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. Welcome to the number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe.
Announcing the triumphant return of Einstein’s Sister, Moline, Illinois’ melodic pop powerhouse, drummer Marty Reyhons pounds his kick drum and tightly-wound snare while his cymbals swish through the air, awaiting the entrance of an expressive rhythm guitar and determined bass. With Bill Douglas’s lead vocal and Tim Smith’s sweet backing vocal harmonies, the setup is complete, and the upbeat “Begin Again,” one of two ace new songs–the first since a pair that graced a 2002 Japan-only best-of compilation–is up and running.
The bluesy mid-tempo pop-rocker “Standing Still” also announces itself with a classic Marty Reyhons’ drum attack; elastic rhythm guitar stabs and electric guitar lines, deep bass plunks, and Kerry Tucker’s assured lead vocal are the stars that shine the brightest on this dynamic track.
With support from Smith (ex-Jellyfish) and guitar hero Vinnie Zummo, expressive mixing by Nick Davis, who has worked extensively with Genesis, and magical mastering by Abbey Road’s Miles Showell, Pure Pop Radio favorite Einstein’s Sister reigns supreme with an important, new release spotlighting two new superb, quite catchy numbers.
This new single, pressed on “transparent blue” vinyl, is accompanied by a CD with both new songs on it, along with instrumental versions; a download card, and a lyric and credits sheet. You can also purchase a digital download, but for $10, the physical media buy is a steal.
Welcome back, Einstein’s Sister, and stay for awhile, won’t you?
Nelson Bragg | “I Want Love” c/w “Lost All Our Sundays” (Steel Derrick Music, 2021)
Melodic pop fans will know and treasure musician Nelson Bragg from his two superb solo albums (2006’s Day Into Night and 2012’s We Get What We Want), his work with Anny Celsi and Duncan Maitland, and his dazzling percussion magic, performed as a member of Brian Wilson’s band for fourteen years.
Bragg’s first new release since We Get What We Want is a single precursor to a new album, Gratitude Blues, set for release later this year. The A- and B-sides–a warm cover of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s ballad “I Want Love,” originally released on Elton’s 2001 album, Songs from the West Coast, and “Lost All Our Sundays,” a dynamic, upbeat Bragg track that was recorded in 2004 and never released, presented in a 2004 mix exclusive to this 45–both sparkle with dreamy, deeply-felt harmony vocal stacks, a Bragg trademark (a 2020 remix of “Lost All Our Sundays” will appear on Gratitude Blues). The ghostly a cappella open to “I Want Love” is a particular highlight, very clever and creative.
Housed in an attractive sleeve, the single is available from Bandcamp. Big bonus: Copies for U.S. buyers are signed and numbered by Bragg! Don’t miss this!
In only five short years, Hanover, Germany’s Kai Danzberg has joined the ranks of top popsters with release after release of catchy, melodic songs. His latest is a lively, upbeat, pop-samba paean to love with vocal embellishments from Kai’s older sister, Ida. Kai’s lead vocal is perhaps his best yet–expressive and sure. “Only You” is a keeper, and one of the recent toppermost-of-the-poppermost digital singles in Big Stir’s ongoing series, now curated by musician Irene Pena.
Aaron Lee Tasjan and Lilly Hiatt | “Dublin Blues” Lilly Hiatt and Aaron Lee Tasjan | “Angel from Montgomery” (Luck Reunion and Third Man Records)
From 2017, this graceful pair of recordings, waxed at Americana Fest in Nashville, shine a emotional light on a pair of classic compositions from John Prine and Guy Clark. Melodic pop fans will likely know at least some of Aaron Lee Tasjan’s remarkable work (Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! and Karma for Cheap are two shining examples); Lilly Hiatt, being the daughter of John Hiatt, will also likely be a familiar name.
This bare-bones-designed 45, one in a series of Luck Mansion Sessions releases (read about the series here and here), presents Tasjan taking the lead vocal on Clark’s “Dublin Blues,” which appeared on Clark’s 1995 album of the same name. Hiatt takes the lead vocal on Prine’s iconic “Angel from Montgomery,” from Prine’s self-titled 1971 debut. The performances, recorded live, are intimate, lovingly delivered, and a joy to hear (and you will likely dig the acoustic guitar lead runs on “Angel from Montgomery”).
