“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):

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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 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!

Need Gift Ideas for the Melodic Pop Fans In Your Life? For You? We’ve Got ’em, All This Week

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We are now officially in the 2018 holiday gift giving season. I know…it seems like only yesterday, blah blah blah… Well, it does, but here we are again, faced with making those decisions that, year after year, are just plain hard to make.

Well, we’re here to make it all easier for you. We’re here to help you to choose gifts for the melodic pop fans in your lives (and for yourself). Relax. Below, you’ll find  new reviews of new 2018 releases, in-depth as always, along with links that will take you to the very websites from which you can purchase them. You’ll also find links to previously posted reviews of albums you should consider.

Be with us every day this week. There’s a whole lot of gold out there from which to choose the perfect melodic pop presents for your friends and loved ones. Let’s get started.

Mikah Wilson | Sunshine Grooves
(You are the Cosmos, Burger Records, 2018)
A real find, Los Angeles’s Mikah Wilson pretty much defines the state of sunshine pop in 2018. Let’s just say that if your jam is 1960s Beach Boys, Curt Boettcher, current sensations the Wrecking Two and their like-minded compatriots, this will be your jam, too. Comprising “Sunshine Grooves” and the two songs contained on the “Sweet Jules” single (“Sweet Jules” and “Look at the Way”), this is the soft-pop EP of the moment. Don’t miss it.

black box Where to Get It: You are the Cosmos, Bandcamp

Various Artists | White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams
(Curry Cuts, 2018)

Curry Cuts’ loving tribute to singer, songwriter and all-around entertainer guy Paul Williams, White Lace and Promises, releases on December 7 in digital form and around a week or so later in physical form and on streaming platforms. I’ve already sung its virtues here, where I waxed poetic about some of the tracks. I’ve now heard the entire megillah, so it seems prudent for me to wax poetic some more.

It’s obvious, to me at least, that the artists who have signed on to Andrew Curry’s latest tribute harbor a great affection for Paul Williams’ work; each of the 23 tracks here functions as a great big hug, a happy thank you to the artist for doing what he does so very well.

Here are some of my favorites, standout tracks all:
* “Someday Man.” Zach Jones turns in an affectionate, somewhat faster version than Paul Williams’ cut
* “You and Me Against the World.” Lisa Mychols ramps up the tempo on this classic. The harmonies and electric guitars really shine
* “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Cliff Hillis sings this lovely song, made famous by Karen and Richard Carpenter, solo
* “I Won’t Last a Day Without You.” Chris Price gives the Carpenters’ version a bit of a run for its money, turning in a lead vocal that is sincere and without question his best yet
* “You Give a Little Love.” This song from famed film Bugsy Malone gets a joyous Broadway kind of treatment from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, and it’s fabulous
* “An Old Fashioned Love Song.” Cait Brennan turns one of Paul Williams’ greatest songs into a deeply-felt, alternative romp, centered around Cait’s intense, emotional vocal

“You know you’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do,” Karla Kane sings as part of “You Give a Little Love.” Wise words that have deep meaning. The world is going to remember the great works of musical art that Paul Williams and his collaborators have given to the world; here, 23 artists have paid homage to that art, and we, the world’s listeners, are the grateful recipients. White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams is essential listening.

black box Where to Get It: Releases December 7 in digital form and about a week later in physical form and on streaming platforms; you can pre-order on Curry Cuts’ Bandcamp page

Karla Kane | “Goodguy Sun” b/w “Sisters of the Pollen”
(Big Stir, 2018)
Bkarla kane - sisters of the pollen coverkarla-kane-goodguy-sun-coverig Stir Records, helmed by good guy Rex Broome and good gal Christina Bulbenko from the Armoires, have set into motion a series of delicious digital singles with this double-sided wonder from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, whose 2017 folk-pop solo album, King’s Daughters Home for Incurables, was a big spinner on Pure Pop Radio.

