Pure Pop Radio’s Springtime New Music Explosion Starts Now!

alan-micCan 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 boppAndy 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.

super hits of the seventiesPop 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 - the days ahead cover graphicMiami 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 liverpoolThe 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 knewTommy 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 zeroThe 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!

pezbandPezband | 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 and jamie hooverRandy 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 nerveThe 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 cushFallon 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!

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Are You Ready? Thursday’s Big Blast of New Music Added to the Pure Pop Radio Playlist Is Here!

day-twoWe’re back with another extra special, vitamin-rich group of great new and new-to-you melodic pop music added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist.

Let’s get right to it, then. We’ll begin by taking an extended look at a fantastic new tribute to Elvis Costello.

beyond-beliefVarious Artists | Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello We’ve talked about the compiler’s art before, and make no mistake about it–compiling a tribute album is an art. Practicing the art for this three-disc tribute to Elvis Costello are compilers Olivia Frain and John M. Borack, both longtime Costello fans. Frain, a dedicated music fan, and Borack, a music journalist who has also served as executive producer for 2002’s Right to Chews: Bubblegum Classics Revisited and 2001’s Shoe Fetish: A Tribute to Shoes, set about contacting artists and putting into motion all of the behind-the-scenes nuts-and-bolts tasks necessary to bring the set to market.

This mammoth collection, gathering together covers of Costello numbers from 50 artists, is a delight to listen to from head to toe. As noted in the set’s booklet, “100% of the proceeds…will be donated to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation keeps music alive in schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs, giving youngsters the many benefits of music education, helping them to be better students and inspiring creativity and expression through playing music.” In an era in which arts programs are often cut from schools, this is a most welcome and vital effort.

Beyond Belief is chock full of choice Costello songs performed by artists who obviously love the source material. And what’s not to love? Costello has been a favorite artist of music fans since he first burst on the scene in 1977 with his debut album My Aim is True. Along the way, he has delivered songs in all manner of genre from rock to pop to R&B to country and back again. Proof of this ability to jump from one style to another at the drop of a tone arm is reflected in the tracks chosen by the artists appearing here.

While some artists stick to the plot of land originally planted by Costello, others reimagine the master’s songs and work with new approaches. David Myhr, late of the Merrymakers and now a favored solo artist, delivers a wonderful version of “Veronica” (co-written with Paul McCartney) that basically sticks to Costello’s blueprint but takes the song at a slightly slower tempo and adds more of a glossy, pop sheen. The Rubinoos trade a blaring horn section for the original’s organ part and temper Costello’s snarl with a bit of a poppier vocal approach in a jazzier, new version of “Pump It Up.” Mike Viola turns in a basically reverent version of a Burt Bacharach co-write, the majestic “God Give Me Strength,” in what amounts to a somewhat more intimate, drawing room-like performance; Viola’s gorgeous vocal is delivered over a bed of acoustic guitar and chamber strings, minus the horn present in Costello’s original version.

Three tracks, in particular, take the art of covering a song to new heights. First and foremost, the award goes to Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, better known as Jamie and Steve, who pull the rug out from under Costello’s “Blame It On Cain” and shake out the dust like men on a mission, turning in an amped-up, wild a cappella version powered by doo-wop muscle and good, old-fashioned chutzpah. Not only do Jamie and Steve prove how good the song is, they turn it inside out and rebuild it from the ground up. This is a spectacular performance that will have you hitting the repeat button over and over.

To Costello’s original, moody version of “So Like Candy,” a co-write with Paul McCartney, Paul Myers adds some poppy vocals and a ghostly percussion track and approaches Costello’s bridge as if it were coming straight off of a scratchy vinyl copy of the song. It’s a welcome surprise that, along with Myers’ assured vocal, is one of this set’s major delights. Another top shelf approach is that of Lannie Flowers, who takes a basically reverent run through “Radio Sweetheart,” yet surprises listeners by turning the proceedings on their collective head at 1:55 by introducing a decidedly mystical aura for 37 enticing seconds.

What tribute albums such as Beyond Belief offer, aside from giving artists the chance to play in someone else’s sandbox, is proof that good songs will retain their value as each calendar year passes. New coats of paint in the form of new approaches or reverent run-throughs are good for the songwriter’s art, and good, also, for the compiler’s art. With Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello, the compiler’s art has been raised to new heights.

