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The Hangabouts’ sweet sophomore album, Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives, has risen to the top of the pops. With a baker’s dozen top-flight tunes and a deep well of craft and imagination, the band has produced a set of songs that will surely wind up populating best-of lists when best-of time comes about later this year.
Meanwhile, there are these songs. We said this back on April 18: “The Hangabouts have clearly crafted one of those hall-of-fame-worthy albums that have made this year a delightful one to observe, sing along to, review, and play on the radio.” So, yes, it’s a good one for sure.
Would you like to win a copy of The Hangabouts’ Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives? We’ve got two copies to give away, each one sporting a green Hangabouts guitar pick that would love to slide across your favorite guitar strings. It’s easy to win: Just fill in the form below (type “Hangabouts” in the Comment field) and send it to us by this Saturday, May 27 at noon ET. Be sure to fill in all fields. Sorry, but US residents only this time around.
Spins and Reviews | (Originally posted on 04.18.17) By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
The Hangabouts | Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives (Futureman, 2017)
Breaking all the rules of the difficult sophomore album syndrome–how to successfully follow up that first, smash recorded salvo has been a recurring music biz pickle since, well, name your favorite year–John Lowry, Greg Addington, and Chip Saam have earned a couple of days’ worth of rest-easy-and-exhale time while the world greets their new album (12 songs and a mystically-appointed piece of connecting tissue strong) as the triumph it truly is.
In other words, you did it, gents. Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives, the latest release on Keith Klingensmith’s bulletproof Futureman Records, is one of those coming together moments that pretty much defy gravity and scale somewhat effortlessly to the top of the pops. An Easter basketful of cleverly adorned melodic pop constructs, it’s a timeless collection that announces itself as your best friend, or at least a delightful neighbor whom you wouldn’t mind borrowing a cup of sugar from every single day.
Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives, rather a musical sort of title that you can tap your feet to (try it–you’ll see!), announces itself climbing out of a ’70s bag of tricks adorned with luscious harmony vocals; varying tempos; dreamy, hypnotic guitar lines, and a surprising soft slam on the brakes as the title song slides to a breathless close. “Twelve Songs” beats with a sweet, pure pop heart, even as it tells the story of a love that may never be (in a catchy, sincere, Fountains of Wayne kind of way).
Kits’ first single, the delightful “Sinking Feeling,” brought to life and a higher plane by the predictably lovely guest vocals of Swan Dive’s Molly Felder, who recently graced the grooves of Dana Countryman’s fabulous Girlville album, is a stone-cold smash and a shining example of how to write a living, breathing, catchy pop song. “Cricket Time,” an upbeat bopper imbued with the spirit of early Elvis Costello, snaps along for three minutes worth of should-be-a-radio-hit magic. And the really rather ingenious, insanely catchy pop wonder “Evelyn Wood” cleverly illuminates the story of a girl who needs to sloooooow down (listeners of a certain age will appreciate that the real Evelyn Wood was the creator of a reading comprehension technique that could get you from here to there in super-lickity-split time…so, not so slow was she).
Looking the dreaded sophomore album syndrome squarely in the eyes and dousing its flames handily, The Hangabouts have clearly crafted one of those hall-of-fame-worthy albums that have made this year a delightful one to observe, sing along to, review, and play on the radio. Which brings me, quite happily, to this: Pure Pop Radio exclusively premiered and played “Evelyn Wood,” “Twelve Songs,” and “Sensation Overnight,” a lovely ballad, on April 19 (thanks to Keith and the band). Six other songs are playing in rotation on a non-exclusive basis.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Evelyn Wood,” “Twelve Songs,” “Sensation Overnight,” “Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives,” “Cricket Time,” “Sinking Feeling,” “Selling Out,” and “Follow the Sunshine”
It’s time for another round of new music that we’ve just added to our playlist. We’ve got a whole lot of new songs and artists to tell you about, so let’s get on to it, shall we?
The Dowling Poole | Single: “Rebecca Receiving,” “The Same Mistake Again,” and “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions (Live in Manchester)” This tasty taster, being released February 19 in advance of the full-length One Hyde Park, is yet another example of what Willie Dowling and Jon Poole do so very well: mix the past with the present as they point to the future. “Rebecca Receiving” is an undeniably catchy art-pop explosion drinking from a well overflowing with Stiff and Godley and Creme-isms. It’s hard to deny, as is the non-album “The Same Mistake Again,” a wholly different, gentle-by-comparison beast, coming from the other, Stewart-Gouldman side of the 10cc fence. A lovely, heretofore unreleased, stripped down, live version of Bleak Strategies‘ “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions” completes the triptych. Super stuff.
