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

No Monkeeing Around, These are Good Times! for Monkees Fans

alan-mic-zThe ubiquitous they never look at us and say “Hey, hey, you’re the Monkees,” because the Monkees are and always will be Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and the late, great Davy Jones. They can and do, however, say “Hey, hey, the Monkees have a big hit album out” because, hey, hey, that’s the fact, Jack (and you too, Jill).

The Monkees’ new album Good Times!, celebrating the group’s 50th anniversary, is the order of (Monkee) business today. And here it comes, walking down the street…

The Monkees | Good Times!
A review by Alan Haber

the monkees good timesI have an image in my mind, indelible really, of sitting on the floor in my pajamas as close to my family’s television set as humanly possible; the set sat in an ornate, maple wood cabinet my father built on four spindly legs. We had to roll the accordion-style cover from left to right to reveal the screen and get to the on-off switch and channel changer. Caveman days, to be sure.

the monkees tv showWeek after week, as the Monkees’ latest adventures spooled out over the NBC television network, I sat transfixed; I imagined myself as the fifth Monkee, traveling alongside Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith, and Davy Jones as their crazy world exploded around and on top of them. All of this televised insanity, which seemed so real to me, told my friends and I that our humdrum existence as young school kids, whose lives were stuffed with after-school chores and allowances that could only be stretched so much, could be so much more exciting if only we could ride around in our own, customized Monkeemobile.

monkeemobileMy weekly television date with the fabulous foursome, combined with the records that were forthcoming and the radio play that quickly seemed ever present, was proof positive that the Monkees were here to stay, here being those halcyon days peeling off the calendar beginning in the fall of 1966. And, later on, thanks to Rhino Records’ extensive reissue program that saw the original Monkees albums paired with voluminous extras, “here to stay” really meant and continues to mean “forever.”

carole kingThese days, nostalgia fuels the marketplace; beloved television series from years gone by, from the X-Files to Full House, are reborn as updated shows, and favorite albums, such as ABC’s The Lexicon of Love, get sequels. In the case of the Monkees, nostalgia is only one element of the public’s ongoing love affair with the group: the music was good and memorable, written by top-flight songwriters such as Carole King and Neil Diamond, and has more than stood the test of time, playing through the years on oldies stations and satellite radio.

The spirit of the Monkees’ television show, powered by the engaging personalities of its musician-stars and the memories of the catchy music the group recorded, has shown no signs of abating. Proof positive of that has just been released in the form of an album called Good Times!, which you probably have heard of, unless you’ve been talking to the Chief inside the Cone of Silence.

michael nesmithReams of speculation on the Internet, the hub of accuracy in this electronic age, sent Monkees fans into a huge, forceful tizzy during the months preceding the release of Good Times!. Was Mike fully involved? Would Mike be joining Micky and Peter on their concert tour? Would Mike be wearing his trademark wooly hat? (Okay, I made that last one up.) Come to think of it, there was a lot of speculation about Mike. The answers, as it turned out, were a) just about, b) when possible, and c) not likely (that was my guess about the wooly hat).

Moreover, whispering voices across the Interwebs wondered if Good Times! would be any good. The fact, I’m here to pronounce, is that the album is very, very good, sometimes even great; not only is it a classic-sounding pop music album, it’s 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 Monkees’ heyday and new songs written by top-flight, current songwriters of note, Good Times! is a fun listen from start to finish. The songs, for the most part, sound like they could have appeared on just about any of the original group albums. There’s a reason this album is proving to be so popular–it’s really good.

harry nilssonThe title song, which opens the album, is a track built on a 1968 demo; Harry Nilsson’s song, on which he shares vocal duties with Micky Dolenz through a sweet feat of electronic legerdemain, sets the stage for Good Times! with a very Nilsson-esque, infectious go-go beat. It’s a kick and a half to hear Micky trade verses and harmonize with Harry. The spirit is infectious and amounts to what is no less than a glorious musical trip.

andy partridge 5XTC’s Andy Partridge is the first of the famous scribes to be represented in Good Times!’ running order with a new song. His perky, catchy “You Bring the Summer” is prime Partridge; you don’t have to stretch your ears to imagine hearing the author singing along with Micky and Mike. The message? Summer means happy (“Summer for a sad old Jack Frost/Trying to warm his toes/Summer from your golden smile/Will paint the snowdrops pinky rose”). An instant classic, as are River Cuomo’s “She Makes Me Laugh” and producer Adam “Fountains of Wayne” Schlesinger’s “Our Own World,” both blessed with wonderful melodies and deep hooks.

Neil Diamond’s “Love to Love,” initially crafted in 1967 and 1969 and finished in February of this year, is a very Diamond-esque number sung by the late Davy Jones, thanks to the miracle of studio magic. (This song also appeared on Rhino’s Missing Links Volume Three.) Similarly, Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s classic “Wasn’t Born to Follow” was started in March of 1968 and finished this year with a terrific Peter Tork vocal.

As to Mike’s participation, the news is, well, good (times). The wooly-hatted one appears on eight of the album’s 13 songs, including the one he wrote, a terrific, piano-based number with the writer’s lovely vocal, “I Know What I Know.” Mike, along with Micky, is at the vocal helm of the slightly-psychedelic and monumental “Birth of an Accidental Hipster,” written by the perhaps unlikely combo of Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller. The song, which didn’t have a home until it wound up in the hands of the Monkees, is a tremendous, multi-part, multi-mood extravaganza, a real barnstormer of a track.

micky dolenz 15The album’s closer, “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time),” somewhat reminiscent musically of Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie,” is a pumping, fun co-write from Micky and Schlesinger. It is most certainly a highlight of this album. There are many others, of course, but it would be a disservice to you to talk about all of them when part of the fun of this album is discovery.

There are several bonus tracks that appear on various incarnations of Good Times!, such as “Terrifying,” a catchy, mid-tempo, should-be-hit-bound pop song written by Rogue Wave’s Zach Rogue, and an alternate, uptempo version of Ben Gibbard’s “Me and Magdalena,” which appears on the album in slow-to-mid-tempo form; both come with the iTunes version of this album. (I’ll leave it up to you as to which version of the latter is better; I would have opted for the faster one, but both are really good.) There are other bonuses, such as Andy Partridge’s “Love’s What I Want,” which appears on the Japanese CD and on Barnes and Noble’s upcoming vinyl release. Although this kind of marketplace maneuvering is commonplace, it would have been better to have made all of the tracks available everywhere at the same time.

monkees good times stickersJoined by such familiar pop musicians as Mike Viola and Fountains of Wayne’s Jody Porter and Brian Young, Schlesinger has helped the Monkees to create a phenomenal album that will not only please fans, but will likely gain them new fans and spur the surviving members of the band on to record more albums in the future. That’s the hope, at least, and by virtue of the overwhelming groundswell of support for Good Times!, this doesn’t seem at all outside of the realm of possibility. (And let’s give a big round of applause for Rory Wilson’s lively and retro art direction and design work, and Jonathan Lane’s equally wonderful cover art. Plus, there are stickers!)

Honestly, listening to Good Times! again and again and again, I am realizing that I’m still that kid sitting in front of the television set ensconced in the latest adventures of the fun foursome known as Micky, Peter, Mike and Davy. With this fantastic album, it’s Monkeemania, and really good times, again and forevermore.

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