Reviews: 12.11.19: Do You Hear What I Hear? Stockings Full of Musical Holiday Cheer Abound!

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Do you hear what I hear? You will when you add the following tasty musical holiday treats, newly released, to your gift lists (and don’t forget yourself; you deserve some gifts, too!).

Christmas will be here soon (there are only 13 shopping days until the big day), so read on and give the gift of holiday pop music!

The Weeklings | “Gonna Be Christmas” (Jem, 2019)

Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Smokestack usher in the holiday season with a jubilant, Weeklings-ized version of a gorgeous song that first appeared on Zeek’s 2007 solo EP, Christmas Can’t Wait.

Sporting lovely, widescreen harmonies and the catchiest of holiday melodies, this warm, upbeat celebration of the joy felt every December 25th seems like a standard that will garner spins for many years to come.

Smokestack’s larger-than-life drum part and Lefty’s fluid, sliding bass line are particular gifts that drive this quite-alive recording and keep on giving with each successive listen.

It goes without saying at this point in the Weeklings’ career, but for those of you who aren’t aware of who is actually who, Lefty is Glen Burtnik, Zeek is Bob Burger, Rocky is John Merjave, and Smokestack is Joe Bellia. All are veteran musicians working at the peak of their powers, as will be evidenced by the forthcoming, incredible, third Weeklings album, about which I will have much to say in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Christmas 2019 is off and running with this classic track from New Jersey’s Fab Foursome.

Where to Get It: Amazon, Apple Music, Google Play. Listen on Spotify

Jamie Hoover | Happy Hoover Days
The Bradburys | “Everywhere It’s Christmastime” b/w “Silver Bells”
(Vandalay, 2019)

Dan Pavelich’s Vandalay Records offers up two delicious doses of Christmas cheer for 2019–a four-song EP from the Spongetones’ and Jamie and Steve’s Jamie Hoover, and a two-track single from Pavelich’s group, the Bradburys.

Hoover, a longtime Pure Pop Radio top favorite (of 25 years standing!), does it all on Happy Hoover Days; he’s responsible for every note played and sung.

Two choice covers–a supercharged take on Gene Autry’s evergreen “Sleigh Bells” and an emotional reading of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s classic perennial “I Believe in Father Christmas”–sit side by side with an original, medium-paced rocker, “The Real Star,” co-written with Nashville songsmith Catesby Jones , and fifth Spongetone Greg James’ lovely ballad, “There’s a Star,” which appeared in a different version on the Spongetones’ 2001 must-have collection, Mersey Christmas.

Hoover’s always thoroughly invested, emotional vocals and playing drive each of these new recordings. He remains one of indie pop’s most versatile and entertaining writers and performers, a true beacon of artistry who never fails to deliver the goods. This more-than-welcome EP is just another example of how to do it.

The Bradburys, fronted by Vandalay Records’ guiding light, Dan Pavelich, digitally wax a pair of tuneful Christmas classics on a double-A-side single that’s sure to please.

The jangly “Everywhere It’s Christmastime,” penned and sung by Pavelich, is a catchy holiday nugget, built atop a sweet melody and laced with lovely, lyrical lead guitar work by John Scholvin, and an understated yet joyous coda powered by the sound of a choir and seasonal bells.

A cleverly conceived, cheerful cover of another of Christmastime’s perennials, “Silver Bells,” mixes Elvis Presley-fyed verses with ’50s rock ‘n’ roll choruses for a rollicking good time.

Pavelich, who writes and draws the wonderful comic strip Just Say Uncle, has fashioned a must-listen-to pair of holiday songs that are perfect for anyone on your gift list.

Where to Get It: Jamie Hoover’s Happy Hoover Days: Kool Kat Musik | The Bradburys’ “Everywhere It’s Christmastime” b/w “Silver Bells”: Apple Music

The Brothers Steve
“I Love the Christmastime” b/w “Listen Up! It’s Christmastime”
(Big Stir, 2019)

If you’re pining for a pair of catchy, Tsar-torial holiday tunes, The Brothers Steve’s new single is tailor-made for you.

