Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of 2016

favorite records of the year - stars of 2016

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted 01.03.17)

2016 was a terrific year for melodic pop music from both new and heritage artists, perhaps the best in recent memory. My list of 28 Favorite Records of the Year from 27 artists–The Stars of 2016–is presented below in random order.

It has long been my view that ranking entries on best-of-the-year lists is an impossible task, at least for me. If I made such a list on Monday, would the number nine entry still be in that slot on Tuesday? Perhaps not. Sometimes, I fear, agonizing over a particular placement would be akin to splitting hairs and not particularly a worthwhile enterprise. So, I’ll go with I like these a lot instead.

Here are my Favorite Records of the Year–The Stars of 2016–in no specific order. All are more than worthy of your time, and all should be added to your core collection of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe.

And now, on with the show…

The Stars of 2016

bob lind magellanBob Lind | Magellan Was Wrong Pop bard Bob Lind’s latest is a typically heartfelt collection of songs that deliver his always magical one-two punch: emotional lyrics and beautiful melodies, brought to life with stellar arrangements and production, much of it supplied in grand fashion on this album by the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover. Gorgeous soundscapes abound, such as the romantic, catchy “From the Road,” awash with poppy background harmonies from Hoover and perceptive, picturesque lyrics from Lind (“In moments others call mundane/My soul is warming by your flame/Turning just like a sailor to the harbor/And I will carry back my songs and tales/Of calms and gales/And sing and tell them all/To you”), and Lind’s emotional cover of Tom Paxton’s “Bottle of Wine.”

Where to Get It: Amazon

Legal Matters cover conradThe Legal Matters | Conrad With this album, the Legal Matters have set a new standard for vocal harmonies in melodic pop music. Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith are the players, and their human voices are their instruments. The songs are sweetly realized, from the opener “Anything,” not the first track on this album tipping its hat to the much-loved Beach Boys vocal vibe, to the upbeat, single-worthy “Short Term Memory,” which tips its drumsticks to Ringo Starr in a delightful fill and puts forth some top-notch electric guitar playing. To listen to this album is a thrilling experience.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes, CD Universe

the weeklings studio 2The Weeklings | Studio 2 The beat-betrothed, Beatlesque foursome from New Jersey, steeped in the Fab tradition and nom de plumed in the spirit of all that started off holy in Liverpool’s Cavern Club a fair number of years ago, follows up their self-titled long player, affectionately known as Monophonic, with a sterling 12-song set composed of eight superlative originals and four rare John Lennon and Paul McCartney songs not given away to other artists. Recording in Abbey Road’s hallowed Studio 2, where the Beatles made their astounding magic, Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, John Merjave and Joe Bellia, aka Lefty, Zeek, Rocky and Smokestack, respectively, make considerable Merseyside hay with delightfully brisk and catchy songs steeped in the effervescent spirit of the Fab Four. A splendid time, to be sure.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon

caper clowns 2Caper Clowns | The Buca Bus Delicious pure pop from Odense, Denmark delights with a dozen beautifully written and performed pearls. Lovely melodies and vocal harmonies are always present, particularly on instant classics such as the should-be-hit-bound earworm “A Tale of Romance and Magnetic Trains” and the gorgeous ballad “Lizard Heart.” Debut of the year? Most certainly.

Where to Get It: iTunes, imusic, Amazon UK (mp3 download)

kenny herbert forever and beyondKenny Herbert | Forever and Beyond A gorgeous, romantic song cycle inspired by Caroline, the love of his life, Forever and Beyond is Herbert’s melodically-charged survey of the power of true love. The 14 songs on offer, encompassing 1930s, 1950s and modern melodic pop vibes, are tremendously affecting, beautifully drawn snapshots of a happy existence. The pretty “Queensferry Girl” and the catchy, McCartney-esque pop song “It’s All Good” shine among a rich collection of gems.

Where to Get It: Kenny’s website, iTunes

TYIFinal2Nick Piunti | Trust Your Instincts Guitars, bass, drums, powerful vocals, and a whole lot of moxie power the pop on Nick’s latest, high-energy collection. These songs make heads turn and hearts embrace its many charms. “One Hit Wonder” is the big, splashy, pure pop hit here, a clear winner on an album full of winners.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes and Bandcamp

gleeson curse my lucky starsGleeson | Curse My Lucky Stars Austin, Texas band Gleeson have made their White Album, a sparkling collection of songs varied in approach and tone that makes a case for melodic pop being the genre of the moment. Encompassing beautiful balladry, art-pop, rock and retro charm, Curse My Lucky Stars is a marvel.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

teddy thompson and kelly jonesTeddy Thompson and Kelly Jones | Little Windows A true, modern classic bathed in retro charm, Little Windows’ rewards are many. There is a decidedly romantic notion at play here, one that slips in and out of hand holding echoes of the Everly Brothers at Cadence, Roy Orbison, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Buck Owens and a thousand other country-pop artists and their golden recordings. These lovely, heartfelt songs, brought to life by two of pop music’s finest vocalists, make up an album that is like a bright lighthouse shining across the sea, drawing you in.

