You Shouldn’t Be Surprised… ♥
You Shouldn’t Be Surprised… ♥
Spins and Reviews | 07.11.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Terry Draper | “She’s All Mine” (from the album Remarkable Women) (2017)
Written this past May, recorded in June, and released just days ago, this freshly-plucked, catchy tune, a love song about Terry’s wife Anna, celebrates her charm in a rather charming way. It’s from Terry’s album Remarkable Women, releasing this Friday, and it’s the perfect summer song, a bouncy, singalongable, and quirky creation. In other words, it’s a keeper. Bonus coolness factor: Dig the key change (a semi-tone modulation) about three-quarters of the way through.
Cliff Hillis |Many Happy Returns (Tallboy, 2017)
Always a reliable writer and performer, Cliff returns with arguably his finest release, an EP’s worth of pop songs that sing. Even the bouncy popper “Time an Evangelist,” a hopeful look at today’s fractured political landscape, is a catchy treat whose heart beats proudly (“Poor musician/Sings a protest song/All he wants is the world to sing along”). The title number is a pure poppy delight with a fun, vocally percussive underpinning; the four-on-the-floor “Never in a Million Years,” a co-write with Robbie Rist, rocks with a determined guitar attack as it pops; and the lovely mid-tempo ballad “With All the World,” written with Pure Pop Radio favorite Bill DeMain, is alight with Burt Bacharach-y horns. Wonderful.
Elliot Schneider | “The Moon Has Flown Away” (2017)
This catchy, upbeat pop-rocker, the first track released from Elliot’s upcoming album, Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basketcase, ticks all the boxes for listeners and ups the ante with luscious background vocals supplied by the Italian band Cirrone, whose new EP is currently spinning on Pure Pop Radio. Eminently catchy and an earworm, to boot.
Carpenter Caswell | “High Hopes” (Big Radio Records, 2017)
The third single from superstar duo Michael Carpenter and fellow Australian Allan Caswell is ostensibly country, but as soon as you hear it, you will see why I say it’s pop, dressed in country outer gear. Buoyed by strong percussion, tears-in-your-eyes slide guitar, and a melody to stop your ears in their tracks, “High Hopes” is a hopeful slice of country-pop. The upcoming Carpenter Caswell album seems a cinch for high marks.
The Ronson Hangup | “Hickok’s Curse” (2017)
The first single from the Hangup’s forthcoming and long-awaited second album is an engaging, dynamic, upbeat pop song that raises the stakes from the band’s terrific first collection. A great melody draws ears to a great tune. Don’t miss the brief carnival-like tempo change about halfway in. In fact, don’t miss this song.
Vegas With Randolph featuring Lannie Flowers | “The Weekend’s Coming” (2017)
Another sizzling track, wearing its power pop heart on its energetic sleeve, from the much-anticipated, forthcoming This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4 compilation (we’re also playing Ray Paul’s terrific “I Need Your Love Tonight”). “The Weekend’s Coming” mixes the considerable talents of Washington, D.C.’s Vegas With Randolph and Texas pop powerhouse Lannie Flowers for an enticing, toe-tapper that features strong vocals, a particularly enticing bridge, and that magical hook.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
Where to Get It: Coming soon
Nicky Fingers and the Motor City Lobsters | “One More Chance” (2017)
Band names are everything, or at least they used to be, and they still are, if you look long enough. Back in the glory days of the 1960s, for example, when you came upon a band called, say, the Hollies, you had a pretty good idea of what you were going to get. With a band name such as Nicky Fingers and the Motor City Lobsters, you’re really not sure what’s in store before you play their one and only song. Nicky Fingers could be a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who’s spent time with a guy of questionable repute, and the Motor City Lobsters could be guys with, you know, claws of some sort, in whose grip you would not want to wind up.
