Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and new-to-you releases. Pure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop in the universe 24 hours a day.
We are now officially in the 2018 holiday gift giving season. I know…it seems like only yesterday, blah blah blah… Well, it does, but here we are again, faced with making those decisions that, year after year, are just plain hard to make.
Well, we’re here to make it all easier for you. We’re here to help you to choose gifts for the melodic pop fans in your lives (and for yourself). Relax. Below, you’ll find new reviews of new 2018 releases, in-depth as always, along with links that will take you to the very websites from which you can purchase them. You’ll also find links to previously posted reviews of albums you should consider.
Be with us every day this week. There’s a whole lot of gold out there from which to choose the perfect melodic pop presents for your friends and loved ones. Let’s get started.
Mikah Wilson | Sunshine Grooves (You are the Cosmos, Burger Records, 2018) A real find, Los Angeles’s Mikah Wilson pretty much defines the state of sunshine pop in 2018. Let’s just say that if your jam is 1960s Beach Boys, Curt Boettcher, current sensations the Wrecking Two and their like-minded compatriots, this will be your jam, too. Comprising “Sunshine Grooves” and the two songs contained on the “Sweet Jules” single (“Sweet Jules” and “Look at the Way”), this is the soft-pop EP of the moment. Don’t miss it.
Various Artists | White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams (Curry Cuts, 2018) Curry Cuts’ loving tribute to singer, songwriter and all-around entertainer guy Paul Williams, White Lace and Promises, releases on December 7 in digital form and around a week or so later in physical form and on streaming platforms. I’ve already sung its virtues here, where I waxed poetic about some of the tracks. I’ve now heard the entire megillah, so it seems prudent for me to wax poetic some more.
It’s obvious, to me at least, that the artists who have signed on to Andrew Curry’s latest tribute harbor a great affection for Paul Williams’ work; each of the 23 tracks here functions as a great big hug, a happy thank you to the artist for doing what he does so very well.
Here are some of my favorites, standout tracks all: * “Someday Man.” Zach Jones turns in an affectionate, somewhat faster version than Paul Williams’ cut * “You and Me Against the World.” Lisa Mychols ramps up the tempo on this classic. The harmonies and electric guitars really shine * “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Cliff Hillis sings this lovely song, made famous by Karen and Richard Carpenter, solo * “I Won’t Last a Day Without You.” Chris Price gives the Carpenters’ version a bit of a run for its money, turning in a lead vocal that is sincere and without question his best yet * “You Give a Little Love.” This song from famed film Bugsy Malone gets a joyous Broadway kind of treatment from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, and it’s fabulous * “An Old Fashioned Love Song.” Cait Brennan turns one of Paul Williams’ greatest songs into a deeply-felt, alternative romp, centered around Cait’s intense, emotional vocal
“You know you’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do,” Karla Kane sings as part of “You Give a Little Love.” Wise words that have deep meaning. The world is going to remember the great works of musical art that Paul Williams and his collaborators have given to the world; here, 23 artists have paid homage to that art, and we, the world’s listeners, are the grateful recipients. White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams is essential listening.
Where to Get It: Releases December 7 in digital form and about a week later in physical form and on streaming platforms; you can pre-order on Curry Cuts’ Bandcamp page
Karla Kane | “Goodguy Sun” b/w “Sisters of the Pollen” (Big Stir, 2018) Big Stir Records, helmed by good guy Rex Broome and good gal Christina Bulbenko from the Armoires, have set into motion a series of delicious digital singles with this double-sided wonder from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, whose 2017 folk-pop solo album, King’s Daughters Home for Incurables, was a big spinner on Pure Pop Radio.
“Goodguy Sun,” written by Cleaners from Venus’s Martin Newell, is a charmingly melodic, very British mid-tempo ballad with the Bye Bye Blackbirds’ Bradley Skaught playing alongside usual fellow travelers Khoi Huyhn and KC Bowman (Gina Sperindle contributes lovely vocal harmony). Kane’s “Sisters of the Pollen,” a mesmerizing folk-pop pearl recorded with husband Huyhn, closes out with an a cappella workout and the actual sound of bees doing their business. Delicious.
