Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation Podcasts: Jamie and Steve (Airdate: August 16, 2017)

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio alan 5 small

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jamie and steve sub texturalJamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, better known these days as the melodic pop duo Jamie and Steve, sat behind the Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation virtual microphones on August 16 to take me and listeners through the ins and outs of their latest hit EP, Sub Textural.

Jamie and Steve talked about three of the smashing songs on Sub Textural: the poptastic “Sword of Love,” the autobiographical “410,” and the basically a cappella “Cry,” a top-flight tour de force that closes out the proceedings. It’s the kind of in-depth back-and-forth that you can only hear on the Internet’s premiere melodic pop talk show.

pprListen to my interview with Jamie and Steve from August 16 by clicking the play button on the following player, or click on the Pure Pop Radio button to the left to download (then right click and choose “Save audio as” to save the file to your computer).

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Listen to the songs played during this interview by clicking on the following
Spotify links:

“Sword of Love: | https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0mR9TA5UKtf4URTPbWt1gM

“410” | https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/4KA10Sr3TePqhPRCQlgq5b

“Cry” | https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/2N0dZh3AP6wLXXN8z0J51f

Look out for more current and archived Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation interviews.

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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:

Benjamin Gibbard, Circe Link and Christian Nesmith, and More on this Tuesday’s Night’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show; Plus Jamie and Steve on In Conversation and, Yes, Thursday Night!

pure pop radio radioAnother power-packed run of Pure Pop’s signature shows on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio is set to fly out of your Internet receptacle speaker beginning tomorrow night.

pop tunes disc smallFirst up is the latest all-new edition of Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, kicking off at 8 pm ET tomorrow night. You will most certainly dig the latest from Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard, a cover of Teenage Fanclub’s sprightly popper, “What You Do to Me”; Circe Link and Christian Nesmith’s “I’m On Your Side,” from the new compilation This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Vol. 4; The Surfin’ Burritos’ Buddy Holly-meets-the-Ramones “All Over You”; Bill DeMain’s “Honey Bear”; and much more. Plus the usual smattering of deejay patter from me!

in conversation new graphic blueWednesday night, August 16 at 9 pm ET, an all-new Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation takes over the airwaves. This week, Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, better known as Jamie and Steve, sit virtually across from me to talk about their new release, Sub Textural. It’s another wide-ranging chat–the type you will only hear on the Internet’s premiere melodic pop talk show.

pop tunes disc smallFinally, on Thursday night, August 17 at 8 pm ET, another edition of the Pop Tunes Deejay Show rolls with a potpourri-style mix of melodic pop tunes from across the decades. The playlist is a secret right now, but stay tuned for some tasty clues to what will be spinning for your ears only.

jamie and steve sub texturalSet your alarm clocks and calendar pages for tomorrow night at 8 pm ET for the Pop Tunes Deejay Show; Wednesday night at 9 pm ET for Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation; and Thursday night at 8 pm ET for this week’s second, potpourri-style mix of great tunes on another edition of Pop Tunes. A great time will be had by all.

alanhaberspurepopradiographiclarge1-wp header

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:

Are You Ready? Thursday’s Big Blast of New Music Added to the Pure Pop Radio Playlist Is Here!

day-twoWe’re back with another extra special, vitamin-rich group of great new and new-to-you melodic pop music added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist.

Let’s get right to it, then. We’ll begin by taking an extended look at a fantastic new tribute to Elvis Costello.

beyond-beliefVarious Artists | Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello We’ve talked about the compiler’s art before, and make no mistake about it–compiling a tribute album is an art. Practicing the art for this three-disc tribute to Elvis Costello are compilers Olivia Frain and John M. Borack, both longtime Costello fans. Frain, a dedicated music fan, and Borack, a music journalist who has also served as executive producer for 2002’s Right to Chews: Bubblegum Classics Revisited and 2001’s Shoe Fetish: A Tribute to Shoes, set about contacting artists and putting into motion all of the behind-the-scenes nuts-and-bolts tasks necessary to bring the set to market.

