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Tricia Countryman with John Hunter Phillips “Goin’ On” from the forthcoming album Sometimes When I’m Dreaming
Review by Alan Haber
First, there is the song, a nearly perfect expression of love, as Brian Wilson might put it, getting to the heart of it; a joyous celebration of melody and harmony and the ability that one or two or three people have to summon that joyousness from their collective core and build something that will live within us always.
The melody comes from that place. It’s the melody that draws us into the song, and then there are the harmonies, the harmonies that make the hairs on the backs of our necks stand on end and push that button. You know the one–the one that makes you smile, which is payment enough, I suppose, for a musical job so very well done.
Tricia Countryman and singer John Hunter Phillips show their love for melody and harmony with their transcendent version of Brian Wilson and Mike Love’s “Goin’ On,” which originally appeared as the opening track on the Beach Boys’ Keepin’ the Summer Alive, an album teeming with delights, in 1980. Produced by Dana Countryman, these nearly four minutes of bliss stop everything around it in their tracks.
There are the voices, intertwined and perfectly matched, singing ever so sweetly together, and there are the instruments, all played by Dana, save for Mike Marinig’s muscular saxophone, and there is the arrangement, faithful to the original track but tweaked with that certain something that only an artist can bring to the table. As the song plays, you are transported to that place where all around you is still and serene. All you have to do is listen.
I love the sound of this version of “Goin’ On,” and you will too: Listen to Tricia Countryman, with John Hunter Phillips, sing this wonderful song tonight, premiering exclusively on Pure Pop Radio at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT). And listen to it after that, playing in rotation as part of our playlist of 8,500 handpicked melodic pop songs from the ’60s to today. You’ll be glad you did.
It’s time for another round of new music that we’ve just added to our playlist. We’ve got a whole lot of new songs and artists to tell you about, so let’s get on to it, shall we?
The Dowling Poole | Single: “Rebecca Receiving,” “The Same Mistake Again,” and “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions (Live in Manchester)” This tasty taster, being released February 19 in advance of the full-length One Hyde Park, is yet another example of what Willie Dowling and Jon Poole do so very well: mix the past with the present as they point to the future. “Rebecca Receiving” is an undeniably catchy art-pop explosion drinking from a well overflowing with Stiff and Godley and Creme-isms. It’s hard to deny, as is the non-album “The Same Mistake Again,” a wholly different, gentle-by-comparison beast, coming from the other, Stewart-Gouldman side of the 10cc fence. A lovely, heretofore unreleased, stripped down, live version of Bleak Strategies‘ “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions” completes the triptych. Super stuff.
Various Artists | If It Feels Good, Do It: A Sloan Tribute Keith Klingensmith’s Futureman Records hits another bullseye with a collection of covers of songs from the Sloan catalog. A selection of familiar and perhaps not-so-familiar artists delivers the goods, from Coke Belda and El Inquieto Roque’s melodically-charged “Autobiography,” which kicks off with a knowing, smile-inducing nod to Jeff Lynne’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” to Pop 4’s short but sweet “Flying High Again,” sounding more than a little like electrified, later-period Cowsills. We’re playing 12 superb tracks in rotation, including the previously-mentioned nuggets and Andy Reed’s “I Love a Long Goodbye”; Fireking’s “The Other Man”; Gretchen’s Wheel’s “Try to Make It”; the wonderfully named Hal E. Fax and the Supernova Scotias’ “So Far So Good,” with its Beach Boys vocal open; Nick Piunti’s “Right or Wrong”; Phil Ajiarapu’s “Set in Motion”; Stereo Tiger’s “C’mon C’mon (We’re Gonna Get It Started)”; The Hangabouts’ “The Answer Was You”; and the Well Wishers’ “The Lines You Amend.” Cheers to a fun listen.
Coke Belda | “Poor Baby” Speaking of Coke Belda, this pop master has recorded a spirited and loving cover of the Cowsills’ 1967 single track “Poor Baby” for Pop Parade, a forthcoming compilation from the Rock Indiana label. Coke plays all of the instruments and sings all of the vocals. It’s a spectacular performance, and we’ve got it playing in rotation. Beautiful.
Propeller | Fall Off the World The followup to 2013’s Don’t Be Sorry Again, sporting a K-tel International homage on its cover, is an infectious collection of hook-filled songs with more than a hint of Teenage Fanclub-esque-fueled DNA. Songs like the Byrdsian “She’s So Alive” is but one example of the heights the group achieves; “You Remind Me of You” melds Buddy Holly swagger with its power-pop heart; “It’s Kinda Why I Like You” is a virtual love letter to Fanclub song construction. These three songs, plus “Wish I Had Her Picture,” “The Things You Say,” “What a Way to Feel,” and “Can You Hear Us Now,” are currently playing in rotation, as you would expect.
