Can it really be spring? Certainly, the calendar says it is, and so does the merry mood in place here at the always harmony-filled Pure Pop Radio headquarters. Here on the first of five days of our Springtime New Music Explosion, we’ve got a ton of new songs and artists to tell you about; we’ve added hundreds of new tracks to our playlist, all of them currently spinning in rotation.
So without further ado, let’s get to the business at hand. Beginning today, and continuing through this Friday, we’ll be telling you all about the new sounds sizzling on our air. We kick off today’s list with our exclusive airing of tracks from what is surely one of the great albums being released this year.
Andy Bopp | Blisters and Thorns Leave it to longtime pop patriot Andy Bopp to put together one of the finest collections of catchy songs that will likely see release this year. Blisters and Thorns shines from first song to last. Like Andy’s great recordings released under the band name Myracle Brah, these songs place their melodies and hooks center stage, right where they should be. It’s an exciting collection, and we’re the first radio station to play them.
Where to start with a collection that more than makes the grade with each song? The lovely, mid-tempo “Hello” scores with gorgeous, fluid pedal steel lines (also heard on the catchy “Every Word”) and Andy’s emotional vocal. A strong drum track shines on the upbeat “Every Word” (the thrashing cymbals add an extra measure of zing). The pretty ballad, “Lowe,” rides with understated banjo and pedal steel parts and Andy’s committed vocal.
Through two decades, Andy Bopp has graced pop fans with 15-plus albums and countless, thrilling musical moments that have stood the test of time. The songs that make up Blisters and Thorns, a quite great and important album–one of the very best of this still young year–are equally superlative. We’re the first radio station to be playing these songs ahead of their release (not yet scheduled). Seven of them are now playing in rotation: “Lowe,” “Minneapolis,” “Hello,” “Every Word,” “Simple Things,” “Broken Ties,” and “Red Eye.”
Supported by an ace group of talented players, including Pure Pop Radio favorite Nick Bertling, Warren Boes, Andrew Grimm, Brian Simms, and J Robins, who co-produced this album with Andy and mixed the songs, Andy has made a truly wonderful long player. Awesome.
Pop 4 | “Help is On its Way” Everything this quartet of pop magicians touches turns to gold, as evidenced by their exciting cover of Little River Band’s “Help is On its Way,” one of the songs collected on radio station WFMU’s Super Hits of the Seventies: Hit Explosion!, which is tied into the station’s 2016 fundraiser.
Recorded exclusively for this compilation, Pop 4’s spirited take on “Help is On its Way,” a top 15 tune on the Billboard chart back in 1977, nearly eclipses the original’s lovability factor (we totally dig the chug-a, chug-a, percussive guitar hits, the groovy guitar solo, and the sly little key change leading into the instrumental playout). The group’s Scott McPherson, Andrea Perry, KC Bowman and Kirk Adams take this classic song at a bit of a faster pace and with a little more panache (yes, we said panache). Why cover such a favorite tune? The following text is presented in the liner notes for Super Hits of the Seventies: Hit Explosion!:
“We nominated KC to be producer of our cover song and he chose this song because he loved it as a kid, partly because it was unusual subject matter for a pop hit in the 70s. Other songs were about boogie, pina coladas, werewolves, skeezy romance. This song was about being totally inside your own head. And it has an undeniable chorus hook. Sounds like a commercial jingle. Plus we wanted [to] do something that hasn’t been covered to death and isn’t in heavy rotation in karaoke bars and classic rock/oldies radio. And, it was the fourth biggest selling single in Australia in 1977, which makes it a legitimate lost classic.” Word, right? Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, where the members of Pop 4 have open seats at “the table.” Place settings included.
Miami Dan and the Hayes Street Band | The Days Ahead Speaking of superlative, Miami Dan’s latest release, a terrific and too-short EP, should find pride of place in melodic pop collections worldwide. Exhibiting a sharp melodic sense, these songs, beautifully arranged and full of deep hooks, are among the best this artist has delivered. The title song rolls through with a somewhat relaxed “Be My Baby” vibe; “Broken Shells,” similarly relaxed and tuneful, sings with lovely harmony vocals; and the absolutely gorgeous ballad, “We Tried to Take Love All the Way,” dreamy and sounding like nothing less than a standard that should be covered by the great, popular crooners of all time, is this record’s shining star. We’re honored to be playing these songs in rotation.
