Reviews | 9.20.18: Danny Wilkerson, Jay Stansfield’s Charity Single, Dana Countryman and Scott McPherson, and Bryan Estepa

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Danny Wilkerson | Wilkerson (Spyderpop, 2018)
wilkerson album coverWorking together with Bleu, who produced this superlative pure pop platter and co-wrote the songs, Danny Wilkerson, the always-and-forever Pengwin, has whipped up a self-titled opus that is by far this year’s most affecting collection of catchy, melodic earworms.

Joined in the studio by Jellyfish’s Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Taylor Locke, Ducky Carlisle, the New Pornographers’ Joe Sieders, and Idle Jets’ Pat Buchanan, Wilkerson has crafted 10 slices of sweet-sounding pop that, like Frampton, have come alive. Wilkerson is a thing of wonder.

Any, and all, for that matter, of these dazzling songs could, and do, serve as examples of how to do it. Take the dynamic leadoff track, “Everybody Loves to Love,” a masterful piece of writing and statement of melodic purpose that begins drawing breath as if it were arranged by Burt Bacharach and goes on to incorporate a variety of tempos and approaches during its alluring five-and-one-half minutes. “I’m just looking for a sitar and a Hofner/A Rickenbacker and a giant stack of ahhs/Sweet harmony,” Wilkerson sings.

Take, also, the mid-tempo, slide guitar-powered charmer “You Still Owe Me a Kiss,” sporting a lovely melody, gorgeous harmonies, and expressive horns, or the hit-worthy, catchy, upbeat “Too Much of a Good Thing,” which, for my money, could have gone on another few minutes and would never even remotely have resembled too much of a good thing.

All told, Wilkerson is nothing less than a good thing. It is, in fact, a great thing, and another feather in the cap of the mighty Spyderpop record label. Don’t miss it.

Where to Get It: The Spyderpop Store, Kool Kat Musik, CD Baby, and iTunes

Jay Stansfield | “A Song for Edward” (2018)
jay standfield a song for edwardjay standfield a song for edward logoSongsmith Jay Stansfield, a longtime fixture on Pure Pop Radio, has done a very good thing: he has composed and recorded a wonderful, catchy pop song that celebrates the vibrant life of Edward Dee, a 10-year-old boy who was a bright light in his British community and suddenly passed away from meningitis and sepsis. Reading about Edward, who brought joy to everyone he came in contact with, and the fund created in his honor (you can do that here) will move you, I hope, to contribute to a most worthy cause.

All profits from the sale of “A Song for Edward” go to the Edward Dee Fund.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and Bandcamp

Dana Countryman and Scott McPherson | “You’re Still Number One” (Sterling Swan Records and Tapes, 2018)
dana countryman you're still number one coverBuddying up with Tiny Volcano caretaker Scott McPherson for one of this year’s sweetest vocal duets, Dana Countryman, the master of Seattle Retro-Pop, proves that there is no end in sight for just how good he can be. Atop a sprightly seventies disco-fyed, string-laden bed, anchored by Chad Quist’s period-happy electric guitar, Dana and Scott sing about the truest sort of love–the perfect pairing that makes life worth living. A lovely love letter to his wife Tricia, blessed with a gorgeous voice and a recording artist in her own right, Dana Countryman’s “You’re Still Number One” is a radio hit waiting to happen.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Bryan Estepa | “No Ordinary” | (Lilystars Records, 2018)
bryan estepa no ordinaryLast heard from this past April essaying, in grand fashion, George Michael’s “Heal the Pain” with Coke Belda, Bryan Estepa returns with this top-flight rocking original, a pep talk of-sorts for a guy who’s considering going all-in on a relationship (“She’s not so ordinary/Maybe the greatest/And gamble everything/ Till you’re seeing red”). You’ll dig the guitars, all electrified, and the melody too, because the whole thing sings. It’s great to have Bryan Estepa back. More, please.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

radio1Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

More New Music Debuts! Join Us for Top of the Pops Thursday!

You say you want more new music added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist? We’re only too happy to accommodate! Let’s get right to it, shall we? Here are more of the new songs and artists that are now shaking the walls in rotation here at our sumptuous broadcasting headquarters:

michael-carpenterMichael Carpenter | “The Only One” Longtime Pure Pop Radio top fave Michael Carpenter returns with an instant classic track, a taster for his upcoming long player that may drop as early as May. It’s a great song–a great performance–that kicks in with a sumptuous Rolling Stones rocking vibe and settles into a typically catchy pop groove with great background vocal harmonies, a killer melody, and joy to spare. This is one you won’t want to miss; it’s now playing in rotation for you to enjoy, and enjoy it you most certainly will.

the-windThe Wind | Re-Wind We love it when old favorites come together again and make more beautiful music. For their first album in three decades, Lane Steinberg, Steven Katz, and Steve Burdick have teamed up with pop maestro David Grahame, who co-produced and mixed, for an album featuring the much-loved band’s unique blend of pop goodness. From the easy sixties soul pop of “Baby, I Can Take a Punch” and the Buddy Holly-meets-modern pure pop vibe of “Fight Like a Girl” to the breathless piano-led pop of “Weak Spot” and the straight-ahead melodic joys of the mid-tempo ballad “Yes and No,” Re-Wind is a major triumph and one heck of a kick-start to the year. We’ve added all of the aforementioned numbers, plus “Can’t Find the Words,” “Just Play Along,” “Let Me Show You How It’s Done,” “There’s a Clamoring,” “Think On Your Feet,” and “Unattainable.” Glorious.

