It’s a good day–a very good day–that fills your heart with lovely melodic sounds from today’s top melodic pop artists. That day–that very good day– is today…day two of Pure Pop Radio’s Four-Day New Music Songfest.
What do we have on tap for you today? Which new songs and artists are we tapping our feet to? Following on from yesterday’s mix of the Monkees, Mark Lindsay and Susan Cowsill, the Posies, McPherson/Grant, Joe Giddings, Sundown, Hector and the Leaves, and Matt Duncan, we’re posied…uh, poised to serve up another rundown of great music we’re now playing in rotation on the air.
Here we go. We lead off with a couple of releases that will be hogging our air time and nestling comfortably in your CD players and on your turntables…
The Explorers Club | Together Aspiring harmony singers, here is your virtual textbook, a collection of songs imbued with the spirit of the best of the Beach Boys, the Four Freshman, the Association and other time-honored practitioners of the art. Here are songs that are beautiful and beautifully sung, lovely and lovelier still.
Jason Brewer, Wyatt Funderburk, Paul Runyon, Kyle Polk and Mike Williamson are the right people in the right place at just the right time, serving up delicious melodic constructs that are as soulful as they are true. From the southern California harmony- and sun-soaked sound of “California’s Callin’ Ya” to the Four Freshmen-meets-“Graduation Day”-by-way-of-Les Paul ballad “Perfect Day,” Together invites listeners to bathe in the beauty of harmony-filled dreams.
We’re playing all of the following songs in rotation: “”California’s Callin’ Ya,” “Once in a While,” “Be Around,” “Gold Winds,” “Perfect Day,” “Quietly,” “My Friend,” “No Strings Attached,” “Don’t Waster Her Time,” and “Before I’m Gone,” the album’s penultimate number that sings a sweet a cappella close. Delicious.
Winterpills | Love Songs We’ve been playing this Massachusetts band’s seventh album over and over for days on end, living with the songs’ emotions and sensibilities as if they were our own. These songs get under your skin; they become you in some celestial kind of way. You are frankly powerless to regress from their charms.
These songs function on many different levels, even as they share a single attribute that defines them as part of a whole: the vocals of songwriter Philip Price and his wife, guitarist and keyboard player Flora Reed, are the glue that holds these proceedings together–the glue that gives them life. Consider “Wanderer White,” a rolling, rhythmic song about a fall from grace, in which Philip takes the lower notes and Flora the higher ones. Or “Freeze Your Light,” which starts off as if in church with a slight, ghostly choral singsong and becomes a folk-into-pop number with a delectable chorus buoyed by the same low-and-high vocals.
The poppy bopper and should-be-hit-bound “Celia Johnson” turns the tables with Philip initially taking the high vocal part and Flora following closely. A trumpet and coronet serenade add to the song’s beauty; a lovely, echoed piano part comes in for a beautiful coda. The album closer, the gospel-tinged ballad “It Will All Come Back to You, with appropriate harmony vocal stacks and a tender trumpet solo, is all manner of charm and emotion–even when it amps up the pace and volume towards the end.
The album package is a marvel of grace and intelligent design, with its highly striking cover and Edward Gorey-styled illustration in the foldout of the digipak. And in these days of streaming and downloads overtaking physical media as the music delivery method of choice for so many, a striking package is something to behold and treasure.
Winterpills’ Love Songs is so good, we’ve added six songs to our playlist: “A New England Deluge,” “Bringing Down the Body Count,” “Freeze Your Light,” “It Will All Come Back to You,” “Wanderer White,” and the catchy and hit worthy “Celia Johnson.” This album is a keeper and will be for years to come.
Peter Lacey | “Jonny and the Aspirations” This lively, horn-shaded, Stax-ian rumination on the price of success, or lack thereof, in the music business marks a new chapter in the evolution of Peter Lacey the recording artist. With nary a Beach Boys or folk nod within earshot, “Jonny and the Aspirations” wouldn’t have sounded out of place following Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Peter’s new album, New Way Lane, is only days away; we can’t wait to hear what that album has in store for our, and your, ears. Now playing in rotation, naturally.
