New on Pure Pop Radio 05.11.17: Cait Brennan, Bryan Estepa, The Wellingtons, Kenny Herbert, Pat Walsh, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 05.11.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

cait brennab thirdCait Brennan | Third (2017)
Quite simply, and before I say anything specific about Cait Brennan’s miraculous, astounding, audacious new album, the pairing of this one-of-a-kind artist and multi-instrumentalist and ace producer Fernando Perdomo is surely one of those fortified-in-heaven happenings that make life on earth a wonderful thing. Captain Obvious here, in other words.

Soaking up the atmosphere at Memphis, Tennessee’s legendary Ardent Studios, where, it may be hard to believe, Big Star only scratched the surface of artists who waxed classic recordings, Brennan and Perdomo made the magic that lines the virtual walls of Brennan’s new album, Third.

It’s one thing to have great songs when going into a studio–any studio–but it’s another to have the chutzpah and the moxie to make them so great that they emerge on disc fully-formed as state-of-the-art classics, which is exactly how the baker’s dozen songs on Third turned out.

What the hell was in the water when Brennan and Perdomo cooked up the ingredients that, stirred in just the right way, made the amazing “Catiebots Don’t Cry” a reality? Because more of that kind of crafting, okay? This gut-wrenching you-love-her-I-love-her-what-are-we-gonna-do-about-it slow-to-mid-tempo burner is a skewed kind of aromatic love song that would have been great had it just been delivered with Brennan singing solo over a gutsy piano track, but with the considered pop and roll stew played out with Perdomo, whose delicious ’70s-styled wah-wah guitar lines are something to behold, and Brennan, whose multi-tracked, three-dimensional vocal harmony stacks are a thing of beauty, it’s something else entirely that dares you and your band to even try to better it. And, I would bet the house on this, you won’t ever.

The equally amazing and spitfire rave-up that is “Shake Away” carries on the rich vocal harmony tradition set by “Catiebots Don’t Cry” in the form of a Motown/Stax-fortified rave-up, and believe me, this thing about getting love right shakes, baby, in a kind of boom-boom way. There’s a whole lot of shaking going on in this pounding number charged with maximum voltage; this thing is practically, deliberately breathless. Speaking of breathless, “A Hard Man to Love” is defiantly so; the grounding, pounding piano pushes the proceedings along until every element gets toppled by the late-song, packed-tight verse that Brennan sings so precise and quick. It outdoes that old Federal Express fast-talking spokesperson, leaving him flat in the dust.

Not every song on Third bristles with quick temperament: “Perish the Thought” is a thoughtful ballad that closes with a clarion a cappella call to arms that will send shivers up and down your spine. And “Bad at Apologies,” a mid-tempo ballad about attraction at all costs (“Another minute without him/I would probably die”), pours buckets of emotion on the flames of obsessive love.

A roller coaster ride through all of life’s travails, Third is an emotional wake up call for all humans negotiating the pathways of their existence. That it pops and rolls like the best works of melodic art is a given. Cait Brennan’s third go-round is astonishing, bold, and seemingly effortless. Captain Obvious, signing out.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Bad at Apologies,” “He Knows Too Much,” “At the End of the World,” “A Hard Man to Love,” “Catiebots Don’t Cry,” “Shake Away,” “The Angels Lie,” and “Perish the Thought”
black box Where to Get It: Amazon, Omnivore Store

bryan estepa rattled and rolledBryan Estepa | “Rattled and Rolled” (2017)
Just 11 days shy of a year ago, we added tracks from Sydney, Australia singer-songwriter Bryan Estepa’s wonderful album, Every Little Thing. He returns to Pure Pop Radio with this fine, melodic track, on which he is joined by ace musician Michael Carpenter; Bryan slings the guitars, Michael slings everything else (he also produced, recorded, mixed & mastered). What stands out most of all are Bryan’s astoundingly assured vocal, always on target; Michael’s humming Hammond organ; and the fact that the proceedings were recorded in just eight hours. Echoing the sensibilities of The New Pornographers, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan, this killer track whets our appetites for more. So, off with you then, Bryan Estepa.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

The Wellingtons End of the Summer front coverThe Wellingtons | End of the Summer (2017)
Today’s second entry from Australia (Melbourne, this time) finds this lively quintet returning to the pop boards with their first album in six years. While the songs are, by and large, a bit too loud for our humble airwaves, four are absolutely perfect. “1963” is a cheery, upbeat, happy-sounding jangly charmer with an intoxicating melody. “She Rides the Bus” is a mid-tempo ballad swirling in Beatlesque ambiance. “So Easy” rides the ABBA waves for a ba-ba-esque celebration of catchy. And the hooky title song would sound good, well, on the radio. So, let’s spin it, shall we?