graham-alexander-repeat-deceiver-coverGraham Alexander | Repeat Deceiver We’ve already reviewed this phenomenal album (read that here), so anything we add will just drive the point home with more fervor. Well, okay…why not? As we wrote, “(Graham Alexander has) upped his game considerably for a powerful pop and roll tour de force that dazzles every step of the way.” Enough said. We’ve added eight tunes to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: the title song, “Romeo Blue,” “Games,” “Two Ships Passing in the Night,” “Third Wheel,” “People are Only Sorry When They’re Caught,” “Total Cartography,” and “Wait in the Rain.” A great album through and through, and proof that this is an artist that will continue to deliver the goods for many years to come.

mothboxer-2Mothboxer | We’re All Out of Our Minds EP It seems like kind of just yesterday that we proclaimed Mothboxer’s Sand and the Rain to be one of our favorite albums of 2014 (it was this past November 18 to be exact; read our review here). Hot on the heels of that momentous record comes this EP, featuring perhaps our favorite song on Sand, “We’re All Out of Our Minds.” Three new recordings make their debut here, and we’re spinning them all because, well, they’re great and chief ‘boxer Dave Ody is making every note count these days and, well, we think they’re pretty great. Now spinning in rotation are “One Day at a Time,” “I’m Working” (featuring Finchey, Ody’s wonderful side project), and “Laughing Out Loud. Classics all, of course.

jay-stansfieldJay Stansfield | Birth and Death Pure Pop Radio favorite Jay Stansfield’s latest album is another typically adventurous collection of songs concerned with the human condition. Delivered with Jay’s usual attention to classic song construction, these songs are valuable additions to a growing and vital catalog. We’ve added three songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: the gorgeous “Sex on My Mind,” with its welcome Pink Floyd overtones; the relaxed, poppy vibe of “Superman Thief,” with its McCartney-esque up-and-down bass line; and “The Sadness,” a folky, hymn-like, emotional wonder. Welcome back, Jay.

the-martinetsThe Martinets | Rock and Roll Will Probably Never Die There is probably no probably about it, but these guys have their eye on the prize, so we think it’s all going to be good. Nestled somewhere between Rolling Stones swagger and sixties pop, the Martinets load up the guitar buzz with melody-infused attacks on the senses. Perfect for practicing air guitar, for sure. We’ve added five songs: “Good Friends For,” “I Know Where I’m Going,” “Good Times to Come,” “Places You Go,” and “If We’re Going Down.” Rock and pop and roll…one of our favorite combinations.

little-boy-jrLittle Boy Jr | Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry? and “Tell Me” Thanks to old friend Francesc Sole for the tip on this wonderful pop band from Chicago, who write and perform catchy songs that demand repeat listens. These guys, with a little 1950s flash and a decidedly sixties-ish approach, know how to write a sturdy hook, and they know how to deliver them to your ears. We’ve added seven tasty tracks from their latest album, released last February: “Perhaps, Annie,” “Full of Lies,” “Don’t Forget,” “Let Me Bleed,” “Mine,” “Dead Radio,” and “Blame.” We’ve also added one track from the band’s 2012 single, the energetic pop number, “Tell Me.” Both the album and single are free downloads on Bandcamp. Head right over and get ’em.

the-lsb-experience-flashbacksThe LSB Experience | Flashbacks Just over a month ago, we added tracks from this Netherlands trio’s wonderful album, The Experience. At the beginning of this past December, we wrote that “Fans of exquisite vocal harmony matched with genuinely catchy songs will embrace the LSB Experience with a great big hug of love.” We stand by that assessment, and present a half-dozen examples of how this trio’s approach makes a bunch of well-known songs from other artists their own. You’ll hear the band cover “Helplessly Hoping,” “Shower the People,” “You Can Close Your Eyes,” “Our House,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” and there won’t be a dry eye in the house. Just gorgeous.

kylie-hughesKylie Hughes | Calipopicana Pop, dipped in a gloriously happy glaze, is the name of the game on this lovingly produced EP, capturing the essence of Southern California pop and answering the musical question: What would the Beach Boys sound like in 2015 if the lead singer was a female? The hooks run deep in these delightful, harmony-drenched songs. There’s some supreme ear candy happening here. We’re playing four of Kylie’s very cool tunes, co-writes with the likes of John “Fin” Finseth of the Tearaways, and Brent Bourgeois from Bourgeois-Tagg: “Calipopicana,” “Short Skirts,” “Dream Dream Dream,” and “Leave ’em Wanting More.” That last song title really says it all: More please, and real soon!

We hope you enjoy the latest adds to the Pure Pop Radio playlist, now playing in rotation. We’ve got lots more coming up next week. Don’t miss a single note!

