Spins and Reviews | 05.18.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Various Artists | Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007 (2017)
Curry Cuts’ third release, after swimming with lite rockers and second British Invasioneers, continues the label’s successful run of specially-curated themed compilations with this gathering of 26 covers of all of the songs featured in James Bond films.
This merry mix of moods invites repeat listens: standouts include Popdudes’ straight-ahead, rocking take on Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die”; Lannie Flowers’ Merseybeat-ish “James Bond Theme,” which glistens with power pop polish and a pair of nifty nods to Fab notions; and Zach Jones’ brightly-lit, soulful run through “All-Time High.” The Corner Laughers’ sprightly, jazzy version of “Diamonds are Forever” is a keeper, and don’t count out Big-Box Store, aka The New Pornographers’ Joe Seiders, who turns in a commanding, moody performance of “Die Another Day.”
Grab a martini–shaken, stirred, or otherwise appointed–and know how it feels to have an all-time high. (If you missed out on Curry Cuts’ first two releases, Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock and Here Comes the Reign Again: The Second British Invasion, click here with due speed.)
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “All Time High,” Zach Jones; “Diamonds are Forever,” The Corner Laughers; “Die Another Day,” Big-Box Store; “For Your Eyes Only,” Freedy Johnston; “From Russia with Love,” The Stereo Twins; “Golden Eye,” Identical Suns; “James Bond Theme,” Lannie Flowers; “Live and Let Die,” Popdudes; “Moonraker,” Gary Frenay; “The Living Daylights,” Cirrone; and “Writing’s On the Wall,” Cliff Hillis
Where to Get It: Bandcamp
Chris Price | Stop Talking (2017)
The blue-gray washed inner, two-panel spread of Chris Price’s second album shows Price in contemplative repose standing at the foot of the ocean, at the beach, wearing a suit and tie, his hands in his pockets, his longish hair being blown back softly as the tempered waves draw close behind him. Even the blue-tinted dog on the cover looks like he, or she, has a few things on his mind.
Five years on from his first solo album, and after producing Emitt Rhodes and Linda Perhacs, these 14 songs recorded by Price between 2013 and 2016 make up the ironically-titled Stop Talking, which isn’t really what this thinking-man’s popster wants you to do after hearing the catchy “One of Them,” the Paul McCartney-meets-Stephen Bishop-meets-Rupert Holmes “Man Down,” and the tour de force, “Darkness.”
Stop talking? No, no. What Price wants you to do is listen and then talk about these songs. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbors–the guy who delivers bread to your local supermarket, even. In this social media age especially, it’s word of mouth, communicated far and wide, that moves souls in search of the next big thing from point a to b.
So let’s start talking. This album’s highlights are many, brought to life by Price who, in addition to being the artist, wore the hats of producer, engineer and mixer, and a number of additional musicians. The tender, Nilsson-esque “You and Me (And Everyone Else),” co-written by Price and The New Pornographers’ Joe Seiders, who plays a delicate piano here, puts the spotlight on Price’s voice, a strong, emotional instrument. The pounding piano song “One of Them” is a pure pop delight. And the toe-tapping, orchestrated charmer “Once Was True” puts a lovely chord progression and melodic structure center stage.
Perhaps the centerpiece of Stop Talking is “Darkness,” a patchwork of a song, rallying different time signatures around a handsome melody for a bravura performance that takes less than three minutes to bring to a close.
The man at the foot of the ocean can stop contemplating now. Stop Talking is a keeper.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Hi Lo,” “Man Down,” “Once Was True,” “You and Me (And Everyone Else),” “Sigh,” “Darkness,” “James Bond Theme,” “One of Them,” and “Anhedonia”
Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon
Fun of the Pier | “Cavern Song” and “(In) My Town” (from the forthcoming album, 14:42)
Nottingham, England’s Mark and Helen Luker, along with Richard Hattersley, make a welcome return to the pop landscape with two new songs that will feature on the duo’s forthcoming, long-awaited album, 14:42.
“Cavern Song” is a sprightly toe-tapper about getting into the world famous venue on a number of fronts. Taking to task entitlement (“What d’you mean we have to pay?”), expressing the excitement of being there on social media in the most basic of terms (“Take a photo of a photograph/Now upload it to your page/Oh we’re havin’ such a laugh/Take a selfie on the stage”), and the power of the artist (“And at least I get to work it out/With some lyrics…”), the song is perhaps the very first lively, happy-sounding cautionary tale of 2017. Somewhat recalling the vibe of Paul McCartney’s “Hope of Deliverance,” “(In) My Town” examines life in a small burg under siege, from which youth is unable to break out (“Is it any wonder they can’t meet/The demands of a world unknown”). All three players shine, but let’s give Mark top marks for some quite inventive bass playing.
A CD containing both of these songs is slated to be given away at the Cavern Club in conjunction with Fun of the Pier’s performance at International Pop Overthrow this coming weekend. Meanwhile, bring on the album. We’ve loved Fun of the Pier’s sound for a long time. Welcome back.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Cavern Song” and “(In) My Town”
Where to Get It: Not yet available
Strangely Alright | “Now is the Time” (2017)
Regan Lane and company return to the Pure Pop Radio airwaves, and your stereo components, with this spacey, Marc Bolan-in-space vibe-y number. Hypnotic and inviting, the song fills the here-and-now stereo soundfield with ’60s-inspired joy. Don’t miss it.
Crime Scene | “Carnival Queen” and “The Highs and Lows of Love” (2017)
Former members of the great Swedish Longplayer Orchestra–Ulf Holmberg, Jon Sundberg, and Göran Holmberg–join Per Östling to deliver one of the big treats of the spring on this nifty digital single.
“Carnival Queen” is a majestic mid-paced, McCartney-esque ballad with a catchy chorus; “The Highs and Lows of Love” starts out as a rockin’ blues belter that becomes a pure pop delight in the chorus, which is preceded by a sly nod to the Electric Light Orchestra (spot it if you dare!) and topped off with a surprise coda. Whew! Lots of fun.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Carnival Queen” and “The Highs and Lows of Love”
Where to Get It: Not yet available
Also added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and currently spinning in rotation:
Plasticsoul | Therapy (2017) | “Her Raincoat,” “The Girl of Many Tribes,” and “Babylon” Plasticsoul Pre-Order
Love Minus Zero | “Mary Says” Bandcamp