Turns out, however, that Nicky and his Lobsters are perfectly acceptable to bring home to the parents on date night. Nicky and the Motor City Lobsters are the collective nom de plume of New Trocaderos keys man Kris “Fingers” Rodgers, driving popster Nick Piunti, Andy Reed, Donny Brown, and Michael Chaney (who co-wrote “One More Chance” with Nick), attorney-at-law and writer-of-catchy-tunes, about whose work much has been written rather glowingly as toes all over the land are tapping down into the floorboards with a certain panache. Therein lies the pedigree, true as true can be, but still the question remains: Do Nicky and his Lobsters, hailing from the Motor City, thrash and crash their way through some kind of speed metal arrangement of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” or, you know, what?
Nothing of the sort, it turns out. In fact, “One More Chance” is nothing less than a celebration of pure pop, an old-fashioned kind of energetic four-beat after four-beat thumper with the kind of melody and hook construct that begs repeat plays. It’s catchy, too, and it’s kind of reminiscent of the poppier side of Bruce Springsteen (of “Where the Bands Are” fame). There’s a little Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in there, and there’s some Bob Dylan too, which you can detect from Nick’s as-usual affecting vocal.
One even quick-and-gone look at the artwork for “One More Chance”–a mix-and-match, leave-them-where-they-fall smattering of faux psyched-out skulls and old-fashioned-from-back-in-the-day, push-the-button-and-out-come-some-raised-letter-labels that spell out the band name and song title–and you’d likely exit stage left or even right and run for the hills. But you’re more likely to smile and hit the repeat button on your music player of choice.
Nicky Fingers and the Motor City Lobsters are coming to your town–not actually coming there, but making a sounds-like-a-hit appearance from out of your speakers–and it’s okay to make them right at home. Skulls are optional.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
Where to Get It: Bandcamp
Populuxe | “Garage Sale” (2017)
Seeded in Brooklyn in the late 1990s, this trio, comprised of Mike Mallory, Mark Pardy, and Rob Shapiro (listed in alphabetical order because Mike, Mark and then Rob sounds sort of musical, I guess), open up their new song with pounding, purposeful drums that segue into an XTC kind of song, charged with melody and guitars and all kinds of changes, and you will likely like it as I do. The trio is joined by Gracie Wall, who sings background vocals. The tune was recorded in California, which is the other coast, depending on where you live. This song is great wherever you live.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
Where to Get It: Amazon
More reviews coming…before you know it!
Actually, we have two winners!
In our prize dossier are two copies of Curry Cuts’ outstanding collection of James Bond theme covers, Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007. Said dossier will now be emptied and dispatched to Rebecca Aldape and Terry Hrovat. Both Rebecca and Terry are now bona fide members of Her Majesty’s Not-So-Secret Melodic Pop Service. Welcome!
Thanks to all who entered our Curry Cuts contest. More cool, as we not-so-secret agents are wont to say, contests are coming soon. Meanwhile, keep listening to Pure Pop Radio, your 24-hour source on Internet radio for the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. We’re continually adding new and new-to-you songs to our playlist. Hear what’s new by clicking on one of the listen links below.
We’ve got a Bond, you and I…well, we’ve got two copies of Curry Cuts’ smashing CD compilation, Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007, to give away. And you could be one of the winners!
We’ll pick two winners from entries received by next Tuesday, July 4, at 5 pm ET. Each winner will snag a Bond compilation CD and a sticker that depicts the cover. It’s easy to win–simply fill out the form below and type the answer to the following question in the Comment field: What is James Bond’s drink of choice? You must answer this question to enter.
And now, the usual small and rather fine print: Only one entry per person. U.S. residents only. Don’t forget to type your email address and answer the Bondian question. Deadline for entering is next Tuesday, July 4, at 5 pm ET.
Win one of two copies of Curry Cuts’ Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007. Shake (don’t stir!) your entry and best of luck, 007!
