Your Weekend Listening Sorted. Pure Pop Radio is On the Air 24/7!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Pure Pop Radio, your home for the greatest melodic pop music from artists both new and new-to-you, is on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which means your listening regiment for this weekend is well sorted.

We’ve got a lineup of artists whose work practically defines what makes melodic pop music such a joy to listen to. We’ve told you, during the past two weeks, of newly-released sounds from today’s top artists playing on our air in rotation, Winterpills, John Howard, the Explorers Club, Missyfit, Surf School Dropouts and Emily Zuzek among them.

New adds over the past week include Cloud Eleven’s pure Beach Boys-y pop condensed into a joyous minute-long faux commercial for Brian Wilson’s fabled 1960s health food store (“Radiant Radish (Theme),” and a multi-song draw from Pure Pop Radio all-time favorite Kenny Herbert.

We’ve also been mining the Pure Pop Radio archives for songs and artists from across the decades that have been ongoing staples of our on-air streaming mix over the years. From the 2010s, in fact, we’ve added treasured tracks from Sunday Sun, Rob Bonfiglio, Nelson Bragg, Oberon Rose, Jet Electro, Kelly Jones, Jay Stansfield and that up-and-coming 🙂 musical magician, Jeff Lynne.

There’s more where all that came from, but space is at a premium in this instance; more new adds, both new and new-to-you, will be announced next week.

Meanwhile, tune in to Pure Pop Radio all weekend long and beyond for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe. Pure Pop Radio is your 24-hour-a-day source for the greatest melodic pop music to be heard anywhere. Click on the player below and enjoy (within the player, check out the last few songs played and don’t forget to save the player to your desktop or tablet).

Thanks for listening. Your next favorite song, or one of your current favorites, is now playing…on Pure Pop Radio!

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

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

Pure Pop Radio is Spinning a Tale of Catchy Melodic Pop. Tune In and Sing Along!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Have you tuned in to Pure Pop Radio to hear the catchy mix of melodic wonders being sung by melodic pop’s brightest stars? Good! We’re glad to have you along on our radio-riffic journey.

More of the greatest melodic pop in the universe is being added to Pure Pop Radio’s mix every day. Since last Tuesday, when we returned to the airwaves after a long layoff, refreshed and invigorated and full of joyous optimism, we have added a considerable number of new and new-to-you tracks that your ears will no doubt have been craving.

Like:

Winterpills‘ catchy new single, “Golden Waves”; tracks from John Howard’s classic-sounding new album, To the Left of the Moon’s Reflection, a thinking person’s lineup of lovely, melodic songs (it has just been announced that Kool Kat Musik will be releasing this long-player on CD); songs from two brand-new albums from the Explorers Club, one sporting brand-new, harmony-rich numbers, and the other reaching into pop music’s history for covers of classic recordings by the Turtles and Paul Revere and the Raiders, among other bright lights.

And Pure Pop Radio favorites from the past, such as Nelson Bragg’s “What She’s Done to Him,” from Nelson’s 2012 classic album; Oberon Rose’s “Wunjo,” the title song from the group’s same-named 2012 long-player; and a quartet of catchy songs from Poppermost, circa 2015, including the wonderfully-named “Patti’s Record World.”

MISSYFIT

And there is more…much more, in fact, such as new songs from Pop 4’s Kirk Adams, Caper Clowns, and MISSYFIT, Pure Pop Radio Hall of Famer Roger Klug’s latest project, which recasts Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who Has Seen the Rain” as a Phil Spector production sung by Mia Gentile in a decidedly warm Ronettes kind of way.

You might expect there to be even more where all of the above came from, and you would be right. Pure Pop Radio is your 24-hour-a-day source for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe. Tune in by clicking on the player below (check out the last few songs played, and don’t forget to save the player to your desktop or tablet).

Thanks for listening. Your next favorite song, or one of your current favorites, is now playing…on Pure Pop Radio!

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

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

The Latest Hit-bound Releases Playing on Pure Pop Radio Sing a Catchy Tune

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We’re always on the lookout for the latest hit-bound melodic pop releases that listeners need to hear. The latest additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist are catchy proof that hit-bound is in season this season.

