Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and new-to-you releases. Pure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop in the universe 24 hours a day.
Bringing you songs and artists new to the Pure Pop Radio playlist is our favorite thing to do in the whole wide world. We sure do know the feeling that hits you when you read about and then hear something that makes you smile–something that raises the hair on the back of your neck and makes you tap your toes, or dance the night or the early afternoon away, or take up air guitar or air piano or air celesta. In some measure, and this is a well know truth–in some measure what you hear changes your life, and when that happens, well, we’ve done our job.
So here is some more music that’s currently spinning in rotation–music that will make you happy!
Popboomerang Records | (PB:100) Popboomerang Records’ Scott Thurling knows how to throw a party. He’s celebrating the 99th record released by his company with a gala, 100th musical extravaganza–a two-CD set stocked deep with specially-recorded and previously-unreleased tracks from his label’s artists and friends. (PB:100) features 32 smashing songs from a diverse roster of artists. Job well done: we’ve added 11 great numbers to the playlist, including the Solicitors’ quirky “His Robe” and Kelly’s Heels’ “Popboomerang,” a catchy, upbeat label-history-in-song that celebrates Scott’s longstanding brief of exposing great sounds to music lovers all over the world. The aforementioned songs are now playing in rotation, along with the Killjoys’ “Marching Out of Time,” Danny McDonald’s “The Melbourne Divide,” The Little Murders’ “Kings Cross Dawning,” Central Rain’s “What a Day,” Tim Reid’s “In the Dark,” D. Rogers’ “Don’t Smile ’til Easter,” Mick Thomas’ “Mermaid Song,” Lazybirds’ “Slinky Skanky,” and Jona Byron’s “Sun Daughter.” (PB:100) drops April 1; pick up a copy and help support a worthy independent record label.
Spencer Albee | Mistakes Were Made Get ready for a wild blast of cool air that will toss you across your living room, through your front door, and to the far side of your yard. Spencer Albee’s hall-of-fame worthy album, Mistakes Were Made, will thrill you, delight you, and make you beg for more. A multi-instrumental wonder, Spencer dons all manner of pop music masks: uptempo balladeer in the harmony rich title song; straight-ahead popster in “So Bad”; infectious, retro, late-period Beach Boys funster in the delectable “Put Your Sweatshirt On”; and pure popster in the melodic love song, “This Will Be Our Year.” The sumptuous tip of the hat to the late ’50s/early ’60s, the catchy “I Don’t Know,” and the four-on-the-floor rhythm happy joy of “One 2 Three” are more highlights. So is the jaunty, clapalongable “Hold Me Close,” and ditto for the heartbreaking piano instrumental, “Something Something Heartbreak.” Well, we could go on, and we will at a later date, but for now… we swear on a stack of pop album classics that this is the real deal. We’re playing almost all of these incredible songs: “Mistakes Were Made,” “So Bad,” “Put Your Sweatshirt On,” “I Don’t Know,” “One 2 Three,” “This Will Be Our Year,” “Why am I a Fool,” “Something Something Heartbreak,” “So Long,” “Please Come Home,” “Skulls,” “Love is Not Enough,” It’s Not the End of the World,” and “Hold Me Close.” A sure bet for best of 2015 honors. In a few words, this is so very grand and, in just one word…wow! Get this for your very own when it drops on May 1. Come on, get Spencer!
Brandon Schott | Dandelion (Live at the Treatment Room, January 10, 2008) Recorded in a friend’s studio as a way of sketching out songs for his next album, Brandon Schott laid his emotions on the line. He was in the eighth week of a 12-week-long chemotherapy treatment. “I wanted to get these songs down in the moment, as it was happening,” Brandon says. Some of the songs were later re-recorded for his record Dandelion. As heard on this heartfelt album, these songs, sung with simple accompaniment, may be the singer-songwriter’s most revealing collection yet. Records like this don’t come along every day; we wanted to be sure to play some of these songs in rotation so listeners could experience their majesty. We eagerly await Brandon’s new studio record, coming soon; until then, spin this recording as a reminder of how wonderful an artist Brandon is. We’ve added nearly the entire album to our playlist: “It’s Alright (Baby Blue),” “Unknown,” “Falling Forward,” “Four Winds,” “Fire Season,” “Toward the Sun,” “Blue Star Highway,” “All Will Be Well,” and “The Last Swan.” [One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of this album are being donated to Gilda’s Club NYC, an organization that supports, educates and empowers cancer patients and their families.]
