Tag Archives: New on Pure Pop Radio

Bill Lloyd’s Latest is Another Winning Collection

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alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Bill Lloyd | Don’t Kill the Messenger
(Whole In One, 2020)

The relatively serene composure elucidated in the gentle repose of “The Kiss of the Summer Wind,” a warm musical hug of a song that closes Bill Lloyd’s latest long player, Don’t Kill the Messenger, heralds a change of season and tone. Don’t Kill the Messenger is another winning collection from this classic musician.

With “The Kiss of the Summer Wind,” Lloyd’s calming, melodic salve lowers the temperature drawn by the 11 songs that precede it, that, all told, rock with purpose, powered as they are by a surfeit of hard-charging electric guitars, purposeful and perceptive lyrical conceits, and the usual keen sense of melody. When this longtime favorite Nashvillian sings, we all listen.

An album about the art of communication and what that amounts to in the grand scheme of things, Don’t Kill the Messenger makes otherwise potentially unpalatable situations charted within its songs pay off by suggesting better angels to pursue.

In the hard-charging rocker “I’ve Had Enough of Your Love,” the narrator learns to walk away to lower the temperature on a soured relationship. In the quirky, chunky rocker “KAKA’N’8IT,” a person’s floor caves in as the spoils of war amount to the realization that too much is usually quite enough. And in the sly, winking, four-on-the-floor rocker “You Got Me,” cowritten with legendary producer of the Band, the Cyrkle and Simon and Garfunkel, John Simon, the perfect partner turns out to be less than that.

Lloyd stacks his deck of songs with more winning cowrites, putting pen to paper and pick to guitar strings with a number of longstanding pals, such as David Surface, Prince sideman Dez Dickerson, and Les Bohem, who has played bass for Sparks. Among the guest musicians who help bring these songs to life is Pure Pop Radio favorite Seth Timbs, who plays keyboards on two songs.

On this album’s photo-adorned cover, a sign, placed under a thick, hovering tree just ahead of a weathered white building, advertises a psychic’s tarot card and palm reading services. Depending on your state of mind, you would likely either scoff at this notion and take a nothing-to-see-here approach or wonder what might transpire by entering the building and chatting with the psychic.

Whichever road you choose to travel, playing Bill Lloyd’s latest rock-solid collection of melodic pop and roll is the kiss of the summer wind, not to mention the breeze that blows through the fall, winter and spring. Let it surround you.

Now Playing in Rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Etch-a-Sketch,” “KAKE’N’8IT,” “You Got Me,” and “The Kiss of the Summer Wind”

Where to Get It: billlloydmusic.net store, Amazon, Apple Music

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

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

Listen Here for the Latest and Greatest Pure Pop Top Tracks Now Playing in Rotation

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alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

It’s true: We’ve been busy listening to the latest and greatest pure pop top tracks being released by your favorite artists and adding them to our ever-growing playlist.

What’s new on Pure Pop Radio? Now playing in rotation are some massively momentous monster tracks you’re going to love. Who from? Glad you asked! Here are just some of our most recent adds:

Not only have Sal Baglio’s Amplifier Heads released one of the finest melodic pop albums in many a year–Music for Abandoned Amusement Parksthey have quickly followed up with a luscious four-song EP titled Oh Golly Gee, which just happens to be part of the lyric to a lovely ballad called “Late to the Prom.” That song, and two others–“Short Pop Song About a Girl” and the provocatively-titled “Man on the Edge of a Ledge Contemplating a Jump”–are now playing in rotation on our air. More on the Amplifier Heads soon. Close your eyes, listening to “Man on the Edge,” and you’ll think you’re listening to a lost track from the Monkees being sung by Michael Nesmith. Really!

Rosie Abbott, an across-the-ponder who radiates talent at every turn, is releasing a gorgeous song cycle with singer-songwriter roots and baroque tendencies that melodic pop fans will devour with glee. Magnified, a very Kate Bush-y kind of affair, finds Abbott playing and singing everything in a most mesmerizing way. Pure Pop Radio is playing five of Magnified’s songs in rotation: “Alice Died,” “Robin Hood’s Stride,” “I Forget to Breathe,” “The Look in Our Eyes,” and “Erased.” Pure bliss.