Just added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist are some of today’s top melodic pop creations. Tune in for:

Lisa Mychols and Super 8, whose self-titled impending release puts pure pop on a delightful, catchy pedestal, presenting a song cycle powered by melody, harmony, and quite beautiful sentiment. This teaming of two major melodic pop talents is really nothing less than a dream come true; listeners won’t be able to get this album out of their heads. We’re playing three songs: “You and Me, Me and You,” a joyous, upbeat, Burt Bacharach-esque sixties toe-tapper; “The Monkee Song,” ostensibly a cute, wildly inventive and fun novelty number that really is so much more; and “Witchi Tai To,” a warm cover of Jim Pepper’s well-covered 1970s peyote song.

A double dose of Floridian popster Kirk Adams (Pop 4), whose latest offerings are “Here and Now,” a pretty, emotional ballad with a decidedly David Gilmour-esque guitar presence, and “I’m Willing to Let You Break My Heart,” a full-on, catchy pure pop exercise with a strong, catchy chorus.

Surf School Dropouts’ glorious, very-Beach Boys-y “Sound of the Summer,” in which this top-shelf group’s trademarks–majestic melody and lovely, rich harmony stacks–combine to spread joy to the world.

The Amplifier Heads’ wondrous “The Man with the Sun for a Head,” a retro, upbeat slice of tuneful pop.

The bluesy, country pop of Emily Zuzek’s “All that Love,” which will grace the singer’s upcoming album, releasing on August 28. The sweet, pedal steel guitar part cries out for your emotional attention.

Two typically engaging and terrific songs from Pure Pop Radio favorite Timmy Sean’s forthcoming album, A Tale from the Other Side, which releases in the fall. “In California,” a breathless upbeat pop-rocker, and “Fortune and Fame,” an pounding, emotional ride, sizzle.

We’re also continually adding a ton of tracks from Pure Pop Radio’s deep well of archived releases from the past few decades, from treasured artists as diverse as the Rubinoos, the Spongetones, the Sprague Brothers, the Squires of the Subterrain, the Sugarplastic, the Wilson Hospital, the Vinyl Kings, XTC, the Bellfuries, Sproutless, the Cherry Drops, and Bob Lind. Plus, as the saying goes, many, many more.

Pure Pop Radio is your 24-hour-a-day source for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe. Tune in by clicking on the player below (check out the last few songs played, and don’t forget to save the player to your desktop or tablet).

Thanks for listening. Your next favorite song, or one of your current favorites, is now playing…on Pure Pop Radio!

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

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

Pure Pop Radio is Back on the Air!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Pure Pop Radio is back on the air 24 hours a day, streaming the latest new and new-to-you melodic pop music to waiting ears across the universe.

Back after 18 months off the air, Pure Pop Radio is continuing its storied tradition of stocking our playlists full of great, treasured artists and artists new to the melodic pop scene. You want hits? We’ve got ’em. Deep tracks from favorite albums? We’ve got those, too. Tracks from artists new to your ears? Ditto. Melody and harmony? Stacks and stacks abound.

Consider this list of artists currently streaming in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: Caper Clowns, Bill Lloyd, Lisa Mychols and Super 8, Anton Barbeau, the 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco, Empty City Squares, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., Vanilla, Ray Paul, the Malibooz, Famous Groupies, Dolph Chaney, Bearkat, the Bye Bye Blackbirds, Dropkick, and a whole lot more (whew!).

We’ve got the latest hit-bound albums on our air. How about the Corner Laughers’ latest, Temescal Telegraph? How about Pop Co-Op’s Factory Settings? Want to hear something from Lannie Flowers’ Home? How about Coke Belda’s Coke Belda 4? Or the Vapour Trails’ Golden Sunshine? You get the idea. We’ve got it all.

We’ve got music from some of the great labels releasing melodic pop into the universe–from Kool Kat Musik, Omnivore and Big Stir to Futureman, Spyderpop and You are the Cosmos. Plus artists’ own boutique labels and plenty more where that came from.

It’s all here for you on Pure Pop Radio, as we continue to bring you the greatest melodic pop music in the universe, 24 hours a day. Tune in by clicking on the player below (check out the last few songs played, and don’t forget to save the player to your desktop or tablet).

Thanks for listening. Tune in now–your next favorite song, or one of your current favorites, is now playing…on Pure Pop Radio!

