Looking for New Music Adds? Why, We’ve Got Some!

alan-micThings are hopping here at the spacious, newly-fake-wooded-floored Pure Pop Radio headquarters, and by hopping we mean we’re having to hop over things that are in the way, that have been put there by the team of flooring professionals that just installed a new not-carpet surface to walk on. Well, that was something to live through for two days this past weekend, and then there’s the cleanup! Whoa!

And through the events of the past few days, which are hitting up against the start of television and radio broadcasts of Washington Nationals spring training baseball games–spring is springing, for sure–we’ve been listening to and adding to and reveling in a whole lot of new music that has been added to the ever-growing Pure Pop Radio playlist.

Here’s some of what we’ve just added to our 24-hour rotation (tons more new music coming next week!):

the foreign films side fourThe Foreign Films | The Record Collector (Side Four) It occurs to us that there must be as many style paths floating around in Bill Majoros’ brain as there are Real Facts printed underneath Snapple bottle caps, and the evidence, it seems, is clear on the fourth side of the master’s upcoming double-record set. Bill has been releasing this album one side at a time; this time around, the songs are perhaps a bit more soulful and fit together like a tightly-knit glove.

Here’s the rundown on the latest six songs from the Films, all of which are now spinning in rotation: “Aloha Blue Sky,” a tempting slice of Philly soul buoyed by rock ‘n’ roll spirit; “Falling Like a Star,” a John Lennon-esque number with an air of mystery; “Time Disappears (La Lune de L’amour),” a gospelized ballad; “Dream Another Dream,” another Lennon nod, this time in ’50s “Starting Over” mode; “Sunset by the Sea,” a breezy ballad dressed in Steely Dan comfort clothes by way of “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number” and Van Dyke Parks-ish marimba and steel drums accents; and “Letter to Our Future Selves,” a winning pop song by way of Jim Croce and Paul McCartney (surely the inspiring duo of the year so far), with a touch of Pure Pop Radio favorites Muller and Patton thrown in for good measure (Bill, meet Muller and Patton).

If the Foreign Films’ The Record Collector doesn’t wind up in voluminous top 10 lists this year, we’ll eat the hat we don’t wear. Seriously…this is great.

the longplayer orchestra 2The Longplayer Orchestra | “All in the City” It’s been six years since we came across one of the most refreshing, exciting and, most of all, fun albums we’d heard in ages–the debut long player by Longplayer, subsequently to be called The Longplayer Orchestra. Comprising Goran Hjertstedt, Ulf Holmberg, and Ian Haugland, who was Goran’s partner in the glorious Brains Beat Beauty, the LPO has released the first track off the forthcoming album, Memory Lane, and it’s the usual LPO fare: fun, lively, tuneful, hooky and just vaguely ELO-ish (well, maybe more than vaguely). LPO’s music gives us great pleasure; we can’t wait for the full album. Great, great, great.

the del zorros step away from my heartthe del zorros hold you all night longthe del zorrosthe del zorros downton abbey 

The Del Zorros | “Step Away from My Heart,””Hold You All Night Long (Dream Little Dreamer),””The Henrietta,” and “Downton Abbey (Let’s Go)” “Come on down to the shining river; it goes on and on and winds forever,” Lance and Leigh Bowser (aka Monty and Stede Del Zorro) sing rather romantically in the lovely, satiny “The Henrietta,” a song from last fall’s glorious Del Zorros long player, Wilmington, now a single release that just gets under your skin like the best things you love. And speaking of love, “Hold You All Night Long (Dream Little Dreamer)” is a song that you will, you know, love–a soulful strutter of epic proportions, if epic, in this case, is the feeling you get dancing with the one you love, ever so close. “Step Away from My Heart” is a Staxian stomper, perfect for the dance floor, and “Downton Abbey (Let’s Go)” is a timely sendoff for the popular PBS program that just concluded its loving run. Monty and Stede are doing great work, and we’re proud to be featuring it on Pure Pop Radio.