Where to Get It: Teddy Thompson store, Amazon, and iTunes

ray paul whimsicalityRay Paul | Whimsicality Thirty-six years after the release of Ray Paul and RPM’s album Go Time, the artist is once again regaling listeners with enticing tales set to everyone’s favorite power pop beat. A delicious mix of originals and well-chosen covers, such as the Grass Roots’ “Temptation Eyes” and Paul McCartney’s “Oh Woman, Oh Why,” meets wonderfully-realized originals like the dynamic “A Fool Without Your Love” and McCartney-esque “Jeannie.” With Ray’s gorgeous melodies and strong vocals out front, this is a treat from first note to last.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

myrtle park's fishing coverMyrtle Park’s Fishing Club | Benches A monumentally towering testament to melodic and harmonic excellence, Benches is a delight from start to finish. There is nothing quite like Kate Stephenson’s take on melodic pop music, just as there is nothing like her soaring imagination, and her ability to express all manner of emotion and make the listener feel. Working in concert with musical partner John Steel, Kate delivers wondrous songs (and three-dimensional vocal harmony stacks) like “Somebody Called Me an Onion,” a smile-inducing, upbeat, energetic pop number with faux-reggae shadings about peeling back the layers to reveal the full, human package of emotion; and the a cappella wonder “Silent Letter,” a tune about inner beauty and the sanctity of thought that doesn’t always have to be laid bare. For those of you keeping score, this is the second Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club album to wear our Favorite Records of the Year mantle. As it should be.

Where to Get It: Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club’s website, Amazon, and iTunes

the nines alejandro's visionsThe Nines | Alejandro’s Visions Rolling and then filtering the influence of the music of writers such as George Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart into a mix peppered with the harmony styles of the Beach Boys, the Four Freshmen and even doo-wop, and then topping the resulting flow with his love of artists such as the Electric Light Orchestra and XTC, Steve Eggers has delivered a harmony- and melody-drenched soundtrack to an imaginary film, somewhat of a sequel to the last Nines album, Night Surfer and the Cassette Kids. Standout tracks include the beautiful, bittersweet, old-fashioned “When Our Love Was in Bloom,” stacked deep with gorgeous harmonies and an irresistible melody; and the early rock and roll/pop hybrid “Operator (Coming Home to You),” which sports a meaty, catchy, percussive piano riff, opens with an aural allusion to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and lays out a delectable Jeff Lynne-ish bridge that will make you smile. Alejandro’s Visions is Eggers’ best and most assured work yet, an immensely satisfying collection that belongs in every melodic pop music fan’s collection.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, CD Baby, and Amazon (mp3)

seth swirsky new album coverSeth Swirsky | Circles and Squares Proving that a creative, heartfelt approach to making music will yield magic almost every time, Seth Swirsky has crafted a collection of songs that draws on all of his strengths, and perhaps incorporates a couple of new ones. Moreover, these songs reveal the truth about all of our lives, right from the first track, “Shine,” his statement of purpose, the one that sets the stage for what comes next. And what comes next is winner after winner, such as the lovely confessional and autobiographical “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You),” in which the narrator allows that life means nothing at all without the proverbial “one”: “I’ve got some baseballs/That are pretty rare/Got a swimming pool/And a fast car/But I don’t care/’Cause I don’t have anything if I don’t have you…I’ve got gold records/Hanging on my wall/But without your love/Baby you can have ’em all…” This 16 song collection is the latest expression of craft from one of pop music’s most important artists.

Where to Get It: seth.comKool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

lucy wainwright roche and suzzy roches mud and applesLucy Wainwright Roche and Suzzy Roche | Mud and Apples A sparkling duo release from Suzzy Roche and her daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche. Warm harmonies, clever songwriting and the inclusion of beautifully-sung covers such as Paul Simon’s “Bleecker Street” and the Cascades’ “Rhythm of the Rain” push this 11 track masterpiece into hall-of-fame territory. Roches fans will be charmed, and so will everyone else. Surely one of this year’s top expressions of musical joy.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the monkees good timesThe Monkees | Good Times! Good Times! is a classic-sounding Monkees album that happens to have been released 50 years after Monkeemania began. A mix of recordings based on sessions produced during the group’s heyday and new songs written by top-flight, current songwriters of note, this is a fun listen from start to finish. A shining example of how good this album is: The perky, catchy “You Bring the Summer,” written by XTC’s Andy Partridge, fulfilling a childhood dream. A great album.

Where to Get It: Amazon and iTunes

mimi bettinis music soundsmimi betinis basement tapesMimi Betinis | Music Sounds and Basement Tapes Vol. 1 Pezband’s Betinis scores with two sterling releases in 2016 that are really two sides of a rather entertaining coin, so they both rate a spot in this Stars of 2016 feature. Music Sounds is a vivid, quite alive offering of melodic treasures. Its songs are wonderfully realized pop confections that hit the hooky bullseye, like “She Wants You,” which surreptitiously recalls the famed intro to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” in the intro, and “Summer Love,” a warm love letter and look back to a seasonal romance (that, perhaps unknowingly, taps the sound of 10cc member Eric Stewart’s guitar playing in the solo).

