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.
The hits, the future hits, and all of the hits in-between are spinning with glee on Pure Pop Radio. Come join the party and take a listen (click on our player above or below). And dig, if you will, some of our recent adds to our ever-growing playlist, such as the following choice nuggets:
A Pure Pop Radio favorite for all time, Bill DeMain has released a pair of dreamy ballads destined for the Nashville popster’s next album.
“Parastoo” is a gorgeous love song, a minute and 42 seconds long and adorned with only Bill’s sensitive vocal, acoustic guitar and Pat Sansone’s mellotron. A love story about planting the seeds of a relationship, the lyrics prove that to adore takes commitment: “It only takes a smile to fall in love,” Bill sings, “But it takes a lifetime to prove that it’s true.”
“Film Noir,” co-written by Bill and Danny Wilson’s Gary Clark, will take you to a smoky jazz club where the torch of love burns and the star of your film noir turns the tables on you and makes her escape (“She played you like a piano, her ticket out of town / And that little taste of sugar / Turned bitter by the day”). Cello, violin, tenor sax, bass, drums and piano provide the soundtrack to this emotional tale of almost and could-have-been.
Both of these destined-to-be-classic songs are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
Timmy Sean has long been a fixture here on Pure Pop Radio. Remember when we covered his mammoth Songs of the Week project back in 2015? “My Jaded Love” is a new version of a song we first heard back in early 2016; it’s going to appear on Timmy’s forthcoming album, A Tale from the Other Side.
“My Jaded Love” is a mid-tempo pop-rocker with a catchy chorus and a strong vocal, both nothing less than Timmy Sean trademarks. Hear for yourself below (and on our air), and make a note to get A Tale from the Other Side when it becomes available this fall.
Ed Woltil has been in the spotlight before at Pure Pop Radio–for his hall-of-fame-worthy album Paper Boats, A Reverie in Thirteen Acts (one of our Favorite Records of the Year for 2014), and as songwriter and member of St. Petersburg, Florida band, the Ditchflowers. Here comes the Woltil spotlight again: One in My Tree is destined to be another feather in Ed’s cap. Ed’s gift for catchy melodies is as keen as ever; witness the should-be-hit-bound poppy opener, the upbeat “When We Fall in Love”; the pretty waltz, “Living in Between the Lines”; the breezy, Americanapopper “Caroline Wren,” and the rocking “A Matter of Time” (a genuine, good old toe-tapper), all of which are now playing in rotation on our air.
Check out “Make Me” from Ed Woltil’sOne in My Tree, and pre-order at Bandcamp below:
Lisa Mychols and Super 8, whose gloriously wonderful, self-titled album is a must-get for all of you must-getters who pride themselves on populating their collections with must-get, long-playing pearls of pop wisdom, offer a track not on their must-get album as a bonus for buying said album. They call this track their “secret” track, and it’s a doozy, an imaginative reworking of the Korgis’ beloved 1980 hit, “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime,” that sounds as though the band is dangling from a hazy hippie high wire with a warm, summer’s day campfire directly below them. Which makes it a must-get, so get on over to Lisa Mychols and Super 8’s Bandcamp page and… get it.
Where to Get It (Get the album and the secret bonus track):Bandcamp
Chris Church’s blazing collection of richly rendered pop-rockers, Backwards Compatible, is exploding here, there and everywhere. Catch the rocking “Begin Again,” slathered with a hefty yard’s worth of poppy background vocals, in rotation right here on Pure Pop Radio.
Longtime Pure Pop Radio listeners (and readers of this website) know we’re all about adding as much new music as we possibly can. And so it goes–today, we’ve got another group of songs and artists playing for the very first time on your 24-hour-a-day home for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe.
Without further ado, here we go!
Steve Robinson and Ed Woltil | Cycle We have long been fans of Steve Robinson’s music; Ed Woltil’s solo release from last year, Paper Boats, A Reverie in Thirteen Acts, was one of our Favorite Records of 2014, which is only fair since Ed is an old power-pop hand, having served time in the Ditchflowers, another favorite act around these parts. Steve and Ed have joined forces to create what amounts to a clear winner of a song cycle that should garner a picnic basket-sized bucket of kudos and huzzahs when the best-of 2015 honors are dispensed.
