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Since we’ve been off the grid, more or less, the last couple of weeks, we recognize that our latest contest, which looks to bestow upon four lucky winners a signed copy of Dana Countryman’s latest CD, Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp!, may have gotten lost in the shuffle of our inactivity.
So we’re extending the contest deadline to this coming Sunday, October 11, at 6 pm ET. All you have to do to enter is fill in the form below. Don’t forget to type your email address, and while you’re typing, be sure to put “Pop 3!” in the Comments box. That’s it. Send the form our way and, as they say, “You might win!”
As always, you must contend with the fine print: Only one entry per person. Entries must be received, as is noted above, by Sunday, October 11, at 6 pm ET. Void where prohibited by gumball drops and boxes of Yodels all stacked up neatly to the ceiling.
Good luck from your friends at Pure Pop Radio, the original 24-hour-a-day Internet radio station playing a steady, original stream of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe. Our playlist is now more than 7,600 songs strong, so you get the most variety of songs anywhere. Like us on Facebook and enjoy!
In conjunction with tonight’s brand-new edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation with Dana Countryman, rolling at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) on Pure Pop Radio, we’re giving away four copies of Dana’s new CD, Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp!
As always, it’s easy to enter. Simply fill in the form below; be sure to include your email address and type “Pop 3!” in the Comments box. Send your entry our way and that’s it. The Fine Print: Entries must be received by Friday, October 2 at 5 pm ET. Only one entry per person. Winners will be notified after October 2.
So, go on. Enter. Maybe you’ll be a winner. Fingers crossed! Good luck!
Tomorrow night’s first-run edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation presents Mr. Pop, or as he’s more commonly known, Dana Countryman, in another in-depth discussion that melodic pop fans all over the world will treasure. The show begins tomorrow night, Tuesday, September 22, at a special time: 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) on Pure Pop Radio.
In this typically wide-ranging program, Dana goes behind-the-scenes about his smashing, new album, Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp! What goes into making such a wonderful record? How does Dana approach songwriting? How does he record? All of these questions and more will be answered. And you will hear three songs from Pop 3!
Dana also takes listeners through his musical history, from when he first started playing in bands to his years in The Amazing Pink Things, his work with electronic music wizard Jean-Jacques Perrey, and his current, solo career, which has now produced three albums of late-’60s-early ’70s pure pop perfection.
We cap off this delightful program by playing three of the great songs from yesteryear that have influenced Dana: Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Clair,” Harry Nilsson’s “Me and My Arrow,” and the Carpenters’ “Goodbye to Love.” Dana talks about each of these songs, giving his unique perspective on them.
Don’t miss this chance to spend 90 minutes with one of the masters of retro pop music, Dana Countryman. Set your alarm clocks for tomorrow night, Tuesday, September 22, at a special time: 9 pm ET (6 pm PT). See you on the radio! (Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation is taking a few weeks off. The next new show will be on Tuesday, October 13.)
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.
“These are the words you wish you could hear,” Jules Shear sings in his current release, the quite catchy pop song called “The Words,” and these are the words we are happy to pass on to you; we love you, and it’s because of that love that we bring to you news of new music that’s been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist.
We’ve got only a smattering today as so many big projects destined for your ears are in the works and just about ready to pop out of the oven, but there is more, much more to come, all of it crafted with precision and with an eye on precise symmetry, and that’s all just around the corner, and of that we are confident and sure.
Today, we present to you the following, all now playing in rotation on the air, one after the other (but not in any kind of formal formation):
Jules Shear | “The Words” After having written a string of classic songs over so many decades, a string which ties together “All Through the Night,” “If She Knew What She Wants,” “If We Never Meet Again,” “The Trap Door” and so many others of such tall stature, this peerless songwriter and performer has begun releasing new material, some of which he says he will give away and some which he says he will sell. “The Words” is a giveaway, thank you very much, and rather a nice, warm gesture, essentially a three-chord construct with a knockout chorus that essentially functions as a master class in songwriting, so skillful it is with such a grand, satisfying payoff. A lyrical pedal steel part is icing on a very tasty cake, which we’re serving in rotation.
Dana Countryman | Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp! Words are kind of our business, but at some times, when the music takes us away to the ubiquitous somewhere else, we can’t see the forest for the trees or choose one thing, whatever it is, over another. In the case of Mr. Countryman’s latest release, the third in his spun-from-gold pop music trilogy, words do not fail us, even though it’s the music that takes us and, of course, you away in the end and after all is sung and done.
This outstanding collection of melodically-charged songs, set squarely in the world governed by all that is retro, actually opens up a portal that you fall into as sounds celebrating the joys of tightly-constructed audio treats take you away. Honestly, it’s like the sounds of the late 1960s and early 1970s are back, baby, and there you are singing along or humming, even if you don’t know the words. Echoes of the Four Seasons and the Spiral Starecase and Gilbert O’Sullivan and the Hollies and Eric Carmen and, yes, the Beatles, of whom much has been said and a lot more could and will be, run through the fabric of these songs that will be with you in the morning when you are buttering your toast and in the evening, just before bedtime, as your head hits the pillow and you drift off.
“Every Kiss Reminds Me of You,” “Run Back Into My Arms,” “Can’t Get You Out of My Mind,” “Nice Shot (Straight to the Heart),” “Don’t You Know You’ll Break My Heart,” “All You Need to Say,” “Twenty-Four Hours with You,” “There Goes My Heart Again,” “Shari Girl / You’ll Always Be a Baby to Me,” “That’s When I Knew,” and “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” pretty much all the bones of this album, are now playing in rotation (we’re saving “Christmas All Over the World” for the upcoming holiday season, and the gorgeous love song “What If?” has been spinning for a while). Do we need to say that Pop 3! is one of the best albums of the year? Well, you know, or you will know, that this statement is true.