Featuring three members of the much-loved band Tsar, including Steve Coulter, a writer who goes by the nom de plume S.W. Lauden, the Steves’ pair of musical gifts are a glittery holiday treat. The upbeat “I Love the Christmastime” is an ABBA-meets-New-Wave-meets-The-Archies-meets-early Beatles kind of celebration, complete with my favorite instrument, sleigh bells. And the thoughtful ballad, “Listen Up! It’s Christmastime” is driven by a lovely melody.

The 54th in the ongoing series of digital singles released by Big Stir Records is a holiday smash. (Side note: Steve Coulter, using his nom de plume, is the co-editor with musician and writer Paul Myers of Go All the Way, a neat book of essays about power pop by well-known writers and musicians, available at Amazon.)

Where to Hear It and Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles

The Taters | Shiny and Brite (2019)

An aptly-named Christmas album if ever there was one, Shiny and Brite finds Richmond, Virginia’s Taters, a longtime Pure Pop Radio favorite group, bringing their trademark musicality and playful joie de vivre to digital and silver disc formats.

As anyone who has seen the Taters play live and dug their everything-fits-if-we-let-it approach to covers can attest, you never know what you’re going to hear when the group sets to making music. This joyful mix of originals, like the tuneful “Last Lone Noel” and the Roy Orbison-y ballad, “My First Christmas With You,” and Taterized versions of well- and little-known Christmas classics is a holiday treat built on a solid foundation of love and respect for these wonderful songs.

Witness the bouyant cover of the Beach Boys/Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music,” which features an a cappella break atop a swath of sleigh bells that’s squarely in the classic style of Hawthorne, California’s finest; the gorgeous a cappella mix of “Peace on Earth” and “Silent Night”; the supercharged version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Christmas Dream,” as originally sung by Perry Como, here incorporating the theme from the television comedy classic Hogan’s Heroes; and the lovely take on “The Little Drummer Boy,” with Chris Mendez’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”-esque drum part.

“Peace on Earth/Silent Night” live at The Tin Pan in Richmond, VA, 12/9/17

Craig Evans, Brad Tucker, Gregg Mars and Chris Mendez’s collection of odes to Christmas joy is a wonder to behold and a perfect complement to your holiday soundtrack.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Kenny Herbert |”This is Our Christmas” (2019)

A pretty, orchestrated ballad written by Kenny and Bob Heatlie after Kenny and his wife Caroline visited Edinburgh, Scotland’s Princes Street Market, this sounds as though it’s been instilled in the forevermore section of the everlasting vault of holiday song classics since forever ago. Kenny’s lovely vocal and another melody that seems sent from the heavens above ensure this one will be played, well, forevermore.

Where to Get It: Apple Music

The Lunar Laugh | “Christmas Cheer” (2019)

An upbeat, jolly song about the joys of Christmas, this catchy number was recorded on December 21, 2018, live and in person at VZD’s Restaurant and Bar in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Written and performed by another Pure Pop Radio favorite group, this song sings.

Where to Hear It and Get It: Bandcamp

The JAC (Featuring the Christmas Crew) | “Broken Gnome” (2019)

Anyone trying to hang on to a strained relationship may find a kindred spirit of sorts in Joe Algeri’s 2019 Christmas offering. Pairing an introspective lyric with an upbeat guitar pop track, “Broken Gnome” charts the course of a soon-to-be-extinguished love-light. Or does it? “What will the new year bring / Just let me be a leaf in the wind / Our light’s burning bright and still / I’m a little scared.” A world-class group of musicians help Joe bring this creation to life: Herb Eimerman, who like Joe is a member of the beloved Britannicas, Stefan Johansson, Lars Brusell, and Andy J Prinkkila.

Where to Hear It and Get It: Bandcamp

The Hangabouts | “Colors of Christmas” (2019)

This always engaging Ann Arbor, Michigan foursome unwraps a warm, soulful soft pop musical gift full of Christmas cheer. Pleasing chords and a lovely melody drive this song about the hues of the holiday (“Lights shine from every frosted window / Melting the winter time blues”). This one will put a smile on your face, for sure.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Various Artists | A Kool Kat Kristmas Vol. 3 (Kool Kat, 2019)

Five years on from Vol. 2, Ray Gianchetti’s Kool Kat Musik returns with a third holiday go-round featuring artists that have previously released music on the label. You’re sure to find a few (or more) favorites in this tasty holiday grab bag.