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

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

Reviews: 12.19.19: Last-Minute Melodic Stocking Stuffers!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

And now, a few more melodic Christmas goodies to add to your gift lists (another 11 are reviewed here). There are only five more shopping days until the big day, so you’d better get clicking…

Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, everyone. We’ll see you again in January, with the kind of reviews and articles you expect from the premier website covering the many moods of melodic pop music.

Dana Countryman and Matt Tyson, featuring Scott Bennett | “It’s Christmas Time” (2019)

Pure Pop Radio favorites Dana Countryman and Matt Tyson stir up a cheery, upbeat, non-alcoholic cocktail echoing the sounds of the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and Jeffrey Foskett–a joyous two minutes and forty-five seconds worth of catchy musical magic. With a rocking guitar solo played with “I Get Around” aplomb by Scott Bennett, this is Southern California pop under sunny holiday skies.

Where to Hear It and Get It: Bandcamp

Bearkat | A Very Bearkat Christmas (2019)

Aka Katy Pearson (Anchor & Bear), Bearkat’s richly drawn holiday collection, bringing together a pair of previously-released EPs–2012’s It’s Christmas Time and 2013’s A Winter Suite–and two new recordings, is an endearing survey of vocal harmony pop painted atop spare instrumentation and a whole lot of holiday heart.

Pearson’s sweet voice quietly dazzles, whether as a strong solo instrument or as elements within rich harmony stacks. Her songs paint a snowy, emotional portrait of holiday feelings, each one alive with lovely melodies.

Here is just one example, the banjo-driven, folky, harmony-laden, wintry wonder, “Snow”:

And here is another, a breathtaking, a cappella version of “Auld Lang Syne,” sung passionately by Pearson and her husband, Brian Bringelson, also from Anchor and Bear:

Where to Hear It and Get It: Bandcamp, Apple Music. Listen on Spotify

Zach Jones | “I’ll Be Home (Xmas Day)” b/w “Joy to the World” (2019)

Zach Jones paints his pair of holiday tunes with a quite different, yet catchy, soulful brush. The emotionally-cast, mid-tempo ballad “I’ll Be Home (Xmas Day)” and the slightly funky instrumental take on perennial carol “Joy to the World” are soulful pop gems. A wonderful holiday listening experience.

Where to Get It: CD Baby, Apple Music

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 the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Reviews: 12.11.19: Do You Hear What I Hear? Stockings Full of Musical Holiday Cheer Abound!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Do you hear what I hear? You will when you add the following tasty musical holiday treats, newly released, to your gift lists (and don’t forget yourself; you deserve some gifts, too!).

Christmas will be here soon (there are only 13 shopping days until the big day), so read on and give the gift of holiday pop music!

The Weeklings | “Gonna Be Christmas” (Jem, 2019)

Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Smokestack usher in the holiday season with a jubilant, Weeklings-ized version of a gorgeous song that first appeared on Zeek’s 2007 solo EP, Christmas Can’t Wait.

Sporting lovely, widescreen harmonies and the catchiest of holiday melodies, this warm, upbeat celebration of the joy felt every December 25th seems like a standard that will garner spins for many years to come.

Smokestack’s larger-than-life drum part and Lefty’s fluid, sliding bass line are particular gifts that drive this quite-alive recording and keep on giving with each successive listen.

It goes without saying at this point in the Weeklings’ career, but for those of you who aren’t aware of who is actually who, Lefty is Glen Burtnik, Zeek is Bob Burger, Rocky is John Merjave, and Smokestack is Joe Bellia. All are veteran musicians working at the peak of their powers, as will be evidenced by the forthcoming, incredible, third Weeklings album, about which I will have much to say in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Christmas 2019 is off and running with this classic track from New Jersey’s Fab Foursome.

Where to Get It: Amazon, Apple Music, Google Play. Listen on Spotify

Jamie Hoover | Happy Hoover Days
The Bradburys | “Everywhere It’s Christmastime” b/w “Silver Bells”
(Vandalay, 2019)

Dan Pavelich’s Vandalay Records offers up two delicious doses of Christmas cheer for 2019–a four-song EP from the Spongetones’ and Jamie and Steve’s Jamie Hoover, and a two-track single from Pavelich’s group, the Bradburys.

Hoover, a longtime Pure Pop Radio top favorite (of 25 years standing!), does it all on Happy Hoover Days; he’s responsible for every note played and sung.