The album’s title track:

Greg Pope’s Wishing On a Dark Star is a top-tier long player that is perfect fodder for people hungry for great, catchy melodies performed with gusto. From start to finish, this is top-notch melodic pop; we’re playing six songs in rotation: the glammy “Gone,” “When the Road Began,” “Morning Sunshine,” “Wildest Dreams,” “Jump Back from the Light,” and “Crawling Back to You.” This is Pope’s grand achievement, his best release and a sure thing for this year’s best-of lists.

This coming October 9th would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday; we all miss him terribly, of course. To help with our mutual yearning for his talent and wisdom, Jem Records is releasing a powerful tribute with vital covers of some of Lennon’s best and most-loved creations. Added to our playlist today, we are spinning a total of six tracks from Jem Records Celebrates John Lennon: “The Word” and “What’s the New Mary Jane” (The Weeklings); “You Can’t Do That” (The Grip Weeds); “No Reply” (The Gold Needles); a masterfully meshed take of “Revolution” and “Power to the People” (Richard Barone), and “It Won’t Be Long” (The Midnight Callers). Dig them all, as you should.

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

Pure Pop Radio brings the greatest melodic pop music in the universe to your waiting ears, 24 hours a day. Be sure to save our branded player to your desktop for quick and easy access.

Newly-Added Tracks Power Your One-Stop Internet Radio Home for the Greatest Melodic Pop Music in the Universe

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alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Weekly adds of new and new-to-you pop music keep our melody-infused engine running at peak power. Why, in just the past few weeks, we’ve made Pure Pop Radio a groovier place to hang out with instant classics from:

The Amplifier Heads, whose new concept album, Music for Abandoned Amusement Parks, raises the stakes for top honors in this year’s best-of crop with a variety of beautifully arranged songs. Here is one of our favorites, now playing in rotation:

Phyllis Johnson, whose groovy (there’s that word again) new song, “Someday,” a chewy slice of bubblegummy sunshine pop, celebrates the sunny feelings of summer with maybe the most infectious and catchy groove in recent memory. Click on the video below for proof:

Timmy Sean, a long-standing Pure Pop Radio favorite, who’s been releasing tremendous, well-crafted and supremely catchy songs from his long-awaited, forthcoming album, A Tale from the Other Side (set to release this November 13). The latest, the poppy triumph “She’s a Monster,” complete with a clever Beach Boys nod, will make you wish that release day for Timmy’s new long-player was a bit more imminent than it actually is.

All of the above are now playing in rotation on our air. Of course, we’ve added more instant classic tracks to our ever-growing playlist, including a powerful, new remix of “All You Ever Wanted,” a song from Ray Paul’s Whimsicality album; a powerful version of the Genesis classic, “Follow You Follow Me,” from The American Professionals, and tracks from Joe Giddings’ upcoming, flavorful collection, Better from Here, being released by Kool Kat Musik. More on all of these tantalizing slices of pop music to come.

Why not tune in to Pure Pop Radio and enjoy your most satisfying mix of melodic pop music on the internet? Simply click on the player below, and don’t forget to save it to your desktop and tablet.

Enjoy!

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

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

The Latest! The Greatest! The Hits Keep Spinning on Pure Pop Radio!

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alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

The hits, the future hits, and all of the hits in-between are spinning with glee on Pure Pop Radio. Come join the party and take a listen (click on our player above or below). And dig, if you will, some of our recent adds to our ever-growing playlist, such as the following choice nuggets:

A Pure Pop Radio favorite for all time, Bill DeMain has released a pair of dreamy ballads destined for the Nashville popster’s next album.

“Parastoo” is a gorgeous love song, a minute and 42 seconds long and adorned with only Bill’s sensitive vocal, acoustic guitar and Pat Sansone’s mellotron. A love story about planting the seeds of a relationship, the lyrics prove that to adore takes commitment: “It only takes a smile to fall in love,” Bill sings, “But it takes a lifetime to prove that it’s true.”