The Davenports | “Five Steps ’15” and “Away from Me” This latest release from Scott Klass and the Davenports, a true double a-side single, pairs a newly-arranged and remixed version of “Five Steps,” which originally appeared on the group’s debut album Speaking of the Davenports and continues to be part of the A&E network show, Intervention, with the brand-new song, “Away from Me.” Full of slightly obtuse imagery and the usual mastery of language, “Away from Me”‘s lyrics make a case for disconnection. Yin meets and overpowers yang: “There’s a heart around a number on the paper in the case/In a glove compartment–chaos by the seat loved out of place/With a boy beside the window with an answer in your face/Smiling as he drives away from me.” And, yang meets and topples over yin: “Every mile up in the air/Every masterful win–I’d burn it to cinders/To be tangled up in your hair/Sturdy inside September.” The song starts out as sort of a lazy country and western number, but the slightly ominous-sounding strings cast a pall over the proceedings. Scott’s sturdy yet rubbery vocal in the chorus creates added tension even as it carries forward as a beautiful expression of melody. It’s another superb song in a long line of superb Davenports songs, and we’re now playing it, along with “Five Steps ’15,” in rotation.
Vanilla | “Katherine the Grating” Variety is the chief spice in Jayson Jarmon and company’s rack, as evidenced by the new, twelfth song released as part of the growing album-to-come, Vanilla 2.0. A bouncing snare drum leads into a lively, show-type catchy tune, all surface smiles and virtue with a darker purpose afoot: a girl leaves her baby’s care in her guy’s hands. She vamooses. She’s a no remorse kind of gal: “Why oh why did the rabbit die?/Leaving me up to my eyes in diapers.” She isn’t called Katherine the Grating for nothing. When Jayson is finished with Vanilla 2.0, expect and, well, demand that it winds up on every best of 2015 list known to man…or Katherine. Awesome.
Jared Lekites | Five Separate Lives We’re always thrilled to bring new music from Jared Lekites to your waiting ears. This time around, Jared has released a single featuring two songs written for the soundtrack of the movie, You’re Killing Me. “Five Separate Lives” is a bouncy pop song with a great melody; a lovely middle-eight; and a great, catchy chorus. “And It’s Over,” a chronicle of a broken relationship, is a marvel of a number with soaring vocal harmonies and a luscious melody. Of course, we’re playing both of these songs in rotation. Next up: Jared’s upcoming album with Connor Anderson, billed under the name the Lunar Laugh. We can’t wait.
Miss Tess and the Talkbacks | “One Match Fire” We’d never heard of Miss Tess and the Talkbacks prior to bumping into this joyous and masterful country-rock number, being released on Record Store Day this coming April 18. Until you can hold this limited edition 7-inch in your hot little hands, you can hear it playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. It’s a great number, another don’t miss track, without a doubt.
Quakers on Probation | Love and Distance Pop and rock and roll and a dash of contemporary spice are at the heart of this band from the Pacific Northwest. Their songs are atmospheric and catchy and we’re spinning five from this terrific album: “Cosmic Crawl,” “The Honorable Mention,” “Love and Distance,” “Story of Your Life,” and “Out of the Blue.” Great stuff.
A strong lineup of artists and songs, wouldn’t you say? We’ve got more treasures coming up next week. Keep listening to Pure Pop Radio for the greatest melodic pop from the ’60s to today!
I have long believed that of the many instruments that help to bring a great song to life, the human voice is capable of the most expression (sleigh bells come in at number two, in case you were wondering). Moreover, the magic that results from a group of people who come together to make a glorious sound that resonates with an audience is incontrovertible proof that music is the fuel that makes the cool kids sing.
The cool kids sang rather sweetly in 2014, a great year for melodic pop music. Whether driving the beat of a song or singing in five-part harmony, artists were inspired to create lasting art in the form of two-, three- and four-minute songs that added value to people’s lives. There is a reason–probably more than one–that great songs stand the test of time, some sounding as fresh as the day they were born, even decades after they were recorded. And make no mistake–many of the songs that made their way to turntables and CD players this year have that kind of staying power.
Even after 20 years of writing about and broadcasting pop music to the masses, I am still dazzled by much of what I hear. The thrill of discovery is present every time I sit down and prepare to listen. I want every note that fills the room to explode with joy. And, more often than not, I am rewarded with that certain something that drives me to play music on the radio and gather words together to communicate that joy. For me, the magic is still alive and well and lighting my world.