Irwin | Ride On (2018) Jamie and Steve’s Jamie Hoover worked with Bill Irwin, from late-1980s-1990s Georgia pop-rockers Impulse Ride, to produce this tasty EP, pairing four new tracks with two previously unreleased Impulse Ride tracks from 1994. The new tracks, mostly mid-tempo, tuneful slices of pop, were written by Irwin and Hoover and feature both on a variety of instruments. Of the new songs, “King,” a soulful Beatlesque power ballad with Paul McCartney-inspired bass and an indelible melody, and “Georgia Peach,” an easygoing sway of an Americana-soaked pop song with a lovely, joyous melody, are tops.
Kenny Herbert | “I’m Growing Old With You” (2018) Kenny Herbert’s charming pop confections were a mainstay of my playlists throughout Pure Pop Radio’s 23-year history. I continue to be enthralled by everything Kenny adds to his considerable, collectible catalog. His latest release is a typically melodic, uptempo love song, inspired by Caroline, the love of his life. It has a lovely Bobby Goldsboro-meets-Gallagher and Lyle vibe about it. It’s one of those very special recordings that just makes you feel good to be alive.
We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):
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!
Every year around this time, I sit down to start work on this feature and I marvel at the sheer number of wonderful albums released during the previous 12 months. And then, I’m off and running.
The process of reviewing contenders for this list results in a survey of the absolute top of the pops that came out during the last 12 months. There were a lot of great indie records released in 2017. These are the ones that I came back to the most.
There are 21 entries in this year’s feature–18 albums and three singles, all followed by links you can click on to purchase them. They are presented in no particular order. As in years past, I do not rank them; I have trouble deciding which album should sit at number five versus number six and anyway, if I did rank them, the placements would likely vary depending on the day. So they are presented as a group of highly listenable creations, all of which I recommend without reservation, every day of the week.
And so, without further ado, here is Pure Pop Radio’s Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of 2017. The choices are mine; the pleasure, listening to them, is all yours.
Bill DeMain | Transatlantic Romantic Built around the Nashville, Tennessee artist’s piano and lovely vocals, and co-producer Jim Hoke’s tasteful string and horn arrangements, Transatlantic Romantic is a delicious, wonderfully arranged song cycle stacked high with sweet, beautifully written and performed classic-sounding songs in the style of Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, and Harpers Bizarre. Case in point: “Lemon Yellow,” a lovely waltz blessed by Van Dyke Parks-meets-George Martin strings, Randy Newman-esque piano, and the charming story about the love of a car that came “all the way from Germany.” There is charm to spare in this gem of an album, a warm, beating heart full of joy. Purchase
Bill Lloyd | It’s Happening Now It’s Happening Now bathes listeners in the warm glow of tremendous acoustic-based songs evoking mid-’60s folk-pop aesthetics. Lovely melodies, nimble acoustic guitar playing, and emotive vocals combine for an affective listening experience from a contemporary music master. A couple of heartfelt numbers are among the best songs that Lloyd has written thus far: the gorgeous, beautifully orchestrated and tenderly sung “Happiness,” about really and truly and completely giving in to love (“Happiness/As much of a choice as a chance/You simply decide that you’ll dance/This time…/Then maybe you’ll finally be blessed with/Happiness”), and “Let Me In Your Life Again,” a gentle upbeat plea for rekindling a romance (“Back inside your grace/Warm in your embrace/Only face to face/Do I feel anything so true”). It’s Happening Now is Bill Lloyd’s finest hour, by far. Purchase
The Bye Bye Blackbirds | Take Out the Poison
Bradley Skaught’s Oakland, California-based outfit’s best offering yet presents 11 finely wrought, emotionally charged songs in an album stocked full of classic tracks. Variety is the key: “Let Your Hair Fall Down,” an out-and-out pop workout, complete with horns and sounding as if it were plucked from the J. Geils playbook, sits comfortably alongside such numbers as the mid-tempo, string-laden country ballad, “Duet,” which features a lovely vocal by Lindsay Paige Garfield, who co-wrote the song with Skaught. A career-defining release. Purchase
Karla Kane | King’s Daughters Home for Incurables The Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane steps into the spotlight with this enchanting solo set bringing together modern folk and soft pop sensibilities. Kane’s lovely vocals and melodies power these heartfelt songs, such as the gorgeous ballad “Under the Oak in May” and the amazing, percussive piano marvel “All Aboard,” which sports a traveling, train-inspired beat and builds to a seductive close. A true marvel of an album. Purchase