Various Artists | If It Feels Good, Do It: A Sloan Tribute Keith Klingensmith’s Futureman Records hits another bullseye with a collection of covers of songs from the Sloan catalog. A selection of familiar and perhaps not-so-familiar artists delivers the goods, from Coke Belda and El Inquieto Roque’s melodically-charged “Autobiography,” which kicks off with a knowing, smile-inducing nod to Jeff Lynne’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” to Pop 4’s short but sweet “Flying High Again,” sounding more than a little like electrified, later-period Cowsills. We’re playing 12 superb tracks in rotation, including the previously-mentioned nuggets and Andy Reed’s “I Love a Long Goodbye”; Fireking’s “The Other Man”; Gretchen’s Wheel’s “Try to Make It”; the wonderfully named Hal E. Fax and the Supernova Scotias’ “So Far So Good,” with its Beach Boys vocal open; Nick Piunti’s “Right or Wrong”; Phil Ajiarapu’s “Set in Motion”; Stereo Tiger’s “C’mon C’mon (We’re Gonna Get It Started)”; The Hangabouts’ “The Answer Was You”; and the Well Wishers’ “The Lines You Amend.” Cheers to a fun listen.
Coke Belda | “Poor Baby” Speaking of Coke Belda, this pop master has recorded a spirited and loving cover of the Cowsills’ 1967 single track “Poor Baby” for Pop Parade, a forthcoming compilation from the Rock Indiana label. Coke plays all of the instruments and sings all of the vocals. It’s a spectacular performance, and we’ve got it playing in rotation. Beautiful.
Propeller | Fall Off the World The followup to 2013’s Don’t Be Sorry Again, sporting a K-tel International homage on its cover, is an infectious collection of hook-filled songs with more than a hint of Teenage Fanclub-esque-fueled DNA. Songs like the Byrdsian “She’s So Alive” is but one example of the heights the group achieves; “You Remind Me of You” melds Buddy Holly swagger with its power-pop heart; “It’s Kinda Why I Like You” is a virtual love letter to Fanclub song construction. These three songs, plus “Wish I Had Her Picture,” “The Things You Say,” “What a Way to Feel,” and “Can You Hear Us Now,” are currently playing in rotation, as you would expect.
Tobbe | ep1 – summerboundTobbe is The Tor Guides’ Torbjorn Petersson, a multi-instrumentalist who flexes his solo sweet pop muscles on four catchy classics: the hit single-worthy “What in the World” and “Two Minutes of Your Time,” the lovely ballad “Absent Minded Me,” and the comparatively muscular “Love Went to Paris.” Tobbe plays all instruments, save for the drums. Hooks abound. Listeners are in love.
Chris Murphy | Ghost Town The Murphy Brothers’ Chris closed out 2015 with this gorgeous collection of songs soaked in melodic charm. The title track, a lovely ballad, is quite simply one of the most affecting numbers we’ve heard in quite some time. The blues-rocking “Scarecrow” is a punchy number, punctuated by Chris’s strong vocal and some tasty piano runs; and “Kid from the Country” sings a heartland song from the heart. These three tunes, plus “Not Like it Was Before,” “Running Out of Time,” and “Happy Boy” are now happily playing in rotation.
New Sincerity Works | Nowadays Our old friend Mike Tittel returns, fellow travelers Roger Klug, Bob Nyswonger, Mike Landis, Greg Tudor and Tom White in tow, with New Sincerity Works’ second album, another sparkling collection of melodic gems. “The Upside of Being Down” is a powerful rocker performed with energetic swagger; the gorgeous “Our Room Shares a Door” sports a delicious melody and beautiful harmonies. In addition to these two songs, we’re playing “Dreams Worth Keeping” and “Lips Miss Talking” in rotation.
The Cactus Blossoms | You’re Dreaming It’s like the Everly Brothers are spinning on the turntable, but you’d better open your eyes (and your ears, for that matter), because it’s not Phil and Don; it’s brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum delivering an authentic mix of Everly, country and western, and Bakersfield magic. One of the great surprises of this early year, we’re playing five great numbers: “You’re Dreaming,” “Traveler’s Paradise,” “Stoplight Kisses,” “No More Crying the Blues,” and “Clown Collector.” It just doesn’t get much better than this.
Daisy House | Western Man Here is another great surprise that has defined this year, even early on, as a great one for melodic music. Doug Hammond and his daughter Tatiana have made an album for the ages. Golden harmonies and great songs melt your heart all the way through. The heavenly duo channels the Byrds in the uptempo “She Comes Runnin’ Back” and “Twenty-One,” offers up a catchy, playful vibe with the singalong number “Willow,” and delivers a strong, emotive ballad with the orchestrated pearl, “Western Man.” We’re playing these and five other grand musical gestures: “The Defender,” “The Boulevard,” “Say Goodbye,” “Like a Superman,” and “Golden Heart.” This is nothing less than a gift from heaven.