Which brings me to 21 magical records that helped make 2014 a banner year for melodic pop music. I’ve made no attempt to rank them or present them within categories. It is impossible for me to make a distinction between the fourth and fifth best albums of the year, so I haven’t even tried. What follows are simply 21 of my favorite releases of the year: the stars of 2014, if you will–a group of records that will enrich your life in ways that may well surprise you. And they’re presented in no particular order. There were many more records that touched my soul this year; these are the top of the pops. At the very least, they will put a smile on your face, and as the late writer Derek Taylor might have opined, you really can’t say fairer than that. – Alan Haber
And now, in no particular order, please join me in ushering in the Stars of ’14: Pure Pop Radio’s Favorite Records of the Year!
Joe Sullivan | Schlock Star Coming seemingly out of nowhere, Joe Sullivan and his debut album, Schlock Star, knocked me clean off my feet. Joe’s keenly observed pop songs, about girls and boys and boys and girls and other related topics, are perfect examples of the arts of clever songwriting and performance. In my review of this album, published on September 2 on this site, I said that “Sullivan makes tracks that stick and stack up for imminent replay.” I also stated, without reservation, that “This is Sullivanmania, attended by screaming fans who dig the sounds of one of the best records of 2014.” No doubt you’ll be hearing a lot more about Joe in the coming years. Joe, as you may have already figured, is the real deal.
Marti Jones | You’re Not the Bossa Me What I know about bossa nova music could fit on the rightmost quadrant of the head of a pin, but thanks to Marti Jones’ radiant album that adds more than a splash of melodic pop to the turntable, I’m something of an expert. Well, not really, but I know what I like and I like the latest chapter of Jones’ music a lot. When I added all of these songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist on July 9, I said in my playlist report that this is “pop music for discerning listeners….” And indeed it is. I also noted that the songs, “written by [Kelley] Ryan, [Don] Dixon, Bill DeMain, [Paul] Cebar and others, are brought to life with Jones’ magical voice. Jones has never sounded better.” It’s always a celebration when Jones releases a new album. If you think this one is great, well, just wait until the next one spins.
The Legal Matters | The Legal Matters Some albums feel right after only a few notes play. And when the harmonies kick in–when the melodies surround me and take me to some other place–I’m putty in the musicians’ hands. Such was my experience with this debut album by three well-known musicians who came together to form the Legal Matters. In other words, they’re the Rockpile of the melodic pop world. It’s all in the music, I said in my July 23 feature review; the “harmony-drenched law firm of [Andy] Reed, [Chris] Richards and [Keith] Klingensmith” delivers the goods. This is “good, good music for when the snow falls, for when spring turns to summer, during a light rain, and for when fall signals the end of baseball season and the year moves into its closing phase. It’s good for what ails you, a prescription that works wonders no matter the season or circumstance.” It’s really great, and it’s one of my favorite records of 2014.
Ed Woltil | Paper Boats, A Reverie in Thirteen Acts The beautiful songs that populate this wonderful album from the Ditchflowers’ Ed Woltil are a wonder to behold. Melody is king and beauty is on display in each of the melodic gems currently playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Whether he’s wearing his straight-ahead pop hat on the catchy “Algebra” or crooning softly and emotionally on the beautiful waltz, “Dance With Me One More Time,” Woltil is capturing our hearts. I called this a hall-of-fame-worthy release when I wrote about it in my July 9 station update; four months later, its position remains unchanged. A stellar release from a huge talent.
Dave Caruso | Cardboard Vegas Roundabout When I reviewed this album on September 17, I testified, up front, about it glorious wonders: “This kind of thing, this magical musical mixture exhibiting the tasty influences of Barry Manilow, the Carpenters, the Beach Boys and, hey why not, Paul McCartney, is a thing of beauty, an artful excursion that can and will enrich your life, take you to your happy places and prove to you that good things absolutely do come in all manner of packages–small, medium, large and beyond.” What more do you need to know, except that these songs should absolutely have a place in your life. Caruso’s Beach Boys/Carpenters homage, “Champion,” alone makes this album a worthy purchase. Cardboard Vegas Roundabout is so good and so tasty that many of the other CDs in your collection will aspire to achieve its greatness. Simply fantastic.