james patrickjames patrick - rabbit hole bluesJames Patrick | “Pet Your Stereo” and “Rabbit Hole Blues” Look no further than the short and sweet power-packed nugget “Pet Your Stereo” that’s shooting straight out of the glam-pop well for your Marc Bolan-y fix. From James Patrick’s upcoming album (think April), this is a sizzler–a groovy contemporary stomper oozing replayability for maximum enjoyment. And, as good as “Pet Your Stereo” is, “Rabbit Hole Blues” might just be even better. A Todd Rundgren-esque song with just as much Paul McCartney DNA sprinkled on top, with three fairly distinct parts, it’s a pure pop winner. Great stuff.

phyllis johnson 30 trips around the sunPhyllis Johnson | “30 Trips Around the Sun” Gee whiz, Phyllis Johnson…when are you going to make the album that’s sure to blaze around the sun and swoop up a grand, adoring, worldwide audience for your beautiful music? Here is Phyllis’ latest modern classic, a delicious channeling of Aimee Mann-esque mid-tempo balladry that hooks you upon first listen. Lovely.

dion new york is my homeDion and Paul Simon | “New York is My Home” Who doesn’t stop in his or her tracks to soak in a new song from the great musical poet of New York, whose streets resonate with his legacy? Dion’s new song, sung with another Big Apple poet, Paul Simon, is a gorgeous, soulful love letter to the city that remains a most vibrant, shining star. Terrific.

Layout 1Kenny Herbert | “Forever and Beyond,” “You,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” We continue to swoon to the sounds of one of our favorite singer-songwriters, who we’ve been playing on the air for quite a long while. Kenny’s new album, Forever and Beyond, is set for April release and we can’t wait. We’ve got a trio of love songs for you, in advance of the release–the title track, arranged for acoustic guitar and understated orchestration, and a beautifully sung charmer; the oh-so-pretty “You”; and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a love letter to Frank Capra’s classic film that also points to having a wonderful life in the here and now. We can’t wait for the full album.

kyle vincent singleKyle Vincent | “Narita (Tokyo Girl)” and “Whatever Happened to Fun” Here’s a real springtime treat, slightly in advance of the season. “Narita (Tokyo Girl)” is a wonderfully catchy, upbeat pop song with a great, catchy melody; “Whatever Happened to Fun” is a fun, new recording of the classic song released by Kyle’s former band, Candy, in 1985. It’s always great to have new Kyle Vincent songs to play on the radio.

linda perhacsLinda Perhacs – “The Dancer” This intoxicating, atmospheric number, co-produced by Fernando Perdomo and Wilco’s Pat Sansone, is alive and vital; it will presumably be included on the artist’s next album, only her third since 1970. You won’t be able to get this song out of your head. Gorgeous.

the april familyThe April Family | “1943” Michael Carpenter, Casey Atkins and Kylie Whitney, whose 2014 album, Something About Ghosts, was one of our favorite records of that year, come together to deliver a swampy, soulful (there’s that word again) track that bubbles with emotion and fury. Factor in the amazing Kylie vocal and you’ve got a track that makes you want to hear more. Superb.

tom shanerTom Shaner | I Hate to See Your Spirit Fade Perhaps more on the folk and blues sides of life’s musical equation than pop, Tom Shaner’s songs exude a certain seductive energy that is all in there, emotionally speaking. A protege of Jeff Buckley, Tom logged time in New York City band Industrial Tepee. We’re playing seven great songs from this superb album, including “New York City is Paradise #2,” “Tide of Love” “Vanessa the Vegan Murderess,” “Your Complication Soul,” “When the Devil Comes Callin’,” “I Can’t Be the One,” and “Wandering Heart.” A beautiful, soulful record.

velascoVelasco | “I Can’t Surf” Decidedly sitting on the pop side of the musical fence, this singer-songwriter out of Paris (the one in France) follows up his two EPs and four singles with a sweet-sounding, upbeat, catchy song set to a relaxed surf beat. Love, love, love it. Welcome Giuseppe Velasco to Pure Pop Radio.