Fun of the Pier | 14:42
Nottingham, England’s Fun of the Pier paints their debut album in bright, happy folk-pop hues for a pleasing listening experience. Songs such as “Past/Future” and “(In My) Time” are drenched in lovely, clever and catchy melodies. Beautiful ballads “Lost and Lazy” and “I Live this Life (She Said)” hearken to classic artists such as Claire Hamill and Kate Rusby (and there is a correlation worth noting). 14:42 is a wonderful, delightful collection of songs, expertly performed, with Helen Luker’s alluring vocals particularly noteworthy. Purchase
Kelley Ryan | Telescope
astroPuppees veteran Ryan’s long player is a master class effort of melodic proportions, stocked deep with luscious, carefully crafted compositions. Telescope’s enticing mix of balladry and radio-friendly should-be-top-of-the-pops creations includes the catchy, mid-tempo closer “Real Gone Girl,” with its enticing melody and lovely, memorable and magical harmonies; and the gentle, so pretty “Pulling for Romeo,” from which this album gets its title (“You’re at the end of your rope/Don’t need a telescope…”). How does this album fit into the current melodic pop landscape? It fits like a glove. Purchase
Dave Caruso | Buddha Pesto Manifesto
Dave Caruso’s new songs, which form the whole of this career-defining new album, play with the duality of the times in our lives when decisions must be made. Easy or hard to fathom, these decisions are the fabric of our lives, set within this album to glide along atop durable melodies that beat to the heart of the matter. The album’s closer is a particular highlight: “I Get to Make You Laugh,” delivered emotionally by way of Caruso’s tender vocal and keyboard, finds the narrator self-realizing that another man has the woman’s commitment at the same time that the narrator has her soul. Coming three years after the bravura performances captured within Caruso’s breakout album Cardboard Vegas Roundabout,Buddha Pesto Manifesto sets a high bar for future musical endeavors. Purchase
Cindy Lee Berryhill | The Adventurist
A deeply felt, melodic, invigorating and emotional song cycle looking back on and celebrating Berryhill’s time with Paul Williams, the creator of Crawdaddy, the first, authoritative rock publication of record, The Adventurist shows the future unfolding for Berryhill one day at a time with each new step forward informed by steps already taken. The album’s heart-filled center is the heartbreakingly honest, emotionally melodic “Somebody’s Angel” (“The first time I kissed somebody new/I cried when I thought about you/And all the good times we had and the living we’d been through,” Berryhill sings. “Now I’m here for you forever or long as I am able/I gotta be somebody’s angel.”) The Adventurist, a remarkable, many-hued cycle of life, will grab hold of your heart as it summons your deepest emotions to the surface and affects you to your core. (Omnivore) Purchase
Cait Brennan | Third
A miraculous, astounding, and audacious album pairing Brennan, a one-of-a-kind artist, and multi-instrumentalist and ace producer Fernando Perdomo, Third is surely one of those fortified-in-heaven happenings that make life on earth a wonderful thing. Recorded at Memphis, Tennessee’s legendary Ardent Studios, fortified with Big Star heart, Third is a roller coaster ride through all of life’s travails, an emotional wake up call for all humans negotiating the pathways of their existence. The album’s highlight? “Catiebots Don’t Cry,” a gut-wrenching you-love-her-I-love-her-what-are-we-gonna-do-about-it slow-to-mid-tempo burner, a skewed kind of aromatic love song featuring Brennan’s multi-tracked, thing-of-beauty three-dimensional vocal harmony stacks. This Third is astonishing, bold, and seemingly effortless. (Omnivore) Purchase
The Blood Rush Hour | Who Folds First The followup to 2014’s astounding And Then… The Unthinkable Happened is just as miraculous and entirely satisfying, encompassing a variety of song styles, all finely wrought melodic microcosms and performed with perfection. Who Folds First brings the hits and a few happy surprises, like the Manhattan Transfer-like, a cappella opening that introduces the Todd Rundgren-esque “No More Excuses,” and “The Space that We Have Made,” about getting to the heart of the matter, a triumphant Steely Dan-ish number sung by Pure Pop Radio favorite Christian Phillips, who devised the three-dimensional vocal arrangements with Hour leader Robert DeStefano. Joyous and quite special. Purchase
Chris Price | Stop Talking
