Our Holly Jolly Christmas Party is Here in Your Town! Gift Suggestions Below…

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Day three of our Holly Jolly Christmas Party is here to help you with suggestions for holiday tunes you can give as gifts to your family and friends…and maybe even to yourself!

This is also day three of our bountiful Christmas presents giveaway. Today, we’ve got the Monkees’ new Christmas Party and the Grip Weeds’ Under the Influence of Christmas up for grabs. Enter below.

Our 2018 Festive Holiday Gift-Giving Guide has the day off tomorrow, due to a change in schedule here at Pure Pop Radio headquarters. We’ll be back on Friday to continue suggesting some of the great Christmas releases out there, all perfect for gift giving.

And now, here’s a lovely Christmas collection from the hardest working man on today’s music scene…

Fernando Perdomo | Present (2018)
Multi-instrumentalist and supreme multitasker Fernando Perdomo (his new album, a smash, is Zebra Crossing) has put together a lovely, quite entertaining Christmas release called Present. It may not be wrapped in festive paper and topped with a bright red bow, but it’s a gift that will keep on giving and putting a holiday kind of smile on your face.

Perdomo’s facility with melody-rich holiday ballads (“It’s Christmas All Over the World,” “Darling It’s Christmas,” “The Meaning of Christmas,” and especially “December .. The Month of Love”) is just one of the most prominent calling cards presented here, but that’s not all you’ll find: “The Funky Little Drummer Boy” features Eddie Zyne on hard-hitting drums; there’s a slow, dreamy surf version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”; a sleepy take on “Silent Night,” with just electric guitars in the mix, really satisfies, and a punky, in your face version of “Deck the Halls” helps to make your season bright.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Thrift Store Halo | “I Still Love Christmas” (2018)
Written by band members Frank Gradishar and Lance Tawzer, this perky, melody-rich celebration of the holiday finds Chicago’s Thrift Store Halo in a fun, spirit-of-the-season-esque mood and espousing a welcome sense of humor.

Everything is on the table at Christmas–greeting cards, holly wreaths, kid-made ornaments, snowmen, egg nog shakes, and “presents wrapped in gold and plaid (like granddad’s pants).” “It’s the one time each year the whole world is filled with joy and cheer,” Frank sings.

You’ll love this one.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

The Weeklings | “Christmas Time is Here Again” and “Revolution Wonderland” (2017)
New Jersey’s Fab Four–Lefty, Zeke, Rocky and Smokestack–convened in the waning months of 2017 to record a pair of holiday classics chock full of the usual Weeklings Easter eggs and brimming with a whole lot of fun.

In case you missed them the first time around, the Beatles’ “Christmas Time is Here Again” got Weeklingsized by incorporating elements from the Fabs’ “Flying,” “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” and “Baby, You’re a Rich Man.” And of “Revolution Wonderland”? Well, in this seasonal mashup, “Revolution” meets “Winter Wonderland” meets “Jingle Bell Rock” meets the coolest shoo-be-doo-wah vibe you’ll encounter this or any other year.

Follow Santa on his sleigh, with all of his reindeer and his custom North Pole GPS to add these full-of-good-cheer tunes to your Christmas gifting lists.

black box Where to Get It: “Christmas Time is Here Again”: Amazon, iTunes
“Revolution Wonderland”: Amazon, iTunes

Big Stir Double-A-Side Christmas Single (2018):
Kai Danzberg | “If Santa”
Blake Jones and the Trike Shop | “String Lights and Hold On”

The eighth in the continuing series of digital singles being released by Big Stir Records strikes a decidedly festive Christmasy chord (or two or more!) with holiday tunes from Kai Danzberg and Blake Jones and the Trike Shop.

