New on Pure Pop Radio 09.05.17: The Weeklings’ Wild Take On the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer,” New Sincerity Works’ Latest, and Poppermost’s Melody Explosion

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Spins and Reviews | 09.05.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio alan 5 small

the weeklings paperback writerThe Weeklings | “Paperback Writer” (Single, 2017)
Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Smokestack huddle together and Weekling-ize the number one 1966 Billboard chart Beatles smash with an in-your-face-and-your-ears-too injection of contemporary immediacy, tight-knit harmonies, a surprising and smile-inducing…break, rhythmic whirligigs, Lefty’s spot-on Paul McCartney-esque bass runs, and a daring dose of Monkees derring-do for a rip-roaring, must-play-it-again-and-again two minutes and 47 seconds-long eargasm. I think that about covers it.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes. Listen on Spotify

NSW_WONDER_LUSTNew Sincerity Works | Wonder Lust (2017)
Mike Tittel’s outfit sits on the fringe of where pop and rock meet for drinks on a Sunday afternoon, crafting inspired bellwether works fueled by a variety of influence. Alternative leanings meet pop songcraft meet a traditional rock and roll base on songs like “Find a Way Home,” an atmospheric mid-tempo ballad whose lengthy intro sets an emotional mood; “To Be Kissed Like That,” a lovely song that builds nicely and sports sensitive guitar lines; and the title number, a lively pop-rocker that sounds for all the world like U2, if Bono and company had more finite pop leanings. Tittel, aided and abetted by a more than able fellowship filled out by Roger Klug, whose singular pop-rock has been a Pure Pop Radio staple for two decades, Greg Tudor, Bob Nyswonger, Mike Landis, and Lauren Bray, has made a fine specimen, a record for dipping into for listeners inspired by the art of craft.

black box Where to Get It: The New Sincerity Works store

SongsforTheDifferent360pxPoppermost | Songs for the Different (2017)
Las Vegas popsters stake their claim for top-flight regional melodism with a generous sampling of their wares and come up with a collection that soft pop fans are sure to love. A collection of previously-released tracks and new single “Let It Shine,” a Cowsills-worthy explosion of sixties and seventies pop with lovely harmonies, Songs for the Different glows with a multitude of period smiles, from the Free Design vibe of “Tracy” to the swinging, harmony-rich clapalong reworking of the Monkees’ “Tapioca Tundra,” originally released on the Monkees’ The Birds, The Bees and the Monkees album in 1968. Alex Oliver and Roy Rendahl’s sense of the power of song steeped in strong melodies puts them at the top of the soft pop class, making this album a must-listen-to experience.

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

pop tunes disc smallin conversation new graphic blueListen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!

Tune in to Pop that Goes Crunch Radio by clicking on the following snazzy-looking button:

New on Pure Pop Radio 08.31.17: Jerry Yester’s Vital Pass Your Light Around and Phil Angotti’s Majestic Such Stories

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Spins and Reviews | 08.31.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio alan 5 small

Yester - Pass Your Light Around OV-246Jerry Yester | Pass Your Light Around (Omnivore, 2017)
The list of artists Jerry Yester was associated with back in the 1960s and 1970s suggests his path in the music was lit by angels; he played in bands as diverse as the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Modern Folk Quartet, and Rosebud, and sat in the producer’s chair for albums by artists such as the Association, Tim Buckley, and the Turtles.

Yester, who started out playing in a duo dubbed the Yester Brothers with his equally talented brother Jim (who was a member of the Association and, in fact, still is), recorded various tracks through the 1970s yet never released a solo album. Enter Omnivore Records, which came to the rescue and righted a decades-old wrong with this glorious collection of 15 songs that act collectively as a master class in pop singing and songwriting.

These wonderful songs, written with Larry Beckett, who worked with Tim Buckley, run the gamut from the country-tinged celebratory pop of the joyous “My Dusty Darling” to the pretty, almost hymnlike “Brooklyn Girl,” which features some of the most intricate, close and affecting harmonies you could imagine hearing; and the amazing “All I Can Do is Dance,” a very Association-like performance that also puts the emphasis on singing that will do nothing less than send shivers up your spine.