Stop talking? Hardly. The aim is for you to listen to these wonderful songs, recorded by Price between 2013 and 2016, and tell your friends about them, thereby creating a groundswell of support for this exceptional artist. From the catchy Paul McCartney-meets-Stephen Bishop-meets-Rupert Holmes “One of Them” to the tender, Nilsson-esque “You and Me (And Everyone Else),” co-written by Price and The New Pornographers’ Joe Seiders, and the toe-tapping, orchestrated charmer “Once Was True,” which puts a lovely chord progression and melodic structure center stage, Stop Talking is a classy keeper. (Omnivore) Purchase
The Weeklings | Live at Daryl’s House Club Vol. 1
Ten Beatles classics, inhabited and driven with red-hot enthusiasm by this ever-passionate New Jersey foursome, blow like missiles out of your speakers for a fun time that, yeah, yeah, yeah, cannot help but be had by all. Top tracks? Take your pick: “I Saw Her Standing There” (energy to spare and take-that drumming), “Nowhere Man” (tight, three-dimensional harmonies), or “Helter Skelter,” (a pulse-pounding showcase for the band and Lefty’s in-your-face vocal). Or, really, any of the other tracks on offer. Short of being transported to an alternate universe where the actual Beatles are playing at a club in your neighborhood, this is as real as this fab thing gets. (See below for more Weeklings fun.) Purchase
Coke Belda | Coke Belda 3 (Gs): A Tribute to the Bee Gees
The long-awaited followup to 2013’s Coke Belda I and 2015’s Nummer Zwei breathes new life into the art of musical homage. This alluring celebration of the charms of the Brothers Gibb, a virtual explosion of Bee Gees joy, hits the mark at every turn. Playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals, save for a welcome guest appearance from Gretchen’s Wheel’s Lindsay Murray, Coke delivers smile after smile. “Claustrophobia,” arranged and played as a sweet Merseybeat romp, will book you on a virtual time travel trip back to the 1960s. The album closer, a beautiful take on “Our Love (Don’t Throw It All Away),” a top 10 Billboard chart hit for Andy Gibb in 1978, written by Bee Gee Barry and keyboardist Blue Weaver, is a welcome, perhaps unexpected nugget. Follow with glee. (Bonus Belda joy follows below.) Purchase from Kool Kat (CD), Purchase from Futureman (Digital)
Scott Gagner | Pins and Needles A way-more-than-worthy followup to 2014’s five-star Rise and Shine,Pins and Needles elevates Scott Gagner’s art to six stars, at least. Boasting 10 literate, affecting pop songs and a lovely, emotional reading of “America the Beautiful,” the album is one of the great pleasures of 2017. Top numbers include the bluesy “Heart Attack” (“It seems I was a victim of love/Not heart disease”), the classic pop sounds of “The Ghost of Me and You,” and the aforementioned “America the Beautiful.” Lovely through and through. Purchase
Robyn Gibson | Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
Buoyant exercises in the art of homage, Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 find The Junipers’ multi-instrumentalist Robyn Gibson having a good old time putting his warm, wide-eyed spin on some of his favorite pop songs from across the decades. All across this lovingly essayed two-volume landscape, Gibson’s softhearted vocals and obvious love for the material cast a warm glow over every melody line and emotional keystone communicated. In Gibson’s hands, these classic constructs breathe new life into familiar musical landscapes. From Vol. 1, The Beatles’ “Nowhere Man” fairly drips with joy; the opening, harmony drenched a cappella couplet is sweetly delivered, and the song reveals itself as a modern-day folk song, every harmonic element glimmering with life and hope. Among the other top spins: The Hollies’ “Listen to Me” and the Who’s “I Can’t Reach You.” Vol. 2’s take on the Monkees’ “Girl that I Knew Somewhere” and Matthew Sweet’s “I’ve Been Waiting” are winners, as is “Bob’s” version of a well-known little group from Liverpool’s “There’s a Place.” Unmissable, and so much fun. Free Downloads
Scott Brookman | Smellicopter Two
Four years and seven months on from the mighty Smellicopter, Richmond, Virginia’s favorite son returns with this top-flight five-song sequel, a sterling collection of pop songs that should not only please fans but also draw in new Brookman connoisseurs. From the opening marriage of ’70s Todd Rundgren and late-’90s June and the Exit Wounds ambiance, “Consideration,” to “Old Bones Found,” a clever, catchy mix of pure pop styles, Smellicopter Two delivers the goods. Purchase
Dana Countryman | The Joy of Pop The fourth time’s the charm, although it certainly can be said that the previous three times have been equally charming; The Joy of Pop is nothing less than a joy, another in a growing line of wonderful retro-pop albums from a master of melody. With compatriots like Matt Tyson, Dana’s wife Tricia and Klaatu’s Dee Long in tow, you’re bound to have a rousing good time bathing in the glow of such gorgeous songs as “August Dream,” a Broadway-styled creation influenced, no doubt, by the work of Richard Carpenter, Burt Bacharach and Gilbert O’Sullivan; “Tell Me that You Love Me,” an early-1960s mid-tempo ballad dripping with Buddy Holly-isms; and “Can’t Stop Thinking ‘Bout You,” a jangly number graced with Dee Long’s beautiful guitar work. There is even a jolly holiday number, “It’s an Amazon.com Kind of Christmas,” that begs to be played year-round. Joy? There plenty to go around here. Purchase