Bill Lloyd | Reset2014 Bill Lloyd has been a huge part of the Pure Pop Radio playlist since his career-making Set to Pop was released in 1994. On the occasion of the album’s 20th anniversary, Bill has recreated that mind-blowing collection with wonderfully-updated remakes and early and live takes. Reset2014 is as much a look back as it is a reinvention. “On the list of Best Records Ever Made,” I noted in my October 29 review, “Set to Pop must sit comfortably alongside similarly great waxings drawn from the catalogs of other great artists.” “With Reset2014,” I wrote, “Bill Lloyd has taken pause to smell the roses from 20 years ago and replant them for future generations.” This is such a great achievement from one of pop music’s greatest artists.
The Britannicas | High Tea Album number two from this international melodic pop supergroup checks off many of the must-haves on power pop fans’ lists: Byrds musings, gorgeous balladry, jangle, harmonies and hooks galore. Veteran U.S. popster Herb Eimerman, who we’ve been playing on Pure Pop Radio for somewhere in the neighborhood of18 years, Australia’s Joe Algeri, and Magnus Karlsson from Sweden have served up a spot of High Tea that all told constitutes a truly classic collection.
Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club | Nothing to Be Afraid Of A total surprise, this is perhaps the brightest, most inventive, most sincere and happiest-sounding melodic work of the year. Kate Stephenson, trading under the delightful band name Myrtle Park’s Fishing Club, had written a range of songs that recall the best of the Roches, the Dream Academy and Prefab Sprout, but come alive as uniquely her own creations. The deeply-felt, dense harmonies alone are more than worth the price of admission. Plus, the artwork and hand-lettered lyrics in the accompanying booklet prove that the album package is still alive out there in the world. One of the most truly special albums of this or any other year.
Robert Crenshaw | Friends, Family and Neighbors Speaking of truly special albums, here is one from the great Robert Crenshaw. “One of the sweetest surprises of the year is this joyous celebration of the love of the clever, catchy song,” I wrote in my October 30 feature review. Pairing a couple of covers, including one of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which features Marshall, Dean and John Crenshaw, with seven originals and a surprise bonus track, Crenshaw turns in his best album to date, tackling such diverse subjects as “…the upside of improbability (the lovely, hymn-like “The Night the Detroit Lions Won the Super Bowl”), familiarity in the face of love (the Bill Lloyd co-write, “You’re So Hip to Me”), detachment versus reality (“What if I’m Really Dead?”), and hiding behind the wall of booze (the gospel-tinged “Turn to Booze”).” A wonderful album, beautifully realized.
The Rubinoos | 45 In my November 10 feature review, I wrote that “this latest album from the melodic pop band’s melodic pop band is a master class in songwriting and performing that should be at the top of your holiday gift-giving lists.” 45 is stone-cold triumph–a standout album in a career teeming with them. Among the treasures on offer, besides the great voice of Jon Rubin and some of the best harmonies on the planet, is one of the best tracks recorded by any artist this year–a lovingly-rendered a cappella (with percussion) version of Lou Christie’s classic, “Rhapsody in the Rain,” that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and drive you to recall the classic sound of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Tommy Dunbar originals like the buoyant “I Love Louie Louie” and the upbeat “Countdown to Love,” which tips its hat to the Paul Revere and the Raiders playbook, are modern day classics. Long may the Rubinoos run.
Peter Lacey | Last Leaf Tender and loving and from the heart, Last Leaf bristles with warmth and genuine emotion. Lacey harkens back to his folk roots, taking inspriation from ” the circles of everyday, country life: on patches of grass surrounded by sprouting trees, and by the water, on a calmly-stated lake. Lacey’s new songs are about the simpler, and more important, things in life; every element of this album is calm and soothing and powerful,” I wrote in my station update on July 7. Beautiful songs like “The Woodwind” and “Boy in the Rings of a Tree” populate this entire album, a treasure by any definition of the word.
Jamie Hoover | Jamie Two Ever Pop music’s premiere journeyman returns with a sort-of sequel to 2004’s Jamie Hoo-Ever, and boy does he deliver. Seven originals, eight covers (only on the CD), and a million reasons to keep this album in hot rotation at your pad. As I said in my station update on October 28, “From ace covers of a couple of Beatles tunes and the Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” to a host of originals, including the joyous, almost-completely a cappella “Press Save”; the lovely, gentle Steve Stoeckel co-write, “Lost”; and the bluesy “Oh Darlin’!”-esque “You Took Away the Birds,” Jamie Two Ever practically redefines the word ‘classic.’
