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.
Nick Piunti | Temporary High (Jem, 2018) The guy in the salmon-colored sneakers about to teeter off the ledge high up off the ground on the cover of Nick Piunti’s new album is just kidding, right?
I mean, oh, the horrors! Stay put, my friend, get back inside and crank up the stereo for the latest high-energy, ultra-satisfying tour de force from Detroit, Michigan’s ace guitar-and-keyboard-toting purveyor of pop, rock and roll.
Working with kindred collaborators Donny Brown, Andy Reed and Chris Richards (from the Legal Matters), Geoff Michael (who co-produced with Nick), Ryan Allen (Extra Arms), and Plink Giglio, Piunti lays down a mix of melody-rich, guitar-centric jams that keep the beats pumping and speak to the hearts of power pop fans everywhere.
Whether breathlessly rocking (the four-on-the-floor title track about boxing life’s possibilities into a corner and “Keep Me Guessing,” about a second chance at love with conditions on the table) or ruminating about a disconnected romance (“If This Was Right”), Piunti hits the mark every time with this tip-top 10-song collection.
Another popping platter from Marty Scott’s Jem Records.
Phyllis Johnson | “Foolish Girl” (2018)
Possessor of one of the great, most expressive and powerful female voices in pop and roll, Phyllis Johnson returns with one of her too infrequent releases–a song, tinged with sadness, about the perils of missed opportunity. A seductive melody and a wide stereo soundfield draw the listener in. Phyllis tackles keys, bass and drums; husband Stefan turns in a deft, George Harrison-like slide part and plays the electric guitars. A free download from Phyllis’s Bandcamp page, this is a must-get and cause for celebration. Don’t miss it.
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 ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.
Things 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 | 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 | “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 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 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 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 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.
Kenny 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 | “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 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 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 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.
Velasco | “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!
Wow! The countdown is complete… Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion is here! We’re ready, willing and able to bring you hundreds of songs and artists that are new to our playlist. We’ll be rolling them out over the next five days. Click on one of the listen links below to sample these shiny, happy wares!
So what’s new on Pure Pop Radio? We’ve got a huge list to share with you, so let’s get things cookin’, shall we?
The Doughboys | Hot Beat Stew It’s business as usual when New Jersey’s hot rockin’, beat driven brand of supersonic jet propulsion-fueled pop and roll blasts its way to and through your heart. The latest platter from the Doughboys makes its debut on Pure Pop Radio with nearly all of the tracks on offer. From the get-out-of-our-way rumble of the slamming “Be My Baby,” which recalls Wings’ “Spirits of Ancient Egypt” (ramped up with Doughboys DNA), to the straight-ahead rock and roll of the hot and sweaty “Heartache,” and the early Rolling Stones, mid-tempo love song “SoHo Girl” (with more than a hint of Brian Jones muscle), Hot Beat Stew is a clear winner. Take a well-deserved, rocking bow, Mike Caruso, Gar Francis, Myke Scavone and the man behind the drum kit, Richie Heyman. Now playing in rotation: the aforementioned Doughboys classics, plus “Shake It Loose,” “You Can’t Catch Me,” “Crave,” “For Your Love,” “Travelin’ Salesman,” “Biding My Time,” “Until Now,” and “Kamikaze.” (The band’s cool cover of the Motown classic “The Tears of a Clown” was previously added.) Hot stuff.
The Universal Thump | Walking the Cat: The Abbey Road EP Adam and Greta Gertler Gold, also known as the Brooklyn, New York-based duo the Universal Thump, released a wonderful, self-titled album in 2012, tracks from which are still playing in rotation here at Pure Pop Radio (we’re also spinning some of Greta’s solo tracks). This new EP, recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios, is a fantastic collection of songs that showcases, in particular, Greta’s soulful piano playing, songcraft and lovely vocal turns. The grand opener, “Sunset Park,” sets the stage: A “Be My Baby” drum beat ushers in Greta’s fragile vocal, which leads to a classically-constructed number that is part art-pop and an affectionate nod to the singer-songwriters of the late sixties and early seventies. The title song is a leisurely ballad that slowly becomes something more upbeat as the cat, so to speak, takes hold of the rhythm. We’re spinning both of these numbers, and “Cockatoos,” “Watch the Sunrise,” and “Treehouse.” The whole enchilada, in fact. We’re proud to bring you these wonderful sounds.