Spins and Reviews | 06.29.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
We’ve added hundreds of new and new-to-you songs and artists to our playlist; here are reviews of two of our favorite new albums from two of our favorite melodic pop artists…
A Richard X. Heyman Spectacular:
Incognito (Turn-Up, 2017) and seven songs left off the album and now playing in rotation on an exclusive permission-granted basis
The music of Richard X. Heyman has been a steady presence during the 22-year history of Pure Pop Radio. I picked up on Richard’s wonderful songs just prior to the release of Cornerstone, his third album. Thanks to a suggestion from the Spongtones’ Jamie Hoover, I contacted Richard’s wife, Nancy, who began sending me cassettes of the work-in-progress. Nine albums later, Incognito arrives, Richard’s 12th long player, and his best work by far.
It is hard to fathom exactly what drives an artist to produce such good work so far into his career, other than the simple desire to create and the presence of a never-depleting well of inspiration and innate talent. It is evident at every step that Incognito’s 14 songs are proof positive that Richard’s mission has been and continues to be fulfilled.
Dazzling songs and equally dazzling performances greet you at every turn. In the pure popper “A Fool’s Errand,” the narrator tells the world that his love for his partner is solid and for the ages. “Her Garden Path” is a muscular track with a grandly attractive riff that chronicles a man’s escape from a woman’s web. And the horn-infused, soulful pop number, “So What,” finds Richard sounding as though he’s channeling the Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere.
Richard’s playing is stellar. Incognito is stellar, a monumental achievement from an artist who never disappoints. Richard recorded seven additional songs for this album that wound up on the cutting room floor. Each one is a pearl in a sea full of them (particularly “Advantage Girl,” an speedy, upbeat pop song with expressive guitar lines, Richard’s trademark three-dimensional harmonies, and those incredible drums). While not for sale, they are playing in rotation on our air on an exclusive permission-granted basis, so thanks to Richard and Nancy for being so gracious.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: From Incognito: “Incognito,” “A Fool’s Errand,” “And Then,” “Gleam,” “So What,” “In Our Best Interest,” “Her Garden Path,” “Lift,” “Miss Shenandoah Martin,” “All You Can Do,” “Terry Two Timer,” and “These Troubled Times”
Plus: Seven Incognito outtakes: “Advantage Girl,” “And Now It’s All This,” “Follow Me Down,” “If I Didn’t Know Her Better,” “No One Left to Blame,” “Pocket Full of Holes,” and “The Golden Coast”
Where to Get Incognito: Richard X. Heyman’s website
Bill DeMain | Transatlantic Romantic (2017)
As one-half of the transcendent duo Swan Dive and the artist behind 2012’s wonderfully melodic EP, Extended Stay, Bill DeMain is, like Richard X. Heyman, a familiar presence on our airwaves. Bill’s new album, a delicious, wonderfully arranged song cycle stacked high with sweet, beautifully written and performed classic-sounding songs in the style of Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, and Harpers Bizarre, is as perfect a record as could be offered to earthlings in 2017.
Built around Bill’s piano and lovely vocals, and co-producer Jim Hoke’s tasteful string and horn arrangements, which ought to get some kind of arranger’s award (someone get on that right away), these songs will absolutely, positively stay with you for all eternity. I’ve written about a few of the songs that’s we’ve been playing on the air exclusively for awhile (read about “Honey Bear” and “Leroy Boy” here) but there are others worthy of more than a mere mention.
“Lemon Yellow” is a lovely waltz blessed by Van Dyke Parks-meets-George Martin strings, Randy Newman-esque piano, and a charming story about the love of a car that came “all the way from Germany.” The life of a boy growing up with the world snuggled up around him takes place in and around that lemon yellow automobile. Witness: true love, near yet far (“I was too shy to kiss her”); driving through the summer sun with a cassette of Genesis’s Selling England by the Pound album playing; going off to college and missing the four wheels every day; and pledging affection despite some really rather tiny imperfections (“If she was a little quirky/Water pooled beneath the seat/Wash me on a window dirty/And the dimples on fenders.”) You, as do I, will wish you had written this gem.