Tobbe | ep1 – summerboundTobbe is The Tor Guides’ Torbjorn Petersson, a multi-instrumentalist who flexes his solo sweet pop muscles on four catchy classics: the hit single-worthy “What in the World” and “Two Minutes of Your Time,” the lovely ballad “Absent Minded Me,” and the comparatively muscular “Love Went to Paris.” Tobbe plays all instruments, save for the drums. Hooks abound. Listeners are in love.
Chris Murphy | Ghost Town The Murphy Brothers’ Chris closed out 2015 with this gorgeous collection of songs soaked in melodic charm. The title track, a lovely ballad, is quite simply one of the most affecting numbers we’ve heard in quite some time. The blues-rocking “Scarecrow” is a punchy number, punctuated by Chris’s strong vocal and some tasty piano runs; and “Kid from the Country” sings a heartland song from the heart. These three tunes, plus “Not Like it Was Before,” “Running Out of Time,” and “Happy Boy” are now happily playing in rotation.
New Sincerity Works | Nowadays Our old friend Mike Tittel returns, fellow travelers Roger Klug, Bob Nyswonger, Mike Landis, Greg Tudor and Tom White in tow, with New Sincerity Works’ second album, another sparkling collection of melodic gems. “The Upside of Being Down” is a powerful rocker performed with energetic swagger; the gorgeous “Our Room Shares a Door” sports a delicious melody and beautiful harmonies. In addition to these two songs, we’re playing “Dreams Worth Keeping” and “Lips Miss Talking” in rotation.
The Cactus Blossoms | You’re Dreaming It’s like the Everly Brothers are spinning on the turntable, but you’d better open your eyes (and your ears, for that matter), because it’s not Phil and Don; it’s brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum delivering an authentic mix of Everly, country and western, and Bakersfield magic. One of the great surprises of this early year, we’re playing five great numbers: “You’re Dreaming,” “Traveler’s Paradise,” “Stoplight Kisses,” “No More Crying the Blues,” and “Clown Collector.” It just doesn’t get much better than this.
Daisy House | Western Man Here is another great surprise that has defined this year, even early on, as a great one for melodic music. Doug Hammond and his daughter Tatiana have made an album for the ages. Golden harmonies and great songs melt your heart all the way through. The heavenly duo channels the Byrds in the uptempo “She Comes Runnin’ Back” and “Twenty-One,” offers up a catchy, playful vibe with the singalong number “Willow,” and delivers a strong, emotive ballad with the orchestrated pearl, “Western Man.” We’re playing these and five other grand musical gestures: “The Defender,” “The Boulevard,” “Say Goodbye,” “Like a Superman,” and “Golden Heart.” This is nothing less than a gift from heaven.
Tricia Countryman and John Hunter Phillips | “The Warmth of the Sun” Taken from Tricia’s upcoming solo album, being produced by her husband Dana (a Pure Pop Radio favorite, don’t you know), this lovely rendition of the Beach Boys classic is pure gold. This is just about as perfect an example of how important harmonies are to melodic pop music as we can think of.
That’s it for today. You’ll be getting another big fix of new songs and artists added to our playlist coming up in a harmony-filled blink of an eye. Until then, why not click on one of the listen links below and sway to the melodies and harmonies coming out of your speakers by listening to Pure Pop Radio?
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.
There are songs and there are songs–in the here and now, we’re so digging the Davenports’ new one, “Don’t Be Mad at Me,” currently spinning in our rotation, that it’s getting in the way of our getting any work done. That’s a good thing, by the way. It’s like the new Beatles record has landed and, as the fade recedes, we start it up again and get into the gorgeous melody; the inventive, caressing harmonies; and that rockin’ guitar solo at the end. Pure bliss.
That’s what a great pop song does when all of the stars line up perfectly above: it takes you away or, more accurately, it reels you inside of itself and, in an instant, you’re there. Read our review here, if you missed it.
Meanwhile, “Don’t Be Mad at Me” isn’t the only song making us smile and thank the heavens that we’re in this business of writing about and broadcasting the greatest melodic pop music in the universe. Yes, it’s New Music Tuesday, and we’ve got a whole lot of great things to make you smile.
We begin as we dash and pray for surf, so to speak, with two releases each from masters of the Beach Boys form–folks who know how to craft the kind of sounds that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and shout, “Now that’s my kind of music!”
The Dukes of Surf | The Dukes of Surf and Surf, Love and Rock ‘n Roll JP, Fish and Jimmy, riding the crest of an infectious musical wave from their Honolulu, Hawaii base, are wowing us with their take on harmony-drenched, Beach Boys-styled songs with a dash of Chuck Berry and the Archies thrown in for good measure. Their top-notch albums are surfing home runs; fans of John Hunter Phillips (see below), Dana Countryman and Dave Caruso, themselves prime purveyors of melodic musical masterpieces, will find a whole lot to love here. So grab your surfboards, leave the hodads behind, and tune in to Pure Pop Radio to hear, in rotation, 15 songs from a group we’ve quickly grown to cherish: “Surf, Love and Rock ‘n Roll,” “Surfin’ in Hawaii,” “Coconuts,” “Fallin’ in Love,” “Baby Don’t Say Goodnight,” “Leilanai,” “Surf Crazy” (from Surf, Love and Rock ‘n Roll); “Waikiki,” “Island Girls,” “Heavy Duty Chevy,” “Doo-Bee-Doo,” “Summer of Love,” “Daydream,” “Shooby Doop Baby,” and “Sukiyaki” (from The Dukes of Surf). Surf’s up on Pure Pop Radio! Bonus: We’ve also added the very cool and catchy track, “Oli Oli Sun,” recorded for travel services company JTB Hawaii’s Oli Oli buses. Sweet!
John Hunter Phillips | It’s About Time and Diamonds on the Beach In 2014, John Hunter Phillips released what we called “the best Beach Boys album…from a man who’s not actually in the Beach Boys, but has sung on stage with the band.” That’s really all you need to know, other than we’ve got John’s two, earlier albums in hand and we’ve added a total of 17 songs from them to our playlist. As with the Dukes of Surf, John trades in Boys of Summer-styled tunes with rich harmonies, great melodies and a love for the kind of music that makes people smile all over the world. The new additions to our playlist include originals and covers: “You’re Never Alone,” “The Girl In the Rear-View Mirror,” “You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone,” “Heaven,” “Don’t Worry, Baby,” “Darlin’,” “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,” “Let It Shine,” and “The Laughter of Your Voice” (from It’s About Time); “Do It Again,” “Labaina Aloha,” “Susie Cincinnati,” “God Only Knows,” “Marcella,” “Keepin’ the Summer Alive,” Rockin’ All Over the World,” and “Sail On Sailor” (from Diamonds on the Beach).
We go from the beach to the sunny shores of Austin, Texas for our next group of newly-added-to-the-playlist gems…
Kaliyo One of our absolutely favorite artists, Andrea Perry, whose latest album 4 was released in 2013 and is currently in rotation on our air, teamed up with singer and songwriter Sarah Sharp in October 2010. Together, they have written more than 50 wonderful, super melodic songs that were used in TV shows and ad campaigns. And now you can hear them too, as part of our ever-growing rotation of melodic pop songs living and breathing in the universe. From the Motown pop vibe of the vibrant “Drive” to the mid-tempo balladry of the gorgeous “Life is Perfect,” we predict you will be entranced. The great songs now being heard on Pure Pop Radio: “I’ll Be Yours,” “Life is Perfect,” “Maybe Someday,” “Deep Girl,” “Drive,” “Here We Go Again,” “If You Come Over,” “Let It Flow,” “Pieces,” “Shine,” “The One U Love 2 Love,” and “Trapeze.” Simply beautiful.
Adam Walsh | “Gentle on My Mind,” “Old Time River Man,” and “Rainy Day Woman” Talent quite obviously runs in the Walsh family. Adam Walsh is the nephew of Thomas Walsh, who fronts one of Pure Pop Radio’s favorite groups, Pugwash. Adam is mighty talented, as evidenced by the three tracks he recorded himself this month in his home studio. Acoustic guitars, banjo and that golden voice make these songs come alive. “Gentle on My Mind” was, of course, a big hit for Glen Campbell; “Old Time River Man” was written and recorded by John Hartford; and “Rainy Day Woman” was written and recorded by Waylon Jennings. Adam injects a pop sensibility into his versions of these classic songs; we’re proud to be featuring them in rotation. More please, and sooner than later.
New Sincerity Works | 44 Mike Tittel, who plays drums for our longtime musical pal Roger Klug’s Power Trio, comes out of the gate swinging with a great set of songs that “showcases pop melodies that meet Americana and ’80s new wave music in a raw, emotional mashup,” according to New Sincerity Works’ website. That works for us, but we’d want to add that these songs are infused with a strong sense of honesty, too. And, we should mention, Mike sounds like a distant cousin of Alex Chilton. So, curl up with the power pop of “American Beauty Works,” the driving force of the insistent, melodic “Nowhere Ohio,” and five more top-flight songs now playing in rotation: “Desperate,” “Photographs,” “Drunk for Nothing,” “Less Me, Less You,” and “The Next Time.” Power pop for now people, we declare.