[Twenty-one tracks from Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello have been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and are now playing in rotation: “Girls Talk,” Rob Smith; “Brilliant Mistake,” Dennis Schocket and Cliff Hillis; “The Other End of the Telescope,” Butch Walker; “Veronica,” David Myhr; “Kinder Murder,” Popdudes; “No Hiding Place,” Michael Carpenter; “Blame It on Cain,” Jamie and Steve; “Monkey to Man,” Kelley Ryan; “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” Severo; “Pump It Up,” The Rubinoos; “Radio Sweetheart,” Paul Myers; “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution),” Hans Rotenberry; “Possession,” Barry Holdship; “This Year’s Girl,” honeychain; “Green Shirt,” Scott Bennett; “God Give Me Strength,” Mike Viola; “Radio Sweetheart,” Lannie Flowers; “Man Out of Time,” Bill Lloyd; “Almost Blue,” Nick Heyward and the 13 Satellites; “Crimes of Paris,” An American Underdog; and “Mystery Dance,” sparkle*jets UK]   – Alan Haber

(Order at CD Baby or Amazon)

Also new today on Pure Pop Radio:

hidden-picturesHidden Pictures | Ottomans The latest release from Hidden Pictures is a typically entertaining musical knockout punch. Delicious melodic pop pictures are painted with an apparent Deacon Blue-meets-Prefab Sprout vibe. Highlights include the wonderfully catchy “Firm Way to Say Goodbye”; the punchy, tuneful “Girl on Girlfriend”; and “Riffraff,” a rock number with a guitar part sounding like it came from a David Bowie track. These and three more songs are now playing in rotation: “You’re an Adult,” “Hannah, I’m Scared of Your Boyfriend,” and “Firm Way to Say Goodbye.” Another great album from this California group.

tearaways-vol.-4tearaways-vol.-7The Tearaways | The Earle Mankey Sessions, Vol. 4 and The Earle Mankey Sessions, Vol.7 Formed more than 30 years ago, the Tearaways worked with veteran producer Earle Mankey and waxed 50 songs. The results were released in 2014 on these two albums, both necessary purchases for every pop music fan. Great, catchy songs with terrific melodies and harmonies are the order of the day. We’ve added seven songs from Vol. 4 and nine songs from Vol. 7. From Vol. 4, we chose the melodic anthem “Girls Who Love Cars,” the toe-tapper “Stuck On Stupid,” about a guy who can’t quite figure out how to tell a girl he likes how he feels; and the timely “We Don’t Talk, We Text,” about the laziness and lack of proper communication in this world. Also added from Vol. 4: “I Will Wait,” “Jefferson Still Survives,” “Valerie,” and “The Last Goodbye.” From Vol. 7: the self-explanatory “I Pray Guitar”; a rhythmic tribute to “John Wayne”; and “All She Wants Is the Ring,” about a woman who’s in a relationship for its material worth. Plus: “Friends and Enemies,” “I Don’t Know and I Don’t Care,” “More Dollars than Sense,” “I Can Tell You Now,” “I’ll See You Again,” and “I’m All In.” Repeat after us: “Must have. Must have. Must have!”

dave-raveDave Rave and the Governors | Sweet American Music The great Dave Rave returns and hooks up with the Governors for a splendid collection of pop songs, all sporting big melodies and, of course, big hooks. From the driving “Lindsay” and pure pop sixties pleasures of “You Take What’s Yours” to “Pullman Washington” and the Lou Reed vocal vibe of “Night School,” this is an album that will never be far from your ears. We’re happily spinning these four songs, along with the rocking “Trapped.” A big record with big guitars and a whole lot of spirit. And the cover’s really cool.

andy-boppAndy Bopp | Time to Rock! Andy Bopp, late of groups such as Love Nut and Myracle Brah, and currently waxing tunes with Ken Schopf as The Modern Ruins (see next entry), lets loose in his living room armed with only his electric guitar and echoed vocals for a quartet of Sun-era sounding rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ rockabilly numbers. The tracks: the title track, “Anna Lee,” “Black Heath,” and Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk.” Dig these thrilling and powerful performances, all playing now in rotation.

moderm-ruins-threethe-modern-ruins-bleeding-partyThe Modern Ruins | Bleeding Party and Three Tracks from the Four Track Can’t get enough Bopp? Andy’s got you covered with two new 2015 releases from his duo with Ken Schopf, the Modern Ruins. These songs follow nicely from the vibe of Andy’s solo EP, Time to Rock!, only on these records Andy and his guitars are supported by Ken’s Cocktail Drum kit, percussion and backing vocals. It’s rock ‘n’ roll all the way, from the souped-up Sun-era sound of “All Fall Down (Black Heath),” which also appears on Time to Rock!, to the slow blues of the title track and a spirited, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band-esque version of David Essex’s 1973 top five hit, “Rock On.” These songs, plus three more–“Longtime,” “Rope Walker,” and “There”–are now playing in rotation. From Three Tracks from the Four Track, we’re spinning “Anytime Anyway” and “When It Rains.” Great stuff.