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “End of the Summer,” “1963,” “So Easy,” and “She Rides the Bus”
black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Bomp Store

kenny herbert i'm comin homeKenny Herbert | “I’m Coming Home” (2017)
One of our favorite singer-songwriters working today, Kenny Herbert continues to write and record wonderful songs that come from the heart. His latest, written and recorded with David Paton (Pilot) and Nobby Clark is a typically pretty tune. Lovely harmonies, a sumptuous melody, and a catchy chorus are in tow. Gorgeous.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: iTunes

pat walsh bygone daysPat Walsh | “Bygone Days” (2017)
Another Pure Pop Radio favorite, Pat Walsh always delights with his wonderfully melodic songs. “Bygone Days” features another carefully modulated vocal, another terrific melody. Another, another and on and on. Beautiful.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: Not currently available. Listen on YouTube

Also added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and currently spinning in rotation:

the outryders - let's live for today The Outryders | “Piangi Con Me (& Live for Today)” (With Joe Algeri and Herb Eimerman) (2017) Bandcamp

lisa mycholsLisa Mychols | “He’s Got Me Dreaming'” and “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes” (2017) (“He’s Got Me Dreaming” CD Baby; “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes” CD Baby)

irene pena Irene Peña | “Shut It Down” (2017) (From Trying Not to Smile) Patreon

radio days i'm in love with you haruka Radio Days | “I’m In Love With You, Haruka” and “Teenage Kicks” (Undertones cover) Bandcamp

the dahlmanns forever my babyThe Dahlmanns | “Forever My Baby” and “The Last Time”
Pop Detective Records

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Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of 2016

favorite records of the year - stars of 2016

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted 01.03.17)

2016 was a terrific year for melodic pop music from both new and heritage artists, perhaps the best in recent memory. My list of 28 Favorite Records of the Year from 27 artists–The Stars of 2016–is presented below in random order.

It has long been my view that ranking entries on best-of-the-year lists is an impossible task, at least for me. If I made such a list on Monday, would the number nine entry still be in that slot on Tuesday? Perhaps not. Sometimes, I fear, agonizing over a particular placement would be akin to splitting hairs and not particularly a worthwhile enterprise. So, I’ll go with I like these a lot instead.

Here are my Favorite Records of the Year–The Stars of 2016–in no specific order. All are more than worthy of your time, and all should be added to your core collection of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe.

And now, on with the show…

The Stars of 2016

bob lind magellanBob Lind | Magellan Was Wrong Pop bard Bob Lind’s latest is a typically heartfelt collection of songs that deliver his always magical one-two punch: emotional lyrics and beautiful melodies, brought to life with stellar arrangements and production, much of it supplied in grand fashion on this album by the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover. Gorgeous soundscapes abound, such as the romantic, catchy “From the Road,” awash with poppy background harmonies from Hoover and perceptive, picturesque lyrics from Lind (“In moments others call mundane/My soul is warming by your flame/Turning just like a sailor to the harbor/And I will carry back my songs and tales/Of calms and gales/And sing and tell them all/To you”), and Lind’s emotional cover of Tom Paxton’s “Bottle of Wine.”

Where to Get It: Amazon

Legal Matters cover conradThe Legal Matters | Conrad With this album, the Legal Matters have set a new standard for vocal harmonies in melodic pop music. Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith are the players, and their human voices are their instruments. The songs are sweetly realized, from the opener “Anything,” not the first track on this album tipping its hat to the much-loved Beach Boys vocal vibe, to the upbeat, single-worthy “Short Term Memory,” which tips its drumsticks to Ringo Starr in a delightful fill and puts forth some top-notch electric guitar playing. To listen to this album is a thrilling experience.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes, CD Universe

the weeklings studio 2The Weeklings | Studio 2 The beat-betrothed, Beatlesque foursome from New Jersey, steeped in the Fab tradition and nom de plumed in the spirit of all that started off holy in Liverpool’s Cavern Club a fair number of years ago, follows up their self-titled long player, affectionately known as Monophonic, with a sterling 12-song set composed of eight superlative originals and four rare John Lennon and Paul McCartney songs not given away to other artists. Recording in Abbey Road’s hallowed Studio 2, where the Beatles made their astounding magic, Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, John Merjave and Joe Bellia, aka Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Smokestack, respectively, make considerable Merseyside hay with delightfully brisk and catchy songs steeped in the effervescent spirit of the Fab Four. A splendid time, to be sure.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon

caper clowns 2Caper Clowns | The Buca Bus Delicious pure pop from Odense, Denmark delights with a dozen beautifully written and performed pearls. Lovely melodies and vocal harmonies are always present, particularly on instant classics such as the should-be-hit-bound earworm “A Tale of Romance and Magnetic Trains” and the gorgeous ballad “Lizard Heart.” Debut of the year? Most certainly.

Where to Get It: iTunes, imusic, Amazon UK (mp3 download)

kenny herbert forever and beyondKenny Herbert | Forever and Beyond A gorgeous, romantic song cycle inspired by Caroline, the love of his life, Forever and Beyond is Herbert’s melodically-charged survey of the power of true love. The 14 songs on offer, encompassing 1930s, 1950s and modern melodic pop vibes, are tremendously affecting, beautifully drawn snapshots of a happy existence. The pretty “Queensferry Girl” and the catchy, McCartney-esque pop song “It’s All Good” shine among a rich collection of gems.

Where to Get It: Kenny’s website, iTunes

TYIFinal2Nick Piunti | Trust Your Instincts Guitars, bass, drums, powerful vocals, and a whole lot of moxie power the pop on Nick’s latest, high-energy collection. These songs make heads turn and hearts embrace its many charms. “One Hit Wonder” is the big, splashy, pure pop hit here, a clear winner on an album full of winners.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes and Bandcamp

gleeson curse my lucky starsGleeson | Curse My Lucky Stars Austin, Texas band Gleeson have made their White Album, a sparkling collection of songs varied in approach and tone that makes a case for melodic pop being the genre of the moment. Encompassing beautiful balladry, art-pop, rock and retro charm, Curse My Lucky Stars is a marvel.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

teddy thompson and kelly jonesTeddy Thompson and Kelly Jones | Little Windows A true, modern classic bathed in retro charm, Little Windows’ rewards are many. There is a decidedly romantic notion at play here, one that slips in and out of hand holding echoes of the Everly Brothers at Cadence, Roy Orbison, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Buck Owens and a thousand other country-pop artists and their golden recordings. These lovely, heartfelt songs, brought to life by two of pop music’s finest vocalists, make up an album that is like a bright lighthouse shining across the sea, drawing you in.