Omnivore has been at the forefront of the much-appreciated and important movement to rescue and bring to light important catalog and previously-unheard recordings.  Being able to appreciate music from years past allows listeners to better understand and put into context the breadth of an artist’s career. With Pass Your Light Around, the company has released what can only be viewed as one of the most vital releases of 2017.

black box Where to Get It: The Omnivore Shop (Pre-order) (releases October 6)

phil angotti such storiesPhil Angotti | Such Stories (2017)
A staple of Pure Pop Radio playlists since the early 2000s, Chicago musician Phil Angotti’s music, whether performed solo or with his group the Idea, is always an engaging listen. This new album, a stripped-down collection of personal, acoustic songs with just guitars, accordion and dulcimer in the mix, offers a chance to hear Phil’s songs in an intimate setting.

These heartfelt songs resonate deeply with meaning and emotion. “Brown Eyes Never Lie,” against a vaguely old English folk backdrop, peers into a soul that’s lost its way, and offers a way back: “You can always get it back/So smile a little smile/Sad eyes don’t look good on you/And sorrow’s not your style.” The narrator of “Sunny Day on the East Side” is out for a stroll amidst random observations, when the sun goes down and it’s time to take stock: “And now it’s late and the sun is gone/We’re walking home/Sing a Beatles song/We laugh as if there is nothing wrong/It was a sunny day on the east side.” Is he hiding some regret?

Perhaps the centerpiece of this album is the joyous “Singing in the Yard,” in which a young boy auditions for a life in song (“In a small backyard he waits and stands alone/A broomstick and a ball for a microphone/You can hear his voice from across the fence/Patiently waiting for his audience”). By the end of the song, he finds himself assessing his position, a commitment to his burgeoning art: “It’s time to go, his friends are off to play/Though he wants to be one of them, he’s miles away/Though he wants to go along/He’s worlds away.”

An insightful collection of songs, beautifully sung and played, Such Stories is such a draw of honest emotion set to lovely melodies that I can’t help but recommend it wholeheartedly to one and all.

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, iTunes. Listen on Spotify

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

pop tunes disc smallin conversation new graphic blueListen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!

Tune in to Pop that Goes Crunch Radio by clicking on the following snazzy-looking button:

New on Pure Pop Radio 08.29.17: NRBQ, Bubble Gum Orchestra, Neil Finn, Winterpills, and Crime Scene are Top of the Pops

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Spins and Reviews | 08.29.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

NRBQ - Happy TalkNRBQ | Happy Talk (Omnivore, 2017)
Entertaining adoring audiences for five decades, the undeniably versatile and forever-sure-to-please band shows no signs of hanging up their rather extensive repertoire. Happy Talk, a joyous five-song EP that was cut during a touring break, follows the well-received, mammoth and comprehensive five-CD box set, High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective, which was released last November to great acclaim. Two catchy originals join three choice covers in a must-get collection that screams “Full length, please!” I love the Hee-Hawish toe-tapper “Yes, I Have a Banana,” the succinct take on Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely,” and the sprightly, loving and heartfelt version of “Happy Talk,” from South Pacific. Charming through and through, this is a mini-masterpiece.

black box Where to Get It: Pre-order from the Omnivore Shop (releases October 20), Amazon

bubble gum orchestra sixthovertureBubble Gum Orchestra | “The Beatles Made Me” (from the forthcoming album, Sixthoverture)
(2017)
The first single from Bubble Gum Orchestra’s forthcoming long player, Sixthoverture, is a bit of a stylistic departure from Michael Hildebrandt’s creative outlet. The usual overt nods to all things Electric Light Orchestra are tempered in this sweet yet somewhat edgy slice of musical gratitude.

