Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and new-to-you releases. Pure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop in the universe 24 hours a day.
Spins and Reviews | 05.02.17 By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Charlatan Record Cartel spotlight popsters The Sunday Brothers get heavy, man, on “Save Me,” the follow-up to their initial, smash “somber, ruminative ballad about that night in ‘Bankside,’” as we called it in our review back in late February.
Part of Charlatan’s ongoing, purposeful musicological dig through the deep cache of hidden diamond-y bands working undercover in the Pacific Northwest, heretofore unknown to the masses of hungry music fans for whom trips to McDonald’s for a snagging of an all-day breakfast offering are the sustenance of life, this second release from The Sunday Brothers is food for thought, a ruminative (yes, there’s that word again) plea for making things right with just one kiss.
Vocalist Carl Funk, who enjoys a fair share of spins here on Pure Pop Radio, is the voice of “Save Me,” thanks to an impromptu get-together with The Sunday Brothers in Tacoma, Washington, Charlatan’s home base. Carl and the brothers admire each other’s work and wanted to plug into each other’s scene, as it were, to see what kind of magic they could strike.
“Save Me,” not to put too fine a point on the message, paints a rather bleak picture of life (“You lost your way, you have to pay/You have to meet your maker/You mustn’t try to overstay/The undertaker…”). But don’t worry–time-honored, pop tradition has got your back: the musical end of “Save Me” is joyous, jubilant, a jumbo ball of celebratory tuneage (I believe I detected a few sly nods to Fontella Bass’s 1966 hit, “Rescue Me,” an apropos touch). A cry for help with a smile on its face? Yes, indeed.
Carl Funk squeezes every ounce of emotion out of this typically strenuous Sunday Brothers song, which posits that a kiss will always be a kiss and pops along with a great, catchy melody. “If you do what they tell you,” the last verse intones, “They promise it’ll be alright/If you buy what they sell you then one kiss will set it right…/Well set it right, right now.” Wise words from Tacoma’s sage musical poets.
“Save Me” is exploding within the Bandcamp universe. Pure Pop Radio is proud to have exclusively presented this important song for the very first time on the radio on April 20. Don’t miss this one.
For the past few months, I have been adding hundreds of new songs and artists to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. For a lot of reasons, most notably ongoing health concerns, I have been unable to report on these adds.
Since time is marching on at a rather rapid pace, and 2015 will be over before you know it, I have decided to simply list the adds with minimal commentary because, otherwise, this task, as important as it is, would never get done. I thank you for your understanding.
So, join with me today by perusing this first in a series of lists of new music and artists recently added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. All of these artists and songs are wonderful specimens that have contributed to this year being one of the best, if not the best, years for melodic pop music in a very long time. It has been my privilege and honor to preview this music and ultimately make it part of the Pure Pop Radio listening experience.
Without further ado, let’s get to it. Installment number one:
Pete Kennedy | Heart of Gotham The third Kennedys-related release this year puts Pete Kennedy in the spotlight for a glorious song cycle about New York City. We’ve added all but the album-ending reprise of the song “Union Square”: “The Bells Rang,” “Williamsburg Bridge,” “Never Stopped Believin’,” “Unbreakable,” “Rise Above,” “People Like Me,” Harken,” “Asphodel,” Riot in Bushwick,” “New York,” “Gotham Serenade,” and “Union Square.”
The Del Zorros | Wilmington Now playing in rotation are all but two of the stellar songs on the Del Zorros’ wonderful new album, a love letter to Wilmington, North Carolina, the duo’s adopted home town. Stede and Monte sing and play their hearts out on “The Bells of Wilmington,” “Biscuits for Breakfast,” “The Henrietta,” “The Carriage Man,” “Bella’s,” “Halfway to Heaven,” “Orange Street,” “Surfin’ Wrightsville Beach,” “The King of Wilmington,” and “The House on Dawson’s Creek.” A real winner of an album that’s one of the best of the year.
Tommy Sistak | “A Better Time” Since his great Short Songs album appeared, Tommy has released a few additional tracks that prove he is one of the great practitioners of the retro sound. “A Better Time” is a danceable rave-up, as good as anything he has released.
The Dahlmanns | “Girl Band” Speaking of rave-ups, this happy celebration of the girl band-as-“kick-ass rock and roll band” makes us smile and yearn for a nearby dance floor. Plus, it’s a great pop song, and of course we’re playing it in rotation. More Dahlmanns tracks added are noted in an upcoming list.
Adam Walsh | “High Time (at Frisco Bay)” Here is yet another classic track, written and performed by an artist we are quite enamored with. A sort-of seventies-styled, mid-tempo ballad, this one is, as you would expect, a real keeper.
Strangely Alright | “I See the Sun” A recent song from this hard-charging pop group fronted by the great Regan Lane, “I See the Sun” boasts a powerful, hooky chorus and a whole lot of heart.
Silver Ships | “Roads that Lead Us Home” This group, led by Chazz Bessette, has released a single track from their upcoming album. It’s very pop, so singalongable and it will make you smile, so job well done.
Arvidson | Arvidson From Sweden comes this majestic 2001 pop album that we’re thrilled to be playing from stem to stern. Featuring the ultra-catchy power pop number “I Hear a Sound” and 11 other great numbers, this is one of the great finds for us this year. We’re playing “Wake Up,” “I’ll Bear It In Mind,” “Get Well,” “Will Never Know,” “Get In(to) the Car,” “I’d Hate to See You Go,” “Our Days,” “You Caught My Eye,” “Still on the Wrong Side,” “Slide,” “I Hear a Sound,” and “Daffodil.”
Kurt Baker Combo | “Give It Up” It’s no surprise that this is another electric, quite alive number from one of power pop’s top recording artists. One side of a new single (the other side will be noted in a future report), it’s a guaranteed favorite for fans that ends in spectacular fashion with a warmhearted Beatles chord.
Jeri Sykes, Scott McPherson and KC Bowman | “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” Recorded for the Tower of Song Challenge, this slightly-slowed-down cover of the Electric Light Orchestra’s famed song is reworked in the manner of an early rock ‘n’ roll number, kinda sorta, and features Jeri Sykes on most of the instruments (Pop 4’s KC Bowman plays bass and drums, and Pop 4’s Scott McPherson sings). Pretty awesome.
Kontiki Suite | The Greatest Show on EarthThe follow-up to this much-loved British band’s 2013 inaugural release, On Sunset Lake, finds Kontiki Suite in fine form, delivering another set of lovely Americana/country songs with a decidedly smooth pop edge. We’re playing nearly all of this album, in rotation: “Bring Our Empire Down,” “My Own Little World,” “Free from Sound,” “Here for You Now,” “Pages of My Mind,” “Keep Up With My Old Self,” “All I Can Say,” and “Years Roll On.”
There is much more to come. We’ll try to report on all of the recent adds to the playlist before Christmas. As we said, there’s a lot of adds to report, which really is a very good thing. Thanks for hanging in there with us.