Where to Get It: Teddy Thompson store, Amazon, and iTunes

ray paul whimsicalityRay Paul | Whimsicality Thirty-six years after the release of Ray Paul and RPM’s album Go Time, the artist is once again regaling listeners with enticing tales set to everyone’s favorite power pop beat. A delicious mix of originals and well-chosen covers, such as the Grass Roots’ “Temptation Eyes” and Paul McCartney’s “Oh Woman, Oh Why,” meets wonderfully-realized originals like the dynamic “A Fool Without Your Love” and McCartney-esque “Jeannie.” With Ray’s gorgeous melodies and strong vocals out front, this is a treat from first note to last.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

myrtle park's fishing coverMyrtle Park’s Fishing Club | Benches A monumentally towering testament to melodic and harmonic excellence, Benches is a delight from start to finish. There is nothing quite like Kate Stephenson’s take on melodic pop music, just as there is nothing like her soaring imagination, and her ability to express all manner of emotion and make the listener feel. Working in concert with musical partner John Steel, Kate delivers wondrous songs (and three-dimensional vocal harmony stacks) like “Somebody Called Me an Onion,” a smile-inducing, upbeat, energetic pop number with faux-reggae shadings about peeling back the layers to reveal the full, human package of emotion; and the a cappella wonder “Silent Letter,” a tune about inner beauty and the sanctity of thought that doesn’t always have to be laid bare. For those of you keeping score, this is the second Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club album to wear our Favorite Records of the Year mantle. As it should be.

Where to Get It: Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club’s website, Amazon, and iTunes

the nines alejandro's visionsThe Nines | Alejandro’s Visions Rolling and then filtering the influence of the music of writers such as George Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart into a mix peppered with the harmony styles of the Beach Boys, the Four Freshmen and even doo-wop, and then topping the resulting flow with his love of artists such as the Electric Light Orchestra and XTC, Steve Eggers has delivered a harmony- and melody-drenched soundtrack to an imaginary film, somewhat of a sequel to the last Nines album, Night Surfer and the Cassette Kids. Standout tracks include the beautiful, bittersweet, old-fashioned “When Our Love Was in Bloom,” stacked deep with gorgeous harmonies and an irresistible melody; and the early rock and roll/pop hybrid “Operator (Coming Home to You),” which sports a meaty, catchy, percussive piano riff, opens with an aural allusion to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and lays out a delectable Jeff Lynne-ish bridge that will make you smile. Alejandro’s Visions is Eggers’ best and most assured work yet, an immensely satisfying collection that belongs in every melodic pop music fan’s collection.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, CD Baby, and Amazon (mp3)

seth swirsky new album coverSeth Swirsky | Circles and Squares Proving that a creative, heartfelt approach to making music will yield magic almost every time, Seth Swirsky has crafted a collection of songs that draws on all of his strengths, and perhaps incorporates a couple of new ones. Moreover, these songs reveal the truth about all of our lives, right from the first track, “Shine,” his statement of purpose, the one that sets the stage for what comes next. And what comes next is winner after winner, such as the lovely confessional and autobiographical “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You),” in which the narrator allows that life means nothing at all without the proverbial “one”: “I’ve got some baseballs/That are pretty rare/Got a swimming pool/And a fast car/But I don’t care/’Cause I don’t have anything if I don’t have you…I’ve got gold records/Hanging on my wall/But without your love/Baby you can have ’em all…” This 16 song collection is the latest expression of craft from one of pop music’s most important artists.

Where to Get It: seth.comKool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

lucy wainwright roche and suzzy roches mud and applesLucy Wainwright Roche and Suzzy Roche | Mud and Apples A sparkling duo release from Suzzy Roche and her daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche. Warm harmonies, clever songwriting and the inclusion of beautifully-sung covers such as Paul Simon’s “Bleecker Street” and the Cascades’ “Rhythm of the Rain” push this 11 track masterpiece into hall-of-fame territory. Roches fans will be charmed, and so will everyone else. Surely one of this year’s top expressions of musical joy.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the monkees good timesThe Monkees | Good Times! Good Times! is a classic-sounding Monkees album that happens to have been released 50 years after Monkeemania began. A mix of recordings based on sessions produced during the group’s heyday and new songs written by top-flight, current songwriters of note, this is a fun listen from start to finish. A shining example of how good this album is: The perky, catchy “You Bring the Summer,” written by XTC’s Andy Partridge, fulfilling a childhood dream. A great album.

Where to Get It: Amazon and iTunes

mimi bettinis music soundsmimi betinis basement tapesMimi Betinis | Music Sounds and Basement Tapes Vol. 1 Pezband’s Betinis scores with two sterling releases in 2016 that are really two sides of a rather entertaining coin, so they both rate a spot in this Stars of 2016 feature. Music Sounds is a vivid, quite alive offering of melodic treasures. Its songs are wonderfully realized pop confections that hit the hooky bullseye, like “She Wants You,” which surreptitiously recalls the famed intro to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” in the intro, and “Summer Love,” a warm love letter and look back to a seasonal romance (that, perhaps unknowingly, taps the sound of 10cc member Eric Stewart’s guitar playing in the solo).