“Goodguy Sun,” written by Cleaners from Venus’s Martin Newell, is a charmingly melodic, very British mid-tempo ballad with the Bye Bye Blackbirds’ Bradley Skaught playing alongside usual fellow travelers Khoi Huyhn and KC Bowman (Gina Sperindle contributes lovely vocal harmony). Kane’s “Sisters of the Pollen,” a mesmerizing folk-pop pearl recorded with husband Huyhn, closes out with an a cappella workout and the actual sound of bees doing their business. Delicious.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Big Stir Records

Irwin | Ride On (2018)
Jamie and Steve’s Jamie Hoover worked with Bill Irwin, from late-1980s-1990s Georgia pop-rockers Impulse Ride, to produce this tasty EP, pairing four new tracks with two previously unreleased Impulse Ride tracks from 1994. The new tracks, mostly mid-tempo, tuneful slices of pop, were written by Irwin and Hoover and feature both on a variety of instruments. Of the new songs, “King,” a soulful Beatlesque power ballad with Paul McCartney-inspired bass and an indelible melody, and “Georgia Peach,” an easygoing sway of an Americana-soaked pop song with a lovely, joyous melody, are tops.

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon

Kenny Herbert | “I’m Growing Old With You” (2018)
Kenny Herbert’s charming pop confections were a mainstay of my playlists throughout Pure Pop Radio’s 23-year history. I continue to be enthralled by everything Kenny adds to his considerable, collectible catalog. His latest release is a typically melodic, uptempo love song, inspired by Caroline, the love of his life. It has a lovely Bobby Goldsboro-meets-Gallagher and Lyle vibe about it. It’s one of those very special recordings that just makes you feel good to be alive.

Here’s a live take on this wonderful song:

Where to Get It: iTunes

More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving

We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases, 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):

radio1

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!

 

New on Pure Pop Radio 5.16.18: Lisa Mychols, David Myhr, Vanilla and Ken Sharp

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By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Spins and Reviews | 5.16.18

Lisa Mychols | Sugar (2018)
PrintScheduled for release on June 15 and just in time for summer’s arrival on June 21, Sugar is perhaps the most appropriately titled album of the year–a joyous, harmony-filled singer’s showcase, imbued with sweet songs sung sweetly. This is the sound of pure pop made for a life under sun-drenched skies spreading light and love over lazy mid-year, carefree days.

Sugar is nothing less than Lisa Mychols’ greatest achievement, and that, as has been said before, is really saying something.

One part girl-group aesthetic and one other part sunshine pop, Sugar’s songs, built around gorgeous, rich harmonies and Lisa’s most assured vocals ever, should have no trouble lifting spirits as they entertain. It would be impossible to deny the pleasing power of beauteous creations such as “Loving You” and the full-on, sugary sweet uptempo wonder “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes.”

And then there is “He’s Got Me Dreaming,” a girl-group confection running atop a steady rock beat, “Domino,” within which rock steady verses meet pop choruses, and “Next to Impossible,” a sweet, bluesy ballad.

It’s a wonder to behold, this album full of wonders. This is your summer album, sung sweetly by one of melodic pop music’s most enduring, endearing talents. Steve Refling produced, played all of the instruments, and co-wrote all of the songs with Lisa. Sugar is sweet. Don’t miss it.

black box Now Playing in Rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “One Revolution,” “Loving You Baby,” “Domino,” “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes,” “Goodbye to All Carousels,” “Next to Impossible,” “He’s Got Me Dreaming,” and “Into Oblivion”
black box Where to Get It: Check back soon for purchase links

David Myhr | Lucky Day (Lojinx, 2018)
LJX115 David Myhr - Lucky DayA beautifully rendered selection of melody-rich songs from one of melodic pop music’s greatest practitioners, Lucky Day is the sound of a master songwriter’s loving embrace. It is a warmhearted musical journey you will want to take over and over again.

Lucky Day’s 10 lovingly crafted songs, eight written with some of pop music’s top talents while David was on a trip to the United States and two self-scribed, speak to the heart of what matters to melodic pop music fans; all feature beautiful melodies and top-notch playing and singing. All contribute to one of this year’s best albums.

“Room to Grow,” written with Pure Pop Radio favorite Bill DeMain, is about giving a romance all the chances it deserves to prosper. Listening to this song, I hear a rhythmic kinship to Paul McCartney’s “Arrow Through Me.” The background vocals, as the song progresses, suggest a 1930s sort of vibe. The gorgeous harmonica solo, very Stevie Wonder-like, is played with heart and great skill by Mikael Bäckman. It’s quite a delectable stew.

The pretty ballad “Lovebug,” written with another Pure Pop Radio favorite, Linus of Hollywood, who sings background vocals, came about when David arrived at Linus’s home and said hello to the family dog. Linus’s wife said the dog was a lovebug, and therein lay the inspiration for the title of this classic piece of songwriting. The music is pretty, while the lyrics tell a different, bittersweet story–one of a disconnected romance: “I’m under the water and fighting for air/But your gravity’s pulling me down/They tell me I’ll live but I don’t feel alive at all.” It’s quite an achievement.

