Reviews: 3.5.19: The Big Believe Meets Tania, Kenny Herbert is the Luckiest Man in the World, and the Well Wishers are Feeling Fine

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

The Big Believe | “Tania Was a Truth Teller”
b/w “Girl With Cassettes” (2018)

A paean of four-on-the-floor Blondie in 2018? That’s the engine driving the intrigue-laced “Tania Was a Truth Teller,” the first of the two top tracks that make up The Big Believe’s late-2018 pop blast; both were mixed in you-are-there stereo by Fritz Catlin of the band 23 Skidoo. (Dig the pop art cover by Peter Quinnell.)

Meeting by the bridge in the dead of night, Tania has the answers to the questions at hand. But can she be trusted? “Tania was a truth teller,” the narrator notes. “She liked to dress like a feller.” She lives “on and on and on and on,” but is she the real thing? “I thought I saw Tania on the high road/But it was just the sunlight in my eyes.” Hmm… A mystery in song, and a catchy one at that, featuring The New Pornagraphers’ Todd Fancey on guitar.

Fancey also features on “Girl With Cassettes,” a fast, fizzy and loud pop-rocker about the girl who dazzles her way to point b from point a with nary a care (“She drives through the red/She stops at the green/Is blinded by everything in between”). She’s the girl “in the green t-shirt” who’s got her eyes transfixed on the one who can make things happen: “Oh if only they knew what a boy can do/To the girl who collects cassettes, cassettes, cassettes.” OMD meets Duran Duran in this grand, imaginative romp.

The Big Believe, aka Amanda Thompson, is working on the band’s second album, Juggernaut, to be released later this year. You’d better…believe we’re psyched.

Where to Get It: 7-inch with mp3 download: The Big Believe’s website; iTunes, Amazon

Kenny Herbert | “The Luckiest Man in the World” (2019)

I have been absolutely delighted and enriched to have the music of Kenny Herbert in my life for going on 15-plus years. His melodic prowess is virtually unequaled. Everything he releases speaks directly to my heart.

“The Luckiest Man in the World,” just released, is another classic creation from up Edinburgh, Scotland way–a beautifully realized mid-tempo ballad about the love he shares with his beloved wife Caroline. With music surrounding them, they are charmed, and so is the listener.

Produced by Bob Heatlie and featuring Rab Howat singing backgrounds, “The Luckiest Man in the World” expresses Kenny’s thoughts through clever lyrics, such as this clever verse invoking the Chairman of the Board: “Feel like the luckiest man in the world/
I’ve got my music and my beautiful girl/Feel like Sinatra playing the Sands/I’m gonna love you like no other man.”

The cover art for this truly wonderful song, among Kenny’s best, says it all, really; it depicts Kenny and Caroline in dreamy silhouette and was lensed this year in Liverpool, home of the Fab Four.

Enjoy a lovely, live acoustic version of “The Luckiest Man in the World,” performed by Kenny at the water’s edge in St. Fillans in Scotland’s central highlands:

Add this song to your collection? By all means.

Where to Get It: iTunes

The Well Wishers | “Feelin Fine” b/w “Second Hand News” (2019)

Jeff Shelton’s outfit returns with a snappy, poppy, upbeat, guaranteed-to-please popper that keeps the beat going with pure joy on its mind. “Feelin Fine” raises the stakes with a very R.E.M.-ish feel, a catchy chorus, and some widescreen harmony touches. The Wishers’ take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” is basically a reverent tip-of-the-hat to one of those Lindsey Buckingham earworms that takes up permanent residence in there. Must’ve been fun to record.

Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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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.

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We’re Top of the Pops on this New Music Wednesday!

It’s time for another round of new music that we’ve just added to our playlist. We’ve got a whole lot of new songs and artists to tell you about, so let’s get on to it, shall we?

the dowling pooleThe Dowling Poole | Single: “Rebecca Receiving,” “The Same Mistake Again,” and “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions (Live in Manchester)” This tasty taster, being released February 19 in advance of the full-length One Hyde Park, is yet another example of what Willie Dowling and Jon Poole do so very well: mix the past with the present as they point to the future. “Rebecca Receiving” is an undeniably catchy art-pop explosion drinking from a well overflowing with Stiff and Godley and Creme-isms. It’s hard to deny, as is the non-album “The Same Mistake Again,” a wholly different, gentle-by-comparison beast, coming from the other, Stewart-Gouldman side of the 10cc fence. A lovely, heretofore unreleased, stripped down, live version of Bleak Strategies‘ “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions” completes the triptych. Super stuff.

