Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, Winter 2021, Episode One: Dear Stella’s Stefanie Drexler

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

It is comforting to know that, even as a sudden burst of winter fury blankets the landscape outside the cramped yet comfortable Pure Pop Radio studio with snow, snow, snow, the forecast for the world inhabited by melodic pop musicians is maintaining its clear-skies-and-smooth-sailing posture–sailing more in the metaphorical sense rather than the literal, although great records by great recording artists often do sail to the top of the charts.

I could easily see Dear Stella’s wondrous Time Zones EP, released late last year to much acclaim, rising to the top of the charts this year, or sailing there, if you prefer, because it really is that good. Time Zones’ six song playlist starts with “Time Machine,” a cheery burst of insanely creative, passionate force-of-good-naturedness recalling Jellyfish and other such there-are-no-limits-to-what-we-can-achieve-if-we-put-our-minds-to-it merry music makers, and ends with a quieter-by-many-yardsticks ballad, the very pretty “Brighton Beach” (not the one in Brooklyn, New York, and I made sure to ask).

Stefanie Drexler is Dear Stella
Stefanie Drexler

I was so captivated by Dear Stella’s initial release, on which Stefanie Drexler (she is Dear Stella) sings her heart out with the help of members of melodic pop’s usual suspects club (Bleu, Eric Barao, Kai Danzberg, and David Myhr), that I thought a talk with her would be a good addition to the current crop of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation shows.

The young Austrian singer-songwriter and I gathered together on Zoom for a lively, rather charming chat, during which I found out many interesting things about this up-and-coming artist, such as: she sang harmony vocals on an Air Supply recording, toured for a week in a band that opened for the B-52s, was a big fan of Britney Spears, and earned a Masters degree in popular music research.

That’s a pretty good list of achievements all by itself, but of course there is more, which you can discover by watching and listening to my chat with the multitalented and multifaceted Stefanie Drexler below, brought to you in See! Hear! Pop!, Pure Pop Radio’s finely-tuned, video-riffic sight and sound format. And below our 45-minute-long back-and-forth, you can hear three of the great songs featured on the Time Zones EP.


Where to Get It: Amazon, Bandcamp, Apple Music

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, hosted by Alan Haber, is the internet’s premier talk show presenting melodic pop music artists talking about their work. New episodes appear here exclusively on the Pure Pop Radio website. Podcast versions of previously-aired episodes are archived here.

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features.

Drip a Drop of Flat Five Fun (and More!) on Pure Pop Radio

new on pp banner hybrid 2-use this one, it's fixed

alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

A brand-new, most welcome drip of fun from Chicago’s artisans of pure pop mastery tops today’s roll of new adds to Pure Pop Radio’s ever-growing playlist.

Streaming in rotation along with a wide variety of catchy melodic pop nuggets both old and new is the new single from the Windy City’s Flat Five, whose 2016 debut long player, It’s a World of Love and Hope, was a musical tapestry of epic proportions. “Drip a Drop” is a wonderful example of how it is done (see how they done it in a live take from November 2019):

We now pivot from the Flat Five’s great new single to Rick Hromadka’s top-flight collection of wonderfully-realized pop ‘n’ roll songs, Better Days. We’re spinning three tracks in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “The Ever After”; “The Last Volcano,” the last song recorded for the album, and the only one for which Rick plays all of the instruments, except drums; and “I’m Here to Entertain You,” a fun track possibly introducing a new genre: circus pop.

Pure Pop Radio favorite Kyle Vincent turns in another grand group of luscious melodic numbers on his latest album, Whatever It Takes, and we’re playing four in rotation: the upbeat and quite catchy “Bubblegum Baby,” “Two Cans and a String,” “The Girl in the Flower Shop,” and an affectionate tribute to the magical powers of “A Gilbert O’Sullivan Song.”

Kai Danzberg, who’s built up a strong following in the pop community with his last few releases, sees four more songs from his new album, Rockshow, added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: “You and Me,” a real toe-tapper; “Living Room,” the upbeat “Making it Right,” and the very Paul McCartney-ish “Waiting for You,” our favorite new slice of Kai.

Add to all of the above a track from Jim Basnight’s 2019 album, Not Changing (“Having Fun”) and a new song from Your Friend Jebb (“Change of Seasons”) that features Lisa Mychols and Tom Richards, glorious upper-register harmonies, and a melody gift-wrapped with warmth.

Get ready, set, and go to the player depicted below, click play, and lose yourself in a wonderland of catchy melodic pop music on Pure Pop Radio. Listen all weekend long and into the weeks and months ahead, and don’t forget to save the player to your desktop and tablet. Enjoy!

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features.

Pure Pop Radio brings the greatest melodic pop music in the universe to your waiting ears, 24 hours a day.