The Floor Models | Letter from Liverpool The first new song from the Floor Models in 30 years is an instantly memorable, melodic gem, now playing on our air, that sports a catchy melody and jangly guitars (and allusions to the Byrds and Don McLean (trust us on this one)).
The Letter from Liverpool EP is also represented on Pure Pop Radio by the upbeat, rhythmic and catchy “Sittin’ Tight”; a live take of the very Roger McGuinn-esque “The Hand that’s Strong”; and the original acoustic demo of “Letter from Liverpool.”
In 2013, the Floor Models were given a tasty retrospective resurrection by Australia’s Zero Hour Records (the terrific Floor Your Love–highly recommended). Seek it, and this top-flight EP, out. How this group, which comprised Gerry Devine, Andrew Pasternack, Steve Simels and Glen Robert Allen, didn’t top the charts three decades ago is a mystery. Time for that to change now, we think.
Tommy Sistak | “If I Only Knew” And now, something pretty much completely different from the great Tommy Sistak–a song that would have sat comfortably on AM radio playlists back in the golden ’60s alongside the old-timey pop of the New Vaudeville Band. The ukelele and the washboard–certainly the first instance of this colorful instrument in Pure Pop Radio history–propel Tommy’s tune, which he classifies as “skiffle pop,” into the charming track hall of fame. As catchy and wonderful as his previous songs have been, this one may well be our favorite. It might wind up being yours, too. Quite groovy in so very many ways.
The Hour Zero | “See You Again” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” Elsie (aka Lisa) Mychols and Tom Richards thrill with a pair of classic-sounding (think a cross between Blondie and the Ramones), charming and breathless pop ‘n’ roll numbers that feature Elsie’s smooth-as-silk, yet forceful, vocals and a powerful rhythm section. These catchy songs may well peel the paint off of your walls! Both songs are now playing in rotation. More, please!
Pezband | Women and Politics Nearly four full decades after the release of Pezband’s first, self-titled LP, the band is back with a sparkling new EP, recorded more than 30 years ago. Women and Politics remained unreleased until recently, when Frodis Records remastered it and brought it to market. Pezband fans, and power pop fans in general, should rejoice. We know we are. We’re playing two songs from this great release: the ultra-catchy, upbeat slice of power pop, “Waiting in Line,” and the propulsive, rocking, provocatively-titled “Fab Girlfriends.” Powerful? Check. Great harmonies? Check. Wonderful and welcome? Check and check. A truly great release.
Randy Franklin with Jamie Hoover | “Constellation Prize” This Franklin/Hoover co-write, produced and recorded by Jamie, about not being the one the girl wants (the constellation prize), proves instead that nice people finish first, for it is the nice people, in love with great pop music, who benefit from this very Hoover-sounding recording. Catchy as catchy can be, with great vocals and instrumentation, this is a clear winner. Would there be more on the way, we wonder?
The Optic Nerve | “Penelope Tuesday” and “Here to Stay” The Optic Nerve created pure pop music while the 1980s garage rock scene stormed around them. The band released two singles and fizzled. An album was recorded in 2005, but not released. Thankfully, there is a happy ending to this all-familiar story: State Records has put out two of the best songs from that album, both of which are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. “Penelope Tuesday” is a catchy slice of buoyant melodic pop that surely would have been a mid-’60s chart topper; the soft-pop charmer “Here to Stay” sounds for all the world like a song that Harpers Bizarre might have recorded in the ’60s when they were called the Tikis. A great, important discovery.
Fallon Cush | Bee in Your Bonnet If Bob Dylan were an out and out pop artist while still playing with rock conventions, he would trade his songs under the name Fallon Cush and he’d be called Steve Smith, a Sydney, Australia musician with three-decades of experience under his belt. Bee in Your Bonnet is a top-flight collection of engaging songs that features Smith’s commanding vocals and engaging instrumentation. We’ve added six songs to our playlist, including the poppy, mid-tempo title ballad, and the aluring “There’s a Dark Side to that Moon.” We’re also playing “Less You’re Near,” “Kings Ransom,” “Dorothy,” and “Haunting.” A great long player.
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And so it goes: Day one of Pure Pop Radio’s Springtime New Music Explosion comes to a close. Day two is only a day away, so make it a point to come back here tomorrow for another tour through our latest song and artist adds. Until then, why not click on one of the listen links below to hear the above-mentioned songs and 8,500 more, playing in rotation on your home for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today…Pure Pop Radio. It’s all happening here!
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