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

“Film Noir,” co-written by Bill and Danny Wilson’s Gary Clark, will take you to a smoky jazz club where the torch of love burns and the star of your film noir turns the tables on you and makes her escape (“She played you like a piano, her ticket out of town / And that little taste of sugar / Turned bitter by the day”).  Cello, violin, tenor sax, bass, drums and piano provide the soundtrack to this emotional tale of almost and could-have-been.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Both of these destined-to-be-classic songs are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

Timmy Sean has long been a fixture here on Pure Pop Radio. Remember when we covered his mammoth Songs of the Week project back in 2015? “My Jaded Love” is a new version of a song we first heard back in early 2016; it’s going to appear on Timmy’s forthcoming album, A Tale from the Other Side.

“My Jaded Love” is a mid-tempo pop-rocker with a catchy chorus and a strong vocal, both nothing less than Timmy Sean trademarks. Hear for yourself below (and on our air), and make a note to get A Tale from the Other Side when it becomes available this fall.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Ed Woltil has been in the spotlight before at Pure Pop Radio–for his hall-of-fame-worthy album Paper Boats, A Reverie in Thirteen Acts (one of our Favorite Records of the Year for 2014), and as songwriter and member of St. Petersburg, Florida band, the Ditchflowers. Here comes the Woltil spotlight again: One in My Tree is destined to be another feather in Ed’s cap. Ed’s gift for catchy melodies is as keen as ever; witness the should-be-hit-bound poppy opener, the upbeat “When We Fall in Love”; the pretty waltz, “Living in Between the Lines”; the breezy, Americanapopper “Caroline Wren,” and the rocking “A Matter of Time” (a genuine, good old toe-tapper), all of which are now playing in rotation on our air.

Check out “Make Me” from Ed Woltil’s One in My Tree, and pre-order at Bandcamp below:

Where to Get It: Pre-order at Bandcamp

Lisa Mychols and Super 8, whose gloriously wonderful, self-titled album is a must-get for all of you must-getters who pride themselves on populating their collections with must-get, long-playing pearls of pop wisdom, offer a track not on their must-get album as a bonus for buying said album. They call this track their “secret” track, and it’s a doozy, an imaginative reworking of the Korgis’ beloved 1980 hit, “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime,” that sounds as though the band is dangling from a hazy hippie high wire with a warm, summer’s day campfire directly below them. Which makes it a must-get, so get on over to Lisa Mychols and Super 8’s Bandcamp page and… get it.

Where to Get It (Get the album and the secret bonus track): Bandcamp

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is chris-church-backwards-compatible-2020-3.jpgChris Church’s blazing collection of richly rendered pop-rockers, Backwards Compatible, is exploding here, there and everywhere. Catch the rocking “Begin Again,” slathered with a hefty yard’s worth of poppy background vocals, in rotation right here on Pure Pop Radio.

Where to Get It: Petsche Music Group

Stay tuned for more adds to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. And don’t forget to listen. Simply click on the player below, and don’t forget to save our player to your desktop and tablet.

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

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

Pure Pop Radio is On the Air 24 Hours a Day!

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alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Just a short, quick, no muss and no fuss message for this midweek post: Pure Pop Radio is on the air 24 hours a day.  Seven days a week. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year.

Melody and harmony and classic songcraft are the orders of the day at Pure Pop Radio. Your favorite artists are pouring their hearts out with compositions that make you feel, make you think, make you tap your toes as their songs play on. Great, catchy melodies abound.

Pure Pop Radio is on the air, with great new releases like the first single from the Flat Five’s long-awaited, forthcoming second album, which looks to be a swinging release blessed with harmonic excellence. Preview the groovy song “Drip a Drop” by clicking on the video below:

Now, tune in to Pure Pop Radio, for “Drip a Drop” is playing in rotation along with a slew of other new and new-to-you tunes. Don’t miss a note!

