Reviews: 3.5.19: The Big Believe Meets Tania, Kenny Herbert is the Luckiest Man in the World, and the Well Wishers are Feeling Fine

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

The Big Believe | “Tania Was a Truth Teller”
b/w “Girl With Cassettes” (2018)

A paean of four-on-the-floor Blondie in 2018? That’s the engine driving the intrigue-laced “Tania Was a Truth Teller,” the first of the two top tracks that make up The Big Believe’s late-2018 pop blast; both were mixed in you-are-there stereo by Fritz Catlin of the band 23 Skidoo. (Dig the pop art cover by Peter Quinnell.)

Meeting by the bridge in the dead of night, Tania has the answers to the questions at hand. But can she be trusted? “Tania was a truth teller,” the narrator notes. “She liked to dress like a feller.” She lives “on and on and on and on,” but is she the real thing? “I thought I saw Tania on the high road/But it was just the sunlight in my eyes.” Hmm… A mystery in song, and a catchy one at that, featuring The New Pornagraphers’ Todd Fancey on guitar.

Fancey also features on “Girl With Cassettes,” a fast, fizzy and loud pop-rocker about the girl who dazzles her way to point b from point a with nary a care (“She drives through the red/She stops at the green/Is blinded by everything in between”). She’s the girl “in the green t-shirt” who’s got her eyes transfixed on the one who can make things happen: “Oh if only they knew what a boy can do/To the girl who collects cassettes, cassettes, cassettes.” OMD meets Duran Duran in this grand, imaginative romp.

The Big Believe, aka Amanda Thompson, is working on the band’s second album, Juggernaut, to be released later this year. You’d better…believe we’re psyched.

Where to Get It: 7-inch with mp3 download: The Big Believe’s website; iTunes, Amazon

Kenny Herbert | “The Luckiest Man in the World” (2019)

I have been absolutely delighted and enriched to have the music of Kenny Herbert in my life for going on 15-plus years. His melodic prowess is virtually unequaled. Everything he releases speaks directly to my heart.

“The Luckiest Man in the World,” just released, is another classic creation from up Edinburgh, Scotland way–a beautifully realized mid-tempo ballad about the love he shares with his beloved wife Caroline. With music surrounding them, they are charmed, and so is the listener.

Produced by Bob Heatlie and featuring Rab Howat singing backgrounds, “The Luckiest Man in the World” expresses Kenny’s thoughts through clever lyrics, such as this clever verse invoking the Chairman of the Board: “Feel like the luckiest man in the world/
I’ve got my music and my beautiful girl/Feel like Sinatra playing the Sands/I’m gonna love you like no other man.”

The cover art for this truly wonderful song, among Kenny’s best, says it all, really; it depicts Kenny and Caroline in dreamy silhouette and was lensed this year in Liverpool, home of the Fab Four.

Enjoy a lovely, live acoustic version of “The Luckiest Man in the World,” performed by Kenny at the water’s edge in St. Fillans in Scotland’s central highlands:

Add this song to your collection? By all means.

Where to Get It: iTunes

The Well Wishers | “Feelin Fine” b/w “Second Hand News” (2019)

Jeff Shelton’s outfit returns with a snappy, poppy, upbeat, guaranteed-to-please popper that keeps the beat going with pure joy on its mind. “Feelin Fine” raises the stakes with a very R.E.M.-ish feel, a catchy chorus, and some widescreen harmony touches. The Wishers’ take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” is basically a reverent tip-of-the-hat to one of those Lindsey Buckingham earworms that takes up permanent residence in there. Must’ve been fun to record.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp


Alan 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. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

New on Pure Pop Radio 7.14.16

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Spins and Reviews | July 14, 2016 | by Alan Haber

Another basket teeming with new music added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist…

arvidson and butterfliesArvidson & Butterflies | Arvidson & Butterflies Ensconced in the Gothenburg, Sweden music scene playing in bands and then going solo with an album released in 2001, Roger Arvidson has fashioned a vehicle for his songs. The six-member Arvidson and Butterflies announce themselves with an explosive collection of dynamic pop songs, each one imbued with catchy melodies and played with verve, like the upbeat, hit-songs-in-the-making “Tired of Running” and “Changing All the Time.” The mid-tempo charmer “Will Follow” is nearly a song that the Byrds could have pulled off. The cover drawing, from French popster Tommy Lorente, is among the most attractive to grace a pop release in many years. Top drawer all the way.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Tired of Running,” “Lights Go Out,” “Butterflies,” “Will Follow,” “Changing All the Time,” “Want What I Can’t Have,” and “Not a Dream.”

