Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of 2018

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Happy New Year, and welcome to the list.

About said list…it was the subject of my one and only New Year’s resolution: to keep the number of entries to 15. Well, good luck with that, I told myself, and wouldn’t you know it…I couldn’t make that work. How about 20? No? Okay then, how about 22? Twenty-two it is.

My annual list of the year’s best full-length releases collects what are, to me, the absolute top of the pops–the very bestest of the bunch. I liked and loved and adored many more long players, of course, but these are the ones I thought about and returned to the most.

As in past years, my favorite records of the year are listed in random order. I’ve never been able to compile lists of any kind in order of importance, size, or weight; my number five of today might drop to number 11 or rise two spots tomorrow, depending on my mood. So, random order it is.

Here are some truly exceptional releases–Pure Pop Radio’s Favorite Records of the Year: The Stars of 2018, presented randomly, all shiny and bright, all perfect for a place in your collection of great melodic pop music. A gathering of honorable mentions appears after the main list.

Enjoy.

David Myhr | Lucky Day (Lojinx, 2018)
A beautifully rendered selection of melody-rich songs from one of melodic pop music’s greatest practitioners, Lucky Day is the sound of a master songwriter’s loving embrace.

A warmhearted musical journey, Lucky Day’s 10 lovingly crafted songs, written solo and with some of melodic pop’s top writers, feature beautiful melodies and top-notch playing and singing. All contribute to one of 2018’s best albums. “Room to Grow,” written with Pure Pop Radio favorite Bill DeMain, about giving a romance all the chances it deserves to prosper, is just one gorgeous example of the treasures on offer.

Produced by Brad Jones, Andreas Dahlbäck and Myhr, Lucky Day is a wonderful gift to lovers of melodic pop.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, Lojinx

The Cherry Drops | Good to the Last Drop (2018)
On-air and mobile deejay Vern Shank’s melange of bubblegum and sunshine pop populates the Cherry Drops’ third welcome, rousing collection of smile-inducing songs that simultaneously evoke memories of favorite old songs and create memories of new numbers written and performed in the manner of the ’60s and ’70s.

Featuring co-writes with fellow Cherry Drop Joshua Cobb and classic popsters such as the Archies’ Ron Dante, the Grass Roots’ Mark Dawson, and the late Gary DeCarlo of Steam, and choice covers of treasured hit classic numbers, Good to the Last Drop is a mighty fun ride.

“One More Try” is a Paul McCartney-esque mid-tempo slice of pure pop topped with Queen-styled electric guitar runs. “Feels Like Summer Love” is a loving nod to ’60s Beach Boys balladry, maybe the truest such tip of the hat in recent memory. The harmonies are gorgeous. The Cherry Drops pay homage to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s classic “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice,” bringing in original Spoonful member Steve Boone on bass and opening with a lovely a cappella-over-keyboard opening.

A fun time will be had by all.

black box Where to Get It: The Cherry Drops’ Website, CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes

mothboxer open sky coverMothboxer | Open Sky (2018)
Dave Ody’s outfit stretches into some of the most creative, expression-filled songs of its long history on an album steeped in clever songcraft. A coming together and pulling apart experience built around surprising chord changes and elastic melodies, set against primarily alternative instrumental backings, Open Sky is aptly named.

Among the many highlights: “Sunshine Sound,” a slow-to-mid tempo song set sound-wise vaguely in the Beach Boys’ Holland era, and “Million Miles Away,” perhaps the most immediate sounding song on the album, a piano-based tune with harmony vocals that shine.

Open Sky is a keeper, maybe Mothboxer’s best.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Mothboxer’s Web Store

Alice Bierhorst | Ready for My Close-Up (2018)
The followup to 2016’s The Beacon is an even more astute collection of piano-based musical wizardry from this New York-based artist. High art meets accessible in these 10 songs that recall the works of early Carly Simon, Claire Hamill and Laura Nyro.

The title song is a pleasing, dramatic collision of Broadway and British folk. “Save It for a Rainy Day” is a slow burn of a ballad that shows off Bierhorst’s dynamic vocal range. “Beginners” is a drawing room waltz that rolls atop Peter Kiesewalter’s lively arrangement.

Call it all classical pop or singer-songwriter musings for the 2010s, but do call it yours by adding Ready for My Close-Up to your collection of smart pop. Bierhorst’s melodies reach the highest heights; Bierhorst is ready for her close-up, and then some.

black box Where to Get It: Alice Bierhorst’s Website, Bandcamp

Danny Wilkerson | Wilkerson (Spyderpop, 2018)
Working together with Bleu, who produced this superlative pure pop platter and co-wrote the songs, Danny Wilkerson, the always-and-forever Pengwin, has whipped up a self-titled opus that is by far this year’s most affecting collection of catchy, melodic earworms.

Wilkerson is a thing of wonder. Any and all, for that matter, of these dazzling songs could, and do, serve as examples of how to do it. Like the dynamic leadoff track, “Everybody Loves to Love,” a masterful piece of writing and statement of melodic purpose that begins drawing breath as if it were arranged by Burt Bacharach and goes on to incorporate a variety of tempos and approaches during its alluring five-and-one-half minutes.

All told, Wilkerson is nothing less than a good thing. It is, in fact, a great thing, and another feather in the cap of the mighty Spyderpop record label.

Where to Get It: The Spyderpop Store, Kool Kat Musik, CD Baby, and iTunes

McPherson Grant | McPherson Grant (2018)
Paying sweet homage to the melodic pop ruling class headed by Harry Nilsson, Paul McCartney, Klaatu, Brian Wilson and the like, Scott McPherson and Jamie Grant–their last names fused together in joyous harmony–have crafted almost an hour’s worth of sturdy earworms. Endlessly endearing songs like the lovely and charming “Housekeeper,” about cleaning up a romantic life gone sour and empty and honestly assessing the less-than-attractive situation ensure repeatability.

Cut from the catchy cloth of so many ’70s classics, the perky “Come Around Again,” about learning to realize and revel in the bountiful joy in front of one’s face, is propelled by Zak Nilsson’s drums and a sunny disposition that wouldn’t feel out of place during the summer months. And speaking of summer, “Let’s Drive to Summer” recounts a slow-growing, toe-tapping Beach Boys-by-way-of-Holland road course from cold Canada to warm Florida (“We’ll just follow the coast/Our sandals and shorts in tow/Waiting till the palms wave hello”).