“The Perfect Place,” one of two songs on Lucky Day written solely by David, soars with an affecting melody, an ultra-catchy chorus, and live strings that ingeniously bring the number to a satisfying, unique conclusion.

And on and on the album goes–one great song after another that you will treasure forever. Produced by Brad Jones, Andreas Dahlbäck and David Myhr, and recorded at Jones’s Alex the Great Recording in Nashville and at studios in Stockholm, Sweden, Lucky Day is a wonderful gift to lovers of melodic pop. And speaking of gifts, CD purchasers should stay tuned after the 10th song plays; a lucky gift awaits.

black box Now Playing in Rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Jealous Sun,” “The Perfect Place,” “Lucky Day,” “Wait Until the Moment,” “My Negative Friend,” “Room to Grow,” “If You Really Think It’s Over,” and “Lovebug”
black box Where to Get It: Preorder at Lojinx, and at Amazon and iTunes; stream the album at Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and Apple Music, beginning May 18.

Vanilla |”Itchykoo Park” | Mystik Knights of Takoma (2018)

london underground sign(World Radio Premiere on Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, Thursday, May 17, 8 pm ET on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio)

Jayson Jarmon’s always intriguing outfit returns with another song slated for inclusion on the group’s upcoming Mystik Knights of Takoma collection. This time around, the Vanillians transform the Small Faces’ classic song “Itchykoo Park” by applying a glittery coat of glam inspiration and a straight-ahead rhythm. The result is almost otherworldly, as they gather to breathe new life into Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane‘s 1967 masterpiece.

Sung with his usual invested, emotional connection to both music and lyrics, guest vocalist Regan Lane, from Strangely Alright, grabs both with total conviction. In the process, he transforms “Itchykoo Park” into a contemporary, psychedelic parable. “It’s all too beautiful,” Lane sings, and he means every syllable. It’s another can’t-miss slice of Vanilla.

black box Now Playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: Available May 18 at Vanilla’s Bandcamp site

Ken Sharp | “She Hates the Beatles” | Single, 2018
ken sharp she hates the beatles coverAfter musician and co-producer Fernando Perdomo suggested the title, Ken ran with it and conjured up a guy’s ultimate fear: that the girl he loves hates the Fab Four. From that scary conjuring comes this upbeat, catchy pop song that lyrically, and with a healthy dose of jocularity, pounds the ceremonial nail into a relationship’s coffin.

The song’s lyrics get into the down and dirty of this doomed pairing: “She don’t know John from Paul/But baby what’s the worst of all/She thinks Wings is a TV show and Lennon is a Russian mole.” And, what’s more, to drive her point home even further, the narrator relates that  “…when she turns on the radio, she makes me listen to Barry Manilow.” Now, that hurts!

Never mind that “She Hates the Beatles” sounds more like a mashup of ’70s, Partridge Family and Todd Rundgren aesthetics than Beatlesque–this is a fun, catchy ride. Ken and Fernando split the instrumental duties and Ken sings his Beatle-loving heart out. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

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

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation (Wednesday, 9 pm ET) and Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show (Thursday, 8 pm ET), air exclusively on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

New on Pure Pop Radio 08.09.17: Raspberries Live, Lisa Mychols, and Poppermost

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Spins and Reviews | 08.09.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Raspberries | Pop Art Live (Omnivore, 2017)

Raspberries - Pop Art LiveFor a thrilling listening experience back in 1976, you could do worse than planting Raspberries’ Best featuring Eric Carmen on your turntable. Every one of the 10 tracks on offer was bang-zoom top-flight–“Go All the Way,” “Tonight,” “Ecstasy,” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” to name just four. Plus, the first few songs on side one were programmed to start a hairbreadth after the one before it, elevating the excitement level about a million percent.

Listening to Best, I always wondered what it would be like to be at a Raspberries concert. It seemed to me that nothing could quite compare to the emotional payoff experienced by people this close to the band up on a stage that probably shook wildly with every beat bounced upward and then showered down on the audience. Plus, all of that singing along…

Now, with the release of Pop Art Live, fans like me can finally feel the power of a you-are-there Raspberries performance. Recorded on November 26, 2004 at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio, this beautifully mixed and mastered document puts listeners in the cross hairs of a dynamic performance of 28 group classics and covers of choice songs from the Beatles and the Who. It is an invigorating experience.