Bertling Noise Laboratories | Matilda and 12 Others and “Ram On” You’ve probably heard yourself say, or you’ve at least thought to yourself, the words “Where has he (or she) been all my life?,” and therein lies the thing of it all. This is how we felt, really and truly, when we were turned onto Nick Bertling’s outstanding and astounding album through which all roads lead to you thinking “Now, that really hits the spot” as you spin it again and again, as we have done and will continue to do. “Good Morning” exists as if it were an outtake from McCartney (where else could that traveling, syncopating bass come from?); “Baby Talk” plays like a long lost Motown track from deep in the vaults with all of the excitement and oomph that such a thing entails; “It’s Not Funny” is nothing less than a crooner’s standard (surely some Broadway production will dial this one up); “Time for Us” is straight-ahead pop; and the title song, “Matilda,” is kinda sorta jazzy, like a Steely Dan-meets-not-Steely-Dan mashup, except it’s not really that, but it sure is something else. We’re playing all of these songs, plus “Bits and Pieces,” “I’ll Bet She Thinks,” and “Once in a While.” With this album in your hands, and you know you’ll want it, once in a while will not be enough. Oh, and of “Ram On”…it’s a lovely cover of the aforementioned McCartney fellow’s song from Ram, and it’s fabulously huggable. We’re playing that too, naturally.
Tommy Lorente | “B.B. (Tu Me Plais Tant)” and “Un Certain Savoir Faire” Not being anywhere near fluent in French, although we can count to six and nod like we know what somebody is talking about, we let the words of these songs float around us as the accomplished pop-rocker Tommy Lorente lets loose the three-different-beats-heavy vibe of “B.B. (Tu Me Plais Tant)” (“I Like You So Much”) which, based on the English translation of the lyrics Tommy sent our way, is a love song of sorts with a whole lot of energy that gets one moving from side to side. “Un Certain Savoir Faire,” or “A Certain Savoir Faire,” which is about self-confident people and rocks in a slow, steady kind of way, with stabbing guitars and strong, certain drum hits, is the flip side, or the other A-side, of this top-notch single from one of our favorite performers in this day and age. Both songs are playing in rotation, rocking and popping up the joint, as it were.
Various Artists | Lost Hits of the 80’s Dan Pavelich, music critic at the Kenosha (Wisconsin) News and creator of the sweet comic strip Just Say Uncle, has quietly been producing great music for so many years, kind of slipping in under the radar with albums such as this one, a loving trip in the Wayback Machine of the mind to the 1980s, as performed by a bunch of fictitious bands that exist only in Dan’s mind–bands like Atari Hand Cramp, Pest Control, and Asmatics UK (named that way to avoid confusion with Asmatics Canada, no doubt). Working with some top-flight collaborators–Pop 4’s Andrea Perry, Lisa Mychols and the Well Wishers’ Jeff Shelton among them–Dan turns in a fabulously fun trip. The songs range from Redd Roxx’s poppy “No Regret,” sung by the Waking Hours’ Tom Richards, to the steady, rocking “Camera Shy” by The Vaporizers, and The Images’ slowed down, impassioned take on the Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep.” Dan says he had a ball producing this record, from which we’ve slotted the aforementioned songs, and a couple of others–Asmatics UK’s “Temptress of London,” Metro Cafe’s “Am I Only Dreaming of You,” and The Images’ “Don’t Want Pretending”–into our playlist. We’ll have a Q&A feature soon, in which Dan will spill all of the inner secrets of this album, but for now, listen for a stone cold trip back to the decade that still, and always will, pop and rock. Loads of fun.
That’s it for today. Believe us, we’ve barely scratched the surface. We’ve added to the playlist hundreds of new and new-to-you songs from current and heritage artists over the past few weeks. We’ll continue to report on these adds and others we have waiting in the wings, during the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned. You will undoubtedly dig our continually diggable scene.
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.
Last night’s third edition of Pop Tunes, our new, weekly deejay show hosted by Alan Haber, contained more melodic pop goodness than you might imagine would be possible. But there it was, a host of catchy melodies that make up the soundtrack of your life!
Here’s what was played:
Set One: A Cappella and Just-About-A Cappella
The Housemartins | “Caravan of Love” from That’s What I Call Quite Good
Prelude | “After the Gold Rush” from After the Gold Rush
Jamie and Steve | “Blame It On Cain” from Beyond Belief: A Tribute to Elvis Costello
The Mighty Echoes | “I Think We’re Alone Now” from Love from Echo Park
Todd Rundgren | “Something to Fall Back On” from A Cappella
Set Two: Curtsy, Bow and Bow Ties
Muller and Patton | “Mary Lou” from Muller and Patton
Klaatu | “Cherie” from Sir Army Suit
The Beatles | “Piggies” from The Beatles
Set Three: New at Pure Pop Radio
Bertling Noise Laboratories | “Good Morning” from Matilda and 12 Others
The Bye Bye Blackbirds | “Let Your Hair Fall Down” (Single Track)
Jules Shear | “The Words” (Single Track)
Laurie Biagini | “Try Our Luck Today” (Single Track)
Dana Countryman | “Shari Girl, You’ll Always Be a Baby to Me” from Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp!
Set Four: Beatle Blast
Bonzo Dog Band | “I’m the Urban Spaceman” from Tadpoles
Set Five: More New Music at Pure Pop Radio
The New Trocaderos | “I’m So Bad” from Thrills and Chills
Tommy Lorente | “Un Certain Savoir Faire” (Single Track)
Herb Eimerman | “Believe that I Do” from Five Dimensional Man
One Like Son | “Summer Days” from Classic
Set Six: One and Done The Sonic Executive Sessions | “On and On” from Drink a Toast to Innocence
That’s the rundown on last night’s third edition of Pop Tunes. If you missed the show, you can listen again this Thursday at noon ET (9 am PT) and on Sunday at 3 pm ET (noon PT). Thanks for tuning in!
Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes is a cool deejay show playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. The show airs every Monday night at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) on Pure Pop Radio, and repeats on Thursday afternoons at noon ET (9 am PT) and Sundays at 3 pm ET (noon PT). Please like us on Facebook by clicking here.
