Reviews | 10.11.18: Ken Sharp, The Cherry Bluestorms, Lannie Flowers, The Lunar Laugh, and Pat Walsh

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Ken Sharp | Beauty in the Backseat (2018)
ken sharp beauty in the backseat 2018 coverFancy spinning a big old super-sized love letter to 1970s pop, like the kind you might have heard on AM radio back in the day? Ken Sharp’s fun follow-up to his sterling 2016 long player, New Mourning, might well be just your ticket.

Played mostly by Ken and co-producer Fernando Perdomo, with guest appearances by Hall and Oates’ John Oates, Utopia’s Kasim Sulton, Kiss’s Ace Frehley, Marshall Crenshaw, and melodic pop stalwart Rob Bonfiglio, Beauty in the Backseat plays its affectionate and catchy cards throughout.

The poppy, upbeat “Lemons to Lemonade,” decked out in Kyle Vincent-esque splendor, presents a narrator who turns sad into glad. “Listen to Me” is a feel-good number about people taking “a million tiny steps” to come together and make a difference. And “Philly Kind of Night” brings the aforementioned John Oates to the microphone to provide soulful background vocals for a tribute to the art of Philadelphia soul, this time adorned with Ken’s usual pop edge.

Don’t miss “Rock Show,” which gets these proceedings off to a showstopping start, telling the story of a band getting ready to hit the stage and make musical magic. Ace Frehley delivers an energetic, runaway guitar solo during the close. The sobering balladic tribute to a favorite, fallen musician, “The Day that David Bowie Died,” is an affecting song, and the should-be-a-radio-hit, happy-sounding “The Hardest Part” concerns itself with the dissolution of a relationship and the avoidance of any measure of regret that might follow.

Solid.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon

The Cherry Bluestorms | Whirligig! (2018)
the cherry bluestorms whirligig album coverThe Los Angeles-based pop-rockers Deborah Gee and Glen Laughlin take the world stage with their most assured and accessible long player yet.

Mixing Rolling Stones affects from the Brian Jones era with other mid-sixties sounds, the Bluestorms deliver a smashing collection of songs sure to please. The rolling rocker “Heel to Toe,” sporting a most melodic, very catchy chorus is one such pearl; the flattering, rocky, Gee-sung portrait “Roy Wood,” which quotes the Stones rather cleverly and takes an unexpected turn at the end with a comforting, orchestrated coda is another.

Other nuggets include the Stonesy “Rays of the Sun” and “Seven League Boots,” and the lovely “Caroline,” which announces itself as a gentle acoustic number and ends up a full-band excursion with a pretty melody. The closing, anthemic “Be Here Now” shows off multi-instrumentalist Glen Laughlin’s guitar prowess in grand style, as he blisters off into the sunset. Excellent entry into the growing Bluestorms catalog.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, iTunes

Lannie Flowers | “Where Did All the Fun Go” (2018)
lannie flowers where did coverThe eighth in the continuing series of ace songs given away for free during the run-up to his upcoming album Home, “Where Did All the Fun Go” is an upbeat, catchy explosion of melody and sentiment relating to the good memories that fade in the face of today’s fast-paced world. Dig the harmony-drenched a cappella ending and the rocking sitar! Already, before Home arrives, Lannie has released nearly an album’s worth of classic, top-flight tracks. Dig it, indeed!

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop Records (Free download)

The Lunar Laugh | “By the Light of the Living Room” (2018)
the lunar laugh by the light of the living room coverWith George Harrison-y slide guitar in tow, Jared Lekites’ latest, slated for inclusion on the Lunar Laugh’s next album, is a catchy slice of happy-sounding melodic pop about a sore subject–a fractured relationship that might, could possibly be saved (“When I woke up you were crying/Bitter tears that made me feel like dying/Is it too late to kiss and make up/We’ve been together too long to break up”). An attractive chorus shines. Don’t miss it.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Pat Walsh | “Another Nightingale” (2018)
pat walsh another nightingaleAn always reliable songwriter and performer, encountered early in the run of the weekly Pure Pop Radio Show on WEBR, Pat Walsh continues to release luscious, sophisticated, and genuinely affecting melodic pop songs. His latest, a lovely mid-tempo ballad about hope wiping away the darkness in a person’s life, is sung sweetly and built around ingenious chord changes. Pat never fails to impress.

black box Where to Get It: Listen on YouTube. After listening, Pat would love it if you would leave a comment on his YouTube page telling him how much you liked this song.