The band is in fine voice and plays throughout the show like they hadn’t just gotten together for a reunion performance 30 years later. Working together as a cohesive unit on stage, they are clearly on a mission, invested in every note as they work to please every audience member, all of them hungry for a taste of Raspberries history.

Augmented by a trio of musicians called “The Overdubs” that helps to flesh out their sound, Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, David Smalley, and Jim Bonfanti work every inch of the room as they play the hits and key album tracks and just generally whoop it up, Raspberries style. The highlights are many–“Nobody Knows,” “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “Might as Well,” “Starting Over,” “Should I Wait,” and “Come Around and See Me” spring to mind–but the whole program is a collective highlight and delight, which is probably more to the point.

To say that Jim Bonfanti’s drums are the propulsive glue that holds these proceedings together would be an understatement; he has lost none of his power and is even more powerful than he was before. It should go without saying that the rest of the band is also performing at the height of their powers, but I’ll say it: This magical foursome was on that November night.

Kudos to Omnivore Recordings for releasing this astounding, pulse-pounding document, and kudos to you for buying it. Because, of course, you will be…right?

black box Where to Get It: The Omnivore Recordings Store (Preorder for August 18 release), Amazon, iTunes

lisa mychols let's stay togetherLisa Mychols | “Let’s Get Together” (2017)
A new track from Lisa Mychols, regardless of the type of song she tackles, is always a gift to be treasured. Here, Lisa pays tribute to the great Reverend Al Green with a sizzling, soulful take on Green’s 1972 number one chart hit. The thing that jumps out at me listening to Lisa’s vocal is how uncommonly good it is. She’s pulling out all the stops and, in doing so, delivering her best vocal yet. And that’s really saying something. All instruments are played with heart by Steve Refling. Wow.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

poppermost here comes the rain actual coverPoppermost | “Here Comes the Rain” (2017)
A lovely, acoustic arrangement hugs a metaphorical lyric about changing one’s path in life, and a new, catchy, Poppermost song is born.  Sounding vaguely like something out of the early Simon and Garfunkel catalog, colored by Klaatu sentiment (“I’m looking for a sweeter season”), Alex Oliver and Roy Rendahl’s latest release is another melodic feather in their cap. Gorgeous.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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New on Pure Pop Radio 05.15.17: Robyn Gibson’s Bob of the Pops Vol. 1, Cirrone, The Cool Whips, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 05.15.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Robyn Gibson | Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 (2017)
bob of the pops front coverA buoyant exercise in the art of homage, Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 finds The Junipers’ multi-instrumentalist Robyn Gibson having a good old time putting his warm, wide-eyed spin on 14 favorite songs. This free download on Bandcamp is the bargain release of the year and, quite surely, one of the best collections we’ve heard in ages.

The reason for that? Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 is fun to listen to; every song essayed bears Gibson’s unmistakable stamp, his softhearted vocals casting a warm glow over every melody line and emotional keystone communicated. In his hands, these classic constructs breathe new life into familiar musical landscapes.

robyn gibsonThe Beatles’ “Nowhere Man,” certainly a familiar and iconic number, fairly drips with the joy Gibson obviously had recording it. The opening, harmony drenched a cappella couplet is sweetly delivered; the song reveals itself as a modern-day folk song, every harmonic element glimmering with life and hope. The Hollies’ “Listen to Me” adopts a bit of a softer pace than the original, the soft harmonies taking a smidge off of the edge of the proceedings for a bit of a warmer performance.

Similarly, The Who’s “I Can’t Reach You” feels more personal, and again it’s Gibson’s assured, sweet vocal harmonies that do the trick. Tracey Ullman’s 1983 top 10 “They Don’t Know” practically glows with charm. And just to show he has a sense of humor, or because he knows, as do we all (probably), Gibson rolls through the theme song to the 1970s television smash, Laverne and Shirley, in a kind of England Dan and John Ford Coley-meets-The Ramones way. Sort of sweet punk, short and delicious.