We found more than a few kool kats amongst these offerings: Everet Almond’s uptempo, poppy “Have a Very Very Very Merry Christmas”; The Decibels’ catchy, power pop anthem, “Christmas Wish,” with a neat Roger McGuinn-like guitar solo and a snatch of “Joy to the World” in the close; and The Seasons Greeters’ rocking, Stray Cats-meets-Dave Edmunds “Santa’s Leaving Town.”

More tasty treats: Tommy and the Rockets’ “December Snow,” upbeat and poppy all the way; Ed Ryan’s rocking slice of power pop, “Noel (You’ve Gotta Sing)”; and, last but not least, Emperor Penguin’s truly different country-and-western song, “Lonesome Cowboy,” sounding sort of like the Sons of the Pioneers if they were pop pickers, until, that is, the ending, when the band rocks out. “Merry Christmas to cowboys everywhere!”, indeed. Yee-haw!

Where to Get It: CD: Kool Kat Musik. Listen and download: Futureman Records (Note that $5.00 from the sale of every CD and download goes to the American Cancer Society).

Kai Danzberg and Scott McPherson | “The Day Before Christmas”
(Big Stir, 2019)

Hanover, Germany’s own Kai Danzberg, an increasingly familiar name in melodic pop circles, teams up with Tiny Volcano and Pop 4’s Scott McPherson for a lively co-write that makes quite a lot of merry. It’s a big and happy holiday treat with a poppy heart, sugary and surefooted. Don’t be surprised to find yourself singing along at first listen. Full of joy.

Where to Get It: Big Stir Digital Singles (part of the exclusive Big Stir Holiday Maxi-Single), Bandcamp

radio1

Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premier 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 in August 2018.

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

Reviews: 4.2.19: Charming Folk-Pop from Scotland’s Ally Kerr, and The Lunar Laugh’s ’80s and ’90s-meets-Motown Track

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Ally Kerr | Upgrade Me (Much Obliged, 2019)

It could be said that the observations and life lessons drawn as lyrical imagery in Ally Kerr’s beautiful new songs are proper fodder for listeners trying to assess the validity of their paths in life. Let’s go with that as we marvel at the quality of some of the prettiest songs we’ve heard in many a moon.

It would be fair to classify the songs on Upgrade Me as folk-pop but, and here’s the thing: wouldn’t it be lovely to just say that these are gorgeous compositions, beautifully performed? Sure it would.

These gorgeous compositions are flooded with imagery; at first listen, you get the general sense of what Kerr is describing, and upon further listens, you start to feel the onion peel and insights begin to reveal themselves. Kerr’s lyrics are poetry in motion, blending in the musical mix.

Generally, the ballad form, sporting pretty melodies, is most prevalent here, but a few swift kicks to the side are also on offer. The ballads are the strongest tools in Kerr’s kit. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

The album opener–the title song–talks about fighting emotional elements in order to assess what is going on around you, as love fills your core. “Resting you between my arms / Feel a life so charmed / Leaning on the slender rays of setting sun,” Kerr sings atop nimble acoustic guitar, slight piano and tender violin.

In “All Go Dancing,” lovers join together to go on an adventure, possibly for the last time (“This is my final throw, where I end up I don’t know”). Looking back, the narrator wonders how their union began (“I saw you down by the ocean / Breaking waves on the bay / Did our eyes meet once, in that moment? / A spark of come what may”).

Partners gather round a virtual “Campfire” to plot out their escape to an island standing all on its own, where peaceful waters flow. New adventures will hopefully bring happy times (“Ditched all I’ve known / Made a bolt for the blue / May the future / Remake us anew”). The tune is casual and happy and pretty.

Acoustic guitar and orchestration pilot the gorgeous “Gilbert,” an emotional, slow-to-midtempo song about leaving a draining job to make one’s dreams come true (“To be young at heart, such a gentle art / Open minds flirt with wisdom of the seasons”). All of the emotion of Upgrade Me’s songs lay bare as they play toward the closing instrumental, “Toldeo,” where feeling is felt as an orchestrated piano piece that plays slowly, deliberately to a silent close.

Producer Biff Smith presents Kerr’s delicate songwriting and performance with an understated approach that elevates the emotion weaving through this artist’s songs. It is a wondrous exercise in the portrayal of art, a musical mosaic, the parts of which add up to a shining half-hour’s worth of thinking person’s magic.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes

The Lunar Laugh | “Waiting for a Sign” (2019)

Last October, we reviewed “By the Light of the Living Room,” the first new song slated to appear on the Lunar Laugh’s next album, due in June. “Waiting for a Sign” is an absorbing look at a fractured romance (“You jump ahead, I hesitate / I know you tried to set me straight / And I lost you in the by and by / Gone with the wind, my empty sky”). The song scores with an inventive soulful track that pays homage to ’80s and ’90s pop, with a slight scent of Motown melodic structure.

The players: Jared Lekites, lead vocal, piano, and percussion; Connor Anderson, vocals; Jimmy Jackson, drums; Taylor Johnson, bass, keyboards, and electric guitar, and Campbell Young, electric guitar and vocals. “Waiting for a Sign” points to a terrific album to come.

Where to Get It: CD Baby, Bandcamp

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.

Reviews | 10.11.18: Ken Sharp, The Cherry Bluestorms, Lannie Flowers, The Lunar Laugh, and Pat Walsh

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

Ken Sharp | Beauty in the Backseat (2018)
ken sharp beauty in the backseat 2018 coverFancy spinning a big old super-sized love letter to 1970s pop, like the kind you might have heard on AM radio back in the day? Ken Sharp’s fun follow-up to his sterling 2016 long player, New Mourning, might well be just your ticket.

Played mostly by Ken and co-producer Fernando Perdomo, with guest appearances by Hall and Oates’ John Oates, Utopia’s Kasim Sulton, Kiss’s Ace Frehley, Marshall Crenshaw, and melodic pop stalwart Rob Bonfiglio, Beauty in the Backseat plays its affectionate and catchy cards throughout.

The poppy, upbeat “Lemons to Lemonade,” decked out in Kyle Vincent-esque splendor, presents a narrator who turns sad into glad. “Listen to Me” is a feel-good number about people taking “a million tiny steps” to come together and make a difference. And “Philly Kind of Night” brings the aforementioned John Oates to the microphone to provide soulful background vocals for a tribute to the art of Philadelphia soul, this time adorned with Ken’s usual pop edge.

Don’t miss “Rock Show,” which gets these proceedings off to a showstopping start, telling the story of a band getting ready to hit the stage and make musical magic. Ace Frehley delivers an energetic, runaway guitar solo during the close. The sobering balladic tribute to a favorite, fallen musician, “The Day that David Bowie Died,” is an affecting song, and the should-be-a-radio-hit, happy-sounding “The Hardest Part” concerns itself with the dissolution of a relationship and the avoidance of any measure of regret that might follow.

Solid.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon

The Cherry Bluestorms | Whirligig! (2018)
the cherry bluestorms whirligig album coverThe Los Angeles-based pop-rockers Deborah Gee and Glen Laughlin take the world stage with their most assured and accessible long player yet.

Mixing Rolling Stones affects from the Brian Jones era with other mid-sixties sounds, the Bluestorms deliver a smashing collection of songs sure to please. The rolling rocker “Heel to Toe,” sporting a most melodic, very catchy chorus is one such pearl; the flattering, rocky, Gee-sung portrait “Roy Wood,” which quotes the Stones rather cleverly and takes an unexpected turn at the end with a comforting, orchestrated coda is another.

Other nuggets include the Stonesy “Rays of the Sun” and “Seven League Boots,” and the lovely “Caroline,” which announces itself as a gentle acoustic number and ends up a full-band excursion with a pretty melody. The closing, anthemic “Be Here Now” shows off multi-instrumentalist Glen Laughlin’s guitar prowess in grand style, as he blisters off into the sunset. Excellent entry into the growing Bluestorms catalog.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, iTunes

Lannie Flowers | “Where Did All the Fun Go” (2018)
lannie flowers where did coverThe eighth in the continuing series of ace songs given away for free during the run-up to his upcoming album Home, “Where Did All the Fun Go” is an upbeat, catchy explosion of melody and sentiment relating to the good memories that fade in the face of today’s fast-paced world. Dig the harmony-drenched a cappella ending and the rocking sitar! Already, before Home arrives, Lannie has released nearly an album’s worth of classic, top-flight tracks. Dig it, indeed!

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop Records (Free download)

The Lunar Laugh | “By the Light of the Living Room” (2018)
the lunar laugh by the light of the living room coverWith George Harrison-y slide guitar in tow, Jared Lekites’ latest, slated for inclusion on the Lunar Laugh’s next album, is a catchy slice of happy-sounding melodic pop about a sore subject–a fractured relationship that might, could possibly be saved (“When I woke up you were crying/Bitter tears that made me feel like dying/Is it too late to kiss and make up/We’ve been together too long to break up”). An attractive chorus shines. Don’t miss it.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Pat Walsh | “Another Nightingale” (2018)
pat walsh another nightingaleAn always reliable songwriter and performer, encountered early in the run of the weekly Pure Pop Radio Show on WEBR, Pat Walsh continues to release luscious, sophisticated, and genuinely affecting melodic pop songs. His latest, a lovely mid-tempo ballad about hope wiping away the darkness in a person’s life, is sung sweetly and built around ingenious chord changes. Pat never fails to impress.

black box Where to Get It: Listen on YouTube. After listening, Pat would love it if you would leave a comment on his YouTube page telling him how much you liked this song.

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. 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.

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

new on pp banner hybrid 2-use this one, it's fixed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Bandcamp

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

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

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

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

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

alanhaberspurepopradiographiclarge1

New on Pure Pop Radio 10.19.16: Tommy Lorente, The Universal Thump, and More

banner 5  mic-small 10

Spins and Reviews | 10.19.16 | by Alan Haber alan 5 small

A quartet of fine songs from some of our favorite artists, just scratching the surface of music being added to our playlist…

tommy-lorente-supernovaTommy Lorente | “Supernova” A trip back in time for the French guitar maestro, combining the engine of a 1960s mid-tempo beat charmer with the warmth of a much-loved folk standard. Beautifully played by Tommy, who sings and strums the guitars, Ralf Köhler, who plucks the bass, and Peele Wimberley, whose drums and percussion provide the expressive backbone. Sweet.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: 
Bandcamp.

the-universal-thump-middle-lifeThe Universal Thump | “Middle Life” What a treat! From Brooklyn, New York’s favorite melodic pop duo comes a dramatic, soulful pop stirrer, featuring Greta Gertler Gold’s electric piano and charged, emotional, Kate Bush-like vocal. Strong-willed orchestration and Greta’s husband Adam D. Gold’s instrumental dexterity and engineering prowess take this one to the finish line. Support the Thump’s efforts to create everlasting, beautiful music by supporting them at Patreon.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It:
Bandcamp.

the-lunar-laugh-work-in-progressThe Lunar Laugh | “Work in Progress” Another lovely, melodic wonder from Oklahoma City way. Laughers Jared Lekites, Connor Anderson, and Campbell Young, supported by Nathan Mickle and Tommy Harden, deliver a delicious number about the fragile nature of living and the course corrections put in place along the way that hopefully result in a graceful life. Joyous.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It:
Bandcamp, iTunes.

ed-ryan-and-orbis-max-other-plansEd Ryan with Orbis Max | “Other Plans” After appearing separately on Ice Cream Man Wayne Lundqvist Ford’s Brain Freeze compilation, Orbis Max’s Craig Carlstrom contacted Ed about working together on a pop song he had cooking. From that germ of an idea comes the catchy, feel-good pure popper “Other Plans,” the bridge of which is sung by Ford. An international coming together of inspiration. Bonus add: Orbis Max’s equally catchy, straight-ahead pop-rocker “Hope You Love Me Too,” co-written by Carlstrom and Dennis George, who sings the lead vocal. More Orbis Max on Pure Pop Radio is always a good thing. Groovy.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: “Other Plans”: Bandcamp. (Check back for more links.)

More Friday.

alanhaberspurepopradiographiclarge1-wp header

You’ll Be Saying, “That’s My New Favorite Song!” Say Hello to Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Tuesday!

alan-mic-zeeOnce again, we’ve got a pile of new music to add to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Said pile reaches from the floor to the ceiling, which means it’s time to add said new music to our hard-working rotation.