Tricia Countryman and John Hunter Phillips | “The Warmth of the Sun” Taken from Tricia’s upcoming solo album, being produced by her husband Dana (a Pure Pop Radio favorite, don’t you know), this lovely rendition of the Beach Boys classic is pure gold. This is just about as perfect an example of how important harmonies are to melodic pop music as we can think of.
That’s it for today. You’ll be getting another big fix of new songs and artists added to our playlist coming up in a harmony-filled blink of an eye. Until then, why not click on one of the listen links below and sway to the melodies and harmonies coming out of your speakers by listening to Pure Pop Radio?
Alan 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 Spongetones, the Nines, Kurt Baker, 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.
To celebrate yet another great, albeit young, year for melodic pop music, we’re giving away an autographed copy of the Hangabouts’ CD, Illustrated Bird, and downloads of the Cry’s album, Dangerous Game.
About the Hangabouts’ Illustrated Bird, we said, back in December, “Remixed and remastered from a previous digital-only release, and sporting a previously-unheard song recorded at the original album sessions, the Hangabouts’ Illustrated Bird delivers some truly catchy songs…” And of the Cry’s Dangerous Game, we wrote last October that the album “cobbles together 13 songs that have previously been released in Europe and Asia, plus a new track, ‘Last Thing that I Do,’ a relatively sensitive, mid-tempo ballad with great guitar work that is rather unlike their usual upbeat, more rocking material. Fast or slow, this is a great band that deserves your time and attention.”
Both of these great long players would sound, well, great amidst your coveted melodic pop music collection.
It’s easy to win. Just fill in the form below and, in the Comments box, say which band’s album you want (please choose one or the other). Don’t forget to fill in your email address so that we can send you your prize. Deadline for entries is Friday, February 20 at noon ET.
Welcome to a very special edition, on a very special afternoon and evening, of Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing! Ken’s cooked up an hour-long Whitman’s Sampler’s worth of Beatles and solo Beatles love songs, just in time for Valentine’s Day. You’ll be able to fall in love with some of the greatest songs of your life tomorrow, February 14, at noon ET on Pure Pop Radio. The show will replay at 6 pm ET.
Ken spins a loving selection of fab love songs, from the Beatles’ tender “And I Love Her” and Paul McCartney’s epic “Through Our Love” to Ringo Starr’s version of “Only You (And You Alone)” and John Lennon’s lovely “Woman.” A solid hour with 15 great songs you know and adore celebrating the most wonderful human emotion: love!
Remember: Every Little Thing’s special love hour airs tomorrow, February 14, at noon ET and 6 pm ET. Fall in love once again with songs from the soundtrack of your life on Pure Pop Radio!
We check in this Friday afternoon with a super-cool two-fer (plus one) add to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Be like our cool pal pictured above and marvel at today’s tuneful treasures:
The Hangabouts | Illustrated Bird Remixed and remastered from a previous digital-only release, and sporting a previously-unheard song recorded at the original album sessions, the Hangabouts’ Illustrated Bird delivers some truly catchy songs in which the band members, John Lowry and Greg Addington, are obviously invested (new member Chip Saam oversaw this re-release project). You’ll hear influences from far (America) to wide (The Lilac Time, the Red Button and the Byrds) that help to bring some infectious melodies to life. We’ve added eight songs: “Roman Forum,” “Cut Down,” “Love Nothing,” “Illustrated Bird,” “She Hates You,” “Missing in Action,” “Forest for the Trees,” and “Go to Sleep.” Dreamy.
Vanilla | “Hold Me Like a Grudge” The latest song unveiled along the way toward the release of Vanilla’s forthcoming blockbuster album, “Hold Me Like a Grudge” is perhaps the ultimate “It’s her fault!” tune and another sterling example of the kind of top-notch songcraft being practiced by Jayson Jarmon and his pals. When Vanilla 2.0 is released, you’re going to be blown away. (Thanks to Jayson for this radio edit.)
The Rip Off Artists | The Intercontinental From Nick Pipitone and Peter Batchelder comes their second album as the Rip Off Artists. The Intercontinental is a collection of good old fashioned pop songs sporting catchy melodies and deep hooks, which makes it the kind of fare that Pure Pop Radio listeners crave. Dig the six songs we’ve added to our playlist: the cleverly titled “Inside the Actor’s Studio Apartment,” “Mr. Right and Mrs. Right,” “Worst Case Scenario,” “The Tennis Instructor,” “Bachelor of Arts,” and “The Day that I Disappeared.”
We’ll be back next week with more adds to our playlist, possibly a review, and who knows what else? See you then!