Basement Tapes Vol. 1 collects tracks that Mimi has been working on over the years, like “Ray of Light,” a melodic sweetness that sounds like an Andy Partridge outtake off of XTC’s Nonsuch album, and simply lovely covers (Paul McCartney’s song for Mary Hopkin, “Goodbye,” and the Hudson Brothers’ “So You Are a Star” are glorious). Saying that some heritage artists are only getting better as time passes by can sound like rather an empty assertion, but my, how that phrase does indeed fit snug as a bug, listening to Music Sounds and Basement Tapes Vol. 1.

Where to Get Them: Pop Music Sounds and CD Baby

winterpills love songsWinterpills | Love Songs The numbers on Winterpills’ seventh album get under your skin; they become you in some celestial kind of way. The vocals of songwriter Philip Price and his wife, guitarist and keyboard player Flora Reed, are the collective glue that holds these proceedings together–the glue that gives them life. Consider “Wanderer White,” a rolling, rhythmic song about a fall from grace, in which Philip takes the lower notes and Flora the higher ones, and “Freeze Your Light,” which starts off as if in a church with a slight, ghostly choral singsong and becomes a folk-into-pop number with a delectable chorus buoyed by the same low-and-high vocals. The poppy bopper and should-be-hit-bound “Celia Johnson” turns the tables with Philip initially taking the high vocal part and Flora following closely. A trumpet and coronet serenade add to the song’s beauty; a lovely, echoed piano part comes in for a beautiful coda. A real treat.

Where to Get It: Winterpills’ web store and iTunes

butch youngButch Young | Mercury Man Butch Young’s miraculous, hall-of-fame-worthy album is a modern classic by way of its dazzling array of 1970s-styled instant classic songs, 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, like the title track, “Persephone,” “One Foot In,” and “The Fools of May.” Awesome.

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

the dowling poole one hyde parkThe Dowling Poole | One Hyde Park One Hyde Park, the sterling follow-up to the Dowling Poole’s Bleak Strategies, is a virtual tour de force and, if that weren’t enough, it’s an album influenced by sounds from across the pop landscape that doesn’t actually sound like its influences. Witness “Vox Pops,” which incorporates a very Partridge Family-sounding keyboard line and a very Brian May-sounding guitar solo; “Hope and Glory,” an upbeat pop song; and “Bring Back the Glow,” a smooth, rolling ’70s number. Joy from across the pond.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, and iTunes

chris murphy and michael carpenter real love sleeveChris Murphy with Michael Carpenter | “Real Love” This absolutely gorgeous ballad recasting of John Lennon’s song is one of this year’s major triumphs in melodic pop music. For this rendition, the tempo has been slowed, allowing Murphy to lovingly communicate the depth of the emotional lyric. Murphy’s vocal may well be the best vocal performance of the year. His ability to hold a melody line’s final note in such an artful way, to sustain its resonance and maximize its impact on the listener, is something to behold. Recorded with precision and heart by Carpenter on the occasion of singer Kylie Whitney’s wedding (Whitney also sang background vocals), this new version of this wonderful song is proof positive that covers can reveal new layers of emotion not previously brought to the surface.

Where to Get It: iTunes and CD Baby

emitt rhodes rainbows endEmitt Rhodes | Rainbow Ends Forty-three years after his third album, Farewell to Paradise, was released, this new collection surfaces to critical and listener acclaim, and rightly so. Here are songs that feature all of the Rhodes hallmarks: beautiful, catchy melodies; inventive chord changes; and those velvety, smooth, sturdy and emotive vocals. Perhaps this is no more evident than on the emotional ballad “I Can’t Tell My Heart.” Somewhat reminiscent of Mirror‘s “Love Will Stone You,” this is a showcase for Emitt’s committed, vocal delivery; the gorgeous melody and emotional lyrics combine to sketch the breakup of a relationship and a considered plea for the other party to embrace the option to heal. A wonderful surprise and an instant classic. Welcome back to a truly special artist.

