Reviews: 3.13.19: Wes Hollywood’s Dynamite, and Yorick van Norden’s Melody-Rich The Jester Sings

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Wes Hollywood | Dynamite (Kool Kat, 2019)

From Chicago to your town, Wes Hollywood’s Kool Kat CD debut hits the ground running with a fun, zippy mix of tunes saluting the sounds of early Elvis Costello, Dave Edmunds, and sixties British Invasion bands. Two guitars, bass and drums rule here.

From track to track, all relatively short, you never know where you’re going to land even as guitars are the primary ingredient. “Dirty Manhattan” is loud, speedy, and in-your-face; “Nothing to See Here” is an uptempo number with a melodic bass line; “Evelyn” is pure, early Elvis C., with a surprising blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quiet bridge–just Wes and guitar–towards the end.

Wes Hollywood

Hollywood ups the ante with songs like “Fall Up a Ladder,” a mid-paced ballad that manages to reference the Kinks and Squeeze and slip in a waltz tempo that increases in intensity with a minute to go. “Dandelion” sounds for all the world like a mix of early Elvis Costello and British Invasion moxie. But it’s the straight-ahead pure pop of the closer (with a Stiff Records cold ending), “No One Loves You,” that neatly pleases this reviewer’s heart the most. It’s a catchy two-and-a-half minute earworm, for sure.

Wes Hollywood’s Dynamite, brought to life by Wes (guitar and vocals), guitarist Pete Javier, bassist Spencer Matern, and drummer and vocalist Tom Shover, is pure dynamite.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik

Yorick van Norden | The Jester (Excelsior, 2018)

Yorick van Norden’s miraculous album is a strong gathering of melody-rich songs crafted with care by a songwriter who possesses a keen sense of melodic structure.

Hailing from the Netherlands, van Norden is clearly influenced by some of the top melodic stylists of the rock and pop eras. This sophomore release (his debut, Happy Hunting Ground, came out in 2015) makes a strong statement, and is proof positive that melody continues to be king.

The Jester’s opener, the psych-drenched “The Forest of the Mind,” echoes the sensibilities exhibited in similar-sounding work by XTC and the Big Dish. The jaunty, jangly “Another Day in London Town” and “More than Words” sound as if they could have been plucked from the fertile song wells of any number of 1960s British Invasion stars. Yet, they are uniquely van Norden.

Van Norden’s ballads are as inviting as his more upbeat numbers. “Suite No. 1,” a gorgeous, orchestrated flight of fancy, is a pure pop masterwork, a very affecting, enlightened construct. “Winter,” with its Four Freshmen-like harmonies and Beach Boys and Association sensibilities, is a waking dream of a tune, an instant classic. And “Light Up Love,” which sounds like a close cousin of Paul McCartney’s “Put It There,” marries lovely harmonies with a strong melody and a plucking bass-as-percussion bottom.

The shining light that closes van Norden’s sophomore journey, “Suite No. 2,” is a seven-and-a-half minute coming together of song sections clearly influenced by classic, melodically-centered artists such as Harry Nilsson, Emitt Rhodes, and the aforementioned McCartney. It is a stunning offering that closes with a softened instrumental explosion of themes and feeling, one that paints the soundfield with traditional pop and rock instrumentation, orchestration and heart.

With melody as its heart, Van Norden’s The Jester is a shining example of the best that melodic pop has to offer.

Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.

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

Reviews | 10.30.18: Everet Almond’s Triple Pop Play on CD

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Everet Almond | An Introduction to Everet Almond (Kool Kat Musik, 2018)

Everet Almond | Windsor Field (Kool Kat Musik, 2018)
Everet Almond | Everet Almond (Kool Kat Musik, 2018)

everet almond drums from fb pageWhat I know about Everet Almond I could fit literally on the head of a pin and still have room left for a whole lot more; he’s played drums and percussion with Bryan Scary in Evil Arrows and self-released a number of download-only EPs under the Almond name and as Windsor Field.

What I also know is that this tuneful body of work, very much in the melodic pop style, is now receiving a welcome release on a series of three first time CDs from Ray Gianchetti’s Kool Kat Musik. And now I know even more about this superlative one-man-band, which will certainly leave a little less room on the aforementioned pin. (I also know that it would hardly be out of line to dub the do-it-all Almond the Emitt Rhodes of the 2010s.)

The three releases in Kool Kat’s series shine with weighty slices of melodic pop that more than deserve a place in music collections defined by memorable melody. Let’s take a look at them.

An Introduction to Everet Almond
everet almond - an introduction to coverThe first Kool Kat collection, titled An Introduction to Everet Almond, collects the artist’s first three EPs, originally recorded and released digitally from January 2015 to February 2018: Four Track(s), Left of Center, and Everet Almond Three.

The 14 songs on An Introduction to Everet Almond chart the start of Almond’s musical path, which begins perhaps tentatively as the artist tests the waters before him and ends with more assuredness and a tighter lock on his creative tools. From the early, lo-fi, poppy “Are You a Man” to the uptempo, soulful belter “NYC,” replete with punctuating horns and background vocals, this is the sound of Almond moving quickly ahead, sounding in gear and on target.