Produced, written, played, arranged and recorded by Scott and Jamie (and don’t ask who did what; it’s a mystery even to both halves of the duo), and featuring guest turns by Zak Nilsson and Klaatu’s Terry Draper and Dee Long, Song travels the path negotiated by so many artists who came before them, but in a way that is significantly and characteristically their own. Song is a marvel.

black box Where to Get It: Tiny Volcano’s Web Shop, Kool Kat Musik

The Davenports | Don’t Be Mad at Me (2018)
Scott Klass and crew’s fourth long player, arriving 18 years after their smashing debut, Speaking Of, is the usual collection of literate, assured, thinking person’s pop songs. Anchored by the masterful title song, a tremendously enriching melodically-charged experience about a family light whose world has slowed to a crawl, who is needing help to maneuver through her days, this album swims in waters populated with one incredibly rich song after another.

“Away From Me,” sporting a typically attractive Klass melody, is a vaguely countryish construct about saying goodbye to one side of one’s personality, supported by strings that bend somewhat ominously around the melody. And “I Don’t Know What to Do,” an insanely catchy kind of left-field number co-written by Klass and David Myhr, is built around a clever, rocky riff and does its business in just over two minutes. It’s quite ingenious.

A great album.

black box Where to Get It: The Davenports’ Online Store, Amazon, Kool Kat Musik, iTunes

Caper Clowns | A Salty Taste to the Lake (2018)
The mighty Caper Clowns are back with their sophomore long player, another well-crafted collection of top-flight melodic pop gems. From the undeniably catchy opening confection “The Way I Dream,” which sports a clever acoustic guitar riff and an enchanting melody, to “Sacre Bleu,” a piano-based, harmony wonder that sounds like the kind of song radio should be embracing and sending up to the top of the charts, A Salty Taste to the Lake is a winner all the way. That makes two in a row. Good job, guys.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, iTunes, Amazon

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize | The Twelve Days of Christmas (2018)
A late-year surprise and not only a charming, top-flight holiday-themed album but one of the best melodic pop albums of the year, Charlie Darling’s collection of original from-the-heart Christmas songs will warm you like a heaping cup of peppermint candy cane-flavored good cheer.

Bittersweet holiday tales told in pretty swaths of lovingly rendered melody, and sung with an everyman’s sweetness, color this delightful song cycle; sincere, understated orchestration, a literary approach to lyrical conceits, and a pinch of sleigh bells catch the ear time and again in lovely slow- and mid-tempo-ballads.

Darling’s vocals, sort of a contemporary cross between the tones of the Big Dish’s Steven Lindsay and Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, are key to making  songs like gentle ballads “Every Christmas,” about missing a love gone away grab hold of your heart. And then the artist changes course: “Andy Partridge (From XTC)” is a spirited pop sprint substituting the names of pop and rock bands through the ages for the various creatures evidenced in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (Three Dog Night, the Dave Clark Five, Gang of Four, Nine Inch Nails and Joe Strummer (strumming), among them).

One of the best albums of the year, Christmas-oriented or not? Yes, indeed.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Bill Lloyd | Working the Long Game (Spyderpop, 2018)
Bill Lloyd, one of melodic pop’s most distinguished practitioners of the art, has released one of the very best albums of 2018, with which you will fall in love.

Working the Long Game’s dozen melodic pearls, whether written solo or with top song scribes like 10cc’s Graham Gouldman, Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson, and Wanderlust’s Scot Sax, are gorgeous, instantly classic gems of the Lloydian variety. Like the co-write with Graham Gouldman, “What Time Won’t Heal,” about letting love in again after a relationship withers away (“What time won’t heal/Love will repair/And if you open up your heart/You’ll find it there”).

The closer, “Shining,” is a beautiful ballad of the one-man-band variety that features some lovely sixties-inspired guitar lines and harmonies. The narrator sings about his true love and you will feel the emotion. It’s all fantastic, so get ready to fall in love.

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop, Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, CD Baby

Fernando Perdomo | Zebra Crossing (2018)
Recorded in famed Abbey Road Studios and in Perdomo’s own Reseda Ranch Studios, the wearer of many musical hats’ fourth album is a rich tapestry of styles centered around the artist’s considerable composing and instrumental prowess. It’s a clear winner.

Highlights are many. The gorgeous ballad, “I’m Here,” is as good and classy an opening track as one could imagine; a strong melody and emotive vocals make the proceedings shine. The poppy “Sometimes I Feel Like Nothing at All,” cowritten by Beach Boys lyricist Stephen Kalinich, is an inviting tune topped by sensitive strings. And popster Ken Sharp guests on guitar on the should-be-a-radio-hit “Find Love,” a spectacular upbeat, McCartneyesque pop song.

Speaking of Fab connections, an all-in, emotionally reverent cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” credited to the Zebra Crossing All Star Band, finds guest vocalists Diane Birch, Shawn Lee, and Jason and Daphna Rowe and lead guitarist Perdomo taking center stage for a thrilling album closer. What better Beatles track to cover for an album named in tribute to the area in front of the studio the Fabs called home?

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, Kool Kat Musik

Mick Terry | Days Go By (Kool Kat, 2018)
Mick Terry’s Days Go By is 2018’s standout pure melodic pop album. It’s filled with the kind of songs that used to jump out of transistor radios way back in the when.

Every one of these 10 songs is golden. Witness: “Emily Come Back,” an upbeat, poppy tune that’s sure to please and features this album’s title in the lyric. “Everybody’s Talking” is an upbeat, sixties influenced Motown-meets-Billy Joel song (think around the time of Joel’s An Innocent Man album), a toe-tapping classic if ever I heard one. And “Friends Like That” is another upbeat gem with a great melody, handclaps, horns and a crazy, meaty guitar solo.

Working with producer Jim Boggia, Terry has produced a clear, melodic winner.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Mick Terry on Bandcamp

Astral Drive | Astral Drive (Lojinx, 2018)
Longtime producer and songwriter Phil Thornalley has made nothing less than the Todd Rundgren album that Todd Rundgren never made in the 1970s. Astral Drive is nothing less than one of the best albums of 2018.

Astral Drive finds Phil Thornalley doing most of the heavy lifting for a joyous tour de force composed of original songs that echo the catchy sounds that the Hermit of Mink Hollow made all those many years ago. Thornalley, a legendary producer and songwriter whose lengthy list of credits includes co-writing Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn,” fell in love with Todd Rundgren’s music when he heard Todd’s song “Useless Begging.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Astral Drive’s go-to, so-much-fun-to-listen-to song “Summer of ’76” practically demands that you sing along, whether you know the words or not. You will love, with all of your heart, the warm ballad “Wishing I Could Change the World,” which honors the classic Todd-meets-Philly-Soul bond, and the glorious, melody-infused, upbeat “Love is Real.”