This mammoth collection, gathering together covers of Costello numbers from 50 artists, is a delight to listen to from head to toe. As noted in the set’s booklet, “100% of the proceeds…will be donated to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation keeps music alive in schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs, giving youngsters the many benefits of music education, helping them to be better students and inspiring creativity and expression through playing music.” In an era in which arts programs are often cut from schools, this is a most welcome and vital effort.

Beyond Belief is chock full of choice Costello songs performed by artists who obviously love the source material. And what’s not to love? Costello has been a favorite artist of music fans since he first burst on the scene in 1977 with his debut album My Aim is True. Along the way, he has delivered songs in all manner of genre from rock to pop to R&B to country and back again. Proof of this ability to jump from one style to another at the drop of a tone arm is reflected in the tracks chosen by the artists appearing here.

While some artists stick to the plot of land originally planted by Costello, others reimagine the master’s songs and work with new approaches. David Myhr, late of the Merrymakers and now a favored solo artist, delivers a wonderful version of “Veronica” (co-written with Paul McCartney) that basically sticks to Costello’s blueprint but takes the song at a slightly slower tempo and adds more of a glossy, pop sheen. The Rubinoos trade a blaring horn section for the original’s organ part and temper Costello’s snarl with a bit of a poppier vocal approach in a jazzier, new version of “Pump It Up.” Mike Viola turns in a basically reverent version of a Burt Bacharach co-write, the majestic “God Give Me Strength,” in what amounts to a somewhat more intimate, drawing room-like performance; Viola’s gorgeous vocal is delivered over a bed of acoustic guitar and chamber strings, minus the horn present in Costello’s original version.

Three tracks, in particular, take the art of covering a song to new heights. First and foremost, the award goes to Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, better known as Jamie and Steve, who pull the rug out from under Costello’s “Blame It On Cain” and shake out the dust like men on a mission, turning in an amped-up, wild a cappella version powered by doo-wop muscle and good, old-fashioned chutzpah. Not only do Jamie and Steve prove how good the song is, they turn it inside out and rebuild it from the ground up. This is a spectacular performance that will have you hitting the repeat button over and over.

To Costello’s original, moody version of “So Like Candy,” a co-write with Paul McCartney, Paul Myers adds some poppy vocals and a ghostly percussion track and approaches Costello’s bridge as if it were coming straight off of a scratchy vinyl copy of the song. It’s a welcome surprise that, along with Myers’ assured vocal, is one of this set’s major delights. Another top shelf approach is that of Lannie Flowers, who takes a basically reverent run through “Radio Sweetheart,” yet surprises listeners by turning the proceedings on their collective head at 1:55 by introducing a decidedly mystical aura for 37 enticing seconds.

What tribute albums such as Beyond Belief offer, aside from giving artists the chance to play in someone else’s sandbox, is proof that good songs will retain their value as each calendar year passes. New coats of paint in the form of new approaches or reverent run-throughs are good for the songwriter’s art, and good, also, for the compiler’s art. With Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello, the compiler’s art has been raised to new heights.

[Twenty-one tracks from Beyond Belief/A Tribute to Elvis Costello have been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and are now playing in rotation: “Girls Talk,” Rob Smith; “Brilliant Mistake,” Dennis Schocket and Cliff Hillis; “The Other End of the Telescope,” Butch Walker; “Veronica,” David Myhr; “Kinder Murder,” Popdudes; “No Hiding Place,” Michael Carpenter; “Blame It on Cain,” Jamie and Steve; “Monkey to Man,” Kelley Ryan; “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” Severo; “Pump It Up,” The Rubinoos; “Radio Sweetheart,” Paul Myers; “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution),” Hans Rotenberry; “Possession,” Barry Holdship; “This Year’s Girl,” honeychain; “Green Shirt,” Scott Bennett; “God Give Me Strength,” Mike Viola; “Radio Sweetheart,” Lannie Flowers; “Man Out of Time,” Bill Lloyd; “Almost Blue,” Nick Heyward and the 13 Satellites; “Crimes of Paris,” An American Underdog; and “Mystery Dance,” sparkle*jets UK]   – Alan Haber