Richard X. Heyman | Incognito
One-man-band Richard X.’s 12th album, no less than his best work by far, is powered by stellar playing, singing and songwriting that gets better with each passing year. Dazzling songs and equally dazzling performances greet you at every turn. In the pure popper “A Fool’s Errand,” the narrator tells the world that his love for his partner is solid and for the ages. “Her Garden Path” is a muscular track with a grandly attractive riff that chronicles a man’s escape from a woman’s web. And the horn-infused, soulful pop number “So What” finds Richard sounding as though he’s channeling the Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere. All of Richard’s albums are fantastic listens, but if you’re new to Richard’s work and you wonder where you should start, Incognito is a great place to jump in. Purchase
Winterpills | “Colorblind”
Upon first hearing this Massachusetts band’s music and, in particular songwriter Philip Price’s top-flight, three-dimensional songs, I could do nothing except flip for joy. This single, not yet represented on an album, is a great example of what Winterpills does best, and that is envelop the listener with lovely melodies and hooks galore. Beyond that, this description from the group’s Bandcamp page sums the process up nicely: “‘Colorblind’ features an infectious wall-of-sound vocal hook, samples recorded into an iPhone in a DC parking lot, out-of-tune pianos colliding over a burned-out city, a fat R&B beat, all poured through the alchemy of producer Justin Pizzoferrato’s overdrive brain.” Add this song, and all of Winterpills’ glorious albums, to your collection today. Purchase
Coke Belda | “Operator (That’s Not the Way it Feels)”
Coke Belda, who is ably represented above in this year’s Favorite Records of the Year feature, released this past November this heartfelt reinvention of Jim Croce’s top 20 hit. “My lovely wife, Verónica, introduced me to Jim Croce many years ago,” says Coke on his Bandcamp page. “I was captivated by his tunes and voice and I always thought this song was a clear power-pop song disguised as an acoustic piece.” Playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals, Coke has introduced Croce’s perennial to new listeners, as well as listeners who grew up with the song when it was first released. Stellar work. Purchase
The Weeklings | “Paperback Writer”
New Jersey’s Fab Four reconvened in the studio during the last few months of 2017 to record and release a couple of jolly Christmas singles–“Revolution Wonderland,” a mash-up of the Beatles’ “Revolution” and the perennial Christmas classic “Winter Wonderland,” and a lively take on the original Fabs’ “Christmas Time is Here Again,” with dollops of “Flying” and “Baby You’re a Rich Man” skillfully sewn in. Last September, they released this, and here’s that word again, joyous slice of Weekling-ized fun, reviewed by me thusly: “Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Smokestack huddle together and Weekling-ize the number one 1966 Billboard chart Beatles smash with an in-your-face-and-your-ears-too injection of contemporary immediacy, tight-knit harmonies, a surprising and smile-inducing…break, rhythmic whirligigs, Lefty’s spot-on Paul McCartney-esque bass runs, and a daring dose of Monkees derring-do for a rip-roaring, must-play-it-again-and-again two minutes and 47 seconds-long eargasm.” Still sounds about right. Purchase
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Listen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!
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Spins and Reviews | 05.18.17 By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Various Artists | Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007 (2017) Curry Cuts’ third release, after swimming with lite rockers and second British Invasioneers, continues the label’s successful run of specially-curated themed compilations with this gathering of 26 covers of all of the songs featured in James Bond films.
This merry mix of moods invites repeat listens: standouts include Popdudes’ straight-ahead, rocking take on Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die”; Lannie Flowers’ Merseybeat-ish “James Bond Theme,” which glistens with power pop polish and a pair of nifty nods to Fab notions; and Zach Jones’ brightly-lit, soulful run through “All-Time High.” The Corner Laughers’ sprightly, jazzy version of “Diamonds are Forever” is a keeper, and don’t count out Big-Box Store, aka The New Pornographers’ Joe Seiders, who turns in a commanding, moody performance of “Die Another Day.”
