Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and new-to-you releases. Pure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop in the universe 24 hours a day.
Spins and Reviews | 05.02.17 By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
A Pure Pop Radio Exclusive:
Bill DeMain | “Honey Bear” and “Leroy Boy” (from the forthcoming album Transatlantic Romantic, 2017)
Last December, I had the great pleasure of adding to the Pure Pop Radio playlist a gorgeous cover of the Beach Boys’ “Wendy,” essayed in grand style by Swan Dive’s Bill DeMain. This glorious cover, stacked rich with harmonies atop a muscular, baroque base, will appear on Bill’s forthcoming, much-anticipated solo album, Transatlantic Romantic. Piano-based magic lies ahead.
Also appearing on Transatlantic Romantic are two songs that Bill has allowed me to play first on the radio: “Honey Bear” and “Leroy Boy.” Color all of us lucky. “Honey Bear” is a lovely meeting of gold-standard influence, blending a distinct Randy Newman/Harry Nilsson vibe with Van Dyke Parks ambiance, pedal steel guitar, played by Jim Hoke, horns, and a sprinkling of Beach Boys’ style percussion. Written with Larry Goldings, this has standard written all over it. It’s beautiful.
“Leroy Boy” takes its cue from Todd Rundgren’s iconic “We Gotta Get You a Woman” (Bill had originally thought to write a sequel to the song, but opted instead to wax poetic from personal experience). Rundgren fans will dig this easy-going number, which draws on the sound of Philadelphia soul; fans of Carole King will be similarly entranced. There’s a bit of a Steely Dan vibe in here, as well. There’s also a beautiful string arrangement topping the bill. You really couldn’t ask for anything more. Or delicious.
“Leroy boy, where you been all this time?” Bill sings as “Leroy Boy” gets out of the starting gate. Well, the answer is it’s Bill DeMain we’re talking about, and he’s been fashioning what promises to be one of the best albums of the year. Certainly, with “Leroy Boy” and “Honey Bear,” and the wonderful cover of “Wendy,” Bill is off to a great start.
Spins and Reviews | (Originally posted 1.10.17)
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Dana Countryman’s Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits (Teensville) 2017
And now for something completely different? Not completely, actually, because this heartfelt, loving tribute to the sounds of 1960s girl groups shares the same depth of commitment and heart that Dana Countryman put into his much-loved pop songs trilogy, concluded in 2015 with Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp!.
The only tangible difference here is that the 19 songs on offer are sung by an array of talented female vocalists chosen by Dana because they could match him heartbeat for heartbeat and bring to life his wonderful, period-esque songs, written from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl living in the early 1960s.
Both familiar and perhaps new-to-you vocalists such as Lisa Mychols, Swan Dive’s Molly Felder, Pop 4’s Andrea Perry, Kelly Harland, Lisa Jenio, Julie Johnson Sand, Kathy Hettel, and Tricia Countryman, along with Tana Cunningham and Mary Chris Henry, beautifully communicate the joy that has been woven by Dana and his co-writers into the fabric of this musical homage to the catchy sounds of a comparatively simpler time.
The characters who populate these songs have nothing more in mind than being smitten with boys, being jealous of girls who like the boys they like, true love, loving a Beatle, and twisting at Granny’s house. A simpler time? Most certainly, and certainly a period of their lives during which everything is full of wonder, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
(left to right) Dana Countryman and Klaatu’s Dee Long
A sense of wonder permeates the proceedings throughout this delightful album, for which Dana plays most of the instruments and sings backup vocals (guests include the artist’s good luck charm, Klaatu’s Dee Long). And the highlights are many, such as the Phil Spector-y toe-tapper “Chemistry,” sung by Kathy Hettel in the guise of a girl bored in chemistry class until she partners up with the boy who sits behind her for a class project. The pair falls in love, holds hands and sits side-by-side, learning about, yes, chemistry.
“Proud to Be His Girlfriend,” sung with honest emotion by Lisa Mychols, is the simple story of a girl who is proud to be her guy’s gal. It’s a gorgeous mix of ’60s Brian Wilson and Carole King innocence. “My Heart Belongs to One Boy,” sung beautifully by Lisa Jenio, should rule the AM radio charts, and if it were around back in the good old days, it probably would have.
I’ve always felt that Dana’s music would have ruled the charts back in whichever day you might choose to focus on. The reason is simple, I think: His mantra when writing songs is always to entertain, to brighten the listener’s day. You know that feeling you get when something you hear, whether it’s a song on the radio or coming out of your home stereo or computer speakers, takes root in you in just the right way and you feel a certain type of tingling? That’s what happens when you connect with popular art that moves you.
