Boo! The Taters Join Alan Haber for the Pop Tunes Deejay Show Halloween Party Tomorrow at 2 pm ET. It’s Booriffic!

Join Ameripopacana Musical Mirth Makers The Taters and Your Humble Halloween Host for a Booriffic, Very Special Pop Tunes Deejay Show Halloween Party!

pop tunes disc smallJoin ameripopacana musical mirth makers The Taters and me, your humble Halloween host, tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm ET for a very special, booriffic edition of Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, first broadcast on October 26, 2015.

the tatersThe Taters and yours truly, dressed to the nines in our spooky garb, will be in our scary, spooky haunted broadcasting house complete with living skeletons, booing ghosts, and your favorite pun-wielding, joke-telling, pop culture fanatical Taters, sitting in front of our orange (hey, it’s Halloween!) microphones, for a really fun time. Join us, won’t you? Costumes optional!

To get you in the ghostly spirit, The Taters have recorded a very special Halloween greeting for you, our treasured Pop Tunes fans. Press the button, if you dare!:

the-taters-dont-screamThat’s right–Craig Evans, Brad Tucker and Chris Mendez from the jolly ameripopacana band The Taters are my special guests tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm ET, talking about their scary good EP, Don’t Scream! Songs to Keep You Up at Night! (Get it here!) The boys, puns ‘n’ jokes ‘n’ pop culture references at the ready, help me, in between the greatest puns and jokes ever told, to play some well and not-so-well-known Halloween tunes. Who from? The late, great Zacherle, The Tremblers, Caravan of Thieves, Jackdaw 4, Groovie Goolies, Blue Ash, Jamie and Steve, and, of course, The Taters! The tunes, the laughs and the scares come fast and furious in this 90-minute holiday spook-a-thon!

Alan Haber: Proud Music Geek!

Gather ’round the Halloween radio receptacle for a blast through our musically-appointed haunted house for a very special rebroadcast of Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show’s Halloween Party! Tune in at 2 pm ET tomorrow…that’s Halloween! Scare you there!

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The Legal Matters’ Conrad Says “Hi!” Release Day is Here!

the-legal-matters-conradIt’s release day for The Legal Matters’ new album, Conrad, who, by the way, says “Hi!” There certainly has been no lack of attention paid to this tremendous long player; this is for good reason. Conrad is quite simply a winning achievement.

My in-depth review, originally published here on October 4, is reproduced below for those of you who missed it the first time around. In the review, I state that “The Legal Matters have set a new standard for vocal harmonies in melodic pop music.” If ever there were a case to be made for musicians being drawn together because it had to be, this album is it. This is the audio proof. Don’t miss this one. – Alan Haber

The Legal Matters | Conrad (Omnivore, 2016)
A review by Alan Haber alan 5 small

On the inside left panel of the gatefold sleeve of The Association’s 1970 double album “Live”, a list of the band members, titled The Players, fed into a section titled And Their Instruments, which named usual suspects such as guitars, drums and bass guitar along with suspects that were perhaps not so usual for a rock ‘n’ roll album: soprano recorder, tenor recorder, and pocket trumpet.

And, in the manner that cast credits for a film or television show might spotlight a particular actor–and Kiefer Sutherland, for example–the following was noted, perhaps as an afterthought to some: “and the human voice.” As a 15-year-old, music obsessed boy whose world turned around rich vocal harmonies, this was the most important piece of information on offer for an album that was, for me, a monumental achievement.

My young world, as informed as it was by my favorite comic book artists–Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Berni Wrightson–my stamp collection, my dedication to the television shows that defined my generation–The Twilight Zone, The Flintstones, I Dream of Jeannie–and my transistor radio, which connected me to broadcasts both local and far away, was moreover defined by the sound of the human voice singing the songs that were written by my favorite recording artists.