One of 2018’s biggest and happiest surprises, without a doubt.

black box Where to Get It:  The Lojinx shop, Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

Michael Simmons | First Days of Summer (2018)
Musician and high school educator Michael Simmons, from Yorktown Lads and the much-missed sparkle*jets u.k., has crafted a stylistically diverse collection of songs that expertly lays out the artist’s diverse musical vision and dedication to craft.

From the opening and closing near-perfect, soft-pop bookends “Do Your Best to Care,” a keyboard driven toe-tapper featuring a determined, jazzy electric guitar solo, and the sleepy, closing ballad “Center of the Spiral,” which ends as if a turntable’s needle has become comfortably stuck in a loop within a record’s runoff wax, First Days of Summer speaks to melody-hungry melodic pop fans.

What shines brightly and decisively from within these dozen tracks is the passion that Michael Simmons has for making and playing music (he played most of the instruments on this album). He would do well to keep at this music thing and start planning his next collection with due haste.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Linus of Hollywood | Cabin Life (2018)
Nearly 20 years after his debut long player landed on planet Earth, Linus of Hollywood has served up 10 scoops of tasty, melodic treats on Cabin Fever, his delightful fifth effort that really, truly is the kind of thing that puts a spring in your step.

Some heartfelt words of wisdom are imparted in the fast-paced pop song “Won’t Let It Get Me Down,” played and sung with gusto. Cabin Life’s tender closing ballad, “It Was You,” details a love story for the ages. Beautifully sung and dedicated to Linus’s wife Augusta, the emotional arrangement marries delicate orchestration to nimble acoustic guitar playing as Linus sings about his true soul mate. “I finally got out of my own way,” he sings. “Everything just felt so easy/And I left behind my yesterday/You saved me from myself, believe me.”

“Drive up to the hills/Take that winding road/I think I remember where it goes,” the title song sings. And that winding road? It goes to one of 2018’s very best albums–Linus of Hollywood’s lovely Cabin Life.

black box Where to Get It: Linus of Hollywood’s web store, Amazon, iTunes

Dana Countryman | Cabaret of Love (Sterling Swan, 2018)
The year is not complete without a musical missive from melodic pop music’s melody and harmony king. Dana Countryman’s Cabaret of Love is one of 2018’s top long players, a joyous song cycle that surveys the feeling that unites us all: love.

Every number is a winner in this Cabaret of Love. “Just See If I Care” is a happy-sounding, hit-the-road-Jill Merseybeat-styled rocker featuring the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover singing along and playing lead guitar in quite a Fab way. The heartfelt Four Freshmen homage, “The Night I Fell in Love With You,” is an unforgettable, romantic number with an affecting tea room orchestra arrangement and warm lead vocal sung by Tim Smolens from I.S.S. (Ideal Social Situation).

Cabaret of Love is chock full of guest star turns from such pop favorites as Klaatu’s Terry Draper (who turns in a top-shelf, particularly romantic lead vocal on “I’ll Be Shining Above You”), Klaatu’s Dee Long (electric guitar on “Shout”), and Tiny Volcano’s Scott McPherson (vocals on “You’re Still Number One”).

Cabaret of Love is a glorious gift for music lovers everywhere.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon

Carpenter Smith and Jones | Petty (Big Radio, 2018)
Petty is a sincere and lovely celebration of the music of one of rock’s most magnanimous songwriters and performers, now sadly departed. It is a triumphant achievement, performed with heart by Michael Carpenter and songbirds Abby Smith and Sophie Jones.

The trio’s earthy vocal blend and the perhaps more deliberate pacing of the songs combine to amplify the emotions contained within the lyrics and music for a particularly engaging listen.

“Runnin’ Down a Dream” is recast as a slow, sometimes moody shuffle, a vocal workout bolstered by bracing electric guitars and Carpenter’s forceful drums. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” finds itself swimming atop a dreamy landscape played out with only nimble electric guitar backing beneath the trio’s emotional vocals (the final harmony stack is a joy to behold). And the Traveling Wilburys’ “End of the Line,” which closes this collection, takes on a singalong gospel tone; handclaps and joyous, freeing vocals abound. Prepare for an emotionally uplifting listening experience.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Kool Kat Musik

The Grand Levé | The Grand Levé (2018)
Göran Hjertstedt, who made the quite grand The Grand Levé with Europe’s (the Swedish rock band, not the continent) Ian Haugland, Ulf Holmberg, Göran Holmberg, Staffan Ebbesten, and Jonas Karlberg, is a music making veteran (best known for the equally grand Longplayer).

Although The Grand Levé fairly obviously shares cell structure with the music of Jeff Lynne, 10cc, Queen, Tom Petty and other members of the usual suspects club, and traffics in motifs pioneered during such periods as the 1960s and 1700s (note the classically-inclined first track, “And Light Appeared,” which straddles influences by either consciously or subconsciously quoting Elton John), the artist Hjertstedt is his own man, and The Grand Levé is his album.

Dig the Electric Light Orchestra vibe of “All in the City.” “Free” is very melody-rich Tom Petty, and “Yesterday Man” is very pure pop and Göran Hjertstedt by way of Longplayer. The mutli-retro “Two to Tango,” a bluesy drawing room number about love and dancing that namechecks Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, is another slice of joy.

The Grand Levé makes its mark because its sound pictures, drawn with love and affection, tell an affecting, collective tale. The Grand Levé is nothing less than a triumph for fans of melodic pop music.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, CD Baby. Stream on YouTube and Spotify

Louise Goffin | All These Hellos (2018)
An exceptional dialog driven by melody and emotion, All These Hellos is a steamer trunk full of memories placed under a microscope to help us figure our place under the sun.

Anchored by Goffin’s lovely, fragile vocals and superb playing from star musicians such as Fernando Perdomo, these 10 songs are quite an attractive showcase for superlative songwriting. The artist is clearly invested in these slices of reflective pop; such is the strength of communication with the listener.

Goffin embraces her pop side with a number of straight ahead, upbeat charmers. “Good Times Call” is a soulful and very catchy sixties-esque pop number about being in love and feeling it. “Life Lessons,” another upbeat pop tune with piano at its core and punctuated by horns, is about being true to yourself and following your heart. And the title song is an inviting mid-tempo number about needing the memories of a childhood place to fade.

