By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
How is your gift list coming along? Have you matched some (or all!) of the new and new-to-you releases we’ve spotlighted so far as part of our 2018 Festive Holiday Gift-Giving Guide to your melodic pop loving friends and family? Well, we’re not done suggesting just yet. In fact, here are some more suggestions…
Mick Terry | Days Go By
(Kool Kat Musik, 2018)
May I make a prediction, especially if I know in my heart of hearts that it will absopositively come true? Thank you so much. Here it is: Mick Terry’s Days Go By is this year’s standout pure melodic pop album. Every song is extremely catchy and performed with heart. There are enough hooks in these 10 songs to cover a gazillion fishermen on a two-week-long fishing trip.
Whew. Yes, I am in love with this album. It captured me hook, line and sinker (okay, I’ll stop with the fishing puns). Mick Terry’s follow-up to 2010’s The Grown Ups was released only in England and only on vinyl, until Kool Kat Musik’s Ray Gianchetti welcomed it with open arms and released it this month on CD. Yay, Ray.
And yay you and me and every last living soul who craves pure pop music. Heck, everything I’ve done with pop music over the past 23 years has revolved around the pure sounds of melodic pop–the kind of pop that used to jump out of transistor radios way back in the when. What Mick Terry has done here is bring our ears back to those lovely days, when a click of the dial made us tap our feet and sway to the music.
Every one of these 10 songs are golden. Witness: “Emily Come Back,” an upbeat, poppy tune that’s sure to please and features this album’s title in the lyric. “Everybody’s Talking” is an upbeat, sixties influenced Motown-meets-Billy Joel song (think around the time of Joel’s An Innocent Man album), a toe-tapping classic if ever I heard one. “Friends Like That” is another upbeat gem with a great melody, handclaps, horns and a crazy, meaty guitar solo.
Witness, also, what I predict will wind up being my favorite song of the year: “Pop’s a Dirty Word,” in which the youngsters who think that’s the case get schooled by a succession of clever name drops who, along with their compatriots from far and wide, made pop one of the great things in life.
In this great song, Terry sings about the Dansette (a famous British brand of music players), “flippin’ over b-sides,” and name checks some of pop’s greatest artists, like Linda, Paul and Denny, Supertramp, and Todd Rundgren, and slips in some notice for the great pirate radio ship, Radio Caroline. There are some great lyrics here, my favorite being “Sweet Baby James Taylor/Beach Boys’ ‘Sail On Sailor’.” So great.
And, of course, there’s more, many more shining examples of how to make great, pure pop music on this incredible, wonderful Jim Boggia-produced album. Boggia and Terry quite simply are clicking together on all musical cylinders from first note to last. It’s a clear winner you won’t want to miss adding to your gift list.
Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Mick Terry on Bandcamp
Fernando Perdomo | Zebra Crossing (2018)
Recorded in famed Abbey Road Studios and in Perdomo’s own Reseda Ranch Studios, the wearer of many musical hats’ fourth album is a rich tapestry of styles centered around the artist’s considerable composing and instrumental prowess. It’s a clear winner.
Highlights are many. The gorgeous ballad, “I’m Here,” is as good and classy an opening track as one could imagine; a strong melody and emotive vocals make the proceedings shine. The poppy “Sometimes I Feel Like Nothing at All,” cowritten by Beach Boys lyricist Stephen Kalinich, is an inviting tune topped by sensitive strings. And popster Ken Sharp guests on guitar on the should-be-a-radio-hit “Find Love,” a spectacular upbeat, McCartneyesque pop song.
Sharp also provides backing vocals on the nostalgic ballad “We Were Raised With Headphones On,” which features a lovely vocal turn from Perdomo. The title track stitches together varying tempos, stylistic turns and instrumental showcases (you will dig the lead guitar runs) for a truly dramatic and spectacular seven minutes that suggests time and again a Fab connection.
Speaking of Fab connections, an all-in, emotionally reverent cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” credited to the Zebra Crossing All Star Band, finds guest vocalists Diane Birch, Shawn Lee, and Jason and Daphna Rowe and lead guitarist Perdomo taking center stage for a thrilling album closer. What better Beatles track to cover for an album named in tribute to the area in front of the studio the Fabs called home?
Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, Kool Kat Musik
Peter Baldrachi | “Change” (2018)
Long-time popster Baldrachi blazes through power chords and unbridled energy to tell the story of a partner who must learn to plow through that which is keeping her from enjoying life. There is hope, as a chorus of voices sings: “We’re gonna turn it around.” Certainly, the happy-peppy tune that Baldrachi has conjured up can contribute to that eventuality. It certainly keeps the ears tuned to this modern power pop classic.
Where to Get It: Bandcamp
Kirk Adams Band | Night Owls Boogaloo and Bottle Club (2018)
Pop 4’s Adams is a steady live player in and around his home base of St. Petersburg, FLA; the eight songs on this fantabulous EP emerged from on-stage jams and inspired ad libs. Clearly, blood, sweat, tears and a couple of scoops of imagination were all it took to create these catchy sonic blasts.
In the four-on-the-floor, guitar-driven “Mexican Wrestler,” a guy’s love gets scooped up by someone stronger than he. The rollicking Bakersfield-inspired Los Straitjackets-meets-Nick-Lowe rocker “Every Little Look” recalls the best of Walter Clevenger. The bluesy, Lennonesque love-song-at-all-costs “Drawn to You” features a great, emotional vocal from Adams.
But wait…there’s more. The lighthearted, genial “Alien Implant,” about a sci-fi-ish personal invasion, recalls the vibe of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.” And the EP closer, “Down Below,” is a tremendous blues shuffle with a fuzz guitar (or possibly a bass) that stands in for a trombone.
A can’t miss collection from an indie artist whose grip on ears everywhere should be firmer from here on out.
Where to Get It: Bandcamp
More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving
We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases recently, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):
- McPherson Grant | McPherson Grant (Reviewed 10.10.18)
- Danny Wilkerson | Wilkerson (Reviewed 9.20.18)
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!