This is our busy season–well, they’re all busy in one way or another, but it’s that time of the year, what with summer just about over and done and fall just a step ahead. Perhaps fruitful is a better word than busy; the air is ripe with good sounds coming in almost daily to the spacious Pure Pop Radio headquarters. These sounds, catchy and all decked out in just the right aural bling, are being created across the country and across the oceans by the best practitioners of melodic pop music.
Song for song, we can’t remember a better year for melodic pop in just about all of the years we’ve been behind the microphones and nestled comfortably in front of our computers (cold, non-alcoholic beverage always at hand). Today’s crop of new and new-to-you music, now playing in rotation, is just a punch of the arrow-down button away. We’ll have many more adds to the playlist to share with you next week; here are four to savor now:
Kurt Baker | Play It Cool It’s frankly hard to imagine this consistently home-run-hitting artist playing it any other way. Kurt’s latest collection makes its play for being one of this year’s best releases by delivering a strong set of pop-rockers, one after the other, while proving he’s not only on form but ahead of the curve. From the rock ‘n’ roll swagger and pop punch of “I Can’t Wait” and the melody-infused “Back for Good” to the zippy power of “Just a Little Bit” and the seventies DNA that fuels the title cut, Play It Cool delivers the goods. Kurt’s voice is as powerful as ever, and the production by the always-sharp Wyatt Funderburk (who shares co-writing credit with the artist) makes these songs explode from the speakers. We’re playing everything just mentioned, plus “Enough’s Enough,” “Monday Night,” and “Talk is Talk.” Another winner, as if there were any doubt.
The Bellfuries | Workingman’s Bellfuries Their third long player finds this Texas-based band rolling out a mix of songs steeped in all the right influences–echoes of Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, early rock ‘n’ roll, and rockabilly collide with passion and heart and top-notch musicianship for a great listening experience. Certainly there is a strong Orbison and Everlys influence in the passionate “An Illusion Believed,” and the Everlys touch is evident in the rocking and rolling “Beaumont Blues.” Even the Beatles get the rockabilly treatment in a spirited rendition of “She’s a Woman.” And “Make the Mystery No More” opens with the ghost of “Be My Baby” as the familiar drum part gives way to another classic sounding tune. We’re playing all of the songs from this great album in rotation–the above-mentioned numbers, and “Loving Arms,” “Bad Seed Sown,” “Why Do You Haunt Me,” “Letter to My Maybe Baby,” “Just Remembering,” “Under the Light of the Moon,” and “Baltimore.” Great stuff that sounds great on the air.
mylittlebrother | We’re All Gonna Die! Well, yeah, but what are we going to do until then? It’s what we’re going to do for ourselves, as the title song points out: We’ve got to make our time count and live! The happy, peppy Beatle-esque number, with a very Klaatu-styled ending, is sort of a call to arms and the centerpiece of this terrific EP. The lovely, country-tinged, old-style ballad “Obvious” uses pedal steel lines to enhance the gorgeous melody. “Steve,” a kind of soft-shoe show tune of a song, is another highlight; “Ghost Trains” is an enticing toe-tapper with appropriately ghost-like, choral background vocals. We’re playing all four of these songs in rotation, and hoping the next release from this band is a full-length. Good job.
Michael Ryther | Kids of the Earth: Songs for the Green Generation Question: When is an album for kids also an album for adults? Answer: When both groups can benefit from that album’s message. Elementary school teacher and musician Michael Ryther co-wrote an album’s worth of songs about keeping the planet green and alive with Pure Pop Radio favorite Willie Wisely. And so the story begins.
“I was looking for a producer and knew from the moment I heard a few bars of his pop rock masterpiece Go that I had to find a way to work with him,” says Ryther. “My friend, singer/songwriter/guitarist Ali Handal introduced us and Willie took to the material immediately. He and I had so much fun collaborating and our songwriting sensibilities were similar.” Michael and Willie wrote most of the songs together; Willie produced and arranged.
The album’s press materials classify these songs as “eco-conscious children’s music,” to which we would add “for kids and kids at heart,” which means all of us, short and tall and so in love with our planet that we want to find ways to help it thrive for all eternity. That these 14 songs are poppy, power poppy and catchy as catchy can be is a big bonus, and the reason we’ve added six songs to our playlist, all of which are now playing in rotation.
“Put It In the Compost” is like an early Beatles number put into eco-conscious service. “I Love the Dirt” is a singalong-y, poppy slice of rock ‘n’ roll with a great melody and, like all of these songs, built from a vital foundation. The song implores us to “…get down on our hands and knees, and wiggle around like centipedes and sing I love the dirt.” Perhaps the strongest notion offered on this album is contained within the beautiful ballad, “In This Together.” Michael sings: “Every single action can start a chain reaction, so choose which path to take with extra care.”
Pop fans will relish Willie’s musicianship; he plays a lot of instruments on these recordings. Among the guest musicians are bassist John Fields, and Probyn Gregory, who plays horns on “In This Together”. We love this album, and we think you will too.
Be with us next week for more new and new-to-you music that’s been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Why not tune in now, while you’re at work or doing errands or just taking in another beautiful day on planet Earth?
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. From the Beatles to the Spongetones, the Nines, Kurt Baker, the Connection and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.
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