A wonderfully rich collection of songs; a terrific album.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

 ∴

Super 8 | Hi Lo (Futureman, 2018)
Paul Ryan, d/b/a Super 8, ended 2018 with another top-flight recording–his third of the year–collecting 11 strong songs about employing hopefulness along one’s path through life.

“Angels and Neil Diamond” is a tremendous piece of writing, an easygoing, acoustic look back on childhood’s glory days, reliving one’s youth through good times and bad. It’s a lovely, affecting song that is followed by proof that the title is holly holy. Ryan presents a clever take on Diamond’s wonderful “Cherry, Cherry,” which is pretty life affirming on its own, especially in Ryan’s recasting of the tune as part garage, part coffee house, and all Super 8.

The Rolling Stones nod, “Good Times” (“Had enough of the bad times”), is a happy stroke in the running order, as is the pop-folk hybrid “Bob Dylan Said That,” about getting by in life with your own vision, and, no doubt, following on from what you’ve learned from the bard’s poetry.

The hits just keep on coming; you’ll love every one of them, delivered in Ryan’s emotive style. And for those of you wondering why the man didn’t go for four albums in a single year, just remember…there’s always this year.

Where to Get It: Futureman, Kool Kat Musik

The Grip Weeds | Trip Around the Sun (Jem, 2018)
This dynamic collection, recorded at the Grip Weeds’ home base, House of Vibes in Highland Park, New Jersey, pushes across the finish line a dozen high energy songs. The band has upped the level of urgency normally associated with their work. In other words, business as usual, with a bit more zing.

In the well-appointed, melody-drenched opener, “Vibrations,” the stage is set with a mix of chiming guitars and rich harmony parts. Not for the first time on this album, I felt as though I were listening to Free Design vocalizing decades after that group’s 1960s and 1970s heyday. The effect that the Grip Weeds have achieved with this song alone is hall-of-fame worthy.

So it should hardly come as a surprise that the band’s deft weaving together of yesterday’s musical signposts and today’s contemporary approaches continue throughout these songs. Take the poppy “After the Sunrise,” for example, which slides from tender acoustic to more upbeat electric guitar stances so expertly, with a lovely melody and sweet harmonies in tow.

The whole pop-rocking ball of wax rolls into the exhaustive closer, the six-minute-long title track, which states its introductory case firmly opened in widescreen, Who territory and concludes with all instruments and vocals blazing and coming together in an impassioned burst of emotion. What a welcome shout of energetic joy this album brings!

black box Where to Get It: The Grip Weeds’ Trip Around the Sun Store, Amazon

Vegas With Randolph | Legs & Luggage (2018)
Legs & Luggage is Vegas With Randolph’s best album yet. It is a marvel. This is a new-phase VWR album that thunders across the plains with harder-edged chutzpah than their previous releases. The guitars are louder and the sound is more aggressive. The sound is more purposeful, but just as catchy and fun as always.

For this new album, the band has recorded songs with flashy hooks just as they have done all along, but this time around, there is perhaps a little more oomph spitting out of the engine. This new-phase VWR is a well-oiled and rocking machine.

It’s not just the sound of this thing, it’s the words sung sweetly, confidently, meaningfully and powerfully all the way through, telling stories of a scholarly seductress (“She’s An Intellectual”), completely fulfilling forever love (“I Have You”), and riding the roller coaster of love even though it might tug back (“Jacob”). Then, there’s “Three Red Hooks,” presenting the power of music as a metaphor for confident performance with perhaps this album’s most creative lyrics (“Rock steady/Kick it like Eddie/Didn’t know if he meant Van Halen or Vedder/But whatever/While we’re together/We’d better turn it up loud/And kick it on out”).

This album is titled Legs & Luggage because the songs are largely about transitioning from one thing to another, about taking chances, about moving on from here to there—about transporting emotion packed neatly, or otherwise, in virtual compartments. Legs & Luggage functions as a bridge to the next chapter in Vegas With Randolph’s life; how that reality will manifest itself is unknown at present. But manifest itself it will.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order, with Bandcamp/CD Baby/website links):

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended this last August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy New Year!

Need Gift Ideas for the Melodic Pop Fans In Your Life? For You? We’ve Got ’em, All This Week

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We are now officially in the 2018 holiday gift giving season. I know…it seems like only yesterday, blah blah blah… Well, it does, but here we are again, faced with making those decisions that, year after year, are just plain hard to make.

Well, we’re here to make it all easier for you. We’re here to help you to choose gifts for the melodic pop fans in your lives (and for yourself). Relax. Below, you’ll find  new reviews of new 2018 releases, in-depth as always, along with links that will take you to the very websites from which you can purchase them. You’ll also find links to previously posted reviews of albums you should consider.

Be with us every day this week. There’s a whole lot of gold out there from which to choose the perfect melodic pop presents for your friends and loved ones. Let’s get started.

Mikah Wilson | Sunshine Grooves
(You are the Cosmos, Burger Records, 2018)
A real find, Los Angeles’s Mikah Wilson pretty much defines the state of sunshine pop in 2018. Let’s just say that if your jam is 1960s Beach Boys, Curt Boettcher, current sensations the Wrecking Two and their like-minded compatriots, this will be your jam, too. Comprising “Sunshine Grooves” and the two songs contained on the “Sweet Jules” single (“Sweet Jules” and “Look at the Way”), this is the soft-pop EP of the moment. Don’t miss it.

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

Various Artists | White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams
(Curry Cuts, 2018)

Curry Cuts’ loving tribute to singer, songwriter and all-around entertainer guy Paul Williams, White Lace and Promises, releases on December 7 in digital form and around a week or so later in physical form and on streaming platforms. I’ve already sung its virtues here, where I waxed poetic about some of the tracks. I’ve now heard the entire megillah, so it seems prudent for me to wax poetic some more.

It’s obvious, to me at least, that the artists who have signed on to Andrew Curry’s latest tribute harbor a great affection for Paul Williams’ work; each of the 23 tracks here functions as a great big hug, a happy thank you to the artist for doing what he does so very well.