Alan 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 Spongetones, the Nines, Kurt Baker, 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.
With today’s release of his fantastic new single, the master musical magician Bill Lloyd once again aims for the stars and far surpasses them.
The double A-side spinner, pairing two tremendous and powerful melodic pop songs, “Yesterday” and “Miracle Mile,” is fine and dandy all on its own as a download from iTunes, and you should spring for it immediately if not sooner, but the limited edition CD comes with three extra tracks that quite simply can not be denied, making this collection an EP that raises the bar and then some. So it’s both of these things for you, and you too.
Coming off last year’s grand reimagining of his classic 1994 album, Set to Pop (entitled Reset2014) and the typically astounding 2012 record Boy King of Tokyo, Lloyd has raised the bar even higher, playing the one-man-band with two of his best-ever songs. A-side number one, “Yesterday,” is a straight-ahead power pop number with an oh-so-catchy melody and lots of oomph in the form of lyrical electric guitars; inventive, rollercoaster bass lines (performed by special guest star and co-writer, Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson), and just generally smart and inspired songwriting.
Over on A-side number two, “Miracle Mile,” it’s a Who-like opening (think Bill, not Keith, Moon on drums) that slides into a mid-tempo charmer that sneaks up on you and quickly grabs you by the throat as the drums and vocals kick defiantly with purpose. The song was co-written by frequent musical cohort Pat Buchanan, whose band Idle Jets released the classic 1999 album, Atomic Fireball.
Two of the three bonus tracks appearing on the CD-EP were fashioned back in the early 2000s in Lloyd’s home studio and are corkers, all (“Frank” was recorded in 1998). Following a slick backwards section that’s thrown a loop when the sound of a needle draws across a slab of vinyl, “Frank” gets down to the business of an uptempo pop song with another great melody. “It’s Happening Now” is a lovely acoustic number with an equally lovely melody and a sensitive, understated background vocal arrangement. It would sound all warm and snugly played directly after Paul McCartney’s “Put It There.”
The mindblower among these bonus tracks–the slambang, whizbang, tree shaking, volcano erupting, hell of a thing is the 11 minute instrumental stew called “Today’s Soundtrack,” which could very well be the last word on instrumentals if it’s last words you’re looking for. Stitching together seven distinct pieces, the titles of which are worth the price of admission alone, Lloyd has struck instrumental gold.
To wit: “Gothish” feeds into “Mr. Haney Flips His Wig,” which feeds into “Slinkette,” which becomes “Beautiful Creeps,” which ushers in “Clubbing” and follows with “Let It Come to You” and “40 Watts.” All in all, this is a collective, surprising trip down the Route 66 of the musical mind, a ride with tantalizing twists and turns whose passengers are a short, opening mood poem; a scratchy, early rock and roll workout coming out of the tiny speaker of a transistor radio sitting on Oliver Douglas’s kitchen table in Green Acres; a tiny snippet of electronic sound that plays like it was orphaned after being cut from Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard, A True Star track, “Dogfight Giggle”; a slow burning, blues-cum-jazz tone poem; an energetic dance, club workout; a Prince-styled, funky guitar-centric attack; and a relatively straight-ahead pop rocking bed for what would undoubtedly be a big hit song. It’s a wild, stylish, way-satisfying ride–a perhaps unexpected one that, frankly, sizzles.
Lloyd has always been a reliable creator, issuing record after record of top-flight songs played and sung to perfection. With this new release, he has reached new heights, turning in a pair of phenomenal recordings supported, on the CD-EP, by three additional tracks that beg the question, “What other treasures are lurking in the cupboards in Bill’s home studio?”.
For now, these are the treasures, all of which are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. This is one of the great releases of the year. You know what to do.
Purchase the download of “Yesterday” and “Miracle Mile” from iTunes by clicking here. Purchase the CD-EP, boasting three bonus tracks, by clicking here.
We’re always listening to music here at the well-appointed, Ikeafied Pure Pop Radio headquarters. Headphones on or headphones off, we’re constantly looking for just the right sounds that we can add to our ever-growing playlist. We’re dedicated, we’re steadfast, and we’re here to say we’ve found some more great platters that do indeed matter.
So, without further ado, here are the latest songs and artists now spinning in rotation:
Vanilla | “South Tacoma Way” It goes without saying that Jayson Jarmon and his band of merry musical souls are held in the highest of esteem by our singular staff. Releasing one song a month toward the completion of an album-length release to be called Vanilla 2.0, Vanilla have been wowing us with their seemingly no-holds-barred way of coloring outside of the lines. The retro, clarinet-fueled, Harpers Bizarre vibe of the group’s latest song, “South Tacoma Way,” is a kind-of close cousin to last month’s wacky and quite insane (in a good way) “Monkeypox,” because, well, monkeys play a prominent role here, as well they should.
Jayson says that this song is a “1930s period piece celebrating the virtues of my hometown’s most, eh, remarkable street. It features coffee-pot-shaped buildings, a legendary lowland gorilla, seedy watering holes, and a glimpse into that area’s special indomitable spirit.” I’m not sure where the gorilla comes in, but the Vanilla monkey brigade is sure jumping through various hoops in the “South Tacoma Way” narrative: you can “watch the monkeys” and remember when you danced “until the monkeys screamed.”
“South Tacoma Way” is a wistful travelogue that points to landmarks across the sum of one’s travels. “You say these memories/Don’t amount to much/But to a guy like me, they’re the stuff (full stop)/That dreams are made of,” the narrator sings. This one’s got all of the food groups, folks. It’s another stellar offering from the Vanilla Corporation, and it’s playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Hotcha! – Alan Haber
Dana Countryman | “What If” Written for his wife this past Valentine’s Day and slated to be a part of his next album, Dana Countryman’s “What If” is a sweet, Harry Nilsson-esque love song with wonderful, imaginative lyrics (“Would you just look at me like I’m crazy/And maybe I’m crazy, it’s true/But I could be handy and fix your toaster for you”) and a lovely chord progression that surprises and delights. Alone at the piano, Dana has crafted yet another classic song, and we’ve got it spinning in rotation. A Pure Pop Radio exclusive (thanks, Dana!).
Jean-Jacques Perrey and Dana Countryman | “Beyond the Milky Way” Dana Countryman and his longtime friend and collaborator Jean-Jacques Perrey, the French creator of cool electronic music, birthed this ELO/Klaatu-sounding number, which features a lovely melody and a computerized vocal. “Beyond the Milky Way” is the only song with a vocal done by the duo; it’s from their 2008 album, Destination Space. We’re proud to be featuring this great song on Pure Pop Radio.