The bulk of the lyric is a thank-you to the Fab Four for inspiration rendered, but there is this quizzical verse: “Abbey Road/Abbey Road nearly ruined me/Just like the love/Just like the love that you stole from me.” Michael says that the Abbey Road bit “is referencing that [the] Abbey Road album was so great to me that anything I would ever listen to after that by any other band would never compare.” And as for the part about love: it “is a relationship thing comparing lost love to also being ruined.” An interesting left turn, indeed.

We are proudly premiering “The Beatles Made Me” on tonight’s edition of the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio. We are, in fact, the first North American radio show to play this great song, so thank you, MH.

black box Where to Get It: The BGO Store

neil finn out of silenceNeil Finn | “Second Nature” and “More than One of You” (from the forthcoming album, Out of Silence) | (2017)
Just on the basis of the spirited, orchestrated mid-tempo ballad “Second Nature” and the quite lovely “More than One of You,” this is a return to the Crowded House-era side of Neil Finn’s craft, which to my mind has been missing from much of his solo output. Recording live with his band, Finn aimed to record the whole of Out of Silence in a three-hour session on August 25 with a quick release date, now looking like September 22. Neil Finn has delivered to the world some of the most melodic songs heard since his time in Split Enz and on through the Crowded House years and beyond. These two new songs are more-than-worthy additions to his catalog.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon (Here and here); Album pre-order

winterpills colorblindWinterpills | “Colorblind” (2017)
A new release from Winterpills, one of my favorite bands of those I’ve discovered in recent years, is always welcome. A typically catchy, widescreen recording of a typically catchy song, “Colorblind” is another notch in the Northampton, Massachusetts band’s win column. How do I describe this song? I couldn’t possibly do better than the description posted on the band’s Bandcamp page, so here goes: “‘Colorblind’ features an infectious wall-of-sound vocal hook, samples recorded into an iPhone in a DC parking lot, out-of-tune pianos colliding over a burned-out city, a fat R&B beat, all poured through the alchemy of producer Justin Pizzoferrato’s overdrive brain.” That about sums it up. Now go get it.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Crime Scene - Alter Life - smallCrime Scene | Alter Life (2017)
Three members of Swedish pop-rockers Crime Scene were players in the much-missed Longplayer Orchestra (Ulf Holmberg, Jon Sundberg, and Göran Holmberg). Their new songs may hit harder than the poppier Longplayer output, but they are no less catchy and appealing. Crime Scene’s crafted ingredients, cooked up with fourth member Per Östling, top the pops with songs like power ballad “No Gravity,” the pretty “I Tend to Shy Away,” and album closer “Almost Spring,” a gorgeous number that features a lovely vocal turn from guest singer Trish Sheldon and just a hint of banjo accent. A can’t-miss collection.

black box Where to Get It: Apple Music, Amazon Digital. Listen on Spotify

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

pop tunes disc smallin conversation new graphic blueListen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!

Tune in to Pop that Goes Crunch Radio by clicking on the following snazzy-looking button:

New on Pure Pop Radio 08.15.17: Coke Belda Wins Again, Bob of the Pops is Popping Again, and the Bye Bye Blackbirds Soar

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Spins and Reviews | 08.15.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

coke belda 3gs cover for websiteCoke Belda | Coke Belda 3 (Gs) (2017)
So natural is Coke Belda’s ability to breathe new life into the songs of the Bee Gees that it would seem perfectly acceptable to call him “Mr. Natural,” at least temporarily, and in honor of one of the songs on this alluring celebration of the charms of the Brothers Gibb.

The long-awaited followup to 2013’s Coke Belda I and 2015’s Nummer Zwei similarly breathes new life into the art of musical homage. Certainly, paying tribute to favored artists is a tradition in pop music; it is not uncommon to come upon covers of certain songs or collections dedicated to a particular group, such as Zero Hour Records’ new tribute to the Knack, Not the Knack. So Coke Belda’s 12 song paean of Bee Gees joy is not all that unexpected, especially when you consider how enamored he is of the group’s songs.