Where to Get It: Amazon and iTunes

daisy house western manDaisy House | Western Man Doug Hammond and his daughter Tatiana’s album for the ages features golden harmonies and great songs that will 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 tune, “Western Man.” Best news of all: a new album is soon to be released. Happy new year, indeed.
Where to Get It: Bandcamp

brain circus use this jpeg instead of the other oneBrain Circus | Brain Circus This smashing collection of impossible-to-resist songs performed in grand style by ace songwriter and keyboard wizard Brian Curtis, late of the much-loved band the Oohs, serves up 13 numbers in all, performed entirely by this transplanted Virginian. The majestic, heartfelt love song “Finally Found the One,” a musical sculpture formed with smiles and tears and a whole lot of heart, is but one highlight. You’ll detect essence of the Beach Boys, Jellyfish and Queen, among other classic touchstones, but this is all Curtis and don’t you forget it.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the flat fiveThe Flat Five | It’s a World of Love and Hope This Chicago-based band of harmony-hounds deserves supergroup status, thanks to the members’ affiliation with artists such as Neko Case, NRBQ and the New Pornographers. Welcome a deliciously wondrous assortment of luscious pop dressed in a variety of comfortable musical clothing that runs the gamut from the Manhattan Transfer-meets-hep cat vibe of the delightful “Buglight” to the Paul McCartney retro-sway of “I Could Fall in Love with You” and the pretty back porch balladry of the Roches-like “Bottom Buck.” Pretty special all the way through.

Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp

bent van looy pyjama daysBent Van Looy | Pyjama Days Based in Paris, France and a member of the band Das Pop, Bent Van Looy’s 2016 release is a lovely, pure poppy collection of sweet-sounding catchy melodies sung with assured style, like the upbeat pop number “My Escape,” beautifully arranged with little Beach Boys vocal flourishes weaved in; “Mr. Fletcher’s Song,” a melodic mid-tempo ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Randy Newman album, and the sumptuous title track, a three-minute genius construct, nicely orchestrated and adorned with a smile-inducing whistle. Pop on.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the junipers red bouquet fairThe Junipers | Red Bouquet Fair This charming collection from the Leicester, United Kingdom band recalls the sweet sunshine pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s in such lovely songs as “Summer Queen” and “Like a Merry-Go-Round.” Red Bouquet Fair is no less than the audio equivalent of smiling at your good fortune on a warm day in the park while sipping cool lemonade (the effect is equally transcendent wherever else you may be). The vocals are enchanting and the instrumentation is perfectly played. Lovely.

Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp

tommy and the rocketsTommy and the Rockets | Beer and Fun and Rock ‘n’ Roll This ace project, featuring 10 pop-rockers, co-written, except for one, by super criminal defense attorney Michael Chaney and Thomas “Tommy” Stubgaard, who plays all of the guitars, bass, and provides handclaps, shake the house, as it were. Check out the catchy, Beach Boys-influenced sunshine anthem “Here Comes Summer,” and a couple of  energetic Ramones nods, “Silly Teenage Love” and “You Want Me (But I Don’t Want You)”). Cheery, toe-tapping fun.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and CD Baby

explorers clubThe Explorers Club | Together This collection of songs imbued with the spirit of the best of the Beach Boys, the Four Freshman, the Association and other time-honored practitioners of the art is one of the sweetest offerings of the year. Here are songs that are beautiful and beautifully sung, lovely and lovelier still, from Jason Brewer, Wyatt Funderburk, Paul Runyon,  Kyle Polk and Mike Williamson. From the southern California harmony- and sun-soaked sound of “California’s Callin’ Ya” to the Four Freshmen-meets-“Graduation Day”-by-way-of-Les Paul ballad “Perfect Day,” Together invites listeners to bathe in the beauty of harmony-filled dreams.

Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

The Road Ahead

Harmony-filled dreams… Ah, as ever, they feel so right. With 2016 now in our collective rearview mirror, it is time to look ahead into what is just around the corner. Your favorite artists, and those new to the melodic pop scene, are itching to get going…to release their latest creations, crafted with a mix of melody, harmony, and keen performance.

Already, I have heard a few upcoming albums that I predict will knock your socks off. Nick Bertling, who records under the name Bertling Noise Laboratories, has been making a name for himself with a few rather extraordinary platters; the Lab’s latest, releasing later this month, is a covers collection called, in a nod to the great Harry Nilsson, A Little Touch of Bertling in the Night. This is a sweet mélange of favorite songs from yesterday, filtered through today’s singular sensibilities. It is uniquely Bertling, and you’re going to love it.

Dana Countryman, of whom much has been said throughout these pages, all of it sweeping-me-off-my-feet good, is about to release in 10 days, through Australia’s Teensville Records, his passion project, a tribute to the 1960s girl group and Brill Building sounds that continue to bring joy to ears around the world. Dana Countryman’s Girlville!: New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits will transport you back to a much simpler time, perhaps, when melody and joy were king. Lisa Mychols, Swan Dive’s Molly Felder, and Lisa Jenio are just three of the vocalists that help to bring Dana’s vision to life on an album that you will hug tightly. Look for Dana to appear on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation soon to talk about this landmark release.

Bill DeMain, whose solo music and treasured albums with Molly Felder as Swan Dive will always have a place here on Pure Pop Radio, has a new record that will soon be released. After hearing and playing on the air a bonus track from Beans, a lovely arrangement of the Beach Boys’ “Wendy,” we hope the release date comes very soon.

The Word is Love

“Spread the word,” the Beatles sang back in 1965. They were talking about love, not melodic pop music written and recorded in the 2010s, but they might as well have been looking forward, as should we all.