DC Cardwell | Bonus Tracks from Pop Art Because we can never play enough of DC Cardwell’s songs, we’re spinning the three bonus tracks that accompany his latest album: “Birthday Present,” a gorgeous ballad with lovely background vocal harmonies and atmosphere to spare; a guitar instrumental version of Pop Art’s “In the Cloud”; and a uke and bass version of “Know Me,” from DC’s Some Hope album. Sweet stuff from one of our favorite singer-songwriters.
Promise | Promise This privately-pressed classic, originally released in 1980 on Promise’s own label, Cumulus, and rescued for reissue (from the original master tapes) by Got Kinda Lost records, is a wonderful power pop album that fans of Badfinger, Emitt Rhodes, the Sweet, and Raspberries will love. A couple of cool rock and rollers bookend the album: “Say Allright!,” a number that sounds like it was taken off Badfinger’s No Dice album, and the mid-tempo, harmony-rich “Putman’s Ranch.” We’re playing all but one song in rotation: the two aforementioned tracks, plus “Back in My Heart,” “Guitar,” “Later on Tonite,” “Hands of Luck,” “Lucky Star,” “The Find,” and “Captain Domino.” The find of this young year.
Turnaround | Let’s Do It Zero Hour Records has done its usual great job compiling this classic Australian band’s previously-released tracks and unreleased demos for a 16-song audio bonanza that power pop fans will love. Sounding like a cross between Shoes and the Cars, the band makes a splash with rockers “Turnaround” and “Nobody’s Child,” and the lovely, mid-tempo ballad, “Is It the End,” which sounds like it’s being sung by Steven Lindsay from the Scottish band, the Big Dish. We’re playing the aforementioned songs, plus “I’m Here for You,” “I Need You,” and “Boom.” Great stuff.
Jeff Cameron | Giraffe Featuring the talents of Adam Marsland and Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron, who duets with Jeff on the powerful “Heroes,” Giraffe is a solid collection of pop-rock numbers that will surely catch the ears of listeners. We’re playing “Heroes” and four other songs in rotation: the melody-rich, melodic stomper “Princess Blue”; the beautifully-sung, hooky “Two Hearts One Love”; the early Prefab Sprout-sounding “Let It Roll”; and the catchy “Long Island Sound,” which sports an infectious middle-eight and cool background vocals. Another great addition to our playlist.
DB Cooper | The Catherine North EP and “The Election” We dig the sound of this indie rock band from up north–so much so that we’re playing songs from their 2014 EP and their new single, the upbeat, high-energy and melodic “The Election.” From 2014’s The Catherine North EP, we’re spinning the equally energetic “The World.”
Jared Lekites | Looking for Diamonds While we wait for Jared Lekites’s next album with Connor Anderson, performing together as the Lunar Laughs, we are pleased to add four songs from Jared’s 2010 EP, Looking for Diamonds: the poptastic, harmonica-laced “Looking for a Diamond”; the sixties-influenced “The Electric Car Ballet”; and the lovely ballads “Love that Lasts” and “Let Your Hair Down (Once in a While).”
The Jeanies | The Jeanies Thanks to Ray Gianchetti at Kool Kat Musik, this album, previously released only on cassette and as a download, gets a proper CD release. This Brooklyn, New York quartet rocks a heady combination of garage aesthetic with sprinkles of Badfinger, Chuck Berry and T. Rex. We’re spinning three songs: the straight-ahead pop-rocker “I Think You’re the Wrong One,” the rocker “It’s for You,” and the T. Rex-into-Chuck Berry high-energy rocker “The Girl’s Gonna Go.” Sweet.
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Tune in to hear these and more than 6,300 other melodic pop songs playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Click on one of the links below to listen. We’re broadcasting to the world 24-hours a day!
It was inevitable, of course; we couldn’t possibly go too long without another round of adds to our playlist! Herewith, then, are some of the latest new songs and artists now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
Nick Piunti | Beyond the Static Nick Piunti’s smashing followup to last year’s 13 in My Head is another outstanding collection of melodic pop classics sporting great, catchy and hooky choruses and top-notch playing from, among others, Nick, the Legal Matters’ Andy Reed, and music pal Ryan Allen, from Ryan Allen and His Extra Arms. Melodic winners abound, from the oh-so-luscious “Heart Stops Beating” and the gorgeous “Quicksand,” which sports one of this album’s most delectable choruses, to the amazing “Six Bands,” about a gal who’s in “six bands, none of them good.” Hopefully, she realizes that she’s spinning wheels that won’t take her anywhere. Nick’s lead vocals are strong and assured and quite musical. One of the finest albums of this young year, and a surefire candidate for top honors in the best of 2015 sweepstakes. Outstanding stuff.
Smith and Hayes | People All Over the World Clay Smith and William Hayes’ third album continues along the sweet, melodic path set by Changed by a Song and Volume II. The duo’s latest musical missive is another mid-to-late period, Beatles-inspired trip down melody lane. We’re playing nine songs from People All Over the World, each one echoing the sound and spirit of John, Paul, George and Ringo and Smith and Hayes: “Slow Down,” “Know It All,” “Didn’t Want to Fall,” “Celebrate My Broken Heart,” “No War Man,” “Don’t Let Your Heart Break,” “Holding On to Love,” “Man in the Moon,” and “Something About Her.” Save a spot in your 2015 best-of list: This one’s a keeper.
Joe Sullivan | “Cheerleader” Fancy a clever, sweet, power poppy love song? Look no further than this newly-minted charmer from the man behind the glorious Schlock Star, one of our Favorite Albums of 2014. Joe marries a creative approach to lyrics with the ability to almost effortlessly craft a hooky melody and intricate harmonies that sing. Folks, make no mistake: It’s Sullivanmania all over again.
Baby Scream | fan, fan, fan and The Worst of… Juan Pablo Mazzola is so full of music that his latest release is a two-for-one, two-album package bursting with melody and harmony-drenched, classic pop songs. To our ears, Juan sounds a bit like Marc Bolan fronting Badfinger, whether he’s playing an original song or a treasured cover; his version of the Scooby Doo theme song is aces. We’re also playing, in rotation, “A Human Being on Mars,” “Everybody Sucks,” “Captain Hook,” “The Girl Next Door,” “Unicorns,” “In a Picture,” “20th Century Baby,” “Cruella De Vil,” and “The Concept.” Rock and pop on with Juan!
Willie Wisely | Parador On the occasion of this album’s 10th anniversary, Pure Pop Radio favorite Willie Wisely has released an expanded collection featuring the original song lineup and 12 additional tracks: two unreleased and 10 alternates. The result is a stereoscopic look at a great record in all of its forms. We’ve added nine tracks, including “Too Quick to Love,” “Stayin’ Home Again,” “Altitudes,” “Through Any Window,” “Freestyle,” “Too Quick to Love (Alternate Take),” “Erase Me (Alternate Take),” “Through Any Window (Live),” and an alternate take of the title track. Willie is one of melodic pop music’s biggest talents, and here is the proof.