sloan tributeVarious Artists | If It Feels Good, Do It: A Sloan Tribute Keith Klingensmith’s Futureman Records hits another bullseye with a collection of covers of songs from the Sloan catalog. A selection of familiar and perhaps not-so-familiar artists delivers the goods, from Coke Belda and El Inquieto Roque’s melodically-charged “Autobiography,” which kicks off with a knowing, smile-inducing nod to Jeff Lynne’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” to Pop 4’s short but sweet “Flying High Again,” sounding more than a little like electrified, later-period Cowsills. We’re playing 12 superb tracks in rotation, including the previously-mentioned nuggets and Andy Reed’s “I Love a Long Goodbye”; Fireking’s “The Other Man”; Gretchen’s Wheel’s “Try to Make It”; the wonderfully named Hal E. Fax and the Supernova Scotias’ “So Far So Good,” with its Beach Boys vocal open; Nick Piunti’s “Right or Wrong”; Phil Ajiarapu’s “Set in Motion”; Stereo Tiger’s “C’mon C’mon (We’re Gonna Get It Started)”; The Hangabouts’ “The Answer Was You”; and the Well Wishers’ “The Lines You Amend.” Cheers to a fun listen.

cowsills poor babyCoke Belda | “Poor Baby” Speaking of Coke Belda, this pop master has recorded a spirited and loving cover of the Cowsills’ 1967 single track “Poor Baby” for Pop Parade, a forthcoming compilation from the Rock Indiana label. Coke plays all of the instruments and sings all of the vocals. It’s a spectacular performance, and we’ve got it playing in rotation. Beautiful.

propellerPropeller | Fall Off the World The followup to 2013’s Don’t Be Sorry Again, sporting a K-tel International homage on its cover, is an infectious collection of hook-filled songs with more than a hint of Teenage Fanclub-esque-fueled DNA. Songs like the Byrdsian “She’s So Alive” is but one example of the heights the group achieves; “You Remind Me of You” melds Buddy Holly swagger with its power-pop heart; “It’s Kinda Why I Like You” is a virtual love letter to Fanclub song construction. These three songs, plus “Wish I Had Her Picture,” “The Things You Say,” “What a Way to Feel,” and “Can You Hear Us Now,” are currently playing in rotation, as you would expect.

tobbe

Tobbe | ep1 – summerbound Tobbe is The Tor Guides’ Torbjorn Petersson, a multi-instrumentalist who flexes his solo sweet pop muscles on four catchy classics: the hit single-worthy “What in the World” and “Two Minutes of Your Time,” the lovely ballad “Absent Minded Me,” and the comparatively muscular “Love Went to Paris.” Tobbe plays all instruments, save for the drums. Hooks abound. Listeners are in love.

chris murphy ghost townChris Murphy | Ghost Town The Murphy Brothers’ Chris closed out 2015 with this gorgeous collection of songs soaked in melodic charm. The title track, a lovely ballad, is quite simply one of the most affecting numbers we’ve heard in quite some time. The blues-rocking “Scarecrow” is a punchy number, punctuated by Chris’s strong vocal and some tasty piano runs; and “Kid from the Country” sings a heartland song from the heart. These three tunes, plus “Not Like it Was Before,” “Running Out of Time,” and “Happy Boy” are now happily playing in rotation.

new sincerity works nowadaysNew Sincerity Works | Nowadays Our old friend Mike Tittel returns, fellow travelers Roger Klug, Bob Nyswonger, Mike Landis, Greg Tudor and Tom White in tow, with New Sincerity Works’ second album, another sparkling collection of melodic gems. “The Upside of Being Down” is a powerful rocker performed with energetic swagger; the gorgeous “Our Room Shares a Door” sports a delicious melody and beautiful harmonies. In addition to these two songs, we’re playing “Dreams Worth Keeping” and “Lips Miss Talking” in rotation.