Which is obvious as Coke serves up peerless versions of classics and buried treasures such as “Run to Me,” “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” and “Sir Geoffrey Saved the World” with both reverent approach and Belda style. Playing all the instruments and singing all the vocal parts (save for some welcome and soulful passages from Gretchen Wheels’ Lindsay Murray on “Run to Me” and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”), Coke delivers a tour de force that should land on more than a few best-of lists later this year.

One of the absolute joys of a terrific album such as the rather cleverly titled Coke Belda 3 (Gs) is discovering the surprises contained within, and seeing the striking cover art by Ignacio Alcázar. Speaking of surprises, 1965’s “Claustrophobia,” arranged and played by Coke as a sweet Merseybeat romp, will have you booking tickets for the Cavern in Liverpool (and a virtual time travel trip back to the 1960s). The album closer, a beautiful take on “Our Love (Don’t Throw It All Away),” a top 10 Billboard chart hit for Andy Gibb in 1978, written by Bee Gee Barry and keyboardist Blue Weaver, is another welcome, perhaps unexpected nugget.

Coke Belda 3 (Gs) is the, yes, natural and welcome third project from the artist whose travels brought him from Spain to take root in Germany and now in the United States. Naturally, this is the next step in Coke’s musical journey, and one you should absolutely follow with glee.

black box Where to Get It: Futureman Records (digital–preorder here), Kool Kat Musik (CDs–preorder here), and Rock Indiana (link to come)

bob of the pops vol. 2Robyn Gibson | Bob of the Pops Vol. 2 (2017)
My love for cool covers of melodic pop songs from across the decades knows no bounds, so it was a fait accompli that a second dip into the treasure trove of Robyn Gibson’s favorite pop nuggets would stir my interest.

And so it has. I raved about Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 back in May; if anything, I feel more strongly about this collection, and that’s really saying something. This time around, “Bob” has essayed some truly spectacular wares with truly spectacular results by such artists as the Tremeloes, the Byrds, Abba, the Soft Boys, the Who, and the Dukes of Stratosphear (aka XTC). He’s also taken flight, in similarly spectacular fashion, with the Monkees’ “Girl that I Knew Somewhere” and Matthew Sweet’s “I’ve Been Waiting.” And a little group from Liverpool’s “There’s a Place.”

Once again, “Bob,” in his various pseudonymous guises, has played all the instruments and sung all the vocal parts. It’s all to, yes, spectacular, highly enjoyable effect, and it’s a free download from Futureman Records’ Bandcamp page, leaving you and yours to simply click the proper links and enjoy. Volume three please, “Bob,” and soonest, if you will.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the bye bye blackbirds take out the poison coverThe Bye Bye Blackbirds | Take Out the Poison (2017)
Bradley Skaught’s Oakland, California-based outfit have been strong performers of the melodic pop art since arriving on the scene in 2006 with their Honeymoon EP. This full-length effort, their latest release, is their best offering yet, with 11 finely wrought, emotionally charged songs that will surely take root in listener’s hearts.

Highlights are many, and varied. The aggressive pop-rocker “Alfred Starr Hamilton” pops hard with lots of guitars and an enticing melody. “Let Your Hair Fall Down” is an out-and-out pop workout, complete with horns, sounding right out of the J. Geils playbook. The mid-tempo country ballad, “Duet,” features strings and a lovely vocal by Lindsay Paige Garfield, who co-wrote the song with Bradley. And “Poison Love,” a fiercely upbeat country rocker, carries a lineage that goes as far back as 1951, when Johnnie and Jack hit big with the Elmer Laird tune on no less than three Billboard country charts.

Take Out the Poison is no less than one of this year’s finest releases. Take a bow, Bradley Skaught, Aaron Rubin, Lenny Gill, KC Bowman, and so many other fine performers. Pop, and rock, on.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

pop tunes disc smallin conversation new graphic blueListen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!