Full of clever twists and turns and knowing nods to a variety of pop styles, Cycle’s heartbeat is perhaps best demonstrated in the gorgeous. slightly trippy folk-pop number, “Elastic Man,” a sixties hug with echoes of Paul McCartney and Donovan that sounds like it’s enclosed in a Dukes of Stratosphear wrapper. The elegant “Wake Up Dreamin'” evokes images of a warm summer night that follows a sunny day that was chock full of surprise. The very English ballad “Little Regrets” conjures up images of Martin Newell as arranged by George Martin, a very good thing.
And there you have it: three examples of what you’ll find on this special record, written, recorded and performed by two of pop’s most prodigious creators. We’re playing the entire album, minus a short instrumental that opens up the proceedings: “Love Somebody,” “Wake Up Dreamin’,” “Elastic Man,” “Godspeed,” “Little Regrets,” “Wintersleeping,” “The Boy from Down the Hill,” “Who You Are,” “Hello, Hello (We’re Back Again),” “Butterflies,” “Liberty Daze,” and “Seize the Day.” Miraculous.
The Connection | Labor of Love When we get a new album by the Connection for airplay, we get the dance floor ready for action (and prime the spacious, roped-off area we have for air guitar enthusiasts). Labor of Love, just released digitally, does not disappoint; what it does do is get the proverbial power pop juices flowing in a big, massive, huge, megaton kind of way. The title cut, which opens these proceedings, bashes and explodes out of the speakers with muscular guitars, thrashing drums, and insistent, energized vocals for a workout that puts you in the center of the action. The upbeat, driving “Good Things” keeps the party going with a slightly less-manic attack that still delivers the crunch guitar effect. Similarly, “You Ain’t Special” takes the less-manic approach, mixing in keyboards amidst the rock ‘n’ pop muscle.
There is a whole lot to savor here–even a countrified pop-rocker (a la the Rolling Stones), “Let the Jukebox Take Me,” about the magic of the jukebox and the comfort of the feeling of being at home in one’s surroundings. Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer have written a great bunch of songs, and we’re playing all 10 of them, in rotation: “Circles,” “Don’t Come Back,” “Pathetic Kind of Man,” “Red, White and Blue,” “So Easy,” “Treat You So Bad,” and the songs already mentioned. Listen to Pure Pop Radio and hear songs from what will surely be one of the most talked about–and played–albums of the year.
Gordon Weiss | It’s About Time Gordon Weiss, a Pure Pop Radio regular, hits a melodic bulls-eye with this just-released collection of beautiful, cleverly constructed songs that speak from the heart. From the opening, Rolling Stones-kissed number, “The Ugly Inside,” to the cleverly arranged ballad “The Great Imitator” and the album’s centerpiece, the glorious, anthemic “Spinning ‘Round,” which features a beautiful string arrangement from Wim Oudijk, this is a classy collection that will hold pride of place in your music library. We’re playing, in rotation, the aforementioned songs, plus “Saccharin, Aspartame, Splenda, You and Me,” “My Love Still Grows,” and “Sticky Thoughts.” Nice going, Gordon.
Alicia Witt | Revisionary History Ever since we first encountered the music of actress Alicia Witt (we played her great holiday number, “I’m Not Ready for Christmas,” during this past holiday season’s annual holiday extravaganza), we have longed to play more of her piano-based tunes. Her new album is pretty much bursting with great songs, from the powerful power-ballad “Consolation Prize” and the emotional “Already Gone” to the very pretty “New Word,” a song that builds nicely and features Alicia’s distinctive keyboard work. All told, we’re playing seven songs: the aforementioned numbers and “Friend”; “About Me”; “Blind”; and “Theme from Pasadena (You Can Go Home),” performed with Ben Folds. Distinctive, adult pop from a most talented practitioner.
The Orange Peels | Begin the Begone Another sterling collection of songs from this veteran group, comprising the talents of Allen Clapp, Jill Pries, John Moremen and Gabriel Coan. This is not really a surprise, of course; the proof is in the estimable grooves. The Peels’ sixth album is represented on Pure Pop Radio by five great numbers: the upbeat, sixties vibing “Embers,” which switches gears and becomes an ethereal, atmospheric wonder with a minute and 26 seconds to go; the hip, pop-rocker “9,” which slides into a lovely coda anchored by an acoustic guitar part that plays out through its fade ending; the assured, determined beat of “Head Cleaner”; the energetic push of “Wintergreen”; and the lovely, deeply-felt, mid-tempo, marathon soundscape, “Satellite Song,” buoyed by a beautiful vocal arrangement, elastic electric guitar lines, and a blissful ending. Now playing in rotation, proudly.