Two choice covers–a supercharged take on Gene Autry’s evergreen “Sleigh Bells” and an emotional reading of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s classic perennial “I Believe in Father Christmas”–sit side by side with an original, medium-paced rocker, “The Real Star,” co-written with Nashville songsmith Catesby Jones , and fifth Spongetone Greg James’ lovely ballad, “There’s a Star,” which appeared in a different version on the Spongetones’ 2001 must-have collection, Mersey Christmas.

Hoover’s always thoroughly invested, emotional vocals and playing drive each of these new recordings. He remains one of indie pop’s most versatile and entertaining writers and performers, a true beacon of artistry who never fails to deliver the goods. This more-than-welcome EP is just another example of how to do it.

The Bradburys, fronted by Vandalay Records’ guiding light, Dan Pavelich, digitally wax a pair of tuneful Christmas classics on a double-A-side single that’s sure to please.

The jangly “Everywhere It’s Christmastime,” penned and sung by Pavelich, is a catchy holiday nugget, built atop a sweet melody and laced with lovely, lyrical lead guitar work by John Scholvin, and an understated yet joyous coda powered by the sound of a choir and seasonal bells.

A cleverly conceived, cheerful cover of another of Christmastime’s perennials, “Silver Bells,” mixes Elvis Presley-fyed verses with ’50s rock ‘n’ roll choruses for a rollicking good time.

Pavelich, who writes and draws the wonderful comic strip Just Say Uncle, has fashioned a must-listen-to pair of holiday songs that are perfect for anyone on your gift list.

Where to Get It: Jamie Hoover’s Happy Hoover Days: Kool Kat Musik | The Bradburys’ “Everywhere It’s Christmastime” b/w “Silver Bells”: Apple Music

The Brothers Steve
“I Love the Christmastime” b/w “Listen Up! It’s Christmastime”
(Big Stir, 2019)

If you’re pining for a pair of catchy, Tsar-torial holiday tunes, The Brothers Steve’s new single is tailor-made for you.

Featuring three members of the much-loved band Tsar, including Steve Coulter, a writer who goes by the nom de plume S.W. Lauden, the Steves’ pair of musical gifts are a glittery holiday treat. The upbeat “I Love the Christmastime” is an ABBA-meets-New-Wave-meets-The-Archies-meets-early Beatles kind of celebration, complete with my favorite instrument, sleigh bells. And the thoughtful ballad, “Listen Up! It’s Christmastime” is driven by a lovely melody.

The 54th in the ongoing series of digital singles released by Big Stir Records is a holiday smash. (Side note: Steve Coulter, using his nom de plume, is the co-editor with musician and writer Paul Myers of Go All the Way, a neat book of essays about power pop by well-known writers and musicians, available at Amazon.)

Where to Hear It and Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles

The Taters | Shiny and Brite (2019)

An aptly-named Christmas album if ever there was one, Shiny and Brite finds Richmond, Virginia’s Taters, a longtime Pure Pop Radio favorite group, bringing their trademark musicality and playful joie de vivre to digital and silver disc formats.

As anyone who has seen the Taters play live and dug their everything-fits-if-we-let-it approach to covers can attest, you never know what you’re going to hear when the group sets to making music. This joyful mix of originals, like the tuneful “Last Lone Noel” and the Roy Orbison-y ballad, “My First Christmas With You,” and Taterized versions of well- and little-known Christmas classics is a holiday treat built on a solid foundation of love and respect for these wonderful songs.

Witness the bouyant cover of the Beach Boys/Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music,” which features an a cappella break atop a swath of sleigh bells that’s squarely in the classic style of Hawthorne, California’s finest; the gorgeous a cappella mix of “Peace on Earth” and “Silent Night”; the supercharged version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Christmas Dream,” as originally sung by Perry Como, here incorporating the theme from the television comedy classic Hogan’s Heroes; and the lovely take on “The Little Drummer Boy,” with Chris Mendez’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”-esque drum part.