Tune in to Pop that Goes Crunch Radio by clicking on the following snazzy-looking button:

New on Pure Pop Radio 08.09.17: Raspberries Live, Lisa Mychols, and Poppermost

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Spins and Reviews | 08.09.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Raspberries | Pop Art Live (Omnivore, 2017)

Raspberries - Pop Art LiveFor a thrilling listening experience back in 1976, you could do worse than planting Raspberries’ Best featuring Eric Carmen on your turntable. Every one of the 10 tracks on offer was bang-zoom top-flight–“Go All the Way,” “Tonight,” “Ecstasy,” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” to name just four. Plus, the first few songs on side one were programmed to start a hairbreadth after the one before it, elevating the excitement level about a million percent.

Listening to Best, I always wondered what it would be like to be at a Raspberries concert. It seemed to me that nothing could quite compare to the emotional payoff experienced by people this close to the band up on a stage that probably shook wildly with every beat bounced upward and then showered down on the audience. Plus, all of that singing along…

Now, with the release of Pop Art Live, fans like me can finally feel the power of a you-are-there Raspberries performance. Recorded on November 26, 2004 at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio, this beautifully mixed and mastered document puts listeners in the cross hairs of a dynamic performance of 28 group classics and covers of choice songs from the Beatles and the Who. It is an invigorating experience.

The band is in fine voice and plays throughout the show like they hadn’t just gotten together for a reunion performance 30 years later. Working together as a cohesive unit on stage, they are clearly on a mission, invested in every note as they work to please every audience member, all of them hungry for a taste of Raspberries history.

Augmented by a trio of musicians called “The Overdubs” that helps to flesh out their sound, Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, David Smalley, and Jim Bonfanti work every inch of the room as they play the hits and key album tracks and just generally whoop it up, Raspberries style. The highlights are many–“Nobody Knows,” “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “Might as Well,” “Starting Over,” “Should I Wait,” and “Come Around and See Me” spring to mind–but the whole program is a collective highlight and delight, which is probably more to the point.

To say that Jim Bonfanti’s drums are the propulsive glue that holds these proceedings together would be an understatement; he has lost none of his power and is even more powerful than he was before. It should go without saying that the rest of the band is also performing at the height of their powers, but I’ll say it: This magical foursome was on that November night.

Kudos to Omnivore Recordings for releasing this astounding, pulse-pounding document, and kudos to you for buying it. Because, of course, you will be…right?

black box Where to Get It: The Omnivore Recordings Store (Preorder for August 18 release), Amazon, iTunes

lisa mychols let's stay togetherLisa Mychols | “Let’s Get Together” (2017)
A new track from Lisa Mychols, regardless of the type of song she tackles, is always a gift to be treasured. Here, Lisa pays tribute to the great Reverend Al Green with a sizzling, soulful take on Green’s 1972 number one chart hit. The thing that jumps out at me listening to Lisa’s vocal is how uncommonly good it is. She’s pulling out all the stops and, in doing so, delivering her best vocal yet. And that’s really saying something. All instruments are played with heart by Steve Refling. Wow.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

poppermost here comes the rain actual coverPoppermost | “Here Comes the Rain” (2017)
A lovely, acoustic arrangement hugs a metaphorical lyric about changing one’s path in life, and a new, catchy, Poppermost song is born.  Sounding vaguely like something out of the early Simon and Garfunkel catalog, colored by Klaatu sentiment (“I’m looking for a sweeter season”), Alex Oliver and Roy Rendahl’s latest release is another melodic feather in their cap. Gorgeous.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

pop tunes disc smallin conversation new graphic blueListen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!