the del zorros marriedThe Del Zorros | “Yes I Want You (We’re Gonna be Married)” Monty and Stede continue their appropriation of all things melodically satisfying with a sweet, sentimental mid-tempo ballad that boils down to a single truth between two who love each other: “You’re the only one I want.” A pretty melody drives this song, perfect for weddings and toasting nuptials. Gorgeous.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

adam walsh thoughts in time 5Adam Walsh | Thoughts in Time Wonderful, rustic folk-pop, played in toto by Walsh, recorded in the quiet sanctity of Dublin’s Cabin Studios with Martin and Gibson acoustic guitars, Fender, Hofner and Epiphone guitars and basses, Pearl drums and a Korg synthesizer at the ready, all played by Walsh, making his songs come to melodic life. Like a determined river flowing at sunset, these tunes ripple through the senses: “Life With You,” pretty and determinedly driving, and “Rosemary,” a warm finger-picking exercise dripping with love, are decidedly tops. A single listener or a full house, lights lit silently, would be spellbound if Walsh were on stage, playing these songs. Really special.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “(I See Her Dance) Across the Ballroom” “(I’m a) Fool in Love,” “Drifting (Requiem for the Lost Soul),” “High Time (at Frisco Bay),” “Life With You,” “Rosemary,” “Sweet Dakota Blue,” “The River,” “Thoughts in Time,” “Waiting for Someone.”

Duerte Sanchez - Mournin' Glory Story - coverDuerte Sanchez | “Mournin’ Glory Story” Trading under cover of alias Duerte Sanchez, the Lunar Laugh’s Jared Lekites sings and percusses over Taylor Johnson’s nimble acoustic guitar and mellotron stylings, delivering a lovingly-rendered version of Harry Nilsson’s 1969 classic, “Mournin’ Glory Story.” Essential, and quite lovely.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

sally stitchesSally Stitches | End Up on 98 An offshoot of Vista Blue, the Hons, and 35 PSI, the technicolor-y named Sally Stitches offers up a powered, plugged-in bubblegum tune from their rocking EP that might have found a home in Buddah Record’s stable back in the good old days. Probably not, actually, but it’s chewy nonetheless and carries on its shoulders some catchy do-do-do-dos. Sing along.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

maps and his mothball fleet 1maps and his mothball fleet portraitMaps and His Mothball Fleet | Fighting Season The story goes: Matt Wanamaker, a Philadelphia railyard worker, goes to Afghanistan to build hospitals for the Navy. While he’s there, he records songs on a handheld cassette dictation machine to pass the time as the sting of war surrounds him. After he gets home and time passes, friends take his tapes and add overdubs and a musical record of his time away from home is complete. Releasing on August 5 via Azteca Records, Wanamaker’s diary of audio impressions painted with notes and words really resonates. “Walk With Me Madeline,” played out with lovely pedal steel, sounds like a song that would be sung around a campfire as emotions felt are recounted, and “Rocket Sled” is a pop song with a catchy chorus and just as much feeling. A particularly fine waxing in a year teeming with them.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “A Lot Becomes a Little,” “Walk With Me Madeline,” “Private Planes of the Old West,” and “Break Up With a Poet (Manas).”

the well wishersThe Well Wishers | Comes and Goes Pop and rock meet at the net and jump over together with a dozen slices of pop and roll fueled by multi-instrumentalist Jeff Shelton, who knows a thing or three about making a musical impact. Lisa Mychols adds a layer of sweetness to the choruses of speedy pop-rocker “Come Around,” just one song here sounding like an outtake from early R.E.M.; “In Love With” chimes in with upbeat balladry. Another home run from Shelton.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Comes Around,” “Love Lies Last,” “Tomorrow,” “In Love With,” and “Nobody’s Dancing Alone.”

the beat parade rainy dayThe Beat Parade | “Rainy Day” Back just about a year and a half after first gaining spins here, Sydney, Australia’s Matthew Shacallis returns as part of a three-piece band with a jangly song about love supplying the light to cut through the cloudy, rain-soaked skies (“So put the kettle on/And make a tea/I will light the way for you to see”). A pretty melody combines with expert playing. Album on its way.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

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