Here are some of my favorites, standout tracks all:
* “Someday Man.” Zach Jones turns in an affectionate, somewhat faster version than Paul Williams’ cut
* “You and Me Against the World.” Lisa Mychols ramps up the tempo on this classic. The harmonies and electric guitars really shine
* “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Cliff Hillis sings this lovely song, made famous by Karen and Richard Carpenter, solo
* “I Won’t Last a Day Without You.” Chris Price gives the Carpenters’ version a bit of a run for its money, turning in a lead vocal that is sincere and without question his best yet
* “You Give a Little Love.” This song from famed film Bugsy Malone gets a joyous Broadway kind of treatment from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, and it’s fabulous
* “An Old Fashioned Love Song.” Cait Brennan turns one of Paul Williams’ greatest songs into a deeply-felt, alternative romp, centered around Cait’s intense, emotional vocal

“You know you’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do,” Karla Kane sings as part of “You Give a Little Love.” Wise words that have deep meaning. The world is going to remember the great works of musical art that Paul Williams and his collaborators have given to the world; here, 23 artists have paid homage to that art, and we, the world’s listeners, are the grateful recipients. White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams is essential listening.

black box Where to Get It: Releases December 7 in digital form and about a week later in physical form and on streaming platforms; you can pre-order on Curry Cuts’ Bandcamp page

Karla Kane | “Goodguy Sun” b/w “Sisters of the Pollen”
(Big Stir, 2018)
Bkarla kane - sisters of the pollen coverkarla-kane-goodguy-sun-coverig Stir Records, helmed by good guy Rex Broome and good gal Christina Bulbenko from the Armoires, have set into motion a series of delicious digital singles with this double-sided wonder from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, whose 2017 folk-pop solo album, King’s Daughters Home for Incurables, was a big spinner on Pure Pop Radio.

“Goodguy Sun,” written by Cleaners from Venus’s Martin Newell, is a charmingly melodic, very British mid-tempo ballad with the Bye Bye Blackbirds’ Bradley Skaught playing alongside usual fellow travelers Khoi Huyhn and KC Bowman (Gina Sperindle contributes lovely vocal harmony). Kane’s “Sisters of the Pollen,” a mesmerizing folk-pop pearl recorded with husband Huyhn, closes out with an a cappella workout and the actual sound of bees doing their business. Delicious.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Big Stir Records

Irwin | Ride On (2018)
Jamie and Steve’s Jamie Hoover worked with Bill Irwin, from late-1980s-1990s Georgia pop-rockers Impulse Ride, to produce this tasty EP, pairing four new tracks with two previously unreleased Impulse Ride tracks from 1994. The new tracks, mostly mid-tempo, tuneful slices of pop, were written by Irwin and Hoover and feature both on a variety of instruments. Of the new songs, “King,” a soulful Beatlesque power ballad with Paul McCartney-inspired bass and an indelible melody, and “Georgia Peach,” an easygoing sway of an Americana-soaked pop song with a lovely, joyous melody, are tops.

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon

Kenny Herbert | “I’m Growing Old With You” (2018)
Kenny Herbert’s charming pop confections were a mainstay of my playlists throughout Pure Pop Radio’s 23-year history. I continue to be enthralled by everything Kenny adds to his considerable, collectible catalog. His latest release is a typically melodic, uptempo love song, inspired by Caroline, the love of his life. It has a lovely Bobby Goldsboro-meets-Gallagher and Lyle vibe about it. It’s one of those very special recordings that just makes you feel good to be alive.

Here’s a live take on this wonderful song:

Where to Get It: iTunes

More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving

We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995 and ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

 

Reviews | 10.17.18: The Grip Weeds’ Energetic Trip Around the Sun

review with graphic and by alan haber final sharpened smallestalan headshot from school

The Grip Weeds | Trip Around the Sun (Jem, 2018)
TATS Cover 1500 x 1500Either the members of the Grip Weeds are, to coin a phrase, cautiously rambunctious or they’re settling into a new, more connected mindset. And by connected, I mean tugging liberally on yesterday’s signposts at the same time as they’re poised to swim contentedly in contemporary musical waters.

Your guess is as good as mine, I guess, but whichever direction you’re leaning, you will have to admit that this well-oiled quartet is firing on all cylinders with a pulsating set of songs that generally and simultaneously beat with a sixties heart and a contemporary pulse.

The Grip Weeds–Kurt Reil, Kristin Pinell Reil, Rick Reil, and Dave DeSantis, top-flight instrumentalists all–have been keeping busy; they released their previous album, How I Won The War, in 2015, and Force of Nature: Live In NYC, a concert DVD, last year. And they crafted this latest collection of songs at their home base, House of Vibes, the studio they operate in Highland Park, New Jersey. For the dozen songs they’ve chosen to populate Trip Around the Sun with, they have upped the level of urgency normally associated with their work. In other words, business as usual, with a bit more zing.

In the well-appointed, melody-drenched opener, “Vibrations,” the stage is set with a mix of chiming guitars and rich harmony parts. Not for the first time on this album, I felt as though I were listening to Free Design vocalizing decades after that group’s 1960s and 1970s heyday. The effect that the Grip Weeds have achieved with this song alone is hall-of-fame worthy.

the grip weeds band photo september 2018So it should hardly come as a surprise to listeners that the band’s deft weaving together of yesterday’s musical signposts and today’s contemporary approaches continue throughout these songs. Take the poppy “After the Sunrise,” for example, which slides from tender acoustic to more upbeat electric guitar stances so expertly, with a lovely melody and sweet harmonies in tow.

The muscular “Truth Behind the Lie,” an old song now finally recorded, ups the ante, past the winning Free Design vocal harmony approach, with a fluid, rubbery, John Entwistle-y bass line and an infectious Who-meets-Byrds vibe (there is no mistaking the Roger McGuinn-like solo a little more than halfway through). To my mind, this is Trip Around the Sun’s best slice of madness.

The rocking, energetic to a fault “Casual Observer (To a Crime),” sung by multi-instrumentalist Reil, his voice pinning in the red, explodes with a get-out-of-its-way electric guitar solo and, unusual for a Grip Weeds record, a blazing horn section (Vincent Troyani on tenor sax, Jim Bell on trumpet, and Tom Rosenthal on bari sax). And I haven’t even mentioned the surprising marching band intro…well, I guess I just did.

The whole pop-rocking ball of wax rolls into the exhaustive closer, the six-minute-long title track, which states its introductory case firmly opened in widescreen, Who territory and concludes with all instruments and vocals blazing and coming together in an impassioned burst of emotion.

All of the songs on Trip Around the Sun are, in fact, impassioned bursts of emotion. This will come as no surprise to the Grip Weeds faithful; to everyone else, this will come as a revelation. What a welcome burst of energetic joy this album brings!

black box Where to Get It: The Grip Weeds’ Trip Around the Sun Store, Amazon
(Release date: October 19)

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Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream, which ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018, succeeded the weekly Pure Pop Radio show, which began in 1995. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

Pure Pop Radio’s Four-Day New Music Songfest Is On!

alan-mic-zWe’ve rolled up our collective sleeves and we’re digging the sounds. All you need to do to join in on the excitement of our Four-Day New Music Songfest is tune into Pure Pop Radio by clicking on one of the listen links below, and, of course, see what we’ve just added to the playlist by reading the reviews that follow below.

As in the past, we’ve added hundreds of new songs and artists to our playlist. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get going. Here comes day one! We lead off with a song that’s making a lot of music fans sit up and take notice…

the monkees she makes me laughThe Monkees | “She Makes Me Laugh” You’d have to be living well under a rock–somewhere so deep that even Pizza Hut won’t deliver there–to have missed the biggest news of the century: The Monkees are back with a new album in mere weeks from now with songs written by such talents as XTC’s Andy Partridge and Paul Weller. Produced by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger. Did we say the Monkees are back? Good Times is the album, and the first single is “She Makes Me Laugh,” written by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo. That it’s inordinately catchy and very Monkees-ish goes without saying. That we’re playing this song in heavy rotation…well, that goes without saying, too. Welcome back, boys.

the posiesThe Posies | Solid States We continue with this week’s festivities with this new, long-awaited album from power pop heroes the Posies–an album that is poised to be a massive hit with fans, and for very good reason. Solid States finds Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, in large part, in pure, melodic pop mode throughout. Lovers of gorgeous, catchy melodies will swoon to such terrific songs as the should-be-hit-bound “Unlikely Places,” with its seductive verse melody and knockout chorus; the dramatic, powerful “Squirrel vs Snake” (the album’s title is part of the lyric); and “Rollercoaster Zen,” sounding like it could have been on a late-period Steely Dan album (a good thing). Do Auer and Stringfellow hit the ubiquitous “it” out of the park? You know we like a good baseball metaphor, so…yes they do. Essential listening. We’re playing six songs in rotation: “Unlikely Places,” “Scattered,” “Titanic,” “Squirrel vs Snake,” “The Definition,” and “Rollercoaster Zen.”

lindsay cowsillLindsay Cowsill | Love is Strange A shot of joy like you haven’t felt in seemingly forever will hit you squarely in the melodic pleasure zone upon listening to the bright and lovely sounds on this mighty terrific EP from Mark Lindsay and Susan Cowsill.

You will so dig the five covers of classic songs from the ’50s and ’60s and one incredibly great original from Mark (that wouldn’t be out of place on a Prefab Sprout album); all of these recordings will have you jumping for…well, you know. Mark and Susan sound as good as they ever have–even better, if that’s possible (and it is). The duo delivers top-flight performances throughout. Susan’s vocal on the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’,” in particular, is a complete, yes, joy.

This is not only one of the best melodic pop releases of the year, it’s one of the best in many years. We’re playing, in rotation, the aforementioned Righteous Brothers hit, plus Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love is Strange,” Sonny and Cher’s “Baby Don’t Go,” the Dave Clark Five’s “Because,” the Mark Lindsay original “Love Will Make You Smile,” and Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover.”

Love is Strange, which was produced by Mark Lindsay, was recorded, mixed and mastered in slambang fashion by Kurt Reil at the House Of Vibes. The Grip Weeds do a smashing job backing Mark and Susan on “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin'”; other guest musicians include the Doughboys’ Mike Caruso, and Mike Fornatale from the Left Banke reunion. Another essential release. You’ll love it.

mcpherson grant cheeseMcPherson Grant | “Cheese” and “My Favorite Thing” Pop 4’s Scott McPherson and his partner-in-musical mayhem, Jamie Grant, return to Pure Pop Radio with another two massively entertaining tunes–a double a-sided single, no less–that will have you desiring so much more.

“Cheese” is a lively, jumpy, tasty, funky hunk of, well, musical cheese that bemoans the state of, well, just about everything from TV network news to the quality of current music and contains this rather choice bit of verbiage: “I need a mighty mouse to get all this cheese outta my house.” Mighty Mouse costume not included. “My Favorite Thing,” a lovely, lyrical tip of the hat to Harry Nilsson that features one Zak Nilsson on drums and percussion, is a waltzy bemoaning of the loss of the narrator’s favorite part of a treasured relationship. McPherson Grant: Your new melodic pop obsession, now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio!

joe giddingsJoe Giddings | Better from Here Joe Giddings, forever a Pure Pop Radio star for his work with Star Collector and the JTG Implosion, returns with a knockout collection of one-man-band tracks that sparkle and explode out of your speakers. Joe serves up everything from pure, melodic pop nuggets (“If I Don’t Have Love,” with just a hint of the Partridge Family sound in the background vocals, “Gone So Far” and “Always Raining Somewhere”) to power poppers (“Brand New Day,” with a slight country-campfire element, and “Irrelevant”) and even a heartfelt ballad, inexplicably titled “Final Track.” It’s a veritable feast of Joe, and we’re popping and rocking with seven tracks, including those just mentioned, and “Better from Here.”

sundownSundown | Sundown From Paris, France (not Texas) comes this pop trio with varying degrees of power in its sound. Sundown’s self-titled EP announces itself with catchy songs performed with gusto. We’re playing all four songs: “Solutions and Remedies,””All Woman Like,” “After Some Time,” and the amazing, saxophone-charged “It’s Very Strange.” Good stuff.

hector and the leavesHector and the Leaves | Little Bee London, England’s pure pop explosion Hector and the Leaves, aka Tom Hector, delights with a four-song EP that covers all the catchy, melodic bases we love. Two songs strike a Beach Boys chord: “Loved by You” is a love letter to harmony singing and, in particular, Beach Boys vocal arrangements, and “I Ride My Bicycle” charms with the kind of instrumental flight of fancy the Boys of Summer might have indulged in circa Smiley Smile. “Good Times” is a gorgeous ballad with a lovely melody, and “Little Bee” is a concise, mid-tempo melodic wonder. A home run (there goes another baseball metaphor).

matt duncanMatt Duncan | Free Music This little wonder from up New York way (well, up from where we are) is a fine melodic pop specimen ground in a soulful ’70s, sorta-Bee Gees pop groove (and you can dance to it). “Chutes and Ladders” is a catchy mid-tempo number; “Waking Up” sports beautiful harmonies; and “Night Job” is a pretty ballad, soulful and swinging, with more delicious harmonies. We’re playing these songs, and “Somewhere in Between,” “Tell You What I Know” and “Light Bright.” Lovely.