The Beach Boys were certainly important to me for that very reason, as were The Four Seasons and The Association, whose records I cherished (no pun intended) and played probably more than those of any other artists in my collection (don’t tell John, Paul, George or Ringo). A committed vocal, with just the right amount of heart and soul, could stop me in my tracks, but a two- or three- or four-or-more-part rich harmony was something else again; it was something magical, something quite amazing.

Thankfully, the melodic pop music I have devoted my life to championing these past 21 years, in reviews and on the radio, very often continues to put the spotlight on the vocal harmonies that I so cherish. Bands like Kate Stephenson’s Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club carry on that vocal harmony tradition in a way that mirrors the many hours I spent as a child listening to music playing on my stereo and coming out of my transistor radio.

the legal matters photoAnother band that carries on the vocal harmony tradition and, indeed, practically redefines it, is The Legal Matters out of Detroit, Michigan, a long-standing, storied music town whose favorite musical sons are many and varied and legendary. It wouldn’t be out of line to include Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith in that group, such has been the level of acceptance of their wares on the part of fans of melodic pop music.

Their list of credits, spanning more years than probably any of them would care to acknowledge, is long and celebrated and includes a variety of solo and group releases. Just mention The Reed Brothers, An American Underdog, Chris Richards and the Subtractions, The Pantookas, and The Phenomenal Cats to those in the know and see what kind of a reaction you get.

As often happens in storied partnerships, the coming together of Andy, Chris, and Keith ignited a fertile spark that resulted in them recording together. 2014’s self-titled Legal Matters album was a warm, 10-song affair that was crafted in the dead of winter inside Andy’s Reed Recording Company studio in Bay City, Michigan, with drummer Cody Marecek and guitarist Nick Piunti, a top-flight pop artist in his own right, in tow.

Their musical sensibilities clicked from the start as the cold weather whipped around them, and songs such as the melody-rich, uptempo “The Legend of Walter Wright” and the pretty ballad “Mary Anne” were born. “Mary Anne,” in particular, was something of a triumph, in that its rich vocal harmonies showed the heights that Andy, Chris, and Keith could reach as a unit.

the-legal-matters-conrad-buttonA second album was inevitable. Its name is Conrad; the cover art depicts a mouthless, seemingly silent, colorfully shirted koala bear. The 11 songs are a natural progression from the 10 on the first release, taken at a slower, but not slow, pace; the harmonies are more intricate and deeply felt. The vocal harmonies are more up front and alive. This is the sound of a band that has come into its own, that has benefitted from time spent feeling each other out, turning complex vocal structures into seemingly simpler constructs that aren’t at all simple.

The rich, finely detailed vocal harmonies are the collective star of Conrad’s show, but by no means the only performer; the instrumentation, supplied by Andy, Chris, and Keith, with Donny Brown and Andy Dalton handling drum duties, is peerless, and the songs are sweetly realized, from the opener “Anything,” not the first track on this album tipping its hat to the much-loved Beach Boys vocal vibe, to the upbeat, single-worthy “Short Term Memory,” which tips its drumsticks to Ringo Starr in a delightful fill and puts forth some top-notch electric guitar playing.

But it’s the rich vocal harmonies that set Conrad apart from a slew of other, recent melodic pop music releases. Nowhere is this more evident and true than on the short, coda-like, penultimate track “Lull and Bye,” a virtually a cappella, powerful slice of emotion-filled vocalese that is a thrilling testament to the power of the human voice that The Association so aptly included in the list of instruments played on their “Live” album. Other than the beautiful harmonies, the only instrument in evidence is a ghostly, spare piano, barely heard, that acts as really nothing more than a light, percussive underpinning. This track is so powerful that it recalls Brian Wilson’s “One for the Boys,” a majestic cut included on his first, self-titled solo album.

In order to truly appreciate the power of “Lull and Bye,” one must listen to the vocals-only mix available to purchasers of Conrad as a download bonus. For this experience, the piano part is gone and only the lovely vocal harmonies remain. To listen to it is a thrilling experience, along the lines of listening to the most vibrant of The Beach Boys’ recordings, stripped of instrumentation.

