New on Pure Pop Radio 08.29.17: NRBQ, Bubble Gum Orchestra, Neil Finn, Winterpills, and Crime Scene are Top of the Pops

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Spins and Reviews | 08.29.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

NRBQ - Happy TalkNRBQ | Happy Talk (Omnivore, 2017)
Entertaining adoring audiences for five decades, the undeniably versatile and forever-sure-to-please band shows no signs of hanging up their rather extensive repertoire. Happy Talk, a joyous five-song EP that was cut during a touring break, follows the well-received, mammoth and comprehensive five-CD box set, High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective, which was released last November to great acclaim. Two catchy originals join three choice covers in a must-get collection that screams “Full length, please!” I love the Hee-Hawish toe-tapper “Yes, I Have a Banana,” the succinct take on Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely,” and the sprightly, loving and heartfelt version of “Happy Talk,” from South Pacific. Charming through and through, this is a mini-masterpiece.

black box Where to Get It: Pre-order from the Omnivore Shop (releases October 20), Amazon

bubble gum orchestra sixthovertureBubble Gum Orchestra | “The Beatles Made Me” (from the forthcoming album, Sixthoverture)
The first single from Bubble Gum Orchestra’s forthcoming long player, Sixthoverture, is a bit of a stylistic departure from Michael Hildebrandt’s creative outlet. The usual overt nods to all things Electric Light Orchestra are tempered in this sweet yet somewhat edgy slice of musical gratitude.

The bulk of the lyric is a thank-you to the Fab Four for inspiration rendered, but there is this quizzical verse: “Abbey Road/Abbey Road nearly ruined me/Just like the love/Just like the love that you stole from me.” Michael says that the Abbey Road bit “is referencing that [the] Abbey Road album was so great to me that anything I would ever listen to after that by any other band would never compare.” And as for the part about love: it “is a relationship thing comparing lost love to also being ruined.” An interesting left turn, indeed.

We are proudly premiering “The Beatles Made Me” on tonight’s edition of the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio. We are, in fact, the first North American radio show to play this great song, so thank you, MH.

black box Where to Get It: The BGO Store

neil finn out of silenceNeil Finn | “Second Nature” and “More than One of You” (from the forthcoming album, Out of Silence) | (2017)
Just on the basis of the spirited, orchestrated mid-tempo ballad “Second Nature” and the quite lovely “More than One of You,” this is a return to the Crowded House-era side of Neil Finn’s craft, which to my mind has been missing from much of his solo output. Recording live with his band, Finn aimed to record the whole of Out of Silence in a three-hour session on August 25 with a quick release date, now looking like September 22. Neil Finn has delivered to the world some of the most melodic songs heard since his time in Split Enz and on through the Crowded House years and beyond. These two new songs are more-than-worthy additions to his catalog.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon (Here and here); Album pre-order

winterpills colorblindWinterpills | “Colorblind” (2017)
A new release from Winterpills, one of my favorite bands of those I’ve discovered in recent years, is always welcome. A typically catchy, widescreen recording of a typically catchy song, “Colorblind” is another notch in the Northampton, Massachusetts band’s win column. How do I describe this song? I couldn’t possibly do better than the description posted on the band’s Bandcamp page, so here goes: “‘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.” That about sums it up. Now go get it.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Crime Scene - Alter Life - smallCrime Scene | Alter Life (2017)
Three members of Swedish pop-rockers Crime Scene were players in the much-missed Longplayer Orchestra (Ulf Holmberg, Jon Sundberg, and Göran Holmberg). Their new songs may hit harder than the poppier Longplayer output, but they are no less catchy and appealing. Crime Scene’s crafted ingredients, cooked up with fourth member Per Östling, top the pops with songs like power ballad “No Gravity,” the pretty “I Tend to Shy Away,” and album closer “Almost Spring,” a gorgeous number that features a lovely vocal turn from guest singer Trish Sheldon and just a hint of banjo accent. A can’t-miss collection.

black box Where to Get It: Apple Music, Amazon Digital. Listen on Spotify

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New on Pure Pop Radio 05.18.17: Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007; Chris Price; Fun of the Pier, and More

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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.”

Grab a martini–shaken, stirred, or otherwise appointed–and know how it feels to have an all-time high. (If you missed out on Curry Cuts’ first two releases, Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock and Here Comes the Reign Again: The Second British Invasion, click here with due speed.)

black box 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
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

chris price stop talking coverChris 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.

chris price ocean photo 5Five 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.

black box 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”
black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon

cover artFun 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.

band shot“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.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Cavern Song” and “(In) My Town”
black box Where to Get It: Not yet available

Now Is The Time Cover ArtStrangely 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.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: iTunes, CD Baby

Crime Scene - Carnival Queen coverCrime 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.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Carnival Queen” and “The Highs and Lows of Love”
black box Where to Get It: Not yet available

Also added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and currently spinning in rotation:

your gracious host boomerangYour 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 coverPlasticsoul | Therapy (2017) | “Her Raincoat,” “The Girl of Many Tribes,” and “Babylon” Plasticsoul Pre-Order

love minus zeroLove Minus Zero | “Mary Says” Bandcamp