Our Holly Jolly Christmas Party is Here in Your Town! Gift Suggestions Below…

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Day three of our Holly Jolly Christmas Party is here to help you with suggestions for holiday tunes you can give as gifts to your family and friends…and maybe even to yourself!

This is also day three of our bountiful Christmas presents giveaway. Today, we’ve got the Monkees’ new Christmas Party and the Grip Weeds’ Under the Influence of Christmas up for grabs. Enter below.

Our 2018 Festive Holiday Gift-Giving Guide has the day off tomorrow, due to a change in schedule here at Pure Pop Radio headquarters. We’ll be back on Friday to continue suggesting some of the great Christmas releases out there, all perfect for gift giving.

And now, here’s a lovely Christmas collection from the hardest working man on today’s music scene…

Fernando Perdomo | Present (2018)
Multi-instrumentalist and supreme multitasker Fernando Perdomo (his new album, a smash, is Zebra Crossing) has put together a lovely, quite entertaining Christmas release called Present. It may not be wrapped in festive paper and topped with a bright red bow, but it’s a gift that will keep on giving and putting a holiday kind of smile on your face.

Perdomo’s facility with melody-rich holiday ballads (“It’s Christmas All Over the World,” “Darling It’s Christmas,” “The Meaning of Christmas,” and especially “December .. The Month of Love”) is just one of the most prominent calling cards presented here, but that’s not all you’ll find: “The Funky Little Drummer Boy” features Eddie Zyne on hard-hitting drums; there’s a slow, dreamy surf version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”; a sleepy take on “Silent Night,” with just electric guitars in the mix, really satisfies, and a punky, in your face version of “Deck the Halls” helps to make your season bright.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Thrift Store Halo | “I Still Love Christmas” (2018)
Written by band members Frank Gradishar and Lance Tawzer, this perky, melody-rich celebration of the holiday finds Chicago’s Thrift Store Halo in a fun, spirit-of-the-season-esque mood and espousing a welcome sense of humor.

Everything is on the table at Christmas–greeting cards, holly wreaths, kid-made ornaments, snowmen, egg nog shakes, and “presents wrapped in gold and plaid (like granddad’s pants).” “It’s the one time each year the whole world is filled with joy and cheer,” Frank sings.

You’ll love this one.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

The Weeklings | “Christmas Time is Here Again” and “Revolution Wonderland” (2017)
New Jersey’s Fab Four–Lefty, Zeke, Rocky and Smokestack–convened in the waning months of 2017 to record a pair of holiday classics chock full of the usual Weeklings Easter eggs and brimming with a whole lot of fun.

In case you missed them the first time around, the Beatles’ “Christmas Time is Here Again” got Weeklingsized by incorporating elements from the Fabs’ “Flying,” “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” and “Baby, You’re a Rich Man.” And of “Revolution Wonderland”? Well, in this seasonal mashup, “Revolution” meets “Winter Wonderland” meets “Jingle Bell Rock” meets the coolest shoo-be-doo-wah vibe you’ll encounter this or any other year.

Follow Santa on his sleigh, with all of his reindeer and his custom North Pole GPS to add these full-of-good-cheer tunes to your Christmas gifting lists.

black box Where to Get It: “Christmas Time is Here Again”: Amazon, iTunes
“Revolution Wonderland”: Amazon, iTunes

Big Stir Double-A-Side Christmas Single (2018):
Kai Danzberg | “If Santa”
Blake Jones and the Trike Shop | “String Lights and Hold On”

The eighth in the continuing series of digital singles being released by Big Stir Records strikes a decidedly festive Christmasy chord (or two or more!) with holiday tunes from Kai Danzberg and Blake Jones and the Trike Shop.

Danzberg and Jones travel different-sounding paths on their way to stirring up their pots of Christmas magic. Danzberg’s “If Santa” is an upbeat, joyous Phil Spectory exercise with Paul McCartney bass lines, horns and, of course, bells. Jones presents his Christmas tune as art-rock-meets-quirky for a wholly different holiday experience. Both are more-than-worthy, Christmasy choices for gift-giving this holiday season.

black box Where to Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles

Lannie Flowers “Christmas Without You” (2018)
While his fans wait patiently for his new album Home to land, Lannie Flowers has been releasing new songs each month, independent of that release. “Christmas Without You,” newly remixed and remastered from its 2011 appearance, is the 10th in the series. It’s a typically catchy, jangly, melodic slice of melodic pop about wanting and needing the people we love to be with us at Christmas. “Christmas Without You” is a free download at the Spyderpop Records website.

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop Records

Win a Pair of Presents!