Mark Britton | Odds and Sodd Set the melodic pop pot on the stove, stir in dashes of the Beatles, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Eric Carmen and you get the wonderful songs of Mark Britton. We’ve added a half-dozen delightful numbersto our playlist: the Beatles-ish “Hearts and Minds,” the Nilsson-esque “Sally Ann” and “Dear Rosa,” and three more captivating tunes: “Let’s Get Famous,” “Long Live Memory Lane,” and “Family Guy.” We’re thrilled to be acquainted and in big time love with Mark’s music. You, we predict, will be too.
Mary Caroline | Life on Earth Here’s a sweet surprise from Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories: Mary Caroline’s Life on Earth, a marvelous debut album that was waxed at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, Ontario this past summer. According to Mary’s Bandcamp page, the album “is rooted in folk genre, with predominate acoustic guitar undertones, but ties in pop influences, such as synths, percussion and electric guitar leads.” That about covers it although, as you might expect, we hear the pop elements above all others. Mary’s voice is a beautiful, inviting instrument and her songs are golden. Prepare to greet these songs with open arms: “Such a Liar,” “Falling,” “Life on Earth,” “Songs of Winter,” and “Full Moon.”
That’s all for today. A terrific bunch of new adds to the playlist, we say, and we bet you will say the same. More new playlist adds coming later this week. Simply click on one of the Listen links below to hear the great melodic pop music we’ve got playing 24 hours a day on Pure Pop Radio.
2014 has without question turned out to be a particularly great year for melodic pop music, and as in many previous years, the last few weeks have been top-loaded with sterling releases that prove that any time is a great time for great tunes.
We begin winding up the year with another list of artists and songs just added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. This time around we feature a couple of our favorites, two artists new to our air, and a surprise track pairing a pop star from across the decades with a new pop star, whose group made a bubblegum smash just two years ago. So let’s get our program off and running, shall we? (Check below for a note about where we’re going next.)
The Rubinoos | 45 Just released, 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. We think 45 is the Rubinoos’ best album, which is really saying something. More than anything, the group’s harmonies–always a shining hallmark of their sound–are better than ever, and Jon Rubin remains one of music’s greatest vocalists, regardless of genre. The group’s a cappella (with percussion) version of Lou Christie’s “Rhapsody in the Rain” is one of the standout tracks released by any band this or any other year. Donning the melodic skin of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, it’s nothing less than breathtaking. The doo-wop-meets-early rock ‘n’ roll tribute to Richard Berry’s classic “Louie Louie,” “I Love Louie Louie,” is a smile-inducing tip o’ the hat to the pleasures of the passion of a song that’s been misunderstood for decades. And the upbeat bopper, “Countdown to Love,” sounds like something right out of Paul Revere and the Raiders’ playbook. With great, crisp, clear sound and passion to spare, 45 is one of this year’s finest platters, and we’re playing the whole thing in rotation: “Run Mascara Run,” “Graveyard Shift,” “I Love Louie Louie,” “Does Suzie Like Boys,” “Countdown to Love,” “What More Can You Ask of a Friend,” “Party Insurance,” “You Are Here,” “Rhapsody in the Rain,” “That Thing You Do,” “Kangaroo Court,” “All It Takes,” and “She’s Driving Me Crazy.”
Secret Powers | 6 Montana’s own power pop magicians are back with their sixth long-player, a delectable collection of–let’s not be shy about it–instantly enjoyable pop songs with surprising turns and the kind of melodies that only come from seasoned, natural talents. Ryan “Shmedly” Maynes and crew have outdone themselves with nine brilliant slices of smile-inducing pop that exhibit more than a hint of Jeff Lynne in their DNA. From the ELO-ish “Spare Parts” to the opener, “Bitter Sun,” with its lovely choral section, and the Stiff label echoes of “The Way the Story Goes,” this is the hot pop potato of the moment. We’re playing the entire album in rotation: all of the aforementioned tracks, plus “Palarium,” “Reservoir,” “She’s Electrical,” “Paula Brown,” “New Moon,” and “Ready to Get Old and Die.” A wonderful, late year surprise.