(Order at CD Baby or Amazon)

Also new today on Pure Pop Radio:

hidden-picturesHidden Pictures | Ottomans The latest release from Hidden Pictures is a typically entertaining musical knockout punch. Delicious melodic pop pictures are painted with an apparent Deacon Blue-meets-Prefab Sprout vibe. Highlights include the wonderfully catchy “Firm Way to Say Goodbye”; the punchy, tuneful “Girl on Girlfriend”; and “Riffraff,” a rock number with a guitar part sounding like it came from a David Bowie track. These and three more songs are now playing in rotation: “You’re an Adult,” “Hannah, I’m Scared of Your Boyfriend,” and “Firm Way to Say Goodbye.” Another great album from this California group.

tearaways-vol.-4tearaways-vol.-7The Tearaways | The Earle Mankey Sessions, Vol. 4 and The Earle Mankey Sessions, Vol.7 Formed more than 30 years ago, the Tearaways worked with veteran producer Earle Mankey and waxed 50 songs. The results were released in 2014 on these two albums, both necessary purchases for every pop music fan. Great, catchy songs with terrific melodies and harmonies are the order of the day. We’ve added seven songs from Vol. 4 and nine songs from Vol. 7. From Vol. 4, we chose the melodic anthem “Girls Who Love Cars,” the toe-tapper “Stuck On Stupid,” about a guy who can’t quite figure out how to tell a girl he likes how he feels; and the timely “We Don’t Talk, We Text,” about the laziness and lack of proper communication in this world. Also added from Vol. 4: “I Will Wait,” “Jefferson Still Survives,” “Valerie,” and “The Last Goodbye.” From Vol. 7: the self-explanatory “I Pray Guitar”; a rhythmic tribute to “John Wayne”; and “All She Wants Is the Ring,” about a woman who’s in a relationship for its material worth. Plus: “Friends and Enemies,” “I Don’t Know and I Don’t Care,” “More Dollars than Sense,” “I Can Tell You Now,” “I’ll See You Again,” and “I’m All In.” Repeat after us: “Must have. Must have. Must have!”

dave-raveDave Rave and the Governors | Sweet American Music The great Dave Rave returns and hooks up with the Governors for a splendid collection of pop songs, all sporting big melodies and, of course, big hooks. From the driving “Lindsay” and pure pop sixties pleasures of “You Take What’s Yours” to “Pullman Washington” and the Lou Reed vocal vibe of “Night School,” this is an album that will never be far from your ears. We’re happily spinning these four songs, along with the rocking “Trapped.” A big record with big guitars and a whole lot of spirit. And the cover’s really cool.

andy-boppAndy Bopp | Time to Rock! Andy Bopp, late of groups such as Love Nut and Myracle Brah, and currently waxing tunes with Ken Schopf as The Modern Ruins (see next entry), lets loose in his living room armed with only his electric guitar and echoed vocals for a quartet of Sun-era sounding rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ rockabilly numbers. The tracks: the title track, “Anna Lee,” “Black Heath,” and Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk.” Dig these thrilling and powerful performances, all playing now in rotation.

moderm-ruins-threethe-modern-ruins-bleeding-partyThe Modern Ruins | Bleeding Party and Three Tracks from the Four Track Can’t get enough Bopp? Andy’s got you covered with two new 2015 releases from his duo with Ken Schopf, the Modern Ruins. These songs follow nicely from the vibe of Andy’s solo EP, Time to Rock!, only on these records Andy and his guitars are supported by Ken’s Cocktail Drum kit, percussion and backing vocals. It’s rock ‘n’ roll all the way, from the souped-up Sun-era sound of “All Fall Down (Black Heath),” which also appears on Time to Rock!, to the slow blues of the title track and a spirited, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band-esque version of David Essex’s 1973 top five hit, “Rock On.” These songs, plus three more–“Longtime,” “Rope Walker,” and “There”–are now playing in rotation. From Three Tracks from the Four Track, we’re spinning “Anytime Anyway” and “When It Rains.” Great stuff.

