New on Pure Pop Radio: Picking in the Panic Room, Disconnected at Third Man Records, and More

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Spins and Reviews 12.7.16
Alan Haber — Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted on 12.07.16)

jacob panic 2016Jacob Panic | Jacob Panic (2016)
Picker extraordinaire Jacob Panic traverses his banjo’s fretboard with a sure-footed sense of purpose on five tunes borne from fertile ground rooted in pop and bluegrass. This self-titled EP finds the Baltimore-Maryland singer-songwriter’s multi-instrumentalist clothes, which he wore for 2012’s Pop Grass, in storage; for this release, he concentrates on the banjo as a crack team of players backs him up on his ace originals.

Recording in Nashville with producer Randy Kohrs (Grammy® winner for Jim Lauderdale’s The Bluegrass Diaries), Panic paints with a baroque brush on the four-on-the-floor stomper, “The Lie that You Told,” and takes a second, loving look at one of the top tracks from Pop Grass, the beautiful, lyrical “Hold Your Freight Train.” Panic recently opened for Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder, which says a thing or two about how good this masterful player is. Jacob Panic is always welcome here at Pure Pop Radio.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The entire EP: “The Flame,” “Drown,” “A Lie that You Told,” “Hold Your Freight Train,” and “Hocus Opus”

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

stephen poff at third man recordsOne Like Son, “Disconnected” Historic platter recorded direct to disc via the Voice-o-Graph by Stephen Poff in the Record Booth at Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee. The booth is a “refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine that records up to 2 minutes of audio and dispenses a one-of-a-kind 6″ phonograph disc to the user,” according to the Third Man Record Booth web page. The skip at the end, an otherworldly thing, occurred during the recording, adding a certain charm to the proceedings.

A song about trying to break through to what the heart yearns, “Disconnected” originally appeared on One Like Son’s 2001 album, Goodbye. Poff’s intimate, updated reading of this number into the Voice-o-Graph is a whisper of a melodic moment in time; close your eyes and you are there with the artist, in the Third Man Record Booth, singing along at least in spirit. We are proud to be playing this recording on Pure Pop Radio.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Not currently available

Also recently added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist:

– Bread and Butter, “Desperation”

– Paul McCartney, “In the Blink of an Eye”; Carl Davis, “Walking in the Park with Eloise”; The Shadows, “Foot Tapper”; Dave Berry, “Little Things”; Rupert’s People, “Reflections of Charles Brown” (all from the soundtrack for the animated film, Ethel and Ernest)

– Gerry Beckley | Carousel (“Nature’s Way,” “Minutes Count,” “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” “Lifeline,” “To Each and Everyone,” “Serious,” and “Carousel”)

– Teenage Fanclub | Here (“I’m in Love,” “The Darkest Part of the Night,” “I Have Nothing More to Say,” and “It’s a Sin”)

– The Dots | Island in the Sun (“I’ve Been Looking for the Time,” “Wilford Lane,” “Here With You,” “The Stars are Bright Tonight”)

– Tony Low | Rendezvousing (“Do the Mikey,” “Eternal Dawn,” “Hey Now,” and “Should’ve Known”)

– Mike Daly and the Planets, “Never Too Late”

– Louise Goffin, “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”

– Sir Video | Live at Ardmore Hall (“Take My Breath Away,” “This Magic,” and “Do What You Wanna”)

– The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco | The 3 Song Drive EP (“Kiki vs. Alice from the Breakers,” “Big Yellow Box,” “Byron Bay,” and “Blended”)

– Tony Valentino of the Standells, “Is This What U Want?”

– Tuns | Tuns (“Back Among Friends” and “Throw It All Away”)

– Baby Scream | Life’s a Trap (“Life’s Better When Ur High,” “Climbing Down,” “We Can’t Go Back to 17,” “Wish You Were Beer,” “Jokes,” and “Midnight Snack”)

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Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of 2016

favorite records of the year - stars of 2016

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted 01.03.17)

2016 was a terrific year for melodic pop music from both new and heritage artists, perhaps the best in recent memory. My list of 28 Favorite Records of the Year from 27 artists–The Stars of 2016–is presented below in random order.

It has long been my view that ranking entries on best-of-the-year lists is an impossible task, at least for me. If I made such a list on Monday, would the number nine entry still be in that slot on Tuesday? Perhaps not. Sometimes, I fear, agonizing over a particular placement would be akin to splitting hairs and not particularly a worthwhile enterprise. So, I’ll go with I like these a lot instead.

Here are my Favorite Records of the Year–The Stars of 2016–in no specific order. All are more than worthy of your time, and all should be added to your core collection of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe.

And now, on with the show…

The Stars of 2016

bob lind magellanBob Lind | Magellan Was Wrong Pop bard Bob Lind’s latest is a typically heartfelt collection of songs that deliver his always magical one-two punch: emotional lyrics and beautiful melodies, brought to life with stellar arrangements and production, much of it supplied in grand fashion on this album by the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover. Gorgeous soundscapes abound, such as the romantic, catchy “From the Road,” awash with poppy background harmonies from Hoover and perceptive, picturesque lyrics from Lind (“In moments others call mundane/My soul is warming by your flame/Turning just like a sailor to the harbor/And I will carry back my songs and tales/Of calms and gales/And sing and tell them all/To you”), and Lind’s emotional cover of Tom Paxton’s “Bottle of Wine.”