bob of the pops back coverA collection that purports to be brought to life by such musicians as born-as-anagrams Boryng Bison and Sonny Orbbig, bridges the gap between a Beatles classic and a well-known soundalike homage (The Rutles’ “With a Girl Like You”), and sits comfortably within a wrapper designed to mirror the presentation of the old British Top of the Pops album series (with the Leave it to Beaver-ish “Bob,” a staid pipe in hand, subbing for the usual sexy model depicted), deserves a place in your heart.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “They Don’t Know,” “With a Girl Like You,” “I Can’t Reach You,” “Yes I Will,” “He Doesn’t Love You Like I Do,” “Strawberries are Growing in My Garden,” “Did I Say,” “Nowhere Man,” “How Long,” “Making Our Dreams Come True,” “Listen to Me,” and “The End/Listen for You,” a Gibson original
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

cirrone kings for a nightCirrone | Kings for a Night (2017)
The extended play, studio followup to Alessandro, Bruno, and Mirko Cirrone’s 2011 Uplands Park Road shares near total lineage with that classic album; four of its songs were first worked on during the Uplands sessions. The upbeat, Badfinger-ish pop-rockers “Everything’s Fine Now” and “It’s Gonna Be the Right Time,” the swaying charm of “Love Comes Again (Radio Edit),” and the gorgeous mid-tempo ballad, “Unforgotten Dream” continue the brothers’ time-honored tradition of mixing melodic vocalizing with strong instrumentation for a catchy, knockout musical punch. A full-length album is intended to follow this five-song taster, to which we say we can’t wait.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Everything’s Fine Now,” “It’s Gonna Be the Right Time,” “Unforgotten Dream,” and “Love Comes Again (Radio Edit)”
black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Bandcamp

the cool whips baddiesThe Cool Whips | Baddies (2017)
Naturally, the follow-up to Portland, Oregon’s 2014 long-player debut Goodies goes by the name Baddies, but it’s a joke, son, so don’t get your knickers in a twist…unless your appetite for good old pop ‘n’ roll has bit the dust. To wit: The Farfisa-powered “Linda Lu,” all thump and bop and circumstance, is an exciting, primal listen; “Time Will Tell” sounds like it emerged through a time portal connected to a garage in 1965; “Splash” plops playfully beat by beat with Beatles bops; and “Inside Outsider” fashions an upbeat Monkees vibe for two toe-tapping minutes. Rollicking fun.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Another World,” “Splash,” “Linda Lu,” “There Must Have Been Sugar in It,” “Time Will Tell,” “Move Like That,” “Inside Outsider,” and “Live in a Dream”
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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

lisa mychols Lisa Mychols | “Loving You” (2017) CD Baby

red caravan ho humRed Caravan | “Ho Hum” (2017) Bandcamp

anchor and bear 2Anchor and Bear | “Hard to Say You’re Sorry” (2017)

r. stevie moore and jason falkner make it beR. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner | Make It Be (2017) | “Sincero Amore,” “Don’t You Just Know It,” and “Play Myself Some Music” Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, Bandcamp

michael slawterMichael Slawter | An Assassination of Someone You Knew (2017) | “Count to 10,” “Too Dumb for You,” and “My Marion” Bandcamp

the deep six brand new dayThe Deep Six | “Brand New Day” (2017)

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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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New on Pure Pop Radio: The Nines’ Alejandro’s Visions: A Harmony- and Melody-Drenched Delight, Chris Murphy with Michael Carpenter, Dana Countryman, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 11.15.16 | by Alan Haber alan 5 small

Lovingly crafted and full of heart, Alejandro’s Visions is Steve Eggers’ masterpiece

The Nines | Alejandro’s Visions | 2016

the-nines-alejandros-visionsAfter incorporating a variety of styles into a stream of releases spanning a nearly-20-year-long career, the Nines’ Steve Eggers has delivered perhaps his most heartfelt musical statement—a love letter to the classic song structures that populated the output of artists in the pre-1962 era and the more contemporary sounds that have influenced him.

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, 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.

In the story that drives the songs on Alejandro’s Visions, Alejandro, one of the main characters of the garage-rock-centered Night Surfer, travels back in time to an alternate version of the late 1950s, where he falls in love with a girl named Marie. Unfortunately, it’s a love that doesn’t last.