We know, we know… You’re still buzzing from yesterday’s list of new songs and artists added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We’re buzzing, too! And while we’re all in new music mode, let’s run down another list of the latest melodic pop gems playing in rotation on our airwaves. Wow! Here we go!
Maura Kennedy | Villanelle You know that the stars have aligned with grace and glory when a new Kennedys album and a Maura Kennedy solo offering show themselves within two months of each other. Maura’s album, a collaboration with poet B.D. Love, is, not surprisingly, a strong showcase for Maura’s lovely, expressive voice–never better on record, in our view–and her melodies, set here to Love’s vibrant words. With Maura’s husband Pete playing a variety of instruments, and some notable guest stars lending their talents, including popster Gary Frenay, Villanelle’s 15 songs shine brightly, from the classically-styled pop song, “Bicycles With Broken Spokes,” with its ringing guitars and clever wordplay (“”A way with words, that boy, I swear, could tell a tale/We rode in tandem for some time.”); to the gently driving, soulful “She Worked Her Magic On Me”; and the magical, swampy “Be the One,” which wouldn’t have been out of place on a Creedence Clearwater Revival album. Villanelle is a sterling example of the arts of craft and performance. If we gave out stars, there would be five of them in both Maura’s and B.D.’s baskets. We’re playing the aforementioned songs, plus: the title track, “I Cried to Dream Again,” “Soldier’s Wife,” “Mockingbird,” “Borrowed Dress,” “Coyotes,” “Father to the Man,” “I’ll Be Alone Tonight,” and “Breathe Deeply Love.” Breathtaking.
Dana Countryman | “Thrill Me (2015 Remaster)” This song first appeared on Dana’s smashing 2013 album, The Incredible, Fantastic Retro Pop World of Dana Countryman. Remixed especially for release on Bandcamp, this version of the song features great vocals (those backgrounds really pop!) and guitar from Klaatu’s Dee Long. Dana’s next album is coming very soon–keep an ear out for more glorious retro-pop sounds from a master of the pop form!
Garfield’s Birthday | You Are Here Pink Hedgehog Records’ Simon Felton, his brother Shane and drummer Alan Strawbridge join for an album’s worth of shimmering, melodic pop songs. Full of great numbers, “Radio” is perhaps our favorite (for obvious reasons!); it sports a classic pop melody, great harmony vocals, and a beat you can dance to! “It’s Your Lucky Day” is a bopping pop song with rocking guitar lines and more, inviting harmony vocals. “Carpet Ride” is a nod to sixties songcraft with a mesmerizing, 4/4 beat and, yes, great vocals. An immensely entertaining album that we’re thrilled to be playing. In addition to the songs we’ve already mentioned, we’re spinning, in rotation, “Magic Bike,” “Fancy Dress,” “I’m a Star Tonight,” “Oxford,” “Lunar Eclipse,” “Rheinhold Paisley,” “Sunday Best,” and “Water (It Looks Like Rain).” The whole album, in fact. Great stuff.
Toxic Melons | “Today Didn’t Go” A teaser, released ahead of the upcoming EP, Four Play, which features “brand new improved versions of classic Toxic Melons tracks.” This song, originally a cut on the Melon Jam album and presented here in a stripped mix, features the talents of Jellyfish’s Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. and Eric Dover. It’s another fine song from the Melons. We look forward to Four Play.
The Damnwells | The Damnwells New to Pure Pop Radio, Brooklyn, New York-based the Damnwells have released an album featuring all of the original band members–the first such release since 2006. We dig the band’s pop and rock sound, so much so that we’ve added six songs to our playlist, including “Heavy Heart,” an upbeat tune recalling the Jayhawks; the jangly “The Girl That’s Not In Love With You”; “None of These Things,” a heartfelt ballad with an emotive lead vocal; “Lost”; This Ship of Ours”; and “Too Old to Die.” Quite fine.
Mike Tesch | Mike Tesch These songs, which ride a fine line between folk and pop, are beautifully constructed and performed. We were immediately taken with Mike’s sound. Of course, we were immediately attracted to the ballad, “My Radio,” given the title and all. The song’s introspective nature draws the listener in, and those vocals…pure gold. Interestingly, the drums sound like they would have been comfortable on Carly Simon’s first album. Teeming with pure pop spirit, “Same Old Song” sports great vocal harmony stacks and a wonderfully catchy melody. We’re now playing, in rotation, both of these songs, and “The Blackbird Files,” “I’m Gone,” and “Old Ideas.” Great stuff. Look for the album later this summer.
Daniel Wylie | Fake Your Own Death Daniel’s 2011 album is making its debut on Pure Pop Radio with five standout tracks: “Forgotten Songs,” “Rivers Flow,” “Make a Sound,” “Love Hurts (Sometimes),” and “It’s Always Been You.” The combination of Daniel’s wonderfully melodic songs and his smooth vocal delivery gets us every time (we’re big fans of Daniel’s band, Cosmic Rough Riders). We’ve taken these songs from Kool Kat Musik’s 2015 reissue of Fake Your Own Death, which includes two bonus tracks. There can never be enough Daniel Wylie songs on Pure Pop Radio.
Cameron Lew | welp. If the Interwebs are to be believed, “welp” is another way of saying “well…”; in other words, “Welp…I have nothing more to say” (refer to the movie Dumb and Dumber). Except in this case, Cameron Lew, from the fine band the Yorktown Lads (heard on Pure Pop Radio, naturally), there is certainly plenty to say. Cameron’s first solo album, recorded in the proverbial bedroom studio, is a delightful, varied collection of pop songs that fits nice and snugly among the other songs on our playlist. The opener, “Adieu,” is a catchy number with wonderful background vocals. “Antique Mall” is equally catchy–an upbeat pop song with a great hook and interesting subject matter. “Goodnight” is a fun, clever tune–a live wire goodbye song, with sharply-realized lyrics (“My records hiss but at least they stay clean/A dirty mess you’ll find it oh so pristine/I guess things really were as bad as they seem/So it’s best to say goodnight”). We’ve added all three of these songs, and three more: “Season 4,” “Change,” and “Picture Show.” Keep an eye, and an ear or two, on this guy.