Basement Tapes Vol. 1 collects tracks that Mimi has been working on over the years, like “Ray of Light,” a melodic sweetness that sounds like an Andy Partridge outtake off of XTC’s Nonsuch album, and simply lovely covers (Paul McCartney’s song for Mary Hopkin, “Goodbye,” and the Hudson Brothers’ “So You Are a Star” are glorious). Saying that some heritage artists are only getting better as time passes by can sound like rather an empty assertion, but my, how that phrase does indeed fit snug as a bug, listening to Music Sounds and Basement Tapes Vol. 1.

Where to Get Them: Pop Music Sounds and CD Baby

winterpills love songsWinterpills | Love Songs The numbers on Winterpills’ seventh album get under your skin; they become you in some celestial kind of way. The vocals of songwriter Philip Price and his wife, guitarist and keyboard player Flora Reed, are the collective glue that holds these proceedings together–the glue that gives them life. Consider “Wanderer White,” a rolling, rhythmic song about a fall from grace, in which Philip takes the lower notes and Flora the higher ones, and “Freeze Your Light,” which starts off as if in a church with a slight, ghostly choral singsong and becomes a folk-into-pop number with a delectable chorus buoyed by the same low-and-high vocals. The poppy bopper and should-be-hit-bound “Celia Johnson” turns the tables with Philip initially taking the high vocal part and Flora following closely. A trumpet and coronet serenade add to the song’s beauty; a lovely, echoed piano part comes in for a beautiful coda. A real treat.

Where to Get It: Winterpills’ web store and iTunes

butch youngButch Young | Mercury Man Butch Young’s miraculous, hall-of-fame-worthy album is a modern classic by way of its dazzling array of 1970s-styled instant classic songs, peppered with a mix of Paul McCartney and Harry Nilsson-esque magic. Every one of these Los Angeles-based artist’s songs is a clear winner, like the title track, “Persephone,” “One Foot In,” and “The Fools of May.” Awesome.

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

the dowling poole one hyde parkThe Dowling Poole | One Hyde Park One Hyde Park, the sterling follow-up to the Dowling Poole’s Bleak Strategies, is a virtual tour de force and, if that weren’t enough, it’s an album influenced by sounds from across the pop landscape that doesn’t actually sound like its influences. Witness “Vox Pops,” which incorporates a very Partridge Family-sounding keyboard line and a very Brian May-sounding guitar solo; “Hope and Glory,” an upbeat pop song; and “Bring Back the Glow,” a smooth, rolling ’70s number. Joy from across the pond.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, and iTunes

chris murphy and michael carpenter real love sleeveChris Murphy with Michael Carpenter | “Real Love” This absolutely gorgeous ballad recasting of John Lennon’s song is one of this year’s major triumphs in melodic pop music. For this rendition, the tempo has been slowed, allowing Murphy to lovingly communicate the depth of the emotional lyric. Murphy’s vocal may well be the best vocal performance of the year. His ability to hold a melody line’s final note in such an artful way, to sustain its resonance and maximize its impact on the listener, is something to behold. Recorded with precision and heart by Carpenter on the occasion of singer Kylie Whitney’s wedding (Whitney also sang background vocals), this new version of this wonderful song is proof positive that covers can reveal new layers of emotion not previously brought to the surface.

Where to Get It: iTunes and CD Baby

emitt rhodes rainbows endEmitt Rhodes | Rainbow Ends Forty-three years after his third album, Farewell to Paradise, was released, this new collection surfaces to critical and listener acclaim, and rightly so. Here are songs that feature all of the Rhodes hallmarks: beautiful, catchy melodies; inventive chord changes; and those velvety, smooth, sturdy and emotive vocals. Perhaps this is no more evident than on the emotional ballad “I Can’t Tell My Heart.” Somewhat reminiscent of Mirror‘s “Love Will Stone You,” this is a showcase for Emitt’s committed, vocal delivery; the gorgeous melody and emotional lyrics combine to sketch the breakup of a relationship and a considered plea for the other party to embrace the option to heal. A wonderful surprise and an instant classic. Welcome back to a truly special artist.

Where to Get It: Amazon and iTunes

daisy house western manDaisy House | Western Man Doug Hammond and his daughter Tatiana’s album for the ages features golden harmonies and great songs that will 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 tune, “Western Man.” Best news of all: a new album is soon to be released. Happy new year, indeed.
Where to Get It: Bandcamp

brain circus use this jpeg instead of the other oneBrain Circus | Brain Circus This smashing collection of impossible-to-resist songs performed in grand style by ace songwriter and keyboard wizard Brian Curtis, late of the much-loved band the Oohs, serves up 13 numbers in all, performed entirely by this transplanted Virginian. The majestic, heartfelt love song “Finally Found the One,” a musical sculpture formed with smiles and tears and a whole lot of heart, is but one highlight. You’ll detect essence of the Beach Boys, Jellyfish and Queen, among other classic touchstones, but this is all Curtis and don’t you forget it.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the flat fiveThe Flat Five | It’s a World of Love and Hope This Chicago-based band of harmony-hounds deserves supergroup status, thanks to the members’ affiliation with artists such as Neko Case, NRBQ and the New Pornographers. Welcome a deliciously wondrous assortment of luscious pop dressed in a variety of comfortable musical clothing that runs the gamut from the Manhattan Transfer-meets-hep cat vibe of the delightful “Buglight” to the Paul McCartney retro-sway of “I Could Fall in Love with You” and the pretty back porch balladry of the Roches-like “Bottom Buck.” Pretty special all the way through.

Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp

bent van looy pyjama daysBent Van Looy | Pyjama Days Based in Paris, France and a member of the band Das Pop, Bent Van Looy’s 2016 release is a lovely, pure poppy collection of sweet-sounding catchy melodies sung with assured style, like the upbeat pop number “My Escape,” beautifully arranged with little Beach Boys vocal flourishes weaved in; “Mr. Fletcher’s Song,” a melodic mid-tempo ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Randy Newman album, and the sumptuous title track, a three-minute genius construct, nicely orchestrated and adorned with a smile-inducing whistle. Pop on.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the junipers red bouquet fairThe Junipers | Red Bouquet Fair This charming collection from the Leicester, United Kingdom band recalls the sweet sunshine pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s in such lovely songs as “Summer Queen” and “Like a Merry-Go-Round.” Red Bouquet Fair is no less than the audio equivalent of smiling at your good fortune on a warm day in the park while sipping cool lemonade (the effect is equally transcendent wherever else you may be). The vocals are enchanting and the instrumentation is perfectly played. Lovely.

Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp

tommy and the rocketsTommy and the Rockets | Beer and Fun and Rock ‘n’ Roll This ace project, featuring 10 pop-rockers, co-written, except for one, by super criminal defense attorney Michael Chaney and Thomas “Tommy” Stubgaard, who plays all of the guitars, bass, and provides handclaps, shake the house, as it were. Check out the catchy, Beach Boys-influenced sunshine anthem “Here Comes Summer,” and a couple of  energetic Ramones nods, “Silly Teenage Love” and “You Want Me (But I Don’t Want You)”). Cheery, toe-tapping fun.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and CD Baby

explorers clubThe Explorers Club | Together This collection of songs imbued with the spirit of the best of the Beach Boys, the Four Freshman, the Association and other time-honored practitioners of the art is one of the sweetest offerings of the year. Here are songs that are beautiful and beautifully sung, lovely and lovelier still, from Jason Brewer, Wyatt Funderburk, Paul Runyon,  Kyle Polk and Mike Williamson. From the southern California harmony- and sun-soaked sound of “California’s Callin’ Ya” to the Four Freshmen-meets-“Graduation Day”-by-way-of-Les Paul ballad “Perfect Day,” Together invites listeners to bathe in the beauty of harmony-filled dreams.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

The Road Ahead

Harmony-filled dreams… Ah, as ever, they feel so right. With 2016 now in our collective rearview mirror, it is time to look ahead into what is just around the corner. Your favorite artists, and those new to the melodic pop scene, are itching to get going…to release their latest creations, crafted with a mix of melody, harmony, and keen performance.

Already, I have heard a few upcoming albums that I predict will knock your socks off. Nick Bertling, who records under the name Bertling Noise Laboratories, has been making a name for himself with a few rather extraordinary platters; the Lab’s latest, releasing later this month, is a covers collection called, in a nod to the great Harry Nilsson, A Little Touch of Bertling in the Night. This is a sweet mélange of favorite songs from yesterday, filtered through today’s singular sensibilities. It is uniquely Bertling, and you’re going to love it.

Dana Countryman, of whom much has been said throughout these pages, all of it sweeping-me-off-my-feet good, is about to release in 10 days, through Australia’s Teensville Records, his passion project, a tribute to the 1960s girl group and Brill Building sounds that continue to bring joy to ears around the world. Dana Countryman’s Girlville!: New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits will transport you back to a much simpler time, perhaps, when melody and joy were king. Lisa Mychols, Swan Dive’s Molly Felder, and Lisa Jenio are just three of the vocalists that help to bring Dana’s vision to life on an album that you will hug tightly. Look for Dana to appear on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation soon to talk about this landmark release.

Bill DeMain, whose solo music and treasured albums with Molly Felder as Swan Dive will always have a place here on Pure Pop Radio, has a new record that will soon be released. After hearing and playing on the air a bonus track from Beans, a lovely arrangement of the Beach Boys’ “Wendy,” we hope the release date comes very soon.

The Word is Love

“Spread the word,” the Beatles sang back in 1965. They were talking about love, not melodic pop music written and recorded in the 2010s, but they might as well have been looking forward, as should we all.

In 2017, we look forward to bringing you more of the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. We’re on the job 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A click of any of the Listen links that follow will connect you with our stream. Spread the word about Pure Pop Radio, if you will and, if you haven’t already, please click the Follow button on the homepage of this very website to ensure that you will be notified by email every time we make a post.

Thanks for reading our list of our Favorite Records of the Year: The Stars of 2016. Add them all to your collection; your ears will thank you, as will I.

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New on Pure Pop Radio 8.31.16

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Spins and Reviews | 8.31.16 | by Alan Haber

We’re playing these, and many thousands more, in rotation…

ryan allen and his extra arms basement punkRyan Allen and His Extra Arms | Basement Punk For his third album as the multi-instrumentalist with more upper limbs than a normal person would know what to do with, Ryan Allen rolls through eleven supercharged sides, plucking at guitar and bass strings, covering the circumference of keyboards, and bashing the bejeezus out of drum parts. In other words, it’s another exciting showcase for the amazing Mr. Allen, who is featured prominently on Nick Piunti’s new album. This album, out September 30, takes charge with strong melodies and ace playing and never lets up. “Gimmie Some More” kicks out a popped-up jam with lots of guitars and a sweet riff; “People Factory” is equally strong, and “Everything (In Moderation)” is a mid-tempo, melodic gem that closes out the proceedings. Mixed and mastered by Pure Pop Radio favorite Andy Reed, this one’s what we used to, and still do, call a keeper.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Chasing a Song,” “Mal n’ Ange,” “Gimme Sum More,” “People Factory,” “Gorgeous with Guitars,” and “Everything (In Moderation).”
black box When and Where to Get It: September 30 at Kool Kat Musik and Bandcamp.