Where to Get It: Amazon

Legal Matters cover conradThe Legal Matters | Conrad With this album, the Legal Matters have set a new standard for vocal harmonies in melodic pop music. Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith are the players, and their human voices are their instruments. The songs are sweetly realized, from the opener “Anything,” not the first track on this album tipping its hat to the much-loved Beach Boys vocal vibe, to the upbeat, single-worthy “Short Term Memory,” which tips its drumsticks to Ringo Starr in a delightful fill and puts forth some top-notch electric guitar playing. To listen to this album is a thrilling experience.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes, CD Universe

the weeklings studio 2The Weeklings | Studio 2 The beat-betrothed, Beatlesque foursome from New Jersey, steeped in the Fab tradition and nom de plumed in the spirit of all that started off holy in Liverpool’s Cavern Club a fair number of years ago, follows up their self-titled long player, affectionately known as Monophonic, with a sterling 12-song set composed of eight superlative originals and four rare John Lennon and Paul McCartney songs not given away to other artists. Recording in Abbey Road’s hallowed Studio 2, where the Beatles made their astounding magic, Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, John Merjave and Joe Bellia, aka Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Smokestack, respectively, make considerable Merseyside hay with delightfully brisk and catchy songs steeped in the effervescent spirit of the Fab Four. A splendid time, to be sure.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon

caper clowns 2Caper Clowns | The Buca Bus Delicious pure pop from Odense, Denmark delights with a dozen beautifully written and performed pearls. Lovely melodies and vocal harmonies are always present, particularly on instant classics such as the should-be-hit-bound earworm “A Tale of Romance and Magnetic Trains” and the gorgeous ballad “Lizard Heart.” Debut of the year? Most certainly.

Where to Get It: iTunes, imusic, Amazon UK (mp3 download)

kenny herbert forever and beyondKenny Herbert | Forever and Beyond A gorgeous, romantic song cycle inspired by Caroline, the love of his life, Forever and Beyond is Herbert’s melodically-charged survey of the power of true love. The 14 songs on offer, encompassing 1930s, 1950s and modern melodic pop vibes, are tremendously affecting, beautifully drawn snapshots of a happy existence. The pretty “Queensferry Girl” and the catchy, McCartney-esque pop song “It’s All Good” shine among a rich collection of gems.

Where to Get It: Kenny’s website, iTunes

TYIFinal2Nick Piunti | Trust Your Instincts Guitars, bass, drums, powerful vocals, and a whole lot of moxie power the pop on Nick’s latest, high-energy collection. These songs make heads turn and hearts embrace its many charms. “One Hit Wonder” is the big, splashy, pure pop hit here, a clear winner on an album full of winners.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes and Bandcamp

gleeson curse my lucky starsGleeson | Curse My Lucky Stars Austin, Texas band Gleeson have made their White Album, a sparkling collection of songs varied in approach and tone that makes a case for melodic pop being the genre of the moment. Encompassing beautiful balladry, art-pop, rock and retro charm, Curse My Lucky Stars is a marvel.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

teddy thompson and kelly jonesTeddy Thompson and Kelly Jones | Little Windows A true, modern classic bathed in retro charm, Little Windows’ rewards are many. There is a decidedly romantic notion at play here, one that slips in and out of hand holding echoes of the Everly Brothers at Cadence, Roy Orbison, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Buck Owens and a thousand other country-pop artists and their golden recordings. These lovely, heartfelt songs, brought to life by two of pop music’s finest vocalists, make up an album that is like a bright lighthouse shining across the sea, drawing you in.

Where to Get It: Teddy Thompson store, Amazon, and iTunes

ray paul whimsicalityRay Paul | Whimsicality Thirty-six years after the release of Ray Paul and RPM’s album Go Time, the artist is once again regaling listeners with enticing tales set to everyone’s favorite power pop beat. A delicious mix of originals and well-chosen covers, such as the Grass Roots’ “Temptation Eyes” and Paul McCartney’s “Oh Woman, Oh Why,” meets wonderfully-realized originals like the dynamic “A Fool Without Your Love” and McCartney-esque “Jeannie.” With Ray’s gorgeous melodies and strong vocals out front, this is a treat from first note to last.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

myrtle park's fishing coverMyrtle Park’s Fishing Club | Benches A monumentally towering testament to melodic and harmonic excellence, Benches is a delight from start to finish. There is nothing quite like Kate Stephenson’s take on melodic pop music, just as there is nothing like her soaring imagination, and her ability to express all manner of emotion and make the listener feel. Working in concert with musical partner John Steel, Kate delivers wondrous songs (and three-dimensional vocal harmony stacks) like “Somebody Called Me an Onion,” a smile-inducing, upbeat, energetic pop number with faux-reggae shadings about peeling back the layers to reveal the full, human package of emotion; and the a cappella wonder “Silent Letter,” a tune about inner beauty and the sanctity of thought that doesn’t always have to be laid bare. For those of you keeping score, this is the second Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club album to wear our Favorite Records of the Year mantle. As it should be.

