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.


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!

The New Trocaderos: Turn ’em Up to 11!

the-new-trocaderosThe New Trocaderos | Frenzy in the Hips | 2015 | A review by Alan Haber

They’re either coming at you with the force of a speeding locomotive riding atop a five-alarm fire, or they’re pushing out the beat at a bit of a slower pace with pop music on their minds. Either way, the New Trocaderos are taking no prisoners and that means you, baby!

Frenzy in the Hips, a collection of previously-released songs from EPs and “Luckiest Man in the World,” a new tune with the usual frenetic Trocs pedigree, is proof positive that this hybrid collective comprising Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer from the Connection and one of pop music’s greatest progenitors, Kurt Baker, is a force to be reckoned with.

Two of these songs, “Dream Girl” and “The Kids,” both fired up with great melodies, solid hooks and airplane-level propulsion, have spent time spinning at the exalted alter of Little Steven’s Underground Garage, where they were designated as Coolest Songs in the World–reason enough to let them loose in your own home.

Even if these tunes didn’t wear the cool song Crown, you would, as power pop fans, welcome them with open arms. The wild-and-wooly “Money Talks” gets arms and legs moving to the four-four-coming-off-the-floor beat. The Ramones-esque “Brain Gone Dead” is even more amped-up at somewhere in the neighborhood of a million beats per second.

new-trocaderosNot everything here is taken at such a frenzy-riffic pace, however. “The Kids” wears its British Invasion clothes with dancing shoes and a strong melody. “Dream Girl” sounds like an Elvis Costello pop number driven by a Jackie DeShannon engine. “Real Gone Kitty” is a cool, 1950s-styled rocker injected with speed to spare and a ginormous-Jerry Lee Lewis-y piano break. The new song, “Luckiest Man in the World,” channels the early Who with appropriate Roger Daltry-ish vocals.

The Trocs’ secret weapon is one Michael Chaney, an attorney by day and pop rocker (and honorary Troc) by night. Chaney either wrote or co-wrote all six songs and shows that he is as important to this band as the force with which it delivers its wares to waiting ears.

Breathless, faster than Superman breaking land-to-speed records to save Lois Lane, and able to hit power chords on electric guitars with a single strum, the New Trocaderos take care of business with this fun, powerful disc. Turn it up to 11 and treat your neighbors to the sound of New. In fact, why not treat yourself right now? Check out “Luckiest Man in the World” right here:

[Frenzy in the Hips is a Kool Kat Musik exclusive]

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

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Win New Trocaderos Downloads! Hey, It’s a Pure Pop Radio Contest!

These are the New Trocaderos!

The New Trocaderos are Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer from the Connection and pop-rocker Kurt Baker.

The New Trocaderos

The New Trocaderos rock and pop!

Have you heard about the latest hot-rockin’ and poppin’ trio making the scene? It’s the New Trocaderos, kids, and they’ve just released their very cool first single. The New Trocaderos are Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer from the Connection, and pop-rocker Kurt Baker. Pretty cool, huh? “Money Talks” is a pounding, beat-driven rocker dressed in pop clothes that will turn your living room into a dance hall. Strap on your guitar and pound out the riffs along with the boys! “The Kids” takes the beat down a notch and places the esteemed Mr. Baker in front of the microphone for a trip down Elvis Costello highway, highlighted by cool, rocking guitar and a melody that only members of the Connection and Kurt Baker could deliver! These are two outstanding numbers that everyone will love!

Want to win downloads of these two great tracks? It’s easy to do! Simply plug your name and email address into the form below and type “New Trocaderos” in the Comment field. That’s it! We’ll pick five lucky winners at random on Wednesday, January 15 at 12 noon ET. Winners’ names will be posted on this site.

Remember: You’ve got to be in it to win it, so enter right away! Only one entry per person, please.

Now, get to it and get the New Trocaderos! Good luck!


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

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