Myracle Brah | The Peach EP Imagine our complete surprise to find that one of the first bands we played religiously on the old, weekly Pure Pop Radio show had released a brand new EP, a fantastic quartet of recordings that does no less than restore your faith in the power of power pop (we’re playing all of them in rotation). Andy Bopp and crew have come up a clear winner with the Big Star-influenced “Sleeping in My Car”; the mid-tempo ballad “Alicent in Time” (complete with great harmonies); ” the psych-pop instrumental “Red Eye #2”; and a lively, lovely cover of the Troggs’ “With a Girl Like You.” We’re playing all four songs in rotation. Side note: Bopp has released a solo EP called Time to Rock that pays tribute, in glorious one-track-mono, to the early days of rock. End-of-the-year presents for music fans everywhere!
Tony Valentino featuring Vern Shank of the Cherry Drops | “I Believe, I Believe” Here is another late-year surprise, pairing an original member of the Standells with Vern Shank from the Cherry Drops, whose 2012 debut, Everything’s Groovy, continues to be a Pure Pop Radio favorite. Valentino plays guitar, bass and sings backup vocals on “I Believe, I Believe,” while Shank sings the lead and harmony vocal. Garage rock-meets-bubblegum in this modern day classic track, which is currently spinning in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. A real treasure! (That’s Tony on the left and Vern on the right in the picture. All hail rock ‘n’ roll!)
Deadbeat Poets | Hallelujah Anyway The latest, just-released long-player from Deadbeat Poets glistens with a wide variety of pop ‘n’ roll tunes that position them at the top of the beat-meets-melody ladder. We’re playing eight great songs from this exciting record: “Baby Doll,” “Love Is On the Right Beat,” “Getting Over You,” “Johnny Sincere,” “A Dark-Haired Girl in Piccadilly Circus,” “The Bag I’m In,” “There Ain’t No One But You,” and “Falling Without Annette.” A terrific record all the way through.
John Hunter Phillips | John Hunter Phillips and the Hurricane Beach Band Here’s the best Beach Boys album released in 2014, from a man who’s not actually in the Beach Boys, but has sung on stage with the band. A tremendous singer who understands and can inhabit the Beach Boys sound like no one else in recent memory, Phillips has recorded a wonderful album full of Boys of Summer-esque songs, from the glorious, harmony-filled “Darlene” to the clever and catchy tribute to the individual Beach Boys, “Dennis, Carl, Alan, Brian, Bruce and Mike (and David)” that features outta site harmonies and a great melody. The limited, deluxe edition of this album includes a second CD jam-packed with alternate versions of the songs, including a number of a cappella takes that will blow your mind in all directions. We’re playing 15 tunes, including “Stay in Kaneohe,” “Back in Hawaii,” “Backseat Driver,” “Darlene,” “I Don’t Feel Bad Anymore,” “The Girl in the Rearview Mirror (2014 Driving Version),” “The Ghost of Hurricane Beach,” “If We Ever Need a Super Man,” “Not So Fast,” “You Can’t Do It Alone,” “I’ll Get Right Back to You” (a duet with Pure Pop Radio favorite, Dana Countryman), “Dennis, Carl, Alan, Brian, Bruce and Mike (and David),” Back in Hawaii (a cappella),” “Backseat Driver (a cappella),” and “Love’s Song.” Superb.
Robert Crenshaw | Atheist Christmas Hot on the heels of adding to our playlist the whole of Robert’s new album, Friends, Family and Neighbors, we’re adding three songs from his 2012 EP. You’ll have to wait until our second annual Christmas Extravaganza, beginning at noon ET on Christmas Eve day, to hear the title cut, but the second, third and fourth tracks are now spinning in rotation, and they’re typically wonderful: “Breakdown in the Passing Lane,” “23 1/2 Degrees,” and Neil Young’s “Don’t Let it Bring You Down.” We’re happy to be playing so many treasures from Robert on Pure Pop Radio.
Bell Gardens | Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions Another just-released album makes its way to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We’re playing three beautiful, passionate numbers that will wash over you with a peaceful, easy feeling: “Sail,” “She’s Stuck in the Endless Loop of Her Decline,” and “Take Us Away.”
Duncan Faure | Machine from the Other Side We’ll have more coming from the great Duncan Faure in the near future, but for now dig four wonderful pop songs that put the spotlight on Duncan, a pounding, percussive piano, and a decidedly strong, early Elton John influence: “Billy in the Big Band,” “Hullo Baby,” “Leaves,” and “England Doesn’t Sleep.” Great stuff.
That’s it for today. As hinted above, we’ll be taking a bit more than a week off while Alan undergoes and recuperates from surgery. We’ll be back on Tuesday, November 18 with our first annual Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of ’14 feature. See you then! And, while we’re gone, keep listening to Pure Pop Radio (listening links below).