The Galileo 7 | Are We Having Fun Yet? and Two New Tracks | Armed with a rock and roll attitude and keen pop smarts, the Galileo 7 deliver an enticing vibe that harkens back to the early sound of the Who. Witness songs such as the rocking and popping “Are We Having Fun Yet” and the garage stomper “Mine! Mine! Mine!” With melody and harmony always in hand, the band can take it slow as well as fast, as with the tuneful mid-tempo, cleverly-named ballad “Some Big Boys Did It (and then Ran Away).” In addition to the aforementioned songs, we’re playing three more present and future classics from 2010’s Are We Having Fun Yet?: “The Sandman Turns Away,” “Run Baby Run,” and the pumping “Can’t Resist.” We’re also playing, in rotation, the band’s new single which pairs the Who-like charger “One Lie at a Time” and the rocking “The God of Gaps.” The Galileo 7 has released two albums since Are We Having Fun Yet?; tracks from them are coming soon to our playlist.
The New Trocaderos | Frenzy in the Hips We’ve been playing four of the six songs on this newly-released EP for awhile. Our thirst for this pop ‘n’ roll super group remains at a fever pitch. Kurt Baker, and Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer from the Connection, create a musical fireball that produces fast and furious, punchy and take-no-prisoners tunes, two of which have been knighted as Coolest Songs in the World by Little Steven’s Underground Garage. Nice! So, exactly which power popping, rock and rolling songs are we spinning in rotation? How about “Money Talks,” “Real Gone Kitty,” “Dream Girl,” “The Kids,” and a hard-hitting power popper, exclusive to this EP, “Luckiest Man in the World.” Breathless fun!
The Explorers Club | All Aboard This five-song EP, recorded live on July 4, 2014 aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina, shows one of pop music’s best bands in top form, with a punchy horn section in tow. Lovely versions of “Anticipatin’,” “Go for You,” and “Run Run Run,” all from 2012’s Grand Hotel; and delicious, note-perfect versions of the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” and the Zombies’ “Tell Her No” round out the track list. Now recording a new album, this band proves what so many fans already know: the Explorers Club can do no wrong.
Caddy | “Wherever You Go” Here is the second new song in less than a month from Caddy’s much anticipated, forthcoming album, The Better End. Caddy, aka Oslo, Norway’s Tomas Dahl, delivers an upbeat pop number with a mega-catchy chorus and a nifty saxophone break. It’s got all of the melodic pop food groups, kids! Sounds so good!
The Earthmen | College Heart Direct from Australia, this 1990s band gets its due with a lovingly-curated collection of classic cuts and four previously-unreleased, newly-recorded tracks. On the release docket for April 1, we’re spinning five terrific numbers from this album, including the beautiful, building ballad “The Reprise” and the catchy, upbeat “Whoever’s Been Using this Bed.” Also playing: “First Single,” “Personal History,” and “Blue Sky.” A great release from Popboomerang Records.
R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner | Make It Be The perhaps unlikely pairing of indie legend R. Stevie Moore and popster Jason Falkner delivers a quirky collection of songs, from which we’ve chosen two to feature on Pure Pop Radio: the Godley and Creme-era 10cc-esque “Sincero Amore” and “Play Myself Some Music.”
Colman | Play to Lose Produced by the legendary Mitch Easter and mastered by the equally legendary Greg Calbi, this collection mixes pop and elements of Americana to deliver a pleasing set full of melody and a whole lot of warmth. Three songs are spinning in rotation on our air: the single-worthy “Straight Face,” “Swing Low,” and the alluring “Three Chords.”
Mothboxer | “Hope the Light is On” A tasty bonus track appended to the just-released collection of three Mothboxer EPs, “Hope the Light is On” is a re-recorded version of a song originally recorded by Kid Galahad in 2004 (Mothboxer main man Dave Ody was a member). It’s the usual Ody opus: a top-notch melody and gorgeous vocal harmonies married to a catchy melody. It’s true, you know: Dave Ody can do no wrong, and here’s the proof.
That’s the skinny for today. More new adds to our playlist coming next week. Thank you for listening to Pure Pop Radio!
We’re back with another extra special, vitamin-rich group of great new and new-to-you melodic pop music added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist.
Let’s get right to it, then. We’ll begin by taking an extended look at a fantastic new tribute to Elvis Costello.
Various Artists | Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello We’ve talked about the compiler’s art before, and make no mistake about it–compiling a tribute album is an art. Practicing the art for this three-disc tribute to Elvis Costello are compilers Olivia Frain and John M. Borack, both longtime Costello fans. Frain, a dedicated music fan, and Borack, a music journalist who has also served as executive producer for 2002’s Right to Chews: Bubblegum Classics Revisited and 2001’s Shoe Fetish: A Tribute to Shoes, set about contacting artists and putting into motion all of the behind-the-scenes nuts-and-bolts tasks necessary to bring the set to market.
This mammoth collection, gathering together covers of Costello numbers from 50 artists, is a delight to listen to from head to toe. As noted in the set’s booklet, “100% of the proceeds…will be donated to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation keeps music alive in schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs, giving youngsters the many benefits of music education, helping them to be better students and inspiring creativity and expression through playing music.” In an era in which arts programs are often cut from schools, this is a most welcome and vital effort.
Beyond Belief is chock full of choice Costello songs performed by artists who obviously love the source material. And what’s not to love? Costello has been a favorite artist of music fans since he first burst on the scene in 1977 with his debut album My Aim is True. Along the way, he has delivered songs in all manner of genre from rock to pop to R&B to country and back again. Proof of this ability to jump from one style to another at the drop of a tone arm is reflected in the tracks chosen by the artists appearing here.
While some artists stick to the plot of land originally planted by Costello, others reimagine the master’s songs and work with new approaches. David Myhr, late of the Merrymakers and now a favored solo artist, delivers a wonderful version of “Veronica” (co-written with Paul McCartney) that basically sticks to Costello’s blueprint but takes the song at a slightly slower tempo and adds more of a glossy, pop sheen. The Rubinoos trade a blaring horn section for the original’s organ part and temper Costello’s snarl with a bit of a poppier vocal approach in a jazzier, new version of “Pump It Up.” Mike Viola turns in a basically reverent version of a Burt Bacharach co-write, the majestic “God Give Me Strength,” in what amounts to a somewhat more intimate, drawing room-like performance; Viola’s gorgeous vocal is delivered over a bed of acoustic guitar and chamber strings, minus the horn present in Costello’s original version.
Three tracks, in particular, take the art of covering a song to new heights. First and foremost, the award goes to Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, better known as Jamie and Steve, who pull the rug out from under Costello’s “Blame It On Cain” and shake out the dust like men on a mission, turning in an amped-up, wild a cappella version powered by doo-wop muscle and good, old-fashioned chutzpah. Not only do Jamie and Steve prove how good the song is, they turn it inside out and rebuild it from the ground up. This is a spectacular performance that will have you hitting the repeat button over and over.