Where to Get It: Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club’s website, Amazon, and iTunes

the nines alejandro's visionsThe Nines | Alejandro’s Visions Rolling and then filtering the influence of the music of writers such as George Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart into a mix peppered with the harmony styles of the Beach Boys, the Four Freshmen and even doo-wop, and then topping the resulting flow with his love of artists such as the Electric Light Orchestra and XTC, Steve Eggers has delivered a harmony- and melody-drenched soundtrack to an imaginary film, somewhat of a sequel to the last Nines album, Night Surfer and the Cassette Kids. Standout tracks include the beautiful, bittersweet, old-fashioned “When Our Love Was in Bloom,” stacked deep with gorgeous harmonies and an irresistible melody; and the early rock and roll/pop hybrid “Operator (Coming Home to You),” which sports a meaty, catchy, percussive piano riff, opens with an aural allusion to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and lays out a delectable Jeff Lynne-ish bridge that will make you smile. Alejandro’s Visions is Eggers’ best and most assured work yet, an immensely satisfying collection that belongs in every melodic pop music fan’s collection.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, CD Baby, and Amazon (mp3)

seth swirsky new album coverSeth Swirsky | Circles and Squares Proving that a creative, heartfelt approach to making music will yield magic almost every time, Seth Swirsky has crafted a collection of songs that draws on all of his strengths, and perhaps incorporates a couple of new ones. Moreover, these songs reveal the truth about all of our lives, right from the first track, “Shine,” his statement of purpose, the one that sets the stage for what comes next. And what comes next is winner after winner, such as the lovely confessional and autobiographical “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You),” in which the narrator allows that life means nothing at all without the proverbial “one”: “I’ve got some baseballs/That are pretty rare/Got a swimming pool/And a fast car/But I don’t care/’Cause I don’t have anything if I don’t have you…I’ve got gold records/Hanging on my wall/But without your love/Baby you can have ’em all…” This 16 song collection is the latest expression of craft from one of pop music’s most important artists.

Where to Get It: seth.comKool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

lucy wainwright roche and suzzy roches mud and applesLucy Wainwright Roche and Suzzy Roche | Mud and Apples A sparkling duo release from Suzzy Roche and her daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche. Warm harmonies, clever songwriting and the inclusion of beautifully-sung covers such as Paul Simon’s “Bleecker Street” and the Cascades’ “Rhythm of the Rain” push this 11 track masterpiece into hall-of-fame territory. Roches fans will be charmed, and so will everyone else. Surely one of this year’s top expressions of musical joy.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the monkees good timesThe Monkees | Good Times! Good Times! is a classic-sounding Monkees album that happens to have been released 50 years after Monkeemania began. A mix of recordings based on sessions produced during the group’s heyday and new songs written by top-flight, current songwriters of note, this is a fun listen from start to finish. A shining example of how good this album is: The perky, catchy “You Bring the Summer,” written by XTC’s Andy Partridge, fulfilling a childhood dream. A great album.

Where to Get It: Amazon and iTunes

mimi bettinis music soundsmimi betinis basement tapesMimi Betinis | Music Sounds and Basement Tapes Vol. 1 Pezband’s Betinis scores with two sterling releases in 2016 that are really two sides of a rather entertaining coin, so they both rate a spot in this Stars of 2016 feature. Music Sounds is a vivid, quite alive offering of melodic treasures. Its songs are wonderfully realized pop confections that hit the hooky bullseye, like “She Wants You,” which surreptitiously recalls the famed intro to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” in the intro, and “Summer Love,” a warm love letter and look back to a seasonal romance (that, perhaps unknowingly, taps the sound of 10cc member Eric Stewart’s guitar playing in the solo).

Basement Tapes Vol. 1 collects tracks that Mimi has been working on over the years, like “Ray of Light,” a melodic sweetness that sounds like an Andy Partridge outtake off of XTC’s Nonsuch album, and simply lovely covers (Paul McCartney’s song for Mary Hopkin, “Goodbye,” and the Hudson Brothers’ “So You Are a Star” are glorious). Saying that some heritage artists are only getting better as time passes by can sound like rather an empty assertion, but my, how that phrase does indeed fit snug as a bug, listening to Music Sounds and Basement Tapes Vol. 1.

Where to Get Them: Pop Music Sounds and CD Baby

winterpills love songsWinterpills | Love Songs The numbers on Winterpills’ seventh album get under your skin; they become you in some celestial kind of way. The vocals of songwriter Philip Price and his wife, guitarist and keyboard player Flora Reed, are the collective glue that holds these proceedings together–the glue that gives them life. Consider “Wanderer White,” a rolling, rhythmic song about a fall from grace, in which Philip takes the lower notes and Flora the higher ones, and “Freeze Your Light,” which starts off as if in a church with a slight, ghostly choral singsong and becomes a folk-into-pop number with a delectable chorus buoyed by the same low-and-high vocals. The poppy bopper and should-be-hit-bound “Celia Johnson” turns the tables with Philip initially taking the high vocal part and Flora following closely. A trumpet and coronet serenade add to the song’s beauty; a lovely, echoed piano part comes in for a beautiful coda. A real treat.