Gretchen’s Wheel | Behind the Curtain Nashville-based Lindsay Murray’s second project as Gretchen’s Wheel is a meaty, inspired collection of songs imbued with powerful emotion. Sounding like a musical cousin to Aimee Mann, Lindsay sings with conviction and spirit on songs like the poppy, mid-tempo ballad “The Good Things” and the waiting-to-be-a-hit-single smash, “Try to Make It.” Catchy melodies and intelligent songwriting abound. We’re playing six songs in rotation: “Invisible Thief,” “Younger Every Year,” “The Good Things,” “Live Through You,” “Vapors,” and “Try to Make It.” Good going, Lindsay.
Nerf Herder | Rockingham Geek rockers Parry Gripp, Steve Sherlock, Linus of Hollywood and Ben Pringle take no prisoners with their fifth album, full of in-your-face pop-punk, most of which is not aimed squarely at our rather less-than-punky playlist. Nevertheless, we’ve added three groovy songs punctuated with pop culture references and a whole lot of fun: “The Girl Who Listened to Rush,” “Allie Goertz,” and “We Opened for Weezer.”
Tin Toy Cars | Falling, Rust and Bones And now for something sorta, kinda totally different from the usual Pure Pop Radio fare: a mandolin-fronted, pop-washed Americana band from Las Vegas. The band’s website makes its brief clear: “With mandolin, violin, banjo, guitar and upright bass, one might expect bluegrass or something with an old time slant, but add the compositional drumming of Aaron Guidry (Cirque du Soleil), and a songwriting approach more in line with Paul Simon than Bill Monroe, and a new image begins to emerge.” Indeed. The songs we’re playing in rotation–“Not for Nothing,” “Addicted to You,” “Desert Dogs,” and “Down on the Bowery” (a gypsy-folk bopper sounding like an otherworldly Roches)–are your entree to this band’s enticing, inviting sound. We dig it.
Torbjorn Petersson and Keith Klingensmith | “Open Up Your Eyes” Indie pop stalwarts Torbjorn Petersson and Keith Klingensmith, the latter a member of the much-loved Legal Matters, turn in a delicious cover of a song by Stereo Tiger. If you look up the word “catchy” in the dictionary, this song will undoubtedly play. Harmonies, melody, and top-flight vocals propel this one into your hearts. Now playing in rotation.
Laurie Biagini | “Stranger in the Mirror” This welcome return to recording finds this Vancouver, British Columbia popster in top form, delivering an infectious shuffle of a tune centered around a strong, catchy melody. Business as usual, as it turns out. Glorious.
Strangely Alright | “Shake It” Regan Lane and crew shake the floorboards with this propulsive, beat-driven pop-rocker. Electric guitars blaze and strong, committed vocals carry the melody along. There is enough energy in this recording to power Las Vegas on a really hot day. Nice.
The Recreations | “Swing Together” Thanks to Pop 4’s Scott McPherson for hipping us to this inventive slice of pure pop from Tokyo’s the Recreations. Fronted by pop visionary Yohei, this is a vital mix of soft pop, Burt Bacharach, Jellyfish, swing and jazz that comes together as a wholly unique creation you will never forget. More to come, but for now this one’s in rotation. Enjoy.
Adam Walsh | “Calico Skies” Here we go again: another fantastic cover from the immensely talented Adam Walsh, whose taste in music is eclipsed only by his own prowess. In Adam’s capable hands, Paul McCartney’s lovely “Calico Skies” gets a slightly sped-up reading, no less emotional than the original. Keep ’em coming, Adam.
Preoccupied Pipers |”Mayday” We’ve said, many times, that KC Bowman, he of Pop 4, Agony Aunts, and the Corner Laughers, is the hardest working man in show business, because he’s also got this Preoccupied Pipers project through which he every-so-often releases such catchy nuggets as this uptempo pop-rocker, which clocks in at 1:47 (that’s minutes, not hours), which is Roger Miller territory, but this is not “King of the Road” or “England Swings,” so make of that what you will. In any case, you’ll love this kicker of a tune. Whew.
You might think we’ve run out of gas for today, but we haven’t. We’ve got to stop somewhere and leave some nuggets for tomorrow. So, tomorrow, we will have another run of reviews of the latest songs added to our playlist. See you then!
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 Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, 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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