Tune in to Pop that Goes Crunch Radio by clicking on the following snazzy-looking button:

New on Pure Pop Radio 07.11.17: Terry Draper’s “She’s All Mine,” Cliff Hillis, Carpenter Caswell, Vegas With Randolph featuring Lannie Flowers, and More

new on pp banner hybrid 2-use this one, it's fixedSpins and Reviews | 07.11.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

terry draper she's all mineTerry Draper | “She’s All Mine” (from the album Remarkable Women) (2017)
Written this past May, recorded in June, and released just days ago, this freshly-plucked, catchy tune, a love song about Terry’s wife Anna, celebrates her charm in a rather charming way. It’s from Terry’s album Remarkable Women, releasing this Friday, and it’s the perfect summer song, a bouncy, singalongable, and quirky creation. In other words, it’s a keeper. Bonus coolness factor: Dig the key change (a semi-tone modulation) about three-quarters of the way through.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: Terry Draper’s website’s digital store, iTunes

cliff hillis many happy returns coverCliff Hillis |Many Happy Returns (Tallboy, 2017)
Always a reliable writer and performer, Cliff returns with arguably his finest release, an EP’s worth of pop songs that sing. Even the bouncy popper “Time an Evangelist,” a hopeful look at today’s fractured political landscape, is a catchy treat whose heart beats proudly (“Poor musician/Sings a protest song/All he wants is the world to sing along”). The title number is a pure poppy delight with a fun, vocally percussive underpinning; the four-on-the-floor “Never in a Million Years,” a co-write with Robbie Rist, rocks with a determined guitar attack as it pops; and the lovely mid-tempo ballad “With All the World,” written with Pure Pop Radio favorite Bill DeMain, is alight with Burt Bacharach-y horns. Wonderful.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Time an Evangelist,” “Many Happy Returns,” “With All the World,” “Hey Pretty Face,” and “Never in a Million Years”
black box Where to Get It: Tallboy Records on Facebook, iTunes

elliot schneider singleElliot Schneider | “The Moon Has Flown Away” (2017)
This catchy, upbeat pop-rocker, the first track released from Elliot’s upcoming album, Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basketcase, ticks all the boxes for listeners and ups the ante with luscious background vocals supplied by the Italian band Cirrone, whose new EP is currently spinning on Pure Pop Radio. Eminently catchy and an earworm, to boot.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon

carpenter caswell high hopesCarpenter Caswell | “High Hopes” (Big Radio Records, 2017)
The third single from superstar duo Michael Carpenter and fellow Australian Allan Caswell is ostensibly country, but as soon as you hear it, you will see why I say it’s pop, dressed in country outer gear. Buoyed by strong percussion, tears-in-your-eyes slide guitar, and a melody to stop your ears in their tracks, “High Hopes” is a hopeful slice of country-pop. The upcoming Carpenter Caswell album seems a cinch for high marks.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes

the ronson hangup hickok's curseThe Ronson Hangup | “Hickok’s Curse” (2017)
The first single from the Hangup’s forthcoming and long-awaited second album is an engaging, dynamic, upbeat pop song that raises the stakes from the band’s terrific first collection. A great melody draws ears to a great tune. Don’t miss the brief carnival-like tempo change about halfway in. In fact, don’t miss this song.

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

vegas with randolph photo smalllannie flowers photoVegas With Randolph featuring Lannie Flowers | “The Weekend’s Coming” (2017)
Another sizzling track, wearing its power pop heart on its energetic sleeve, from the much-anticipated, forthcoming This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4 compilation (we’re also playing Ray Paul’s terrific “I Need Your Love Tonight”). “The Weekend’s Coming” mixes the considerable talents of Washington, D.C.’s Vegas With Randolph and Texas pop powerhouse Lannie Flowers for an enticing, toe-tapper that features strong vocals, a particularly enticing bridge, and that magical hook.

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

nicky fingersNicky Fingers and the Motor City Lobsters | “One More Chance” (2017)
Band names are everything, or at least they used to be, and they still are, if you look long enough. Back in the glory days of the 1960s, for example, when you came upon a band calledsay, the Hollies, you had a pretty good idea of what you were going to get. With a band name such as Nicky Fingers and the Motor City Lobsters, you’re really not sure what’s in store before you play their one and only song. Nicky Fingers could be a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who’s spent time with a guy of questionable repute, and the Motor City Lobsters could be guys with, you know, claws of some sort, in whose grip you would not want to wind up.