To Costello’s original, moody version of “So Like Candy,” a co-write with Paul McCartney, Paul Myers adds some poppy vocals and a ghostly percussion track and approaches Costello’s bridge as if it were coming straight off of a scratchy vinyl copy of the song. It’s a welcome surprise that, along with Myers’ assured vocal, is one of this set’s major delights. Another top shelf approach is that of Lannie Flowers, who takes a basically reverent run through “Radio Sweetheart,” yet surprises listeners by turning the proceedings on their collective head at 1:55 by introducing a decidedly mystical aura for 37 enticing seconds.
What tribute albums such as Beyond Belief offer, aside from giving artists the chance to play in someone else’s sandbox, is proof that good songs will retain their value as each calendar year passes. New coats of paint in the form of new approaches or reverent run-throughs are good for the songwriter’s art, and good, also, for the compiler’s art. With Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello, the compiler’s art has been raised to new heights.
[Twenty-one tracks from Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello have been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and are now playing in rotation: “Girls Talk,” Rob Smith; “Brilliant Mistake,” Dennis Schocket and Cliff Hillis; “The Other End of the Telescope,” Butch Walker; “Veronica,” David Myhr; “Kinder Murder,” Popdudes; “No Hiding Place,” Michael Carpenter; “Blame It on Cain,” Jamie and Steve; “Monkey to Man,” Kelley Ryan; “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” Severo; “Pump It Up,” The Rubinoos; “Radio Sweetheart,” Paul Myers; “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution),” Hans Rotenberry; “Possession,” Barry Holdship; “This Year’s Girl,” honeychain; “Green Shirt,” Scott Bennett; “God Give Me Strength,” Mike Viola; “Radio Sweetheart,” Lannie Flowers; “Man Out of Time,” Bill Lloyd; “Almost Blue,” Nick Heyward and the 13 Satellites; “Crimes of Paris,” An American Underdog; and “Mystery Dance,” sparkle*jets UK] – Alan Haber
Hidden Pictures | Ottomans The latest release from Hidden Pictures is a typically entertaining musical knockout punch. Delicious melodic pop pictures are painted with an apparent Deacon Blue-meets-Prefab Sprout vibe. Highlights include the wonderfully catchy “Firm Way to Say Goodbye”; the punchy, tuneful “Girl on Girlfriend”; and “Riffraff,” a rock number with a guitar part sounding like it came from a David Bowie track. These and three more songs are now playing in rotation: “You’re an Adult,” “Hannah, I’m Scared of Your Boyfriend,” and “Firm Way to Say Goodbye.” Another great album from this California group.
The Tearaways | The Earle Mankey Sessions, Vol. 4 and The Earle Mankey Sessions, Vol.7 Formed more than 30 years ago, the Tearaways worked with veteran producer Earle Mankey and waxed 50 songs. The results were released in 2014 on these two albums, both necessary purchases for every pop music fan. Great, catchy songs with terrific melodies and harmonies are the order of the day. We’ve added seven songs from Vol. 4 and nine songs from Vol. 7. From Vol. 4, we chose the melodic anthem “Girls Who Love Cars,” the toe-tapper “Stuck On Stupid,” about a guy who can’t quite figure out how to tell a girl he likes how he feels; and the timely “We Don’t Talk, We Text,” about the laziness and lack of proper communication in this world. Also added from Vol. 4: “I Will Wait,” “Jefferson Still Survives,” “Valerie,” and “The Last Goodbye.” From Vol. 7: the self-explanatory “I Pray Guitar”; a rhythmic tribute to “John Wayne”; and “All She Wants Is the Ring,” about a woman who’s in a relationship for its material worth. Plus: “Friends and Enemies,” “I Don’t Know and I Don’t Care,” “More Dollars than Sense,” “I Can Tell You Now,” “I’ll See You Again,” and “I’m All In.” Repeat after us: “Must have. Must have. Must have!”
Dave Rave and the Governors | Sweet American Music The great Dave Rave returns and hooks up with the Governors for a splendid collection of pop songs, all sporting big melodies and, of course, big hooks. From the driving “Lindsay” and pure pop sixties pleasures of “You Take What’s Yours” to “Pullman Washington” and the Lou Reed vocal vibe of “Night School,” this is an album that will never be far from your ears. We’re happily spinning these four songs, along with the rocking “Trapped.” A big record with big guitars and a whole lot of spirit. And the cover’s really cool.
Andy Bopp | Time to Rock! Andy Bopp, late of groups such as Love Nut and Myracle Brah, and currently waxing tunes with Ken Schopf as The Modern Ruins (see next entry), lets loose in his living room armed with only his electric guitar and echoed vocals for a quartet of Sun-era sounding rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ rockabilly numbers. The tracks: the title track, “Anna Lee,” “Black Heath,” and Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk.” Dig these thrilling and powerful performances, all playing now in rotation.
The Modern Ruins | Bleeding Party and Three Tracks from the Four Track Can’t get enough Bopp? Andy’s got you covered with two new 2015 releases from his duo with Ken Schopf, the Modern Ruins. These songs follow nicely from the vibe of Andy’s solo EP, Time to Rock!, only on these records Andy and his guitars are supported by Ken’s Cocktail Drum kit, percussion and backing vocals. It’s rock ‘n’ roll all the way, from the souped-up Sun-era sound of “All Fall Down (Black Heath),” which also appears on Time to Rock!, to the slow blues of the title track and a spirited, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band-esque version of David Essex’s 1973 top five hit, “Rock On.” These songs, plus three more–“Longtime,” “Rope Walker,” and “There”–are now playing in rotation. From Three Tracks from the Four Track, we’re spinning “Anytime Anyway” and “When It Rains.” Great stuff.
Cartographer | Cartographer, and Town and Country | My Blue Heaven One of our favorite singer-songwriters, Scott Gagner, whose last album, Rise and Shine, was a big hit here at Pure Pop Radio, is the common denominator between these two releases, both from 2008. Both albums find Gagner and friends following a similar musical path to Gagner’s current vibe. In other words, the songs are melodic and inventive and instantly memorable. Great stuff through and through. From Cartographer, we’re playing, in rotation, “The Trouble With You,” “I’m Not Following You,” “Love Triangle for Two,” “Sound Rebounds,” “Waiting,” and “Suburban Girl.” From My Blue Heaven, we’re spinning “Daytime Emmy,” “Bella Vista,” “Better than That,” and “The Rest of the Night.” Scott is currently working on ideas for his next album. We can only hope we don’t have to wait too long.
Sitcom Neighbor | Charm This wonderful pop music album from 2012 hits the melodic bullseye, sounding like a splinter off the main body of the Sugarplastic. From the beautiful “Amphetamine” to the rocking nod “The Satisfaction of Love” and the bluesy pop of “Vaseline Water Balloon,” this album is full of harmonies and top notch melodies, bursting with tasty nuggets. We’re playing eight songs in rotation: those previously mentioned, and “Let It Go,” “True Love and Medication,” “This Time Tomorrow,” the Beatlesque “Buy Your Farm,” and “Darlene.”