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “All Time High,” Zach Jones; “Diamonds are Forever,” The Corner Laughers; “Die Another Day,” Big-Box Store; “For Your Eyes Only,” Freedy Johnston; “From Russia with Love,” The Stereo Twins; “Golden Eye,” Identical Suns; “James Bond Theme,” Lannie Flowers; “Live and Let Die,” Popdudes; “Moonraker,” Gary Frenay; “The Living Daylights,” Cirrone; and “Writing’s On the Wall,” Cliff Hillis Where to Get It: Bandcamp
Chris Price | Stop Talking (2017) The blue-gray washed inner, two-panel spread of Chris Price’s second album shows Price in contemplative repose standing at the foot of the ocean, at the beach, wearing a suit and tie, his hands in his pockets, his longish hair being blown back softly as the tempered waves draw close behind him. Even the blue-tinted dog on the cover looks like he, or she, has a few things on his mind.
Five years on from his first solo album, and after producing Emitt Rhodes and Linda Perhacs, these 14 songs recorded by Price between 2013 and 2016 make up the ironically-titled Stop Talking, which isn’t really what this thinking-man’s popster wants you to do after hearing the catchy “One of Them,” the Paul McCartney-meets-Stephen Bishop-meets-Rupert Holmes “Man Down,” and the tour de force, “Darkness.”
Stop talking? No, no. What Price wants you to do is listen and then talk about these songs. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbors–the guy who delivers bread to your local supermarket, even. In this social media age especially, it’s word of mouth, communicated far and wide, that moves souls in search of the next big thing from point a to b.
So let’s start talking. This album’s highlights are many, brought to life by Price who, in addition to being the artist, wore the hats of producer, engineer and mixer, and a number of additional musicians. The tender, Nilsson-esque “You and Me (And Everyone Else),” co-written by Price and The New Pornographers’ Joe Seiders, who plays a delicate piano here, puts the spotlight on Price’s voice, a strong, emotional instrument. The pounding piano song “One of Them” is a pure pop delight. And the toe-tapping, orchestrated charmer “Once Was True” puts a lovely chord progression and melodic structure center stage.
Perhaps the centerpiece of Stop Talking is “Darkness,” a patchwork of a song, rallying different time signatures around a handsome melody for a bravura performance that takes less than three minutes to bring to a close.
The man at the foot of the ocean can stop contemplating now. Stop Talking is a keeper.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Hi Lo,” “Man Down,” “Once Was True,” “You and Me (And Everyone Else),” “Sigh,” “Darkness,” “James Bond Theme,” “One of Them,” and “Anhedonia” Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon
Fun of the Pier | “Cavern Song” and “(In) My Town” (from the forthcoming album, 14:42) Nottingham, England’s Mark and Helen Luker, along with Richard Hattersley, make a welcome return to the pop landscape with two new songs that will feature on the duo’s forthcoming, long-awaited album, 14:42.
“Cavern Song” is a sprightly toe-tapper about getting into the world famous venue on a number of fronts. Taking to task entitlement (“What d’you mean we have to pay?”), expressing the excitement of being there on social media in the most basic of terms (“Take a photo of a photograph/Now upload it to your page/Oh we’re havin’ such a laugh/Take a selfie on the stage”), and the power of the artist (“And at least I get to work it out/With some lyrics…”), the song is perhaps the very first lively, happy-sounding cautionary tale of 2017. Somewhat recalling the vibe of Paul McCartney’s “Hope of Deliverance,” “(In) My Town” examines life in a small burg under siege, from which youth is unable to break out (“Is it any wonder they can’t meet/The demands of a world unknown”). All three players shine, but let’s give Mark top marks for some quite inventive bass playing.
A CD containing both of these songs is slated to be given away at the Cavern Club in conjunction with Fun of the Pier’s performance at International Pop Overthrow this coming weekend. Meanwhile, bring on the album. We’ve loved Fun of the Pier’s sound for a long time. Welcome back.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Cavern Song” and “(In) My Town” Where to Get It: Not yet available
Strangely Alright | “Now is the Time” (2017)
Regan Lane and company return to the Pure Pop Radio airwaves, and your stereo components, with this spacey, Marc Bolan-in-space vibe-y number. Hypnotic and inviting, the song fills the here-and-now stereo soundfield with ’60s-inspired joy. Don’t miss it.
Crime Scene | “Carnival Queen” and “The Highs and Lows of Love” (2017) Former members of the great Swedish Longplayer Orchestra–Ulf Holmberg, Jon Sundberg, and Göran Holmberg–join Per Östling to deliver one of the big treats of the spring on this nifty digital single.