Turns out, however, that Nicky and his Lobsters are perfectly acceptable to bring home to the parents on date night. Nicky and the Motor City Lobsters are the collective nom de plume of New Trocaderos keys man Kris “Fingers” Rodgers, driving popster Nick Piunti, Andy Reed, Donny Brown, and Michael Chaney (who co-wrote “One More Chance” with Nick), attorney-at-law and writer-of-catchy-tunes, about whose work much has been written rather glowingly as toes all over the land are tapping down into the floorboards with a certain panache. Therein lies the pedigree, true as true can be, but still the question remains: Do Nicky and his Lobsters, hailing from the Motor City, thrash and crash their way through some kind of speed metal arrangement of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” or, you know, what?

Nothing of the sort, it turns out. In fact, “One More Chance” is nothing less than a celebration of pure pop, an old-fashioned kind of energetic four-beat after four-beat thumper with the kind of melody and hook construct that begs repeat plays. It’s catchy, too, and it’s kind of reminiscent of the poppier side of Bruce Springsteen (of “Where the Bands Are” fame). There’s a little Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in there, and there’s some Bob Dylan too, which you can detect from Nick’s as-usual affecting vocal.

One even quick-and-gone look at the artwork for “One More Chance”–a mix-and-match, leave-them-where-they-fall smattering of faux psyched-out skulls and old-fashioned-from-back-in-the-day, push-the-button-and-out-come-some-raised-letter-labels that spell out the band name and song title–and you’d likely exit stage left or even right and run for the hills. But you’re more likely to smile and hit the repeat button on your music player of choice.

Nicky Fingers and the Motor City Lobsters are coming to your town–not actually coming there, but making a sounds-like-a-hit appearance from out of your speakers–and it’s okay to make them right at home. Skulls are optional.

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

populuxe band photoPopuluxe | “Garage Sale” (2017)
Seeded in Brooklyn in the late 1990s, this trio, comprised of Mike Mallory, Mark Pardy, and Rob Shapiro (listed in alphabetical order because Mike, Mark and then Rob sounds sort of musical, I guess), open up their new song with pounding, purposeful drums that segue into an XTC kind of song, charged with melody and guitars and all kinds of changes, and you will likely like it as I do. The trio is joined by Gracie Wall, who sings background vocals. The tune was recorded in California, which is the other coast, depending on where you live. This song is great wherever you live.

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

More reviews coming…before you know it!

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New on Pure Pop Radio 6.29.17: Richard X. Heyman and Bill DeMain

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Spins and Reviews | 06.29.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We’ve added hundreds of new and new-to-you songs and artists to our playlist; here are reviews of two of our favorite new albums from two of our favorite melodic pop artists…

A Richard X. Heyman Spectacular:
Incognito (Turn-Up, 2017) and seven songs left off the album and now playing in rotation on an exclusive permission-granted basis

The music of Richard X. Heyman has been a steady presence during the 22-year history of Pure Pop Radio. I picked up on Richard’s wonderful songs just prior to the release of Cornerstone, his third album. Thanks to a suggestion from the Spongtones’ Jamie Hoover, I contacted Richard’s wife, Nancy, who began sending me cassettes of the work-in-progress. Nine albums later, Incognito arrives, Richard’s 12th long player, and his best work by far.

It is hard to fathom exactly what drives an artist to produce such good work so far into his career, other than the simple desire to create and the presence of a never-depleting well of inspiration and innate talent. It is evident at every step that Incognito’s 14 songs are proof positive that Richard’s mission has been and continues to be fulfilled.

Dazzling songs and equally dazzling performances greet you at every turn. In the pure popper “A Fool’s Errand,” the narrator tells the world that his love for his partner is solid and for the ages. “Her Garden Path” is a muscular track with a grandly attractive riff that chronicles a man’s escape from a woman’s web. And the horn-infused, soulful pop number, “So What,” finds Richard sounding as though he’s channeling the Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere.

