Our New Music Explosion Continues and Our First Annual Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of ’14 Feature is Eight Days Away

i-love-music2014 has without question turned out to be a particularly great year for melodic pop music, and as in many previous years, the last few weeks have been top-loaded with sterling releases that prove that any time is a great time for great tunes.

We begin winding up the year with another list of artists and songs just added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. This time around we feature a couple of our favorites, two artists new to our air, and a surprise track pairing a pop star from across the decades with a new pop star, whose group made a bubblegum smash just two years ago. So let’s get our program off and running, shall we? (Check below for a note about where we’re going next.)

the-rubinoosThe Rubinoos | 45 Just released, this latest album from the melodic pop band’s melodic pop band is a master class in songwriting and performing that should be at the top of your holiday gift-giving lists. We think 45 is the Rubinoos’ best album, which is really saying something. More than anything, the group’s harmonies–always a shining hallmark of their sound–are better than ever, and Jon Rubin remains one of music’s greatest vocalists, regardless of genre. The group’s a cappella (with percussion) version of Lou Christie’s “Rhapsody in the Rain” is one of the standout tracks released by any band this or any other year. Donning the melodic skin of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, it’s nothing less than breathtaking. The doo-wop-meets-early rock ‘n’ roll tribute to Richard Berry’s classic “Louie Louie,” “I Love Louie Louie,” is a smile-inducing tip o’ the hat to the pleasures of the passion of a song that’s been misunderstood for decades. And the upbeat bopper, “Countdown to Love,” sounds like something right out of Paul Revere and the Raiders’ playbook. With great, crisp, clear sound and passion to spare, 45 is one of this year’s finest platters, and we’re playing the whole thing in rotation: “Run Mascara Run,” “Graveyard Shift,” “I Love Louie Louie,” “Does Suzie Like Boys,” “Countdown to Love,” “What More Can You Ask of a Friend,” “Party Insurance,” “You Are Here,” “Rhapsody in the Rain,” “That Thing You Do,” “Kangaroo Court,” “All It Takes,” and “She’s Driving Me Crazy.”

secret-powers-6Secret Powers | 6 Montana’s own power pop magicians are back with their sixth long-player, a delectable collection of–let’s not be shy about it–instantly enjoyable pop songs with surprising turns and the kind of melodies that only come from seasoned, natural talents. Ryan “Shmedly” Maynes and crew have outdone themselves with nine brilliant slices of smile-inducing pop that exhibit more than a hint of Jeff Lynne in their DNA. From the ELO-ish “Spare Parts” to the opener, “Bitter Sun,” with its lovely choral section, and the Stiff label echoes of “The Way the Story Goes,” this is the hot pop potato of the moment. We’re playing the entire album in rotation: all of the aforementioned tracks, plus “Palarium,” “Reservoir,” “She’s Electrical,” “Paula Brown,” “New Moon,” and “Ready to Get Old and Die.” A wonderful, late year surprise.

Myracle Brah | The Peach EP Imagine our complete surprise to find that one of the first bands wmyracle-brahe played religiously on the old, weekly Pure Pop Radio show had released a brand new EP, a fantastic quartet of recordings that does no less than restore your faith in the power of power pop (we’re playing all of them in rotation). Andy Bopp and crew have come up a clear winner with the Big Star-influenced “Sleeping in My Car”; the mid-tempo ballad “Alicent in Time” (complete with great harmonies); ” the psych-pop instrumental “Red Eye #2”; and a lively, lovely cover of the Troggs’ “With a Girl Like You.” We’re playing all four songs in rotation. Side note: Bopp has released a solo EP called Time to Rock that pays tribute, in glorious one-track-mono, to the early days of rock. End-of-the-year presents for music fans everywhere!

tony-and-vernTony Valentino featuring Vern Shank of the Cherry Drops | “I Believe, I Believe” Here is another late-year surprise, pairing an original member of the Standells with Vern Shank from the Cherry Drops, whose 2012 debut, Everything’s Groovy, continues to be a Pure Pop Radio favorite. Valentino plays guitar, bass and sings backup vocals on “I Believe, I Believe,” while Shank sings the lead and harmony vocal. Garage rock-meets-bubblegum in this modern day classic track, which is currently spinning in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. A real treasure! (That’s Tony on the left and Vern on the right in the picture. All hail rock ‘n’ roll!)

deadbeat-poetsDeadbeat Poets | Hallelujah Anyway The latest, just-released long-player from Deadbeat Poets glistens with a wide variety of pop ‘n’ roll tunes that position them at the top of the beat-meets-melody ladder. We’re playing eight great songs from this exciting record: “Baby Doll,” “Love Is On the Right Beat,” “Getting Over You,” “Johnny Sincere,” “A Dark-Haired Girl in Piccadilly Circus,” “The Bag I’m In,” “There Ain’t No One But You,” and “Falling Without Annette.” A terrific record all the way through.