The Tickets | The Tickets Musician Walter Clevenger loved the Tickets so much that he gathered together the band’s 1990 cassette-only album, The Tickets Make a Record, and their 1986 single, “She Got Away”/”Yesterday’s Girl” and released both together in 2006 as The Tickets on his own Brewery Records label. The album is an important collection of songs performed by musicians with an obvious love for pop music. We’re playing six: “Dream About Me,” “Everything,” “I Don’t Belong,” “Heartland,” “The One that I Loved,” and “She Got Away.” Great melodies, harmonies and playing abound.
The General Store | Mountain Rescue It is a pleasure to have the music of the General Store spinning in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Tam Johnstone, the musician behind the group name, is the son of Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone; he obviously picked up a musical thing or two from his dad. A mix of country-tinged and pop/rock numbers, Mountain Rescue is represented on Pure Pop Radio by seven songs: the ringing rocker “Early Morning Fuzz,” the Beach Boys homages “Girls from the Mall” and “Nothing Can Come Between Us,” and “Desert Weathered Hiway.” The Neil Young nod “Come Around,” “Great Big World,” and “Over Here” complete the pack.
Ian Gomm | Demonstrates Ian Gomm, who co-wrote (with Nick Lowe) one of the great pop singles of all time, “Cruel to Be Kind,” and played guitar for the band Brinsley Schwarz, added this terrific EP to his catalog in 2013. The platter is represented on Pure Pop Radio with four choice cuts, pop classics all: the upbeat, catchy “Let’s Stick Together” and “Only You (Knowing Me),” the hit-worthy “Magic Spell,” and the beautiful ballad “Lonely Avenue.” A terrific disc from one of the greats, released by Jerker Emanuelson’s Sound Asleep Records.
Various Artists | Souvenirs: Little Gems of Pop, Volume II The second in a series of collections gathering together various classic pop recordings, Souvenirs: Little Gems of Pop, Volume II kicks off with Richard X. Heyman’s crackerjack 1980 single a-side, “Vacation,” an energetic pop rocker with a typically catchy melody. From there you get, amongst the treasures on hand, Bill Lloyd’s jangly, highly melodic side “Lisa Anne,” from Bill’s 1987 Feeling the Elephant album; Tube Top’s glorious, upbeat power pop song “Oceans Cracked,” from the band’s 1997 album Three Minute Hercules; and Scott Sutherland’s straight-ahead pop song “Book of Seasons” from 1999. These songs are now playing in rotation as part of our playlist; others spinning as we speak are Enemies in the Grass’ “Best Behaviour,” Post Office’s “The Whole Thing’s a Bust,” Jr. Gone Wild’s “It Never Changes,” and Nick Rudd’s Blown’s “One in a Million.” A wonderful collection, released in 2014 by Jerker Emanuelson’s Sound Asleep Records.
Whew! That does it for our two-day new adds extravaganza. We hope you enjoyed the ride through the latest additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. All of the songs and artists we talked about today and yesterday are now playing in rotation. Tune in to Pure Pop Radio by clicking on one of the handy listen links below. And make a date to come back often to hear more of the greatest pop music in the universe!
2015 is quickly shaping up to be a banner year for melodic pop music. With only a month and a few days behind us, we’ve already seen some pretty wonderful sounds coming across our desk and leaping from there onto our playlist.
Today and tomorrow, we’re bringing you the latest adds to our station: a marathon, two-day communique detailing the new (and heritage) artists and songs now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
Our playlist is now 6,200 songs strong. We’re excited to bring to you what we feel is the best of the best–the greatest melodic pop music in the universe!
Here is what’s new today. Stop back tomorrow for more.
Vegas With Randolph | “I Could Be the One” The latest from Washington, D.C.-area popsters Vegas With Randolph is a sweet slice of pure pop with a bugglegum center. Punctuated by Archies-esque electric piano and bass stabs, and a catchy melody that instantly hooks, “I Could Be the One” may well be Vegas With Randolph’s most wonderful song yet. Now playing in rotation.
The Weeklings | The Weeklings It is our great pleasure to welcome New Jersey’s most famous sons to our radio stage. Meet the Weeklings, everybody! The Weeklings, featuring Bob Burger and Glen Burtnik, play a retroriffic brand of Merseybeat-style pop and roll (think early Beatles) that will put a smile on your face that will no doubt stretch from the New Jersey Turnpike to the California coast. On the musical menu is a delicious mix of period-esque originals and energy-fueled covers of songs that Lennon and McCartney gave away during those golden days of the 1960s. We are so in love with this album that we couldn’t bear to pick and choose tracks to play on the air. So we’ve added the whole lot, and they’re now playing in rotation…in glorious monophonic sound! A full review will follow. Here’s what we’ve added: “Little Tease,” “Leave Me With My Pride,” “You Know What to Do,” “One and One is Two,” “I’m In Love,” “Mona Lisa,” “Breathing Underwater,” “If I Was in Love,” “Oh! Darla,” “If You’ve Got Trouble,” and “That Means a Lot.” The CD drops at retail on March 10 (vinyl on April 7). It’s fab!
Vanilla | “Monkeypox” The award for the funniest, cleverest, geniusist, creativeist and primateist song of the year so far without question goes to Jayson Jarmon and the musicians and general mirth makers behind the crazy musical creation that is “Monkeypox.” There are no words that can further describe this quirky tune that will be part of the forthcoming album 2.0, but here are some anyway: You will never get this song out of your head. You will marvel at the spot-on Brian May guitar-as-horn-section solo. And you will fall to the ground when you hear the song-ending Beatles quote. If you’re sitting, you will fall off your chair. You will also be singing along with the chorus the first time it rolls. “Hey kids,” the announcer guy intones at the start of the song, “it’s time for the Zippy the Chimp show. In tonight’s episode, Sally is feeling a bit under the weather and tells a little white lie.” And with that, you’re off and running on today’s coolest and grooviest journey. Now playing in rotation!
Tommy Lorente and La Cavalerie | Amanita Sessions French popster Tommy Lorente’s live session, recorded last November, is an energetic set, sung in French, that will hit the sweet spot of every pop fan. Tommy’s great vocals and La Cavalerie’s powerful instrumental backing, and a group of fantastic, catchy songs, will thrill you note after note. We’ve added three numbers that are now playing in rotation: “Katrine,” “Demander Pardon,” and “Quelque Part.”
Tommy Lorente | Un Cruel Manque de Tendresse Tommy’s 2014 release is a captivating collection of ballads and uptempo numbers–classic pop delivered by a master. Tommy’s vocal performances are uniformly magnetic. We are thrilled to be able to add this French singer’s music to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Now in rotation: “Ma Dose de Toi,” “Mirabelle,” the studio version of “Demander Pardon,” “Les Anges s’Envolent,” “Katrine,” “Bien Etrange,” “Patience,” and “Delirium Clemence.” Bonus: Thrill to Tommy’s exciting power pop take on the theme from the classic television show, The Prisoner!