Where to Get It: Winterpills’ web store and iTunes

butch youngButch Young | Mercury Man Butch Young’s miraculous, hall-of-fame-worthy album is a modern classic by way of its dazzling array of 1970s-styled instant classic songs, peppered with a mix of Paul McCartney and Harry Nilsson-esque magic. Every one of these Los Angeles-based artist’s songs is a clear winner, like the title track, “Persephone,” “One Foot In,” and “The Fools of May.” Awesome.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, CD Baby, and iTunes

the dowling poole one hyde parkThe Dowling Poole | One Hyde Park One Hyde Park, the sterling follow-up to the Dowling Poole’s Bleak Strategies, is a virtual tour de force and, if that weren’t enough, it’s an album influenced by sounds from across the pop landscape that doesn’t actually sound like its influences. Witness “Vox Pops,” which incorporates a very Partridge Family-sounding keyboard line and a very Brian May-sounding guitar solo; “Hope and Glory,” an upbeat pop song; and “Bring Back the Glow,” a smooth, rolling ’70s number. Joy from across the pond.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, and iTunes

chris murphy and michael carpenter real love sleeveChris Murphy with Michael Carpenter | “Real Love” This absolutely gorgeous ballad recasting of John Lennon’s song is one of this year’s major triumphs in melodic pop music. For this rendition, the tempo has been slowed, allowing Murphy to lovingly communicate the depth of the emotional lyric. Murphy’s vocal may well be the best vocal performance of the year. His ability to hold a melody line’s final note in such an artful way, to sustain its resonance and maximize its impact on the listener, is something to behold. Recorded with precision and heart by Carpenter on the occasion of singer Kylie Whitney’s wedding (Whitney also sang background vocals), this new version of this wonderful song is proof positive that covers can reveal new layers of emotion not previously brought to the surface.

Where to Get It: iTunes and CD Baby

emitt rhodes rainbows endEmitt Rhodes | Rainbow Ends Forty-three years after his third album, Farewell to Paradise, was released, this new collection surfaces to critical and listener acclaim, and rightly so. Here are songs that feature all of the Rhodes hallmarks: beautiful, catchy melodies; inventive chord changes; and those velvety, smooth, sturdy and emotive vocals. Perhaps this is no more evident than on the emotional ballad “I Can’t Tell My Heart.” Somewhat reminiscent of Mirror‘s “Love Will Stone You,” this is a showcase for Emitt’s committed, vocal delivery; the gorgeous melody and emotional lyrics combine to sketch the breakup of a relationship and a considered plea for the other party to embrace the option to heal. A wonderful surprise and an instant classic. Welcome back to a truly special artist.

Where to Get It: Amazon and iTunes

daisy house western manDaisy House | Western Man Doug Hammond and his daughter Tatiana’s album for the ages features golden harmonies and great songs that will melt your heart all the way through. The heavenly duo channels the Byrds in the uptempo “She Comes Runnin’ Back” and “Twenty-One,” offers up a catchy, playful vibe with the singalong number “Willow,” and delivers a strong, emotive ballad with the orchestrated tune, “Western Man.” Best news of all: a new album is soon to be released. Happy new year, indeed.
Where to Get It: Bandcamp

brain circus use this jpeg instead of the other oneBrain Circus | Brain Circus This smashing collection of impossible-to-resist songs performed in grand style by ace songwriter and keyboard wizard Brian Curtis, late of the much-loved band the Oohs, serves up 13 numbers in all, performed entirely by this transplanted Virginian. The majestic, heartfelt love song “Finally Found the One,” a musical sculpture formed with smiles and tears and a whole lot of heart, is but one highlight. You’ll detect essence of the Beach Boys, Jellyfish and Queen, among other classic touchstones, but this is all Curtis and don’t you forget it.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the flat fiveThe Flat Five | It’s a World of Love and Hope This Chicago-based band of harmony-hounds deserves supergroup status, thanks to the members’ affiliation with artists such as Neko Case, NRBQ and the New Pornographers. Welcome a deliciously wondrous assortment of luscious pop dressed in a variety of comfortable musical clothing that runs the gamut from the Manhattan Transfer-meets-hep cat vibe of the delightful “Buglight” to the Paul McCartney retro-sway of “I Could Fall in Love with You” and the pretty back porch balladry of the Roches-like “Bottom Buck.” Pretty special all the way through.

Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp

bent van looy pyjama daysBent Van Looy | Pyjama Days Based in Paris, France and a member of the band Das Pop, Bent Van Looy’s 2016 release is a lovely, pure poppy collection of sweet-sounding catchy melodies sung with assured style, like the upbeat pop number “My Escape,” beautifully arranged with little Beach Boys vocal flourishes weaved in; “Mr. Fletcher’s Song,” a melodic mid-tempo ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Randy Newman album, and the sumptuous title track, a three-minute genius construct, nicely orchestrated and adorned with a smile-inducing whistle. Pop on.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the junipers red bouquet fairThe Junipers | Red Bouquet Fair This charming collection from the Leicester, United Kingdom band recalls the sweet sunshine pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s in such lovely songs as “Summer Queen” and “Like a Merry-Go-Round.” Red Bouquet Fair is no less than the audio equivalent of smiling at your good fortune on a warm day in the park while sipping cool lemonade (the effect is equally transcendent wherever else you may be). The vocals are enchanting and the instrumentation is perfectly played. Lovely.

Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp

tommy and the rocketsTommy and the Rockets | Beer and Fun and Rock ‘n’ Roll This ace project, featuring 10 pop-rockers, co-written, except for one, by super criminal defense attorney Michael Chaney and Thomas “Tommy” Stubgaard, who plays all of the guitars, bass, and provides handclaps, shake the house, as it were. Check out the catchy, Beach Boys-influenced sunshine anthem “Here Comes Summer,” and a couple of  energetic Ramones nods, “Silly Teenage Love” and “You Want Me (But I Don’t Want You)”). Cheery, toe-tapping fun.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and CD Baby

explorers clubThe Explorers Club | Together This collection of songs imbued with the spirit of the best of the Beach Boys, the Four Freshman, the Association and other time-honored practitioners of the art is one of the sweetest offerings of the year. Here are songs that are beautiful and beautifully sung, lovely and lovelier still, from Jason Brewer, Wyatt Funderburk, Paul Runyon,  Kyle Polk and Mike Williamson. From the southern California harmony- and sun-soaked sound of “California’s Callin’ Ya” to the Four Freshmen-meets-“Graduation Day”-by-way-of-Les Paul ballad “Perfect Day,” Together invites listeners to bathe in the beauty of harmony-filled dreams.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

The Road Ahead

Harmony-filled dreams… Ah, as ever, they feel so right. With 2016 now in our collective rearview mirror, it is time to look ahead into what is just around the corner. Your favorite artists, and those new to the melodic pop scene, are itching to get going…to release their latest creations, crafted with a mix of melody, harmony, and keen performance.

Already, I have heard a few upcoming albums that I predict will knock your socks off. Nick Bertling, who records under the name Bertling Noise Laboratories, has been making a name for himself with a few rather extraordinary platters; the Lab’s latest, releasing later this month, is a covers collection called, in a nod to the great Harry Nilsson, A Little Touch of Bertling in the Night. This is a sweet mélange of favorite songs from yesterday, filtered through today’s singular sensibilities. It is uniquely Bertling, and you’re going to love it.

Dana Countryman, of whom much has been said throughout these pages, all of it sweeping-me-off-my-feet good, is about to release in 10 days, through Australia’s Teensville Records, his passion project, a tribute to the 1960s girl group and Brill Building sounds that continue to bring joy to ears around the world. Dana Countryman’s Girlville!: New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits will transport you back to a much simpler time, perhaps, when melody and joy were king. Lisa Mychols, Swan Dive’s Molly Felder, and Lisa Jenio are just three of the vocalists that help to bring Dana’s vision to life on an album that you will hug tightly. Look for Dana to appear on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation soon to talk about this landmark release.

Bill DeMain, whose solo music and treasured albums with Molly Felder as Swan Dive will always have a place here on Pure Pop Radio, has a new record that will soon be released. After hearing and playing on the air a bonus track from Beans, a lovely arrangement of the Beach Boys’ “Wendy,” we hope the release date comes very soon.

The Word is Love

“Spread the word,” the Beatles sang back in 1965. They were talking about love, not melodic pop music written and recorded in the 2010s, but they might as well have been looking forward, as should we all.

In 2017, we look forward to bringing you more of the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. We’re on the job 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A click of any of the Listen links that follow will connect you with our stream. Spread the word about Pure Pop Radio, if you will and, if you haven’t already, please click the Follow button on the homepage of this very website to ensure that you will be notified by email every time we make a post.

Thanks for reading our list of our Favorite Records of the Year: The Stars of 2016. Add them all to your collection; your ears will thank you, as will I.

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New on Pure Pop Radio: Caper Clowns, McPherson Grant, Kurt Baker Combo, Pacific Soul Ltd., and More

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Spins and Reviews | 11.16.16 | by Alan Haber alan 5 small

Cacaper-clowns-2per Clowns | The Buca Bus Odense is the third-largest city in Denmark, which is important should you or I be traveling to that country with the desire to visit its largest cities. Another reason to visit Odense would be to soak up the atmosphere that undoubtedly inspired this talented quartet to craft this wonderful melodic pop collection. The highlights are too numerous to mention in toto, but here are a few favorites: “A Tale of Romance and Magnetic Trains,” a pure pop delight of the toe-tapping variety; “Mirror Me,” an uptempo driver which wouldn’t be out of place on a Deacon Blue album; “Sleeping on the Edge of the Rainbow,” a beautiful burst of charming balladry, and “The Significance of Teacups,” wholly McCartney-esque (and ELO-esque with a Brian May-type guitar solo)–an earworm that simply won’t let go. Lovely melodies and harmonies and, well, everything, await your ears. Take a well-deserved bow, Rick Kingo, Peter Højgaard, Christian Højgaard and Skipper Storm; you’ve made one of this year’s most assured collections of musical treasures.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: Nearly the entire album: “Pockets,” “A Tale of Romance and Magnetic Trains,” “All We Ever Do is Run,” “The Significance of Teacups,” “Sleeping on the Edge of the Rainbow,” “A Forest of Letters,” “Mirror Me,” “Dressed in Flaws,” “When I’m Alive,” and “Lizard Heart”
black box When and Where to Get It: iTunes, imusic  Amazon UK (mp3 download). Listen on Spotify

mcpherson-grant-big-picture-people-2McPherson Grant | “Big Picture People” Hot off the presses and just emerged from the so-top-secret-you-need-two-passwords-to-get-in laboratory where magic, naturally, sprouts eternal, comes “Big Picture People,” maybe the catchiest earworm yet from the dynamic duo of Scott McPherson and Jamie Grant. With a determined piano opening topped with percussion effects that manages to sweetly recall two Paul McCartney tunes–“Tomorrow” and “Silly Love Songs”–this is the catchy thing of the moment. The lyrics incorporate allusions to McPherson Grant’s song titles and, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, point to the not-actually-nailed-down release date for their forthcoming album (“The melodies slay/Release date delayed/It’s such a bummer”).