Kylie Whitney | Something About Ghosts With a soulful approach and a refreshing touch of honesty, Kylie Whitney has released a classic-sounding album stocked with a wide range of emotions, all conveyed with authority. Although the album is chiefly comprised of originals, most of which were co-written with producer Michael Carpenter, Whitney does deliver a tender read of Don McLean’s “Vincent.” “Bad News Baby” finds Whitney in fine ’60s girl-group mettle, and “Tealite” shines an emotional light on her somewhat fragile vocal. Everything here points to a singer with a bright future.
mylittlebrother | If We Never Came Down One of the coolest discoveries of the year. Here’s how I summed things up in my October 24 station update: “As perfect as a beautiful day in the country or a clear, wondrous night under the stars, mylittlebrother is a wonderful British band that specializes in lovely, clever, insanely catchy pop songs that capture the imaginations of listeners. Entrancing melodies, gorgeous harmonies and a sense of humanity make this album the find of the year.” The opener, the joyously hopping mid-tempo “Loves of Life, Unite!” and the early rock ‘n’ roll stroll-meets-Teenage Fanclub vibe of “My Hypocritical Friend” are only two of the musical pleasures to be savored. Wonderful.
Sam RB | Finding Your Way Home Here is a truly lovely album full of truly lovely songs by a New Zealand singer-songwriter who makes truly beautiful music. Here is what I said in my October 28 station update: “Finding Your Way Home features Sam’s beautiful, expressive voice and songs with melodies that will melt your heart.” Sam sings her heart out in such standout tunes as the folk-pop “Blue Sky Day,” the wonderfully catchy, hit-worthy “Say Goodbye,” and the should-be-hitbound and equally impressive title song. Don’t be surprised if Finding Your Way Home soon finds its way to your home.
The Dowling Poole | Bleak Strategies The perfect second act after the ashes of the much-missed band Jackdaw 4 had scattered, the Dowling Poole finds that band’s leader, Willie Dowling, teaming up with veteran musician Jon Poole for a similarly imaginative trip down the pop music rabbit hole. Bleak Strategies is hardly a bleak affair, though; rather, it’s a wondrous, album-length expression of strength in the art of composition and performance, with seemingly millions of influences synthesized down to one shared point of view. Full of surprises and all manner of left and right turns, this is your one-stop-shop for XTC-meets-10cc-meets-Kinks, Beatles and Frank Zappa-isms. Put simply, these are pop songs turned on their heads by two men fully poised to do the job right. Any album that segues effortlessly from banjo-fueled vaudeville to straight pop in the same song (the wild and wooly “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions”) and lays their pop smarts bare with an early-to-late period XTC-like romp (the insanely catchy “A Kiss on the Ocean”) deserves your rapt attention. Grand.
Edward O’Connell | Vanishing Act Four years on from his 2010 debut, Our Little Secret, Edward O’Connell returns with, not surprisingly, another great record. In our July 10 station update, I wrote that “Vanishing Act is everything a great melodic pop album should be and then some.” Songs include the insanely catchy “My Dumb Luck” (with its George Harrison-esque slide guitar lines), the equally infectious “Severance Kiss,” and “Lonely Crowd,” with a decidedly Tom Petty vibe. With not a single note or clever lyric wasted, Vanishing Act is one of this year’s greatest musical achievements.
Linus of Hollywood | Something Good Something great is more like it. “Nobody does it better,” Carly Simon once sang, and she might as well have been singing about Linus. His duet with the lovely Kelly Jones on the charming “If You Don’t Love Me You Gotta Let Me Go” is, all by itself, worth the price of admission. His gentle cover of Kiss’ “Beth” breathes new life into the old classic rock staple, putting added emphasis on the melody as welcome, real strings set the song aloft. Spectacular music, catchy as all get out, all the way through.
Dana Countryman | Pop 2! The Exploding Musical Mind of Dana Countryman Dana Countryman turns the clock back to the panoramic 1970s as the Wayback Machine collects the songs that form the soundtrack of your life–if you’re a sweet, melodic pop fan, and by reading this you might as well flash yout membership card at the door, this is for you. Nobody does this kind of thing better than Countryman, who celebrates “…the kinds of songs they just don’t write and record anymore. His influences, from Gilbert O’Sullivan and Eric Carmen to the Beatles and beyond, are worn on his sleeves and [are] bathed in his own, unique approach to songwriting and production.” That was my take on this album in my review from October 7. If you’re looking for a warm, musical glow to light your way, then look no further than this collection. It’s like what used to come out of transistor radios a long, long time ago, but it’s now coming from the here and now. Pop 3!, please.