What happens when Pure Pop Radio is spinning the latest smash hits from the Toms and Librarians with Hickeys (with Lisa Mychols) alongside choice sixties nuggets from American Spring, Billy Nichols, the Aranbee Pop Symphony Orchestra and other fine purveyors of pop from across the decades?
Well, when you mix all of that with the greatest melodic pop in recent and faraway memory, you’ve got your one-stop home for melodic gems that fill your ears and your heart with joy. Pure Pop Radio is working hard for you. The proof is only a listen away.
Both sides of the Toms’ just released single on Futureman signal that a new album is coming any time at all. The pure poppy “One Man Girl Parade” and the decidedly-10cc-ish “You Shot Me Out of Your Cannon” are now playing in rotation. Hats off to all of the Toms, known collectively as Tommy Marolda, for a catchy, surely headed-for-the-top-of-the-pops double-play.
Librarians With Hickeys, who sing and strum and write and percuss while providing no evidence of said red marks, are enjoying multiple spins for multiple tunes taking up residence on their inaugural long-player for Big Stir, Long Overdue. The b-side to their just released single, whose A-side is the uptempo smash “That Time is Now,” featuring the dulcet tones of Lisa Mychols, is a nifty, pseudo-psychedelic version of the Banana Splits’ “I Enjoy Being a Boy (In Love With You)” that practically demands airplay because this writer was hit in the head, way, way back in time, by a Banana Splits hatpin-fitted button thrown from a flatbed truck on which the Splits moved and grooved to one of their groovy tunes. True.
Also spinning in rotation is a quite spectacular number from the forthcoming album by Pure Pop Radio favorite mylittlebrother. Said number, “Janey,” a lovely sixties-drenched recording that sounds like something the Association might have recorded, releases on July 31. “Janey” is golden and a significantly-earwormy specimen.
Other new and new-to-you tunes now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio include nuggets from Greg Pope (“Four Leaf Clover” and the title song from his album, Guiding Star) and banjoist extraordinaire Jacob Panic (“Drown,” “The Flame,” and the country-pop-bluegrassy “Hold Your Freight Train” from Jacob’s 2016 self-named EP). Check out “Hold Your Freight Train” below (in fully-instrumentated and solo banjo incarnations, both rather fantabulous).
More choice pearls from Pure Pop Radio’s deep archive are being added to our rotation nearly every day, which makes for quite a satisfying listen. Simply click on the player below, and don’t forget to save our player to your desktop and tablet.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How you got here from there really isn’t all that important; it’s that you wound up here that really matters. Many, if not most of you will, while flying your Klaatu flags high, proudly note that you were here from the very beginning (some of you will have been here even before the beginning, which is quite a feat of legerdemain).
In any case, you are here now because the music of Terry Draper has spoken to you through the years, since Klaatu burst on the music scene in 1976 or even before (kudos to you). Think about that: Terry Draper has been making music for at least four decades plus. That is a very long time to be putting smiles on people’s faces.
So, kudos to Terry. The thing is, though, that some of you will have come to this new album, a gathering of earthly delights picked from previous releases and featuring two new songs, without having experienced the wonder that is Klaatu. For you, this new album, In My Garden, is perhaps the perfect introduction to the music that Terry Draper has released during his solo years–music that looks at life and how to negotiate it.
Released on 180 gram vinyl with 11 tracks for old-school enthusiasts and on CD with three bonuses for everyone else, In My Garden is a veritable cornucopia of musical joy–something for everyone and then some, bringing together a community of been-there-all-alongs and hey-I’m-new-heres to celebrate the music of one of melodic pop’s most important practitioners. (Purchasers of either the vinyl or CD from Terry’s website also get a download with WAV files of the songs, a digital booklet, and nine videos.)
Whether you’ve been following Terry’s music all along or have just been hipped to him, you will find much to admire and enjoy here. Some personal favorites that may well be yours too, regardless of your starting point: “When I Grow Up,” from Civil War… and Other Love Songs, which contains one of Terry’s prettiest melodies; it’s a wistful song about holding on to one’s youth as a way of tempering the less-than-happy shades of one’s life. And “Jules and Me,” from Searching, a pretty, multihued song about getting lost in good books–in this case those written by Jules Verne–and being taken away to far-off lands because how cool is that.