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream, which ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018, succeeded the weekly Pure Pop Radio show, which began in 1995. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

New on Pure Pop Radio 05.11.17: Cait Brennan, Bryan Estepa, The Wellingtons, Kenny Herbert, Pat Walsh, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 05.11.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

cait brennab thirdCait Brennan | Third (2017)
Quite simply, and before I say anything specific about Cait Brennan’s miraculous, astounding, audacious new album, the pairing of this one-of-a-kind artist and multi-instrumentalist and ace producer Fernando Perdomo is surely one of those fortified-in-heaven happenings that make life on earth a wonderful thing. Captain Obvious here, in other words.

Soaking up the atmosphere at Memphis, Tennessee’s legendary Ardent Studios, where, it may be hard to believe, Big Star only scratched the surface of artists who waxed classic recordings, Brennan and Perdomo made the magic that lines the virtual walls of Brennan’s new album, Third.

It’s one thing to have great songs when going into a studio–any studio–but it’s another to have the chutzpah and the moxie to make them so great that they emerge on disc fully-formed as state-of-the-art classics, which is exactly how the baker’s dozen songs on Third turned out.

What the hell was in the water when Brennan and Perdomo cooked up the ingredients that, stirred in just the right way, made the amazing “Catiebots Don’t Cry” a reality? Because more of that kind of crafting, okay? This gut-wrenching you-love-her-I-love-her-what-are-we-gonna-do-about-it slow-to-mid-tempo burner is a skewed kind of aromatic love song that would have been great had it just been delivered with Brennan singing solo over a gutsy piano track, but with the considered pop and roll stew played out with Perdomo, whose delicious ’70s-styled wah-wah guitar lines are something to behold, and Brennan, whose multi-tracked, three-dimensional vocal harmony stacks are a thing of beauty, it’s something else entirely that dares you and your band to even try to better it. And, I would bet the house on this, you won’t ever.

The equally amazing and spitfire rave-up that is “Shake Away” carries on the rich vocal harmony tradition set by “Catiebots Don’t Cry” in the form of a Motown/Stax-fortified rave-up, and believe me, this thing about getting love right shakes, baby, in a kind of boom-boom way. There’s a whole lot of shaking going on in this pounding number charged with maximum voltage; this thing is practically, deliberately breathless. Speaking of breathless, “A Hard Man to Love” is defiantly so; the grounding, pounding piano pushes the proceedings along until every element gets toppled by the late-song, packed-tight verse that Brennan sings so precise and quick. It outdoes that old Federal Express fast-talking spokesperson, leaving him flat in the dust.

Not every song on Third bristles with quick temperament: “Perish the Thought” is a thoughtful ballad that closes with a clarion a cappella call to arms that will send shivers up and down your spine. And “Bad at Apologies,” a mid-tempo ballad about attraction at all costs (“Another minute without him/I would probably die”), pours buckets of emotion on the flames of obsessive love.

A roller coaster ride through all of life’s travails, Third is an emotional wake up call for all humans negotiating the pathways of their existence. That it pops and rolls like the best works of melodic art is a given. Cait Brennan’s third go-round is astonishing, bold, and seemingly effortless. Captain Obvious, signing out.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Bad at Apologies,” “He Knows Too Much,” “At the End of the World,” “A Hard Man to Love,” “Catiebots Don’t Cry,” “Shake Away,” “The Angels Lie,” and “Perish the Thought”
black box Where to Get It: Amazon, Omnivore Store

bryan estepa rattled and rolledBryan Estepa | “Rattled and Rolled” (2017)
Just 11 days shy of a year ago, we added tracks from Sydney, Australia singer-songwriter Bryan Estepa’s wonderful album, Every Little Thing. He returns to Pure Pop Radio with this fine, melodic track, on which he is joined by ace musician Michael Carpenter; Bryan slings the guitars, Michael slings everything else (he also produced, recorded, mixed & mastered). What stands out most of all are Bryan’s astoundingly assured vocal, always on target; Michael’s humming Hammond organ; and the fact that the proceedings were recorded in just eight hours. Echoing the sensibilities of The New Pornographers, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan, this killer track whets our appetites for more. So, off with you then, Bryan Estepa.