Dana’s music moves me and always has–I’ve certainly written enough about it and played so much of it on the radio. Call it the Countryman Effect or simply accept it into your consciousness, but accept it without question and let it be a part of your life. Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits is a joyful experience that you and I and everyone else will be remembering and enjoying for a long time to come.
Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The entire album: “Girlville,” “It’s Not Your Fault,” “I’ve Run All Out of Tears,” “My Heart Belongs to One Boy,” “How Do You Know When You Love a Boy?,” “I’m in Love with George Harrison,” “Bom Sh Bom Bom,” “Pretty Good Sign,” “Because I Love Him,” “Chemistry,” “Jealous Girl,” “One Last Dance Together,” “Love Till the End of Time,” “Little Shy Boy,” “Proud to be His Girlfriend,” “Twist Party at Granny’s House,” “I’ll be Good For You,” “Little Bitty Snowflake,” and “Johnny Still Loves Me” Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Kook Kat, iTunes
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Our most favorite thing in the world is to take receipt of music from both new and heritage melodic pop artists, spin it, and add it to our ever-growing playlist. Every day is akin to unwrapping presents; the treasures contained within these virtual packages are sweet gifts that we’re thrilled to be able to pass on to you.
Here are five of the latest groovy additions to our playlist, now playing in rotation (more new adds posts coming next week):
Vanilla | “On a Night Like This” Jayson Jarmon’s ace outfit is once again releasing one song a month on the way toward completing their next album, this time around mystically titled Mystik Nights of Takoma, a moniker that conjures up images of a bunch of lodge brothers and their bartenders, all decked out in bright red smocks and fezzes, gathered around a glowing, weathered oak table late into the night, imbibing and chewing the fat and bottomless tubs of Turkish Taffy until last call or the inevitable call home that starts with “Um, can I get a ride?”
But first things first. The bouncy “On a Night Like This,” a typically catchy Vanilla number about a guy whose words can’t be trusted when the bubbly is flowing his way, is sung with smooth pop finesse by Tube Top’s Gavin Guss, who is ably supported by Jayson, who wrote the song and slings a sweet acoustic guitar and nifty solos over his shoulder; Sean Gaffney, who plays electric guitars, bass, and sings backing vocals; Dana Sims, who mans the drums; and Eric Robert, who makes the Hammond B3 sing. What a melody! What a song!
Our love for Jayson’s writing and Vanilla-esque execution knows no bounds, so we’re confident that, even if Mystik Knights of Takomadoesn’t contain a sequel to the much-loved “Monkeypox!,” which has been adopted as the Pure Pop Radio clubhouse’s call-to-arms Kumbaya song, it will rank high in esteem whichever way the wind blows.
Stay tuned for a special Vanilla contest coming next week to this space. In the meantime, don’t listen to this superb number without your fez on, oh no!
Stepford Knives | “I Don’t Want Her (Anymore)” Jamie Hoover’s latest project, with Otis Hughes, is the wonderfully-named Stepford Knives, which may or may not call to mind an image of sharp tools exhibiting zero emotion that still manage to live on the cutting edge. These Stepford Knives, however, are full of emotion and pop goodness, delivering a powerful take on a great song from the late David Enloe, guitarist for the Woods.
This insanely catchy, hook-filled song explodes with fireworks-powered percussion, lots of gutsy guitars, a strong melody, and in-your-face vocals. Mastered to impress (and boy does it!) by Dave Harris, the song’s quite-alive psychedelic light show-powered video, created by Phillip D’Angelo, is an essential component of the complete Stepford Knives package (see it here).
Bravo, Messrs. Hoover and Hughes, and don’t let too many days flutter away before your next wonderful creation hits our ears!
Erik Voeks | “Being in Love With You” and “She Was Doomed” Just released and already reaching top-flight status here at Pure Pop Radio, this classic-sounding one-two pop punch continues Erik’s run of great new songs. “Being in Love With You,” about a relationship at odds with itself, starts out as a tender ballad and quickly becomes a power pop number with teeth, and a great, hooky melody.
“She Was Doomed” is an uptempo raver powered by another great melody; guitars, guitars, guitars; delicious vocal harmonies, and a pounding drum turn. Co-producer Patrick Hawley played the drums and percussion, and Cameron Hawk sang background vocals on “Being in Love With You.” Credit Erik with everything else. Another terrific release from one of Pure Pop Radio’s favorite artists.