The vocals-only mix of Conrad should be considered an important part of the total listening experience, especially for musicians and students of how-it-is-done, although, of course, you can and will enjoy the album proper without ever setting the bonus tracks into motion. In fact, forget I said anything; Conrad is just fine–perfect, really–as it is.

the-legal-matters-band-photoThis year has been particularly rich–there is that word again–with strong albums released by both heritage artists and artists new to the melodic pop world stage. As always, artists who stress vocal harmony as a key element of their musical makeup rise to the top of the heap for me. In just 11 lovely songs, The Legal Matters have set a new standard for vocal harmonies in melodic pop music. Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith are the players, and their human voices are their instruments.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Anything,” “I’m Sorry Love,” “Hip Hooray,” “Minor Key,” “Short Term Memory (Radio Version),” “She Called Me to Say,” “The Cool Kid,” and “Lull and Bye.”
black box When and Where to Get It: Kool Kat Music, Amazon, iTunes, CD Universe.

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Terry Draper Opens a Window to His 1980s World on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

A preview and a review by Alan Haber alan 5 small

terry-draper-wotw-coverTerry Draper’s sparkling new collection, the wonderfully expansive Window on the World: The Lost 80’s Tapes, will be released this Friday, October 28; Terry will be speaking with me about it on a special edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation next Tuesday, November 1 at 8 pm ET.

The use of the word world in the title of this fine collection is as apt as apt can be. The world that Terry is inviting listeners into is uniquely Draperesque, and not only contains the 10 previously unheard songs from the 1980s that make up the album proper (presented in no less than three formats), but also a pair of songs crafted in the Europop style, five of Terry’s songs sung by female vocalists, five completed songs designated by Terry as “not yet finished,” two videos, and a digital booklet containing photos and both technical and personal annotation. Also included is a letter from Terry that draws on his musical history, from his first band to the release of this album.

terry-draper-single-red-guitarBut that’s not all. Most exciting, perhaps, is that this expansive Window on the World is presented not on a shiny, silvery compact disc, but on a USB flash drive disguised as a guitar. Since so many people listen to music on their computers these days, this is a particularly appropriate and, yes, fun offering. The guitar drive will be available in four designer colors, including red (see illustration at right). You will be proud to show this guitar to your fellow music aficionados.

terry-draper-i-have-a-dream-graphicThe previously unheard songs from the ’80s on the album proper range from tremendously affecting ballads (“I Have a Dream,” “You Don’t See Me Laughing”) to cleverly realized upbeat pop songs like “More.” It’s nothing less than the usual fine fare you get from this ever-creative musician. Pure Pop Radio is now playing many songs from Window on the World, three days ahead of the release date (see below for titles).

Terry talks with me on In Conversation about the creation of Window, from the spark of the idea to revisit some of his previously unheard songs from the 1980s to adding newly-played instrumentation and releasing the collection in an unconventional way (not the first time an album has been released in this manner). You’ll also hear Terry waxing poetic about some of the songs, including a demo for perhaps the most infectious one he has worked on, a lively love song about Terry’s wife Anna, called “Anna Bella.” And, of course, lots more of the in-depth back-and-forth In Conversation famously presents.

terry-draper-photoFrom a personal standpoint, I am thrilled to be able to talk with Terry about Window on the World. Like so many others, I have been listening to Terry’s music for a very long time–40 years, in my case. Now, as his solo career continues providing so much pleasure to fans around the world, I am honored to help spread the word on this wonderful collection.

Join me as I talk to Terry Draper on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation next Tuesday, November 1 at 8 pm ET. And don’t forget to visit Terry’s website this coming Friday, October 28 and purchase a copy of Window on the World. You’ll be glad you did.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “I Have a Dream,” “Get You Alone,” “Still the One,” “Song for a Lady,” “More,” “You Don’t See Me Laughing,” “I’ll Be There,” “Window on the World,” and “Anna Bella.”
black box When and Where to Get It:
Terry Draper’s website, beginning Friday, October 28.