In 2017, we look forward to bringing you more of the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. We’re on the job 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A click of any of the Listen links that follow will connect you with our stream. Spread the word about Pure Pop Radio, if you will and, if you haven’t already, please click the Follow button on the homepage of this very website to ensure that you will be notified by email every time we make a post.

Thanks for reading our list of our Favorite Records of the Year: The Stars of 2016. Add them all to your collection; your ears will thank you, as will I.

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New on Pure Pop Radio: The Nines’ Alejandro’s Visions: A Harmony- and Melody-Drenched Delight, Chris Murphy with Michael Carpenter, Dana Countryman, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 11.15.16 | by Alan Haber alan 5 small

Lovingly crafted and full of heart, Alejandro’s Visions is Steve Eggers’ masterpiece

The Nines | Alejandro’s Visions | 2016

the-nines-alejandros-visionsAfter incorporating a variety of styles into a stream of releases spanning a nearly-20-year-long career, the Nines’ Steve Eggers has delivered perhaps his most heartfelt musical statement—a love letter to the classic song structures that populated the output of artists in the pre-1962 era and the more contemporary sounds that have influenced him.

Rolling and then filtering the influence of the music of writers such as George Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart into a mix peppered with the harmony styles of the Beach Boys, the Four Freshmen and even doo-wop, and then topping the resulting flow with his love of artists such as the Electric Light Orchestra and XTC, Eggers has delivered a harmony- and melody-drenched soundtrack to an imaginary film, somewhat of a sequel to the last Nines album, Night Surfer and the Cassette Kids.

In the story that drives the songs on Alejandro’s Visions, Alejandro, one of the main characters of the garage-rock-centered Night Surfer, travels back in time to an alternate version of the late 1950s, where he falls in love with a girl named Marie. Unfortunately, it’s a love that doesn’t last.

The songs on Alejandro’s Visions bring Eggers’ ideas to life. Witness such lovingly crafted creations as the beautiful, bittersweet, old-fashioned “When Our Love Was in Bloom,” stacked deep with gorgeous harmonies and an irresistible melody; and the early rock and roll/pop hybrid “Operator (Coming Home to You),” which sports a meaty, catchy, percussive piano riff, opens with an aural allusion to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and lays out a delectable Jeff Lynne-ish bridge that will make you smile.

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Steve Eggers

A student of popular songs created across the decades, Eggers continues to write and record music that moves him and, as evidenced by his ongoing popularity, his ever-growing audience. Alejandro’s Visions, while perhaps a collection of songs that is unexpected, is moreover a sterling addition to a body of work that stands tall among pop music’s greatest achievements. This is Eggers’ best and most assured work yet, an immensely satisfying work that belongs in every melodic pop music fan’s collection.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “And Suddenly,” “Beachfront in New York,” “Can’t Go Back to Ocean Town,” “Darling I Adore You,” “Escape from a Small Town,” “Everybody Knows Me,” “I Have Found You,” “I’m an Old Soul and You’re Old Fashioned,” and “Operator (Coming Home to You)”
black box When and Where to Get It:
Kool Kat MusikCD Baby, and Amazon (mp3)

Here are four more recent additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist:

chris-murphy-and-michael-carpenter-real-love-sleeveChris Murphy with Michael Carpenter | “Real Love” This absolutely gorgeous ballad recasting of John Lennon’s song, released in 1996 on the Beatles Anthology 2 as the second new group track after “Free as a Bird,” is one of this year’s major triumphs in melodic pop music. For one thing, the tempo has been slowed, allowing Murphy to lovingly communicate the depth of the emotional lyric. Murphy’s vocal may well be the best vocal performance of the year. His ability to hold a melody line’s final note in such an artful way, to sustain its resonance and maximize its impact on the listener, is something to behold.

Recorded with precision and heart by Carpenter on the occasion of singer Kylie Whitney’s wedding (Whitney also sang background vocals), this new version of this wonderful song is proof positive that covers can reveal new layers of emotion not previously brought to the surface. Murphy, whose superb solo work can also be heard on Pure Pop Radio, proves, in the space of four minutes and ten seconds, all this and much more. Carpenter plays all of the instruments. Essential listening.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio
black box When and Where to Get It: iTunes. Hear it on Spotify, and see the lovely video on YouTube

dana-countrymans-girlvilleLisa Mychols | “I’ve Run All Out of Tears (To Cry Over You)” I had the great pleasure and distinct honor of premiering this lovely retro-charmer, the first single from the forthcoming labor of love, Dana Countryman’s Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits, on November 10. The occasion was an exclusive interview with Dana on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, during which he talked publicly for the first time about this album, which I predict will be one of the most talked-about long players of 2017.