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That’s it for day two of our mammoth New Music Explosion. And there’s much more to come–we’re continuing with this big event all through this week. Check back tomorrow for day three’s entries! We know you’re going to love them!
Welcome to another round of new songs and artists that have been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We know you’re going to love what we’ve got in store!
Here are the latest additions:
The Lunar Laugh | Apollo Last Wednesday, we added this album’s title song to our playlist. Of “Apollo,” we said it’s a “lovely slice of pure, melodic pop…” We say the same thing about the rest of the songs that Connor Anderson and Jared Lekites have written for this melodic masterpiece. Not only will you love the originals, but you’ll hug tightly the cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” which Jared has been performing live since 2008. We’re playing nearly every song: “Man Against Man,” “Winsome,” “Apollo,” “On the Road,” “When I’m Alone,” “Bottom of the World,” “The Way I Roll,” and “Some of Shelly’s Blues.” Pretty spectacular, folks.
Kenny Herbert | “My Favourite Everything” With a vibe that harkens back to to the sound of the fabulous fifties and early sixties, Pure Pop Radio favorite Kenny Herbert delivers another in a series of standout tracks stacked high with catchy melodies and joy. Glorious background vocals and a groovy guitar solo are but two highlights in the soundfield of this great number. Cheers, Kenny–you’ve waxed another winner.
Pseudonym | Revolving Door So here is this week’s find: a fine and fit-as-a-fiddle outfit featuring Paul Desjarlais “and other real or imaginary people,” according to Paul, who ought to know, we guess. In any case, it’s pretty great stuff, these songs, full of great melodies and playing and vocals. The whole shooting match, in fact. We’re playing “Long Goodbyes,” “Better,” “Fill Up the Sky,” “Elevator,” “Caught on Fire,” “Idora Ave,” a cover of the great Paul Simon song, “The Only Living Boy in New York,” and “Want You More.” Speaking of “more,” that’s what we want.
Gail George | The Barrio Sessions with Early Times This intimate, relaxed album from 2014 features the lovely songs and vocals of Gail George, who recorded in New York’s East Harlem. We love the soft-sounding vibe of three entries: “Nobody’s Friend,” “Walk Away,” and “You Are There,” which we are now playing in rotation.
Dana Countryman | “Thrill Me (2015 Remix)” This sparkling remix of a great song from Dana’s smash 2013 album, The Incredible, Fantastic Retro Pop World of Dana Countryman, features the artist playing piano, bass, guitars, drums, percussion, and horns; dig, too, the groovy electric guitar work from Klaatu’s Dee Long, and luscious vocals all around. Mastered by Rick Fisher at RFI Mastering in Seattle, this is, well, masterful.
Adam Walsh and Colm Gavin | “Pancho and Lefty” Here’s a fine, tuneful cover of Townes Van Zandt’s classic song from the always-wonderful Adam Walsh and fellow musician Colm Gavin. We love the melodic guitar work, and the vocals are pretty terrific, too. Now playing in rotation.
That’s it for today–short and sweet and lovely all around. We’ll be back soon with more new songs and artists added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Until then, click on one of the listen links below and take in the sounds of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe!
We’ve added to our playlist…again! Our aim is true and this time around, we’ve hit the jackpot: Lots of new artists and songs are now newly playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Here is what we’ve introduced to the greatest mix of melodic pop music on Internet radio:
The Kennedys | West Pete and Maura Kennedy have come up with what we believe to be their best work yet. As we said in our review of this outstanding album, “West is a journey taken along purposeful roads; it is a journey worth taking again and again.” (If you missed Alan’s review, click here.) We’ve added 11 songs from West: the title track, “Elegy,” “Sisters of the Road,” “Signs,” “Jubilee Time,” “Locket,” “Southern Jumbo,” “Travel Day Blues,” “The Queen of Hollywood High,” “Perfect Love,” and “Good, Better, Best.” You should add West to your music library today. File under Perfection.
Stereo Tiger | Two Weeks It’s always thrilling to witness a band coming out of the gate with great songs. Picture us thrilled. Stereo Tiger’s Two Weeks makes a bid for best-of-the-year honors with this outstanding album. Lovers of seventies pop and gorgeous melodies will find much to savor here. We’ve added seven songs to our playlist: “Magic Balloon,” “Perfect World,” “Open Up Your Eyes,” “All These Years,” “Philly Girl,” “Did You Ever Love Me,” and “Push the Pencil.” Simply outstanding. There’s this to savor in the album’s credits: “Recorded in 10 Days. Mixed in 2 Days. Mastered in 1 Day.” To which we’d add “Loved in seconds.”
Bill DeMain | Extended Stay Of course, everyone, including you, knows Bill’s work as one-half of the great duo Swan Dive. But did you know that last year he released a masterful six-song EP called Extended Stay? Well, you do now. These pure pop gems are masterpieces of melody that will put a big smile on your face. From the lovely “Honeylove” to the Randy Newman-as-Harry Nilsson slice of joy, “In Your Letter” and the all-Nilsson-esque, clever love song, “Raggedy Man,” this is a hall-of-fame worthy recording. Bill’s sweet voice makes these songs come alive–each one is a joyous celebration of the purest pop. Your music collection is quite simply not complete without this one.
Hot Knives | Hot Knives Another gem from Got Kinda Lost records (we added songs from their Promise album last week), this collection of single tracks and previously-unreleased material from the seventies is another great find. A mix of pop and rock, Hot Knives features terrific harmonies reminiscent of the Association, the Mamas and the Papas and Jefferson Airplane (yes, you read that correctly). Great melodies, too. We’re playing four songs in rotation: “Sooner or Later,” “Lovin’ You,” “I Hear the Wind Blow,” and “Winter’s Come.” Great stuff.
Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders | “Another Wasted Day” We’re always up for a new slice of melodic wonder from Daniel Wylie. Now billed as Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders, the band has delivered another great tune in “Another Wasted Day.” Jangly and catchy, it’s from the forthcoming album, Chrome Cassettes. We can’t wait.
Dana Countryman | “Every Kiss Reminds Me of You” It has become regular practice around these parts to add a new or new-to-you song from one of our most favorite pop practitioners every time we post one of these station updates. Another new song from the forthcoming album Pop3! Welcome to my Time Warp!, this retro, hooky and genuinely wonderful song sounds like an outtake from the 5cc years of 10cc, a very good thing! Featuring guest turns from Dee Long (Klaatu), who plays electric guitar, and Pure Pop Radio fave Matt Tyson, who sings on the fade, this is another keeper from the one of our favorite wizards of wonder. Now playing in rotation.
Red Caravan | Sleepless Night Red Caravan, aka Pete and John Carr, are making some cool sounds down under. The first fruits of their recording labors, “Sleepless Night” and “If I Return,” are electrically charged and pretty, acoustic melodic wonders, respectively. An album is on the near horizon. We await its debut. Meanwhile, here are two great songs now playing in rotation.
Strangely Alright | “Come On” The latest release from Regan Lane and company is a propulsive pop song with a great, catchy melody and an in-your-face vocal. “Come On” pushes our buttons, most assuredly.
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That’s it for today. We love bringing you new songs and artists to savor! More new adds to the playlist coming soon. See you on the radio!
We’re always listening to music here at the well-appointed, Ikeafied Pure Pop Radio headquarters. Headphones on or headphones off, we’re constantly looking for just the right sounds that we can add to our ever-growing playlist. We’re dedicated, we’re steadfast, and we’re here to say we’ve found some more great platters that do indeed matter.
So, without further ado, here are the latest songs and artists now spinning in rotation:
Vanilla | “South Tacoma Way” It goes without saying that Jayson Jarmon and his band of merry musical souls are held in the highest of esteem by our singular staff. Releasing one song a month toward the completion of an album-length release to be called Vanilla 2.0, Vanilla have been wowing us with their seemingly no-holds-barred way of coloring outside of the lines. The retro, clarinet-fueled, Harpers Bizarre vibe of the group’s latest song, “South Tacoma Way,” is a kind-of close cousin to last month’s wacky and quite insane (in a good way) “Monkeypox,” because, well, monkeys play a prominent role here, as well they should.
Jayson says that this song is a “1930s period piece celebrating the virtues of my hometown’s most, eh, remarkable street. It features coffee-pot-shaped buildings, a legendary lowland gorilla, seedy watering holes, and a glimpse into that area’s special indomitable spirit.” I’m not sure where the gorilla comes in, but the Vanilla monkey brigade is sure jumping through various hoops in the “South Tacoma Way” narrative: you can “watch the monkeys” and remember when you danced “until the monkeys screamed.”
“South Tacoma Way” is a wistful travelogue that points to landmarks across the sum of one’s travels. “You say these memories/Don’t amount to much/But to a guy like me, they’re the stuff (full stop)/That dreams are made of,” the narrator sings. This one’s got all of the food groups, folks. It’s another stellar offering from the Vanilla Corporation, and it’s playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Hotcha! – Alan Haber
Dana Countryman | “What If” Written for his wife this past Valentine’s Day and slated to be a part of his next album, Dana Countryman’s “What If” is a sweet, Harry Nilsson-esque love song with wonderful, imaginative lyrics (“Would you just look at me like I’m crazy/And maybe I’m crazy, it’s true/But I could be handy and fix your toaster for you”) and a lovely chord progression that surprises and delights. Alone at the piano, Dana has crafted yet another classic song, and we’ve got it spinning in rotation. A Pure Pop Radio exclusive (thanks, Dana!).
Jean-Jacques Perrey and Dana Countryman | “Beyond the Milky Way” Dana Countryman and his longtime friend and collaborator Jean-Jacques Perrey, the French creator of cool electronic music, birthed this ELO/Klaatu-sounding number, which features a lovely melody and a computerized vocal. “Beyond the Milky Way” is the only song with a vocal done by the duo; it’s from their 2008 album, Destination Space. We’re proud to be featuring this great song on Pure Pop Radio.
DC Cardwell | Bonus Tracks from Pop Art Because we can never play enough of DC Cardwell’s songs, we’re spinning the three bonus tracks that accompany his latest album: “Birthday Present,” a gorgeous ballad with lovely background vocal harmonies and atmosphere to spare; a guitar instrumental version of Pop Art’s “In the Cloud”; and a uke and bass version of “Know Me,” from DC’s Some Hope album. Sweet stuff from one of our favorite singer-songwriters.
Promise | Promise This privately-pressed classic, originally released in 1980 on Promise’s own label, Cumulus, and rescued for reissue (from the original master tapes) by Got Kinda Lost records, is a wonderful power pop album that fans of Badfinger, Emitt Rhodes, the Sweet, and Raspberries will love. A couple of cool rock and rollers bookend the album: “Say Allright!,” a number that sounds like it was taken off Badfinger’s No Dice album, and the mid-tempo, harmony-rich “Putman’s Ranch.” We’re playing all but one song in rotation: the two aforementioned tracks, plus “Back in My Heart,” “Guitar,” “Later on Tonite,” “Hands of Luck,” “Lucky Star,” “The Find,” and “Captain Domino.” The find of this young year.
Turnaround | Let’s Do It Zero Hour Records has done its usual great job compiling this classic Australian band’s previously-released tracks and unreleased demos for a 16-song audio bonanza that power pop fans will love. Sounding like a cross between Shoes and the Cars, the band makes a splash with rockers “Turnaround” and “Nobody’s Child,” and the lovely, mid-tempo ballad, “Is It the End,” which sounds like it’s being sung by Steven Lindsay from the Scottish band, the Big Dish. We’re playing the aforementioned songs, plus “I’m Here for You,” “I Need You,” and “Boom.” Great stuff.