Danzberg and Jones travel different-sounding paths on their way to stirring up their pots of Christmas magic. Danzberg’s “If Santa” is an upbeat, joyous Phil Spectory exercise with Paul McCartney bass lines, horns and, of course, bells. Jones presents his Christmas tune as art-rock-meets-quirky for a wholly different holiday experience. Both are more-than-worthy, Christmasy choices for gift-giving this holiday season.

black box Where to Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles

Lannie Flowers “Christmas Without You” (2018)
While his fans wait patiently for his new album Home to land, Lannie Flowers has been releasing new songs each month, independent of that release. “Christmas Without You,” newly remixed and remastered from its 2011 appearance, is the 10th in the series. It’s a typically catchy, jangly, melodic slice of melodic pop about wanting and needing the people we love to be with us at Christmas. “Christmas Without You” is a free download at the Spyderpop Records website.

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop Records

Win a Pair of Presents!

Enter below to win a pair of melodic presents for the holiday season from Pure Pop Radio (the Monkees’ Christmas Party and the Grip Weeds’ Under the Influence of Christmas). Be sure to fill in all fields (type “Monkees Grip” in the Comment field), and send the completed form to us by tomorrow, Thursday, December 20, at noon ET. US residents only. Good luck!

radio1

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!

Happy Christmas! The Bells are Ringing for More Classic Christmas Tunes Perfect for Gift-Giving

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

It’s that time of year again, when bells ring and chime and catchy, melodic Christmas songs form the soundtrack of our lives.

We’ve got more classic Christmas songs to tell you about today as part of our Holly Jolly Christmas Party; don’t forget to follow us all week long for more melodic wonders. And be sure to fill out the form below to win another pair of Christmas presents from Pure Pop Radio; today, we’re giving away Curry Cuts’ brand-new tribute CD, White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams, and Vegas With Randolph’s Legs & Luggage.

Let’s get started, with a truly special Christmas album from Ronnie D’Addario…

Ronnie D’Addario | A Good Old Fashioned Brand New Christmas
(You are the Cosmos, 2018)

Just out on You are the Cosmos is Ronnie D’Addario’s superb collection of songs celebrating the season and, not surprisingly, the art of singing rich, glorious harmonies atop catchy melodies.

D’Addario is well known in the pop community for his deep catalog of catchy melodic pop songs, collected in two must-have three-CD box sets by You are the Cosmos. This Christmas album, composed of D’Addario originals, covers and traditional numbers, is an important, joyous addition to his astounding and sturdy body of work.

“Keep His Name in Christmas” is a lovely, original mid-tempo ballad, introduced with a 24-second, rich a cappella, Beach Boys-like open that will leave you absolutely breathless. Another D’Addario original, “Brand New Christmas,” is a hit-worthy, upbeat pop-rocker buoyed by incredible harmony vocals and Brian D’Addario’s lead guitar (Brian and his brother Michael perform as the Lemon Twigs). And, speaking of the Lemon Twigs, both are the stars of yet another D’Addario original, “One Day” (a young Brian sings, supported by Michael and dad on harmonies).

“Caroling, Caroling,” written in 1954 by Wilha Hutson and Alfred Burt and conceived of as music to go with a Christmas card, was famously recorded by Nat King Cole; here, D’Addario delivers the melody with a rich harmony vocal. It’s a wonderful, truly affecting and special performance.

These are just a few of the highlights of this great Christmas album. A Good Old Fashioned Brand New Christmas deserves to be played year after year and exist in the same company as other melodic pop classic holiday collections such as Yuletunes, Cool Yule, and the Beach Boys’ Christmas Album. Don’t miss this one.

black box Where to Get It: Ronnie D’Addario, You are the Cosmos

Herb Eimerman | “Don’t Ask for More” (2018)
Pure Pop Radio played the music of melodic pop great Herb Eimerman pretty much since the beginning of our old weekly show. Herb’s latest release is a distinctly Byrdsian upbeat number with a timely message for the holidays: love is the answer (“I know what we need this year/Give your heart and share your cheer”). Playing most of the instruments and supported by Mark “Sid” Eaton on drums and Joe Algeri on the 12-string Rickenbacker, keyboards and tambourine, Herb has come up with another winner. More, please.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Super 8 | It’ll Soon Be Christmas (2018)
Paul Ryan made three albums in 2018 and still had time to bang out a superb Christmas song that’s a bit chill but not chilly. “It’ll Soon Be Christmas” is rather warm and makes the most of its central message: make the best of a bad year, feel the goodwill, pass it on to others, and come out stronger for the effort. With Futureman Records head honcho Keith Klingensmith (also a member of the Legal Matters) helping out with background vocals, this has the makings of a perennial Christmas favorite.

