Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, Fall 2020, Episode One: The Flat Five’s Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Five strong, they possess the tools of their miraculous, imaginative trade; when they slap, strum, pick and make thwoopping sounds in concert with their able-bodied voices, they distinguish themselves from nearly all other like-minded musicians who ply their trade in the recording studio and on stage. Lately, they have had to limit their collective ply to the recording studio; in the age of COVID-19, venturing out to play is unthinkable, considering the global state of play.

“If only we could play a f****n’ show,” the Flat Five’s Nora O’Connor says genuinely and honestly after a quick sigh, for it is on the stage that Nora and Kelly Hogan and Alex Hall and Casey McDonough and Scott Ligon, whose brother Chris, who isn’t in the band, writes the songs that the Flat Five warble brilliantly, gather to relate Chris’s clever and wildly imaginative lyrical wordplay and musical playlets with creative precision.

The Review
For now, the Flat Five from Chicago, from the Windy City and not from anywhere else, mind you, enjoin themselves within Alex’s popular Reliable Recorders. In there, they plug in and turn on and subsequently bring Chris Ligon’s beautifully and cleverly written tales of people who wind up here, there and possibly everywhere to life with harmony singing par excellence. The Flat Five’s joyous new album, Another World, their second long player that is even better than their first, a delectable spinner entitled It’s a World of Love and Hope that came out in 2016, is proof of everything.

“The song is our higher power,” says Nora, a truth borne out by snappy songs like “Drip a Drop,” which toasts the elixir known as pure and giddy happiness with wordplay extraordinaire (“My baby shakes like Tina Turner’s daughter / He runs around the house in just a little top / On his behind you can set a glass of water / He Hully Gullys and don’t ever drip a drop”).

The deeply felt ballad, “The Great State of Texas,” sung empathically by Kelly, tells the sad tale of a prisoner behind bars in the aforementioned great state who experiences a series of last meet-and-greets with things both mundane and personal before stating that “the great state of Texas is taking my” (beat, beat, beat, beat, beat) “life.” It’s a heartbreaking ballad that cuts deep.

Of course, there is much more to savor on Another World, and if you think the proverbial coinkidink is in play when you note that the word “world” appears in the title of both of the Flat Five’s albums, know that although it seems that there is absolutely no coinkidink in play, there actually is. It’s just that the world being referred to could be on the moon, could be an escape from the craziness of our lives, as it is in Another World’s jaunty closer, “Over and Out” (“Over and out the page has turned / the train has left the station…”).

The Interview
Listen to (and watch!) Nora O’Connor and Kelly Hogan wax poetic about all of the above and a whole lot more as my very special guests on the first in a new series of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation shows, appearing below (you’ll be able to hear the show on our Pure Pop Radio station soon). This interview is presented in See! Hear! Pop!, Pure Pop Radio’s finely-tuned video-riffic sight and sound format (make of that what you will, will you?).

Please note that, due to copyright considerations, this interview is scoped, so the songs spoken about do not play when I say they will and, instead, play below. So listen to the interview and then listen to “I Don’t Even Care” and “The Great State of Texas,” which should propel you to, after all is said and done, purchase Another World, another in a series of wonderful albums by Chicago’s Flat Five.

Without further ado, here are the Flat Five’s Nora O’Connor and Kelly Hogan in conversation with me, Alan Haber. Enjoy.

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation with the Flat Five’s Nora O’Connor and Kelly Hogan

Where to Get It: Amazon, Bandcamp, Apple Music

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, hosted by Alan Haber, is the internet’s premier talk show presenting melodic pop music artists talking about their work. New episodes appear here exclusively on the Pure Pop Radio website. Podcast versions of previously-aired episodes are archived here.

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features.

The Pure Pop Radio station brings the greatest melodic pop music in the universe to your waiting ears, 24 hours a day (listen by clicking below).