town-and-countrycartographerCartographer | Cartographer, and Town and Country | My Blue Heaven One of our favorite singer-songwriters, Scott Gagner, whose last album, Rise and Shine, was a big hit here at Pure Pop Radio, is the common denominator between these two releases, both from 2008. Both albums find Gagner and friends following a similar musical path to Gagner’s current vibe. In other words, the songs are melodic and inventive and instantly memorable. Great stuff through and through. From Cartographer, we’re playing, in rotation, “The Trouble With You,” “I’m Not Following You,” “Love Triangle for Two,” “Sound Rebounds,” “Waiting,” and “Suburban Girl.” From My Blue Heaven, we’re spinning “Daytime Emmy,” “Bella Vista,” “Better than That,” and “The Rest of the Night.” Scott is currently working on ideas for his next album. We can only hope we don’t have to wait too long.

sitcom-neighborSitcom Neighbor | Charm This wonderful pop music album from 2012 hits the melodic bullseye, sounding like a splinter off the main body of the Sugarplastic. From the beautiful “Amphetamine” to the rocking nod “The Satisfaction of Love” and the bluesy pop of “Vaseline Water Balloon,” this album is full of harmonies and top notch melodies, bursting with tasty nuggets. We’re playing eight songs in rotation: those previously mentioned, and “Let It Go,” “True Love and Medication,” “This Time Tomorrow,” the Beatlesque “Buy Your Farm,” and “Darlene.”

ticketsThe Tickets | The Tickets Musician Walter Clevenger loved the Tickets so much that he gathered together the band’s 1990 cassette-only album, The Tickets Make a Record, and their 1986 single, “She Got Away”/”Yesterday’s Girl” and released both together in 2006 as The Tickets on his own Brewery Records label. The album is an important collection of songs performed by musicians with an obvious love for pop music. We’re playing six: “Dream About Me,” “Everything,” “I Don’t Belong,” “Heartland,” “The One that I Loved,” and “She Got Away.” Great melodies, harmonies and playing abound.

the-general-storeThe General Store | Mountain Rescue It is a pleasure to have the music of the General Store spinning in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Tam Johnstone, the musician behind the group name, is the son of Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone; he obviously picked up a musical thing or two from his dad. A mix of country-tinged and pop/rock numbers, Mountain Rescue is represented on Pure Pop Radio by seven songs: the ringing rocker “Early Morning Fuzz,” the Beach Boys homages “Girls from the Mall” and “Nothing Can Come Between Us,” and “Desert Weathered Hiway.” The Neil Young nod “Come Around,” “Great Big World,” and “Over Here” complete the pack.

ian-gommIan Gomm | Demonstrates Ian Gomm, who co-wrote (with Nick Lowe) one of the great pop singles of all time, “Cruel to Be Kind,” and played guitar for the band Brinsley Schwarz, added this terrific EP to his catalog in 2013. The platter is represented on Pure Pop Radio with four choice cuts, pop classics all: the upbeat, catchy “Let’s Stick Together” and “Only You (Knowing Me),” the hit-worthy “Magic Spell,” and the beautiful ballad “Lonely Avenue.” A terrific disc from one of the greats, released by Jerker Emanuelson’s Sound Asleep Records.

souvenirsVarious Artists | Souvenirs: Little Gems of Pop, Volume II The second in a series of collections gathering together various classic pop recordings, Souvenirs: Little Gems of Pop, Volume II kicks off with Richard X. Heyman’s crackerjack 1980 single a-side, “Vacation,” an energetic pop rocker with a typically catchy melody. From there you get, amongst the treasures on hand, Bill Lloyd’s jangly, highly melodic side “Lisa Anne,” from Bill’s 1987 Feeling the Elephant album; Tube Top’s glorious, upbeat power pop song “Oceans Cracked,” from the band’s 1997 album Three Minute Hercules; and Scott Sutherland’s straight-ahead pop song “Book of Seasons” from 1999. These songs are now playing in rotation as part of our playlist; others spinning as we speak are Enemies in the Grass’ “Best Behaviour,” Post Office’s “The Whole Thing’s a Bust,” Jr. Gone Wild’s “It Never Changes,” and Nick Rudd’s Blown’s “One in a Million.” A wonderful collection, released in 2014 by Jerker Emanuelson’s Sound Asleep Records.