“Peace on Earth/Silent Night” live at The Tin Pan in Richmond, VA, 12/9/17

Craig Evans, Brad Tucker, Gregg Mars and Chris Mendez’s collection of odes to Christmas joy is a wonder to behold and a perfect complement to your holiday soundtrack.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Kenny Herbert |”This is Our Christmas” (2019)

A pretty, orchestrated ballad written by Kenny and Bob Heatlie after Kenny and his wife Caroline visited Edinburgh, Scotland’s Princes Street Market, this sounds as though it’s been instilled in the forevermore section of the everlasting vault of holiday song classics since forever ago. Kenny’s lovely vocal and another melody that seems sent from the heavens above ensure this one will be played, well, forevermore.

Where to Get It: Apple Music

The Lunar Laugh | “Christmas Cheer” (2019)

An upbeat, jolly song about the joys of Christmas, this catchy number was recorded on December 21, 2018, live and in person at VZD’s Restaurant and Bar in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Written and performed by another Pure Pop Radio favorite group, this song sings.

Where to Hear It and Get It: Bandcamp

The JAC (Featuring the Christmas Crew) | “Broken Gnome” (2019)

Anyone trying to hang on to a strained relationship may find a kindred spirit of sorts in Joe Algeri’s 2019 Christmas offering. Pairing an introspective lyric with an upbeat guitar pop track, “Broken Gnome” charts the course of a soon-to-be-extinguished love-light. Or does it? “What will the new year bring / Just let me be a leaf in the wind / Our light’s burning bright and still / I’m a little scared.” A world-class group of musicians help Joe bring this creation to life: Herb Eimerman, who like Joe is a member of the beloved Britannicas, Stefan Johansson, Lars Brusell, and Andy J Prinkkila.

Where to Hear It and Get It: Bandcamp

The Hangabouts | “Colors of Christmas” (2019)

This always engaging Ann Arbor, Michigan foursome unwraps a warm, soulful soft pop musical gift full of Christmas cheer. Pleasing chords and a lovely melody drive this song about the hues of the holiday (“Lights shine from every frosted window / Melting the winter time blues”). This one will put a smile on your face, for sure.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Various Artists | A Kool Kat Kristmas Vol. 3 (Kool Kat, 2019)

Five years on from Vol. 2, Ray Gianchetti’s Kool Kat Musik returns with a third holiday go-round featuring artists that have previously released music on the label. You’re sure to find a few (or more) favorites in this tasty holiday grab bag.

We found more than a few kool kats amongst these offerings: Everet Almond’s uptempo, poppy “Have a Very Very Very Merry Christmas”; The Decibels’ catchy, power pop anthem, “Christmas Wish,” with a neat Roger McGuinn-like guitar solo and a snatch of “Joy to the World” in the close; and The Seasons Greeters’ rocking, Stray Cats-meets-Dave Edmunds “Santa’s Leaving Town.”

More tasty treats: Tommy and the Rockets’ “December Snow,” upbeat and poppy all the way; Ed Ryan’s rocking slice of power pop, “Noel (You’ve Gotta Sing)”; and, last but not least, Emperor Penguin’s truly different country-and-western song, “Lonesome Cowboy,” sounding sort of like the Sons of the Pioneers if they were pop pickers, until, that is, the ending, when the band rocks out. “Merry Christmas to cowboys everywhere!”, indeed. Yee-haw!

Where to Get It: CD: Kool Kat Musik. Listen and download: Futureman Records (Note that $5.00 from the sale of every CD and download goes to the American Cancer Society).

Kai Danzberg and Scott McPherson | “The Day Before Christmas”
(Big Stir, 2019)

Hanover, Germany’s own Kai Danzberg, an increasingly familiar name in melodic pop circles, teams up with Tiny Volcano and Pop 4’s Scott McPherson for a lively co-write that makes quite a lot of merry. It’s a big and happy holiday treat with a poppy heart, sugary and surefooted. Don’t be surprised to find yourself singing along at first listen. Full of joy.

Where to Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles (part of the exclusive Big Stir Holiday Maxi-Single), Bandcamp

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended in August 2018.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Melodic Pop Sounds of the Season for You!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Now, this is how you wrap gifts for the melodic pop music fans in your life:

We’ve got suggestions for you: a long list of some of the top musical holiday offerings being released during this festive season.

It all comes to you here, tomorrow, December 11.

So, there is only one question left to ask…

Do you hear what I hear? Hmm?

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do you hear what I hear? Be hear this Wednesday, December 11 for our survey of some of the best of this year’s pop Christmas releases.

Do you hear what I hear? Well, do you?