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Sun, Surf, Sand, Weird and Wonderful, and Big-Beat Fun Power This Week’s Specialty Show Lineup

mic-small 10A fun mix of sun, sand, weird and wonderful, and big-beat blasts power this week’s lineup of Pure Pop Radio specialty shows.

everylittlethinglogo-smallWe kick off the excitement tonight at 8 pm ET with an all-new episode of Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing. On this week’s show, Ken talks to Jude Kessler, author of a series of books, written as historical narratives, covering the life of John Lennon. In addition, a theme set of songs with the word road in the title, a variety of top Beatles and solo Beatles tracks, and a cover of “You’ve Got to Hide your Love Away” by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder are played.

waveTonight at 9 pm ET, Jammin’ James Riley negotiates the sun-drenched waves for another set of fabulous summer sounds on Catching a Wave. You’ll dig a set of Beach Boys numbers, a pair of classic tracks from Glen Campbell, and tunes from the Rivingtons, Santo and Johnny, Surfer Joe, Duane Eddy, and many more of your favorites.

ww-logo-longScott McPherson’s got your midweek lunchtime festival of pure pop sounds to go along with your soup and sandwich combo on the latest get-together known as The Weird and the Wonderful. This Wednesday, October 26 at 1 pm ET, heritage sounds from Florapop and Klaatu mix with tracks from Eric Barao, Prefab Sprout, Frank Bango, Nilsson, Pop 4 and lots more. Plus: Scott remembers back to his first show, on which “Sammy Davis, Jr.” made a memorable visit…

the-beatles-things-we-said-todayComing up this Thursday at 8 pm ET on Things We Said Today, Ken Michaels, Steve Marinucci, Al Sussman, and Allan Kozinn gather around the Beatles roundtable for a fun discussion with Lefty and Zeek Weekling, aka Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger, respectively, from the fabulous Weeklings. Lefty and Zeek speak with our panel about the Weeklings’ new album, Studio 2, which is full of  big-beat fun and releases on November 18. (We’re all about the Weeklings here at Pure Pop Radio; this is the second interview with Lefty and Zeek that we’ve aired; Alan Haber’s chat with the boys on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation ran on October 18.)

Gather ’round your Internet radio receptacle for this week’s specialty shows. Pure Pop Radio is the place to be this week!

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New on Pure Pop Radio 10.19.16: Tommy Lorente, The Universal Thump, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 10.19.16 | by Alan Haber alan 5 small

A quartet of fine songs from some of our favorite artists, just scratching the surface of music being added to our playlist…

tommy-lorente-supernovaTommy Lorente | “Supernova” A trip back in time for the French guitar maestro, combining the engine of a 1960s mid-tempo beat charmer with the warmth of a much-loved folk standard. Beautifully played by Tommy, who sings and strums the guitars, Ralf Köhler, who plucks the bass, and Peele Wimberley, whose drums and percussion provide the expressive backbone. Sweet.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: 

the-universal-thump-middle-lifeThe Universal Thump | “Middle Life” What a treat! From Brooklyn, New York’s favorite melodic pop duo comes a dramatic, soulful pop stirrer, featuring Greta Gertler Gold’s electric piano and charged, emotional, Kate Bush-like vocal. Strong-willed orchestration and Greta’s husband Adam D. Gold’s instrumental dexterity and engineering prowess take this one to the finish line. Support the Thump’s efforts to create everlasting, beautiful music by supporting them at Patreon.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It:

the-lunar-laugh-work-in-progressThe Lunar Laugh | “Work in Progress” Another lovely, melodic wonder from Oklahoma City way. Laughers Jared Lekites, Connor Anderson, and Campbell Young, supported by Nathan Mickle and Tommy Harden, deliver a delicious number about the fragile nature of living and the course corrections put in place along the way that hopefully result in a graceful life. Joyous.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It:
Bandcamp, iTunes.