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Whew! That does it for our two-day new adds extravaganza. We hope you enjoyed the ride through the latest additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. All of the songs and artists we talked about today and yesterday are now playing in rotation. Tune in to Pure Pop Radio by clicking on one of the handy listen links below. And make a date to come back often to hear more of the greatest pop music in the universe!

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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

Pure Pop Radio Sizzles this Week!

It's sizzling on Pure Pop Radio!

It’s sizzling on Pure Pop Radio!

Despite the fact that it’s not summer here at Pure Pop Radio headquarters, we’re hearing the chorus of Sly Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” because our airwaves are sizzling with the excitement of this week’s special programming.

Ken Michaels' Every Little Thing...For the Beatles Fan Who Craves All Things Fab! Airs Every Monday at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio!

Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing…For the Beatles Fan Who Craves All Things Fab! Airs Every Monday at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio!

First up tonight, at 9 pm ET, is this week’s notable edition of Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing–notable because it’s show number nine, number nine, number nine… That should raise the neck hairs on end for most Beatlemaniacs. For this go-round, Ken is spinning a cool Beatles cover from Emmylou Harris (“Here, There and Everywhere”); playing a couple of Wings classics; running a special, archival interview with Billy Preston, accompanied by a quartet of spiritual numbers such as Preston’s “Sing One for the Lord”; and presenting the weekly theme segment, this time focusing on songs with years in the titles, like Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five.” And don’t miss the weekly trivia question at the end of the show. Sounds like an hour well spent! Number nine, number nine, number nine…

This week’s guest on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation is none other than the great Kurt Reil from the Grip Weeds. In this typically wide-ranging interview, you’ll hear about the long, detailed history of the Grip Weeds and go inside the band’s latest release, Inner Grooves – Rare and Under-Released Tracks–a delicious melange that covers just about all of the band’s musical colors. If you’ve ever wanted to know what makes this band tick, this is the interview for you. And, of course, we play a selection of cuts from this wonderful, hall-of-fame-worthy collection. Air dates are Wednesday and Thursday, March 26 and 27, at 8 pm ET.

The Grip Weed's Kurt Reil gets the beat going!

The Grip Weed’s Kurt Reil gets the beat going!

Last week’s Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation interview with Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, aka Jamie and Steve, is now available for listening and/or downloading on our PodOMatic podcast page. Jamie and Steve go in-depth, from conception to realization, on four of the great songs from their new EP, Circling (“Spin Drift,” “Origami Woman,” “You,” and “Wonder Girl”). This is a fascinating and unique look at how songs get written, played and produced from two of our greatest artists. You won’t want to miss this show! Maneuver over to our podcast page to listen.

The animated Jamie and Steve in the "Imaginary Cafe" video, created by Cool King Chris

The animated Jamie and Steve in the “Imaginary Cafe” video, created by Cool King Chris

Paul Revere and the Raiders!

Paul Revere and the Raiders!

We’ve also served up a classic, bonus interview for you. We’ve gone back to December 12, 1998 and the old, weekly, live Pure Pop Radio show for an invigorating talk with none other than Paul Revere, from Paul Revere and the Raiders. For those of you who have never heard Revere interviewed, he’s a master of the craft with any number of fascinating anecdotes at hand. You won’t want to miss one of pop music’s greatest showmen telling tales of his long and melodic career. Check it out on our podcast page–click here to make the magic happen!

Every way you look at it, this week Pure Pop Radio is sizzling with lots of exciting programming. Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

 

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

Listen to Jamie & Steve and Paul Revere on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on PodOMatic!

Listen to Jamie & Steve and Paul Revere on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on PodOMatic!

This Week’s Gonna Be Like Finding Brigadoon Two Days a Year! Fantabulous!

It's like finding Brigadoon, we tell ya!