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

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

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

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alan headshot from schoolBy Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Hit-bound Releases Playing on Pure Pop Radio Sing a Catchy Tune

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We’re always on the lookout for the latest hit-bound melodic pop releases that listeners need to hear. The latest additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist are catchy proof that hit-bound is in season this season.

Just added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist are some of today’s top melodic pop creations. Tune in for:

Lisa Mychols and Super 8, whose self-titled impending release puts pure pop on a delightful, catchy pedestal, presenting a song cycle powered by melody, harmony, and quite beautiful sentiment. This teaming of two major melodic pop talents is really nothing less than a dream come true; listeners won’t be able to get this album out of their heads. We’re playing three songs: “You and Me, Me and You,” a joyous, upbeat, Burt Bacharach-esque sixties toe-tapper; “The Monkee Song,” ostensibly a cute, wildly inventive and fun novelty number that really is so much more; and “Witchi Tai To,” a warm cover of Jim Pepper’s well-covered 1970s peyote song.

A double dose of Floridian popster Kirk Adams (Pop 4), whose latest offerings are “Here and Now,” a pretty, emotional ballad with a decidedly David Gilmour-esque guitar presence, and “I’m Willing to Let You Break My Heart,” a full-on, catchy pure pop exercise with a strong, catchy chorus.

Surf School Dropouts’ glorious, very-Beach Boys-y “Sound of the Summer,” in which this top-shelf group’s trademarks–majestic melody and lovely, rich harmony stacks–combine to spread joy to the world.

The Amplifier Heads’ wondrous “The Man with the Sun for a Head,” a retro, upbeat slice of tuneful pop.

The bluesy, country pop of Emily Zuzek’s “All that Love,” which will grace the singer’s upcoming album, releasing on August 28. The sweet, pedal steel guitar part cries out for your emotional attention.

Two typically engaging and terrific songs from Pure Pop Radio favorite Timmy Sean’s forthcoming album, A Tale from the Other Side, which releases in the fall. “In California,” a breathless upbeat pop-rocker, and “Fortune and Fame,” an pounding, emotional ride, sizzle.

We’re also continually adding a ton of tracks from Pure Pop Radio’s deep well of archived releases from the past few decades, from treasured artists as diverse as the Rubinoos, the Spongetones, the Sprague Brothers, the Squires of the Subterrain, the Sugarplastic, the Wilson Hospital, the Vinyl Kings, XTC, the Bellfuries, Sproutless, the Cherry Drops, and Bob Lind. Plus, as the saying goes, many, many more.

Pure Pop Radio is your 24-hour-a-day source for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe. Tune in by clicking on the player below (check out the last few songs played, and don’t forget to save the player to your desktop or tablet).

Thanks for listening. Your next favorite song, or one of your current favorites, is now playing…on Pure Pop Radio!

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

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

Reviews: 7.9.19: The Ebb and Flow of a Life: Cloud Eleven’s Illuminating Song Cycle

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Cloud Eleven – Footnote (West Coast, 2019)

The minimalist front cover that houses Rick Gallego’s latest, meticulously crafted songs is bathed in a wash of lightened, sun-soaked grains of sand; at bottom right, water reaches a line on an ethereal beach. The new song’s titles are typeset within the upper half of the equally minimalist back cover; the small parade of players, all imaginary yet full of life, are listed below–cohorts in a dreamy song cycle (Gallego is the only actual living, breathing player).

The cover, an homage to the wrapper for Todd Rundgren’s 1976 album, Faithful, is no accidental nod; Gallego sends out “special gratitude to todd rundgren, who lighted the way to my own musical existence all those years ago” and sets the text in lowercase, just as Todd did.

Footnote is Gallego’s seventh go-round as Cloud Eleven’s chief cook and bottle washer. This new release is no mere footnote, however; it is, in fact, what the previous six releases have been traveling toward all along: a gorgeous song cycle about the ebb and flow of a life (a songwriter’s?) as one follows a path and discovers his or her essence along the way.

