Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio

Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio is the archive for the premiere website that covered the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We are now closed for new activity.

New on Pure Pop Radio 4-6-21: Einstein’s Sister Returns; Nelson Bragg Returns, too; Kai Danzberg Sings for You, and Aaron Lee Tasjan and Lilly Hiatt Sing Sweetly for Luck Reunion and Third Man

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By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Einstein’s Sister | “Begin Again” c/w “Standing Still” (Yummy Pop Tunes, 2020)

Announcing the triumphant return of Einstein’s Sister, Moline, Illinois’ melodic pop powerhouse, drummer Marty Reyhons pounds his kick drum and tightly-wound snare while his cymbals swish through the air, awaiting the entrance of an expressive rhythm guitar and determined bass. With Bill Douglas’s lead vocal and Tim Smith’s sweet backing vocal harmonies, the setup is complete, and the upbeat “Begin Again,” one of two ace new songs–the first since a pair that graced a 2002 Japan-only best-of compilation–is up and running.

The bluesy mid-tempo pop-rocker “Standing Still” also announces itself with a classic Marty Reyhons’ drum attack; elastic rhythm guitar stabs and electric guitar lines, deep bass plunks, and Kerry Tucker’s assured lead vocal are the stars that shine the brightest on this dynamic track.

With support from Smith (ex-Jellyfish) and guitar hero Vinnie Zummo, expressive mixing by Nick Davis, who has worked extensively with Genesis, and magical mastering by Abbey Road’s Miles Showell, Pure Pop Radio favorite Einstein’s Sister reigns supreme with an important, new release spotlighting two new superb, quite catchy numbers.

This new single, pressed on “transparent blue” vinyl, is accompanied by a CD with both new songs on it, along with instrumental versions; a download card, and a lyric and credits sheet. You can also purchase a digital download, but for $10, the physical media buy is a steal.

Welcome back, Einstein’s Sister, and stay for awhile, won’t you?

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Nelson Bragg | “I Want Love” c/w “Lost All Our Sundays” (Steel Derrick Music, 2021)

Melodic pop fans will know and treasure musician Nelson Bragg from his two superb solo albums (2006’s Day Into Night and 2012’s We Get What We Want), his work with Anny Celsi and Duncan Maitland, and his dazzling percussion magic, performed as a member of Brian Wilson’s band for fourteen years.

Bragg’s first new release since We Get What We Want is a single precursor to a new album, Gratitude Blues, set for release later this year. The A- and B-sides–a warm cover of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s ballad “I Want Love,” originally released on Elton’s 2001 album, Songs from the West Coast, and “Lost All Our Sundays,” a dynamic, upbeat Bragg track that was recorded in 2004 and never released, presented in a 2004 mix exclusive to this 45–both sparkle with dreamy, deeply-felt harmony vocal stacks, a Bragg trademark (a 2020 remix of “Lost All Our Sundays” will appear on Gratitude Blues). The ghostly a cappella open to “I Want Love” is a particular highlight, very clever and creative.

Housed in an attractive sleeve, the single is available from Bandcamp. Big bonus: Copies for U.S. buyers are signed and numbered by Bragg! Don’t miss this!

Where to Get It: Steel Derrick Music

Kai Danzberg | “Only You” (Big Stir, 2021)

In only five short years, Hanover, Germany’s Kai Danzberg has joined the ranks of top popsters with release after release of catchy, melodic songs. His latest is a lively, upbeat, pop-samba paean to love with vocal embellishments from Kai’s older sister, Ida. Kai’s lead vocal is perhaps his best yet–expressive and sure. “Only You” is a keeper, and one of the recent toppermost-of-the-poppermost digital singles in Big Stir’s ongoing series, now curated by musician Irene Pena.

Only You (Big Stir Single No. 123) by Kai Danzberg

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Aaron Lee Tasjan and Lilly Hiatt | “Dublin Blues”
Lilly Hiatt and Aaron Lee Tasjan | “Angel from Montgomery”
(Luck Reunion and Third Man Records)

From 2017, this graceful pair of recordings, waxed at Americana Fest in Nashville, shine a emotional light on a pair of classic compositions from John Prine and Guy Clark. Melodic pop fans will likely know at least some of Aaron Lee Tasjan’s remarkable work (Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! and Karma for Cheap are two shining examples); Lilly Hiatt, being the daughter of John Hiatt, will also likely be a familiar name.

This bare-bones-designed 45, one in a series of Luck Mansion Sessions releases (read about the series here and here), presents Tasjan taking the lead vocal on Clark’s “Dublin Blues,” which appeared on Clark’s 1995 album of the same name. Hiatt takes the lead vocal on Prine’s iconic “Angel from Montgomery,” from Prine’s self-titled 1971 debut. The performances, recorded live, are intimate, lovingly delivered, and a joy to hear (and you will likely dig the acoustic guitar lead runs on “Angel from Montgomery”).

Highly recommended.

Where to Get It: Third Man Records

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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.

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