Jeff Cameron | Giraffe Featuring the talents of Adam Marsland and Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron, who duets with Jeff on the powerful “Heroes,” Giraffe is a solid collection of pop-rock numbers that will surely catch the ears of listeners. We’re playing “Heroes” and four other songs in rotation: the melody-rich, melodic stomper “Princess Blue”; the beautifully-sung, hooky “Two Hearts One Love”; the early Prefab Sprout-sounding “Let It Roll”; and the catchy “Long Island Sound,” which sports an infectious middle-eight and cool background vocals. Another great addition to our playlist.
DB Cooper | The Catherine North EP and “The Election” We dig the sound of this indie rock band from up north–so much so that we’re playing songs from their 2014 EP and their new single, the upbeat, high-energy and melodic “The Election.” From 2014’s The Catherine North EP, we’re spinning the equally energetic “The World.”
Jared Lekites | Looking for Diamonds While we wait for Jared Lekites’s next album with Connor Anderson, performing together as the Lunar Laughs, we are pleased to add four songs from Jared’s 2010 EP, Looking for Diamonds: the poptastic, harmonica-laced “Looking for a Diamond”; the sixties-influenced “The Electric Car Ballet”; and the lovely ballads “Love that Lasts” and “Let Your Hair Down (Once in a While).”
The Jeanies | The Jeanies Thanks to Ray Gianchetti at Kool Kat Musik, this album, previously released only on cassette and as a download, gets a proper CD release. This Brooklyn, New York quartet rocks a heady combination of garage aesthetic with sprinkles of Badfinger, Chuck Berry and T. Rex. We’re spinning three songs: the straight-ahead pop-rocker “I Think You’re the Wrong One,” the rocker “It’s for You,” and the T. Rex-into-Chuck Berry high-energy rocker “The Girl’s Gonna Go.” Sweet.
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I have long believed that of the many instruments that help to bring a great song to life, the human voice is capable of the most expression (sleigh bells come in at number two, in case you were wondering). Moreover, the magic that results from a group of people who come together to make a glorious sound that resonates with an audience is incontrovertible proof that music is the fuel that makes the cool kids sing.
The cool kids sang rather sweetly in 2014, a great year for melodic pop music. Whether driving the beat of a song or singing in five-part harmony, artists were inspired to create lasting art in the form of two-, three- and four-minute songs that added value to people’s lives. There is a reason–probably more than one–that great songs stand the test of time, some sounding as fresh as the day they were born, even decades after they were recorded. And make no mistake–many of the songs that made their way to turntables and CD players this year have that kind of staying power.
Even after 20 years of writing about and broadcasting pop music to the masses, I am still dazzled by much of what I hear. The thrill of discovery is present every time I sit down and prepare to listen. I want every note that fills the room to explode with joy. And, more often than not, I am rewarded with that certain something that drives me to play music on the radio and gather words together to communicate that joy. For me, the magic is still alive and well and lighting my world.
Which brings me to 21 magical records that helped make 2014 a banner year for melodic pop music. I’ve made no attempt to rank them or present them within categories. It is impossible for me to make a distinction between the fourth and fifth best albums of the year, so I haven’t even tried. What follows are simply 21 of my favorite releases of the year: the stars of 2014, if you will–a group of records that will enrich your life in ways that may well surprise you. And they’re presented in no particular order. There were many more records that touched my soul this year; these are the top of the pops. At the very least, they will put a smile on your face, and as the late writer Derek Taylor might have opined, you really can’t say fairer than that. – Alan Haber
And now, in no particular order, please join me in ushering in the Stars of ’14: Pure Pop Radio’s Favorite Records of the Year!
Joe Sullivan | Schlock Star Coming seemingly out of nowhere, Joe Sullivan and his debut album, Schlock Star, knocked me clean off my feet. Joe’s keenly observed pop songs, about girls and boys and boys and girls and other related topics, are perfect examples of the arts of clever songwriting and performance. In my review of this album, published on September 2 on this site, I said that “Sullivan makes tracks that stick and stack up for imminent replay.” I also stated, without reservation, that “This is Sullivanmania, attended by screaming fans who dig the sounds of one of the best records of 2014.” No doubt you’ll be hearing a lot more about Joe in the coming years. Joe, as you may have already figured, is the real deal.
Marti Jones | You’re Not the Bossa Me What I know about bossa nova music could fit on the rightmost quadrant of the head of a pin, but thanks to Marti Jones’ radiant album that adds more than a splash of melodic pop to the turntable, I’m something of an expert. Well, not really, but I know what I like and I like the latest chapter of Jones’ music a lot. When I added all of these songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist on July 9, I said in my playlist report that this is “pop music for discerning listeners….” And indeed it is. I also noted that the songs, “written by [Kelley] Ryan, [Don] Dixon, Bill DeMain, [Paul] Cebar and others, are brought to life with Jones’ magical voice. Jones has never sounded better.” It’s always a celebration when Jones releases a new album. If you think this one is great, well, just wait until the next one spins.
The Legal Matters | The Legal Matters Some albums feel right after only a few notes play. And when the harmonies kick in–when the melodies surround me and take me to some other place–I’m putty in the musicians’ hands. Such was my experience with this debut album by three well-known musicians who came together to form the Legal Matters. In other words, they’re the Rockpile of the melodic pop world. It’s all in the music, I said in my July 23 feature review; the “harmony-drenched law firm of [Andy] Reed, [Chris] Richards and [Keith] Klingensmith” delivers the goods. This is “good, good music for when the snow falls, for when spring turns to summer, during a light rain, and for when fall signals the end of baseball season and the year moves into its closing phase. It’s good for what ails you, a prescription that works wonders no matter the season or circumstance.” It’s really great, and it’s one of my favorite records of 2014.