The songs on Footnote sound nothing like Todd Rundgren, even though the Hermit of Mink Hollow’s influence is in there; with each new release, Gallego paints a masterpiece colored as only a Cloud Eleven album can be.

Gallego’s songs and arrangements are crafted with a unique combination of hues, tints, tones and colors; one flick of his brush too many and his songs might tilt toward another form altogether. Here, as the songs on Footnote play, we get the feeling that Gallego is painting his soundscapes, touched by the spirit of ELO and the harmony-laden Beach Boys, while balanced on a tightrope of his own devising; what a gloriously creative and fulfilling place that must be to hang.

Footnote opens with a quartet of songs set in a melodically-charged dreamscape. The first song, “On Pismo Beach,” sets to sail with a ghostly strum of guitar that barrels into a rich blast of harmony before it draws a lyrical picture of a place where all is blissful and serene. “Aural Illusion” builds on that ideal, positing that in sound we prosper (“If you can believe that music is love / Then you’ll understand the meaning of / Aural Illusion”).

The second half of the first block of songs continues on the path set by the first. The lovely ballad “Solar Fields” suggests that, after allowing sound to enrich your existence, the warmth of the sun will help to complete you (“With the sun on your face / You will never fade away / In the bright glowing light / You won’t fail”). And, armed with the benefits realized from pleasing sounds and sunlight, you can trust in someone to lead you down a valid path of exploration (the Brian Wilson-ish “Bound to Follow”).

This emotional journey continues with the relaxed-sounding, Free Design-like “For Weal and Woe,” in which we discover that the days ahead bring a promise of discovery, so long as we are in tune with ourselves (“Our lives ebb and flow / For weal and for woe”). And then, we are transported to terra firma, where we learn even more about ourselves.

In “L.A. County,” we are entranced and inspired by a girl who gives us a reason to set down roots (“We will live our lives here”). “Skywriting” allows a songwriter to connect with the magical muse that surrounds him (“But I’ll try to do my best / Hope my muse will do the rest / It’s like magic when songs appear, I confess”).

Sometimes, though, it is hard–impossible, even–to connect. The subject of the grand, wistful ballad, “One Big Hideaway,” squirrels himself inside his home–inside his room–as the world turns around him. He misses his family, but can’t find a way to reach out to them. There will be no doubt in the listener’s mind as to who this song is about.

In the end, we are left to ponder the validity of our life’s journey. Do we learn from what we discover as we make stops along the way, or do we downplay what we have achieved and consider ourselves to be nothing more than a speck of dust because none of it will matter in the grand scheme of things? “Now I’m content to be / I won’t pretend I’m anything, but a / Footnote,” Gallego sings in the closing, title song.

Songs can teach us a lot about ourselves. Throughout our lives, we learn who we are by also learning who we aren’t. Rick Gallego’s illuminating song cycle won’t provide us with all of the answers we desire, but its beautifully rendered songs will at least provide us with some lovely, melodic hints.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon (CD and digital), Apple Music (iTunes), CD Baby (CD and digital)

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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: 7.2.19: A Double Dose of Heyman: Richard X. and Richie Deliver Superb Garage Rock and Pop and Roll in Two New Releases

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Richard X. Heyman | Pop Circles (Turn-Up, 2019)
The Doughboys | Running for Covers (Ram, 2019)

Perhaps the greatest gift that June brings us northern hemisphere dwellers is the first day of summer, a cue for couch potatoes and homebodies to welcome the sun, and globs of sunscreen, into our daily lives.

This year, June brought us another great gift, one that can be enjoyed either indoors or outdoors, depending on your mode of music delivery, allowing all of us to benefit from warm summer days and nights and some truly terrific music.

Just last month, a double dose of Heyman descended upon us in the form of Richard X. Heyman’s tremendous 13th solo album, Pop Circles, and Running for Covers, a fun, new long player from the Doughboys, the New Jersey garage rockers that count drummer Richie Heyman among their members. Whether billed as Richard X. or Richie, multi-instrumentalist Heyman always delivers first-rate pop and rock ‘n’ roll.

Richard X. Heyman’s Pop Circles
A double dose of Heyman allows fans to experience many sides of the artist at once. Pop Circles favors Richard’s pop side, where melody, harmony and instrumental brilliance are king; Running for Covers puts Richie on the drum stool, where he helps his Doughboy brothers kick out the hot and powerful garage rock jams.

On Pop Circles, Heyman continues to favor the one-man-band approach to his recordings, but with one important, and most welcome, change: wife Nancy takes on bass duties throughout most of the album, playing innovative and melodically-charged parts on her Hofner Empress.

Pop Circles is sort-of a two-part affair, the first 12 tracks being the album proper and the final five being solo versions of songs previously appearing on albums by the Doughboys. Each of the 17 tracks earn their place in the running order (an 18th, hidden track is an extended version of the song, “Guess You Had to be There”).

Richard X. Heyman, surrounded by pop circles

As you would expect from a Heyman album, always a treat and a shining light in any pop release cycle, the highlights are plenty. Throughout Pop Circles, Richard’s instrumental and vocal prowess prove their mettle (no surprise there); his singular, one-of-a-kind drum parts and thickly defined harmony stacks are particularly inviting. And, as I said up above, wife Nancy’s bass parts are innovative and melodically-charged, and essential to the overall sound.

One of Richard’s best songs and best-ever arrangements is the powerful, rocking “Marlena,” which posits that a relationship is now gone, regardless of which road the narrator travels on or the New Jersey towns he blows through as he works his issues out in his mind. Richard’s lyrics are vividly stated and metaphorical, such as in this descriptive couplet (“Trusted a lamb so gentle and wise (Marlena) / Now here I am with wool over my eyes”). The song’s melody is ingeniously seductive; the chord structure inventive and compelling.

The narrator of the breezy “In a Sunlit Room” is tasked with coming up with a way to salvage a relationship. He hopes to come up smelling roses, but he’s on a steep, uphill climb and seemingly has the most to prove. He is nothing if not poetically realistic (“You must know that love has its peaks and valleys / Mount Everest to the Grand Canyon and back”). It’s a deep crevice to climb out of, for sure. Richard’s guitars really shine here, and Nancy’s bass provides a creative bottom end.

“Land,” originally the opening, Rolling Stones-styled rocker on 2012’s Doughboys release, Shakin’ Our Souls, is my favorite of Pop Circles’ “Richie’s Three-Chord Garage” set, recast here as a less manic, no-Stones-turned rocker. Richard’s vocal is particularly strong here, and his piano playing is superlative.

Pop Circles was recorded at the Kit Factory and at Eastside Sound, both in New York City. It’s a dynamic collection of songs, just waiting for you to listen.

The Doughboys’ Running for Covers
Speaking of superlative, the 13 well-chosen covers that constitute the Doughboys’ new release make a case for pleading with the band to fashion an all-fave-classic-songs-we-didn’t-write show for fans. For now, though, this knowing selection of covers will do quite nicely. The group gives each classic nugget their all and then some, infusing them with garage-rock fury or pure pop finesse, depending on the song.

Running for Covers stands out of the ever-growing pack of covers albums by not simply choosing from the well of usual suspects; mixed in with the familiar (Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man” and David Essex’s “Rock On,” for example) are more obscure tracks from the Kinks, Mose Allison, and the Four Seasons, among others, that might not come to mind, even in a pinch.

The Four Seasons’ “Everybody Knows My Name,” from the group’s 1966 album, Working My Way Back to You and More Great New Hits, is an inspired choice, a lovely, catchy pop song that is very different from the other fare on Running for Covers (and holds special significance for the Doughboys–see below). Another track, Herman’s Hermits’ “My Reservation’s Been Confirmed,” from 1966’s Both Sides of Herman’s Hermits, is another straight-ahead, catchy pop song, also of the I-probably-wouldn’t-have-thought-of-that variety.

Two of the songs included on Running for Covers hold special significance for the Doughboys–they are the re-recorded a-sides of the group’s two Bell Records singles from the 1960s (“Rhoda Mendelbaum” and the aforementioned Four Seasons track, “Everybody Knows My Name”). They are jewels contained within this album of interpretation that shine from start to finish.