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Pure Pop Radio Will Return

Pure Pop Radio will return with reviews, reviews, reviews…soon. Stay tuned.

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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 the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Reviews: 7.9.19: The Ebb and Flow of a Life: Cloud Eleven’s Illuminating Song Cycle

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Cloud Eleven – Footnote (West Coast, 2019)

The minimalist front cover that houses Rick Gallego’s latest, meticulously crafted songs is bathed in a wash of lightened, sun-soaked grains of sand; at bottom right, water reaches a line on an ethereal beach. The new song’s titles are typeset within the upper half of the equally minimalist back cover; the small parade of players, all imaginary yet full of life, are listed below–cohorts in a dreamy song cycle (Gallego is the only actual living, breathing player).

The cover, an homage to the wrapper for Todd Rundgren’s 1976 album, Faithful, is no accidental nod; Gallego sends out “special gratitude to todd rundgren, who lighted the way to my own musical existence all those years ago” and sets the text in lowercase, just as Todd did.

Footnote is Gallego’s seventh go-round as Cloud Eleven’s chief cook and bottle washer. This new release is no mere footnote, however; it is, in fact, what the previous six releases have been traveling toward all along: a gorgeous song cycle about the ebb and flow of a life (a songwriter’s?) as one follows a path and discovers his or her essence along the way.

The songs on Footnote sound nothing like Todd Rundgren, even though the Hermit of Mink Hollow’s influence is in there; with each new release, Gallego paints a masterpiece colored as only a Cloud Eleven album can be.

Gallego’s songs and arrangements are crafted with a unique combination of hues, tints, tones and colors; one flick of his brush too many and his songs might tilt toward another form altogether. Here, as the songs on Footnote play, we get the feeling that Gallego is painting his soundscapes, touched by the spirit of ELO and the harmony-laden Beach Boys, while balanced on a tightrope of his own devising; what a gloriously creative and fulfilling place that must be to hang.

Footnote opens with a quartet of songs set in a melodically-charged dreamscape. The first song, “On Pismo Beach,” sets to sail with a ghostly strum of guitar that barrels into a rich blast of harmony before it draws a lyrical picture of a place where all is blissful and serene. “Aural Illusion” builds on that ideal, positing that in sound we prosper (“If you can believe that music is love / Then you’ll understand the meaning of / Aural Illusion”).

The second half of the first block of songs continues on the path set by the first. The lovely ballad “Solar Fields” suggests that, after allowing sound to enrich your existence, the warmth of the sun will help to complete you (“With the sun on your face / You will never fade away / In the bright glowing light / You won’t fail”). And, armed with the benefits realized from pleasing sounds and sunlight, you can trust in someone to lead you down a valid path of exploration (the Brian Wilson-ish “Bound to Follow”).

This emotional journey continues with the relaxed-sounding, Free Design-like “For Weal and Woe,” in which we discover that the days ahead bring a promise of discovery, so long as we are in tune with ourselves (“Our lives ebb and flow / For weal and for woe”). And then, we are transported to terra firma, where we learn even more about ourselves.

In “L.A. County,” we are entranced and inspired by a girl who gives us a reason to set down roots (“We will live our lives here”). “Skywriting” allows a songwriter to connect with the magical muse that surrounds him (“But I’ll try to do my best / Hope my muse will do the rest / It’s like magic when songs appear, I confess”).

Sometimes, though, it is hard–impossible, even–to connect. The subject of the grand, wistful ballad, “One Big Hideaway,” squirrels himself inside his home–inside his room–as the world turns around him. He misses his family, but can’t find a way to reach out to them. There will be no doubt in the listener’s mind as to who this song is about.

In the end, we are left to ponder the validity of our life’s journey. Do we learn from what we discover as we make stops along the way, or do we downplay what we have achieved and consider ourselves to be nothing more than a speck of dust because none of it will matter in the grand scheme of things? “Now I’m content to be / I won’t pretend I’m anything, but a / Footnote,” Gallego sings in the closing, title song.

Songs can teach us a lot about ourselves. Throughout our lives, we learn who we are by also learning who we aren’t. Rick Gallego’s illuminating song cycle won’t provide us with all of the answers we desire, but its beautifully rendered songs will at least provide us with some lovely, melodic hints.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon (CD and digital), Apple Music (iTunes), CD Baby (CD and digital)

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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 the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.