the cactus brothersThe Cactus Blossoms | You’re Dreaming It’s like the Everly Brothers are spinning on the turntable, but you’d better open your eyes (and your ears, for that matter), because it’s not Phil and Don; it’s brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum delivering an authentic mix of Everly, country and western, and Bakersfield magic. One of the great surprises of this early year, we’re playing five great numbers: “You’re Dreaming,” “Traveler’s Paradise,” “Stoplight Kisses,” “No More Crying the Blues,” and “Clown Collector.” It just doesn’t get much better than this.

daisy house western manDaisy House | Western Man Here is another great surprise that has defined this year, even early on, as a great one for melodic music. Doug Hammond and his daughter Tatiana have made an album for the ages. Golden harmonies and great songs melt your heart all the way through. The heavenly duo channels the Byrds in the uptempo “She Comes Runnin’ Back” and “Twenty-One,” offers up a catchy, playful vibe with the singalong number “Willow,” and delivers a strong, emotive ballad with the orchestrated pearl, “Western Man.” We’re playing these and five other grand musical gestures: “The Defender,” “The Boulevard,” “Say Goodbye,” “Like a Superman,” and “Golden Heart.” This is nothing less than a gift from heaven.

tricia countryman cover for upcoming solo album 2-2-16john hunter phillipsTricia Countryman and John Hunter Phillips | “The Warmth of the Sun” Taken from Tricia’s upcoming solo album, being produced by her husband Dana (a Pure Pop Radio favorite, don’t you know), this lovely rendition of the Beach Boys classic is pure gold. This is just about as perfect an example of how important harmonies are to melodic pop music as we can think of.

That’s it for today. You’ll be getting another big fix of new songs and artists added to our playlist coming up in a harmony-filled blink of an eye. Until then, why not click on one of the listen links below and sway to the melodies and harmonies coming out of your speakers by listening to Pure Pop Radio?

purepoplogoAlan 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.

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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 Friday…The Weekend is Here! Day Four of Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion is Upon Us, and it’s Weekend-riffic!

We hope you’ve been enjoying our daily updates regarding the new songs and artists that have been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. We’re now spinning more than 5,200 songs in rotation–more than likely, the largest melodic pop library of any radio station anywhere. And, as we’ve said many times this week, we’re just getting started!

Here’s another sampling of the new music we’re now playing in rotation on our airwaves on day four of our New Music Explosion, kicking off with…

Unplugged-Sleeve

Zero Hour Records’ Power Pop Unplugged Vol. One The fine folks at Australia’s Zero Hour Records have been proudly flying the power pop flag with the goal of spreading the word worldwide about the music they love. Most recently, a tribute to Dwight Twilley has kept the conversation going, and soon a tribute to Cheap Trick will make its debut. Now, a wonderfully rich collection of acoustic versions of great power pop songs has been released, anchored by familiar and perhaps not so familiar artists. We’ve added a baker’s dozen tracks to our playlist from the 22 featured on the CD. You can’t go wrong with our picks, great versions of great songs by great artists: Lisa Mychols’ “Go All the Way,” Russell C. Shaddox’s “Girl of My Dreams,” Rob Bonfiglio’s “Earn Enough for Us,” Stephen Lawrenson’s “Feel,” Jeff Shelton’s “Life is Right,” Paul Costanza’s “No Matter What,” Jonathan Rundman’s “One World,” Bill Lloyd’s “Surrender,” Jeremy’s “I Can’t Hide It” and “Your Very Eyes,” Marc Platt’s “What I Like about You,” The Ringles’ “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo,” and the Takers’ “Timeless Melody.” They’re all playing now, in rotation. Dig ’em all.

well-wishersThe Well Wishers | A Shattering Sky Jeff Shelton, an old hand at great power pop, always puts on a good show. For proof of this, tune in to Pure Pop Radio to hear any of the seven songs we’ve added to our playlist from the Well Wishers’ fantastic new album: “Vincennes,” “Sheila Shake,” “Right Here at Last,” “Goodbye,” “Bring it Back,” “The Last to Fall in Love,” and “When the Time Comes.” You look power pop up in the dictionary, you ought to see Jeff’s picture next to the definition. It’s that simple.