ed-ryan-and-orbis-max-other-plansEd Ryan with Orbis Max | “Other Plans” After appearing separately on Ice Cream Man Wayne Lundqvist Ford’s Brain Freeze compilation, Orbis Max’s Craig Carlstrom contacted Ed about working together on a pop song he had cooking. From that germ of an idea comes the catchy, feel-good pure popper “Other Plans,” the bridge of which is sung by Ford. An international coming together of inspiration. Bonus add: Orbis Max’s equally catchy, straight-ahead pop-rocker “Hope You Love Me Too,” co-written by Carlstrom and Dennis George, who sings the lead vocal. More Orbis Max on Pure Pop Radio is always a good thing. Groovy.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: “Other Plans”: Bandcamp. (Check back for more links.)

More Friday.

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The Legal Matters…Matter

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Spins and Reviews | 10.18.16 | by Alan Haber alan 5 small

the-legal-matters-conradThe Legal Matters | Conrad (Omnivore, 2016)
The countdown is on for a number of career-defining, musical paragons set to release within the next few weeks. These meticulously crafted recordings not only prove their worth by being accepted with open arms by knowledgeable, discerning listeners, they further prime the field by suggesting that if someone is going to love what they’ve done, they’ll likely love a whole lot more, too.

Much has been written and said about The Legal Matters’ second album, Conrad, which will be available in just 10 days from now on October 28, all of it good (my in-depth review is here). The chatter on social media points to a prosperous melodic pop universe that has so much to offer from artists whose talent turns heads because their work is that good. I’ve got much more to say on this matter in the coming weeks, but for now let me reiterate my love for these 11 songs, showcases for as-close-to-perfect-as-is-possible, deeply felt harmonies, wonderfully realized songwriting, and career defining performances.

Released by the well-respected label Omnivore, whose lovingly curated sets by Big Star and NRBQ, among others, are helping to define the state of the art, Conrad is one of this year’s best new albums, and, speaking the absolute truth, one of the best albums released by a melodic pop group in a very long time. That Pure Pop Radio is, as of today, playing all of Conrad’s songs in heavy rotation, should come as no surprise.

These songs arrive at a time when the pop community needs heroes to help it fight the good fight, to show the world that is defined by a hard-to-quantify number of genres and genre offshoots that melodic music is not only an extremely viable concern, it is, quite frankly, where it’s at.

The Legal Matters’ Conrad is where it’s at.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The entire album: “Anything,” “I’m Sorry Love,” “Minor Key” “Short Term Memory (Radio Version),” “More Birds More Bees,” “Pull My String,” “She Called Me to Say,” “The Cool Kid,” “Hip Hooray,” “Lull and Bye,” and “Better Days.”
black box When and Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes.

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A Podcast and a Giveaway, Oh My! Listen and Win!

winDid you miss Seth Swirsky’s August 30 appearance on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation? Would you like to win a copy of Seth’s new CD, Circles and Squares? If the answer to both questions is yes, head on over to In Conversation’s PodOmatic podcast page to listen to Seth’s back-and-forth with Alan Haber, and enter our exclusive contest below.

seth swirsky new album coverseth swirsky photoSeth spoke to Alan about how his career accomplishments have brought him to his most recent compositions; Seth takes a look at three of Circles and Squares’ songs in particular and peels back the layers of emotion that define them.

We have three copies of Circles and Squares to give away. Simply fill in the form below and send it to us by this Thursday, October 20 at 12 noon ET. Don’t forget to include your email address and type “Circles and Squares” in the Comments box. Only one entry per person.

Enjoy listening to Seth Swirsky’s appearance on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, and good luck on winning a copy of Circles and Squares.

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