The songs on Alejandro’s Visions bring Eggers’ ideas to life. Witness such lovingly crafted creations as 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.

steve-eggers

Steve Eggers

A student of popular songs created across the decades, Eggers continues to write and record music that moves him and, as evidenced by his ongoing popularity, his ever-growing audience. Alejandro’s Visions, while perhaps a collection of songs that is unexpected, is moreover a sterling addition to a body of work that stands tall among pop music’s greatest achievements. This is Eggers’ best and most assured work yet, an immensely satisfying work that belongs in every melodic pop music fan’s collection.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “And Suddenly,” “Beachfront in New York,” “Can’t Go Back to Ocean Town,” “Darling I Adore You,” “Escape from a Small Town,” “Everybody Knows Me,” “I Have Found You,” “I’m an Old Soul and You’re Old Fashioned,” and “Operator (Coming Home to You)”
black box When and Where to Get It:
Kool Kat MusikCD Baby, and Amazon (mp3)

Here are four more recent additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist:

chris-murphy-and-michael-carpenter-real-love-sleeveChris Murphy with Michael Carpenter | “Real Love” This absolutely gorgeous ballad recasting of John Lennon’s song, released in 1996 on the Beatles Anthology 2 as the second new group track after “Free as a Bird,” is one of this year’s major triumphs in melodic pop music. For one thing, 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. Murphy, whose superb solo work can also be heard on Pure Pop Radio, proves, in the space of four minutes and ten seconds, all this and much more. Carpenter plays all of the instruments. Essential listening.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio
black box When and Where to Get It: iTunes. Hear it on Spotify, and see the lovely video on YouTube

dana-countrymans-girlvilleLisa Mychols | “I’ve Run All Out of Tears (To Cry Over You)” I had the great pleasure and distinct honor of premiering this lovely retro-charmer, the first single from the forthcoming labor of love, Dana Countryman’s Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits, on November 10. The occasion was an exclusive interview with Dana on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, during which he talked publicly for the first time about this album, which I predict will be one of the most talked-about long players of 2017.

Close your eyes while listening to this three-minute-long, lovingly-crafted number, built on a genuine love for the girl group and Brill Building sounds of the early 1960s, and you will find yourself transported back to a much simpler time, perhaps, when melody and joy were king. Lisa Mychols’ authentic, warm-hearted vocal is a blast of musical love. Dana paints his soundscape with colorful, period brushstrokes, even as he tops his creation off with a Brian May-like guitar solo from Klaatu’s Dee Long.

You will hear more, much more, about the girl group sounds lovingly celebrated on Dana Countryman’s Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits closer to the album’s January 13, 2017 release by Australia’s Teensville Records. Until then, savor this lead track and smile.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio (exclusively through November 15)
black box When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the-flat-fiveThe Flat Five | It’s a World of Love and Hope From out Chicago way comes this group of harmony-centric harmony hounds. A supergroup of sorts due to the member’s affiliation with artists such as Neko Case and the New Pornographers, the Flat Five took a long road toward making this, their first album, playing a growing number of gigs during which they performed songs written by group member Scott Ligon’s brother Chris. Intent on getting a wide audience for Chris’s songs, they set about recording them. The result is 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 Roches-like “Bottom Buck.” Records like this one don’t come along every day, which makes It’s a World of Love and Hope pretty special.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Florida,” “Buglight,” “Bottom Buck,” I Could Fall in Love with You,” “Birmingham,” and “This is Your Night,” which sounds like a cross between the Free Design and the Association, an unlikely combination perhaps, but oh so tasty.
black box When and Where to Get It: Bloodshot Records, Amazon, and Bandcamp

cult-of-wedge-loch-nessCult of Wedge | Loch Ness Monsters and Motherships This latest musical missive from UK parish Rowley Regis’s Pete Hackett notches a best-album-yet nod for its top-notch selection of catchy songs, all performed with gusto. Hackett’s obvious love of the pop form glistens on the half-dozen songs from this album now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Earworms all.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “That Song Last Summer,” “When I Was Young,” “Miss America,” “Oh Lindsay,” “Wish Ourselves Away,” and “Shine on Me”
black box When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp

carl-funk-black-horizonCarl Funk | Black Horizon Vanilla fans will be familiar with Carl Funk from his widescreen lead vocal on “The Angel of Swain’s Lane” from the group’s 2.0 album (also appearing here), sung, as I said in my October 15, 2014 review of the song, “with deep emotion and old world style.” Carl’s committed, soulful voice drives these songs, carved with (and yes, I am coining a new word) an Amerisoulfulcana blade which fit perfectly among the various pop colors in our on-air mix. Wonderful stuff.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Time and Time,” “Resolution,” and “The Angel of Swain’s Lane”
black box When and Where to Get It: carlfunk.com

More tomorrow.

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