rob-bonfiglioRob Bonfiglio | Freeway And, next to Jeff Shelton’s picture in the dictionary there should be one for Rob Bonfiglio, who’s been releasing wonderfully catchy pure pop songs for a good long while. Radio, are you listening? Every station worth its salt should be playing songs like the five we’ve added to the Pure Pop radio playlist–singable, hummable music that makes you feel good. Pure pop for the masses. Here is what is now playing in rotation from Freeway: “Lonely World,” “I am Tomorrow,” “Throw Me a Line,” “Best Plans Never Made,” and “Golden State.”

the-forz The Forz | The Forz These Boston boys, who take their cue from 1960s pop and rock conventions, grind out 15 catchy tunes on their debut album. It’s quite the corker and very well done. We especially love the manic, Merseybeat-styled “Sleep Deprived” and the equally Mersey-esque, mid-tempo, clapalongable “Today.” Both are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, along with “Back to You,” “Meant for Me,” “Night and Day,” and “What Can I Say.” We love this kind of stuff, and we’re thrilled to have this band on our air.

greta-gertlerGreta Gertler and the Extroverts | Edible Restaurant Before Greta and her husband Adam formed the Universal Thump (songs from that self-titled album are now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio), she was making records of her own, including this one, which was released in 2010. Greta writes beautiful songs; her piano and lovely, expressive voice bring them to brilliant life. Think Laura Nyro, if you need a comparison. Maybe wedge in a bit of Kate Bush, if you feel so inclined. This is great melodic pop music, and we’re pleased as punch to be featuring it on the air. We’ve added six songs from Edible Restaurant to the playlist: the title cut, “Bessie,” “Good and Simple,” “Bergen Street,” “If Bob was God,” and “Uniform.” They will melt your heart, in a good way.

kylie-whitneyKylie Whitney | Something About Ghosts Soulful, true and heartfelt, Kylie Whitney arrives on the pop music scene in a big and glorious way with a dozen songs that speak to the soul. From the ’60s vibe of girl-group-esque, hit-song-worthy “Bad News Baby” to the emotionally charged “On Hold,” this album makes the grade, and then some. This woman has a voice that can convey any emotion with authority. She does a great job of painting a brave, tender wash on Don McLean’s classic “Vincent.” Produced by Michael Carpenter, who plays at least a boatload of instruments on this album and co-wrote most of the songs with Kylie, Something About Ghosts shines the right amount of light on the world this talented singer conveys. A great record, and we’re playing all of it in rotation: “Heretic,” “Bad News Baby,” “Saturn,” “I Can Make You,” “Vincent,” “On Hold,” “Mermaids,” “You’re Just the Blues,” “Tealight,” “We Can’t be Friends,” “Heartbreak Heaven,” and “You Won’t Change.” Top-notch all the way. staffords

The Staffords | It Kills Me Hailing from Australia, the Staffords are a wonderful band that specializes in tuneful pop and roll, all of it catchy and very cool. Their debut album is a must-listen for all pop music fans; we’re now playing, in rotation, five songs from it: “Nobody Home,” “Passing Ships in the Night,” “It’s Not Funny,” “Hollow to the Core,” and “Poor Me.” It Kills Me drops on October 27–don’t miss it.

javierJavier Escovedo | City Lights This 2012 release, the first solo album from Javier Escovedo, follows his stints in the Zeros and True Believers. There’s a nice mixture of upbeat pop and roll and slower, melodic mid-tempo ballads, all with deep hooks, catchy melodies and a distinctive sound that draws listeners in. We’ve added five songs to the Pure Pop Radio playlist: “Tonight is Gonna Be Better,” “See You Around,” “The Music Keeps on Playing,” “As Another Day Passes By,” and “Just a Dream.”

Also added this week:

new-pornographers

The New Pornographers | Brill Bruisers Four great songs from the latest release from everybody’s favorite supergroup have been added to our playlist: “Brill Bruisers,” “Champions of Red Wine,” “Marching Orders,” and “Another Drug Deal of the Heart.” Wonderful. music-go-music

Music Go Music | Impressions We’re spinning a couple of tastes from this recently-released album, the band’s first after a long layoff. “Love is All I Can Hear” and “People All Over the World” are blessed with a cool, retro feel and sound like a million bucks. We’re happy to have them spinning in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.

And so, day four of Pure Pop Radio’s New Music Explosion comes to an end. We hope you enjoyed this week’s additions to our playlist. Much, much, much more coming next week and on into the weeks that will follow. Thank you for reading and for listening to our 24-hour-a-day mix of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe!

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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