Close your eyes while listening to this three-minute-long, lovingly-crafted number, built on a genuine love for the girl group and Brill Building sounds of the early 1960s, and you will find yourself transported back to a much simpler time, perhaps, when melody and joy were king. Lisa Mychols’ authentic, warm-hearted vocal is a blast of musical love. Dana paints his soundscape with colorful, period brushstrokes, even as he tops his creation off with a Brian May-like guitar solo from Klaatu’s Dee Long.

You will hear more, much more, about the girl group sounds lovingly celebrated on Dana Countryman’s Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits closer to the album’s January 13, 2017 release by Australia’s Teensville Records. Until then, savor this lead track and smile.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio (exclusively through November 15)
black box When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the-flat-fiveThe Flat Five | It’s a World of Love and Hope From out Chicago way comes this group of harmony-centric harmony hounds. A supergroup of sorts due to the member’s affiliation with artists such as Neko Case and the New Pornographers, the Flat Five took a long road toward making this, their first album, playing a growing number of gigs during which they performed songs written by group member Scott Ligon’s brother Chris. Intent on getting a wide audience for Chris’s songs, they set about recording them. The result is a deliciously wondrous assortment of luscious pop dressed in a variety of comfortable musical clothing that runs the gamut from the Manhattan Transfer-meets-hep cat vibe of the delightful “Buglight” to the Paul McCartney retro-sway of “I Could Fall in Love with You” and the pretty back porch balladry of Roches-like “Bottom Buck.” Records like this one don’t come along every day, which makes It’s a World of Love and Hope pretty special.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Florida,” “Buglight,” “Bottom Buck,” I Could Fall in Love with You,” “Birmingham,” and “This is Your Night,” which sounds like a cross between the Free Design and the Association, an unlikely combination perhaps, but oh so tasty.
black box When and Where to Get It: Bloodshot Records, Amazon, and Bandcamp

cult-of-wedge-loch-nessCult of Wedge | Loch Ness Monsters and Motherships This latest musical missive from UK parish Rowley Regis’s Pete Hackett notches a best-album-yet nod for its top-notch selection of catchy songs, all performed with gusto. Hackett’s obvious love of the pop form glistens on the half-dozen songs from this album now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Earworms all.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “That Song Last Summer,” “When I Was Young,” “Miss America,” “Oh Lindsay,” “Wish Ourselves Away,” and “Shine on Me”
black box When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp

carl-funk-black-horizonCarl Funk | Black Horizon Vanilla fans will be familiar with Carl Funk from his widescreen lead vocal on “The Angel of Swain’s Lane” from the group’s 2.0 album (also appearing here), sung, as I said in my October 15, 2014 review of the song, “with deep emotion and old world style.” Carl’s committed, soulful voice drives these songs, carved with (and yes, I am coining a new word) an Amerisoulfulcana blade which fit perfectly among the various pop colors in our on-air mix. Wonderful stuff.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Time and Time,” “Resolution,” and “The Angel of Swain’s Lane”
black box When and Where to Get It: carlfunk.com

More tomorrow.

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 Weeklings to Dana Countryman, Pop 4, Tiny Volcano, and Kurt Baker, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Become a fifth Weekling by clicking on one of the listen links below.

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The Legal Matters and the Nines’ Steve Eggers Make Beautiful Music this Week on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

mic-small 10Two of the hottest releases of the year are discussed by two of the most beloved melodic pop groups working today on this week’s sparkling pair of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation episodes.

the-legal-matters-conradthe legal matters photoTomorrow night, Tuesday, November 15 at 8 pm ET, the Legal Matters converge on our In Conversation microphones to talk to Alan Haber about their brand-new, hall-of-fame album, Conrad. Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith provide the in-depth background on an album that sets a new standard for vocal harmonies. You’ll hear three songs and the stories behind them, including the remarkable “Lull and Bye.”

the-nines-alejandros-visionssteve-eggersThe Nines’ Steve Eggers joins Alan this Wednesday, November 16 at 9 pm ET to go in-depth on his new album Alejandro’s Visions, a lovely tribute to the song styles that fuel the Great American Songbook, doo-wop, Beach Boys-styled harmonies, Jeff Lynne, the Four Freshman and other touchstones. Three songs will be spun, and you’ll find out which records might surprise you if you were able to look through Steve’s record collection!

Don’t miss the Legal Matters and the Nines’ Steve Eggers this week on a pair of all-new episodes of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation.