“Carnival Queen” is a majestic mid-paced, McCartney-esque ballad with a catchy chorus; “The Highs and Lows of Love” starts out as a rockin’ blues belter that becomes a pure pop delight in the chorus, which is preceded by a sly nod to the Electric Light Orchestra (spot it if you dare!) and topped off with a surprise coda. Whew! Lots of fun.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Carnival Queen” and “The Highs and Lows of Love” Where to Get It: Not yet available
Also added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and currently spinning in rotation:
Your Gracious Host | Boomerang (2017) | “Boomerang,” “Honor the Aim,” “Rest of Us in the Third World,” “Spritely,” and “You See Right Through Me” Bandcamp, Kool Kat Musik
Plasticsoul | Therapy (2017) | “Her Raincoat,” “The Girl of Many Tribes,” and “Babylon” Plasticsoul Pre-Order
During the interview, Chris takes listeners on a tour of his magical time with Emitt, from the friends’ initial meeting in 2006 to Chris’s production of what may well wind up ranking as fans’ favorite Rhodes recording. The album, Rainbow Ends, releases this Friday, February 26, on CD and vinyl from Omnivore.
Rainbow Ends, tracks from which we are now proudly playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, brings pop classicist Emitt Rhodes back into the spotlight with terrific songs so good they could only have come from this master of the pop form. Supporting Emitt on this album is a band stocked deep with top-flight musicians–many, if not most, familiar names to pop fans: Jellyfish’s Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., Jason Falkner, Fernando Perdomo, the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, Bleu and many more.
Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere melodic pop interview program hosted by Alan Haber, airs Tuesday nights at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) and repeats on Sunday afternoons at 5 pm ET (2 pm PT). Archived, podcast versions of interviews are posted on the In Conversation PodOmatic podcast page; click here to listen to more than 60 shows previously broadcast on Pure Pop Radio.
Only 11 days to go until the release of Emitt Rhodes’ first album in 43 years: Rainbow Ends joins the pop craftsman’s peerless catalog on February 26, courtesy of Omnivore Records, in both CD and vinyl formats.
To get you ready for the February 26 release of Rainbow Ends, producer Chris Price joins Alan Haber tomorrow night, February 16, at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation for an extensive, in-depth look at the album. (Alan was among the first critics to review Rainbow Ends. If you missed the review, click here to read it.) During the interview, Chris takes listeners on a tour of his magical time with Emitt, from the friends’ initial meeting in 2006 to Chris’s production of what may well rank as fans’ favorite Rhodes recording.
Emitt Rhodes, Hawthorne, California. 16 October 2015.
Rainbow Ends, tracks from which we are now proudly playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, brings the pop classicist back into the spotlight with terrific songs so good they could only have come from this master of the pop form. Supporting Emitt on this album is a band stocked deep with top-flight musicians, many, if not most, familiar names to pop fans: Jellyfish’s Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., Jason Falkner, Fernando Perdomo, the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, Bleu and many more. During the interview, you’ll hear three songs from Rainbow Ends, and Emitt’s cover of a favorite Bee Gees song, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” which was first released as a limited edition vinyl 45 for Record Store Day 2014 and subsequently included on a Bee Gees tribute album.
Pure Pop Radio is your home for this exciting salute to Emitt Rhodes, leading up to the long-awaited release of Rainbow Ends on February 26. To celebrate, in addition to airing Alan’s extended interview with producer Chris Price tomorrow night, February 16, we’ve added to our playlist the lion’s share of tracks from all ofEmitt’s albums, including Rainbow Ends. We’ve also added the bulk of tracks appearing on the Merry-Go-Round’s Listen, Listen: The Definitive Collection. All of these tracks, andmore, are now playing in rotation on our air.
In the meantime, why not click on one of the listen links below so you can enjoy our continuous, original 24-hour stream of the greatest melodic pop in the universe? Enjoy!
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. From the Beatles to the Spongetones, the Nines, Kurt Baker, the Connection and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.
The hosts of our regularly scheduled specialty shows are ready to go with brand-new episodes crafted for you, our loyal listeners. This week on Pure Pop Radio, every little thing is ready to roll!
Speaking of Every Little Thing, host Ken Michaels is rolling out a tribute to the Everly Brothers tonight at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT). What’s more, he’s speaking to author Chip Madinger, whose book Lennonology charts the day-to-day lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and playing through an opening, varied set featuring a pair of Paul McCartney classics, a choice Ringo Starr cut, and a couple of Beatles numbers that are sure to please: “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “Good Day Sunshine.”