Peter Lacey | “Wayward Song” and “Many Moons Ago” We’re always happy to play just about anything Peter Lacey releases. We’ve been big fans of Peter’s music for a long time; we included his last album, Last Leaf, in our list of Favorite Records of the Year in 2014. Peter’s new single, available as a download and/or a seven-inch vinyl spinner, rates very highly in these parts. “Wayward Song” is a tender, piano-based ballad with pretty chord changes and slight echoes of Brian Wilson, with a lovely melody and a ghostly, atmospheric middle section (that propels the song into new, more upbeat territory). “Many Moons Ago” is a nostalgic charmer, beautifully arranged and sung. Simply wonderful.
Caddy | The Better End Hailing from Norway, Tom Dahl, aka Caddy, makes great melodic pop music influenced by all the right names we could easily drop, but why spoil your fun? Okay, we’ll spoil it a little: the sensitive title track benefits from a thin coat of Beach Boys paint, and “Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer” is quite reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub-styled balladry (as is the delightful, mid-tempo ballad “One Year Off” (oh, those glorious harmonies!)). Meanwhile, the rest of the album swims in equally delightful waters. “Miss Radio” is an uptempo gem, a love song with powerful guitars and Dahl’s sweet vocal harmonies, and “Into the Sun” swims through power pop waters for a catchy number perfectly poised. We’ve added all of the songs we just mentioned, and these classics: “Here It Comes Again,” “Fangblenny,” “Chasing Clouds,” “No Sudden Moves,” and “Autumn Leaves” (we previously added “Something About Carina,” “Wherever You Go,” and “Bring It Back.”) Here is another candidate for best-of-the-year honors. A great album, through and through.
Phyllis Johnson | “Looking Up (From Down Below)” From her magical, musical shack in Minnesota, which is always shaking with great songs from the popping past, comes a most welcome new number, a jangly mid-tempo tune with vocal echoes of Chrissie Hynde and the songcraft of the Bangles. A classically-styled chord structure and a strong melody take this song to the top of the poppermost. We’re asking Santa for a full album by Christmas. How about it, Phyllis?
Hidden Pictures | California Plates The uber-talented Richard Gintowt and his crew return less than six months after releasing the superb album, Ottomans, with a short and super-sweet EP that satisfies, as all Hidden Pictures releases do. We’re now playing “I’m So Bored With San Francisco” and the title track. Great pop music, done up in classic style. Groovy.
Jet Electro | Tall, Dark and Lonesome: The Story of Slim Grinder Four years on from Jet Electro’s debut album, the band (aka Craig Daniel) returns with a somewhat different approach, although, in the end, it’s really just a great mix of rock and pop styles that tell a series of commanding stories. A decidedly Marc Bolan-esque groove kicks off the leisurely, rock ‘n’ roll swagger of “Gamble” (we love the punctuating sax stabs). Beatles balladry and a tasty dash of Emitt Rhodes tenderness informs the beautiful ballad, “Rancho Preso,” an album highlight. The melodic “The One that Got Away” opens with a lovely harmony stack atop a slight acoustic guitar strum and plays beautifully from there. This is a fine album stacked deep with terrific songs; we’re honored to be able to share the previously mentioned tunes with you, plus “I Blame You,” “Love Rides Alone,” “I’m Not Easy,” “If I Live Again,” and “Haunted Heart.”
Drifting Sand | Pure Pop Radio ID We love the very cool, spirited ID that the members of Drifting Sand sent our way. Ending with a resounding cry of “Surf’s Up!”, the ID is an instant favorite and will now play in rotation with the hundreds of other such audio missives we’ve collected over the years. Hey, if you’re in a band or do your own pop thing, why not send us an ID or a snappy jingle? We’d love it! (Contact us at email@example.com.)