Kenny Herbert | “3 Days of Summer (Woodstock ’69)” Hot on the heels of the release of his wonderful new album, the romantic song cycle Forever and Beyond, Kenny Herbert returns with a rocking, sentimental look at the magic of Woodstock. Cleverly inserting Crosby, Stills and Nash harmony bits that also echo Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” amidst the lyrical look back at a very different and well-remembered time, Kenny sings about the historic festival and the devoted music fans who endured three days of mud and rain and peace and harmony and came together as one.
“They danced to all their heroes, making rock ‘n’ roll history,” Kenny sings with heartfelt emotion. Guitarist Rab Howat, bassist Roy Martin, and drummer Martin Wykes bash out this terrific tune; Rab and Nobby Clark sing the backgrounds. David Valentine, from the band RAF, produced to great effect. A wonderful song from one of our favorite music men.
The Monkees | Good Times! We just reviewed this fantastic release by Micky, Mike, Davy and Peter (read Alan’s take here). We’re now playing all of the tracks on this glorious album in rotation: “Birth of an Accidental Hipster,” “Good Times,” “Gotta Give it Time,” “I Know What I Know,” “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time),” “Wasn’t Born to Follow,” “Little Girl,” “Love to Love,” “Me and Magdalena,” “Our Own World,” “She Makes Me Laugh,” “Whatever’s Right,” “You Bring the Summer,” and two bonus songs available as part of the iTunes version of this album: “Terrifying” and “Me and Magdalena (Version 2).” Absolutely wonderful.
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. From the Beatles to the Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, the Connection and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.
We’ve got two spectacular additions to our playlist today, and they couldn’t be any more different from each other if they tried. First up, Kenny Herbert’s fantastic Forever & Beyond. Here is Alan’s review:
Kenny Herbert | Forever & Beyond “And there was love, love, love, love/Anyone could see that there was love/Love all over me,”sang Danny Wilson in their song “The Second Summer of Love,” and truer words have never been spoken, for love, love, love, love is what there is, what lives within us, what shines above and around us, what makes us whole.
Veteran musician and songwriter Kenny Herbert, with pals Rab Howat and Pilot’s David Paton in tow, is all about love on his fabulous new album, Forever and Beyond. These 14 romantic songs, inspired by Caroline, the love of Kenny’s life, are tremendously affecting, beautifully drawn snapshots of a happy existence. Throughout, Kenny’s emotional vocals shine.
From the 1930s-styled shuffle of “My All Time Love,” which glistens with a beautifully-played, spare and jazzy guitar solo, and the 1950s vibe of “My Favourite Everything,” which features gorgeous background vocal harmonies, to the lovely mid-tempo ballad “This Lovin’ Feelin'” and the upbeat, hit-worthy, toe-tapping ode to the effect that the Beatles have had on us all,”It’s All Good,” this is a spectacular, lovingly realized collection–a fine assemblage that will do no less than charm listeners worldwide.
Produced by David Paton, Forever and Beyond is the romantic, melodic pop music album to beat this year. We’re playing all 14 songs in rotation: “Forever and Beyond (Our Wedding Song),” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Queensferry Girl,” “You,” “This Lovin’ Feelin’,” “It’s All Good,” “Waving to Trains,” “Caroline,” “My Favourite Everything,” “My All Time Love,” “Falling,” “Nobody But You,” “Paradise Falls,” and “Love Very Much (Live Demo).” Love, love, love, love this album.
– Alan Haber
And here is our second new add to the playlist for today:
Euro Trash | “Mature” From Norway comes a band with much promise, as evidenced by their new single, “Mature.” This power-popping number is all about the guitars, and the guitars, too; the singalong chorus and the infectious melody and harmonies are powerful and the song is hooky indeed. The whole thing gets under your skin lickety-split. So, of course, we’re playing this one in rotation. (Thanks to Caddy’s Tom Dahl for tipping this one our way.)
That’s it for this week’s look at some of the new songs and artists newly playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. More next week. Meanwhile, why not check out our 24-hour stream by clicking on one of the listen links below. Pure Pop Radio is playing the soundtrack of your lives!
We’re just getting started reporting on all of the new songs and artists we’re adding to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Today’s mega-post follows yesterday’s exciting list of hot new numbers we’re featuring as part of our hand-picked 8,600-strong rotation.
Let’s get to today’s array of top-flight tunes.
Gleeson | Curse My Lucky Stars Whether or not it was their intention, the members of Austin, Texas band Gleeson have made their White Album. Here it is, a sparkling collection of songs varied in approach and tone that makes a case for melodic pop being the genre of the moment. Encompassing beautiful balladry, art-pop, rock and retro charm, Curse My Lucky Stars is a marvel.
It would be a disservice to listeners to touch on every joyous surprise within these grooves, so I’ll touch on just a few to whet your appetite. “Lollygagged” combines a Randy Newman-like arrangement with Paul McCartney melodicism for a superlative listening experience. “Troll Day,” this album’s first single, pushes electric guitar stabs with a new-waveish melodic attack, eventually settling on a old-fashioned rock motif. And the incredible, adventurous “Milton Bradley Bible” washes the proceedings with a Godley and Creme approach and enough musical ideas to get a hundred songs off the ground.
Real strings and horns, of which not enough can be said in these days of electronic impersonation, and the throw-everyone-off-course marching band anthem “The Gleeson Victory March,” plus these wonderful, imaginative songs, all add up to a listening experience that will likely be unequaled for the rest of this year. Unless it is, of course, but you need not worry: Gleeson will be here to catch your fall.
Within these grooves, unparalleled excellence abounds, and we’ve got nine examples of it playing in rotation: “What’s Going On,” “Troll Day,” “Lollygagged,” “With My Motive Gone,” “Something New,” “Monte Siesta,” “The Size of Empathy,” “Seasons,” and “Milton Bradley’s Bible.”
What an album!
– Alan Haber
Timmy Sean | “My Jaded Love” After a year’s worth of new recordings that lit up the sky in 2015, master musician Timmy Sean returns with the first of 25-plus new numbers in 2016–roughly half of last year’s output. Amazing. And, to use a well-worn baseball metaphor, this first song, a Hall and Oates seventies-styled slice of soulful pop, hits the proverbial it out of the park. Listen especially for a truly lovely bridge toward the end, the way that Timmy varies the lead vocal line as the song plays out, and a brief, wisp of an a cappella burst that, taken together, prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man, as he was in 2015, is the musician to watch and listen to in 2016. Simply irresistible.
Family Values | Time Stands Still Small packages are filled with great things. In this case, Norway’s Family Values, working with producer Tom Dahl (Caddy), offers up an EP housing a quartet of ultra-catchy songs reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub and the Merrymakers. “Paris Syndrome,” “Take Some Time Now, Carolina,” “Time Stands Still,” and “Watch the Sunrise” are all top of the pops here at Pure Pop Radio. Wonderful.
7Horse | Livin’ in a Bitch of a World Rising from the ashes of Pure Pop Radio fave Dada, Joie Calio and Phil Leavitt now trade in a similar musical mindset. Their music is a mix of rock and roll and pop. The pair’s keen sense of melody and song structure are always placed center stage. Our playlist is now adorned with four songs from this album: “Two Stroke Machine,” “One Week,” “Drift,” and “She’s So Rock and Roll,” a beat-driven, guitar-fueled rave-up that could have been big on FM radio in the ’70s. Sweet.
Adam Walsh – “Wish You Were Here” Pure Pop Radio favorite Adam Walsh continues to turn out delectable takes on songs he loves; his version of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” turns this tune into a folk-rock testament with Adam’s always-commanding voice up front where it belongs. We continue to be nothing less than knocked out by the quality of this man’s output.
The Looking | Lead Me to the Water Americana, yes, but wrapped in a country-pop wrapper and perfect for Pure Pop Radio. Led by Indiana-born Todd Carter, these songs are catchy numbers played with passion. Carter listened to Syd Barrett’s “Dark Globe,” Husker Du and the Circle Jerks and wound up embracing country music on the way to crafting this wonderful album. We’re playing six songs in rotation: “Not Your Friend”; “Clouds”; “You and Me”; “Bone to Pick,” an orchestrated gem; “Burning Doves,” and the title track. Great stuff.
Solarflairs | “Carnival” Elisabeth Eickhoff’s Memphis, Tennessee outfit Solarflairs returns to Pure Pop Radio just three weeks after we added the group’s “Spirit of Johnny” to our playlist. We’re happy to bring you this teriffic new song, an upbeat number with a great melody and spirit, as part of our rotation.
Hartley Mandel | “Brother of Mine” Co-written by Hartley and Klaatu’s Terry Draper, “Brother of Mine” is a nostalgic, personal song inspired by Hartley’s late brother. The song’s beautiful melody and Hartleys vocals carry the day. A lovely track, produced by Terry, who also plays the instruments, now in rotation.
That’s a wrap on today’s tour of some of the latest new songs and artists added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Still more coming tomorrow. Until then, why not click on one of the listen links below and hear some of the greatest melodic pop music in the world, spanning six decades of joy. Pure Pop Radio is the place to be!
Once again, we’ve got a pile of new music to add to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Said pile reaches from the floor to the ceiling, which means it’s time to add said new music to our hard-working rotation.
Here are just some of the new sounds you’ll hear by tuning into Pure Pop Radio–simply click on one of the listen links below to get poppin’! And now, here we go…
Butch Young | Mercury Man Never, never, never tell us that the album is a goner–Butch Young’s miraculous, hall-of-fame-worthy Mercury Man instantly announces itself as one of the best albums of 2016 with its dazzling array of 1970s-styled instant classics, peppered with a mix of Paul McCartney and Harry Nilsson-esque magic. Every one of these Los Angeles-based artist’s songs is a clear winner. We’re playing all of them in rotation: the title track, “Persephone,” “One Foot In,” “Dime Store Jesus,” “The Fools of May,” “Child of Nature,” “Sunday Driver,” “Mohammed on Top of the Mountain,” “Algernon,” “Asteroid,” “Wonderful Life,” and “Starlit Lullaby.” Astounding and really terrific.
The Doughboys | “Rock On” And here they come, barreling in from outer space or some wild and untamed structure being held together by bailing wire and chewing gum somewhere in the outer reaches, wherever that might be. It’s the Doughboys, and they’re rough and tumbling with garage-rock fever inside and around David Essex’s ’70s classic with Richie Heyman’s pounding drums, Myke Scavone’s wailing blues harp, Gar Francis’s rocking guitars and Mike Caruso’s bopping bass. Recorded by the Grip Weed’s Kurt Reil at his House of Vibes studio with widescreen, in-your-face fervor, this is another classic track from New Jersey’s in-the-pocket foursome. Rock on, indeed.
Herb Eimerman | “Soft Landing” This beautiful, heartfelt song, Herb’s first new recording of 2016, was written in remembrance of his father. Supported by Stefan Johansson and Joe Algeri, who also mixed and produced, and featuring some of the sweetest background harmonies you’ve heard in a very long time, “Soft Landing” will stay with you always.
Cotton Mather | “The Cotton Mather Pledge” The latest in a series of new songs from this venerable Austin, Texas band roars right in with a sneaky cymbal wash straight out of Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy” and quickly settles into an energetic pop and roll number starring Robert Harrisons’ slightly-scratchy, fuzzed-out, attention-getting vocal. Dig the Beatle-esque, Rubber Soul-ish guitar harmony at about 1:40. Playing as we speak in rotation, it’s burning up our airwaves.
The Lunar Laugh | “Nighthawks and Mona Lisa” Jared Lekites and Connor Anderson are in a light country mood for this breezy, melodic, mid-tempo number slated to be included on the Lunar Laugh’s upcoming second album. It’s another keeper from the stars of Oklahoma City pop.
Erik Voeks – “She Loved Her Jangle Pop” and “Blue Water” Erik Voeks’ “My Dentist” is one of the stone-cold classics from Pure Pop Radio’s early days; these new songs are even better. “She Loved Her Jangle Pop” is a joyous, upbeat hookasaurus, as catchy as anything out there. “Blue Water” trades a slow and studied opening for a more upbeat pace, complete with a beautiful melody and more than a hint of Prefab Sprout in its DNA. New Erik Voeks is always a good thing. A great thing, actually.
The Del Zorros | “Go Ahead and Ask Me” Monty and Stede continue on in the time-honored Zorros-riffic tradition with another lovely, easygoing and typically tuneful song with another catchy melody that comes from, well, we don’t know where, but keep going there boys, will you? Now playing in rotation, as if there were any doubt.
The Lost Boys | “China in the Sink” This rollicking pop-rocker, all dressed up in catchy clothes, screams radio airplay, which is just what we’re giving it. Instantly memorable, with one of those indelible hooks and a short-and-sweet running time–1:49–this is a clear winner. A hit waxing if ever we heard one. Dynamic and quite wonderful.
The Big Believe | “You Already Are” We’ve been playing Amanda Thompson’s lovely songs for awhile and loving each one like the gorgeous creatures they are. This one is arguably Amanda’s best yet, a big, atmospheric and emotional ballad with hints of Kate Bush peeking out from its floorboards. Keep ’em coming, please.
Sons of Morning | Sons of Morning Here’s a nice surprise that made us smile. We like this band’s sound, which dips into many catchy musical nooks and crannies. How did they get their sound? Here’s how the band’s website puts it: “Painstaking efforts were made to achieve the desired feel for this album. All tube amps, a choice selection of just the right stringed instruments… drums that sound like drums, recording methods, and production were all key elements in presenting an album with the warmth of the analog days…” We’d say that about sums it up. We’re playing four songs: “He Wore Black,” a tribute to Johnny Cash; “Not a Sound,” “Hard Livin’,” and “Outta My Head,” a tune that could have been on the Association’s first album (no foolin’).
That’s it for today. More tomorrow. In the meantime, why not click on one of the handy listen links below to bathe in the more than 8,600 handpicked songs streaming in rotation on Pure Pop Radio? You’ll love what you hear!
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. From the Beatles to the Spongetones, the Nines, Kurt Baker, the Connection and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.
Tricia Countryman with John Hunter Phillips “Goin’ On” from the forthcoming album Sometimes When I’m Dreaming
Review by Alan Haber
First, there is the song, a nearly perfect expression of love, as Brian Wilson might put it, getting to the heart of it; a joyous celebration of melody and harmony and the ability that one or two or three people have to summon that joyousness from their collective core and build something that will live within us always.
The melody comes from that place. It’s the melody that draws us into the song, and then there are the harmonies, the harmonies that make the hairs on the backs of our necks stand on end and push that button. You know the one–the one that makes you smile, which is payment enough, I suppose, for a musical job so very well done.
Tricia Countryman and singer John Hunter Phillips show their love for melody and harmony with their transcendent version of Brian Wilson and Mike Love’s “Goin’ On,” which originally appeared as the opening track on the Beach Boys’ Keepin’ the Summer Alive, an album teeming with delights, in 1980. Produced by Dana Countryman, these nearly four minutes of bliss stop everything around it in their tracks.
There are the voices, intertwined and perfectly matched, singing ever so sweetly together, and there are the instruments, all played by Dana, save for Mike Marinig’s muscular saxophone, and there is the arrangement, faithful to the original track but tweaked with that certain something that only an artist can bring to the table. As the song plays, you are transported to that place where all around you is still and serene. All you have to do is listen.
I love the sound of this version of “Goin’ On,” and you will too: Listen to Tricia Countryman, with John Hunter Phillips, sing this wonderful song tonight, premiering exclusively on Pure Pop Radio at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT). And listen to it after that, playing in rotation as part of our playlist of 8,500 handpicked melodic pop songs from the ’60s to today. You’ll be glad you did.
Can it really be spring? Certainly, the calendar says it is, and so does the merry mood in place here at the always harmony-filled Pure Pop Radio headquarters. Here on the first of five days of our Springtime New Music Explosion, we’ve got a ton of new songs and artists to tell you about; we’ve added hundreds of new tracks to our playlist, all of them currently spinning in rotation.
So without further ado, let’s get to the business at hand. Beginning today, and continuing through this Friday, we’ll be telling you all about the new sounds sizzling on our air. We kick off today’s list with our exclusive airing of tracks from what is surely one of the great albums being released this year.
Andy Bopp | Blisters and Thorns Leave it to longtime pop patriot Andy Bopp to put together one of the finest collections of catchy songs that will likely see release this year. Blisters and Thorns shines from first song to last. Like Andy’s great recordings released under the band name Myracle Brah, these songs place their melodies and hooks center stage, right where they should be. It’s an exciting collection, and we’re the first radio station to play them.
Where to start with a collection that more than makes the grade with each song? The lovely, mid-tempo “Hello” scores with gorgeous, fluid pedal steel lines (also heard on the catchy “Every Word”) and Andy’s emotional vocal. A strong drum track shines on the upbeat “Every Word” (the thrashing cymbals add an extra measure of zing). The pretty ballad, “Lowe,” rides with understated banjo and pedal steel parts and Andy’s committed vocal.
Through two decades, Andy Bopp has graced pop fans with 15-plus albums and countless, thrilling musical moments that have stood the test of time. The songs that make up Blisters and Thorns, a quite great and important album–one of the very best of this still young year–are equally superlative. We’re the first radio station to be playing these songs ahead of their release (not yet scheduled). Seven of them are now playing in rotation: “Lowe,” “Minneapolis,” “Hello,” “Every Word,” “Simple Things,” “Broken Ties,” and “Red Eye.”
Supported by an ace group of talented players, including Pure Pop Radio favorite Nick Bertling, Warren Boes, Andrew Grimm, Brian Simms, and J Robins, who co-produced this album with Andy and mixed the songs, Andy has made a truly wonderful long player. Awesome.
Pop 4 | “Help is On its Way” Everything this quartet of pop magicians touches turns to gold, as evidenced by their exciting cover of Little River Band’s “Help is On its Way,” one of the songs collected on radio station WFMU’s Super Hits of the Seventies: Hit Explosion!, which is tied into the station’s 2016 fundraiser.
Recorded exclusively for this compilation, Pop 4’s spirited take on “Help is On its Way,” a top 15 tune on the Billboard chart back in 1977, nearly eclipses the original’s lovability factor (we totally dig the chug-a, chug-a, percussive guitar hits, the groovy guitar solo, and the sly little key change leading into the instrumental playout). The group’s Scott McPherson, Andrea Perry, KC Bowman and Kirk Adams take this classic song at a bit of a faster pace and with a little more panache (yes, we said panache). Why cover such a favorite tune? The following text is presented in the liner notes for Super Hits of the Seventies: Hit Explosion!:
“We nominated KC to be producer of our cover song and he chose this song because he loved it as a kid, partly because it was unusual subject matter for a pop hit in the 70s. Other songs were about boogie, pina coladas, werewolves, skeezy romance. This song was about being totally inside your own head. And it has an undeniable chorus hook. Sounds like a commercial jingle. Plus we wanted [to] do something that hasn’t been covered to death and isn’t in heavy rotation in karaoke bars and classic rock/oldies radio. And, it was the fourth biggest selling single in Australia in 1977, which makes it a legitimate lost classic.” Word, right? Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, where the members of Pop 4 have open seats at “the table.” Place settings included.
Miami Dan and the Hayes Street Band | The Days Ahead Speaking of superlative, Miami Dan’s latest release, a terrific and too-short EP, should find pride of place in melodic pop collections worldwide. Exhibiting a sharp melodic sense, these songs, beautifully arranged and full of deep hooks, are among the best this artist has delivered. The title song rolls through with a somewhat relaxed “Be My Baby” vibe; “Broken Shells,” similarly relaxed and tuneful, sings with lovely harmony vocals; and the absolutely gorgeous ballad, “We Tried to Take Love All the Way,” dreamy and sounding like nothing less than a standard that should be covered by the great, popular crooners of all time, is this record’s shining star. We’re honored to be playing these songs in rotation.
The Floor Models | Letter from Liverpool The first new song from the Floor Models in 30 years is an instantly memorable, melodic gem, now playing on our air, that sports a catchy melody and jangly guitars (and allusions to the Byrds and Don McLean (trust us on this one)).
The Letter from Liverpool EP is also represented on Pure Pop Radio by the upbeat, rhythmic and catchy “Sittin’ Tight”; a live take of the very Roger McGuinn-esque “The Hand that’s Strong”; and the original acoustic demo of “Letter from Liverpool.”
In 2013, the Floor Models were given a tasty retrospective resurrection by Australia’s Zero Hour Records (the terrific Floor Your Love–highly recommended). Seek it, and this top-flight EP, out. How this group, which comprised Gerry Devine, Andrew Pasternack, Steve Simels and Glen Robert Allen, didn’t top the charts three decades ago is a mystery. Time for that to change now, we think.
Tommy Sistak | “If I Only Knew” And now, something pretty much completely different from the great Tommy Sistak–a song that would have sat comfortably on AM radio playlists back in the golden ’60s alongside the old-timey pop of the New Vaudeville Band. The ukelele and the washboard–certainly the first instance of this colorful instrument in Pure Pop Radio history–propel Tommy’s tune, which he classifies as “skiffle pop,” into the charming track hall of fame. As catchy and wonderful as his previous songs have been, this one may well be our favorite. It might wind up being yours, too. Quite groovy in so very many ways.
The Hour Zero | “See You Again” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” Elsie (aka Lisa) Mychols and Tom Richards thrill with a pair of classic-sounding (think a cross between Blondie and the Ramones), charming and breathless pop ‘n’ roll numbers that feature Elsie’s smooth-as-silk, yet forceful, vocals and a powerful rhythm section. These catchy songs may well peel the paint off of your walls! Both songs are now playing in rotation. More, please!
Pezband | Women and Politics Nearly four full decades after the release of Pezband’s first, self-titled LP, the band is back with a sparkling new EP, recorded more than 30 years ago. Women and Politics remained unreleased until recently, when Frodis Records remastered it and brought it to market. Pezband fans, and power pop fans in general, should rejoice. We know we are. We’re playing two songs from this great release: the ultra-catchy, upbeat slice of power pop, “Waiting in Line,” and the propulsive, rocking, provocatively-titled “Fab Girlfriends.” Powerful? Check. Great harmonies? Check. Wonderful and welcome? Check and check. A truly great release.
Randy Franklin with Jamie Hoover | “Constellation Prize” This Franklin/Hoover co-write, produced and recorded by Jamie, about not being the one the girl wants (the constellation prize), proves instead that nice people finish first, for it is the nice people, in love with great pop music, who benefit from this very Hoover-sounding recording. Catchy as catchy can be, with great vocals and instrumentation, this is a clear winner. Would there be more on the way, we wonder?
The Optic Nerve | “Penelope Tuesday” and “Here to Stay” The Optic Nerve created pure pop music while the 1980s garage rock scene stormed around them. The band released two singles and fizzled. An album was recorded in 2005, but not released. Thankfully, there is a happy ending to this all-familiar story: State Records has put out two of the best songs from that album, both of which are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. “Penelope Tuesday” is a catchy slice of buoyant melodic pop that surely would have been a mid-’60s chart topper; the soft-pop charmer “Here to Stay” sounds for all the world like a song that Harpers Bizarre might have recorded in the ’60s when they were called the Tikis. A great, important discovery.
Fallon Cush | Bee in Your Bonnet If Bob Dylan were an out and out pop artist while still playing with rock conventions, he would trade his songs under the name Fallon Cush and he’d be called Steve Smith, a Sydney, Australia musician with three-decades of experience under his belt. Bee in Your Bonnet is a top-flight collection of engaging songs that features Smith’s commanding vocals and engaging instrumentation. We’ve added six songs to our playlist, including the poppy, mid-tempo title ballad, and the aluring “There’s a Dark Side to that Moon.” We’re also playing “Less You’re Near,” “Kings Ransom,” “Dorothy,” and “Haunting.” A great long player.
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And so it goes: Day one of Pure Pop Radio’s Springtime New Music Explosion comes to a close. Day two is only a day away, so make it a point to come back here tomorrow for another tour through our latest song and artist adds. Until then, why not click on one of the listen links below to hear the above-mentioned songs and 8,500 more, playing in rotation on your home for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today…Pure Pop Radio. It’s all happening here!
We’ve got a lot of new music to report to you this week–we’ve added a ton of new songs and artists to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. To kick off our bounty of delights, we present Alan’s feature review of a fantastic EP from one of pop music’s greatest talents.
Cliff Hillis | Love Not War Artists like Cliff Hillis make my job easy by always delivering top-flight releases. Love Not War’s seven musical pearls constitute nothing less than the writing of the book on the pop EP as high art; every song is a dream construct, a marvel of melody and harmony.
From the single-worthy, should-be-hitbound “A Boy Downtown” and “Suicide Doors,” a meeting of the minds that recalls the spirit and sound of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecelia,” to the pop-rocking, Dave Edmunds-meets-Paul Simon “Buddha’s Belly” and the pretty, shuffling “Don’t Drown the Wind,” which satisfies with an entrancing and beguiling wordless harmony section that will make you drop to your knees, Love Not War is another great, early 2016 release that will undoubtedly earn top marks from all concerned at year’s end.
As you might expect, and because it’s the right thing to do, we’ve added the entire lot of these songs to our playlist. So, in addition to the above-mentioned songs, we’re playing “Mayor of Midnight,” “Too Many Songs,” which ends with a lovely, orchestration that absolutely satisfies, and the title track, which has been in our rotation for awhile. Simply fanstastic through and through.
– Alan Haber
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More tomorrow. While you watch the clock tick and tock until then, why not click on one of the listen links below to enjoy the more than 8,400 handpicked songs we have playing on our air? You’ll love them all!
It’s all about the new around here this week. Here in the world of catchy melodic pop music from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s (that’s a whole lot of new!), we’re swimming in a sea of delicious new songs and artists just added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist, including a first-time airing of a major new album by one of your favorite artists.
Yes, it’s all about the new this week here at Pure Pop Radio. There’s so much new music making its way through the airwaves that we’re giving our regular specialty programs a bit of a breather. But don’t worry–Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing, Brian Bringelson’s Needle Meets Vinyl, and the weekly Beatles roundtable, Things We Said Today, will be back before you can say “How was your vacay?”
And yes, we’ve got brand-new editions of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on tap–three brand-new shows as it stands, including a return appearance by one of your favorite heritage artists. But it’s all hush-hush for now…all will soon be revealed. (Just wait until you hear!)
So get ready to feast your ears on some too-cool-for-school new music, and get ready to feast your eyes on our lively reviews, all coming this week to a computer screen near you!
Get ready to enjoy the greatest melodic pop in the universe, right here on Pure Pop Radio!