Other tasty highlights include a searing, four-on-the-floor take on Question Mark and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears,” and a powerful, rocking, crunchy guitar-ized version of the Band’s “The Shape I’m In,” which turns the original recording on its collective ears.

The Grip Weeds’ Kurt Reil produced, recorded, mixed and mastered Running for Covers at his House of Vibes studio in Highland Park, New Jersey (Kurt also helped out with vocals and percussion). It’s another fine job for all concerned.

The Doughboys

A Double Dose
The Doughboys’ Gar Francis, Mike Caruso, Myke Scavone, and Richie Heyman play up a storm on Running for Covers, a tremendously entertaining garage- and pop-rock testament to the classic songs of yesteryear; Richard X. Heyman does the same for his catchy pop songs contained on Pop Circles, that feature the singer-songwriter’s incredible, vital instrumental skills and intense harmony stacks.

This double dose of Heyman, where Richard X. meets Richie and garage-rock meets pop and roll, is a present for music fans all over the world. Obviously, you should be all in for some of the best music being made today.

Where to Get It:
Richard X. Heyman’s Pop Circles: Kool Kat Musik. Listen to sound samples and purchase: richardxheyman.com CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes
The Doughboys’ Running for Covers:
thedoughboysnj.com. Listen to sound samples and purchase: Amazon, CD Baby, 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: 6.25.19: Astral Drive’s Plea for Love, Butch Young’s Stories of People in Crisis, and Farrington’s Retro-Fueled Pretty Pictures

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Astral Drive | “Wishing I Could Change the World”
(Lojinx, 2019)

Phil Thornalley, Britain’s champion of 1970s-era Todd Rundgren, returns as his Astral Drive nom de plume with a joyful Dave Bascombe (Tears for Fears) radio remix of “Wishing I Could Change the World,” originally waxed for 2018’s self-titled Astral Drive album. Also on board: two new tracks.

A plea for love becoming the constant that makes everything alright (“I keep wishing that the world would change / Love come pouring down like gentle rain / I’m still praying / Dreaming like every boy and girl / Wishing we could change the world”), the song’s jubilant, hopeful arrangement, and yearning vocal signify the coming of a melodic pop standard that really can change the world.

Accompanying the Bascombe-ized “Wishing I Could Change the World” are two new tracks, easily slottable into your growing Astral Drive collector’s bucket. A passionate, slowed-down take on the classic “Up On the Roof,” complete with Thornalley’s Rundgren-ized, understated vocal harmony stacks, draws new levels of emotion from the lyric (“Right smack dab in the middle of town / I’ve found a paradise that’s trouble proof”). The roof, in the case of Goffin and King’s classic song, is the perennial happy place, where hope triumphs over the alternative.

“Who Loves You,” essentially a new song (an unfinished number that didn’t make the Astral Drive album), “…is about how life can change in a heartbeat and how insecurity can haunt us just as easily as love can lift us,” according to Thornalley, quoted on the Lojinx website. Another Rundgren-esque number and as good as anything on the Astral Drive album, “Who Loves You” is a question perhaps best asked…up on the roof, where the answer should become clear.

Another melodic triumph for Astral Drive, this new single shines a light on the world at large, praying for love to conquer all.

Where to Get It: Lojinx, Amazon, iTunes

Butch Young | “Captain Serious” b/w “Beautiful Dreamer”
(Big Stir, 2019)

For all the sour, sad sack boys and girls out there, Butch Young’s eminently catchy, sweet-with-the-sour, Brian Wilson-with-a-touch-of-George Harrison ditty “Captain Serious,” about a guy to whom a smile is just a frown turned upside down, is your song. For everyone else, this song is a melodic pop confection par excellence from a Pure Pop Radio favorite.