The cinematic midtempo ballad “Brewster, Illinois (April 3rd, 1952)” is a sweet musical snapshot of the day-to-day goings-on in a small town as the calendar pages turn and days turn into nights and nights turn back into days. The song was sparked when Bill was looking through newspapers from where he grew up in New Jersey. Charmed by the everyday events chronicled, he was moved to write this number, which builds to a bridge from which a measure of sunny-day town square-like bursts of ebullience emerge. It’s a masterful creation.
Honestly, this is the kind of album that hardly anyone makes anymore, which is a shame. In these often trying days, we search valiantly for some sunlight, for some melodies to hum to ourselves to cheer ourselves up. Bill DeMain’s brilliant, heartfelt album (with nary a guitar present), bursting softly with charm to spare, ought to do the trick.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Begin,” “Leroy Boy,” “Honey Bear,” “Lemon Yellow,” “Brewster, Illinois (April 3rd, 1952),” “Boffo and Beans,” “Dori,” “Alaska,” “Wendy” (Beach Boys cover), and “The Golden Age” (The entire album)
Where to Get It: Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org to order a CD for $12.00 (includes postage)
Cherry Parkes | “The Man of the Moment”
(Charlatan Record Cartel, 2017)
“These were in my basement. Maybe you can do something with them.”
They were words one might expect to hear at a yard sale from a been-in-the-neighborhood-for-decades resident who had finally cleaned out his basement, littered with bric-a-brac and mementos from a life lived generously. “These were in my basement. Maybe you can do something with them.” “How much for this chest of drawers?” “Five dollars. A bargain, if you ask me.” A deal made in the blink of an eye, a treasure successfully transferred to a new home.
Except in this case, “these” were a set of master tapes found abandoned in a basement in Tacoma, Washington that were sent to the progressive Charlatan Record Cartel. All eyes and ears, for that matter, have been transfixed on Jayson Jarmon’s outfit since this past March, when Charlatan began releasing heretofore unheard recordings made by Pacific Northwest practitioners of the pop music art.
Whereas previous Charlatan releases have come from contemporary artists such as the Sunday Brothers, this latest release is a blast from an unknown past. The treasures received were “badly deteriorated four-track master tapes marked simply as ‘Cherry Parkes, October 1966’ and were accompanied by several photos, a handkerchief marked ‘AP,’ and a gig poster describing a Friday night show at Federal Way’s long defunct Spanish Castle club,” according to the label. And what of the significance of the personalized handkerchief? A mystery likely to remain unsolved, sadly.
After baking the 50-year-old tapes in what we can only assume is the Charlatan lab rats’ version of the famous childhood kitchen appliance known as the Easy-Bake Oven, and mixing and mastering to improve sonic clarity, Charlatan staff auditioned the four Parkes tracks. What they heard was nothing less than magical. What happened next literally and figuratively knocked the socks off their feet, clear across the floor, until they ran smack into Charlatan’s cherry wood-paneled walls.
Amanda “Cherry” Parkes’ introduction to the world is the first song released from Charlatan’s momentous find. “The Man of the Moment” is reminiscent of the best of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s output, but also calls to mind various James Bond movie theme songs and classic sides waxed by female vocalists of the 1960s, such as Vicki Carr and Eydie Gorme. One listen to the melody-infused track, about a woman who chooses a spouse who is, perhaps, less than savory and maybe not the right catch (“And do you think she’ll ever wonder how it came to this?/And will she willingly exchange a wedding vow/With such a piece of work as this?”) is all it takes to understand how much gold has been dropped into Charlatan’s considerable lap.
Cherry Parkes’ “The Man of the Moment” is but one of hundreds of new and new-to-you songs that have recently been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a slew of reviews of just-released classic recordings from such artists of the moment as Richard X. Heyman, Bill DeMain, The Naturals, Carpenter Caswell, and The Junipers’ Robyn Gibson.
Ray Paul | “I Need Your Love Tonight” | This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4
(Kool Kat Musik) 2017
Just one month shy of a year since the release of Whimsicality, Ray Paul’s glorious, rock ’em, sock ’em return to recording, which in July of 2016 we called “one of this year’s best albums… a delicious mix of originals and well-chosen covers,” Ray returns with another, so-very-catchy slice of pop, and it’s a doozy.
“I Need Your Love Tonight” mines both the sweet and crunchy sides of the Raspberries sound (with just a hint of The Grass Roots) for four minutes of indisputable proof that this heritage artist, whose work passionately promoting indie pop artists is well-known and treasured, is top of the pops.
Ray’s signature, booming bass and strong vocals (stronger than ever, actually), Terry Draper’s drums, tambourine and piano, and Bill Nadeau’s crunchy guitars distinguish “I Need Your Love Tonight,” co-produced in grand style last month by Ray and Terry at Terry’s Swamp Manor studio in Oak Ridges, ON, Canada. The track is certain to be one of the highlights of the much-anticipated This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio Volume 4 compilation, being released by Ray Gianchetti’s Kool Kat Musik label.
Pure Pop Radio is proud to be the first independent radio outlet to play “I Need Your Love Tonight” outside of Dana and Carl’s This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio show. The song is now gracing our air and playing in hot rotation. We dig us some new Ray.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
Where to Get It: Coming soon
The Junipers’ Robyn Gibson pops by Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation tomorrow to chat about his (in our words) “buoyant exercise in the art of homage,” Bob of the Pops Vol. 1. We’re so excited for you to hear this rather charming conversation that we’re airing it twice tomorrow, May 31: noon and 8 pm (both times ET).
Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 gathers together 14 glorious, sweetly-sung covers of some of Robyn’s favorite songs from (mostly) the 1960s and 1970s. These mostly reverent renditions of such beloved chestnuts as The Beatles’ “Nowhere Man,” The Who’s “I Can’t Reach You,” and The Hollies’ “Listen to Me” star in this collection that is a free download on Bandcamp (run, don’t walk!).
Robyn says fun is the point of these recordings, and he’s absolutely right–if you close your eyes, you can actually feel the fun just dripping from these covers of some of the greatest pop songs of all time. You’ll hear all about how Robyn approached recording and a whole lot more.
As a bonus, and to whet your appetite for Bob of the Pops Vol. 2, which will be available from Futureman Records before you know it, you’ll hear Robyn talk about one of the tracks contained therein: his version of The Dukes of Stratosphear’s “Vanishing Girl” (sounding so much like The Hollies). Bring it on!
Don’t miss The Junipers’ Robyn Gibson talking with me on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation about Bob of the Pops Volumes 1 and 2, tomorrow at both noon ET and 8 pm ET. See you on the radio.
…Bob Fenster and Glenn Black. Congratulations! A copy of The Hangabouts’ wonderful CD and a very snazzy-looking green guitar pick will be going out to each of you shortly. Thanks for entering!
More contests coming soon. Meanwhile, thanks for hanging out with us here in cyberspace and listening to the greatest melodic pop music in the universe on Pure Pop Radio.
The Hangabouts’ sweet sophomore album, Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives, has risen to the top of the pops. With a baker’s dozen top-flight tunes and a deep well of craft and imagination, the band has produced a set of songs that will surely wind up populating best-of lists when best-of time comes about later this year.
Meanwhile, there are these songs. We said this back on April 18: “The Hangabouts have clearly crafted one of those hall-of-fame-worthy albums that have made this year a delightful one to observe, sing along to, review, and play on the radio.” So, yes, it’s a good one for sure.
Would you like to win a copy of The Hangabouts’ Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives? We’ve got two copies to give away, each one sporting a green Hangabouts guitar pick that would love to slide across your favorite guitar strings. It’s easy to win: Just fill in the form below (type “Hangabouts” in the Comment field) and send it to us by this Saturday, May 27 at noon ET. Be sure to fill in all fields. Sorry, but US residents only this time around.