Ed Woltil | Paper Boats, A Reverie in Thirteen Acts The beautiful songs that populate this wonderful album from the Ditchflowers’ Ed Woltil are a wonder to behold. Melody is king and beauty is on display in each of the melodic gems currently playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Whether he’s wearing his straight-ahead pop hat on the catchy “Algebra” or crooning softly and emotionally on the beautiful waltz, “Dance With Me One More Time,” Woltil is capturing our hearts. I called this a hall-of-fame-worthy release when I wrote about it in my July 9 station update; four months later, its position remains unchanged. A stellar release from a huge talent.
Dave Caruso | Cardboard Vegas Roundabout When I reviewed this album on September 17, I testified, up front, about it glorious wonders: “This kind of thing, this magical musical mixture exhibiting the tasty influences of Barry Manilow, the Carpenters, the Beach Boys and, hey why not, Paul McCartney, is a thing of beauty, an artful excursion that can and will enrich your life, take you to your happy places and prove to you that good things absolutely do come in all manner of packages–small, medium, large and beyond.” What more do you need to know, except that these songs should absolutely have a place in your life. Caruso’s Beach Boys/Carpenters homage, “Champion,” alone makes this album a worthy purchase. Cardboard Vegas Roundabout is so good and so tasty that many of the other CDs in your collection will aspire to achieve its greatness. Simply fantastic.
Bill Lloyd | Reset2014 Bill Lloyd has been a huge part of the Pure Pop Radio playlist since his career-making Set to Pop was released in 1994. On the occasion of the album’s 20th anniversary, Bill has recreated that mind-blowing collection with wonderfully-updated remakes and early and live takes. Reset2014 is as much a look back as it is a reinvention. “On the list of Best Records Ever Made,” I noted in my October 29 review, “Set to Pop must sit comfortably alongside similarly great waxings drawn from the catalogs of other great artists.” “With Reset2014,” I wrote, “Bill Lloyd has taken pause to smell the roses from 20 years ago and replant them for future generations.” This is such a great achievement from one of pop music’s greatest artists.
The Britannicas | High Tea Album number two from this international melodic pop supergroup checks off many of the must-haves on power pop fans’ lists: Byrds musings, gorgeous balladry, jangle, harmonies and hooks galore. Veteran U.S. popster Herb Eimerman, who we’ve been playing on Pure Pop Radio for somewhere in the neighborhood of18 years, Australia’s Joe Algeri, and Magnus Karlsson from Sweden have served up a spot of High Tea that all told constitutes a truly classic collection.
Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club | Nothing to Be Afraid Of A total surprise, this is perhaps the brightest, most inventive, most sincere and happiest-sounding melodic work of the year. Kate Stephenson, trading under the delightful band name Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club, had written a range of songs that recall the best of the Roches, the Dream Academy and Prefab Sprout, but come alive as uniquely her own creations. The deeply-felt, dense harmonies alone are more than worth the price of admission. Plus, the artwork and hand-lettered lyrics in the accompanying booklet prove that the album package is still alive out there in the world. One of the most truly special albums of this or any other year.
Robert Crenshaw | Friends, Family and Neighbors Speaking of truly special albums, here is one from the great Robert Crenshaw. “One of the sweetest surprises of the year is this joyous celebration of the love of the clever, catchy song,” I wrote in my October 30 feature review. Pairing a couple of covers, including one of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which features Marshall, Dean and John Crenshaw, with seven originals and a surprise bonus track, Crenshaw turns in his best album to date, tackling such diverse subjects as “…the upside of improbability (the lovely, hymn-like “The Night the Detroit Lions Won the Super Bowl”), familiarity in the face of love (the Bill Lloyd co-write, “You’re So Hip to Me”), detachment versus reality (“What if I’m Really Dead?”), and hiding behind the wall of booze (the gospel-tinged “Turn to Booze”).” A wonderful album, beautifully realized.
The Rubinoos | 45 In my November 10 feature review, I wrote that “this latest album from the melodic pop band’s melodic pop band is a master class in songwriting and performing that should be at the top of your holiday gift-giving lists.” 45 is stone-cold triumph–a standout album in a career teeming with them. Among the treasures on offer, besides the great voice of Jon Rubin and some of the best harmonies on the planet, is one of the best tracks recorded by any artist this year–a lovingly-rendered a cappella (with percussion) version of Lou Christie’s classic, “Rhapsody in the Rain,” that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and drive you to recall the classic sound of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Tommy Dunbar originals like the buoyant “I Love Louie Louie” and the upbeat “Countdown to Love,” which tips its hat to the Paul Revere and the Raiders playbook, are modern day classics. Long may the Rubinoos run.
Peter Lacey | Last Leaf Tender and loving and from the heart, Last Leaf bristles with warmth and genuine emotion. Lacey harkens back to his folk roots, taking inspriation from ” the circles of everyday, country life: on patches of grass surrounded by sprouting trees, and by the water, on a calmly-stated lake. Lacey’s new songs are about the simpler, and more important, things in life; every element of this album is calm and soothing and powerful,” I wrote in my station update on July 7. Beautiful songs like “The Woodwind” and “Boy in the Rings of a Tree” populate this entire album, a treasure by any definition of the word.
Jamie Hoover | Jamie Two Ever Pop music’s premiere journeyman returns with a sort-of sequel to 2004’s Jamie Hoo-Ever, and boy does he deliver. Seven originals, eight covers (only on the CD), and a million reasons to keep this album in hot rotation at your pad. As I said in my station update on October 28, “From ace covers of a couple of Beatles tunes and the Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” to a host of originals, including the joyous, almost-completely a cappella “Press Save”; the lovely, gentle Steve Stoeckel co-write, “Lost”; and the bluesy “Oh Darlin’!”-esque “You Took Away the Birds,” Jamie Two Ever practically redefines the word ‘classic.’