Wilson | “Pretty Girl in a Small Town” and “Little Friend” Thanks to Simon Felton from Pink Hedgehog records for sending us this glorious single, an advance slice of melodic pop heaven from the forthcoming album, Old School, New Rules. “Pretty Girl in a Small Town” is a wonderfully melodic, catchy mix of pop and Americana–very West Coast, USA, even though it hails from the UK. “Little Friend” is a 1930s-styled number with inviting harmonies and Robbie McIntosh on guitar. Brightly lit harmonies abound. To say we can’t wait for the album would be an understatement.
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That should whet your appetite! We’ll be back tomorrow with another round of new songs and artists added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Click on one of the listen links below to hear these new sounds, and a total of 6,800 great melodic pop songs in rotation. We’re your 24-hour-a-day home for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe! Dig in!
This is the age of beautiful music, this age of international reach. This is the age of 3 am Google searches for the latest, hottest and most melodic songs from more than capable artists who play all manner of instruments: guitars, keyboards, drums, washboards, horns and the like. This is the age of wonder and enlightenment and satisfying our collective conscious need for melodies that shine, hooks that run deep, and harmonies that ring brightly and soundly and satisfy our souls.
We feel very lucky to be able to bring you these sounds of our age, created by master magicians poised to fill the world with hope and majesty and a song or songs that make the hairs on our necks stand up on end. Here, we’re picking up from where we left off yesterday and celebrating day two of our special Pure Pop Radio Melodic Pop Songs Explosion, and exploding these songs are, right in front of our ears.
Here are more artists and songs that are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, top-flight examples all of the art of melodic pop.
The Legal Matters – The Legal Matters. When master musical magicians Andy Reed, Chris Richards and Keith Klingensmith settled comfortably in the Reed Recording Company’s studio in Bay City, Michigan, they connected like old hands of the art do and crafted 10 songs that sparkled before them–songs that would ultimately sparkle before listeners all around the world. Supported by ace drummer Cody Marecek and guitarist extraordinaire Nick Piunti, who not long ago released his own melodic pop long player to great acclaim, the trio of friends picked up their guitars and applied a little lucky grease to the act of creating classic, harmony-rich tunes that will last a lifetime. And so they have released their work, the kind of gift from above that comes along only when the time is right, and the time–this time– is most assuredly right. We have plucked the lot of these hall-of-fame-worthy songs for the Pure Pop Radio playlist, all of which are now spinning in rotation. The songs? Listen for “Rite of Spring,” which could and should function as this group’s calling card: just listen to the harmonies that grace this wonderful, Teenage Fanclub kind of side; “It’s Not What I Say,” “Before We Get It Right,” “Outer Space,” “We Were Enemies,” “Stubborn,” “Have You Changed Your Mind?,” “The Legend of Walter Wright,” “Mary Anne,” and “So Long Sunny Days.” Dig them all like the treasures they are.
The Dowling Poole – Bleak Strategies. When we interviewed Willie Dowling somewhere around a year ago, Willie had recently disbanded his incredibly talented group, Jackdaw 4. Willie mentioned that he was in the very early days of a project with music man Jon Poole. Just about a year later, Willie and Jon have released the fruits of their labors, an absolute corker of a disc that will surprise and delight and propel you from your seat in a surprising and delightful way. The album is called Bleak Strategies and it instantly takes its rightful place as one of the best albums of this year. Influenced by all manner of bands that came before, from the Beatles to the Kinks to Jackdaw 4 to 10cc to XTC and Frank Zappa, this collection is top of the pops and full of sudden, surprising and rightly-positioned left hand turns that turn these songs into clever monuments of glory. We’ve added eight tunes to the Pure Pop Radio playlist, and they are: “The Sun is Mine,” “A Kiss on the Ocean,” “Hey Stranger,” “Paper, Scissors, Stone,” “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions,” “Getting a License,” “Clean,” and “Saving it All for a Saturday.” Pretty fantastic, then and now, Shirley, bestow upon the Dowling Poole a place on some of those best of the year lists that will soon pop up and be heard. Simply smashing stuff.