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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

Pure Pop Radio’s Very Special Explosion of New-to-the-Station Melodic Pop Songs is Finished, But…

… we’ve gotten lots more great music in the past week, so it looks like we’re going to have to keep our noses to the grindstone next week. We’ve got to admit that it’s fun, and pretty spectacular at that, to see the number of songs in our library continue to rise. As of today, we’ve passed the 5,000 mark appreciably. That means more songs, more artists, more variety for you, our faithful listeners.

We're on the road to more great melodic pop!

We’re on the road to more great melodic pop!

So let’s get the show on the road, shall we? Let’s begin with a couple of hurrahs for three of our favorite artists, each of whom took the time to record an original jingle for Pure Pop Radio. Let’s clap for the great Jay Stansfield, the lovely and talented The Taters, and the master of a thousand instruments and banjo player extraordinaire Jacob Panic. We love you and thank you all! You’re tops of the pops!

With that said, here are some more artists and songs that we’ve added to the playlist. They’re all streaming now in rotation on your home of the hits–the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop songs from the ’60’s to today.

* The Penguin Party. With their new album Mesherlek  just a hop, skip and a jump rope from being released on July 21, we’re playing a couple of typically clever tunes from the album that will burrow inside your noggin and stay there through the coming spring. We’d been playing an early version of the wild and woolly song “The Anti Russell Brand, ” but now we’re spinning the completed track, sporting a rather emotionally-invested choir to open the proceedings. It’s very cool. We’re also spinning two more songs from Mesherlek: the radio edit of the atmospheric, kind-of spooky “My Big Bad Self,” complete with horns!, and the piano pop of the jaunty “Glorious.” All three of these classics point to Mesherlek being one of 2014’s greatest recorded triumphs.

* The Squires of the SubterrainThe Squires of the Subterrain. We’ve been playing the Squire’s unique brand of pop music for many years. We simply dig his take on the catchy tune. The Squire always delivers the goods. From his new, self-titled album, we’re chosen five wonderful songs: “History,” “This Charming Place,” “Private Gherkin’s Psychedelic Silly Mustache Band,” “Attitude and Altitude,” and “You Gave Me the Cold Shoulder (to Cry On).” A splendid time will be had by all who listen to this consistently top-shelf artist and his new collection of top tunes.

* The Jeremy BandAll Over the World. We’ve been spinning Jeremy Morris’s great music since we started Pure Pop Radio nearly 20 years ago. Jeremy’s music is always fun to listen to, and now he’s done it again with this new album stacked high with songs recorded all over the world (Hey! That’s a catchy title!). We treasure Jeremy’s music and are thrilled to be able to bring you more of it. We know you’ll dig the three songs we’ve chosen to add to the playlist: “Cool Your Jets,” “Rise Above the Clouds,” and “Not of this World.”

* Silver Ships. Songs from a Room that Never Moves. Wonderful, creative tunes are the order of the day when multi-instrumentalist Chazz Bessette is at the helm. From the contemporary pop-meets-vaudeville opener, “Poor Thief of Hearts,” to the charming, melodic campfire stomper “My Dear Friend” and the pretty, tempo-changing closer, “We Believe in Love,” Songs from a Room that Never Moves delivers the goods like no other pop album you’ll hear this year. In addition to the previously-mentioned songs, we’ve also added “There Were Trees,” “Summer’s Gone,” “Silver Moon,” and “A Room that Never Moves.” Pure genius.

* Nine Times BlueMatter of Time. We’re happy to bring to you a couple of songs from Nine Times Blue’s latest release. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the band plays power pop with just a hint of Gin Blossoms in their DNA. Listen for these cool tunes: “Sometimes” and “Matter of Time.”

* Three Minute TeaseBite the Hand. With longtime Pure Pop Radio favorite Anton Barbeau in the mix, you know you’re going to get an eclectic approach to pop music, and this new release doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s a solid fun-to-listen-to album full of great songs and Anton’s expressive vocals. We’re thrilled to be spinning the mighty catchy “Drinking Horn,” which, without warning, takes a decidedly and cool left turn into the psychedelic zone with about a minute and thirty-seven seconds left. We’re also thrilled to be spinning “Ciao Ciao Chicken,” “Tie My Laces,” “Coffee that Makes the Man Go Mad,” and “Wave Hello.” Very Anton! Very wonderful!

* Edward RogersKaye. A New York City dweller since the age of 12, Rogers serves up a dozen great songs inspired by the late Kevin Ayers. We’re excited to be bringing to you five numbers, including a cover of Ayers’ “After the Show,” and original tunes “Worry for the World,” “What Happened to the News Today,” “Copper Coin,” and “Borrowed and Blue.”

* Steve CarawayUpon this Rock. From Steve’s latest album, we’ve added two terrific tunes: the emotional title song and the rock and pop number “Justine.”

But wait…there will be more! The newest releases and songs from yesteryear are starting to pile up once again, so look for more adds to the playlist next week and beyond. We’re committed to bringing you, our dear listeners, the greatest pop in the universe, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do! Have fun listening to Pure Pop Radio (just click on one of the handy listening links below) and have a great weekend!

 

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