Here are just some of the new sounds you’ll hear by tuning into Pure Pop Radio–simply click on one of the listen links below to get poppin’! And now, here we go…

butch youngButch Young | Mercury Man Never, never, never tell us that the album is a goner–Butch Young’s miraculous, hall-of-fame-worthy Mercury Man instantly announces itself as one of the best albums of 2016 with its dazzling array of  1970s-styled instant classics, peppered with a mix of Paul McCartney and Harry Nilsson-esque magic. Every one of these Los Angeles-based artist’s songs is a clear winner. We’re playing all of them in rotation: the title track, “Persephone,” “One Foot In,” “Dime Store Jesus,” “The Fools of May,” “Child of Nature,” “Sunday Driver,” “Mohammed on Top of the Mountain,” “Algernon,” “Asteroid,” “Wonderful Life,” and “Starlit Lullaby.” Astounding and really terrific.

doughboys rock onThe Doughboys | “Rock On” And here they come, barreling in from outer space or some wild and untamed structure being held together by bailing wire and chewing gum somewhere in the outer reaches, wherever that might be. It’s the Doughboys, and they’re rough and tumbling with garage-rock fever inside and around David Essex’s ’70s classic with Richie Heyman’s pounding drums, Myke Scavone’s wailing blues harp, Gar Francis’s rocking guitars and Mike Caruso’s bopping bass. Recorded by the Grip Weed’s Kurt Reil at his House of Vibes studio with widescreen, in-your-face fervor, this is another classic track from New Jersey’s in-the-pocket foursome. Rock on, indeed.

herb eimerman - soft landingHerb Eimerman | “Soft Landing” This beautiful, heartfelt song, Herb’s first new recording of 2016, was written in remembrance of his father. Supported by Stefan Johansson and Joe Algeri, who also mixed and produced, and featuring some of the sweetest background harmonies you’ve heard in a very long time, “Soft Landing” will stay with you always.

cotton mather pledgeCotton Mather | “The Cotton Mather Pledge” The latest in a series of new songs from this venerable Austin, Texas band roars right in with a sneaky cymbal wash straight out of Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy” and quickly settles into an energetic pop and roll number starring Robert Harrisons’ slightly-scratchy, fuzzed-out, attention-getting vocal. Dig the Beatle-esque, Rubber Soul-ish guitar harmony at about 1:40. Playing as we speak in rotation, it’s burning up our airwaves.

the lunar laugh - nighthawks and mona lisas - smallThe Lunar Laugh | “Nighthawks and Mona Lisa” Jared Lekites and Connor Anderson are in a light country mood for this breezy, melodic, mid-tempo number slated to be included on the Lunar Laugh’s upcoming second album. It’s another keeper from the stars of Oklahoma City pop.

erik voeks 2016Erik Voeks – “She Loved Her Jangle Pop” and “Blue Water” Erik Voeks’ “My Dentist” is one of the stone-cold classics from Pure Pop Radio’s early days; these new songs are even better. “She Loved Her Jangle Pop” is a joyous, upbeat hookasaurus, as catchy as anything out there. “Blue Water” trades a slow and studied opening for a more upbeat pace, complete with a beautiful melody and more than a hint of Prefab Sprout in its DNA. New Erik Voeks is always a good thing. A great thing, actually.

the del zorros go ahead and ask meThe Del Zorros | “Go Ahead and Ask Me” Monty and Stede continue on in the time-honored Zorros-riffic tradition with another lovely, easygoing and typically tuneful song with another catchy melody that comes from, well, we don’t know where, but keep going there boys, will you? Now playing in rotation, as if there were any doubt.

the lost boys china in the sink'The Lost Boys | “China in the Sink” This rollicking pop-rocker, all dressed up in catchy clothes, screams radio airplay, which is just what we’re giving it. Instantly memorable, with one of those indelible hooks and a short-and-sweet running time–1:49–this is a clear winner. A hit waxing if ever we heard one. Dynamic and quite wonderful.

the big believe april 2016The Big Believe | “You Already Are” We’ve been playing Amanda Thompson’s lovely songs for awhile and loving each one like the gorgeous creatures they are. This one is arguably Amanda’s best yet, a big, atmospheric and emotional ballad with hints of Kate Bush peeking out from its floorboards. Keep ’em coming, please.