More personal favorites: “Pied Piper,” a fun cover of Crispian St. Peters’ top five Billboard chart hit from 1966, which features the great Ray Paul, whose new compilation is about to be released, on harmony vocals. And another fun song, “She’s All Mine,” from Remarkable Women, a joyous, pop-rocking charmer about accepting one’s partner lock, stock and barrel.
Of the two new songs on offer, the beautiful “I Wish I Could Fly” is my pick to click–a gorgeous song that, on the surface, is about the freedom of flight and what it might be like looking down from above as you glide along through the skies. The first song written for an animated cartoon called Sparked (unfortunately never produced) is about the childhood of Nikola Tesla, who was the inventor of, among other things, the AC, or alternating current, motor. What a joy this cartoon would have been to experience!
Making its first appearance on an album (in this case, the CD version of In My Garden; it was previously released as a single track), “Latitude Adjustment,” featuring Ray Paul on backup vocals, finds Terry escaping the cold for the warmth of the sun in Florida. Never has an escape to the Florida Keys been so melodic or catchy. Or sun-tanny.
Helping to bring Terry’s catchy creations to life are Dana Countryman, Bill Nadeau, Brenda Webb, Spitt Passion, and more melodic fellow travelers. Old friend Ted Jones, who brought so many Klaatu album covers to life with his imaginative designs, provides this collection’s captivating cover art.
Welcome to Terry Draper’s garden of earthly delights. However you got here, you are here in this very special place. Track one, here you come…
Brad Marino | “What Comes Naturally” (Rum Bar, 2019)
For this rocking new single off the upcoming, highly-anticipated album from the Connection’s Brad Marino (Extra Credit, releasing April 19), the multi-instrumentalist extols the virtues of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle in a song that portrays a Rolling Stones-meets-outlaw country vibe.
What comes naturally for a guitar player keeping the beat? Sleeping late, steaks on the grill, breakfast (at a quarter to two), checking the sports scores, celebrating happy hour (but only from 3:30-5), and listening to records. Sounds like a life, doesn’t it?
Tap your feet in time with this top-flight melodic rocker, and look forward to Marino’s album, just a little over three weeks away.
Where to Get It (Single releases digitally on April 1):Amazon
The 21st entry in the ongoing Big Stir digital singles series is a warm-hearted, joyous double-sided melodic pop hug from Orange County, California’s Popdudes, with up-and-coming popster Addison Love and his pop Tim joining always-and-forever members Michael Simmons and journalist/drummer John Borack.
This million dollar quartet is more than up to the task of celebrating the original recordings by the Cookies and the Beatles (“Chains”) and Roy Orbison (“Dream Baby”). The harmony vocals on “Chains” are quite attractive; Addison Love sings the solo lines and plays lead guitar. On “Dream Baby,” Tim Love steps up to the microphone with a sweet lead vocal–channeling the Big O, no doubt (he also plays electric bass); the equally sweet sha-la-la-la, uh-uh-huh background vocals also shine.
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.
Addison Love “Endless” b/w “Unsolicited Phone Calls” | (Big Stir Digital Single #10, 2018) The youthful Orange County, California singer-songwriter builds on his growing reputation as an ace popster (his album Thoughts on Lunch has made pop people sit up and take notice) with this energetic two-tune single that gives the word breathless a whole new meaning.
Imagine you’re a determined locomotive tootling downwind toward your destination and you can’t keep your pace level… That’s how you’ll feel listening to these two vigorous tunes, each boasting varied tempos and stuffed with imagination on fire.
“Endless,” an uptempo kind of twisted relationship song, and “Unsolicited Phone Calls,” a clever melodic narrative about dealing with those pesky folks who just know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you need enhanced health insurance and the mother of all wants, something else, blast into your listening room with passionate delivery.
You’ll dig the clever musical doodads delivered in both songs, such as the double-time (at least!) electric guitar rave-up and lead vocal gymnastics in “Endless” and the push-button dialing sounds in “Unsolicited Phone Calls” that play melody lines. And let’s not forget “Unsolicited Phone Calls”‘s snappy opening, a zippy intro that recalls the beginning to the Beatles’ “Get Back.”
This concluding 2018 entry in Big Stir Records’ series of digital singles is a catchy keeper. You’ll love Addison Love’s latest.
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 this last August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy New Year!