbial hat. Your copy of Brandon Schott and Andy Reed’s A-B EP will soon be on its way to you.

More cool contests coming your way very soon. Check back for your next chance to win!

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes