Holly? Jolly? Christmas? We’ve Got All Three! And More Melodic Pop Gift-Giving Suggestions

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We continue with our Holly Jolly Christmas Party here on day four, reviewing the latest and greatest holiday releases that are perfect for gift giving. You’ve still got some wrapping paper on hand, right?

Before we get to today’s gift suggestions, let’s give our last two-pack of holiday presents to one lucky person. Today, Curry Cuts’ White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams and Now Sounds’ deluxe expanded edition of the Mamas and the Papas’ People Like Us are up for grabs. Enter below.

This is our last post of 2018. As we gather with friends and family to enjoy the holiday season, and prepare our annual Favorite Records of the Year feature (coming in early January), we wish you all the best and thank you for your support. We couldn’t do this without you. Have a Merry Happy and a Gear New Year!

Well then, let’s get to talking about the tunes…

Brad Marino | Almost Here (2018)
The Connection’s Marino, singing all of the vocals and playing all of the instruments, turns in a trio of Christmas musings set to a holiday beat. The title song is an uptempo number about keeping holiday commotion to a bare minimum (“This Christmas is for you and me”). “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” is another uptempo track celebrating the season (“A time for us to come together/A time for us all to remember/Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”). An uptempo, Rockpile-styled cover of the holiday chestnut “Blue Christmas,” usually delivered in a bluesy frame of mind, caps off a fun EP, perfect for this time of year.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Michael Simmons | “Christmas All Over Again” (2018)
Capping off a really good year in which he released his bravura solo album, First Days of Summer, sparkle*jets u.k.’s Simmons whipped up this bit of holiday joy. Covering Tom Petty’s beloved Christmas tune with good cheer and including Simmons’ best Petty impersonation, sweet background vocals, a nifty electric guitar solo, and bits and bobs of a couple of Christmas classics before the first verse (spot the homages!) is certainly an honest day’s work that we, the listeners, benefit from. Well done, sir.

black box Where to Listen and Get It: Bandcamp

Bob Burger | Christmas Can’t Wait (2016)
This sterling five-track holiday EP shows Zeek Weekling as his actual self, Bob Burger, the long-time New Jersey music man whose solo albums are highly recommended.

Burger helps you celebrate Christmas with, among other top tracks, the upbeat “Gonna Be Christmas,” offering up an enticing melody and attractive harmonies; the humorous, vaguely countryish story song “Santa’s Gonna Crash (Right Through the Ceiling),” which wonders why the big guy can’t just use the front door instead of weighing down the roof, and a knockout version of “Ave Maria,” which features an impassioned lead vocal.

Burger even helps you usher in the new year with the rock shuffle “Happy New Year to Ya.” Whether with the Weeklings or solo, Bob Burger is one of music’s sturdiest artists. Gift this EP to everyone you know, is my suggestion.

Here’s a live version of “Gonna Be Christmas,” with Bob and Jimmy Leahey:

black box Where to Get It: Amazon

The Butties | “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (from 12 Greatest Carols) (2005)
If the Beatles recorded “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in their early style and modeled it after their version of “Twist and Shout,” you’d have this classic side, just one of a dozen such clever holiday workouts contained on the album 12 Greatest Carols. The Butties also wrap bits of “Let It Be” around “Let It Snow,” and rework “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with the spirit of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Plus many more smile-inducing tracks, perfect for Beatle fans on your gift list. The Butties are really fab!

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, CD Baby

Pop Co-Op | “Wrap Yourself in Christmas Eve” (from Happy Holidays from the Co-Op Communique) (2018)
On this holiday-themed release, a free download, the Co-Op Communique matches the 12 days of Christmas with a dozen holiday tracks that celebrate the season from artists as diverse as John T. McMullan, the Bradburys, Dw. Dunphy, and Pure Pop Radio favorite Super 8.

Pop Co-Op’s quartet of popsters–the Spongetones’ Steve Stoeckel, Mr. Encrypto’s Bruce Gordon, Stacy Carson, and Joel Tinnel–lead the pack with my favorite offering, written by Stoeckel, “Wrap Yourself in Christmas Eve.” This is a clever acoustic number about availing oneself of the warmth of the night before the big day. The deft acoustic guitar figures are truly special.

Give this one as a gift for maximum good cheer.

black box Where to Listen and Get It: Song: Bandcamp The album: Bandcamp

Win a Pair of Presents!

Enter below to win a pair of melodic presents for the holiday season from Pure Pop Radio (Curry Cuts’ White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams and Now Sounds’ deluxe expanded edition of the Mamas and the Papas’ People Like Us). Be sure to fill in all fields (type “Curry Now” in the Comment field), and send the completed form to us by tomorrow, Saturday, December 22, at 10 am 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!

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!

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!

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!

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!