Reviews: 2.5.19: Lannie Flowers, The Keys, Clifford Ulrich, and Scott McGinn

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Lannie Flowers | “Summer Blue” (2019)

If there is one thing that people living through the chill of winter can agree on, it’s that the warm summer months can not come soon enough. This 11th in the ongoing series of free Lannie Flowers songs being given away during the run-up to Lannie’s new album (due any time now) is a typically warm and inviting mid-tempo celebration of melodic wonder starring rich harmonies and inviting guitar lines.

The clever lyric suggests, at least to me, that the idea of summer can translate to just about anything that warms us up with joyous optimism. Summer, in fact, can even be a song on the radio: “She seems a thousand miles away/but I can feel her on my radio/I’m just looking for a ray of sunshine/Anything to get me out of the cold.”

Lannie has always done top-notch work; his songs continue to be treasured by fans. The 11 songs being given away for absolutely nothing at all, essentially functioning as a complete, full-length album in advance of the actual album everyone has been waiting for, are arguably his best work. And that’s really saying something. Get “Summer Blue” just for the asking and brighten your day.

Where to Get It: Spyderpop Records (Free download)

The Keys | Grand Reopening (Zero Hour, 2019)

Because bands are composed of real people whose lives, at a certain point in time, take a variety of turns at speeds approaching and often exceeding the speed limit, the story of Bob Koenig, who logged time in a band called Abandon Here and then assembled Long Island power poppers the Keys, may seem familiar to you and, perhaps, you too.

Growing up in Mineola on Long Island and then moving to Levittown, Bob has, in addition to pumping out catchy power pop tunes, logged time as vice president of the Levittown Historical Society. He has been called Mr. Levittown but might as well be called Mr. Long Island. Such are the turns Bob’s life has taken (and oh, by the way, he was a mailman for 32 years and is now retired).

Perhaps we will take a closer look at Bob’s story in the future–it’s rather an interesting one–but for now let’s take a look at the music of the Keys, collected in typically fine fashion by the folks at Zero Hour records. Comprising 20 tracks–two recorded by Abandon Here–it is a powerful, melodic ride that stretches from 1984 to 1993. It is most certainly a ride worth taking.

Throughout these tracks, there is a palpable sense of the sound of Badfinger, if it’s a reference that you’re seeking. But mostly, the Keys sound like the Keys, which is ultimately the only reference that matters. All of the hallmarks that power pop fans crave are here: attractive, memorable melodies, rich harmonies, guitar prowess, and powerful drums.

Tracks like “Change of Seasons,” “Poison Pen,” and “Herky Jerky Love” will satisfy most power pop cravings, but so will Bob’s “Pool of Tears” and “See Cybill Cry,” which open with soft, serene backings and become mid-tempo pop-rockers with great, catchy melodies, lyrical guitar solos and strong lead vocals and vocal harmonies. They are the cats meows of this album.

Dig into 20 tracks of power pop goodness here with Long Island’s the Keys and stay tuned for more of Bob Koenig’s story.

Where to Get It: Zero Hour, Amazon, Kool Kat

Clifford Ulrich | “I’m Going to Miss Her” b/w “Like a River Glorious”
(Big Stir, 2019)

Cover art by Ridley Broome

The 15th Big Stir digital single belongs to the Armoire’s Clifford Ulrich, who also does duty in Owensmouth and writes songs for Skates and Rays. Here in solo artist mode, Ulrich polishes this two-fer with a Byrdsian shine.

First up is Ulrich’s jangly “I’m Going to Miss Her,” which originally appeared on Skates and Rays’ You Are My Home album and practically implores you to close your eyes and imagine Roger McGuinn playing the glorious solo that softly punches through the final 25-second section. Song number two is his sweet folk-pop rendition of “Like a River Glorious,” a hymn that dates back to the 1800s and was authored by James Mountain and Frances Ridley Havergal. Just like “I’m Going to Miss Her,” this is a magical listening experience. (Click on the highlighted song titles to listen.)

Where to Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles

Scott McGinn | Purr-Ever Beach (2018)

Face Dancer’s Scott McGinn steps out for a solo turn on an album stacked high with songs that shake hands with pop and rock and often meet somewhere in between.

You’re sure to find favorites among these numbers, both new and revived from Face Dancer and 1980s techno-popsters Growing Up Different. Key tracks include “Forever Beach,” upbeat pop with nice harmonies and an ELO-ish string part, and “Delicatessen,” upbeat pop with a nifty piano riff and rocking guitar, ELO style.

Where to Get It: Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes, Trax on Wax (Call or stop in to this Catonsville, MD vinyl landmark)

radio1

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 last August.

Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.