Your Gracious Host | The Writers of Our Destiny Michigan’s Tom Curless based this commanding song cycle on a short story he wrote; the results are a tremendous mix of catchy, upbeat pop with close harmony vocals (“If You Ever Have Your Doubts”), atmospheric, wordless balladry (the affecting instrumental “Train Passing”), and Paul McCartney-esque, eighties-inflected, pop-becomes-Beatles/sixties jam (the bouncy-into-wonderfully-paced instrumental bliss of “Heart on the Table”). We’re playing all three of these songs, plus “Facing Me,” “Love or Fear, Pt. 2,” and “World Within a World.” A great record, now playing in rotation.
The Milk Carton Kids | Monterey An album of pure beauty, stocked deep with warm, honest songs sung in the classic Everly Brothers style, Monterey is a relatively quiet collection that is nonetheless alive with feeling and emotion. Backed by deftly played acoustic guitars, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, hailing from out California way, build on a folk-pop base which they turn on its head to deliver emotional, classic, contemporary numbers like “Secrets of the Stars,” “The City of Our Lady,” and “Getaway.” Affecting and impossible to resist, this is the romantic side of Pure Pop Radio played expertly with heart to spare. We’re playing the aforementioned three songs in rotation, along with “Asheville Skies,” “Monterey,” “Freedom,” “High Hopes,” “Shooting Shadows,” and “Poison Tree.” Simply gorgeous throughout.
The Hollywood Project | No One Like U One of the big, happy surprises of this year has to be this collection of songs written and performed by poet and lyricist Stephen J. Kalinich, who collaborated on songs recorded by the Beach Boys, and musician Dave Humphries. Supporting players, including Wolfgang Grasekamp, who produced and arranged, are instrumental in bringing these numbers to life. At the heart of it all is the one-two punch of Kalinich’s lyrics and Humphries’ melodies. Songs such as the lively, Bob Dylan-influenced title track and the sixties singalong, “Jelly Bean Song,” really sing, as does the gentle, swaying ballad, “I Turn to You.” We’re playing the entire album in rotation–the aforementioned songs, plus “Can There Ever Be?,” “I Break Down and Cry,” “New World,” “I Will Be Strong,” “What Life is For,” and “Enough Love.” Great stuff.
The Custard | “Way Over My Head” Here is another one of those amazing recordings coming out of the Facebook Theme Music group, comprising the considerable talents of the Tor Guides’ Torbjorn Petersson (lead vocals and guitars), Michael Lorant on drums, Frank Padellaro on bass, and the Legal Matters’ Keith Klingensmith on vocals. Catchy? Check. Great melody? Check. Replayability? Is a thousand times too much? Now playing in rotation.
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In case you were curious, and we know that you are, we have plenty more new songs and artists to announce as additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Look for another list of exciting, melodic treasures next week. Until then, click on one of the listen links below and check out the nearly 7,000 melodic pop songs we have playing in rotation every day of the year. Enjoy the melodic soundtrack of your life on Pure Pop Radio!
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!
We’ve added more than 300 songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist in the past week and a half. Can we hear you all take a deep breath, let it out and shout “Wow!” That’s right: More than 300 songs have been added to the playlist, and we’re not done yet! Since a week ago Monday, we’ve been spotlighting some of the artists and songs that now call Pure Pop Radio their radio home. We’re itchin’ to tell you about some more goodies that are currently spinning in rotation on our air, so let’s get crackin’!
Marti Jones – You’re Not the Bossa Me. We enjoy a bit of bossa nova every now and then, but we admit we don’t know a whole lot about it. We’re eager to learn, though, so we zipped on over to Wikipedia, where we found out that bossa nova is a “lyrical fusion of samba and jazz” that dates back to the 1950’s and 1960’s. Marti Jones, her husband Don Dixon, their friend and artist in her own right Kelley Ryan, along with instrumentalist and writer Paul Cebar and percussionist Jim Brock combined their considerable talents to produce a dozen poppy bossa nova gems. We think you’ll fall instantly in love with them. The songs, written by Ryan, Dixon, Bill DeMain, Cebar and others, are brought to life with Jones’s magical voice. Jones has never sounded better. Produced by Ryan and Dixon, this is a slam dunk for a place on this year’s best-of lists. It’s pop music for discerning listeners, which, of course, means you and you and you, too. We love these songs so much that we’ve added them all to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Some of our favorites: the beautiful “Orphan on the Beach ;” Heart and Bone,” a terrific pop song; and “A Man from the Past,” a great light pop tune. We think you’ll dig them all.
