Spins and Reviews | 05.15.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Robyn Gibson | Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 (2017)
A buoyant exercise in the art of homage, Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 finds The Junipers’ multi-instrumentalist Robyn Gibson having a good old time putting his warm, wide-eyed spin on 14 favorite songs. This free download on Bandcamp is the bargain release of the year and, quite surely, one of the best collections we’ve heard in ages.
The reason for that? Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 is fun to listen to; every song essayed bears Gibson’s unmistakable stamp, his softhearted vocals casting a warm glow over every melody line and emotional keystone communicated. In his hands, these classic constructs breathe new life into familiar musical landscapes.
The Beatles’ “Nowhere Man,” certainly a familiar and iconic number, fairly drips with the joy Gibson obviously had recording it. The opening, harmony drenched a cappella couplet is sweetly delivered; the song reveals itself as a modern-day folk song, every harmonic element glimmering with life and hope. The Hollies’ “Listen to Me” adopts a bit of a softer pace than the original, the soft harmonies taking a smidge off of the edge of the proceedings for a bit of a warmer performance.
Similarly, The Who’s “I Can’t Reach You” feels more personal, and again it’s Gibson’s assured, sweet vocal harmonies that do the trick. Tracey Ullman’s 1983 top 10 “They Don’t Know” practically glows with charm. And just to show he has a sense of humor, or because he knows, as do we all (probably), Gibson rolls through the theme song to the 1970s television smash, Laverne and Shirley, in a kind of England Dan and John Ford Coley-meets-The Ramones way. Sort of sweet punk, short and delicious.
A collection that purports to be brought to life by such musicians as born-as-anagrams Boryng Bison and Sonny Orbbig, bridges the gap between a Beatles classic and a well-known soundalike homage (The Rutles’ “With a Girl Like You”), and sits comfortably within a wrapper designed to mirror the presentation of the old British Top of the Pops album series (with the Leave it to Beaver-ish “Bob,” a staid pipe in hand, subbing for the usual sexy model depicted), deserves a place in your heart.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “They Don’t Know,” “With a Girl Like You,” “I Can’t Reach You,” “Yes I Will,” “He Doesn’t Love You Like I Do,” “Strawberries are Growing in My Garden,” “Did I Say,” “Nowhere Man,” “How Long,” “Making Our Dreams Come True,” “Listen to Me,” and “The End/Listen for You,” a Gibson original
Where to Get It: Bandcamp
Cirrone | Kings for a Night (2017)
The extended play, studio followup to Alessandro, Bruno, and Mirko Cirrone’s 2011 Uplands Park Road shares near total lineage with that classic album; four of its songs were first worked on during the Uplands sessions. The upbeat, Badfinger-ish pop-rockers “Everything’s Fine Now” and “It’s Gonna Be the Right Time,” the swaying charm of “Love Comes Again (Radio Edit),” and the gorgeous mid-tempo ballad, “Unforgotten Dream” continue the brothers’ time-honored tradition of mixing melodic vocalizing with strong instrumentation for a catchy, knockout musical punch. A full-length album is intended to follow this five-song taster, to which we say we can’t wait.
The Cool Whips | Baddies (2017)
Naturally, the follow-up to Portland, Oregon’s 2014 long-player debut Goodies goes by the name Baddies, but it’s a joke, son, so don’t get your knickers in a twist…unless your appetite for good old pop ‘n’ roll has bit the dust. To wit: The Farfisa-powered “Linda Lu,” all thump and bop and circumstance, is an exciting, primal listen; “Time Will Tell” sounds like it emerged through a time portal connected to a garage in 1965; “Splash” plops playfully beat by beat with Beatles bops; and “Inside Outsider” fashions an upbeat Monkees vibe for two toe-tapping minutes. Rollicking fun.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Another World,” “Splash,” “Linda Lu,” “There Must Have Been Sugar in It,” “Time Will Tell,” “Move Like That,” “Inside Outsider,” and “Live in a Dream”
Where to Get It: Bandcamp
Also added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and currently spinning in rotation:
Lisa Mychols | “Loving You” (2017) CD Baby
Red Caravan | “Ho Hum” (2017) Bandcamp
Anchor and Bear | “Hard to Say You’re Sorry” (2017)
Michael Slawter | An Assassination of Someone You Knew (2017) | “Count to 10,” “Too Dumb for You,” and “My Marion” Bandcamp
The Deep Six | “Brand New Day” (2017)