sons of morning coverSons of Morning | Sons of Morning Here’s a nice surprise that made us smile. We like this band’s sound, which dips into many catchy musical nooks and crannies. How did they get their sound? Here’s how the band’s website puts it: “Painstaking efforts were made to achieve the desired feel for this album. All tube amps, a choice selection of just the right stringed instruments… drums that sound like drums, recording methods, and production were all key elements in presenting an album with the warmth of the analog days…” We’d say that about sums it up. We’re playing four songs: “He Wore Black,” a tribute to Johnny Cash; “Not a Sound,” “Hard Livin’,” and “Outta My Head,” a tune that could have been on the Association’s first album (no foolin’).

That’s it for today. More tomorrow. In the meantime, why not click on one of the handy listen links below to bathe in the more than 8,600 handpicked songs streaming in rotation on Pure Pop Radio? You’ll love what you hear!

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 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.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and 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

It’s New Music Thursday! More New Songs and Artists Added to the Pure Pop Radio Playlist!

it's-newWelcome to another round of new songs and artists that have been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We know you’re going to love what we’ve got in store!

Here are the latest additions:

Tthe-lunar-laugh-apollohe Lunar Laugh | Apollo Last Wednesday, we added this album’s title song to our playlist. Of “Apollo,” we said it’s a “lovely slice of pure, melodic pop…” We say the same thing about the rest of the songs that Connor Anderson and Jared Lekites have written for this melodic masterpiece. Not only will you love the originals, but you’ll hug tightly the cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” which Jared has been performing live since 2008. We’re playing nearly every song: “Man Against Man,” “Winsome,” “Apollo,” “On the Road,” “When I’m Alone,” “Bottom of the World,” “The Way I Roll,” and “Some of Shelly’s Blues.” Pretty spectacular, folks.

kenny-herbertKenny Herbert | “My Favourite Everything” With a vibe that harkens back to to the sound of the fabulous fifties and early sixties, Pure Pop Radio favorite Kenny Herbert delivers another in a series of standout tracks stacked high with catchy melodies and joy. Glorious background vocals and a groovy guitar solo are but two highlights in the soundfield of this great number. Cheers, Kenny–you’ve waxed another winner.

pseudonymPseudonym | Revolving Door So here is this week’s find: a fine and fit-as-a-fiddle outfit featuring Paul Desjarlais “and other real or imaginary people,” according to Paul, who ought to know, we guess. In any case, it’s pretty great stuff, these songs, full of great melodies and playing and vocals. The whole shooting match, in fact. We’re playing “Long Goodbyes,” “Better,” “Fill Up the Sky,” “Elevator,” “Caught on Fire,” “Idora Ave,” a cover of the great Paul Simon song, “The Only Living Boy in New York,” and “Want You More.” Speaking of “more,” that’s what we want.

gail-georgeGail George | The Barrio Sessions with Early Times This intimate, relaxed album from 2014 features the lovely songs and vocals of Gail George, who recorded in New York’s East Harlem. We love the soft-sounding vibe of three entries: “Nobody’s Friend,” “Walk Away,” and “You Are There,” which we are now playing in rotation.

dana-countryman-thrill-meDana Countryman | “Thrill Me (2015 Remix)” This sparkling remix of a great song from Dana’s smash 2013 album, The Incredible, Fantastic Retro Pop World of Dana Countryman, features the artist playing piano, bass, guitars, drums, percussion, and horns; dig, too, the groovy electric guitar work from Klaatu’s Dee Long, and luscious vocals all around. Mastered by Rick Fisher at RFI Mastering in Seattle, this is, well, masterful.

adam-walsh-pancho-and-leftyAdam Walsh and Colm Gavin | “Pancho and Lefty” Here’s a fine, tuneful cover of Townes Van Zandt’s classic song from the always-wonderful Adam Walsh and fellow musician Colm Gavin. We love the melodic guitar work, and the vocals are pretty terrific, too. Now playing in rotation.

That’s it for today–short and sweet and lovely all around. We’ll be back soon with more new songs and artists added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Until then, click on one of the listen links below and take in the sounds of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe!

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