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There you go: just some of the latest adds to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. And, as usual, we’re just getting started! Be with us next week for more runs through some of the latest songs and artists we’ve started playing in rotation. Until then, why not click on one of the listen links below and tune into the greatest melodic pop music in the universe!

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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

I Love that Song #13: “America,” by Simon and Garfunkel

by Alan Haber

simon-and-garfunkel-bookendsOne of Paul Simon’s best songs, lyrically astute and honorably charged, “America” is the third track on Simon and Garfunkel’s album Bookends, fading up out of the long goodbye of “Save the Life of My Child.” “Oh my Grace, I’ve got no hiding place,” comes the lyrical cry over a bed of ghostly, harried vocal lines and more sturdy pop instrumentation. It comes to pass that perhaps, just perhaps, the child is saved, but there is this that suggests an otherwise flawed end: “In an atmosphere of freaky holiday/When the spotlight hit the boy/And the crowd began to cheer/He flew away.”

From that might-be cryptic vision, Simon’s pen turned from chronicling a search for a panacea for men and women paralyzed with fear to a chronicle of men and women searching for answers that would quantify their yearning. Where, exactly, is their America?

After descending vocal lines sung on top of a bed of guitar strums and accented notes comes the observational, opening salvo of “America”: “Let us be lovers/We’ll marry our fortunes together,” Simon sings delicately. “I’ve got some real estate here in my bag.” With that somewhat, likely tenuous firmament in place, the man and his female companion (name of Kathy, also the name of an actual figure in Simon’s early musical life) prepare to begin their journey, purchasing a pack of smokes and some Mrs. Wagner’s pies. After hitchhiking a fair enough distance, the man tells Kathy that he’s “…come to look for America.” An explorer, a truth seeker, on a mission.

greyhound-busesBoarding a Greyhound bus in Pittsburgh, the couple play almost childlike games to pass the time. Kathy remarks that “…the man in the gabardine suit was a spy.” The man traveling with her counters with an equally playful and mindfully obtuse observation: “Be careful. His bow tie is really a camera.” Which, if true, might hold some of the answers the couple is looking for. Has this spy gathered proof of the existence of America? How fast can these images be developed?

There is gazing out of the window and some magazine reading, after which Kathy’s companion reaches an epiphany of sorts. “Kathy, I’m lost,” he tells her, as she sleeps. “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.” After looking out over open fields as the bus passes around and through towns large and small, the journey seems to culminate, even as the bus continues on, in the man’s realization that he and everyone on the bus and everyone in the cars passing by them are all, as it turns out, looking for America, for their dreams to come alive.

searching“Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, they’ve all come to look for America,” the companion sings. Cars from near and far and most certainly in between; campers and pickup trucks and cars that double as boats, and station wagons and automobiles with faulty transmissions and leaky oil pans, all pointed toward the lands of milk and honey and prosperity and, above all, safety, all are looking for their America. A place to call home, where it feels like home from the second the lawn sprinklers turn on in the morning till the moment they turn off at night. Everyone on the road, whether real or imagined in the course of everyday life, is looking for America. For their America.

Covered by all manner of artists through the years, “America” was most recently and, perhaps, best interpreted in an emotionally charged performance by First Aid Kit, a sister duo from Sweden. They performed the song with creative, lovely, acoustic guitar picking, piano and an equally emotional, live string section in a showstopping version on one of the last broadcasts of The Late Show with David Letterman (see below).

Discussion of “America” seems appropriate on this day, Memorial Day, a day during which our thoughts turn to those who served in the armed forces and lost their lives protecting our freedoms. Listening to “America,” as performed by Simon and Garfunkel or First Aid Kit or any of the artists who have covered it with sound artistic expression and passion, is still a powerful experience, and so it shall be for as long as we all continue to look for our Americas.

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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