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 Legal Matters and the Nines to the Weeklings, Dana Countryman, Pop 4, Tiny Volcano, and Kurt Baker, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Become a fifth Weekling 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

A Specialty Show Bonanza? An Exclusive First Airing of Every Little Thing, Starring the Weeklings? You Bet, Hoss!

mic-small 10This week’s lineup of Pure Pop Radio specialty shows is nothing less than a bonanza, a rich run of programs designed to entertain and delight.

the-weeklings-studio-2-smallAnd now, to get our week’s worth of programming off and running, we’re pleased as punch to announce that Pure Pop Radio is the first affiliate to air tonight’s all-new edition of Ken Michaels’ Beatles get-together, Every Little Thing, starring the Weeklings. Ken talks to the Weeklings themselves and plays two sparkling tracks from the group’s new album, Studio 2, which comes out this Friday via Jem Records. Also on tap tonight, beginning at 8 pm ET: the usual top-flight group of songs from the Beatles, from their group and solo years.

waveAlso tonight, November 14 at 9 pm ET, Jammin’ James Riley presents the second part of his exclusive interview with Dean Torrence (he of Jan and), and tracks by Duane Eddy, Dennis Wilson, Hal Blaine and the Young Cougars, Laughing Gravy, and the Ramones. Jammin’ James keeps the spirit of summer sounds alive, every Monday night.

the-nines-alejandros-visionsthe-legal-matters-conradYou can read all about this week’s double shot of all-new episodes of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, featuring the Legal Matters and the Nines’ Steve Eggers, by clicking here. Reserve tomorrow night at 8 pm ET for Alan Haber’s chat with Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith, and Wednesday, November 16 at 9 pm ET for an in-depth conversation with Mr. Eggers.

scott-mcphersons-the-weird-and-the-wonderfulMake a nice sandwich and pour a hot cup of soup in time to check in with Pop 4’s Scott McPherson on Wednesday, November 16 at 1 pm ET. On this week’s edition of The Weird and the Wonderful, Scott will be spinning a selection of songs that wear their influences on their sleeves. Tracks from Elvis Costello, the Spongetones, Teenage Fanclub, XTC, the Sugarplastic, the Fraternal Order of the All (aka Andrew Gold and friends), and the Cowsills are just the collective tip of the musical iceberg on Scott’s seventh show, with tons more shows to come.

the-beatles-things-we-said-todayWinding up this week’s specialty show lineup is our esteemed panel of Beatles experts on an all-new edition of Things We Said Today, the premiere Fabs roundtable. This week, Ken Michaels, Steve Marinucci, Al Sussman and Allan Kozinn talk about the Beatles and politics, and discuss Paul McCartney’s latest soundtrack song: Does our panel feel that “In the Blink of an Eye,” featured in the new animated film, Ethel and Ernest, makes the grade? Tune in and find out.

al-sussman-fans-on-the-run-buttonWhat a week! We’ve got one more all-new In Conversation show to bring you before the Thanksgiving holiday: one of our “Just for Fun” sessions, this time around with Beatlefan magazine executive editor Al Sussman. Details are forthcoming. You won’t want to miss this show!

See you on the radio for this week’s lineup of Pure Pop Radio specialty shows!

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 Weeklings to Dana Countryman, Pop 4, Tiny Volcano, and Kurt Baker, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Become a fifth Weekling 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

New on Pure Pop Radio 7.12.16

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Spins and Reviews | July 12, 2016 | by Alan Haber

A quartet of tremendous additions to our playlist…

the nines when our love was in bloomThe Nines | “When Our Love Was in Bloom” A heavenly treat from the ever-increasingly-versatile Steve Eggers, who sets his sights this time around on the sounds that brought joy to listeners in the years spanning 1948-1962. This beautiful number, a sad, romantic lament, musically recalls the pleasures of Joe and Noel Sherman’s “Graduation Day,” which was first a hit for the Four Freshman and covered by artists as diverse as Bobby “Boris” Pickett, the Arbors, and the Beach Boys. The opening á cappella couplet, which gives way to light orchestral accompaniment, is among the most thrilling 10 seconds of vocal joy experienced in melodic pop music this year. A trailer for the Nine’s next album releasing in August, this is going to be in your head long after the calendar turns this December 31.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

bill shaouy the other townBill Shaouy | The Other Town An extraordinary selection of songs and performances from this intensely talented member of the online Theme Music community. Beautiful, widescreen arrangements reveal pretty melodies, clever chord changes, and smooth vocals for a most satisfying listening experience. A sincere paean to truth, justice, the American way, and honesty, “Lois Lane,” which opens with a killer a cappella section and a Byrdsian guitar figure, pushes all of the requisite melodic pop buttons as it strikes a blow for integrity (“Reporters once shined/A light on power great and small/If we kept each other honest/We wouldn’t need Superman at all”). The brief and lovely “We Know Not Where” strikes a blow for companionship and adventure experienced together, no matter the destination (“I see south grass/You see west sun/Rolling on as/We sing together”). Joined by Brandi Ediss, Keith Klingensmith, Paul Melançon, Matt Brown, Torbjorn Petersson, Joe Giddings, and other well-known Themesters, Shaouy has produced a top-tier collection.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “So Alive,” “Lois Lane,” “Candy in Line,” “Nightbreak On a Dime,” “Seventy Miles,” and “We Know Not Where.”