town-and-countrycartographerCartographer | Cartographer, and Town and Country | My Blue Heaven One of our favorite singer-songwriters, Scott Gagner, whose last album, Rise and Shine, was a big hit here at Pure Pop Radio, is the common denominator between these two releases, both from 2008. Both albums find Gagner and friends following a similar musical path to Gagner’s current vibe. In other words, the songs are melodic and inventive and instantly memorable. Great stuff through and through. From Cartographer, we’re playing, in rotation, “The Trouble With You,” “I’m Not Following You,” “Love Triangle for Two,” “Sound Rebounds,” “Waiting,” and “Suburban Girl.” From My Blue Heaven, we’re spinning “Daytime Emmy,” “Bella Vista,” “Better than That,” and “The Rest of the Night.” Scott is currently working on ideas for his next album. We can only hope we don’t have to wait too long.

sitcom-neighborSitcom Neighbor | Charm This wonderful pop music album from 2012 hits the melodic bullseye, sounding like a splinter off the main body of the Sugarplastic. From the beautiful “Amphetamine” to the rocking nod “The Satisfaction of Love” and the bluesy pop of “Vaseline Water Balloon,” this album is full of harmonies and top notch melodies, bursting with tasty nuggets. We’re playing eight songs in rotation: those previously mentioned, and “Let It Go,” “True Love and Medication,” “This Time Tomorrow,” the Beatlesque “Buy Your Farm,” and “Darlene.”

ticketsThe Tickets | The Tickets Musician Walter Clevenger loved the Tickets so much that he gathered together the band’s 1990 cassette-only album, The Tickets Make a Record, and their 1986 single, “She Got Away”/”Yesterday’s Girl” and released both together in 2006 as The Tickets on his own Brewery Records label. The album is an important collection of songs performed by musicians with an obvious love for pop music. We’re playing six: “Dream About Me,” “Everything,” “I Don’t Belong,” “Heartland,” “The One that I Loved,” and “She Got Away.” Great melodies, harmonies and playing abound.

the-general-storeThe General Store | Mountain Rescue It is a pleasure to have the music of the General Store spinning in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Tam Johnstone, the musician behind the group name, is the son of Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone; he obviously picked up a musical thing or two from his dad. A mix of country-tinged and pop/rock numbers, Mountain Rescue is represented on Pure Pop Radio by seven songs: the ringing rocker “Early Morning Fuzz,” the Beach Boys homages “Girls from the Mall” and “Nothing Can Come Between Us,” and “Desert Weathered Hiway.” The Neil Young nod “Come Around,” “Great Big World,” and “Over Here” complete the pack.

ian-gommIan Gomm | Demonstrates Ian Gomm, who co-wrote (with Nick Lowe) one of the great pop singles of all time, “Cruel to Be Kind,” and played guitar for the band Brinsley Schwarz, added this terrific EP to his catalog in 2013. The platter is represented on Pure Pop Radio with four choice cuts, pop classics all: the upbeat, catchy “Let’s Stick Together” and “Only You (Knowing Me),” the hit-worthy “Magic Spell,” and the beautiful ballad “Lonely Avenue.” A terrific disc from one of the greats, released by Jerker Emanuelson’s Sound Asleep Records.

souvenirsVarious Artists | Souvenirs: Little Gems of Pop, Volume II The second in a series of collections gathering together various classic pop recordings, Souvenirs: Little Gems of Pop, Volume II kicks off with Richard X. Heyman’s crackerjack 1980 single a-side, “Vacation,” an energetic pop rocker with a typically catchy melody. From there you get, amongst the treasures on hand, Bill Lloyd’s jangly, highly melodic side “Lisa Anne,” from Bill’s 1987 Feeling the Elephant album; Tube Top’s glorious, upbeat power pop song “Oceans Cracked,” from the band’s 1997 album Three Minute Hercules; and Scott Sutherland’s straight-ahead pop song “Book of Seasons” from 1999. These songs are now playing in rotation as part of our playlist; others spinning as we speak are Enemies in the Grass’ “Best Behaviour,” Post Office’s “The Whole Thing’s a Bust,” Jr. Gone Wild’s “It Never Changes,” and Nick Rudd’s Blown’s “One in a Million.” A wonderful collection, released in 2014 by Jerker Emanuelson’s Sound Asleep Records.

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Whew! That does it for our two-day new adds extravaganza. We hope you enjoyed the ride through the latest additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. All of the songs and artists we talked about today and yesterday are now playing in rotation. Tune in to Pure Pop Radio by clicking on one of the handy listen links below. And make a date to come back often to hear more of the greatest pop music in the universe!

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes