Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion, Day 2: Kaboom Redux!

day-2Welcome to Day Two of Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion, or, as it’s also known, Another Day in the Life of the Ever-Growing Playlist!

We’ve already added hundreds of new songs to Internet radio’s biggest, deepest and most varied collection of melodic pop songs, and we’re not done. We will, in fact, be adding even more tunes over the coming weeks. We’ve got lots of surprises in store, so keep checking back for the latest rundown.

Let’s put the spotlight on some of the latest and greatest songs and artists to be added to our playlist. Today’s gallery? Glad you asked. Here we go:

maxi-dunnMaxi Dunn | “Perfect Sorrow” We literally just got this song in last night. A quick spin, and another spin after that, and we were moved to get this on the air right away. We’ve loved Maxi’s music so much (her last album was a hit on the air) and we’re always thrilled to hear something new from her. The first fruit of her recent recording labors is this fantastic song and production, an imaginative burst of creativity that has more than a bit of Kate Bush in its DNA. Add in a great melody and vocal interplay that is really quite impressive and you’ve got another classic from one of pop music’s brightest stars. It’s now playing in rotation. You’re going to love it.

vegas-girl-holding-outVegas with Randolph | “The Girl Holding Out for Me.” The first song from our local, Washington D.C. musical cousins’ upcoming album is a typically catchy, power popping number blessed with an intoxicating melody, superior musicianship (loud guitars, plugged-into-the-wall drums and other really cool stuff), sumptuous harmonies and that certain something that always makes Vegas with Randolph’s songs pop. We’re thrilled to have this tune in rotation. Tune in for it and keep an ear out while listening to Pure Pop Radio for lots of other songs from Vegas with Randolph’s ever-growing catalog.

pop 2Dana Countryman | Pop 2! The Exploding Musical Mind of Dana Countryman Even if we weren’t in love with the sweet pop sounds of the early 1970s–even if our hearts weren’t married to such classic, melodic songs as Edison Lighthouse’s “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes),” the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You,” and Gallery’s “Nice to Be with You”–we would be in love, love, love with Dana Countryman’s music. If 2014 were 1972, all would be right with the world. All is right with Dana’s wonderful, just-released album. We’ve added seven songs to our playlist: “Baby, I’ll Be Your Star,” “The Summer I Turned Seventeen,” “Good Radio Day,” “And Suddenly, Love Just Happened,” “Just Look into My Eyes,” “How to Make It In Hollywood,” and “You’re My Heart and Soul.” They’re now spinning in rotation, and Pure Pop Radio sounds all the better for it.

mothboxerMothboxer | Sand and the Rain This British band, led by the wonderful songwriter and performer Dave Ody, continues to amaze with pop songs crafted with care, heart and a boatload of talent. This fourth long-player–Mothboxer’s best yet–is overflowing with great songs. We liked them so much that we decided to add all of them to the playlist. And they are: “One and Only,” “Looking Out for Summer,” “In the Morning,” “We’re All Out of Our Minds,” “Everything’s Changed,” “Stop,” “Sand and the Rain,” “Take Me Down,” “On Your Side,” and “All that I Want.” One of the best releases of 2014, for sure. [Bonus: We’ve also added terrific covers of two songs that Mothboxer has recorded. They’ve put their considerable stamp on two classic pop songs: Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows” and Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels.” Beautiful.]

vanilla-2.0Vanilla | “The Angel of Swain’s Lane” The sixth song from Vanilla’s upcoming, musically diverse album 2.0 (one song a month (give or take) will be released until the record is complete) is, according to head flavor Jayson Jarmon, “a 19th-Century style waltz about a famously overgrown, haunted cemetery in London. Nice early autumn Halloween fare.” And this being mid-October, well, pretty timely. Sung with deep emotion and old world style by Carl Funk, the song’s first verse sets the stage: “The Angel of Swain’s Lane is calling me again/She shines through the railings/And sycamores wailing/ A figure of pity and pain/The Angel is crying again.” Short and sweet and full of three-dimensional atmosphere, this is quite unlike anything you’ve heard in pop music this year. Or years, even. Truly outstanding all around, and now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

difficult-strangerThe Difficult Stranger | “Fall in Love with You” Direct from Cebu City in the Philippines comes this quite accomplished three-piece band fronted by the talented Michael Anthony Curran, who wrote and sings this classically-styled slice of power pop. Melodically rich and quite singalongable, we think you’ll look forward to this band’s next release. We know we will.

nick-piuntiNick Piunti | “Time Machine” Nick Piunti, who just this past May released a great pop album called 13 in My Head, has already released a new song destined for his next album, which he decrees will not be called 14 in My Head. Sort of an anti-walking-down-memory-lane song, “Time Machine” is a humdinger of an upbeat power pop number with loud guitars, an awesome riff, great harmonies and an intoxicating melody. Now playing in rotation, this is another great song from a great talent.

Michael Oliver
Michael Oliver

Michael Oliver and the Sacred Band | “Sabina” This song, which we reviewed here on the Pure Pop Radio website, is “an expertly crafted, lovely, mid-tempo ballad–a heartstring tugger about loss, about sensory memory, about love, about life.” That’s what we said in our review. We also said this: “Michael says the song is about a cat or life. Yes and yes.” All of these words are still true. Slated to appear on Michael’s upcoming album, now being recorded, “Sabina” is one of those must-hear songs…meaning you must hear it one thousand times. It’s that good. Listen for it playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

smiling-manGrahame Steinberg | “Mr. Pitchfork” A bonus track associated with the third collaboration between pop music stalwarts David Grahame and Lane Steinberg, “Mr. Pitchfork” is a relatively short, catchy song about the perils of getting involved with the Devil. Don’t, would be the operative suggestion. A cool little number.

bobbleheadsThe Bobbleheads | Make Yourself Happy On the group’s website, it is stated that the Bobbleheads “have been delighting audiences with their songs of playful yet adult elementary-school infused pop.” We rather think that this is pop music for all ages–music that is fun to listen to and enjoy. But, go on, bring the kids along. We’ve added to the playlist five lively songs from the band’s latest album: “Prove Yourself,” “Mean Girls,” “Get That,” “Turn the Radio On (The Perfect Song),” and “Sofa.” They’re pretty cool, even for adult elementary school.

secret-friendSecret Friend | Sleeper | “Orbital” Coming up on two years ago, Steven Fox released a gorgeous collection of melodic pop songs on a most wonderful album called Time Machine. The first song from Secret Friend’s early 2015 album, Sleeper, is a quite different beast, about as 360-degree a turn as you might think possible. A seductive arrangement, anchored in a sea of electronic instrumentation a la OMD, gives way to a Pink Floydian sad, yet hopeful, piano riff, a serene melody and a deftly-played acoustic guitar. It’s not really pop, per se, but it’s awfully intriguing and quite memorable and anything from Steven Fox is a must-listen in our book. Different? Yes. Pure Pop Radio worthy? Definitely. And it’s now playing in rotation.

That’s it for day two of Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion. And we’re just getting started! Tune in to this site tomorrow for more adds to our playlist. And thanks, as always, for listening!

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

Dana Countryman’s Pop 2!: Sounds of the Seventies Come Alive in 2014!

pop 2Dana Countryman | Pop 2! The Exploding Musical Mind of Dana Countryman | Sterling Swan Records | 2014

A Review by Alan Haber

(Put your name in the virtual hat for a chance to win one of nine autographed copies of Pop 2!. Click here for all of the details.)

If I could turn back the hands of time to, say, the panoramic 1970s, and do it all again, I would take Dana Countryman with me. After a nutritious lunch consisting of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (crusts intact), Ring Dings or Ding Dongs, and plenty of cherry and grape Hawaiian Punch, we would set out our portable record players and one-up each other with the happy, infectious sounds of the decade–the sounds that brought the catchy and peppy melodies to our ears.

In the melody-charged seventies, AM radio blasted pure pop delights out to the masses–great songs like Edison Lighthouse’s “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)”; Vanity Fare’s “Hitchin’ a Ride”; the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You”; Lobo’s “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”; Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds’ “Don’t Pull Your Love”; and Gallery’s “Nice to be with You” populated powerhouse music radio stations from coast to coast. These were the days of melody and joyous, hook-filled tunes and they’re back, courtesy of the self-described “neat guy” Dana Countryman. His new album, echoing the sounds of the melodic seventies, is called Pop 2!, and it’s a pure pop delight.

Some day, someone’s going to write a book about this colorful, larger-than-life, state of Washington-based musical mastermind, who, among other things, was in the eighties a member of the popular musical comedy group, the Amazing Pink Things, but until then all you need to know is that Pop 2! The Exploding Musical Mind of Dana Countryman follows in the infectious spirit of the equally wonderful Pop! The Incredible Fantastic Retro Pop World of Dana Countryman in its celebration of the great, hooky songs of days gone by–except Countryman doesn’t do covers. His songs are all original, picks to click, and rising up the charts with a bullet traveling at the speed of sound (well, in a perfect world, anyway!).

dana-pop-2Adept at all manner of instrumentation and possessing a golden set of musical pipes, Countryman lays his cards out on the CD player: He’s here to celebrate 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 bathed in his own, unique approach to songwriting and production. You can see, on the back of the CD, a sly depiction of Countryman’s “workbench,” with 45s by O’Sullivan and Carmen, and one by the Beatles sporting the warmly-nostalgic old Capitol Records orange and yellow swirl label, in plain view. Also on this “workbench” is a tin of Carpenters gunpowder of the “finest quality.” Seems about right.

Pop 2’s “explosive ingredients” are also listed on the back cover–a dozen songs from the album proper and a pair of bonus tracks. These are the upbeat elements of one of the most addictive albums of 2014. Songs like the dynamic opener, “Baby, I’ll be Your Star,” which comes at you with the speed of a musical locomotive–drums barrel in and a honkin’ hot saxophone takes over–tells the story of a guy who may not come adorned with awards or an entourage but can certainly be “your star.” Containing one of the most seductive middle-eights in memory, this is a heck of a way to open an album.

The lovely mid-tempo ballad “The Summer I Turned Seventeen” showcases and mixes peerless pop balladry with doo-wop and Beach Boys vocalizing to tell the story of love lost to time–love that began and blossomed at such a glorious age and was pulled apart when the girl moved away. Wistful and enchanting at the same time, this is a classic waxing–a song for the ages, for all ages, wrapped in a gorgeous and flawless melody.

Since I’m a sucker for songs about radio, I was immediately drawn to the joyous and pitch-perfect “Good Radio Day,” which describes the appeal of the soundtrack of summer that used to come out of portable transistor radios back in the day. Sporting a lively Carpenters-styled trumpet part played by one Bill Johnson, the song makes the days of blue skies, warm temperatures and radio’s part in it all come alive. “There’s a lifetime left until September rolls around,” Countryman sings, “so crank it up and everybody party down.” Ah, memories!

Dana O’Sullivan, perhaps?

From start to finish, Pop 2! is a wonderful collection of original songs evoking the way it used to be and the way it should be. Guest musicians include Klaatu’s Dee Long, who plays the expressive electric guitar solo on the mid-tempo love number, “And Suddenly, Love Just Happened,” and Countryman’s wife, Tricia, who sings co-lead vocals on the touching celebration of their life together, “You’re My Heart and Soul.”

Dana Countryman is a special kind of wizard, whipping up enticing melodies and producing songs that will stand the test of time whether you’re in a nostalgic mood or looking to the stars in the here and now. Pop 2! is a classic platter that, in some alternate universe, is being spun by two kids sharing their love of music that makes them smile and contributes to the soundtrack of their lives.

Connect with Dana Countryman to bathe yourself in all things Pop 2! Click here to be magically transported!

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

Win One of Nine Autographed Copies of Dana Countryman’s Great Album Pop 2! The Exploding Musical Mind of Dana Countryman

pop 2Now reviewed here at the Pure Pop Radio website is Dana Countryman’s new album, the exquisite Pop 2! The Exploding Musical Mind of Dana Countryman.

Dana’s supplied us with nine autographed copies of this must-have album, which you can read about by clicking here. Nine winners will each receive a Pop 2! CD by U.S. mail. Simply fill in the form below, making sure to type “Dana!” in the Comments box, and send your entry our way.

Entries must be received by Wednesday, October 29 at 11 am ET. Only one entry per person. Good luck!

Click here to download our app for listening on the go with Android and iOS devices!

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