Mothboxer | Sand and the Rain Mothboxer’s Dave Ody wears his heart, and his influences, on his sleeve on this wonderful new album. Mothboxer just keeps getting better, and this album is their best yet. The influence of the Beach Boys is apparent, however subtly, on the lively and engaging “In the Morning” and the enticing “Looking Out for Summer.” The title cut is clever, technicolor pop. The driving “We’re All Out of Our Minds” is upbeat and rather catchy. Overflowing with great songs, Sand and the Rain is a clear winner and, not surprisingly, one of the best albums of the year.
The Solicitors | Blank Check Lee Jones’ energetic, widescreen pop songs, hooks always at the ready and raring to go, are fuel for the fire that is Australia’s the Solicitors. A wildly talented singer and songwriter, Jones, along with guitarist Laf Zee and crew tread towards the listener with equal parts vim, vigor and melody. The band means business and their business is clear: knock ’em down with Stiff-era enthusiasm and the joy of performance. One of these days, the Solicitors will venture away from Oz and hit American shores to spread their pop gospel. We patiently wait for that day, but until then we have this new album, one of the best of the year.
(All reviews written by Alan Haber)
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of 21 of Pure Pop Radio’s favorite albums of the year. These are the Stars of ’14: 21 artists with great songs that will enrich your lives and guarantee your status as one of the cool kids. Which artists and songs will make next year’s cut? See you in about 365 days for the answer to that question and many more! Thanks for reading, and thanks, as always, for listening to Pure Pop Radio!
Hey! It’s the weekend! The weekend’s here! You know what that means, right? It means that week two of Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion is rolling into the weekend and week three, day number nine is merely days away.
Today is day eight, and we’ve got a typically diverse and exciting lineup of new adds to the Pure Pop Radio playlist to lay out for you. Let’s get started!
Various Artists | Pop Power from the Garage – Australian Power Pop * 74-86 We’ve been digging the very sweet, new releases from Australia’s Zero Hour Records. This one shares the basic approach that previous compilations of Australian power pop have taken over the last, many years, although this time around the focus is on the years 1974-1986. This mighty fine collection dishes up 22 great tracks. Of course, we’ve chosen the poppier ones to add to our playlist, and they are: Beathoven – “Do You Remember the Time,” The Clones – “Tired of Hiding,” Lee Cutelle – “You’ve Got the Power Over Me,” Heroes – “Baby’s Had a Taste,” Riffs – “I’m Not Just Another Boy,” The Prefects – “Wait Until Midnight,” Young Homebuyers – “Boyfriend,” and the Eighty Eights – “What Would Your Mother Say.” Your mother would say “Spin ’em if you’ve got ’em!” Listen for these very cool tracks now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
The Lost Boys | Answers On a Postcard and Not ‘Arf It’s…The Lost Boys This Southampton, England foursome puts their guitars up front where they belong and turns out track after track of catchy, melodic pop music. We’ve taken tracks from Answers On a Postcard and Not ‘Arf It’s…The Lost Boys and added them to our playlist. Listen for “Broken Story,” “From Love to Hate,” “Flowers,” “In My Sleep,” and “Crazy for You (I Guess that I’m).” Great melodies, singing and playing…what more can you ask for?
Johnny Popstar and the Luv Explosion | Whining and Crying and A Day at the Beach A great pop band, with perhaps a smattering of punk aesthetic and influences from across decades of catchy songs, Johnny Popstar and the Luv Explosion is a real find. We hear the Turtles, the Archies, the Dave Clark Five and a host of other sixties and seventies bands bouncing around in this clever mix of sounds. This is the kind of music you might have heard on the radio way back in the day. Heck, it’s music you should be hearing on the radio today. And you will, because a total of 10 Popstar tunes are now spinning in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, including “Daphne Blake,” “Karen Palangi,” “A Day at the Beach,” “Dr. Wiggley,” “Oh Valerie (I Really Hate Your Boyfriend),” “We Could Get Along,” “Oh Louise,” “Social Status Crisis,” “Fit to Be Tied,” and “Don’t Ban the Wolfman.” And yes, “Daphne Blake” is indeed a shout-out to Scooby Doo’s own. Great stuff.