Rachel Sage | Blue Roses Juggling pop, rock and folk influences with a deft hand, Rachel Sage delivers a mix of balladry and uptempo numbers. Her sound is not that far removed from middle period Mary Chapin Carpenter and late period folk. A ballet dancer in an earlier life, Rachel is a gifted troubadour who sings about nothing less than life itself. On these songs, she is backed by a group of all-star musicians. We’ve added seven songs to our playlist: the title track, “Barbed Wire,” “Newspaper,” “Used to Be My Girl,” “Not Leaving You,” Neil Young’s “Helpless” (featuring Judy Collins and the band, A Fragile Tomorrow) and “English Tea.” Beautiful.
Drifting Sand | Summer Splash Evolving from a duo in the early 1990s to its current four-piece configuration, surf popsters Drifting Sand ride the waves and groove to the warmth of the summer sun on their latest album. We’ve added four songs to our playlist: the lovely “Blue Water,” the totally rad instrumentals “Santa Cruz’n” and “Surf Surf Surf,” and another, gorgeous instrumental, the beautiful “Alohawaii.” Surf’s up!
Willie Wisely | Gospo Feel Songs previously lost in time and then found in 2009 were gathered together and released as Gospo Feel at the tail end of 2014. We’re spinning a taste from this typically inventive Wisely collection: the straight-ahead, trombone-infused pop-rocker “Cannot Love You Enough.” You would be wise(ly) to pick this album up without delay.
Popluxe | Popluxe 3 How to describe Popluxe? Best to go with the following verbage from the band’s website: “Described variously as an American Kinks, the Replacements playing Steely Dan, and the Gershwin Brothers writing for the New York Dolls, Populuxe draws on the last 200 years of songcraft and a musical pedigree ranging from Broadway to the broken half of a strippers’ runway in a scuzzy Northeast Minneapolis biker bar to create their heady signature sound.” That’s some doozy of a pedigree; we’ll land somewhere in the middle of it as we add two tunes from this album to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: the straight-ahead, poppy “End of the Affair” and the artful, moody mid-tempo ballad, “Requiem.”
EuroTrash | “Live Slow Die” A tip o’ the Pure Pop Radio hat goes to Tomas Dahl, who records under the band name Caddy, for hipping us to this group’s new single. Pulsing like a locomotive with super powers, “Live Slow Die” sports a catchy melody and a great chorus, not to mention lots of loud guitars. Now spinning in rotation.
Cool King Chris | Paradigm Shift We dropped the ball on announcing the adding of tracks from our pal Cool King Chris’s latest. Produced by another pal of ours, the renaissance man himself, Jamie Hoover, Paradigm Shift is chock full of great, creative tuneage, and we’ve been spinning three songs since they were released: the title track, “The Band Broke Up,” and “Stuck in a Rhyme.” All hail the King!
Cameron Joel Hawk | Dream You Forgot The Dead Girls’ Cameron Joel Hawk releases his first solo album on February 10. In advance of the release, we’re playing four terrific tracks. Lovely acoustic guitar work abounds throughout, perhaps no more so than on the sensitive ballad, “All On You,” which sounds like something that would have fit comfortably on Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone’s 1970s solo album. “Black and Blue Bird” is a wonderful instrumental shaded by a dusting of electric guitar sprinkles. “Fire Again” is another track with terrific acoustic guitar work. These songs, plus another great one, “Messy Days,” are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Check here on release day for this great album.
The Rip Off Artists | Esque We added songs from the Rip Off Artists’ The Intercontinental back on December 5, 2014. This album, equally as terrific, was released in 2008. Nick Pipitone and Peter Batchelder turn in another great group of melodic songs; we’re playing a half dozen of these pearls in rotation: “What Just Happened,” “The Worst News in the World,” “The Girl Behind the Bar,” “Love and Uncertainty,” “Without You, I’m Something,” and “I Thought It Over.”
Brooklyn Doran | There’s a Light On From Toronto, Canada we tune in to the sensitive folk-pop sounds of Brooklyn Doran. From her debut EP , we have chosen two songs anchored by Brooklyn’s pretty, sometimes fragile vocals: the lovely “Cold Outside” and the gorgeous ballad, “Lansdowne.” Fans of Claire Hamill will love this.
That’s it for today. What a bounty of delights! We’ve got lots more tomorrow. See you then!
We’re on an exciting mission to expand the Pure Pop Radio playlist yet again! Hundreds of new songs have been added over the past couple of weeks; this week–today and tomorrow, day one and day two–we’ll be rolling out posts filled to the brim with heritage and newly-added artists and songs currently spinning in rotation.
As usual, we’ve put up a Facebook event page, which we hope you’ll visit and join by clicking here. The fun starts tomorrow morning at 8 am ET. Join us and tune in to hear the latest additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Hundreds of songs and artists! The greatest pop music in the universe! Wow!
by Alan Haber (See below for 35 songs that have been added to the Pure Pop Radio Playlist)
The act of musicians paying tribute to a favorite artist’s art for the purposes of expressing adulation and exposing some other idea or sound to fans is not a new concept, but it is a great and honored tradition that is happily carried out by adept craftspeople who know a thing or two about quality and wish to communicate their joy.
In the case of musicians paying their respect to the Beach Boys (and Jan and Dean and others that have blossomed under the California sun), it is a longstanding tradition that continues to this day. Witness XTC’s spot-on “Pale and Precious” as an example from years back, and point to the work of current pop artisans like Dave Caruso, who captures the Boys of Summer’s sound and spirit in the audio bottle known as “Champion,” and Dana Countryman, whose vocal arrangements evoke the kind of depth of construction favored by the Beach Boys’ central spirit, Brian Wilson. And also factor in the songs of The Dukes of Surf, Hawaii based and steeped in the same melodic tradition.
All of this adulation and expressing the joy of influence would mean nothing at all if artists didn’t infuse their loving tributes with a piece of their own hearts. In the case of Matt Tyson–singer, songwriter, artist and such a smart cookie–heart is the center of the attention he gives to what has come before. In his music, Matt starts with the central concept of the meeting of minds between melody and harmony. He constructs a framework within which he plants the spark that gives birth to the idea that grows the song and places the cherry–an explosion of sweet vocalizing–on top. That’s not easy to do; Matt pulls the whole deal off as if it were second nature to him. And it probably is.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that, prior to making the album Goodbye Jumbo in a studio with better equipment than he was used to, World Party’s Karl Wallinger recorded “…a lot of Beatles and Beach Boys songs… His goal was to figure out exactly how those records were made.” In Matt’s case, he probably listened, greatly admired the Beach Boys sound and, knee deep in that euphoria, started sculpting songs that would celebrate his joy. The point is, I think, he figured it out.
Playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals himself about 99.9 percent of the time, Matt tucks his influences in his pocket and turns out song after song kissed by golden sunshine. Matt’s latest album, Summertime Girls, begins with a gorgeous Jan and Dean-inspired a cappella opening to “My Old Bel Air.” The harmony stack is deep; if the six seconds it takes to get through that a cappella bit were all the song had to offer, it would probably be enough to satisfy. But there is the song–a car song, no less, that is all about the love for the 1950s version of the hovercraft. “All these custom cars, yeah they look real nice/They sit around at shows for a trophy prize/But my ’57 Chevy is not for show/It’s old and worn but always ready to go,” Matt sings. The song is a tribute to an ideal that still resonates: The things that define us in our lives matter.
In another car song on Summertime Girls, Matt tells the story of the “Five Window Coupe.” Anchored by Brian Wilson influence, the singer takes listeners on a detailed tour of his ’34 Coupe. “Nothing can touch my Plymouth five window Coupe,” he sings over a decidedly considered, slowed down beat, laying on the harmonies as if they were the main ingredient in the icing slathered on top of a delicious, five-layer chocolate cake. These songs are about more than cars: Girls figure into the landscape, too. In the title song, Matt’s mix of joyous harmonies and Hal Blaine-styled drumming takes you to the summer soaked beach to check out the scenery.
The same attention to detail is paid to all manner of songs on all of Matt’s albums like 2007’s Keep an Eye On. “My Car, My Board and You” sums up the summer scene of the mind in beautiful ballad style, with Matt’s usual vocal and instrumental dexterity in tow. And let’s not forget the melodies–dreamy, three-dimensional, and true. “The Calm Song,” a co-write with Barry Thomson, who played all of the instruments, is nothing less than a perfect pocket symphony with surprising and satisfying changes. It is a musical marvel sporting swirling harmony constructs and room to breathe. The a cappella parts particularly shine and delight.
Now!, from 2008, begins with a lovely, upbeat, summer soaked love song to a girl named Marianne (“Marianne (Makes Everything Different)”) and continues with a wonderful Beach Boys-meets-Jan and Dean nod (“Fun When the Weekend Comes”). On 2010’s Malibu Jukebox, Matt celebrates the whole ball of wax that figures into his songs with the catchy, name-checking vibe of “The Ooh Wah Song.” 2009’s California Myth is another total melodic celebration, with great girl songs (the upbeat “Judy Knows Malibu,” and “My Kind of Girl,” percussion heavy with a layer of sleigh bells and a punctuating bass line that could have been waxed at Gold Star). Add to that a whole lot of spirit. Catch a wave, anybody?
It is rare to come across an artist whose vision is as true as that which fuels the songs that populate these albums. In Matt Tyson’s music, the art of homage, and of reinvention, is at the heart of all things. In our lives, adept craftspeople like Matt Tyson are important–vital, even, as they lift our spirits when they need lifting, which may well be more often than not these days. It is all about the art, and the state of the art is just fine.
[We’ve added 35 songs from five of Matt Tyson’s albums. All are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. The breakdown: “My Old Bel Air,” “Down by the Beach,” “Summertime Girls,” “Five Window Coupe,” “Aloha Wagon,” and “Only in My Dreams” (from Summertime Girls, 2014); “The Ooh Wah Song,” “Belief,” “Cars, Surfboard and Girls,” “You Shoulda Been Here Yesterday,” “Playin’ in the Sun,” and “That Kind of Girl” (from Malibu Jukebox, 2010); “I Just Can’t Reach the Beach,” “California Myth,” “Felicity,” “Land Lovin’ Beauty,” “Top Down,” “The Big Kahuna,” and “Judy Knows Malibu” (from California Myth, 2009); “Marianne (Makes Everything Different),” “Fun When the Weekend Comes,” “You Know What I Mean,” “Go Little Malibu,” “New Girl in the Neighborhood,” and “MCMXLV” (from Now!, 2008); “Keep an Eye On Gina,” “It Don’t Mean Much Now,” “My Car, My Board and You,” “Surf’s Up,” “Wish I Was the Sunshine,” “Ride With Me,” “The Calm Song,” “Tell the Teacher I’m Surfin’,” “Summertime,” and “Lucky in Love” (from Keep an Eye On, 2007)]
For your wonderful Wednesday, we’ve got a short and sweet, but no less wild and wooly stack of wax–a triumphant trio of platters that matter!–to roll out to your ears. Without any further ado, let’s get to it!
New and currently spinning in rotation on Pure Pop Radio (more coming tomorrow):
Ryan Allen and His Extra Arms | Heart String Soul With this exhilarating followup to 2011’s Ryan Allen and His Extra Arms, Ryan and his arms prove that they’re no longer the best kept secret in power pop. Heart String Soul has enough oomph and pomp and confidence to blow the doors off your grandma’s shack in the woods. It’s a heck of a record and a heck of an achievement and, heck, we’ll just have to add six great tracks to the Pure Pop Radio playlist, including the pure pop confection “Keep Me Around,” the blistering power pop anthem “Looking Forward to Looking Back,” and the made-for radio, straight-ahead pop of “Should Be Me.” Also now playing in rotation: “Born Radical,” “Not Hanging Out,” and the sensitive ballad that closes the album, “Bonded by Blood.” Destined to be a favorite with many a pop fan, Heart String Souldrops March 25. It’s pretty great.
Jonathan Rundman | Jonathan Rundman Just last Wednesday, we added tracks from Jonathan Rundman’s new album, Look Up. Here we are again with tracks from Jonathan’s 2011 self-titled release, a compilation of various tracks recorded between 2000 and 2010. A few are remixed from earlier album appearances and a few are previously unreleased, but most will be familiar to Rundmaniacs (to coin a phrase). All told, the 20 songs included here kind of sum up the various forms of pop out there in the world today. Rundman’s a master craftsman, for sure. We’ve added 10 tunes: “Smart Girls,” “Librarian,” “Surgical Precision,” “581,” “I Thought You Were Mine,” the sorta-kinda absurdity-meets-tenderness vibe of “Dialysis Carpool,” “Kuortane,” “The Serious Kind,” “You Never Last Where You Land,” and “If You Have a Question.” Fine work from a mighty fine pop purveyor. Dig this now.
Gretchen’s Wheel | Fragile State Lindsay Murray combines facility in both pop and rock music on this captivating album stacked tall with great, powerful songs that really resonate. Aided by Posie Ken Stringfellow, who plays various instruments and sings backing vocals, and drummer Ira Elliot, Fragile State is represented on Pure Pop Radio by two standout tracks: “Second to Last” and “My Lullaby.”
As we said above, short and sweet, but no less grand. Be back here tomorrow for more new adds to the Pure Pop Radio playlist.