john-hunter-phillipsJohn Hunter Phillips | John Hunter Phillips and the Hurricane Beach Band Here’s the best Beach Boys album released in 2014, from a man who’s not actually in the Beach Boys, but has sung on stage with the band. A tremendous singer who understands and can inhabit the Beach Boys sound like no one else in recent memory, Phillips has recorded a wonderful album full of Boys of Summer-esque songs, from the glorious, harmony-filled “Darlene” to the clever and catchy tribute to the individual Beach Boys, “Dennis, Carl, Alan, Brian, Bruce and Mike (and David)” that features outta site harmonies and a great melody. The limited, deluxe edition of this album includes a second CD jam-packed with alternate versions of the songs, including a number of a cappella takes that will blow your mind in all directions. We’re playing 15 tunes, including “Stay in Kaneohe,” “Back in Hawaii,” “Backseat Driver,” “Darlene,” “I Don’t Feel Bad Anymore,” “The Girl in the Rearview Mirror (2014 Driving Version),” “The Ghost of Hurricane Beach,” “If We Ever Need a Super Man,” “Not So Fast,” “You Can’t Do It Alone,” “I’ll Get Right Back to You” (a duet with Pure Pop Radio favorite, Dana Countryman), “Dennis, Carl, Alan, Brian, Bruce and Mike (and David),” Back in Hawaii (a cappella),” “Backseat Driver (a cappella),” and “Love’s Song.” Superb.

robert-crenshaw-2Robert Crenshaw | Atheist Christmas Hot on the heels of adding to our playlist the whole of Robert’s new album, Friends, Family and Neighbors, we’re adding three songs from his 2012 EP. You’ll have to wait until our second annual Christmas Extravaganza, beginning at noon ET on Christmas Eve day, to hear the title cut, but the second, third and fourth tracks are now spinning in rotation, and they’re typically wonderful: “Breakdown in the Passing Lane,” “23 1/2 Degrees,” and Neil Young’s “Don’t Let it Bring You Down.” We’re happy to be playing so many treasures from Robert on Pure Pop Radio.

bell-gardensBell Gardens | Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions Another just-released album makes its way to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We’re playing three beautiful, passionate numbers that will wash over you with a peaceful, easy feeling: “Sail,” “She’s Stuck in the Endless Loop of Her Decline,” and “Take Us Away.”

Duncan Faure | Machine from the Other Side We’ll have more coming duncan-faurefrom the great Duncan Faure in the near future, but for now dig four wonderful pop songs that put the spotlight on Duncan, a pounding, percussive piano, and a decidedly strong, early Elton John influence: “Billy in the Big Band,” “Hullo Baby,” “Leaves,” and “England Doesn’t Sleep.” Great stuff.

That’s it for today. As hinted above, we’ll be taking a bit more than a week off while Alan undergoes and recuperates from surgery. We’ll be back on Tuesday, November 18 with our first annual Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of ’14 feature. See you then! And, while we’re gone, keep listening to Pure Pop Radio (listening links below).

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Day Nine is Fine! We’re Still On an Adding Binge…See What’s New and Now Spinning on Pure Pop Radio!

what's-newWhat’s new, you ask? Why, it’s another list of 10 of the most recent adds to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We like diving in, and we bet you do too, so without further ado, here we go!

always-coverDwight Twilley | Always A new Dwight Twilley album is always a cause for celebration and we’re celebrating alright, by adding a dozen songs from this latest platter, titled Always. Always is another solid collection of pop-rockers and gorgeous ballads from one of our most dependable and talented artists. Whether you’re a longtime Twilley fan, or new to Dwight’s legendary sound, you’re going to love this record. We’re playing, in rotation, the title track, “A Million Miles Wide,” “Lovers,” “Into the Flame,” “Everybody’s Crazy,” “Everyday,” “‘Til the Jukebox Dies,” “We Were Scared,” “Happy Birthday,” “I See It in Your Eyes,” “Fools Like Me,” and “Tomorrow.” Pop and rock on with Dwight!

jamie-two-everJamie Hoover | Jamie Two Ever Second in what we hope will be a long-running series, and the sequel of sorts to the much-loved Jamie Hoo-Ever, Jamie Two Ever presents Mr. Hoover hip deep in comfortable pop-rock waters, delivering yet another top-flight collection of timeless melodies and performances. As we always say when Jamie releases a new record, this is a given–a rock solid treat for fans of great songs crafted by pop music’s premiere journeyman. From ace covers of a couple of Beatles tunes and the Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” to a host of originals, including the joyous, almost-completely a cappella “Press Save”; the lovely, gentle Steve Stoeckel co-write, “Lost”; and the bluesy “Oh Darlin’!”-esque “You Took Away the Birds,” Jamie Two Ever practically redefines the word “classic.” We’re playing the entire album in rotation; in addition to the aforementioned songs, we’re spinning “Wait,” “Righteous Side of Love,” “Misery,” “Honest Work,” “Georgia Rose,” “I’m Looking through You,” “The Jim Joanne Massacre,” “Take Care of You,” “Star,” “There’s a Place,” and “Oh Babe Take Me Home.” Truly spectacular. A new Jamie Hoover release means all is right with the world.