You can read about tomorrow night’s in-depth interview with Chris Price, producer of Emitt Rhodes’ first album in 43 years, Rainbow Ends, by clicking here. Fans of one of pop’s original, defining artists won’t want to miss this show. Set your alarm clocks for Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, tomorrow night at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT).
Brian Bringelson spins vinyl and only vinyl this Wednesday night, February 17, at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) on his always-entertaining show, Needle Meets Vinyl. This all-new episode opens with none other than famed comedian W.C. Fields, who gives way to tracks from the Beatles, Steely Dan, Dusty Springfield, Johnny Rivers, Julie Andrews, Ricky Nelson and many more. It’s another fabulous show you won’t want to miss.
This Thursday night at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) on Things We Said Today, our regular panel of Beatles experts talks about their favorite Beatles cover songs and albums. Ken Michaels, Steve Marinucci, Al Sussman and Allan Kozinn bring to mind both well-known and perhaps not-so-well-known examples that will surely get your Beatle bells a-ringing, like Stevie Wonder’s “We Can Work It Out,” Sergio Mendez’s “Fool on the Hill,” Emmylou Harris’s “Here, There and Everywhere,” Del Shannon’s “From Me to You,” and tracks from classical guitarist Steven King and Steeleye Span. It’s another example of the best Beatles talk on radio…anywhere.
Every Little Thing is the premiere, syndicated program playing Beatles group and solo recordings. Hosted by longtime radio personality Ken Michaels, the show airs a mix of new and archived shows on Monday nights at 8 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio.
Needle Meets Vinylis the weekly show during which all songs are played from vinyl records. The music spans the decades during which popular music has flourished. Curated and presented by Brian Bringelson, a member of the band Anchor and Bear and a solo artist under the name Paul Starling, the show airs Wednesday nights at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT).
Things We Said Today is a weekly survey of all things Beatles that’s hosted by a quartet of Beatles experts–today’s Fab Four, if you will. Ken Michaels, host of Every Little Thing, is joined by Beatlefan Executive Editor Al Sussman, Steve Marinucci (Beatles Examiner), and Allan Kozinn, longtime music critic. Other well-known Beatles experts sometimes sit in with the core group. Things We Said Today airs Thursday nights at 8 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio.
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. From the Beatles to the Spongetones, the Nines, Kurt Baker, the Connection and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.
Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, Internet radio’s premiere melodic pop talk show, returns on Tuesday, February 9th, for the first of two brand-new installments. First up: Terry Draper, whose new album, Searching, Alan reviewed on January 21st, calling it the “first great album of 2016.” On February 16th, producer Chris Price will take listeners through every step along the way to the completion of Emitt Rhodes’ Rainbow Ends, the first album from the pop master in 43 years.
On February 9th at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT), Terry Draper engages with Alan in a lively discussion of his recently-released album, Searching, released by Bullseye Records of Canada. The album’s clever songwriting and three-dimensional arrangements, not to mention top-flight performances from Terry and guests such as Jamie Hoover and Ray Paul, and the usual vivid artwork created by Ted Jones, whose mark was indelibly left on the many Klaatu albums he illustrated, sit center stage. Terry talks about it all. You won’t want to miss a second.
Producer Chris Price takes listeners on a magical tour from the first time he met Emitt Rhodes through to the production and pending release of Emitt’s first album in 43 years, Rainbow Ends. This fantastic album brings the pop classicist back into the spotlight with terrific songs so good they could only have come from this master of the pop form. This chat brings new meaning to the idea of “in-depth,” the kind of interviews we’re known for. You’ll hear three songs from Rainbow Ends, and a bonus cover of a favorite Bee Gees song.
Set your alarm clocks for Tuesday, February 9th at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) for Alan’s talk with Terry Draper, and Tuesday, February 16th at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) for an in-depth chat with Chris Price, the producer of Emitt Rhodes’ forthcoming album, Rainbow Ends, being released by Omnivore Records on February 26th.
Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere melodic pop interview program hosted by Alan Haber, airs Tuesday nights at 7 pm ET (4 pm PT) and repeats on Sunday afternoons at 5 pm ET (2 pm PT). Archived, podcast versions of interviews are posted on the In Conversation PodOmatic podcast page; click here to listen to more than 60 shows previously broadcast on Pure Pop Radio.