It’s like finding Brigadoon, we tell ya!

It’s like a volcano erupting, like finding Brigadoon two days a year, like winning a stuffed animal in one of those drop-the-claw-and-win-a-prize machines you find in restaurants along the New Jersey Turnpike. It’s like, wow, a pretty darned exciting week ahead on Pure Pop Radio!

Ken Michaels' Every Little Thing...For the Beatles Fan Who Craves All Things Fab! Airs Every Monday at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio!

Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing…For the Beatles Fan Who Craves All Things Fab! Airs Every Monday at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio!

Coming up tonight at 9 pm ET, it’s the latest edition of the fabbest Beatles radio show this side of Liverpool: Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing. This time around, Ken is spinning a classic tune from Mary Hopkin, interviewing famed recording engineer Dennis Ferrante, who worked with John Lennon, and going all acoustic for a special set. As usual, Every Little Thing is not to be missed!

The animated Jamie and Steve in the "Imaginary Cafe" video, created by Cool King Chris

The animated Jamie and Steve in the “Imaginary Cafe” video, created by Cool King Chris

This week, Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation is celebrating the release of the latest recordings from Jamie and Steve, aka Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel. The duo’s new release is an EP called Circling, and it’s another home run–another reason to celebrate melodic pop music. Jamie and Steve gather around the In Conversation microphones to talk in-depth about four of the songs, and you get to hear them, masterpieces all. Tune in tomorrow night–Tuesday, March 18–at 8 pm ET for all of the fun. The show replays on Wednesday, March 19 at 8 pm ET.

And, speaking of In Conversation, our lively, funny, full-of- cool-information and rockin’ and poppin’ interview with Cool King Chris and, wearing his producer’s hat, Jamie Hoover, which aired last week, is now available for listening and/or downloading on our PodOMatic podcast page. Never before have we put the spotlight on musical magicians who apparently moonlight as standup comedians, but there’s always a first time. This one’s going into the In Conversation Hall of Fame, folks!

Cool King Chris Makes Magic at the Microphone!

Cool King Chris Makes Magic at the Microphone!

So don’t miss this week’s top-flight Pure Pop Radio events: Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing, tonight at 9 pm ET; Jamie and Steve on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, tomorrow night and Wednesday night at 8 pm ET; and last week’s In Conversation interview with Cool King Chris and Jamie Hoover, now posted on our PodOMatic podcast page for listening and/or downloading.

Much more to come this week here on the Pure Pop Radio website. Stay tuned!

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: In Conversation on PodOMatic!

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on PodOMatic!

Jamie and Steve Circle Around the Microphone on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on March 18 and 19

Jamie & Steve's Circling

Jamie & Steve’s Circling

Jamie and Steve’s just-released EP, Circling, is arguably their keenest, most absorbing release yet. The set takes chances, allows the dynamic duo to stretch a bit, introduces horns to their ever-creative musical mix, presents some complex chord progressions, and rewards listeners with a rousing good time. In other words, business kinda sorta as usual, with a twist.

Making a return visit to Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, Jamie and Steve take listeners through the writing and production of four of the songs on Circling, most notably the alternately soft and muscular centerpiece, “Spin Drift.” Songwriters, recording artists and fans will be riveted by the in-depth discourse. Additionally, four songs from Circling will be played. Glorious sounds for everyone!

Air dates are next Tuesday and Wednesday, March 18 and 19 at 8 pm ET.

The animated Jamie and Steve in the "Imaginary Cafe" video, created by Cool King Chris

The animated Jamie and Steve in the “Imaginary Cafe” video, created by Cool King Chris

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear two of the masters of melodic pop music go deep inside their art.

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

Jamie & Steve’s Circling: An Exciting Paradise

Jamie & Steve's Circling

Jamie & Steve’s Circling

Jamie & Steve | Circling | Loaded Goat (2014)

*****

There is a certain safety in knowing that you are in good hands–hands that have seen much the same landscape as you, hands and heads and hearts that have witnessed what you have, even if such witness comes from a slightly different perspective. In our lives, especially as we get older, we are either strong in our resolve to carry forth with a determined effort and create art that lives and breathes with a force of strong will, or we coast on our past triumphs, our heads held in our hands and pointing down, down, down.