sam-rbSam RB | Finding Your Way Home Here is a greater-than-great new release from Australia’s Sam RB, who we’ve been playing on Pure Pop Radio for awhile. Finding Your Way Home features Sam’s beautiful, expressive voice and songs with melodies that will melt your heart. We’re playing all of the songs from this spectacular album: “Blue Sky Day,” “No Need to Say,” “Busking,” “The Smile in His Eyes,” “Shooting Star,” “It Rains Down” “Funny Thing That,” “There is a Place,” “Just Say It’s True,” the title track (a hit waiting to zoom up the charts!), “Calloused Fingerprints,” “Don’t Think Twice,” “Thank You” (another hit waiting to break at radio), and “Say Goodbye.” Sam RB just keeps getting better and better.

brett-harrisBrett Harris | Mr. Sunshine Yet another longtime favorite here at Pure Pop Radio, Brett Harris is a masterful songwriter and performer who also keeps getting better and better. His new EP adds more greatness to his classic catalog. We’re playing three songs in rotation, all catchy and sung with lots of heart: the title cut (a hit single if ever there was one), “Out of the Blue,” and “When you Get the Chance.” We’re thrilled to have Brett back with new songs. Dig them all!

smile-factorySmile Factory | “Man in a Minute” So hot, the wax is still wet on this poppy, mega-catchy, wonderful song from a new group comprised of familiar and perhaps not-so-familar names. The Legal Matters’ Keith Klingensmith (vocals) and the Tor Guides’ Torbjorn Petersson (guitars and vocals), you probably (and should) know. The other players? Atlanta’s own Lee Wiggins on drums, David “Zeus” Henderson on bass, and BillĀ Shaouy on keys. Brandi Ediss and Karen Basset provide backing vocals. Nothing could be sweeter and finer than this glorious example of why melodic pop music is the best kind of music in the whole wide world. Really infectious and quite joyous and we’re pleased as punch to be bringing it to you in rotation. Beautiful.

successful-failuresThe Successful Failures | Captains of Industry, Captains of War A good old-fashioned pop-rock album by a bunch of guys who know their stuff. In the case of these songs, that stuff is bursting with lots of guitars, great harmony vocals, some country tinges, and a bit of what REM would sound like if they were more of a pop, and not a rock, band. We’ve added almost all of the songs on this album: “Stagger Lee and Woodrow Wilson,” “Milwaukee,” “Hit the Ground Running,” “1954,” “Meal Parade (Always Be Around),” “Falling Out,” “Navigation by the Stars,” “Knew Me On Sunday,” “O Carolina,” “Sunny in My Head,” and “John Henry.”

the-satisfactorsThe Satisfactors | The Satisfactors Say hello to your go-to Fall ’14 supergroup, New Jersey’s own Satisfactors. What do you get when you bring together the Doughboys’ Gar Francis (aka Jimmy Target), the Grip Weeds’ Kurt Reil (aka Curtis Roy), the Easy Outs’ Bruce Ferguson, and Kenny Aaronson, who’s played with Bob Dylan, amongst other legends? You get a whole lot of muscle, grrring guitars, and a whole lot of in-your-face songwriting and vocalizing. You get a pop-rock album that pays no apologies for keeping the neighbors up at night. We’re playing nearly the whole album in rotation: “She Got Charm,” “I Love Girls,” “You’re So Crazy,” “Hey Mama,” “Sweet Sunshine,” “Johnny Commando,” “Take Your Troubles Away,” “Hit Me, Hit Me, Hit Me,” “Gimme My Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Girl Just Wants to Dance,” and “Had it With You.” We’re dancing the night away–how about you?

magic-eight-ballMagic Eight Ball | Last of the Old Romantics UK pop-rock trio Magic Eight Ball’s new album, releasing soon, hits all of the tempting sweet spots, presenting both ballads and up-tempo pop-rockers, always focusing on great melodies and a powerhouse voice in Baz Francis. We’ve added six songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: “What Happened in ’92,” “Come Get Your Kicks,” “Yeah, I’m Serious,” “California in the Fall,” “Red Hair Wrapped Around Her Neck,” and “On the Days that You Wish You Could End It All…” A round of applause for Baz and the boys!

loose-pillsLoose Pills | Rx We’ve got a taster from Loose Pills’ album that rocks and pops: the upbeat power popping “I Don’t Want It” and the emotional, strong-willed, melodic rock-pop of “Get Drunk, Play Records.” Cool stuff.

the-286The 286 | EP Within our rather large playlist, we have soft spots all over for bands that celebrate the legacy of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. The latest band to fly the flag proudly is this London “rock orchestra,” probably a fitting way to describe the outfit that has turned out quite the wonderful, six-song collection of ELO-tastic sounds. We’re running all six songs through our playlist: “Hello,” “Let the Rain Fall Down,” “Miracle on 286th Street,” “Little Louisa,” “Battalion 286 (Monmouth Minuet),” and “Suite: Beyond the World.”

That’s it for today. We’ll pick things up again on Thursday and Friday of this week, when we will unveil more of the latest artists and songs that have been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Tomorrow: A hot review for an equally hot album that is without question one of the best of this year. See you then!

Click here to download our app for listening on the go with Android and iOS devices!

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