vegas with randolph free your soulVegas With Randolph | “Free Your Soul” Our favorite Washington, D.C.-area popsters ramp up the electric guitars for a balls-to-the-wall rocker driven by runaway drums, plucking bass and the usual catchy melody. This tale of giving into the positive side of the eternal equation (“Sometimes it’s best to just let go/So free your soul”) will most certainly get you out of bed in the morning. Another VWR winner.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp.

kenny herbert 3 bridgesKenny Herbert | “3 Bridges Queensferry Crossing” This typically lovely song from Kenny Herbert, about the three Forth bridges in Scotland, is a hearty tale and well worth reading about (click here for the full story). “3 Bridges Queensferry Crossing” celebrates the bridges, and as Kenny says, “the people who built it and the new Queensferry Crossing which is opening May 2017.” The song’s cover illustration depicts Kenny’s wife’s grandfather David Rendall who, Kenny points out, “worked on the Forth Rail Bridge for 30 years as the bridge carpenter until 1969. Davie’s father Thomas Rendall also worked on the bridge from 1903; he was a painter and lamplighter.” A little history and a lot of melody make for a heartwarming experience.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box Where to Get It: iTunes.

poppermost kelly green sundayPoppermost | “Kelly Green Sunday” The first new song from Alex Oliver, Roy Rendahl and Debbie Sanchez in two years is a welcome treat, an acoustic melding of southern California and uptempo folk influences emanating a kind of warm hootenanny atmosphere and sending out a message of old-fashioned love (“Oh Kelly Green, every time you think of me/Please keep Sunday just for you and me”). Joyous.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp.

orbis maxOrbis Max | “Lonely,” “I Call Your Name,” “All of Me,” and songs from Orbis Max and Friends Beginning their shared trek playing covers back in 1973 in Poway, California, the group’s various members have connected in the here and now via the Internet to record their own songs. New members Dennis George, Rod Bennett and Bruce Walker have joined original Maxers such as Craig Carlstrom and Don Baake to release Orbix Max and Friends, a vibrant collection of catchy numbers like the upbeat, poppy “You May be the One” and “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over.” The group’s latest song, not on the album, is “Lonely,” a horn-infused Stax-meets-Motown soul-pop slice of joy. Two other songs, also not on Orbix Max and Friends, are choice covers of the Beatles’ “I Call Your Name,” and the old jazz standard “All of Me.” Fun stuff.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: From Orbis Max and Friends: “Standing Next to You,” “You May be the One,” “Glad She Found Me,” “Without You,” “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over,” and “Start All Over Again.” Tracks not on the album: “I Call Your Name” and “All of Me.”
black box Where to Get It: CD Baby and iTunes.

More to come tomorrow.

alan-mic-zeeAlan 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 Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, 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.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

John Woloschuk and Kenny Herbert In Conversation Interviews Now Available for Listening and Downloading

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on PodOMatic!

Last week’s interviews with Klaatu’s John Woloschuk and singer-songwriter Kenny Herbert on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation are now available for listening and downloading on our PodOmatic podcast page.

kenny herbert 2kenny herbert forever and beyondKenny Herbert, one of our most favorite singer-songwriters, spoke to Alan Haber last Monday night about his phenomenal concept album, Forever and Beyond, a gorgeous, romantic song cycle inspired by Caroline, the love of his life. The Edinburgh, Scotland native talks about Forever and Beyond’s origins, the involvement of Pilot’s David Paton, and offers up a tour of his musical life. You won’t be surprised to find that the Beatles figure rather prominently in his thinking.

john woloschuk with bassKlaatu’s John Woloschuk returned to Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation last Tuesday night to talk about and play some of his favorite pop songs from years gone by. This is a rare chance to hear what one of pop music’s greatest songwriters and performers thinks about such songs as the Hollies’ “Bus Stop,” the Kinks’ “A Well Respected Man,” Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and a pair of Beatles classics. John played 14 songs in all; you won’t want to miss a revolution of this classic interview.

Spotify playlists are included with each interview, so you can hear the tunes discussed.

Head on over to Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation’s PodOmatic podcast page to listen to and download Alan’s extensive, in-depth interviews with Klaatu’s John Woloschuk and singer-songwriter Kenny Herbert. You’ll love both of them.

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere melodic pop interview program hosted by Alan Haber, airs Tuesday nights at 8 pm ET. Archived, podcast versions of interviews are posted on the In Conversation PodOmatic podcast page; click here to listen to other shows previously broadcast on Pure Pop Radio.

alan-mic-zeeAlan 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 Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, 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.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

Looking for New Music? You’ve Come to the Right Place!

alan-mic-zWe’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Our most favorite thing in the world is to take receipt of music from both new and heritage melodic pop artists, spin it, and add it to our ever-growing playlist. Every day is akin to unwrapping presents; the treasures contained within these virtual packages are sweet gifts that we’re thrilled to be able to pass on to you.

Here are five of the latest groovy additions to our playlist, now playing in rotation (more new adds posts coming next week):

vanilla on a night like thisVanilla | “On a Night Like This” Jayson Jarmon’s ace outfit is once again releasing one song a month on the way toward completing their next album, this time around mystically titled Mystik Nights of Takoma, a moniker that conjures up images of a bunch of lodge brothers and their bartenders, all decked out in bright red smocks and fezzes, gathered around a glowing, weathered oak table late into the night, imbibing and chewing the fat and bottomless tubs of Turkish Taffy until last call or the inevitable call home that starts with “Um, can I get a ride?”

vanilla mystik nights of tacomaBut first things first. The bouncy “On a Night Like This,” a typically catchy Vanilla number about a guy whose words can’t be trusted when the bubbly is flowing his way, is sung with smooth pop finesse by Tube Top’s Gavin Guss, who is ably supported by Jayson, who wrote the song and slings a sweet acoustic guitar and nifty solos over his shoulder; Sean Gaffney, who plays electric guitars, bass, and sings backing vocals; Dana Sims, who mans the drums; and Eric Robert, who makes the Hammond B3 sing. What a melody! What a song!

Our love for Jayson’s writing and Vanilla-esque execution knows no bounds, so we’re confident that, even if Mystik Knights of Takoma doesn’t contain a sequel to the much-loved “Monkeypox!,” which has been adopted as the Pure Pop Radio clubhouse’s call-to-arms Kumbaya song, it will rank high in esteem whichever way the wind blows.

Stay tuned for a special Vanilla contest coming next week to this space. In the meantime, don’t listen to this superb number without your fez on, oh no!

stepford knivesStepford Knives | “I Don’t Want Her (Anymore)” Jamie Hoover’s latest project, with Otis Hughes, is the wonderfully-named Stepford Knives, which may or may not call to mind an image of sharp tools exhibiting zero emotion that still manage to live on the cutting edge. These Stepford Knives, however, are full of emotion and pop goodness, delivering a powerful take on a great song from the late David Enloe, guitarist for the Woods.

This insanely catchy, hook-filled song explodes with fireworks-powered percussion, lots of gutsy guitars, a strong melody, and in-your-face vocals. Mastered to impress (and boy does it!) by Dave Harris, the song’s quite-alive psychedelic light show-powered video, created by Phillip D’Angelo, is an essential component of the complete Stepford Knives package (see it here).

Bravo, Messrs. Hoover and Hughes, and don’t let too many days flutter away before your next wonderful creation hits our ears!

erik voeks 6-1 singleErik Voeks | “Being in Love With You” and “She Was Doomed” Just released and already reaching top-flight status here at Pure Pop Radio, this classic-sounding one-two pop punch continues Erik’s run of great new songs. “Being in Love With You,” about a relationship at odds with itself, starts out as a tender  ballad and quickly becomes a power pop number with teeth, and a great, hooky melody.

“She Was Doomed” is an uptempo raver powered by another great melody; guitars, guitars, guitars; delicious vocal harmonies, and a pounding drum turn.  Co-producer Patrick Hawley played the drums and percussion, and Cameron Hawk sang background vocals on “Being in Love With You.” Credit Erik with everything else. Another terrific release from one of Pure Pop Radio’s favorite artists.

kenny herbert woodstockKenny Herbert | “3 Days of Summer (Woodstock ’69)” Hot on the heels of the release of his wonderful new album, the romantic song cycle Forever and Beyond, Kenny Herbert returns with a rocking, sentimental look at the magic of Woodstock. Cleverly inserting Crosby, Stills and Nash harmony bits that also echo Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” amidst the lyrical look back at a very different and well-remembered time, Kenny sings about the historic festival and the devoted music fans who endured three days of mud and rain and peace and harmony and came together as one.

“They danced to all their heroes, making rock ‘n’ roll history,” Kenny sings with heartfelt emotion. Guitarist Rab Howat, bassist Roy Martin, and drummer Martin Wykes bash out this terrific tune; Rab and Nobby Clark sing the backgrounds. David Valentine, from the band RAF, produced to great effect. A wonderful song from one of our favorite music men.

the monkees good timesThe Monkees | Good Times! We just reviewed this fantastic release by Micky, Mike, Davy and Peter (read Alan’s take here). We’re now playing all of the tracks on this glorious album in rotation: “Birth of an Accidental Hipster,” “Good Times,” “Gotta Give it Time,” “I Know What I Know,” “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time),” “Wasn’t Born to Follow,” “Little Girl,” “Love to Love,” “Me and Magdalena,” “Our Own World,” “She Makes Me Laugh,” “Whatever’s Right,” “You Bring the Summer,” and two bonus songs available as part of the iTunes version of this album: “Terrifying” and “Me and Magdalena (Version 2).” Absolutely wonderful.

alan-mic-zeeAlan 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 Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, 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.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

Big Week Ahead for Pure Pop Radio’s Specialty Shows

alan-mic-zPure Pop Radio’s got you covered this week; our specialty shows are sizzling with melodic pop power! What’s in store? We’ve got two major Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation shows, a classic spin of treasured vinyl on Brian Bringelson’s Needle Meets Vinyl, and a hot-button edition of the Beatles roundtable, Things We Said Today.

kenny herbert forever and beyondkenny herbert 2Tonight at 8 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, Scottish popster Kenny Herbert stops by to talk about his phenomenal concept album, Forever and Beyond, a gorgeous, romantic song cycle inspired by Caroline, the love of Kenny’s life. The 14 songs on offer, encompassing 1950s, 1930s and modern melodic pop vibes, are tremendously affecting, beautifully drawn snapshots of a happy existence.