Surprising, lively, catchy, and clever (check out the slightly psychedelic/vaudevillian bridge), you won’t be able to get this song out of your head.

As a special treat, click on the audio transport thingy that follows to hear me discuss this song with Scott, and hear “Big Picture People” in its entirety. Meanwhile, look forward to the forthcoming McPherson Grant album, coming real soon. I know I will.


black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio
black box When and Where to Get It:
Look for “Big Picture People” to appear on the forthcoming McPherson Grant album

kurt-baker-combo-in-orbitKurt Baker Combo | In Orbit His combo at his side, bashing out a wicked run of hard-charging riffs and tunes, Kurt Baker is back with his rocking rhythm guitar and committed Elvis Costello-vibing vocals. The results are, as you would expect and, furthermore, require, breathless and immediate, from the seventies Bad Company-by-way-of-Raspberries “Baby’s Gone Bad” to the very Katrina and the Waves bopper, “Rusty Nail.” Co-produced in Spain by Kurt and Jorge Colldan, and released on Little Steven Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records, In Orbit is a pop and roll dream come true.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Baby’s Gone Bad,” “Modern Day Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and “Rusty Nail”
black box When and Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes

pacific-soul-ltdPacific Soul Ltd. | The Dance Divine Kind of a melting pot of sounds, incorporating pop, soul, and everything seventies, this trio, bringing together the talents of Cockeyed Ghoster Adam Marsland, Teresa Cowles, who, by the way, played legendary bassist Carol Kaye in the Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy, and recording artist Norman Kelsey. The “Sugar, Sugar” vibe of the Cowles-sung “We Go High” sits alongside the dance romp “Sunset Golden Love” and the Box Tops-y rocker “Pacific Soul Time”on an album that not only makes you feel the groove, it practically turns it on its catchy head.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Pacific Soul Time,” “Road Trip,” “Sunset Golden Love,” “Tomorrow Brings Tonight,” and “We Go High”
black box When and Where to Get It: Karma Frog Records

rob-martinezRob Martinez | New Love Environment Pure, catchy pop crafted in Reseda, California at Adam Marsland’s Karma Frog Studios. Albuquerque, New Mexico popster Martinez works through tasty nuggets that promote replayability and will undoubtedly put smiles on the faces of listeners. There are many highlights, but pushing for the top spot is “Love Life,” a musical love letter to the Partridge Family. Sweet.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Hangin’ On the Line,” Hard to Take,”  “Love Life,” “and “When She Comes to Town,” another Partridge in the pop tree
black box When and Where to Get It: Karma Frog Records

tunsTUNS | TUNS What happens when Sloan’s Chris Murphy, Super Friendz and Flashing Light’s Matt Murphy, and the Inbreds’ Mike O’Neill trio it up and let loose their pop smarts? Pop and roll ensues on a driving collection of snappy, upbeat songs that burrow into your subconscious. Top-flight collection bodes well for future releases.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Back Among Friends,” “Lonely Life,” “Mind Your Manners,” and “I Can’t Wait Forever”
black box When and Where to Get It: Amazon, Kool Kat Musik, iTunes

More reviews to come. We’ve added hundreds of songs from new and heritage melodic pop artists during the past few weeks. Click on one of the listen links below and hear the latest adds to our ever-growing playlist, now over 9,000 tracks strong and giving your ears the most variety of any melodic pop radio station in the universe. And, as always, enjoy!

Alan 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 Weeklings to Dana Countryman, Caper Clowns, Tiny Volcano, and Kurt Baker, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Become a fifth Weekling by clicking on one of the listen links below.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

New on Pure Pop Radio 10.19.16: Tommy Lorente, The Universal Thump, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 10.19.16 | by Alan Haber alan 5 small

A quartet of fine songs from some of our favorite artists, just scratching the surface of music being added to our playlist…

tommy-lorente-supernovaTommy Lorente | “Supernova” A trip back in time for the French guitar maestro, combining the engine of a 1960s mid-tempo beat charmer with the warmth of a much-loved folk standard. Beautifully played by Tommy, who sings and strums the guitars, Ralf Köhler, who plucks the bass, and Peele Wimberley, whose drums and percussion provide the expressive backbone. Sweet.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: 
Bandcamp.

the-universal-thump-middle-lifeThe Universal Thump | “Middle Life” What a treat! From Brooklyn, New York’s favorite melodic pop duo comes a dramatic, soulful pop stirrer, featuring Greta Gertler Gold’s electric piano and charged, emotional, Kate Bush-like vocal. Strong-willed orchestration and Greta’s husband Adam D. Gold’s instrumental dexterity and engineering prowess take this one to the finish line. Support the Thump’s efforts to create everlasting, beautiful music by supporting them at Patreon.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It:
Bandcamp.

the-lunar-laugh-work-in-progressThe Lunar Laugh | “Work in Progress” Another lovely, melodic wonder from Oklahoma City way. Laughers Jared Lekites, Connor Anderson, and Campbell Young, supported by Nathan Mickle and Tommy Harden, deliver a delicious number about the fragile nature of living and the course corrections put in place along the way that hopefully result in a graceful life. Joyous.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It:
Bandcamp, iTunes.