RayPaul_Whimsicality-FinalFrontCover-HR-for website sizedRay Paul | Whimsicality Ray Paul’s importance to the melodic pop community as a promoter of the music to radio programmers, a visionary record label owner, and a vital recording artist are immeasurable. Sixteen years after releasing his ace compilation CD, The Charles Beat, and 36 years after Ray Paul and RPM’s album Go Time, Ray is once again an artist, regaling listeners with enticing tales set to everyone’s favorite power pop beat. Whimsicality, one of this year’s best albums, is a delicious mix of originals and well-chosen covers, such as the Grass Roots’ “Temptation Eyes” and Paul McCartney’s “Oh Woman, Oh Why,” which features the contributions of Emitt Rhodes. Of Ray’s originals, the dynamic “A Fool Without Your Love” and Paul McCartney-esque “Jeannie” are only two highlights, all placing gorgeous melodies and Ray’s strong voice out front. A treat from first note to last.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The entire album: “I Love It (But You Don’t Believe It),” “You Don’t Have to Prove Your Love,” “Pretty Flamingo,” “A Fool Without Your Love,” “In My World,” “Jeannie,” “All You Ever Wanted,” “Temptation Eyes,” “Oh Woman, Oh Why,” and “‘Til the Day After.”

mcpherson grant the love of her lifeMcPherson Grant | “The Love of Her Life” A sleepy, waking dream of a Bacharachian love song about memories and the light that shines within the heart of a partner whose loss seems overbearing (“In time/You’ll find/The sky slowly clears/That the rain/And your pain/Will soon disappear”). Orchestrated with slightly subdued panache, this is another winner from the recently-appointed duo whose album is in the cards at some point down the line. Hopefully soon.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

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

Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show Rolls Out the New Tunes Tonight at 8 pm ET

pop tunes disc smallAlan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show returns tonight at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) with an all-new episode that puts the spotlight on a whole lot of new songs from new and heritage melodic pop artists now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

In other words, new is this week’s buzzword on Pop Tunes. Stepping onto the stage and singing their hearts out are Kurt Baker, Sports Fan, Michael Carpenter, the Cherry Drops, Scot Sax and Rob Bonfiglio (with a world premiere exclusive song!), Trolley, the Nines, the Dahlmanns, Sproutless, Seth Timbs, and the Handcuffs. Wow! But that’s not all: You also get Pop Tunes’ traditional One and Begun and One and Done sets, and the weekly Beatle Blast, this week featuring George Harrison.

All this plus Dana Countryman’s “(Theme to) Pop Tunes.” Let us repeat: Wow! Tune into Pure Pop Radio tonight at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) for all of the fun and settle into your comfy chair with Alan Haber and the greatest melodic pop music in the universe!

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

Your Official Pop Tunes Deejay Show Track List is Here!

pop tunes disc smallWe’re continuing to throw a party every Monday night on Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show. Did you hear show seven last night? If you missed it, or want to hear it again, you can listen this Thursday at noon ET (9 am PT) and this Sunday at 3 pm ET (noon PT).

Alan Haber: Proud Music Geek!

Your host, Alan Haber

Here’s what Alan played last night:

Set One: One and Begun
Bay City Rollers | “Saturday Night” from The Definitive Collection

Set Two: Rolling Stones Now!
The Rolling Stones | “I Wanna Be Your Man” from GRRR!
The Rolling Stones | “Get Off of My Cloud” from December’s Children (and Everybody’s)
The Rolling Stones | “Let’s Spend the Night Together” from Between the Buttons
The Connection | “Connection” from the “Crawling from the Wreckage” single)
The Rolling Stones | “Dandelion” from Through the Past, Darkly: Big hits, Vol. 2

Set Three: New at Pure Pop Radio (1)
Michael Ryther | “I Love the Dirt” from Kids of the Earth – Songs for the Green Generation
mylittlebrother | “Steve” from We’re All Gonna Die
The Nines | “Cathy” from Night Surfer and the Cassette Kids
Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders | “I’m Out of My Mind” from Chrome Cassettes

Set Four: You Rock!
Mister Fusty | “I Knew You” from Cloth Ears
Freiheit | “Baby It’s You” (Single)
Ze Malibu Kids | “I Won’t Forget You” from Sound It Out
Carl Wayne and the Vikings | “You Could Be Fun (At the End of a Party)” from Ripples, Vol. 4
Rick Nelson | “You are the Only One” from Million Sellers

Set Five: New at Pure Pop Radio (2)
Strangely Alright | “Paint Outside the Lines” (Single)
The Sunchymes | “Time Will Tell” from Present
Nevski | “Alligator” from Nevski
Maxi Dunn | “Operation Bubble” from Operation Bubble

Set Six: Beatle Blast
Wings | “Tomorrow” from Wild Life

Set Seven: One and Done
Nick Lowe | “Cruel to be Kind” from Labor of Lust

There you go…Pop Tunes, show number seven, is in the can. We hope you enjoyed it. You can listen again this coming Thursday, September 24 at noon ET (9 am PT) and Sunday at 3 pm ET (noon PT). We’re taking the next couple of weeks off–the next new Pop Tunes show will air on Monday, October 12. Until then, pop happy!

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