This seems like a good place to take a rest. We’re coming back tomorrow for day two of our Four-Day New Music Songfest. We’ve got a ton of top releases to chronicle and play on the air for you. Don’t miss a second!

alan-mic-zeeAlan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. From the Beatles to the Monkees, the Posies, McPherson Grant, the Connection and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android or iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show Brought the Weather to You This Week

pop tunes disc smallAlan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show brought the rain, the mist, the snow, the spring and the sun to you this week in a special show called Your Weather Station!

What did Alan play, you ask? Amidst the raindrops, mist, snowflakes, spring flowers and summer sun, we spun the following:

Set One | One and Begun
1. Supertramp | “It’s Raining Again” from “…famous last words…”

Set Two | Rain
1. The Box Tops | “I Pray for Rain” from The Letter/Neon Rainbow
2. The Grip Weeds | “Rainy Day #1 and 2” from Inner Grooves
3. Mark Lindsay | “Rainy Day Children” from Life Out Loud
4. Sgt. Popgrass | “Rain”
5. Four O’Clock Balloon | “Stood in the Rain” from Four O’Clock Balloon

Set Three | Mist
1. Ray Stevens | “Misty” from The Best of Ray Stevens – 20th Century Masters – The Millenium Collection
2. Lesley Gore | “Misty” from I’ll Cry If I Want To
3. Chocolate Watch Band | “Misty Lane” from Melts In Your Brain, Not On Your Wrist: The Complete Recordings 1965-1967
4. The Chesterfield Kings | “Misty Lane”

Set Four | Snow
1. Vegas  With Randolph | “Snow Day (Pure Pop Radio Version)” (Featuring Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio weather report)
2. Mickey Rooney | “Susie the Snow Girl”
3. The Pearlfishers | “Snowboardin'” from A Sunflower at Christmas
4. Lou Christie and the Tammys | “Summer Snow” from Egyptian Shumba: The Singles and Rare Recordings – 1962-1964

Set Five | Spring
1. The Paley Brothers | “Spring Fever” from The Complete Recordings
2. The Legal Matters | “Rite of Spring” from The Legal Matters
3. Andrea Perry | “Spring” from Four

Set Six | Beatles Blast/One and Done
1. The Beatles | “I’ll Follow the Sun” from Beatles ’65

We hope you enjoyed the show, a real fun one to put together and listen to! Next Monday night, October 26, tune in for our first annual Halloween edition of Pop Tunes, starring Alan’s very special co-hosts, the Taters! There will be lots of spooky doings, cool scary songs, and lots of laughter. Don’t miss it! (This show also repeats on October 31, Halloween, at noon ET (9 am PT) and 9 pm ET (6 pm PT). See you on the radio!

purepoplogoAlan Haber’s Pop Tunes is a cool deejay show playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. The show airs every Monday night at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) on Pure Pop Radio, and repeats on Thursday afternoons at noon ET (9 am PT) and Sundays at 3 pm ET (noon PT). Please like us on Facebook by clicking here.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android or iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

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

Welcome to Day One of Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion! We’ve Got Musical Treasures Galore!

new-music-explosion-smallWelcome to day one of our two-day-long New Music Explosion! We’re bursting at the seams with songs and artists new to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Grab a cold beverage and settle into your comfy chair, because we’ve got a heapin’ helping of new adds to share with you.

And away we go!

the-lunar-laugh-apolloThe Lunar Laugh | “Apollo” The first song from the forthcoming album, also named Apollo and releasing in just under two weeks from now, is this lovely slice of pure, melodic pop about pretenders to the rock and roll throne. “You’ve been perched high on your soapbox/Pledging your love for classic rock/But you don’t know the words to Revolution/Or Rock N Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.” Well said. Connor Anderson and Jared Lekites have done an amazing job with this number; we wait with great anticipation for the back eight. Terrific.

jimmy-haberJimmy Haber | Joy Acid Pact “He must be related to you,” you’re saying but no, we figure, no relating here (although the twin sons of different mothers thing may have to be called in to play), other than getting what Jimmy’s offering on his second solo album, a full-speed-ahead power pop record. A founding member of the pop-punk band Degenerates, and one of the makers of music in the Maladaptive Solution, whose songs can be heard in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, Jimmy worked with pop legend Michael Carpenter, who produced, engineered and recorded these songs (other creative folks were on board, too). We’ve added six songs to our playlist, including the horn-fueled, Tom Petty-esque “Jane Stare at the Sun,” the manic guitar workout “What Doesn’t Kill You,” and the mid-tempo melody-riffic “Searching.” Also spinning: “Otherwise Occupied,” “Bad Day to Me,” and “Big Black Hole.” Super stuff.

propellerPropeller | “Wish I Had Her Picture” and “Can’t Feel These Things” Greg Randall and Will Anderson deliver a couple of classic power pop songs with deep hooks and sumptuous melodies. The description of the band’s music on their Bandcamp page, where you can download these songs for free, says you’ll encounter “Crunchy guitars. Verses as hooky as choruses and rollicking rhythms that would frighten most metronomes. Mixed and served loud.” Sounds about right. Very cool and now playing in rotation.

vegas-with-randolph-jacobVegas With Randolph | “Jacob” These Washington, D.C. favorites bring the power with their latest release, the fiercely upbeat guitar workout, “Jacob,” that, perhaps, presents the killer roller coaster as a metaphor for attraction. “She took him to amazing heights/Then dropped him to the deepest lows/And threw him for a loop…” This is one of VWR’s greatest, most propulsive numbers, with pounding drums and hair raising guitar lines. Loud and proud of it. Killer song.

brian-wilson-no-pier-pressureBrian Wilson | No Pier Pressure Brian Wilson’s vocal blend is at the heart and soul of this new album, which mixes songs featuring current music artists and treasured, fellow travelers such as Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks. The mix of voices, combined seamlessly to deliver the rich background vocals you would expect from Brian, are the collective star attraction. The gentle samba rhythms of “On the Island,” sung by She and Him’s Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, are charming and inviting. The pure pop warmth of “Saturday Night,” performed with fun.’s Nate Ruess, is particularly inviting; this is a wonderfully catchy tune with equally catchy background vocal harmonies. And the luscious harmonies in the pretty “This Beautiful Day,” sung with Al Jardine and David Marks in tow, are almost worth the price of admission. We’ve added the aforementioned songs, and “The Right Time,” “Guess You Had to Be There,” “Somewhere Quiet,” “Tell Me Why,” and “Our Kind of Love.” Brian is back, and you’re invited.

