Buckle Up: We Begin the Long Rundown of New Music and Artists Recently Added to the Pure Pop Radio Playlist

purepoplogoA message from Alan Haber:

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 Earth The 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.

purepoplogoAlan 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.

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The Kennedys’ West is a Musical Journey Well Worth Taking

the-kennedysThe Kennedys | West | 2015 | A review by Alan Haber

The overarching theme of the Kennedys’ splendid new album, West, is traveling along purposeful roads. The booklet illustration depicts a rural road–one lane going west, the other east, while the album’s cover shows the couple in a field after the leaves on the trees have gone; two horses–one looking left, the other gazing forward–breathe silently in sturdy thought as thick, white clouds float above. There appears to be a chill in the air, but warmth is likely on the horizon.

Pete and Maura Kennedy have always been keen observers of hopeful travels. The 13 songs on West follow hopeful characters on their way or already there. The voices carrying the melody in the title song, all musical bounce and joy, sing about looking for a new home out west, but really that could mean moving in any direction. Their aim is true, even if there are potentially hazardous signposts along the way: “We traveled west into the sunset/Never reckoned with the cost/We laid it all down on a wildcard bet/Time will tell if we won or lost.”

In the sweet-sounding, country-pop charmer “Jubilee Time,” a cousin of some distance of the songs on the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, a person appears to be off his mark and conflicted as he travels his path; the narrator wishes safe travels, but offers cautionary advice: “Choose your steps like crossing ice/And cut just once if you measure it twice.” There is a light up ahead. “May your load be light my friend/May the road be bright on the way you wend/And when you’re standing with your hat filled with rain/Just remember that we will meet again.”

the-kennedys-5Some of the songs on West find their characters at a crossroads and offer blissful solutions. Painting with Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison brushstrokes in the enchanting “Locket,” the singer tells the tale of her broken heart, healed when love comes her way. “So put your hand into your pocket/You’ll find that I slipped you the key/It will open my heart if you give yours to me.” Dotted with Holly Easter eggs, this song is among the Kennedys’ best. Maura’s vocal is heavenly, painted with golden hues.

“Perfect Love,” written especially for Pete and Maura by the Records’ John Wicks, is a lovely number that posits a union as blissful as two hearts might imagine to be possible. “Riding along together, playing for you and me/Theirs is the perfect two-part harmony,” the narrator sings. It’s a lovely sentiment, perfectly realized with a loving pen put to paper, a heartfelt poem set to a beautiful melody.

There’s plenty of beauty in the rock and roll shuffle of “Travel Day Blues.” Keen harmony vocals and Pete’s rocking Chuck Berry guitar lines chug along, carrying a series of images of people going from here to there in a kind of E.L. Doctorow narrative. Jack Kerouac, Herman Hesse, Jesse James, Johnny B. Goode, Stagger Lee and others make their way to their promised lands. We’re all making our way in our own time: “Louisiana road house to Carnegie Hall/Sometimes it seems like we’ve seen it all/Feelin’ kinda beat but we still walk tall/Walking’ off the travel day blues.”

the-kennedys-2Pete’s “Good, Better, Best,” written for Maura on the occasion of the couple’s twentieth anniversary, is about all-encompassing love saving the day . “When my way was dark and the road did wind/You came along and you showed me a sign,” the couple sings. “I’ve tried to tell you a thousand times/But I always seem to flub my lines/Life is good, better, best/’Cause I’ve loved you/’Cause I’ve loved you.” In other words: If you stumble and fall along the way, I’ll be there to pick you up. We’ll travel this journey together.

West chronicles the journey, wherever it leads, in the most magical of ways; it is alive from first note to last and it is perhaps the Kennedys’ best work. West is alive, alive with the purpose of the journey, and it sings. West is a journey taken along purposeful roads; it is a journey worth taking again and again.

[Eleven songs from West have been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: the title track, “Elegy,” “Sisters of the Road,” “Signs,” “Jubilee Time,” “Locket,” “Southern Jumbo,” “Travel Day Blues,” “The Queen of Hollywood High,” “Perfect Love,” and “Good, Better, Best.” Now spinning in rotation.]

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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