black box Where to Get It: Futureman Records on Bandcamp

Mr! Mouray | “Christmas Belles – Christmas Bells” (2018)
Written by Bullseye Records’ Jaimie Vernon, this vibrant, upbeat tune sounds like so many of the classic Christmas records of the 1960s–catchy and uplifting and full of the joyous sound of bells. The chorus says it all: “Christmas Belles have told the stories/Of joy and reverie/And Christmas Belles/Bring peace and harmony.” A little more echo and this would sound like a Phil Spector production, a good thing for sure. Good job, Mouray.

black box Where to Get It: Bullseye on Bandcamp

Bill Lloyd | The Day After Christmas (2012)
Any addition to your Bill Lloyd collection is a treat at any time of the year. Since it’s Christmas time (ain’t been ’round since you know when), it’s as good a time as any to focus on this sterling four-track EP from 2012. Each song shows off Bill’s very many skills that come together–words drawing breath as poetry, notes next to notes forming lyrical melody lines.

The acoustic title song, in which traditional motifs meet those of the folk variety, posits “The Day After Christmas” as a day of rebirth–a day to start all over again with a glimmer of hope. The electric, mid-tempo rocker “Under the Christmas Tree” contains a real lyrical pearl: “Holidays can simply floor you/Can’t you tell how I adore you.”

Another electric, mid-tempo number, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” is as satisfying a side as they come (extra points for name-checking A Partridge Family Christmas Card as “the Partridge Family Yuletide Album,” which might be a better, more satisfying moniker. And the short, blissful, acoustic “Out of Season” looks at a beach town closing for the summer season and being reborn when the Christmas season arrives.

Bill has been on a rather extraordinary run of career high albums of late; his latest, Working the Long Game, is maybe his best long player ever. But since this is the season, and the spirit is bright, you’ll want to play this one during Christmas’s dozen days…and beyond.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

Win a Pair of Presents!

Enter below to win a pair of melodic presents for the holiday season from Pure Pop Radio (Curry Cuts’ brand-new tribute CD, White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams, and Vegas With Randolph’s Legs & Luggage). Be sure to fill in all fields (type “Paul Randolph” in the Comment field), and send the completed form to us by tomorrow, Wednesday, December 19, at noon ET. US residents only. Good luck!

radio1

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!

Welcome to Pure Pop Radio’s Holly Jolly Christmas Party!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

So how’s it going? Have you checked your 2018 holiday gift list once, and then twice? Do you have room on your list for some melodic Christmas song gems to give to yourself, your friends and your family? Of course you do!

We’ll be here all week–our Holly Jolly Christmas Party is in full swing, spreading the holiday cheer by suggesting some wonderful, melodic pop Christmas songs and albums that you can give as gifts to your friends and family (and maybe even to yourself!).

And we’ll be giving away a couple of melodic pop presents each day this week. Today’s pair of giveaways: Dana Countryman’s new Cabaret of Love, and the Corner Laughers’ 2015 classic, Matilda Effect. Enter below…

We begin today’s listing with…

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize 
The 12 Days of Christmas (2018)
A late-year surprise and not only a charming, top-flight holiday-themed album but one of the best melodic pop albums of the year, Charlie Darling’s collection of original from-the-heart Christmas songs will warm you like a heaping cup of peppermint candy cane-flavored good cheer.

Bittersweet holiday tales told in pretty swaths of lovingly rendered melody, and sung with an everyman’s sweetness, color this delightful song cycle; sincere, understated orchestration, a literary approach to lyrical conceits, and a pinch of sleigh bells catch the ear time and again in lovely slow- and mid-tempo-ballads.

Darling’s vocals, sort of a contemporary cross between the tones of the Big Dish’s Steven Lindsay and Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, are key to making  songs like gentle ballads “Every Christmas,” about missing a love gone away, and “Stars on the Christmas Tree,” about the true meaning of the holiday, grab hold of your heart. “Holly and Ivy,” a quick-footed waltz, is a dream of a tune about settling into the feelings of the season with friends, and the charming, upbeat “Under the Mistletoe” poses the musical question, “What secrets do you keep?”

Two songs deviate ever so slightly from the mood and pace of the bulk of this magnificent album. “Bad Christmas Cover Version,” an uptempo rocker of sorts, is about exactly what you might think: bands covering the lesser of Christmas classics (“You might’ve sung a song by ol’ Greg Lake”). And “Andy Partridge (From XTC)” is a spirited pop sprint substituting the names of pop and rock bands through the ages for the various creatures evidenced in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (Three Dog Night, the Dave Clark Five, Gang of Four, Nine Inch Nails and Joe Strummer (strumming), among them). It’s all in good fun and thoroughly clever and creative and perfect for this very time of year.

Working on his own, in true do-it-yourself style as the band named after the 1968 film Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, Charlie Darling is no stranger to the music scene, having spent time as a member of the four-piece pop-trash band Taxi, which was signed to a major label. Les Bicyclettes’ previous releases can be found at Bandcamp. Charlie’s next non-seasonal album is being produced by Ronnie Borland from the Orchids.

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize’s The 12 Days of Christmas is a rather pleasant surprise in these waning days of December. I’m thrilled to be able to recommend it to you without any hesitation. One of the best albums of the year, Christmas-oriented or not? Yes, indeed.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

The Twigs | “Flying Kites on Christmas” (2018)
This typically engaging song from Laura and Linda Good, a ballad bursting with luscious harmony, an intriguing piano figure, and a gorgeous melody, is all about being together and happy under sunny skies at Christmas. The flying kites of the title act as a metaphor for problems that can ascend to the skies, away from good holiday feelings. A tremendous achievement, your holiday soundtrack is not complete without it. Melodic and wonderful.

black box Where to Get It: iTunes, Bandcamp

Seth Timbs | Belly Full of Christmas | (2018)
A double-sided holiday single straight out of Nashville, this belly full of good cheer comes in two flavors: ballad and uptempo celebration. “This is Your Christmas Song” is a pretty tune in which a mother sings to her child about comfort and joy that will last through the years (“And life will be sweet and long/Until we’re old and grey/From now on/So says your Christmas song”). “Belly Full of Christmas” is a good old-fashioned uptempo celebration that urges the listener to get just what the title suggests. It couldn’t be catchier. Seth Timbs always delivers; may 2019 be his year.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Dana Countryman | “Gonna Be Home for Christmas” (2018)
Continuing with his ongoing tradition of offering a joyous Christmas song every year, the King of Retro-Pop delivers this sweet paean to being together at the holidays. Dana’s wife Tricia sings, Jon Goforth plays sax, and you benefit from the artist’s ongoing commitment to communicate to listeners the joy of pop music. (“Gonna Be Home for Christmas” is a bonus track on Dana’s latest album, Cabaret of Love, which is highly recommended.)

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp (Purchase Cabaret of Love here)

Terry Draper | A Very Terry Christmas (2016)
Resplendent on the cover in front of his Christmas tree and wearing his Santa hat and sunglasses, Klaatu’s Terry Draper pours a heaping helping of Christmas cheer in the form of five warm holiday classic sides, including two versions of the Beatles’ “Christmas Time is Here Again” (one by the jolly musical mirth makers, the Swamp Manor Jug Band), and two versions of the lovely ballad “A Song for Christmas,” one sung by Maureen Leeson. Full of joy and goodness, and a must play during the holidays.

black box Where to Get It: Terry’s Digital Store, Amazon

Win a Pair of Presents!

Enter below to win a pair of melodic presents for the holiday season from Pure Pop Radio (Dana Countryman’s new Cabaret of Love and the Corner Laughers’ 2015 CD, Matilda Effect). Be sure to fill in all fields (type “Dana on the Corner” in the Comment field), and send the completed form to us by tomorrow–Tuesday, December 18, at noon ET. US residents only. Good luck!