mylittlebrother | If We Never Came Down As perfect as a beautiful day in the country or a clear, wondrous night under the stars, mylittlebrother is a wonderful British band that specializes in lovely, clever, insanely catchy pop songs that capture the imaginations of listeners. Entrancing melodies, gorgeous harmonies and a sense of humanity makes this album the find of the year. We’ve added seven songs to our playlist: “Lovers of Life, Unite!,” “NoseDive,” “Gold,” “My Hypocritical Friend,” “If We Never Came Down,” “Slow Dance,” and “Profiterolls.” Sort of reminiscent, in spirit, of the Wilson Hospital’s equally lovely, lone album. Truly special and quite magical.
The Solicitors | Blank Check We’re probably the first pop radio entity to have played the Solicitors. Well, we’re at least one of the first. In any case, we were way early spinning tracks from one of Australia’s greatest pop ‘n’ roll bands working today. Lee Jones’ catchy songs, performed with great gusto and made for radio play, are aces all around. The band’s debut album is one of the classic releases of this or any other year. Sounding like a lost act on the Stiff label, the Solicitors make great pop ‘n’ roll music and this album is proof. Several of the tracks here are previously released, and we’ve been playing them for awhile; we’ve now added “If You Let Me Hold You,” “I Need You More,” “For This Evening’s Entertainment,” “(You Should See the) Look On Your Face,” “I Love Your Love,” “My Secret is Safe With Me,” and “Goodbye.” It hardly ever gets better than this.
Kurt Baker – Brand New B-Sides The pop and roll of Kurt Baker is as intoxicating today as it was on his very first release. If anything, Kurt elevates his craft ever higher with each new record. With producer and engineer extraordinaire Wyatt Funderburk at his side, there are no limits to what Kurt can achieve. This latest release, composed of songs that didn’t make 2012’s Brand New Beat album–some of which were released as bonus tracks in France and Japan–is a collection that, quite rightly, sets the bar even higher for future records, so good are the 10 songs included here. We’ve added seven to our playlist: “Emma Stone,” “Since You’ve Been On My Mind,” “What’s that Got to Do with Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “On the Run,” “I’ve Tried Everything,” “Think It Over,” and “So It Goes.” Pure pop with a rockin’ beat, served up by a master.
The Singles | Four Tracks Recorded around 1980 at Unique Recorders in New York City, these four catchy songs pop along like old friends. Great melodies and strong hooks ensure repeat plays. Here’s what we’re now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio:”It’s All My Fault,” “Leave that Girl Alone,” “Off and Running,” and “We’re Not Kids Anymore.” Tony, who sang lead and background vocals and played some bass, was joined in the studio by Les Fradkin, Rich Tuske, Marty Shapiro, JP Patterson and Joe Servello. Fradkin produced “It’s All My Fault” and “Off and Running.” Prepare to smile and tap along with the tunes.
My Brother Woody | Football Musings Set to Music You can now add to the (however slowly) growing pop sports sub-genre begun by The Duckworth Lewis Method, who sing about cricket, My Brother Woody’s album, which concerns itself with football (or, I believe in this case, soccer). We are, as usual, confused about the meaning of sports words in different parts of the world, but we do know our pop music, and this is pop music of the first order. Some fetching melodies and deep hooks propel these great songs into the consciousness. We’re spinning four songs in rotation: “50p Head,” “Panini Sticker Album Blues (1987),” “Bouncebackability,” and “The A-Z of Football.”
The Cry | Dangerous Game (US Edition) This isn’t the Cry’s first dance in the pop music arena, but it is their first full-length release here in the United States. This US version of Dangerous Game cobbles together 13 songs that have previously been released in Europe and Asia, plus a new track, “Last Thing that I Do,” a relatively sensitive, mid-tempo ballad with great guitar work that is rather unlike their usual upbeat, more rocking material. Fast or slow, this is a great band that deserves your time and attention. “Last Thing that I Do,” along with a host of other great tracks, is now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
Winterpills | Echolalia Nine years on from their first, self-titled album, Winterpills returns with a collection of cover songs. But this is not your father’s cover songs album: This isn’t a collection of versions of chart smashes and wedding band favorites. Nick Drake, Jules Shear, XTC and other lesser-known artists get the call here, along with such new-to-the scene groups as the Beatles, Beck and Buddy Holly. The sum total of Echolalia‘s parts is an album that belongs to Winterpills and plays like a song cycle composed of like-minded compositions. We’re playing six re-imagined, emotional, newly shaped songs: Sharon Van Etten’s “One Day,” Jules Shear’s “Open Your Eyes,” Matthew Sweet’s “We’re the Same,” Damien Jurado’s “Museum of Flight,” XTC’s “Train Running Low on Soul Coal,” and Mark Mulcahy’s “A World Away from this One.” A great record.