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

The Wellingtons End of the Summer front coverThe Wellingtons | End of the Summer (2017)
Today’s second entry from Australia (Melbourne, this time) finds this lively quintet returning to the pop boards with their first album in six years. While the songs are, by and large, a bit too loud for our humble airwaves, four are absolutely perfect. “1963” is a cheery, upbeat, happy-sounding jangly charmer with an intoxicating melody. “She Rides the Bus” is a mid-tempo ballad swirling in Beatlesque ambiance. “So Easy” rides the ABBA waves for a ba-ba-esque celebration of catchy. And the hooky title song would sound good, well, on the radio. So, let’s spin it, shall we?

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “End of the Summer,” “1963,” “So Easy,” and “She Rides the Bus”
black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Bomp Store

kenny herbert i'm comin homeKenny Herbert | “I’m Coming Home” (2017)
One of our favorite singer-songwriters working today, Kenny Herbert continues to write and record wonderful songs that come from the heart. His latest, written and recorded with David Paton (Pilot) and Nobby Clark is a typically pretty tune. Lovely harmonies, a sumptuous melody, and a catchy chorus are in tow. Gorgeous.

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

pat walsh bygone daysPat Walsh | “Bygone Days” (2017)
Another Pure Pop Radio favorite, Pat Walsh always delights with his wonderfully melodic songs. “Bygone Days” features another carefully modulated vocal, another terrific melody. Another, another and on and on. Beautiful.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: Not currently available. Listen on YouTube

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

the outryders - let's live for today The Outryders | “Piangi Con Me (& Live for Today)” (With Joe Algeri and Herb Eimerman) (2017) Bandcamp

lisa mycholsLisa Mychols | “He’s Got Me Dreaming'” and “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes” (2017) (“He’s Got Me Dreaming” CD Baby; “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes” CD Baby)

irene pena Irene Peña | “Shut It Down” (2017) (From Trying Not to Smile) Patreon

radio days i'm in love with you haruka Radio Days | “I’m In Love With You, Haruka” and “Teenage Kicks” (Undertones cover) Bandcamp

the dahlmanns forever my babyThe Dahlmanns | “Forever My Baby” and “The Last Time”
Pop Detective Records

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Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion Rolls On! It’s Day Number Three, and We’re Still Just Getting Started!

Pure Pop Radio is committed to bringing you the latest and greatest melodic pop music from your favorite recording artists and artists who will quickly become your favorite recording artists. We scour the globe for the coolest sounds around.

This week, and in the weeks to come, we’re adding many hundreds of new songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We’ve already told you about a good number of songs and artist’s we’ve introduced to our airwaves. Here’s a bunch more:

Brandon Schott | Verdugo Parkbrandon-verdugo-park-cover Brandon Schott’s latest taster for his upcoming album, provisionally titled Crayons and Angels, is a phenomenal three-song collection featuring two songs that will be unavailable elsewhere. That alone is reason enough to jump on this masterful creation. These two tracks–a lightly-psychedelic instrumental called “Lapiz Lazuli” that takes its inspiration from the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” and runs wild with it; and a delightful cover of Robert and Richard Sherman’s lovely 1962 soundtrack song, “Castaway”–are classics in their own right. But the main draw here is the title cut, a delectable mix of Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson-esque melody and inspiration that is beyond the heights that inspiration usually takes you. We’re playing all three of these songs in rotation. We can’t wait for you to hear them.

Dave Caruso's Cardboard Vegas RoundaboutDave Caruso (Part One) | Cardboard Vegas Roundabout We raved about Dave’s miracle of an album a few weeks ago, and rightly so: it’s one of the best releases of this or any year. This is what you get when a talented multi-instrumentalist puts pen to paper and crafts songs that not only pay homage to his musical heroes but also incorporate his own, unique way of drawing out a melody and topping it off with words that tell a commanding story. From the Beach Boys homage (also sporting a dash of Carpenters spice), “Champion,” to the astounding, tight harmony singing that kicks off and populates the beautiful “I’ve Tried to Write You,” this is an album that, as Paul McCartney once sang, is warm and beautiful. We’re playing five songs in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: the aforementioned “Champion” and “I’ve Tried to Write You,” “The Art of Erica,” “It’s a Great Day for the Angels,” and “Shelter.”Dave Caruso's Elizabeth Parker EP