Windsor Field
everet almond - windsor field coverBefore adopting the Everet Almond moniker, Almond recorded as Windsor Field; these tracks, now released on Kool Kat as being by Almond in a collection called Windsor Field, catapult the artist’s sound into the pop stratosphere. They are full-fidelity recordings of assured compositions performed with a boatload of gusto.

A trio of Windsor Field’s numbers pretty much define the state of Almond as Field: the upbeat, piano-based, perky “Cry” is an infectious, catchy gem with attractive harmonies; the lovely, folk-pop “Come Home” jumps along atop a plunky bass line and a sweet melody; and the Cars-like “To Your Head” hits with clever background vocal bursts and another enticing melody.

Everet Almond
everet almond - everet almond coverAlmond’s full-length, self-titled collection, the third in Kool Kat’s series and the first release recorded as a full-length, is a joyous listen from start to finish; ears will perk up to the catchy pure popper “I Love You,” courting a delicious melody and joyous harmonies, and, by contrast, the upbeat, guitar-based, harmony-laden pop-rocker “Don’t You Need Me?”. The ultra-poppy “Beautiful Neighbor” boasts all of Almond’s strengths, not the least of which is the song’s rich harmony component and a particularly clever, pumping piano part.

So now I, and you, know a whole lot about Everet Almond. You, and I, are witness to a wealth of wonderful, melodic pop music crafted by a most talented artist. Get listening and singing along, won’t you?

black box Where to Get It: All at Kool Kat Musik’s Online Pop Catalog Store: An Introduction to Everet Almond, Windsor Field, and Everet Almond (self-titled latest release)

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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. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream, which ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018, succeeded the weekly Pure Pop Radio show, which began in 1995. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Still Whimsical After All These Years: Ray Paul’s “I Need Your Love Tonight” is Top of the Pops

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Ray Paul | “I Need Your Love Tonight” | This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4
(Kool Kat Musik) 2017

ray paul i need your lovveJust one month shy of a year since the release of Whimsicality, Ray Paul’s glorious, rock ’em, sock ’em return to recording, which in July of 2016 we called “one of this year’s best albums… a delicious mix of originals and well-chosen covers,” Ray returns with another, so-very-catchy slice of pop, and it’s a doozy.

“I Need Your Love Tonight” mines both the sweet and crunchy sides of the Raspberries sound (with just a hint of The Grass Roots) for four minutes of indisputable proof that this heritage artist, whose work passionately promoting indie pop artists is well-known and treasured, is top of the pops.

Ray’s signature, booming bass and strong vocals (stronger than ever, actually), Terry Draper’s drums, tambourine and piano, and Bill Nadeau’s crunchy guitars distinguish “I Need Your Love Tonight,” co-produced in grand style last month by Ray and Terry at Terry’s Swamp Manor studio in Oak Ridges, ON, Canada. The track is certain to be one of the highlights of the much-anticipated This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4 compilation, being released by Ray Gianchetti’s Kool Kat Musik label.

Pure Pop Radio is proud to be the first independent radio outlet to play “I Need Your Love Tonight” outside of Dana and Carl’s This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio show. The song is now gracing our air and playing in hot rotation. We dig us some new Ray.

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

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Listen to World Premiere Spins from the Greek Theatre’s Kool Kat CD Debut Tonight

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Spins and Reviews | 05.08.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

TONIGHT: We kick off a two-week world radio premiere spin of two tracks from The Greek Theatre’s Kool Kat Musik CD debut, Broken Circle

We’ve added hundreds of new and new-to-you tracks to our playlist in the last few weeks. We’re excited to be bringing you the latest and greatest melodic pop music in the universe, 24-hours a day.

the greek theatre broken circleWe’re also excited to exclusively be bringing you, for the next two weeks, the world radio premieres of two tracks from The Greek Theatre’s smashing, forthcoming first-time CD release of their album Broken Circle on Kool Kat Musik. Previously released on vinyl in a limited edition by Sugarbush Records, Broken Circle is a mind-tripping, mesmerizing melange of psychedelia and melodic substance.

Pure Pop Radio-friendly tracks “Stray Dog Blues” (with a hint of Van Dyke Parks seasoning) and “Lost Out at Sea” marry Pink Floydian ambiance with Harpers Bizarre shading. There is atmosphere to spare in these recordings; uniquely, they sound as though they could have been on any mid- to late-period Floyd album and, in an alternate world scenario, would have been welcome as bonus tracks on really any Harpers long player.

Listen for Swedish psych masters The Greek Theatre’s “Stray Dog Blues” and “Lost Out at Sea” playing exclusively on Pure Pop Radio for the next two weeks. Thanks go out to Kool Kat’s Ray Gianchetti for the opportunity to share these great tracks with the world on an exclusive basis.

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