Kylie Whitney | Something About Ghosts With a soulful approach and a refreshing touch of honesty, Kylie Whitney has released a classic-sounding album stocked with a wide range of emotions, all conveyed with authority. Although the album is chiefly comprised of originals, most of which were co-written with producer Michael Carpenter, Whitney does deliver a tender read of Don McLean’s “Vincent.” “Bad News Baby” finds Whitney in fine ’60s girl-group mettle, and “Tealite” shines an emotional light on her somewhat fragile vocal. Everything here points to a singer with a bright future.
mylittlebrother | If We Never Came Down One of the coolest discoveries of the year. Here’s how I summed things up in my October 24 station update: “As perfect as a beautiful day in the country or a clear, wondrous night under the stars, mylittlebrother is a wonderful British band that specializes in lovely, clever, insanely catchy pop songs that capture the imaginations of listeners. Entrancing melodies, gorgeous harmonies and a sense of humanity make this album the find of the year.” The opener, the joyously hopping mid-tempo “Loves of Life, Unite!” and the early rock ‘n’ roll stroll-meets-Teenage Fanclub vibe of “My Hypocritical Friend” are only two of the musical pleasures to be savored. Wonderful.
Sam RB | Finding Your Way Home Here is a truly lovely album full of truly lovely songs by a New Zealand singer-songwriter who makes truly beautiful music. Here is what I said in my October 28 station update: “Finding Your Way Home features Sam’s beautiful, expressive voice and songs with melodies that will melt your heart.” Sam sings her heart out in such standout tunes as the folk-pop “Blue Sky Day,” the wonderfully catchy, hit-worthy “Say Goodbye,” and the should-be-hitbound and equally impressive title song. Don’t be surprised if Finding Your Way Home soon finds its way to your home.
The Dowling Poole | Bleak Strategies The perfect second act after the ashes of the much-missed band Jackdaw 4 had scattered, the Dowling Poole finds that band’s leader, Willie Dowling, teaming up with veteran musician Jon Poole for a similarly imaginative trip down the pop music rabbit hole. Bleak Strategies is hardly a bleak affair, though; rather, it’s a wondrous, album-length expression of strength in the art of composition and performance, with seemingly millions of influences synthesized down to one shared point of view. Full of surprises and all manner of left and right turns, this is your one-stop-shop for XTC-meets-10cc-meets-Kinks, Beatles and Frank Zappa-isms. Put simply, these are pop songs turned on their heads by two men fully poised to do the job right. Any album that segues effortlessly from banjo-fueled vaudeville to straight pop in the same song (the wild and wooly “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions”) and lays their pop smarts bare with an early-to-late period XTC-like romp (the insanely catchy “A Kiss on the Ocean”) deserves your rapt attention. Grand.
Edward O’Connell | Vanishing Act Four years on from his 2010 debut, Our Little Secret, Edward O’Connell returns with, not surprisingly, another great record. In our July 10 station update, I wrote that “Vanishing Act is everything a great melodic pop album should be and then some.” Songs include the insanely catchy “My Dumb Luck” (with its George Harrison-esque slide guitar lines), the equally infectious “Severance Kiss,” and “Lonely Crowd,” with a decidedly Tom Petty vibe. With not a single note or clever lyric wasted, Vanishing Act is one of this year’s greatest musical achievements.
Linus of Hollywood | Something Good Something great is more like it. “Nobody does it better,” Carly Simon once sang, and she might as well have been singing about Linus. His duet with the lovely Kelly Jones on the charming “If You Don’t Love Me You Gotta Let Me Go” is, all by itself, worth the price of admission. His gentle cover of Kiss’ “Beth” breathes new life into the old classic rock staple, putting added emphasis on the melody as welcome, real strings set the song aloft. Spectacular music, catchy as all get out, all the way through.
Dana Countryman | Pop 2! The Exploding Musical Mind of Dana Countryman Dana Countryman turns the clock back to the panoramic 1970s as the Wayback Machine collects the songs that form the soundtrack of your life–if you’re a sweet, melodic pop fan, and by reading this you might as well flash yout membership card at the door, this is for you. Nobody does this kind of thing better than Countryman, who celebrates “…the kinds of songs they just don’t write and record anymore. His influences, from Gilbert O’Sullivan and Eric Carmen to the Beatles and beyond, are worn on his sleeves and [are] bathed in his own, unique approach to songwriting and production.” That was my take on this album in my review from October 7. If you’re looking for a warm, musical glow to light your way, then look no further than this collection. It’s like what used to come out of transistor radios a long, long time ago, but it’s now coming from the here and now. Pop 3!, please.
Mothboxer | Sand and the Rain Mothboxer’s Dave Ody wears his heart, and his influences, on his sleeve on this wonderful new album. Mothboxer just keeps getting better, and this album is their best yet. The influence of the Beach Boys is apparent, however subtly, on the lively and engaging “In the Morning” and the enticing “Looking Out for Summer.” The title cut is clever, technicolor pop. The driving “We’re All Out of Our Minds” is upbeat and rather catchy. Overflowing with great songs, Sand and the Rain is a clear winner and, not surprisingly, one of the best albums of the year.
The Solicitors | Blank Check Lee Jones’ energetic, widescreen pop songs, hooks always at the ready and raring to go, are fuel for the fire that is Australia’s the Solicitors. A wildly talented singer and songwriter, Jones, along with guitarist Laf Zee and crew tread towards the listener with equal parts vim, vigor and melody. The band means business and their business is clear: knock ’em down with Stiff-era enthusiasm and the joy of performance. One of these days, the Solicitors will venture away from Oz and hit American shores to spread their pop gospel. We patiently wait for that day, but until then we have this new album, one of the best of the year.
(All reviews written by Alan Haber)
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of 21 of Pure Pop Radio’s favorite albums of the year. These are the Stars of ’14: 21 artists with great songs that will enrich your lives and guarantee your status as one of the cool kids. Which artists and songs will make next year’s cut? See you in about 365 days for the answer to that question and many more! Thanks for reading, and thanks, as always, for listening to Pure Pop Radio!