The Edinburgh, Scotland native talks to Alan Haber about Forever and Beyond’s origins, the involvement of Pilot’s David Paton, and offers up a tour of his musical life. You won’t be surprised to find that the Beatles figure rather prominently in his thinking. Tune in at 8 p ET tonight, and prepare to be charmed.

john woloschuk with bassTomorrow night at 8 pm ET, round two of this week’s Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation twofer rolls out with a return appearance by Klaatu’s John Woloschuk, who sits behind the Pure Pop Radio microphones to talk about and play some of his favorite pop songs from years gone by. This is a rare chance to hear what one of pop music’s greatest songwriters and performers thinks about such songs as the Hollies’ “Bus Stop,” the Kinks’ “A Well Respected Man,” Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and a pair of Beatles classics. John spins 14 songs in all; you won’t want to miss a revolution!

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere melodic pop interview program hosted by Alan Haber, airs Tuesday nights at 8 pm ET. Archived, podcast versions of interviews are posted on the In Conversation PodOmatic podcast page; click here to listen to shows previously broadcast on Pure Pop Radio.

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needle meets vinyl

brian bringelson

Brian Bringelson mans the turntables on this week’s classic edition of Needle Meets Vinyl, during which all of the music is played from 12-inch slabs of wax. You’ll hear sumptuous musical specimens from Harry Nilsson, Ricky Nelson, Lindsey Buckingham, Joan Baez, the Beach Boys and, of course, the Beatles. This is a Christmas show, recorded last December; we think it’s a perfect aural antidote to the increasingly warm temperatures we’ve been enduring rather gamely these past few weeks! Tune in this Wednesday night at 8 pm ET and dig the sounds.

Needle Meets Vinyl is the weekly show during which all songs are played from vinyl records. The music spans the decades during which popular music has flourished. Curated and presented by Brian Bringelson, a member of the band Anchor and Bear and a solo artist under the name Paul Starling, the show airs every Wednesday night at 8 pm ET.

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the-beatles-things-we-said-todayWrapping up this week’s run of Pure Pop Radio specialty shows, our panel of Beatles experts–Ken Michaels, Steve Marinucci, Al Sussman and Allan Kozinn–juggles a trio of timely topics on an all-new Things We Said Today this Thursday night at 8 pm ET. The learned quartet discusses the interplay of influences between the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan; the in-depth discussion, available online, about all things Fab with author Mark Lewisohn and TV personality and talk show host Conan O’Brien; and Philip Norman’s book Paul McCartney: The Life. The book is viewed by Ken and his cohorts as a mixed bag as far as quality is concerned; this is sure to be a controversial program.

Things We Said Today is the weekly survey of all things Beatles that’s hosted by a quartet of Beatles experts–today’s Fab Four, if you will. Ken Michaels, host of Every Little Thing, is joined by Beatlefan Executive Editor Al Sussman, Steve Marinucci (Beatles Examiner), and Allan Kozinn, longtime music critic. Things We Said Today airs every Thursday night at 8 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio.

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Set your alarm clocks and digital date books for 8 pm ET tonight through Thursday so you don’t miss a moment of this week’s spate of specialty programming. Pure Pop Radio has your evenings covered!

alan-mic-zeeAlan 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 Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, 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.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

Scotland Meets Canada Next Week on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

alan-mic-zThe first of two weeks of brand-new Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation twofers pairs a melodic pop master from Scotland with a classic popster from Canada for a fun ride full of great talk and wonderful music. It all begins next Monday night at 8 pm ET with an hour-long talk with Pure Pop Radio favorite Kenny Herbert.

kenny herbert forever and beyondKenny’s new album, Forever and Beyond, is a gorgeous, romantic song cycle inspired by Caroline, the love of Kenny’s life. The 14 songs on offer, encompassing 1950s, 1930s and modern melodic pop vibes, are tremendously affecting, beautifully drawn snapshots of a happy existence. The Edinburgh, Scotland native talks to Alan Haber about the album’s origins, the involvement of Pilot’s David Paton, and offers up a tour of his musical life. You won’t be surprised to find that the Beatles figure rather prominently in his thinking.

kenny-herbertWe’ve been besotted with Kenny’s music for some time now; we’re thrilled to have him as a guest on In Conversation, kicking off this special two-week run of twofer broadcasts. Tune in next Monday, May 30, at 8 pm ET and prepare to be thoroughly charmed.

john woloschuk with bassThe following night–next Tuesday, May 31, at 8 pm ET–Klaatu’s John Woloschuk returns to Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation to talk to Alan about 14 of his favorite pop songs from years gone by. John is a virtual encyclopedia of pop music, armed with facts and figures and love for some of the greatest songs of the pop era.

hollies bus stopJoin John as he spins the Hollies’ “Bus Stop,” the Kinks’ “A Well Respected Man,” Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” a pair of Beatles classics, and a whole lot more. You won’t want to miss this two-hour explosion of pop history with this amazing songwriter and performer, whose songs “Sub Rosa Subway” and “Hope” are only two of the classic numbers of his that are adored by fans around the world.

kenny herbert 2john woloschuck 2So: Kenny Herbert sits behind the microphone on the first of two Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation episodes next Monday night, May 30, at 8 pm ET, and Klaatu’s John Woloschuk spins the hits, and talks about them, next Tuesday night, May 31, at 8 pm ET. Not a bad start to your musical week!

But that’s not all! Mark your calendars for June 6 and 7, when another In Conversation twofer puts the spotlight on a long-standing pop music maven and one of our favorite singer-songwriters, who is currently crafting his next release.

See you on the radio!

alan-mic-zPure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere melodic pop interview program hosted by Alan Haber, airs Tuesday nights at 8 pm ET. Archived, podcast versions of interviews are posted on the In Conversation PodOmatic podcast page; click here to listen to shows previously broadcast on Pure Pop Radio.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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