Charlatan Record Cartel’s Sunday Brothers Get Heavy, Man

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Spins and Reviews | 05.02.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

charlatan records logothe sunday brothers save meCharlatan Record Cartel spotlight popsters The Sunday Brothers get heavy, man, on “Save Me,” the follow-up to their initial, smash “somber, ruminative ballad about that night in ‘Bankside,’” as we called it in our review back in late February.

pacific northwest illo
Part of Charlatan’s ongoing, purposeful musicological dig through the deep cache of hidden diamond-y bands working undercover in the Pacific Northwest, heretofore unknown to the masses of hungry music fans for whom trips to McDonald’s for a snagging of an all-day breakfast offering are the sustenance of life, this second release from The Sunday Brothers is food for thought, a ruminative (yes, there’s that word again) plea for making things right with just one kiss.

Vocalist Carl Funk, who enjoys a fair share of spins here on Pure Pop Radio, is the voice of “Save Me,” thanks to an impromptu get-together with The Sunday Brothers in Tacoma, Washington, Charlatan’s home base. Carl and the brothers admire each other’s work and wanted to plug into each other’s scene, as it were, to see what kind of magic they could strike.

“Save Me,” not to put too fine a point on the message, paints a rather bleak picture of life (“You lost your way, you have to pay/You have to meet your maker/You mustn’t try to overstay/The undertaker…”). But don’t worry–time-honored, pop tradition has got your back: the musical end of “Save Me” is joyous, jubilant, a jumbo ball of celebratory tuneage (I believe I detected a few sly nods to Fontella Bass’s 1966 hit, “Rescue Me,” an apropos touch). A cry for help with a smile on its face? Yes, indeed.

Carl Funk squeezes every ounce of emotion out of this typically strenuous Sunday Brothers song, which posits that a kiss will always be a kiss and pops along with a great, catchy melody. “If you do what they tell you,” the last verse intones, “They promise it’ll be alright/If you buy what they sell you then one kiss will set it right…/Well set it right, right now.” Wise words from Tacoma’s sage musical poets.

“Save Me” is exploding within the Bandcamp universe. Pure Pop Radio is proud to have exclusively presented this important song for the very first time on the radio on April 20. Don’t miss this one.

black box Playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp


Charlatan Record Cartel’s Pacific Northwest Band Bonanza is 2017’s Biggest Heretofore Unknown Musical Bounty

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Spins and Reviews | 03.01.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

charlatan records logoCertainly somewhat close to the excitement that would be garnered by the discovery of a previously-unknown outtake from the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, and most definitely setting off fireworks and shockwaves in the neighborhood of those that pulsated through the melodic pop community upon the release of 1999’s Where Has the Music Gone? The Lost Recordings of Clem Comstock, which gathered a treasure trove of mind-blowing early-to-mid-’60s sides together in one rather influential package, Tacoma, Washington’s Charlatan Record Cartel’s explosive satchel of tracks from across the pop spectrum, set to release throughout this year, is this year’s most exciting and potentially influential pop music bounty that you will encounter this year.

The Pacific Northwest, somewhere west of the east

pacific northwest illoKnown worldwide as the label that released albums by the much-loved Liar’s Club and Vanilla, Charlatan, operated under the watchful ears of musician Jayson Jarmon, has discovered so many wonderful pop nuggets by so many wonderful pop bands that it’s almost criminal, but not quite, that they have waited so long to release them to the world. But we here at Pure Pop Radio can forgive the delay, if indeed there has been a delay, because the company, nestled in the Pacific Northwest, also known as Cascadia, is ramping up to set the world of melodic pop on fire, or at least pop the top off of a barrelful of expectations.

Flannel is alive, as are talent and honest musical emotion, in the world of Charlatan Record Cartel’s The Sunday Brothers (and that’s only the beginning)

the sundays brothersFirst up from the Sunday Brothers, and releasing on Charlatan’s Bandcamp headquarters page, is a somber, ruminative ballad about that night in “Bankside,” complete with a delicate, ’60s British Invasion-esque guitar solo and enough atmosphere to cause light rain to fall from the skies. The song, performed by the Sunday Brothers and, interestingly enough, written by Jayson Jarmon and Gavin Guss, was heard by the Brothers Sunday while they were in London, planning for the burial of their parents, who met their demise in a 2006 plane “incident.” How Jayson and Gavin’s song made its way across the pond is as yet unknown, but thank heavens it did, and thank heavens Ethan, Topher, Theo, and Tiegen Sunday heard it and decided to commit it to wax. (You can find out everything you need to know about the Sunday Brothers, and probably more, by clicking here.)

ELP, just one of the major soft-rock influences the Sunday Brothers hold dear

the sunday brothers save meThe Sunday Brothers, obviously influenced by, according to their record label, “Crosby, Stills and Nash, America, ELP, and other soft rock groups of the mid-seventies,” kick off Charlatan’s 2017 Pacific Northwest bounty of musical treasures that will undoubtedly, and most assuredly and indubitably, set the universe of melodic pop denizens ablaze. The tender “Bankside” is available (click here to purchase), as is another new Brothers song, “Save Me” (which you can procure by clicking here).

Knuckle Dragon (well, not actually, actually)

knuckle dragon sleeveAnother surefire hit on Charlatan’s schedule of releases of top tunes from the wealth of Pacific Northwest bands that you need to know about, or else: Knuckle Dragon’s uniquely positioned ode to beer and women, “King of Tacoma,” which features what the record company says are “tasty riffs,” and you know what that means.  This truth-to-power rock, or “rawk” band, hails from Tacoma, as opposed to hailing for cabs. Appropos of nothing, the band rehearses in the Sunday Brothers’ basement, aka they live in the Sunday Brothers’ basement when they’re not working in a local bottle factory, which is a whole other, riff-laden story (click here to purchase “King of Tacoma”). Post Knuckle Dragon, you have chick singer band Cherry Parkes’ “The Man of the Moment” to look forward to. Wow, right?

Chew on that for awhile, and don’t miss the Sunday Brothers’ world-weary balladic achievement, “Bankside,” or their other sweet side, “Save Me.” And don’t forget about Knuckle Dragon. And stay tuned to Pure Pop Radio, and pledge to keep your eye on this website for new songs and information on those songs coming from the Charlatan Record Cartel, a forward-thinking musical enterprise that drives the melodies home to…you.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The Sunday Brothers’ “Bankside” and “Save Me”

black box Where to Get Them: The Sunday Brothers’ “Bankside” (Bandcamp) and “Save Me” (Bandcamp), and Knuckle Dragon’s “King of Tacoma” (Bandcamp)


New on Pure Pop Radio 03-01-17: Vegas With Randolph, Terry Draper, The Del Zorros, The Squires of the Subterrain, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 03.01.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Today’s batch of reviews features a preview of a new song from Pure Pop Radio favorites Vegas With Randolph, new releases from a trio of prolific melodic popsters, and much more…

vegas with randolph women in airportsVegas With Randolph | “Women in Airports”
Departing from Fountains of Wayne National Airport, Vegas With Randolph flies the friendly skies with this eminently catchy boarding pass of a song that happily charts a sweet flight path for these Washington, D.C. popsters. Captains of the pop industry, VWR is in full pop song mode with a look at love in all the airborne places, starting on the ground and looking up to 30,000 feet in the air.

The clever, observational lyric stipulates the narrator’s love for females in airports, no matter where they may come from or what their relationship status might be: “Women in airports/Are perfect for me.” But there is at least a small measure of concern in this well-appointed lyric: “I know she has baggage/But does she have baggage?” In fact, he seems quite content and self-assured: “We’ll hit cruising altitude and see/The best is yet to be.”

Are airports the choice spot for companionship in the ’10s? The narrator seems convinced. “I would really like to take you/On the greatest trip you’ve ever seen (so snap your seat belt),” he sings. “Find that sunny place inside your dreams (clouds are fading)/As we pry into the skies of possibility/We will smash the past in our jet stream/The best is yet to be.”

“Women in Airports” is a great Vegas With Randolph song, a pop and roll track sweetened by a gooey, catchy center. Fly in lots of guitars, popping percussion, and great vocals, and you have a classic number that will stay with you as you negotiate your future flight path. Get your ticket today!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

terry draper - if i only had a brain graphicTerry Draper | “If I Only Had a Brain”
The former Klaatu member’s creative juices have been flowing fairly regularly of late, which makes us very, very happy. Releasing, since 2014, two full albums–Searching and When the World Was Young–and a retrospective of unreleased material, Window on the World: The Lost 80’s Tapes, Terry has been busy, and he shows no signs of stopping. He’s recorded a treasured number from The Wizard of Oz, the ultimate “what if” song. Terry’s whimsical arrangement is pure sugary heaven. Fun fact, according to Wikipedia: “Originally written by (Harold) Arlen and (E.Y.) Harburg as ‘I’m Hanging On to You’ for the 1937 Broadway musical Hooray for What!, the song was ultimately dropped from that show, and when the pair was later hired to do the songs for (The Wizard of) Oz, Harburg simply wrote new lyrics to the tune.” Purchase immediately? The Scarecrow would probably say “Gosh, it would be awful pleasin’,” and we wholeheartedly agree.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: iTunes, Amazon

the del zorros prudenceThe Del Zorros | “Prudence”
Speaking of continually flowing creative juices, there’s also something in the water over at Casa de Del Zorro. Monty and Stede’s latest is an immensely satisfying tribute to the magic of The Beatles, an easygoing shuffle, in the rhythmic, melodic and lyrical senses. Weaving a bevy of Beatles song titles and melodies into three minutes of Del Zorros charm, the brothers wink along with you and ask that you only sway to the feel and smile. Clueing you into all of the so-that’s-where-that-comes-froms would mean you’d miss out on some of all of the fun, so we’ll only put the spotlight on “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You,” and “Please Please Me.” Oh, and there’s a touch of “Sugar, Sugar” in here, too. Sweet!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby

scot sax grooved pavementScot Sax | “Busy Bee”
Another pretty prolific popster, this one out of Nashville, is beating the drum for pop and roll, with a healthy smidge of soul blended into the mix. We go back a long way with Scot Sax’s music–songs from his time with Wanderlust and Bachelor Number One continue to play in rotation on our air. We’re also playing songs from Scot’s recent releases; his duo album with wife Suzie, Our Album Doesn’t Like You Either, is another Pure Pop Radio favorite playlist add. From Scot’s current collection, Grooved Pavement, comes this fun, soul-pop confection, a singalongable, clapalongable earworm that is a joy from first note to last. Get busy, and bee-lieve!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes

geno and the jukebox hipster coffee shopGeno and the Jukebox | “(Kicked Outta the) Hipster Coffee Shop”
Gene Pompilio, formerly of New Jersey’s prime pop outfit Cosmic Avenger, which also counted his brother John as a member, returns to Pure Pop Radio with a lighthearted, smiling workhorse of a pop song, another mirthful number that will put a smile on your face. There are lots more of these just-over-two-minute-long creations on Gene’s Soundcloud page. Go get ’em!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Soundcloud

the squires of the subterrain slightly radio activeThe Squires of the Subterrain | “Slightly Radio Active”
The Squire (aka Chris Earl) returns to Pure Pop Radio and the world-at-large with the first, powerhouse track off of his upcoming album, Slightly Radio Active. A rather straightforward (for the Squire, at least) pop and roll workout, “Slightly Radio Active” features a guitar line somewhat reminiscent of the Beatles, and the Squire’s usual joie de vivre. And a lot of guitars. Stomp along with the Squire.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: The Squires of the Subterrain website


New on Pure Pop Radio 02.15.17: The New Trocaderos and the Nerk Twins

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Spins and Reviews | 02.15.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

This week’s second batch of reviews of new and new-to-you songs and artists added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist kicks off with a powerhouse EP from the New Trocaderos. Take it away, Kurt, Geoff, Brad, Kris, and Rick:

new trocaderos new trox coverThe New Trocaderos | New Trox (2017)
Good golly Miss Molly, and you too Peggy Sue: When all was said and rocking, the New Trocaderos were left with a trio of terrific tracks that didn’t make the final cut for 2015’s Thrills and Chills long player. Those tracks make up this top-flight EP, which some folks, including me, might just peg as our favorite Trocs recordings ever. Which is really saying something, when you consider that pretty much everything these gentlemen have released hits the mark.

The catchy deets: “Come On Girl” tops a tasty pop and roll sundae with a Mick Jagger-meets-Joey-Ramone lead vocal and an out-of-left-field barrelhouse piano solo; “The Air” practically defines the idea of blues-pop, rolling out delicious sax and electric guitar lines in the first instrumental break, and a tasty Fats Domino piano run in the second. The cherry on top of this sundae is a deft mix of Everly-Brothers-meets-Ramones-meets-The-Cherry-Drops vocal harmonies atop a crunchy rock ‘n’ roll base.

Cheery, chunky and clearly clapalongable, New Trox is a must-get for your pop music collection. Play these songs at your next party and watch the dance floor shake, rattle, and roll!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Come On Girl,” “The Air,” and “You Broke My Heart”

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

nerk twinsThe Nerk Twins | “Against the Grain,” “Eyes on the Prize,” “Everything Between,” and “Either Way” (Alternate version)
Herb Eimerman has distinguished himself with not only a series of wonderful, transcendent solo albums, but also as a member of the powerhouse world-spanning supergroup, the Britannicas. What some people may not know is that in 1997 he was one-half of super duo called the Nerk Twins. Eimerman’s partner-in-merriment was Shoes’ Jeff Murphy, who produced and engineered the set, titled Either Way. Tracks from Either Way still play in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, 20 years later.

A fun, alternate version of the title song from the Nerks’ one-and-only album appeared on the second volume of Stefan Johansson’s legendary Pop Under the Surface series in 1998. We’ve added that Nerks nugget to our playlist, along with three wonderful co-writes that didn’t make the duo’s album but appeared on the first three International Pop Overthrow compilations. The Byrdsian “Against the Grain” appeared on IPO Vol. 1; the jangly “Eyes on the Prize” appeared on IPO Vol. 2; and the gorgeous “Everything Between,” a pretty number sporting a delicious chord progression and equally delicious melody, appeared on IPO Vol. 3.

If you don’t know the Nerk Twins’ Either Way album, you can correct that situation by clicking here or here. Which you really should. Meanwhile…

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Against the Grain,” “Eyes on the Prize,” “Everything Between,” and “Either Way (Alternate version)

black box Where to Get It: Amazon is probably your best bet for these out-of-print CDs.


New on Pure Pop Radio 02.14.17: Starring Pop Co-Op (with the Spongetones’ Steve Stoeckel), James Starflower, The Lunar Laugh, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 02.14.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

james starflowerJames Starflower | Covers: “Mandy,” “Jungle Love,” “God Save the Queen,” and “Moonage Daydream”; “Shandi”

Imagine Marc Bolan veering off of the T. Rex causeway and recording a David Bowie-esque Pin Ups kind of collection and you’re relatively close to where the quartet of covers James Starflower has recorded in his own off-ramp style lands.

The best covers–the most interesting ones, anyway–are those that don’t just shake hands with the originals. The best covers reposition a song’s elements, like a paint shaker in a hardware store. So imagine the mighty Starflower shaking things up and you have a wholly different take on “Mandy,” wherein Barry Manilow’s original tender-to-tumultuous arrangement is reset as an emotional, vocally-charged ballad, backed only by Elton John piano and just a tidbit of understated orchestration. Similarly, Starflower’s version of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” turns the rock and the roll on their heads with a ramped up Christine McVie kind of piano part, recasting the song as a determined state-of-the-union address. Steve Miller’s “Jungle Love” becomes a showcase for Starflower’s rubbery interpretive powers, and the aforementioned Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” presents Ziggy Stardust as a sensitive, but with a purpose, balladeer, performing the song before thousands of virtual acolytes holding blazing Zippo® lighters into the air.

And proving that Starflower can originate as well as recast, his “Shandi” charms in a ’70s kind of breezy, acoustic, pure poppy way, singing his goodbye to the Wizard’s yellow brick road. Since the artist’s wildly creative album Pet Your Stereo arrived last May, we’ve been hungry for more of his quite alive sound pictures; these covers, and this previously unheard original, satisfy until the next musical missives make their way to our ears. Drift to where the starflowers shine, will you?

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Mandy,” “Jungle Love,” “God Save the Queen,” “Moonage Daydream,” and “Shandi”

black box Where to Get It: Not currently available for purchase

pop co-op album coverPop Co-Op | Four State Solution (Silent Bugler, 2017)

This fun meeting of minds, melodies, and guitars came about as the result of four like-minded musicians, including the Spongetones’ Steve Stoeckel, sharing common, catchy ground and listening to Dana Bonn and Carl Cafarelli’s This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio show. Recorded in separate states of the union, these songs, sounding effortless and imbued with the spirit that drives melodic pop, are living, breathing bite-size reminders of what it is about such music that draws so many people to it. Songs like Stoeckel’s toe-tapping melodic pop-rocker, the Rockpile-with-a-hint-of-modern-country “Feint of Heart,” and Carson’s Left Banke/Spongetones-ish ballad “A Trick of the Light,” both of which will make their radio debuts tonight in the 8-9 o’clock hour here on Pure Pop Radio, are highlights, as are “Forgotten Secrets,” with its swirling rhythm and inviting Stoeckel vocal, and “Malaprop Girl,” a pop-and-rock ‘n’ roller of the catchiest order. Sweet.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “I Didn’t Know,” “Feint of Heart,” “Forgotten Secrets,” “Malaprop Girl,” “A Trick of the Light,” and “Only Me”

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Bandcamp

lunar laugh mama's boy lpThe Lunar Laugh | Mama’s Boy (You are the Cosmos, 2017)
Joined by Campbell Young on bass, electric guitar, keyboards, and vocals, multi-instrumentalists Jared Lekites and Connor Anderson have fashioned a wonderful collection of catchy pop songs as a follow-up to May 2015’s Apollo. “Work in Progress,” released as a single last October, is a lovely, charming, melodic wonder, as are the gorgeous, mid-tempo Simon and Garfunkel vibey “The Bedroom Door” and the playful “She Needs More Love,” which builds sweetly from a spare arrangement to an all-in instrumentated track. Lekites continues to be a favorite here on Pure Pop Radio for his solo work; this current incarnation of his talents, mixed with those of Anderson and Young, is also a sign that melodic pop music is alive and well and thriving.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Mama’s Boy,” “Sticks and Stones,” “Work in Progress,” “The Bedroom Door,” “A Better Fool,” “She Gets Stoned,” “Doin’ Alright,” “She Needs More Love,” and “Nighthawks and Mona Lisa”

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, You are the Cosmos

gretchen's wheel left turnGretchen’s Wheel | “Left Turn” (from the forthcoming album Sad Scientist) | Futureman, 2017)
The first song to emerge from the forthcoming Gretchen’s Wheel album Sad Scientist, due this spring, is a driving, propulsive pop-rocker with a catchy chord progression and Lindsay Murray’s strong vocal, drawing timbre from Aimee Mann. Oh, and guitars–crunchy strumming, rubbery stabs, and a Tom Scholz-y chord slide at 2:31 that brought me right back to 1976 and put a smile on my face. This portends a good showing for the new album, highly anticipated by power pop fans.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Noisetrade (A sampler with three previously-released Gretchen’s Wheel songs)

cotton mather with nicole atkinsCotton Mather with Nicole Atkins | Cotton Mather with Nicole Atkins (Star Apple Kingdom, 2016)
This is a miraculous triple-play, teaming Robert Harrison’s visionary songwriting with powerhouse vocalist Nicole Atkins, whom I’ve seen slay a crowd as an opener for Fountains of Wayne. The pairing pays off with aplomb; “Call Me the Witch” is catchy, upbeat pop; the dramatically-orchestrated “Faded” doesn’t sound at all far afield from something Marianne Faithfull would have recorded back in the day; and “Girl Friday” shakes with a ’60s Girl Groupy, Spectorish pomp and circumstance. Across all three of these songs, Atkins’ voice shines brightly, exhibiting power and the good sense to hold back when necessary. Alluring and awesome.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Call Me the Witch,” “Faded,” and “Girl Friday”

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, Star Apple Kingdom

kara mosher - dosage - from andy reedKara Mosher | Dosage (2017)

Possessing a wallop of an emotional vocal delivery, Austin, Texas pianist and singer-songwriter Kara Mosher scores with this smashing collection. Produced and recorded by the Legal Matters’ Andy Reed, with ace drummer Donny Brown in tow, Mosher reminds me of Carly Simon in the way that she modulates her vocal lines. In fact, the opening to the powerful “Golden Path” reminds me, somehow, of Simon’s “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be.” Interesting. Welcome the debut of an artist I’ll be following from this point on.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Survive,” “Golden Path,” “Moon and Sea,” “Wake Up Call,” “and “You and Me Live Forever”

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon

dreaming in stereo girl with a record collectionFernando Perdomo with Dreaming in Stereo | “Girl with a Record Collection” (2017)
The latest earworm from the prolific Perdomo finds him and Dreaming in Stereo tagging from a la-la-fueled open for a song about hooking up with a girl who is similarly entrenched in the world of record collecting, who can speak that musical language. Hey, she has records by Emitt Rhodes and Big Star, and her platters are alphabetized! It’s kismet! Catchy and upbeat and wholly satisfying, the Perdomo way.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp


New on Pure Pop Radio 02.09.17: Michael Carpenter Times Two, and The Del Zorros

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Spins and Reviews | 02.09.17
by Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We continue to add new and new-to-you songs and artists to the Pure Pop Radio playlist; here are just a few of the latest nuggets playing in rotation.

the april family album cover 2017The April Family | What We Know Now (Big Radio Records, 2016)
In 1998, Australia’s Michael Carpenter was going by the unlikely moniker Stagefright and soon to release his first album, Baby, under his own name through the Not Lame Recording Company. Prior to that, a 20-song audition disc, OK.. What Now?, made the rounds, comprised of 18 originals and two covers. While some artists take a release or two or more to ramp up to their potential, this nascent collection signaled the arrival of a fully-formed explosion of talent, ready to go.

Whether recording under his own name or as a member of groups such as The Cuban Heels, Supahip, and Kings Rd., or paying homage to favorite songs and artists for the past 16 years on six volumes of his SOOP series (Songs of Other People), Carpenter has helped to make the world a better place in which to live, espousing peace and love through beautiful music.

The April Family’s What We Know Now, a typically strong selection of songs meshing pop and alternative country styles and tipping its collective hat to classic sounds from the past, is a basketful of soulful cheer, 11 songs composed and performed primarily by multi-instrumentalist Carpenter, vocalist Kylie Whitney, whose sterling 2014 solo album, Something About Ghosts, continues to play in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, and lead guitarist Casey Atkins. Based in Sydney, Australia, the three-strong group reaches out to the world with its engaging craft.

The mid-tempo, should-be radio hit “You’re Someone that I Never Knew” is a country-pop treat with echoes of the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and the Rolling Stones driving its mellifluous melody home alongside Whitney’s soulful lead vocal. “I’m Over You,” by equal turns sad and triumphant, paints an emotional sound picture topped by a gorgeous string arrangement, lovely harmonies, and an expressive guitar solo. “Patsy Cline Times Two,” certainly this year’s best and cleverest song title, may well be this album’s heart; resolutely country and classically structured, it draws images of dance floor two-stepping and practically demands replays.

Certainly, with Carpenter in the mix, this album will automatically be on listeners’ radar; with Whitney’s singular, expressive vocals and Atkins’ guitar work in tow, it becomes a big, important thing that should dominate the melodic pop and alternative country fields this year. What we know now is that the April Family’s position as a musical force to be reckoned with is well and truly secure. A terrific release.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Pages of Us,” “1943,” “You’re Just the Blues,” “I’m Over You,” “So Close, Not Far Enough Away,” “You’re Someone that I Never Knew,” “Patsy Cline Times Two,” “It Ain’t Me, It’s Always You,” and “Easy for You”

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

carpenter caswell life like it's a train wreckMichael Carpenter and Allan Caswell | “Life Like It’s a Train Wreck”
The follow-up to last September’s “Back When I Was Older,” which continues to play in rotation on our air, is another melodic feather in the caps of Michael Carpenter and legendary singer-songwriter Allan Caswell. “Life Like It’s a Train Wreck” is anything but; instead, it’s a searing, modern be-bop-a-lulaesque-by-way-of-Johnny-Cash rockabilly chestnut propelled by Michael’s tasty Roy Clark electric guitar licks and a dive-into-life-head-feet-hands-arms-and-pinkies-all-in look on life. Superb.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby

the del zorros so much loveThe Del Zorros | “So Much Love”
This gentle ode to love, peace and harmony is Monty and Stede’s latest gift to melodic pop lovers, just in time for Saint Valentine’s Day. A sweet marriage of Roy Orbison emotion and Byrdsian guitar picking, “So Much Love” is a call to arms at a time we all need to experience joy. Lovely.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby


New on Pure Pop Radio 1-26-17 Starring Kelley Ryan, The Simple Carnival, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 1.26.17
Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We continue to add new and new-to-you songs and artists to our playlist; hundreds have made their Pure Pop Radio debut in the last few weeks. Here are just some of the most recent treasures we’re playing in rotation, with lots more to come:

kelley ryan telescope Kelley Ryan | Telescope (2017)
astroPuppees veteran Ryan’s latest long player is a master class effort of melodic proportions. Her luscious compositions are carefully crafted, charming objects of desire that sneak up on you and calmly rock your world. Working with singer Marti Jones; Marti’s husband, veteran musician and producer Don Dixon, who plays bass; and drummer and percussionist Jim Brock, Ryan delivers her usual enticing mix of balladry and radio-friendly should-be-top-of-the-pops creations; “Real Gone Girl,” this album’s catchy, mid-tempo closer, feels like a hit to me, its enticing melody and lovely harmonies memorable and magical. The gentle “Pulling for Romeo,” from which this album gets its title (“You’re at the end of your rope/Don’t need a telescope…”) will make you wonder why all songs aren’t this pretty. What you won’t need to wonder about is how this album fits into the current melodic pop landscape, because I have the answer: It fits like a glove.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Cigarette,” “Crack in the Sky,” “Passing Through,” “Pulling for Romeo,” “Real Gone Girl,” “Save Me,” “Secret Life,” and “The Broken News”

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes

the simple carnival smittenThe Simple Carnival | Smitten (2017)
Jeff Boller, resolutely soft pop from head to toe, sang sweetly on his wonderful 2008 album Girls Aliens Food, a one-man-band effort released under the Simple Carnival nom de plume. Featuring the dreamy, first-class earworms “Caitlin’s on the Beach” and “You Jump First,” it followed the 2005 release Menlo Park, a mostly instrumental EP, and Sonic Rescue League Vol. 1, a collection of early odds and ends.

Smitten, Boller’s delicious new Simple Carnival offering, on which the artist is supported by drummer Chris Belin and a bevy of background vocalists, one of whom sings co-lead on the winsome “Lunch for Dinner,” is another winning collection of pretty, catchy songs with a decidedly Eric Carmen-esque air about them. “This is what happens when you are smitten,” Jeff sings during the title track. “This is what happens when you’re in love.” Expect nothing less. Lovely songs, all sporting gorgeous melodies, abound. (By the way, Boller is a filmmaker too, and an award-winning one at that. Read about Smitten 3D by clicking here.)

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “A Geek Like Me,” “Elizabeth’s House,” “Everything that Grownups Know,” “Go Away I Like You Too Much,” “Kiss Her You Dummy,” “Lunch for Dinner,” “Smitten,” “That Thing We Got,” and “The Problem with Friends”

black box Where to Get It: The Simple Carnival Shop, Amazon

vegas with randolph complicated 2016Vegas With Randolph | “Ain’t So Complicated” (2016)
One of our favorite bands returns with a typically catchy number about the power of love. The beat is infectious, easy going and breezy, and charming, as are all Vegas With Randolph tracks.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

wilbur this is wilburWilbur | This is Wilbur (2016)

From Minneapolis, Minnesota comes this lovely four-song EP with a decidedly mid-1960s bent, sounding like a melodic meeting of the minds between the Cyrkle and the Left Banke, particularly on the upbeat, gentle raver “She’s Gone.” The folk-meets-baroque ballad “Perfect Stranger” is a particular highlight, sporting affecting, attractive harmonies and an entrancing melody. Well done.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “This is Sunshine,” “Perfect Stranger,” “Miss Hardy,” and “She’s Gone”

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

nezrok strong loveNezrok | “Strong Love” (2017)

Chris Korzen, joined by top-flight musician pals Dennis Diken (The Smithereens), Chris Bolger, and Dave Amels, celebrates his 10th wedding anniversary with this happy mid-tempo testament to love. Cool song. We’re happy to help spread the good feelings.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp


New on Pure Pop Radio 1.25.17: Feet First in the Dowling Poole! Jump In…The Water’s Fine!

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By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Spins and Reviews | 1.25.17 | by Alan Haber

TDP 1HP - CD Booklet Pages 16 & 1
(Left to right) Willie Dowling and Jon Poole

The Dowling Poole | Miles Checks Out, Bright Spark, and Deep Breath EPs (2016)

Willie Dowling, late of the much-loved Jackdaw 4 conclave, and Jon Poole, workhorse musical magician of Cardiacs and Wildhearts fame, first joined forces as the Dowling Poole in 2014, releasing the smashing, hall-of-fame worthy long player Bleak Strategies. The equally amazing, if not more so, One Hyde Park followed last April.

Folding into their classic and melodic sound a deep well’s worth of influences and making good on an unspoken pledge to surprise both themselves and their listeners with gonzo song construction that makes everything they record pop like fireworks, Dowling and Poole remain fearless creators whose music is stimulating and, above all, fun. Their three most recent EPs follow along on this most alluring path.

Just seven months after One Hyde Park proved conclusively that there were no limits to their boundless creativity, the dynamic duo returned with the first of three consecutive EPs, extending the hitting streak that has resulted in such a strong and assured run of releases.

dowling poole - miles checks out ep

All three EPs feature one new track and two acoustic recordings of favorite songs recorded live in 2015 in Manchester, England. The first release features the brand-new “Miles Checks Out,” a typically clever and catchy number mixing, in the accepted Dowling Poole style, allusions to James Bond theme songs, prog, straight-ahead pop, and varying time signatures–the kind of patchwork quilt that the solo Roy Wood probably wouldn’t mind calling his own. In tow are live, glorious, acoustic versions of “Saving It All for a Saturday” and “Getting a License,” both originally heard on Bleak Strategies.

dowling poole - bright spark ep

The second EP, released at the end of last November, puts another wildly imaginative number front and center: “Bright Spark,” a bopper of an upbeat workout that is perhaps the most straight-ahead structure-wise of the three new songs, but no less inventive and catchy. Live, acoustic versions of “The Sun is Mine” and “Where the Memories Fester,” both also originally from Bleak Strategies, complete the lineup.

dowling poole - deep breath ep

A third EP, coupling the new song “Deep Breath” with thrilling live, acoustic recordings of two more songs first heard as part of the Bleak Strategies lineup–“A Kiss on the Ocean” and “Paper, Scissors, Stone”–was released just before this past Christmas. “Deep Breath” is a moody, melodic, dramatic art-pop construct, nodding in classic fashion to rich Queen-style operatic-pop harmony stacks, a lá “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Also veering to and fro into varying time-signatures and approaches, it’s a hypnotic winner.

Willie Dowling and Jon Poole function as the prime movers in the Dowling Poole as two halves of the same creative brain. They can always be counted on to conjure up a joyous array of songs that incorporate varying styles and provide a great listening experience for their listeners. This is the stuff of legend–what a joy it is to write about and play on the radio the work of the Dowling Poole.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: From Miles Checks Out: “Miles Checks Out,” and “Getting a License (Acoustic Live in Manchester).” From Bright Spark: “Bright Spark,” and “The Sun is Mine (Acoustic Live in Manchester).” From Deep Breath: “Deep Breath,” “A Kiss on the Ocean (Acoustic Live in Manchester)” and “Paper, Scissors, Stone (Acoustic Live in Manchester).”

black box Where to Get Them: 369 Music on Bandcamp


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”)


Joy Spins Eternal Saturday, April 22, for Vinyl Lovers Everywhere. Record Store Day 2017 Rolls into Your Town

alan By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted April 19, 2017)

Your mission this week, and not nearly an impossible one, is to compose your want lists and check them twice and, what’s more, map out your travel plans for Record Store Day 2017, happening in your town, and yours too.

Record Store Day (RSD), 10 years young this year, is the vinyl fan’s national holiday and quite the occasion for a big group hug. Taking place Saturday, April 22 at independent record stores worldwide, it’s the place to be to snag special RSD exclusive platters, fill in holes in your collections of archival and current artists, and meet with fellow vinyl hounds to talk shop, if by “shop” we mean, and we do, the musicians we love and, by the way, which albums and artists are in your top 10.

gary gebler trax on wax
Trax on Wax’s Gary Gebler

Trax on Wax, located in beautiful Catonsville, Maryland (also known as Music City), is the official record store of Pure Pop Radio. Owner and vinyl guru Gary Gebler has participated in eight Record Store Days; he’s seen it all. In the following exclusive interview, Gary talks about how more mainstream artists have become a part of the annual celebration, Elton John’s status as the first worldwide Record Store Day Legend, the ongoing and increasing popularity of Big Star, and that familiar record store smell:

elton john 17-11-70What’s on your Record Store Day list this year? How about an extended vinyl version of Elton John’s famous, early live album, 17-11-70, with six never-before-heard songs and a newly-remixed version of “Amoreena,” a bonus track included on the CD reissue of the album back in 1995? How about The Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction album from 1966 in mono on 180-gram vinyl? Zombies fans will want to snag a copy of a special 45–on pink vinyl, no less–pairing a previously unheard version of “A Rose for Emily” and the version of “This Will Be Our Year” that everyone knows and loves.

Whatever your desires, an indie record store near you on Record Store Day 2017 will likely be able to fulfill them. Our hearts are with Trax on Wax; we hope yours are pledged to support your favorite local independent record stores, wherever they may be.

Happy hunting and spinning!

Learn more about Trax on Wax by clicking here.