Enter below to win a pair of melodic presents for the holiday season from Pure Pop Radio (the Monkees’ Christmas Party and the Grip Weeds’ Under the Influence of Christmas). Be sure to fill in all fields (type “Monkees Grip” in the Comment field), and send the completed form to us by tomorrow, Thursday, December 20, at noon ET. US residents only. Good luck!


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 ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

“I’d Love One of Those Great Melodic Pop Albums for My Holiday Gift.” That’s Easy.

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Our 2018 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide is in full swing. We’ve got more suggestions for great gifts for your melodic pop-loving friends and family. We lead off today’s post with the new album from Louise Goffin…

Louise Goffin | All These Hellos
(Majority of One, 2018)
An exceptional dialog driven by melody and emotion, All These Hellos is a steamer trunk full of memories placed under a microscope to help us figure our place under the sun.

Anchored by Goffin’s lovely, fragile vocals and superb playing from star musicians such as Fernando Perdomo (whose latest album is reviewed tomorrow), these 10 songs are quite an attractive showcase for superlative songwriting. The artist is clearly invested in these slices of reflective pop; such is the strength of communication with the listener.

The mystical duet with Rufus Wainwright, “Chinatown,” benefits from a lovely melody, peerless singing, and an exquisite string arrangement by Van Dyke Parks. This song, about magic and inspiration alive in a moment, is perfectly placed, coming right before the equally spiritual feel of “Turn to Gold,” its ambience bolstered by a stream of percussive and instrumental grace.

Goffin embraces her pop side with a number of straight ahead, upbeat charmers. “Good Times Call” is a soulful and very catchy sixties-esque pop number about being in love and feeling it. “Life Lessons,” another upbeat pop tune with piano at its core and punctuated by horns, is about being true to yourself and following your heart. And the title song is an inviting mid-tempo number about needing the memories of a childhood place to fade.

“Bridge of Sighs,” the mid-tempo ballad that closes these proceedings, is about investing in a relationship while wondering what the payoff is. The gorgeous chorus is sung in harmony; wordless bursts of harmony come alive towards the end.

It’s difficult to talk about a Louise Goffin album without broaching her lineage. She is, of course, the daughter of… well, if you don’t know, you’ll investigate, and if you do, consider yourself ahead of the game. Adding All These Hellos to your shopping list puts you ahead of the game, too.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

Kai Danzberg with Lisa Mychols | “Just Let Me Know”
(Big Stir, 2018)
Up-and-comer Kai Danzberg teams with powerhouse singer-songwriter Lisa Mychols for a catchy, high-energy pop tune that is sure to please. Heavy snare hits, guitars, keys and thumping bass merge for a breathless, explosive four-minute thrill ride that bodes quite well for Danzberg’s upcoming 2019 album on Big Stir, Not Only Sunshine. Terrific.

Where to Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles

Super 8 | Hi Lo
(Futureman, 2018)
He said he’d pull off the tough go of a 2018 hat trick, getting three albums out in a single year, and he’s done it, done it good.

Paul Ryan, d/b/a Super 8, has ended the year with another top-flight recording, 11 strong songs about employing hopefulness along one’s path through life. A fine slice of subject matter, you’ll likely agree.

“Angels and Neil Diamond” is a tremendous piece of writing, an easygoing, acoustic look back on childhood’s glory days, reliving one’s youth through good times and bad. It’s a lovely, affecting song that is followed by proof that the title is holly holy. Ryan presents a clever take on Diamond’s wonderful “Cherry, Cherry,” which is pretty life affirming on its own, especially in Ryan’s recasting of the tune as part garage, part coffee house, and all Super 8.

The Rolling Stones nod, “Good Times” (“Had enough of the bad times”), is a happy stroke in the running order, as is the pop-folk hybrid “Bob Dylan Said That,” about getting by in life with your own vision, and, no doubt, following on from what you’ve learned from the bard’s poetry.

The hits just keep on coming; you’ll love every one of them, delivered in Ryan’s emotive style. And for those of you wondering why the man didn’t go for four albums in a single year, just remember…there’s always 2019.

Where to Get It: Futureman, Kool Kat Musik

P. Hux | This is the One
(Nine 18, 2018)

Eleven songs strong, as much rock as pop, with typically melodic and memorable results, This is the One is a great addition to the Parthenon Huxley catalog. Hux handles all of the guitars and pours the coffee; the supporting players, from drummer Ricky Wise and bassist David Phenicie to keyboard player Dan Clarke and beyond, keep the melodies flowing in catchy numbers like “Running Home to You,” “Real Tough Day,” a mid-tempo melodic relationship song, and the quite catchy “Honey Sweet Baby.” Hux fans: this is the one for you.

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon, P. Hux Store

More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving

We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases recently, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):


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 ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!