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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!

Pure Pop Radio’s Holly Jolly Christmas Party Starts Monday, and You’re Invited!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Have a holly jolly Christmas with Pure Pop Radio! We’re celebrating the season by continuing with our 2018 Festive Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, offering up reviews of new and new-to-you melodic Christmas pop songs. And we’ll be giving away some fun presents. It all begins this Monday, December 17! (Click here to join our Facebook event page.)

During our week-long Holly Jolly Christmas Party, we’ll be continuing with our 2018 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, reviewing the latest holiday releases from Ronnie D’Addario, Lannie Flowers, Kai Danzberg, Michael Simmons, Dana Countryman, Brad Marino, and an amazing, top-flight Christmas album from Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, which also happens to be one of 2018’s best melodic pop albums. Plus lots more tuneful tunes from your favorite artists!

Plus, we’ll be spreading some festive holiday cheer by giving away some fun presents, so don’t miss a minute! The fun begins this coming Monday, December 17, right here on the Pure Pop Radio website. Don’t forget to bring your sleigh bells!

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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!

Our Holiday Gift Suggestions Keep On Coming. Here’s Another One, Full of Love

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Dana Countryman | Cabaret of Love
(Sterling Swan, 2018)
The year is not complete without a musical missive from melodic pop music’s melody and harmony king. Dana Countryman lights December bright with one of 2018’s top long players, a joyous song cycle that surveys the feeling that unites us all.

And that feeling, in case you were unaware, is love. Every number is a winner in this Cabaret of Love. “I Never Knew” sings a sweet song about discovering true love atop an upbeat, seventies track sporting a gorgeous melody and a lively guitar solo from Chad Quist. “Just See If I Care” is a happy-sounding, hit-the-road-Jill Merseybeat-styled rocker featuring the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover singing along and playing lead guitar in quite a Fab way.

My favorite song here is, without question, the Four Freshmen homage, “The Night I Fell in Love With You” (I also hear allusions to the Lettermen and the Manhattan Transfer). This unforgettable, romantic number with an affecting tea room orchestra arrangement and warm lead vocal sung by Tim Smolens from I.S.S. (Ideal Social Situation) should become every couple-in-love’s theme song for years to come.

Dana Countryman, your host in the Cabaret of Love

Cabaret of Love is chock full of guest star turns from such pop favorites as Klaatu’s Terry Draper (who turns in a top-shelf, particularly romantic lead vocal on “I’ll Be Shining Above You”), Klaatu’s Dee Long (electric guitar on “Shout”), and Tiny Volcano’s Scott McPherson (vocals on “You’re Still Number One”). A holiday song with a ’50s-meets-Phil Spector heart, “Gonna Be Home for Christmas” is a particularly welcome bonus track which features Dana’s wife, Tricia, singing along. But perhaps the biggest and best guest star is not actually a guest star at all: this is Dana’s show all the way, and a great and lovely show it is.

The Cabaret of Love

In addition to peerless songcraft and performance, you get a wonderfully impressive package design which extends to the disc label, on which what looks like a coaster from the Cabaret of Love (Dining*Dancing*Drinks) is depicted. The address shown is actually that of the Cabaret in Pioneer Square, an early place at which Dana played with his comedic music group, The Amazing Pink Things (but don’t dial the phone number; it’s made up!).

Cabaret of Love is a glorious gift for music lovers everywhere.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon

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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!


Our Gift-Giving Guide Continues With More Great Releases for You and Your Pop-Loving Family and Friends

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

The new and new-to-you melodic pop releases keep coming, and so shall we. In the coming weeks, we will continue to bring you suggestions for gifts for yourself, and for your melodic pop-loving friends and family.

Today’s collection of suggestions kicks off with the latest from…

Pat Buchanan | “Sandbox” b/w “Hello from the Moon”
(Spyderpop, 2018)
My love of Nashville session cat and recording artist Pat Buchanan goes back nearly 20 years to Idle Jets’ Atomic Fireball album, which was played frequently on the old, weekly Pure Pop Radio show. Now, Pat’s back with a new single, and it is, you will not be surprised to know, fantastic. (Find out everything, and then some, about the single’s two songs by listening to the audio interview below.)