Pure Pop Radio is Bursting with New, Magical Sounds

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Although you probably won’t ever hear any songs by rocker Marilyn Manson on Pure Pop Radio, you will likely agree with a quote attributed to him.

“Music is the strongest form of magic,” Manson is said to have uttered once upon a time.  Good for Marilyn, we say! We think the rocker is right, and we bet you do too.

Pure Pop Radio, the 24-hour internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music in the universe, sends magical, musical missives out to waiting ears that are thirsty for sounds that make everything feel alright. And we all could use help in that regard these days.

Recent adds to our ever-growing playlist show that the catchiest songs from new and new-to-you artists are spinning hour after hour, around the clock. Some particularly fine examples:

Dear Stella. The nom de plume of Austria’s Stefanie Drexler is bound to satisfy fans of dynamic, creative sounds with the EP Time Zones, releasing tomorrow.  These six, monumentally rich songs, beautifully produced and performed with true heart (check Drexler’s strong, emotional vocals), incorporate retro and contemporary sounds in surprising ways. Pop pundits Bleu, Eric Barao, David Myhr and Kai Danzberg are on hand, but this is Drexler’s show all the way, and a incredible, joyous show it is. We’re playing all six tunes in rotation. Here’s just a taste, a beautiful ballad from one of your soon-to-be-favorite 2020 releases, Time Zones:

The BOTP Band. With a half-dozen like-minded musicians in tow, the Junipers’ Robyn Gibson once again puts his stamp on treasured, classic tunes from pop music’s past. The latest collection, entitled Bob of the Pops Volume 5, makes songs by ABBA, Bob Dylan, the Tokens, the Five Stairsteps, the Hollies, Elliott Smith and many more of your favorites come alive in true BOTP fashion. We’re playing six of these stellar tracks, including the following pair (sing along if you know the words, and we know that you do!):

Bob of the Pops Volume 5 by Bob of the Pops

Bob of the Pops Volume 5 by Bob of the Pops

As usual, there is more–much more playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, including new songs from Orbis Max with Emperor Penguin, Swedish Polarbears, Caper Clowns, Nick Frater, Cliff Hillis, Richard X. Heyman. And more still!

Tune in to our 24-hour stream and enjoy the music!

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, interviews and a wide variety of features.

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation Returns with the Flat Five’s Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

The Flat Five

A new season of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation kicks off next Tuesday, November 17 with a timely back-and-forth between yours truly and the Flat Five’s Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor, presented in See! Hear! Pop!, Pure Pop Radio’s finely-tuned video-riffic sight and sound format.

This first in a new series of In Conversation shows featuring your favorite and new-to-you melodic pop artists is a timely one indeed. This lively conversation comes as the Flat Five’s sophomore album, Another World, is released by Pravda Records. Another World continues in the storied tradition begun by the band in 2016, when their first, smash album, It’s a World of Love and Hope, made its way into the universe, charming music lovers from here to there and everywhere in-between.

Another World’s 11 eminently catchy and clever songs run the style gamut, embracing waltzes, shuffles, swing, retro and soft pop, and jazz, among other music types, and reflect the influence of bands such the Free Design, NRBQ, Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson. A massive influx of melody and, especially, harmony, drives this second Flat Five album’s classic-sounding numbers.

Here is nothing less than an infectious taste of what you’ll find when you put your CD player or turntable’s spin on the Flat Five’s Another World:

The Flat Five, a tried-and-true supergroup, its members having played and sung with artists such as Neko Case, the Decemberists, NRBQ, the New Pornographers and Brian Wilson, have neat and nifty stories to tell; during this program, Kelly and Nora will tell them all (well, some of them at least!).

Don’t miss the Flat Five’s Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor on the first in a new series of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation shows, next Tuesday, November 17, right here on the Pure Pop Radio website. (An audio version of this show will run on the Pure Pop Radio station soon.)

It’s another world, baby!

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features.

Pure Pop Radio brings the greatest melodic pop music in the universe to your waiting ears, 24 hours a day.