Richard’s playing is stellar. Incognito is stellar, a monumental achievement from an artist who never disappoints. Richard recorded seven additional songs for this album that wound up on the cutting room floor. Each one is a pearl in a sea full of them (particularly “Advantage Girl,” an speedy, upbeat pop song with expressive guitar lines, Richard’s trademark three-dimensional harmonies, and those incredible drums). While not for sale, they are playing in rotation on our air on an exclusive permission-granted basis, so thanks to Richard and Nancy for being so gracious.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: From Incognito: “Incognito,” “A Fool’s Errand,” “And Then,” “Gleam,” “So What,” “In Our Best Interest,” “Her Garden Path,” “Lift,” “Miss Shenandoah Martin,” “All You Can Do,” “Terry Two Timer,” and “These Troubled Times”
Plus: Seven Incognito outtakes: “Advantage Girl,” “And Now It’s All This,” “Follow Me Down,” “If I Didn’t Know Her Better,” “No One Left to Blame,” “Pocket Full of Holes,” and “The Golden Coast”
black box Where to Get Incognito: Richard X. Heyman’s website

transatlantic romanitc cover-smallBill DeMain | Transatlantic Romantic (2017)
As one-half of the transcendent duo Swan Dive and the artist behind 2012’s wonderfully melodic EP, Extended Stay, Bill DeMain is, like Richard X. Heyman, a familiar presence on our airwaves. Bill’s new album, a delicious, wonderfully arranged song cycle stacked high with sweet, beautifully written and performed classic-sounding songs in the style of Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, and Harpers Bizarre, is as perfect a record as could be offered to earthlings in 2017.

Built around Bill’s piano and lovely vocals, and co-producer Jim Hoke’s tasteful string and horn arrangements, which ought to get some kind of arranger’s award (someone get on that right away), these songs will absolutely, positively stay with you for all eternity. I’ve written about a few of the songs that’s we’ve been playing on the air exclusively for awhile (read about “Honey Bear” and “Leroy Boy” here) but there are others worthy of more than a mere mention.

“Lemon Yellow” is a lovely waltz blessed by Van Dyke Parks-meets-George Martin strings, Randy Newman-esque piano, and a charming story about the love of a car that came “all the way from Germany.” The life of a boy growing up with the world snuggled up around him takes place in and around that lemon yellow automobile. Witness: true love, near yet far (“I was too shy to kiss her”); driving through the summer sun with a cassette of Genesis’s Selling England by the Pound album playing; going off to college and missing the four wheels every day; and pledging affection despite some really rather tiny imperfections (“If she was a little quirky/Water pooled beneath the seat/Wash me on a window dirty/And the dimples on fenders.”) You, as do I, will wish you had written this gem.

back cover bill-smallThe cinematic midtempo ballad “Brewster, Illinois (April 3rd, 1952)” is a sweet musical snapshot of the day-to-day goings-on in a small town as the calendar pages turn and days turn into nights and nights turn back into days. The song was sparked when Bill was looking through newspapers from where he grew up in New Jersey. Charmed by the everyday events chronicled, he was moved to write this number, which builds to a bridge from which a measure of sunny-day town square-like bursts of ebullience emerge. It’s a masterful creation.

Honestly, this is the kind of album that hardly anyone makes anymore, which is a shame. In these often trying days, we search valiantly for some sunlight, for some melodies to hum to ourselves to cheer ourselves up. Bill DeMain’s brilliant, heartfelt album (with nary a guitar present), bursting softly with charm to spare, ought to do the trick.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Begin,” “Leroy Boy,” “Honey Bear,” “Lemon Yellow,” “Brewster, Illinois (April 3rd, 1952),” “Boffo and Beans,” “Dori,” “Alaska,” “Wendy” (Beach Boys cover), and “The Golden Age” (The entire album)
black box Where to Get It: Contact Bill at billdemain@gmail.com to order a CD for $12.00 (includes postage)

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