“Sandbox,” written with Pure Pop Radio favorite Bill DeMain, is a lovely slice of melodic pop in which a songwriter looks back at his great songs but cautions that, although everything looks rosy on the outside, inside it’s another story…possibly a sad one. “Hello from the Moon,” written by Terry Simpson, who sings all of the background vocals, is a beautiful mid-tempo ballad about losing a love and trying to navigate the waters.

I spoke to Pat about “Sandbox” and “Hello from the Moon”, about how the songs were written and how they progressed toward the final versions; you can hear that interview below (Fun Fact: “Sandbox” is 20 years old and was originally titled “Continental Breakfast,” and “Hello from the Moon” is even older. This song features a decidedly Andy Partridge/XTC-inspired bridge).

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop

pprListen to my interview with Pat Buchanan, talking about his new single (“Sandbox” b/w “Hello from the Moon”) by clicking the play button on the following player, or click on the Pure Pop Radio button to the left to download (then right click and choose “Save audio as” to save the file to your computer).

The PondHawks | “River Grove” (2018)
Chicago’s PondHawks return with a wistful, nostalgic piece of melodic pop about staying connected with the past while moving on into the future. This beautiful, orchestrated ballad bodes well for future releases from Mario Novelli and Jorie Gracen. Very pretty.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

Thunderegg | Cosmos (2018)
Will Georgantas and crew, a four-piece working out of San Francisco and simultaneously, it appears, in some quadrant of outer space, marry fairly traditional pop and rock songwriting to spacey effects and ambient sound for an 11-song meeting of the melodic minds.

In other words, each song is wrapped in some kind of otherworldly spice to deliver that something extra that expands the soundfield and tickles the senses. There’s a fair amount of catchy R.E.M.-isms floating around these songs, particularly in “Lucky So-and-So,” an upbeat, poppy song that becomes louder as it reaches its end, and “Stupid Town,” another uptempo number.

You’ll also find a nod to Pink Floyd in the final moments of the title song; machinery sound effects echo those heard in Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine.” Also evident: elements of prog, and lots of pleasing melodies. And the odd song out: the faux-country “Math Song,” topped with a light dollop of pedal steel guitar, about a guy who takes a math class just to meet the girl. The upshot: “One plus one is me and you.”

Something different for these ears? Nah, not really. The pop meeting the rock hugging the spacey and ambient sounds really drew me in. Good job, Thunderegg.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes

Tommy and the Rockets & Bikini Wipeouts | Split the Waves (KOTJ, Spain/Roctopus Tea Party, Spain, 2018)
Denmark’s Tommy and the Rockets may be splitting the waves, but they’re also splitting the single…this single, or EP, as it were, with Bikini Wipeouts. Both bands bring two tracks to the communal surfboard and take on the early Beach Boys sound, although they arrive in Surf City with somewhat different approaches.

Tommy and the Rockets hit the waves with the fun, fun, fun “We’re Going Surfin'”, rolling up with great harmonies and a contemporary edge. Their other track is a cover of the Fantastic Baggys’ “Summer Means Fun,” driven uptempo-style to the water’s edge with sweet rock ‘n’ roll guitar.

Bikini Wipeouts’ two tracks, “Pretty Surfer Girl” and “Hawaii,” the latter a cover of the Beach Boys song from 1963’s Surfer Girl album, share a grungy, garage-y approach that suggests their grasp of the Boys of Summer’s sound is a bit closer to the outer reaches of the curl than Tommy and his Rockets, but that’s cool, dudes.

So fun, fun, fun, and far out!

black box Where to Get It: KOTJ, Roctopus Tea Party, Tommy and the Rockets on Bandcamp

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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!

These Gifts are Easy to Wrap! We’re Spotlighting Some of This Holiday Season’s Melodic Gift Possibilities

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.

black box 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?

black box 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.

black box 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):

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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!