Ed Woltil – Paper Boats, A Reverie in Thirteen Acts. Ed Woltil, of course, is a member of the fine band the Ditchflowers. Ed’s solo album, a masterful collection of carefully considered and expertly delivered deeply-felt songs, is one of those records that stays with you after a single listen. Ed has done all of the heaviest lifting here: he wrote, performed, mixed and did some of the recording work along with Steve Connelly and Brian Merrill (also a Ditchflower). He also designed the lovely packaging which, in this day and age of instant downloads, grants him eternal sainthood. But it’s the music that matters most of all, and if you’re looking for great music, you’ve come to the right place. We are so in love with this record that we added the whole thing to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: “Algebra,” “Random Access Memory,” “Hiding in Plain Sight,” “If Somebody Loved Me,” “Someone Else’s Life,” “Illinois Sunset,” “The One and Only Anderson,” “Open,” “The Shortest Distance (Between Two Hearts),” “One in a Row,” “Foul Weather Friends,” “Boys,” and “Dance With Me One More Time.” A hall-of-fame-worthy release if ever there was one.
Billy J. Kramer – I Won the Fight. Old pro Billy J. Kramer, round about 50 years on from scoring on the charts with songs from John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is still in the music game, and on the basis of this wonderful new album, he should stay in the ring and keep turning out hit after hit after hit. Make no mistake, though: Kramer has his eye on the contemporary prize. While there is a certain retro charm to these songs, they were cut for a contemporary audience, who should greet them with open ears. We loved I Won the Fight so much that we added six songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist, including “You Can’t Live on Memories,” Lennon-McCartney’s “I’m in Love”, “Sunsets of Santa Fe,” “You’re Right I’m Wrong,” and two versions of the very cool “To Liverpool With Love.”
Also added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist:
* Bubble Gum Orchestra – Beyond Time. We’re big fans of the Bubble Gum Orchestra. Adding songs from this latest BGO album was a no-brainer for us. If you’re new to BGO, and you’re a fan of the Electric Light Orchestra, you’ll be in heaven. The rest of you…well, you already know how good BGO is. We’d already added the first single, “ELO Forever”; we’ve added five more tunes, including “Return 2 4 Ever,” “Earth Below Me,” “I’m Coming Back Home,” “The World’s About to End,” and “Destination Home.” BGO is keeping the spirit and sound of ELO alive. Great job all around.
* The Paul and John – Inner Sunset. Musician and author Paul Myers has joined up with the Orange Peels’ John Moremen to produce an album full of great songs that you will want to revisit as soon as they’re done playing. We’ve added six songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: “Everything Comes Together,” “Hungry Little Monkey,” “Inner Sunset,” “Brickland,” “Can’t Be Too Careful,” and “Inner Sundown.”
* The Burgerheads – The Burgerheads. We go back through the mists of time to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s for some spectacularly catchy songs from a band that counted Klaatu’s Dee Long as guitarist, vocalist and keyboard player. We’re thrilled to add yet more music associated with Dee to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We’ve got five great tunes now spinning in rotation: “On Her Own,” “New Summertime,” “Time,” “Jump and Dance,” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”
* Sunrise Highway – Windows. From this collection of strong, rock-flavored power pop and melodic pop tunes, we’ve added five addictive numbers: “Windows,” “Peter Pan,” “Foreverland,” “Big Mouth,” and “Sleeping City.” All melodic, full of deeply-felt hooks and widescreen vocal harmonies. Perfect for Pure Pop Radio and you.
That’s all for today, Pure Poppers. More to come tomorrow and Friday. Tune in to Pure Pop Radio all day and all of the night. We’re your original 24-hour-a-day melodic pop radio station on the Internet. Tune in by clicking on one of the handy listening links below.
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