Thankfully, the team of Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, Spongetones and Van DeLecki’s and writers and co-writers and solo and duo performers on the world music stage, have the strength and resolve to carry on swinging for the fences. Their guitars and mandolins and percussion instruments tuned and strung and subsequently alive, they continue to perfect their sound, always looking to raise their bar and achieve something new and grand and simply outstanding.

When, not too long ago, the power went out in the venue they were playing one fateful night, Jamie and Steve took the ball and punted. They created, on the spot and in the moment, the concept of circling, of eschewing the stage and performing on the floor, the patrons surrounding them–circling them–as they hung their acoustic guitars over their shoulders and simply played. Lit candles, their flames glowing, added more than a touch of intimacy to the proceedings. The duo played and sung their hearts out, and those patrons, witness to a new and exciting concept in performance, came away with an experience they would remember always.

In this newly-charged manner of performance, the audience circles around Jamie and Steve, who become the inner circle. This concept of circling, a term which, if all is fair, will enter the various dictionaries that watch the language of the world, has given way to the fourth Jamie and Steve release, an EP called Circling, a six-song collection in which the duo applies the very idea of circling to their always fertile imaginations. Just as they have invented a new way of performing, they have come up with new ways of giving birth to songs, of surrounding them with their deep skill and delivering a new experience to their audience. Thus, at least two of the songs on Circling take the collective output of Jamie and Steve and turn it on its very head.

Jamie & Steve's Circling (Back Cover)

Jamie & Steve’s Circling (Back Cover)

The opener, the upbeat, propulsive, sort-of psychedelic “Origami Woman,” is one example of Jamie and Steve’s bold new approach. With electric guitars that sound like they were borrowed from Queen’s Brian May, the song starts out with a pseudo-Who vibe and quickly sports a complex chord structure and a couple of rhythmic shifts. Steve’s bass is a standout as the story of the vision of a woman who appears through the smoke and mirrors of, perhaps, a dream is laid out: “like a paper just unfolding/turns to vapor as I’m holding/bits and pieces tiny creases/revealing secrets of/my Origami woman.” Mysterious and tantalizing–a dream turns to reality turns to…

Another song that surprises with new touches of bold creation is the rather amazing and vital “Spin Drift,” which begins life as a pretty ballad, telling the story of perhaps the most perfect place on earth and then the sudden, as the music turns dark and stormy and percussive, tumbling down into waves of turmoil: “Down down to see the headlights next to bones of Atlantic sea flights/Cold and darkness it bubbles up eventually to see the…Sunlight!” and then calmer seas and sky erase the scare of the ocean… “Such a perfect place to be found/Bleeding me of desire to ever go home/I’ll spin and drift.” The moral of the story: Even paradise has its dark corners. But never has paradise, even with its hidden treachery, seemed to exciting.

Two of Circling’s songs are straight-ahead, linear pop numbers with lovely melodies and, especially in the wonderful “You,” delicious chord changes and harmonies. “Wonder Girl” sits firmly in A Hard Day’s Night ballad territory, with a delectable guitar solo pulled straight out of the 1964 George Harrison playbook. The rather contemporary, upbeat pop song, “Skeletons,” and the gorgeous ’60’s vibe of the title song, a  jazzy specimen thanks to an understated horn arrangement, complete the latest Jamie and Steve package.

What occurred to me as Circling played through was that if musicians are on top of their game, they will deliver disc after disc of purely magical songs. Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel have been on top of their game for more than three decades. Here, for 21 minutes, they are more than on top of their game. They are just about floating above it. They have worked hard on these songs, and it shows. You, thankfully, don’t have to work as hard. You just have to listen.

Alan Haber

February 27, 2014

Visit the official page for Jamie & Steve’s Circling EP at Jamie & Steve’s website. And while you’re there, why not purchase a copy of the EP? It’s Pure Pop Radio approved!

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