Dave Caruso (Part Two) | Elizabeth Parker Before releasing Cardboard Vegas Roundabout, Dave recorded an EP that is just as captivating. We’re playing four songs in rotation: the title track, “I Can’t Be On Time,” “If I Died Today,” and “Letter to My Ex.” A double dose of Dave Caruso will do you good!

swan-diveSwan Dive | Soundtrack to Me and You The art of song that sweeps you off your feet with marvelous melody and peerless songwriting is practiced on Swan Dive’s 10th album, Soundtrack to Me and You. Molly Felder’s sent-from-heaven-above vocals bring Bill DeMain’s wonderful songs (co-written with Kelly Jones and Mike Viola, amongst others) to life, and what a great life it is. From the Buddy Holly-meets-Everly Brothers vibe of “Good Things” to the breezy, free and easy mid-tempo ballad “Sweet Summer Fling,” this is as good as pop music gets. We love this album so much that we’ve added all of the songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: “Sweet Summer Fling,” “Flipside of Loving You,” “Soundtrack to Me and You,” “Star Crossed Lover,” “Missing,” “I Can See What’s Coming,” “Brief Interlude,” “Slim Willie Dunn and the Gin Bottle Four,” “Wrong Number” and “Good Things.” Wonderful stuff.

andy-reed-oddities-and-entitiesAndy Reed | Oddities and Entities Much-loved musician, producer and engineer Andy Reed, who moonlights as one-third of the much-loved band the Legal Matters and records under the band name An American Underdog, has a long history as a maker of fine records. This history is reflected in the grooves of this enticing, catchall collection of 22 previously-released and unreleased gems. From the pure pop pleasures of “Smile, Look and Listen” and “The Ballad of…” to the gorgeous, beautifully sung and played “Crazy Things,” there’s no end to the pleasures on offer. We’re happily playing the aforementioned songs, plus “Make Up Your Mind,” “Always on the Run,” “Summertime,” “The Criminal,” “Novacaine,” “Your Reign is Over,” “Extraordinary Boy” and “Beautiful Dreamer,” in rotation.

lisa-mychols-3Lisa Mychols 3 | Lisa Mychols 3 Resting comfortably somewhere between the sound of her last record, Above, Beyond and In Between, and, say, an early Who album, Lisa Mychols 3 blasts a half-dozen sweaty workouts in just over 17 power-punched minutes. As is always the case with Lisa, melody is king, but so too are the ace riffs and killer guitar work. We’re playing the entire EP in rotation: “Back to the Truth,” “Bruce Foxton,” “Ready for Action,” “Right on Time,” “Story in Your Mind,” and “The Fool.” This collection will not be denied!

party-boatParty Boat | “Little Fish” and “Don’t Stress” Charming, melodic pop music is a big part of Pure Pop Radio’s broadcast day. We’re proud to bring you these two songs from the four-piece band Party Boat. With echoes of sixties and seventies song conventions, and a strong sense of melody, these guys are a collective to watch.

pat-walshPat Walsh | Three Ukelele Songs Pat Walsh is a longtime favorite of Pure Pop Radio. We eagerly wait for and play something from just about everything he records. When we found out that Pat had waxed some songs based around one of our favorite instruments, the ukelele, we did that dance that one does when one is deliriously happy. We’ve got three uke tunes playing in rotation that Pat recorded with the help of his co-producer and musical cohort, Billy Gewin: “Blackberry Morning,” “Right Time,” and “Someone’s Waiting.” We’re on Team Pat and we’re working along with his other fans to make him a household name. Join us, won’t you?

sunchymesThe Sunchymes | Through My Eyes Recording as the Sunchymes, Aaron Hemmington’s music is, according to his Facebook page, a “summery fusion of power pop and psychedelia.” We concur, and we bring you a pair of recent tracks to hear in rotation: the “Summer 2014 mix” of “Through My Eyes,” and a cool version of the Beatles classic, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Wonderful!

ali-ingleAli Ingle | The Good for Nothing Demos We’ve been following this young British singer-songwriter for some time, and we like what we hear. Here are four demos that point to even bigger, melodic work to come: “First Punch,” “Paris,” “Leaving Home,” and “Sit this One Out.” This lovely quartet of tunes can be downloaded for free on Ali’s Soundcloud page.

So that’s day three of Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion. We’ve got so much more new music to report to you–stay tuned to the Pure Pop Radio website and, of course, Pure Pop Radio for much, much more. Happy listening!

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes