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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 | 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.
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”
Michael 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.
The 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.
Things are hopping here at the spacious, newly-fake-wooded-floored Pure Pop Radio headquarters, and by hopping we mean we’re having to hop over things that are in the way, that have been put there by the team of flooring professionals that just installed a new not-carpet surface to walk on. Well, that was something to live through for two days this past weekend, and then there’s the cleanup! Whoa!
And through the events of the past few days, which are hitting up against the start of television and radio broadcasts of Washington Nationals spring training baseball games–spring is springing, for sure–we’ve been listening to and adding to and reveling in a whole lot of new music that has been added to the ever-growing Pure Pop Radio playlist.
Here’s some of what we’ve just added to our 24-hour rotation (tons more new music coming next week!):
The Foreign Films | The Record Collector (Side Four) It occurs to us that there must be as many style paths floating around in Bill Majoros’ brain as there are Real Facts printed underneath Snapple bottle caps, and the evidence, it seems, is clear on the fourth side of the master’s upcoming double-record set. Bill has been releasing this album one side at a time; this time around, the songs are perhaps a bit more soulful and fit together like a tightly-knit glove.
Here’s the rundown on the latest six songs from the Films, all of which are now spinning in rotation: “Aloha Blue Sky,” a tempting slice of Philly soul buoyed by rock ‘n’ roll spirit; “Falling Like a Star,” a John Lennon-esque number with an air of mystery; “Time Disappears (La Lune de L’amour),” a gospelized ballad; “Dream Another Dream,” another Lennon nod, this time in ’50s “Starting Over” mode; “Sunset by the Sea,” a breezy ballad dressed in Steely Dan comfort clothes by way of “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number” and Van Dyke Parks-ish marimba and steel drums accents; and “Letter to Our Future Selves,” a winning pop song by way of Jim Croce and Paul McCartney (surely the inspiring duo of the year so far), with a touch of Pure Pop Radio favorites Muller and Patton thrown in for good measure (Bill, meet Muller and Patton).
If the Foreign Films’ The Record Collector doesn’t wind up in voluminous top 10 lists this year, we’ll eat the hat we don’t wear. Seriously…this is great.
The Longplayer Orchestra | “All in the City” It’s been six years since we came across one of the most refreshing, exciting and, most of all, fun albums we’d heard in ages–the debut long player by Longplayer, subsequently to be called The Longplayer Orchestra. Comprising Goran Hjertstedt, Ulf Holmberg, and Ian Haugland, who was Goran’s partner in the glorious Brains Beat Beauty, the LPO has released the first track off the forthcoming album, Memory Lane, and it’s the usual LPO fare: fun, lively, tuneful, hooky and just vaguely ELO-ish (well, maybe more than vaguely). LPO’s music gives us great pleasure; we can’t wait for the full album. Great, great, great.
The Del Zorros | “Step Away from My Heart,””Hold You All Night Long (Dream Little Dreamer),””The Henrietta,” and “Downton Abbey (Let’s Go)” “Come on down to the shining river; it goes on and on and winds forever,” Lance and Leigh Bowser (aka Monty and Stede Del Zorro) sing rather romantically in the lovely, satiny “The Henrietta,” a song from last fall’s glorious Del Zorros long player, Wilmington, now a single release that just gets under your skin like the best things you love. And speaking of love, “Hold You All Night Long (Dream Little Dreamer)” is a song that you will, you know, love–a soulful strutter of epic proportions, if epic, in this case, is the feeling you get dancing with the one you love, ever so close. “Step Away from My Heart” is a Staxian stomper, perfect for the dance floor, and “Downton Abbey (Let’s Go)” is a timely sendoff for the popular PBS program that just concluded its loving run. Monty and Stede are doing great work, and we’re proud to be featuring it on Pure Pop Radio.
James Patrick | “Pet Your Stereo” and “Rabbit Hole Blues” Look no further than the short and sweet power-packed nugget “Pet Your Stereo” that’s shooting straight out of the glam-pop well for your Marc Bolan-y fix. From James Patrick’s upcoming album (think April), this is a sizzler–a groovy contemporary stomper oozing replayability for maximum enjoyment. And, as good as “Pet Your Stereo” is, “Rabbit Hole Blues” might just be even better. A Todd Rundgren-esque song with just as much Paul McCartney DNA sprinkled on top, with three fairly distinct parts, it’s a pure pop winner. Great stuff.
Phyllis Johnson | “30 Trips Around the Sun” Gee whiz, Phyllis Johnson…when are you going to make the album that’s sure to blaze around the sun and swoop up a grand, adoring, worldwide audience for your beautiful music? Here is Phyllis’ latest modern classic, a delicious channeling of Aimee Mann-esque mid-tempo balladry that hooks you upon first listen. Lovely.
Dion and Paul Simon | “New York is My Home” Who doesn’t stop in his or her tracks to soak in a new song from the great musical poet of New York, whose streets resonate with his legacy? Dion’s new song, sung with another Big Apple poet, Paul Simon, is a gorgeous, soulful love letter to the city that remains a most vibrant, shining star. Terrific.
Kenny Herbert | “Forever and Beyond,” “You,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” We continue to swoon to the sounds of one of our favorite singer-songwriters, who we’ve been playing on the air for quite a long while. Kenny’s new album, Forever and Beyond, is set for April release and we can’t wait. We’ve got a trio of love songs for you, in advance of the release–the title track, arranged for acoustic guitar and understated orchestration, and a beautifully sung charmer; the oh-so-pretty “You”; and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a love letter to Frank Capra’s classic film that also points to having a wonderful life in the here and now. We can’t wait for the full album.
Kyle Vincent | “Narita (Tokyo Girl)” and “Whatever Happened to Fun” Here’s a real springtime treat, slightly in advance of the season. “Narita (Tokyo Girl)” is a wonderfully catchy, upbeat pop song with a great, catchy melody; “Whatever Happened to Fun” is a fun, new recording of the classic song released by Kyle’s former band, Candy, in 1985. It’s always great to have new Kyle Vincent songs to play on the radio.
Linda Perhacs – “The Dancer” This intoxicating, atmospheric number, co-produced by Fernando Perdomo and Wilco’s Pat Sansone, is alive and vital; it will presumably be included on the artist’s next album, only her third since 1970. You won’t be able to get this song out of your head. Gorgeous.
The April Family | “1943” Michael Carpenter, Casey Atkins and Kylie Whitney, whose 2014 album, Something About Ghosts, was one of our favorite records of that year, come together to deliver a swampy, soulful (there’s that word again) track that bubbles with emotion and fury. Factor in the amazing Kylie vocal and you’ve got a track that makes you want to hear more. Superb.
Tom Shaner | I Hate to See Your Spirit Fade Perhaps more on the folk and blues sides of life’s musical equation than pop, Tom Shaner’s songs exude a certain seductive energy that is all in there, emotionally speaking. A protege of Jeff Buckley, Tom logged time in New York City band Industrial Tepee. We’re playing seven great songs from this superb album, including “New York City is Paradise #2,” “Tide of Love” “Vanessa the Vegan Murderess,” “Your Complication Soul,” “When the Devil Comes Callin’,” “I Can’t Be the One,” and “Wandering Heart.” A beautiful, soulful record.
Velasco | “I Can’t Surf” Decidedly sitting on the pop side of the musical fence, this singer-songwriter out of Paris (the one in France) follows up his two EPs and four singles with a sweet-sounding, upbeat, catchy song set to a relaxed surf beat. Love, love, love it. Welcome Giuseppe Velasco to Pure Pop Radio.
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There you go: just some of the latest adds to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. And, as usual, we’re just getting started! Be with us next week for more runs through some of the latest songs and artists we’ve started playing in rotation. Until then, why not click on one of the listen links below and tune into the greatest melodic pop music in the universe!