And so we come to the end of our second week of postings about new music added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. On tap, we’ve got another week’s worth of very cool releases joining the more than 5,300 other classic tunes on the air; all the fun starts next Tuesday, October 28. We’ve also got a very special review for you, and news of something to look out for here on the Pure Pop Radio website in November. So, stay tuned!
We’ve been in love with the catchy pop of Australia’s The Solicitors since we first heard their delectable, Stiff-inspired tunes late last year. With enough tracks written and committed to wax, and after humming Lee Jones’s top-flight melodious melodies to ourselves, it’s nearly time to greet the group’s first album, Blank Check, set to hit Oz and beyond in October. It’s already Pure Pop Radio approved, and we simply can’t wait.
Australia’s The Solicitors
Actually, we don’t have to, because we’ve heard the whole thing and it’s as spectacular as anyone could have hoped. Song after song, melody after melody, Jones delivers the goods with remarkably concise, catchy nuggets that cause the heavens to open up and sing along. The Solicitors’ first single from Blank Check is the crazy good, intoxicating basher “If You Let Me Hold You” that will hopefully take over radio and stereo systems all around the world. Kicking off with an insistent bass guitar thump underpinned by a solid drum beat, the song gets into gear with one of the top hooks you’re liable to hear in the coming months. The verses are as catchy as the choruses, which build on the verses by setting the melody free with delicious harmony vocals. And watch out for one of the best middle-eights like ever.
You can watch Lee, his Energizer bunny-like guitarist Laf Zee and the rest of the band deliver the goods in the video for “If You Let Me Hold You,” handily presented to you right here:
Pretty great, huh? Well, there’s even more great abounding: Pure Pop Radio is proud to be able to bring you an exclusive track from Blank Check, “My Secret is Safe with Me,” a typically energetic Solicitors number with another catchy chorus that will roll around in your head for ages. Listen to it here by clicking on the play button coming right up, courtesy of the great Scott Thurling at the Solicitors’ record label, Popboomerang Records. (You can also hear the song playing in rotation on the air.) Here comes “My Secret is Safe with Me”!
If your desire is to know everything there is to discover about the Solicitors and Lee Jones, click here to listen to Lee’s appearance on our signature interview program, Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, from earlier this year. It’s a great talk that you won’t soon forget.
So. Mark your calendars. October 2014. The release of the Solicitors’ smashing new album, Blank Check. Listen now to Pure Pop Radio for “My Secret is Safe with Me” (exclusive to us), “If You Let Me Hold You,” “Pretty Penny,” “Quicksand,” and “Help Me Forget.” We’re going Solicitors crazy! And you will too!
Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes
Fear not if you missed our emotional, in-depth interview with Lee Jones from the great Australian band, The Solicitors. The interview is now posted on our PodOMatic podcast page for listening and/or downloading. Lee’s story is equal parts heartbreaking and triumphant. You won’t want to miss this one.
Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on PodOMatic!
Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes
It’s no secret that of all of the elements that go into an interview on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, my favorite is the human one. As much as I live for spreading the word on great music, I’m even more dedicated to telling the stories behind the songs. What is the songwriter’s history? How did he grow up? How did life treat him along the way? How does all of this help shape his music?
We’ve got a wonderful human story for you beginning next Tuesday, February 4. Lee Jones, from the great Australian band The Solicitors, joins me for the deeply felt story of how he got from the many roadblocks that life has delivered to him to his position as songwriter and singer in a band that is destined, I believe, for the top of the pops. I think you will be riveted as Lee unravels quite a heartfelt tale that negotiates a bumpy road, but winds up in a good place, delivering to the world a happy, talented man with a happy life who can strike up the band and get any place rocking and popping in no time.
Don’t miss this one. Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation with Lee Jones from The Solicitors airs on Pure Pop Radio next Tuesday and Wednesday, February 4 and 5, at 8 pm ET, and on Friday, February 7 at 6 pm ET. See you on the radio for a most commanding tale.