I quote lyrics fairly often in my reviews, because I believe the words married to music are just as important in the long run, if not more so. Young’s depiction of this much-too-serious captain of his industry includes some rather clever wordsmithing. To wit: “Captain Serious / Is looking sour as a lime or a grape / His face is dour as some days-old lemonade / Left to spoil in the rain”. And this: “Oh, did your mom make you so? / She never really let you play your rock ‘n’ roll / Oh, did your Dad come home / And catch you reading Tolstoy all alone?”

The flip of this sterling Big Stir digital single, “Beautiful Dreamer,” a wonderful, dramatically orchestrated, catchy ELO-ish ballad, charts the course of a person who hides within sleep to avoid doom and gloom (“Bad feelings bottled up and then / An imminent calamity / Run baby, run”). Will these bad feelings pass, beautiful dreamer? “Have another wink or two / Before you spring to life / When will you open up / Your heart to see / The spell you’re under?”

Young’s 2016 album, Mercury Man, was a big hit for me, and was one of the bright stars of my Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of 2016 feature. I wrote: “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.'”

I also said Mercury Man was awesome. And so are these incredible, miraculous songs that make up the 31st Big Stir digital single offering (both are earmarked for an album release next year). Don’t miss this one.

Where to Listen and Get ’em: Big Stir Digital Singles (scroll to the second entry)

Farrington | Pictures of Pretty Things (2019)

This monumental, audacious bundle of retro-fueled imagination, wackadoo musical composition and performance closes with a majestic, classically-influenced instrumental in which impassioned orchestration and lyrical guitar work play as the audience exits the auditorium–you being the audience and your music listening room being the auditorium.

But don’t exit the auditorium just yet: hang in there for the last 12 seconds of this album’s title track, the very last track, when a burst of packed-tight harmony voices shouting “Pretty things!” bounces off the walls like a Spalding® High-Bounce Handball. It’s a reminder of what you’ve just heard: a never-mind-the-boundaries kind of album in which glam meets pop meets rock meets all sorts of other stuff, too.

Farrington’s Pictures of Pretty Things packs a box set’s worth of ideas and musical manipulations into just about 35 minutes of–what’s the word I used up top? Audacious? Well, audacious it all is, without a doubt.

Farrington, aka mad musical scientist James Patrick, works his magic in a Queen frame of mind, singing like a glam superstar with a pure pop heart. And save for a few harder-edged rockers, the artist stays put squarely in a melodic pop sandbox which, for my tastes, is an eminently satisfying domicile.

Piano and other keyboards, played with passion, save for one song, by Farrington, majorly drive these songs, although the drums, played by co-producer Marcos de la Cruz, also pack quite a desirable punch. Anthony King, playing a good chunk of the guitar and bass parts, and other fine folks, including Kai Danzberg and Fernando Perdomo, help to make this astounding mix of great songs and performances a towering achievement. These songs are all about the sound and how the hooks aplenty grab hold of you and don’t let go.

Achieving towering status are any number of top-drawer tunes, including the ultra-poppy “The Love Show,” a mid-tempo Queen-tinged song which is ultimately about love, love, love; the power-poppy “Long Way to Nowhere,” ultimately about the power of music (“Blondie dancing in a heart of glass / She makes me dizzy”); and “When I Was You,” an uptempo beat-driven pop song about ultra-disappointment in a doomed relationship (“I wish you were dead, she said / Yeah, I guess the feeling is more than mutual / So take me back to yesterday / When I was you”).

These songs are all about the sound; frankly, I’m not entirely sure what most of these songs are about, but they sure sound good as good can be. “Blue,” a mid-tempo pop-rocker bops ahead with a decidedly Sweet “Love is Like Oxygen” vibe that is intensely infectious. And “Violins,” another poppy pick-to-click, tells the tale of a girl in a shaky relationship who finds solace in the sound of violins (“She listens to violins / And her imagination runs wild again / She listens to violins / The music makes her smile again”).

A box set’s worth of magical ideas imaginatively whipped into shape by a mad musical scientist who knows how to mix just the right ingredients, Pictures of Pretty Things is one heck of an achievement.

Where to Get It: Check back soon for purchase links

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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.