ed-ryan-and-orbis-max-other-plansEd Ryan with Orbis Max | “Other Plans” After appearing separately on Ice Cream Man Wayne Lundqvist Ford’s Brain Freeze compilation, Orbis Max’s Craig Carlstrom contacted Ed about working together on a pop song he had cooking. From that germ of an idea comes the catchy, feel-good pure popper “Other Plans,” the bridge of which is sung by Ford. An international coming together of inspiration. Bonus add: Orbis Max’s equally catchy, straight-ahead pop-rocker “Hope You Love Me Too,” co-written by Carlstrom and Dennis George, who sings the lead vocal. More Orbis Max on Pure Pop Radio is always a good thing. Groovy.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: “Other Plans”: Bandcamp. (Check back for more links.)

More Friday.

alan-mic-zeeAlan 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 Monkees, Nick Piunti, McPherson Grant, 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.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

New on Pure Pop Radio 9.14.16

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Spins and Reviews | 9.14.16 | by Alan Haber

We’re rotating more than 9,000 hand-picked songs, including ones from the following melodic pop treats…

stephen-bishop-blueprintStephen Bishop | Blueprint
I don’t know where I would have wound up on the melodic pop scale had I not been introduced to the music of Stephen Bishop in 1976. The classic, and it sounded like a classic upon first listen, “On and On,” with its gorgeous melody and the iconic lyric “So he takes a ladder/Steals the stars from the sky/Puts on Sinatra and starts to cry” still resonates with me, partly because Ol’ Blue Eyes’s records were spun frequently in my house, but also because I was, perhaps not so secretly and like millions of others, in love with the sound of the Chairman of the Board.

From the album Careless that offered “On and On” as its leadoff track, through to 1978’s miraculous Bish, which included the lovely “Losing Myself in You” and “What Can Love Do,” and the still-hard-to-top Red Cab to Manhattan from 1980, teeming with top-flight songs such as “Little Moon,” “Living in the Land of Abe Lincoln,” and the ingenious title track, and, well, on and on, my love affair with Stephen Bishop’s music has carried me through more than a few decades, through events both happy and sad, and, yes, on and on.

Bishop’s latest album, Blueprint, carries on the tradition the artist set in place 40 years ago. Juggling emotional ballads with a quirky classic and other fine numbers, it is a glorious testament that stands tall in Bishop’s deeply-felt catalog of songs.

The treasures on offer here are masterful. The typically beautiful ballads “Little Bird” and “Someone Like You” contrast nicely with the muscular story song “I’ll Sleep on the Plane,” a quirky, upbeat number that sounds like an outtake from Steely Dan’s Aja. It’s a wild 1970s gangster movie romp in song form. The stars? A beautiful, kind of clueless woman (“She looks just like Emma Stone/Posing for Playboy/As she reads Voltaire”) and her even more clueless guy, who tangles with some rather shady characters.

“Holy Mother,” another beautiful ballad, co-written with Eric Clapton, also shines, as does “It Might be You,” originally heard on the soundtrack of the 1982 Dustin Hoffman film Tootsie. Written by Dave Grusin and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, the song is recast here, to great effect, as a slightly faster, more beat-driven track.

And on and on. If you’re new to the music of Stephen Bishop, Blueprint, produced by Jon Gilutin, is as fine a place as any to start on your way to acquiring the entire catalog of this much loved, heritage melodic pop artist.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Little Bird,” “I’ll Sleep on the Plane,” “Before Nightfall,” “Holy Mother,” “Someone Like You,” and “It Might Be You.”
black box Where to Get It: Stephen Bishop’s website, CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes.

cupids-carnivalCupid’s Carnival | Everything is Love
Led by Thomas Gray and Roland Skilton, Cupid’s Carnival, originally known as Cherrystone, fashion songs and performances that evoke the sound and spirit of the Beatles and like-minded fellow travelers such as Badfinger. The title number, with its beautiful, catchy melody, sumptuous vocals, and electric sitar lines, could easily have been written and produced during the golden era of 1960s British pop. And the bopping “Working Girl” sounds like it could have shot to the top of the charts on 1960s British radio. If you sense a pattern here, you’re not mistaken. This is a find of the highest order, an album that will sit quite nicely within your melodic pop music collection.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Girl,” “Working Girl,” “I Was the Boy,” “Summertime,” “Our Life,” “Everything is Love,” and “Sunny Days.”
black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes. Find out more about Cupid’s Carnival by clicking here.

andy-klingensmith-fantasy-islandAndy Klingensmith | Fantasy Island
Released today on Futureman Records, Andy Klingensmith’s latest is a bit of a departure from his previous releases, this time incorporating his close harmony vocals into an overall pop production style. The effect is quite pleasing in songs like the lively, handclap-powered “Have Some Fun” and the ’80s-sounding “Madeline.” Andy continues to write and produce music that proves he is an important part of the melodic pop movement. He deserves your support.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Have Some Fun,” “Madeline,” “For Ourselves,” and “Fantasy Island.”
black box Where to Get It: Futureman Records

Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Bowl Extra:
Bubble Gum Orchestra | Sticky Love Songs
Germany's Escort Girls Anticipate Increasing Demand During World CupComprising volumes one and two–20 songs on one CD–of an album chock full of catchy melodic pop love songs, Michael Laine Hildebrandt’s latest is a triumph. A review is forthcoming, but for now, know that 10 songs from Sticky Love Songs are now in hot rotation on our air. Plus, we’ve got the exclusive North America premiere of the new single, “You Gave Up on Love,” which features the great Lannie Flowers on vocals; tune in tonight at 7 pm ET to hear the song and an interview with Michael.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “You Called to Tell Me,” “It Was Gone,” “Peppermint Smile,” “You Gave Up on Love (Exclusive North America premiere), “I’m Not the Man,” “I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t,” “Every Day of the Week,” “You’re Not the One that Got Away,” “No One Ever Told Me,” and “BGO Motel.”
black box Where to Get It: Exclusively at the Bubble Gum Orchestra website (releases September 20).

More reviews of some of the latest songs and artists added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist tomorrow.

alan-mic-zeeAlan 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 Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, Cupid’s Carnival and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

New on Pure Pop Radio 9.13.16

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Spins and Reviews | 9.13.16 | by Alan Haber

Welcome to day one of Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Bowl, a celebration of some of the new songs and artists being added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Among the hundreds of additions we’ve made over the past few weeks, all now playing in rotation on our air, a pair of new releases has especially caught my ear. I give you the latest from Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club, and a toe-tapping duet from Michael Carpenter and Allan Caswell.

Mmyrtle-parks-fishing-coveryrtle Park’s Fishing Club | Benches
When I included Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club’s last album, Nothing to be Afraid Of, in my list of favorite records of the year in November 2014, I called it “…perhaps the brightest, most inventive, most sincere and happiest-sounding melodic work of the year.” And I was right, too.

I’m right now as well, calling this new release a monumentally towering testament to melodic and harmonic excellence. There is nothing quite like Kate Stephenson’s take on melodic pop music, just as there is nothing like her soaring imagination, her ability to express all manner of emotion, and make the listener feel. There is nothing quite like Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club.

Clever lyrics, winsome melodies, and heaven-sent vocal harmonies abound. Songs like “Sun, Where’ve You Gone,” a plea to the reluctant big daddy of shining stars to stop hiding behind clouds and do its thing (“Face it you’re lazy/At best hazy from what I can see”) and the glorious “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys,” about moving on and distinguishing oneself in the big, waiting world (“Checking out to find my rosebuds/Adios and toodle-oo/Not my circus, not my monkeys”) are just two examples of the level of Kate’s peerless songcraft.

Kate’s three-dimensional harmony vocal stacks especially shine in two of this album’s best songs. “Somebody Called Me an Onion” is a smile-inducing, upbeat, energetic pop song with faux-reggae shadings about peeling back the layers to reveal the full, human package of emotion (“If I’m going to get rumbled down the line/My laundry’s hanging out there to dry”), and the delicious, a cappella “Silent Letter,” a song about inner beauty and the sanctity of thought that doesn’t always have to be laid bare in song (“There’s more real beauty in this/Than my voice could ever reveal”).

These lovely creations, played to perfection by Kate and musical partner John Steel, will enrich your life in all sorts of meaningful ways. In popular art and in these songs played under the Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club banner, there is beauty and there is love. Just as Nothing to be Afraid Of shone brightly in 2014, Benches will shine when this year’s best albums are tallied in just a few months.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys,” “What’s the Worst that Can Happen,” “Benches,” “Sun, Where’ve You Gone,” “Tired,” “Mirroring,” “Somebody Called Me an Onion,” and “Silent Letter.”
black box Where to Get It: Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club’s website

michael-carpenter-and-allan-caswellMichael Carpenter and Allan Caswell | “Back When I Was Older”
Pop music’s not-so-secret weapon Michael Carpenter and legendary, award-winning singer-songwriter Allan Caswell team up for a country-rock and pop song about people of a certain age filtering through life experience and using the knowledge gained to live a better, smarter, more productive, and happier life. Caswell is a legend in Australia–more than 600 of his songs have been waxed by artists as diverse as Cilla Black, Patti Page, and the Irish Rovers. This collaboration with Carpenter is a winner in every way; it’s an incredibly catchy earworm, with a solid beat, bass line, lively vocals, and one of those melodies that hugs you tightly. “Back When I Was Older” can’t help but be a smash hit. And to me, it surely is.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, iTunes.

More tomorrow.

alan-mic-zeeAlan 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 Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, 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.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Bowl Starts Next Tuesday, September 13

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Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Bowl, a celebration of the latest songs and artists added to our ever-growing playlist, kicks off next Tuesday, September 13, at 6 am ET. The event concludes next Thursday, September 15, at 11 pm ET.

We’ve added hundreds of songs and new artists to our 24-hour rotation, and we want you to hear them all. You won’t want to miss the latest sounds being crafted by melodic pop music’s brightest lights (you’ll hear, for example, tracks from the Beatles’ Live at the Hollywood Bowl CD).

Why not visit our Facebook event page and tell us you’ll be joining us next week for this exciting event? Click here to be magically transported.

See you on the radio beginning at 6 am ET next Tuesday, September 13 for Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Bowl!

alan-mic-zeeAlan 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 Monkees, Nick Piunti, McPherson Grant, 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.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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