the-thigh-highsThe Thigh Highs | These are the Thigh Highs Based out of our old stamping grounds, this Brooklyn, New York trio hits the mark with a lighthearted approach and groovy pop chops seasoned with a pinch or two of garage ethos. From their 2014 EP, we’re playing the Byrdsian “Carroll Gardens” and the slighty-psychedelic “Submarina,” both sung by guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Gerry (G.F.) Newland. Cool tunes from a cool band.

preoccupied-pipers-talk-til-it-rhymesPreoccupied Pipers | White Bicycle Plan, “Super 8” and “Talk ’til It Rhymes” On December 3, 2014 we added to our playlist a couple of songs from this band that counts the Corner Laughers’ K.C. Bowman as a member. Back then, we revealed that the members of Preoccupied Pipers “…were drawn from locations far and wide and mostly picked from the ashes of a band called Lawsuit.” That’s still true, and make of that what you will. We’ve since heard a 2008 album the band made called White Bicycle Plan, which we liked a whole lot. (The White Bicycle Plan is a real thing, by the way; you can read about it here.) We’ve added six songs from WBP: “Junk Yard Car,” “Goldberg Machine,” “Barnacle Life,” “Giggle Down the Drain,” “Hi Becomes Lois,” and “Passport of Life.” “Super 8” is a 2014 cover of Jason Isbell’s song from his 2013 album, Southeastern (Isbell is a former member of Drive-By Truckers), and “Talk ’til It Rhymes” is a fun tune recently recorded. As with everything that K.C. Bowman has a hand in, this is pure joy.

identical suns lullabyIdentical Suns | “After the Lullaby” Co-writer Todd Stanton and I chatted about this heartfelt, sad, hopeful and pretty song about wanting to know what a child thinks about in his dream state. How does a child function when lullabies don’t affect them any longer? And there is the bigger question: When a child grows up and is at that age, do they hang on to a part of their parents and let their wisdom inform their path in life, or do they forge ahead alone? These are complex questions sometimes left unanswered after lifetimes of concern for the well being of all of our children. The lovely melody and tentative, fragile vocal will melt your heart. An important song, now playing in rotation.

caddy-new-songCaddy | “Bring It Back” Caddy’s latest song, which we’re now playing in rotation, is due for release in May, as is the album it is taken from, The Better End. “Bring It Back” is a mid-tempo melodic wonder that will hook you in seconds. The gorgeous chorus will never leave you, and the equally-gorgeous vocal blend will have you smiling. Beautiful.

hudson-brothersThe Hudson Brothers | Totally Out of Control We’ve been remiss in gracing our playlist with a good number of tracks from this classic pop band. So here’s our first musical salvo…five songs from the Hudson’s 1974 album that establish the brothers’ mastery of the pop form. We’re now playing, in rotation, “Be a Man,” “Dolly Day,” “Lover Come Back to Me,” “If You Really Need Me,” and “La La Layna.” This is how it’s done, folks.

chris-korzenNezrok/Chris Korzen | Florida’s Chris Korzen, who has recorded under his own name and under the band name Nezrok, is new to our playlist. Chris works in a variety of genres; we’ve added some Pure Pop Radio-friendly tunes to our on-air mix. From Nezrok’s Broken Sound album, we’re playing the ’50s-cum-country toe-tapper “Life Is What You Need” and the pure pop number “Thinking It Over.” From Chris’s solo album, Sandbox Thesis, we’re playing the R. Stevie Moore-esque “Can’t You See” and the Beatlesque “For Today.” We’re also playing the shades-of-Todd-Rundgren “Nirvana.” Good stuff.

big-lonelyBig Lonely | Close Your Eyes, Keep Talking This Canadian band works up a catchy brand of pop-rock on their album from the winter of 2014. We’re playing three songs in rotation: the rhythmic “Tapes,” the pop-rocker “You Want It All,” and the powerful ballad, “All My Lucky Senses.” A promising longplayer.

wesley-fullerWesley Fuller | “Change Your Mind” and “Melvista” Australian Wesley Fuller delivers a double pop punch with a catchy T. Rexian thumper, “Change Your Mind,” and a melody-charged song with a big hook, “Melvista.” We’ll look forward to more from this emerging talent.

matt-tysonMatt Tyson | Pure Pop Radio Jingle It’s a jingle, it’s a song, it’s a marvel, is what it is. Pure Pop Radio favorite Matt Tyson stuffs a liberal dose of Jan and Dean, the Beach Boys and other sun kisses into this incredible creation. Many thanks, Matt. It doesn’t get better than this.

Here’s a New Music Explosion Extra Plus! We recently added a new song from the Corner Laughers’ forthcoming album, Matilda Effect, and a whole lot of songs from the Grip Weeds’ new album, How I Won the War. So, we happily present to you the video for the Laughers’ “Fairytale Tourist” from Matilda Effect, coming this June. Also: A very cool promo video about the Grip Weeds’ powerhouse new record, How I Won the War. Dig ’em both!

new-music-explosion-smallMore to come tomorrow as we head into day two of our New Music Explosion! Enjoy these and other songs and artists now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, your home for the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. And remember…we’re on 24 hours a day!

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

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

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

 

The Grip Weeds’ Kurt Reil Is On Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation Tonight!

grip-weeds-cover-largeThe mighty Grip Weeds’ How I Won the War, a great musical statement from one of pop and rock’s top bands, releases tomorrow. Tonight, Monday, April 6 at 8 pm ET, Kurt Reil goes behind-the-scenes on the record, nothing less than the band’s  career-high, top sonic achievement.

grip-weeds-2This show takes the soup-to-nuts approach that In Conversation is famous for. Kurt takes listeners through the recording of the album, telling behind-the-scenes stories about the Grip Weeds’ new songs. He even talks about the creation of the package art. You’ll hear what went into the writing and recording of three numbers–“Force of Nature,” with its Who-like intensity; “Life Saver,” a driving power pop tune; and the sweetly-realized number sung by Kristen Pinell, “Over and Over.”

grip weeds kurt reil 2Set your pop ‘n’ roll alarm clocks for tonight, Monday, April 6, at 8 pm ET and get set for an information-filled and quite lively interview with the Grip Weeds’ Kurt Reil. It’s all for you on the latest edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation.

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation is Internet radio’s premiere melodic pop talk show. Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation puts the spotlight on artists, writers, music critics and record company executives who talk candidly with Alan Haber about their work. Archived, podcast versions of interviews are posted on the In Conversation PodOmatic podcast page; click here to listen to more than 60 shows previously broadcast on Pure Pop Radio.

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

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

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