The Rubinoos and Radio Days – Split 7-inch. Any time either the Rubinoos or Radio Days releases new material, we here at Pure Pop Radio pretty much jump for joy. It is a sight to behold, let us tell you. Anyway, both of these much-loved bands have put their heads together and each has released a pair of songs within the grooves of an old-fashioned and still-vital slab of vinyl. We’re presenting a great song that is an exciting preview of a forthcoming album from the Rubinoos, a wonderful song called “All It Takes.” We’ve also added the pair of songs from Radio Days: a great cover of the Rubinoos’ “Hurts Too Much” and a new Radio Days tune, “Let’s Move On.” Get this one for your own self. You might think of getting two copies–it’s not unlikely that the grooves on the first one will wear out. A great release, now spinning in rotation on your home for the melodic pop hits, Pure Pop Radio.
Also added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist this week:
* Ali Ingle – “The Locker.” Ali Ingle continues to shine brightly with his wonderful ballad, “The Locker.” Sporting rather clever lyrics, this is one of those songs that must be repeated instantly when it ends. Prepare to hope that Ali scores big with this and future releases and takes his rightful place in the music marketplace.
* Joey C. Jones and the Bubble Gum Orchestra – “Hey Jadey Girl.” Sweetly dipped in a sugary sauce and delivered with a tip of the hat to the Electric Light Orchestra, “Hey Jadey Girl” harkens back to a simpler time when the radio stations of the long-ago day were spinning songs that were all about the hook, and all about the fun of it all. We’re proud and pleased to play this one in rotation for you all. More, if you will.
* The J-Pegs – Mister Sunshine. Just about equal parts mid-sixties harmony, garage rock and jangle, the J-Pegs play through an EP’s worth of classic songs that will set up shop in your inner consciousness. Prepare to rally around such gorgeous creations as the ultra-melodic “Pigeons and Church Bells and Butterflies”; the short and sweet Robert Zimmerman nod, “Hey Robert”; the upbeat, just slightly countrified “Castles by the Sea”; and a song that echoes early sides by the Association with a bit of a dip in the garage rock pool, “Little Details.” They’re all spinning in rotation as we type on Pure Pop Radio. A real find.
* Scott Brookman – Special Session for Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation. A few months into production of our popular melodic pop talk show, Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, we started asking our guests if they would like to contribute some specially-recorded-for-In Conversation songs. We’ve had a great response in this regard. Our long-time DIY popster friend Scott Brookman delivered a delectable two-fer: a short song intended to entice listeners to add his latest album, Smellicopter, to their collections, and a wonderfully-delivered version of one of Smellicopter’s best songs, “Very Anne.” We present them to you within our rotation and urge you to seek out any and all of Scott’s creations. A splendid time is guaranteed and all that, you know.
* South Rail – Stars EP. South Rail is one of our favorite groups and, what do you know, they’re a hop, skip and a jump from Pure Pop Radio headquarters. We’ve been playing their songs for awhile now, and are pleased as punch to present to you four dynamite songs from their new, Don Was-produced EP, Stars. On Pure Pop Radio, you will hear the pure pop pleasures of “Be that Way Again,” the gorgeous creation that is the country-tinged “On My Way,” the wonderful upbeat treasure “Moss and Stone,” and the country-pop pleasures of “Wide Eyed Smile.” Next, a full length, pretty please?
* Phyllis Johnson – “Mr. Callahan.” We can’t think of an artist we’d like to see release a whole bunch of tunes–preferably within the confines of a gold-plated long-player–than Phyllis Johnson, whose way with a melody is second to none. Here is a shining example of Phyllis’s talents coming together to serve the song, and this is a song, alright. It’s a great song, in fact, and we’re pleased to present its sixties-echoing charms on Pure Pop Radio. Phyllis has managed to soak up more great song forms than most of us have forgotten. Her talents are limitless. Charm us with more, Phyllis.
* The Corner Laughers. “Midsommar.” A rather tasty taster before this much-loved group releases its new album in a few months, “Midsommar” is a typically catchy number with glorious harmonies, a lovely melody, and a reminder that a song can cure all ills. Written and sung by the magical Karla Kane, this is real deal time–a song for the middle of summer, for the beginning of fall or the snowy winter or the welcome to flowers spring. Take a bow, Corner Laughers.
More to come tomorrow. Surely two weeks of adds to the Pure Pop Radio playlist must constitute some kind of mention in the Guinness Book, right?
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