Favorite Records of the Year: Stars of 2018

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Happy New Year, and welcome to the list.

About said list…it was the subject of my one and only New Year’s resolution: to keep the number of entries to 15. Well, good luck with that, I told myself, and wouldn’t you know it…I couldn’t make that work. How about 20? No? Okay then, how about 22? Twenty-two it is.

My annual list of the year’s best full-length releases collects what are, to me, the absolute top of the pops–the very bestest of the bunch. I liked and loved and adored many more long players, of course, but these are the ones I thought about and returned to the most.

As in past years, my favorite records of the year are listed in random order. I’ve never been able to compile lists of any kind in order of importance, size, or weight; my number five of today might drop to number 11 or rise two spots tomorrow, depending on my mood. So, random order it is.

Here are some truly exceptional releases–Pure Pop Radio’s Favorite Records of the Year: The Stars of 2018, presented randomly, all shiny and bright, all perfect for a place in your collection of great melodic pop music. A gathering of honorable mentions appears after the main list.

Enjoy.

David Myhr | Lucky Day (Lojinx, 2018)
A beautifully rendered selection of melody-rich songs from one of melodic pop music’s greatest practitioners, Lucky Day is the sound of a master songwriter’s loving embrace.

A warmhearted musical journey, Lucky Day’s 10 lovingly crafted songs, written solo and with some of melodic pop’s top writers, feature beautiful melodies and top-notch playing and singing. All contribute to one of 2018’s best albums. “Room to Grow,” written with Pure Pop Radio favorite Bill DeMain, about giving a romance all the chances it deserves to prosper, is just one gorgeous example of the treasures on offer.

Produced by Brad Jones, Andreas Dahlbäck and Myhr, Lucky Day is a wonderful gift to lovers of melodic pop.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, Lojinx

The Cherry Drops | Good to the Last Drop (2018)
On-air and mobile deejay Vern Shank’s melange of bubblegum and sunshine pop populates the Cherry Drops’ third welcome, rousing collection of smile-inducing songs that simultaneously evoke memories of favorite old songs and create memories of new numbers written and performed in the manner of the ’60s and ’70s.

Featuring co-writes with fellow Cherry Drop Joshua Cobb and classic popsters such as the Archies’ Ron Dante, the Grass Roots’ Mark Dawson, and the late Gary DeCarlo of Steam, and choice covers of treasured hit classic numbers, Good to the Last Drop is a mighty fun ride.

“One More Try” is a Paul McCartney-esque mid-tempo slice of pure pop topped with Queen-styled electric guitar runs. “Feels Like Summer Love” is a loving nod to ’60s Beach Boys balladry, maybe the truest such tip of the hat in recent memory. The harmonies are gorgeous. The Cherry Drops pay homage to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s classic “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice,” bringing in original Spoonful member Steve Boone on bass and opening with a lovely a cappella-over-keyboard opening.

A fun time will be had by all.

black box Where to Get It: The Cherry Drops’ Website, CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes

mothboxer open sky coverMothboxer | Open Sky (2018)
Dave Ody’s outfit stretches into some of the most creative, expression-filled songs of its long history on an album steeped in clever songcraft. A coming together and pulling apart experience built around surprising chord changes and elastic melodies, set against primarily alternative instrumental backings, Open Sky is aptly named.

Among the many highlights: “Sunshine Sound,” a slow-to-mid tempo song set sound-wise vaguely in the Beach Boys’ Holland era, and “Million Miles Away,” perhaps the most immediate sounding song on the album, a piano-based tune with harmony vocals that shine.

Open Sky is a keeper, maybe Mothboxer’s best.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Mothboxer’s Web Store

Alice Bierhorst | Ready for My Close-Up (2018)
The followup to 2016’s The Beacon is an even more astute collection of piano-based musical wizardry from this New York-based artist. High art meets accessible in these 10 songs that recall the works of early Carly Simon, Claire Hamill and Laura Nyro.

The title song is a pleasing, dramatic collision of Broadway and British folk. “Save It for a Rainy Day” is a slow burn of a ballad that shows off Bierhorst’s dynamic vocal range. “Beginners” is a drawing room waltz that rolls atop Peter Kiesewalter’s lively arrangement.

Call it all classical pop or singer-songwriter musings for the 2010s, but do call it yours by adding Ready for My Close-Up to your collection of smart pop. Bierhorst’s melodies reach the highest heights; Bierhorst is ready for her close-up, and then some.

black box Where to Get It: Alice Bierhorst’s Website, Bandcamp

Danny Wilkerson | Wilkerson (Spyderpop, 2018)
Working together with Bleu, who produced this superlative pure pop platter and co-wrote the songs, Danny Wilkerson, the always-and-forever Pengwin, has whipped up a self-titled opus that is by far this year’s most affecting collection of catchy, melodic earworms.

Wilkerson is a thing of wonder. Any and all, for that matter, of these dazzling songs could, and do, serve as examples of how to do it. Like the dynamic leadoff track, “Everybody Loves to Love,” a masterful piece of writing and statement of melodic purpose that begins drawing breath as if it were arranged by Burt Bacharach and goes on to incorporate a variety of tempos and approaches during its alluring five-and-one-half minutes.

All told, Wilkerson is nothing less than a good thing. It is, in fact, a great thing, and another feather in the cap of the mighty Spyderpop record label.

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

McPherson Grant | McPherson Grant (2018)
Paying sweet homage to the melodic pop ruling class headed by Harry Nilsson, Paul McCartney, Klaatu, Brian Wilson and the like, Scott McPherson and Jamie Grant–their last names fused together in joyous harmony–have crafted almost an hour’s worth of sturdy earworms. Endlessly endearing songs like the lovely and charming “Housekeeper,” about cleaning up a romantic life gone sour and empty and honestly assessing the less-than-attractive situation ensure repeatability.

Cut from the catchy cloth of so many ’70s classics, the perky “Come Around Again,” about learning to realize and revel in the bountiful joy in front of one’s face, is propelled by Zak Nilsson’s drums and a sunny disposition that wouldn’t feel out of place during the summer months. And speaking of summer, “Let’s Drive to Summer” recounts a slow-growing, toe-tapping Beach Boys-by-way-of-Holland road course from cold Canada to warm Florida (“We’ll just follow the coast/Our sandals and shorts in tow/Waiting till the palms wave hello”).

Produced, written, played, arranged and recorded by Scott and Jamie (and don’t ask who did what; it’s a mystery even to both halves of the duo), and featuring guest turns by Zak Nilsson and Klaatu’s Terry Draper and Dee Long, Song travels the path negotiated by so many artists who came before them, but in a way that is significantly and characteristically their own. Song is a marvel.

black box Where to Get It: Tiny Volcano’s Web Shop, Kool Kat Musik

The Davenports | Don’t Be Mad at Me (2018)
Scott Klass and crew’s fourth long player, arriving 18 years after their smashing debut, Speaking Of, is the usual collection of literate, assured, thinking person’s pop songs. Anchored by the masterful title song, a tremendously enriching melodically-charged experience about a family light whose world has slowed to a crawl, who is needing help to maneuver through her days, this album swims in waters populated with one incredibly rich song after another.

“Away From Me,” sporting a typically attractive Klass melody, is a vaguely countryish construct about saying goodbye to one side of one’s personality, supported by strings that bend somewhat ominously around the melody. And “I Don’t Know What to Do,” an insanely catchy kind of left-field number co-written by Klass and David Myhr, is built around a clever, rocky riff and does its business in just over two minutes. It’s quite ingenious.

A great album.

black box Where to Get It: The Davenports’ Online Store, Amazon, Kool Kat Musik, iTunes

Caper Clowns | A Salty Taste to the Lake (2018)
The mighty Caper Clowns are back with their sophomore long player, another well-crafted collection of top-flight melodic pop gems. From the undeniably catchy opening confection “The Way I Dream,” which sports a clever acoustic guitar riff and an enchanting melody, to “Sacre Bleu,” a piano-based, harmony wonder that sounds like the kind of song radio should be embracing and sending up to the top of the charts, A Salty Taste to the Lake is a winner all the way. That makes two in a row. Good job, guys.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, iTunes, Amazon

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize | The Twelve Days of Christmas (2018)
A late-year surprise and not only a charming, top-flight holiday-themed album but one of the best melodic pop albums of the year, Charlie Darling’s collection of original from-the-heart Christmas songs will warm you like a heaping cup of peppermint candy cane-flavored good cheer.

Bittersweet holiday tales told in pretty swaths of lovingly rendered melody, and sung with an everyman’s sweetness, color this delightful song cycle; sincere, understated orchestration, a literary approach to lyrical conceits, and a pinch of sleigh bells catch the ear time and again in lovely slow- and mid-tempo-ballads.

Darling’s vocals, sort of a contemporary cross between the tones of the Big Dish’s Steven Lindsay and Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, are key to making  songs like gentle ballads “Every Christmas,” about missing a love gone away grab hold of your heart. And then the artist changes course: “Andy Partridge (From XTC)” is a spirited pop sprint substituting the names of pop and rock bands through the ages for the various creatures evidenced in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (Three Dog Night, the Dave Clark Five, Gang of Four, Nine Inch Nails and Joe Strummer (strumming), among them).

One of the best albums of the year, Christmas-oriented or not? Yes, indeed.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Bill Lloyd | Working the Long Game (Spyderpop, 2018)
Bill Lloyd, one of melodic pop’s most distinguished practitioners of the art, has released one of the very best albums of 2018, with which you will fall in love.

Working the Long Game’s dozen melodic pearls, whether written solo or with top song scribes like 10cc’s Graham Gouldman, Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson, and Wanderlust’s Scot Sax, are gorgeous, instantly classic gems of the Lloydian variety. Like the co-write with Graham Gouldman, “What Time Won’t Heal,” about letting love in again after a relationship withers away (“What time won’t heal/Love will repair/And if you open up your heart/You’ll find it there”).

The closer, “Shining,” is a beautiful ballad of the one-man-band variety that features some lovely sixties-inspired guitar lines and harmonies. The narrator sings about his true love and you will feel the emotion. It’s all fantastic, so get ready to fall in love.

black box Where to Get It: Spyderpop, Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, CD Baby

Fernando Perdomo | Zebra Crossing (2018)
Recorded in famed Abbey Road Studios and in Perdomo’s own Reseda Ranch Studios, the wearer of many musical hats’ fourth album is a rich tapestry of styles centered around the artist’s considerable composing and instrumental prowess. It’s a clear winner.

Highlights are many. The gorgeous ballad, “I’m Here,” is as good and classy an opening track as one could imagine; a strong melody and emotive vocals make the proceedings shine. The poppy “Sometimes I Feel Like Nothing at All,” cowritten by Beach Boys lyricist Stephen Kalinich, is an inviting tune topped by sensitive strings. And popster Ken Sharp guests on guitar on the should-be-a-radio-hit “Find Love,” a spectacular upbeat, McCartneyesque pop song.

Speaking of Fab connections, an all-in, emotionally reverent cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” credited to the Zebra Crossing All Star Band, finds guest vocalists Diane Birch, Shawn Lee, and Jason and Daphna Rowe and lead guitarist Perdomo taking center stage for a thrilling album closer. What better Beatles track to cover for an album named in tribute to the area in front of the studio the Fabs called home?

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon, Kool Kat Musik

Mick Terry | Days Go By (Kool Kat, 2018)
Mick Terry’s Days Go By is 2018’s standout pure melodic pop album. It’s filled with the kind of songs that used to jump out of transistor radios way back in the when.

Every one of these 10 songs is golden. Witness: “Emily Come Back,” an upbeat, poppy tune that’s sure to please and features this album’s title in the lyric. “Everybody’s Talking” is an upbeat, sixties influenced Motown-meets-Billy Joel song (think around the time of Joel’s An Innocent Man album), a toe-tapping classic if ever I heard one. And “Friends Like That” is another upbeat gem with a great melody, handclaps, horns and a crazy, meaty guitar solo.

Working with producer Jim Boggia, Terry has produced a clear, melodic winner.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Mick Terry on Bandcamp

Astral Drive | Astral Drive (Lojinx, 2018)
Longtime producer and songwriter Phil Thornalley has made nothing less than the Todd Rundgren album that Todd Rundgren never made in the 1970s. Astral Drive is nothing less than one of the best albums of 2018.

Astral Drive finds Phil Thornalley doing most of the heavy lifting for a joyous tour de force composed of original songs that echo the catchy sounds that the Hermit of Mink Hollow made all those many years ago. Thornalley, a legendary producer and songwriter whose lengthy list of credits includes co-writing Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn,” fell in love with Todd Rundgren’s music when he heard Todd’s song “Useless Begging.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Astral Drive’s go-to, so-much-fun-to-listen-to song “Summer of ’76” practically demands that you sing along, whether you know the words or not. You will love, with all of your heart, the warm ballad “Wishing I Could Change the World,” which honors the classic Todd-meets-Philly-Soul bond, and the glorious, melody-infused, upbeat “Love is Real.”

One of 2018’s biggest and happiest surprises, without a doubt.

black box Where to Get It:  The Lojinx shop, Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, and iTunes

Michael Simmons | First Days of Summer (2018)
Musician and high school educator Michael Simmons, from Yorktown Lads and the much-missed sparkle*jets u.k., has crafted a stylistically diverse collection of songs that expertly lays out the artist’s diverse musical vision and dedication to craft.

From the opening and closing near-perfect, soft-pop bookends “Do Your Best to Care,” a keyboard driven toe-tapper featuring a determined, jazzy electric guitar solo, and the sleepy, closing ballad “Center of the Spiral,” which ends as if a turntable’s needle has become comfortably stuck in a loop within a record’s runoff wax, First Days of Summer speaks to melody-hungry melodic pop fans.

What shines brightly and decisively from within these dozen tracks is the passion that Michael Simmons has for making and playing music (he played most of the instruments on this album). He would do well to keep at this music thing and start planning his next collection with due haste.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

Linus of Hollywood | Cabin Life (2018)
Nearly 20 years after his debut long player landed on planet Earth, Linus of Hollywood has served up 10 scoops of tasty, melodic treats on Cabin Fever, his delightful fifth effort that really, truly is the kind of thing that puts a spring in your step.

Some heartfelt words of wisdom are imparted in the fast-paced pop song “Won’t Let It Get Me Down,” played and sung with gusto. Cabin Life’s tender closing ballad, “It Was You,” details a love story for the ages. Beautifully sung and dedicated to Linus’s wife Augusta, the emotional arrangement marries delicate orchestration to nimble acoustic guitar playing as Linus sings about his true soul mate. “I finally got out of my own way,” he sings. “Everything just felt so easy/And I left behind my yesterday/You saved me from myself, believe me.”

“Drive up to the hills/Take that winding road/I think I remember where it goes,” the title song sings. And that winding road? It goes to one of 2018’s very best albums–Linus of Hollywood’s lovely Cabin Life.

black box Where to Get It: Linus of Hollywood’s web store, Amazon, iTunes

Dana Countryman | Cabaret of Love (Sterling Swan, 2018)
The year is not complete without a musical missive from melodic pop music’s melody and harmony king. Dana Countryman’s Cabaret of Love is one of 2018’s top long players, a joyous song cycle that surveys the feeling that unites us all: love.

Every number is a winner in this Cabaret of Love. “Just See If I Care” is a happy-sounding, hit-the-road-Jill Merseybeat-styled rocker featuring the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover singing along and playing lead guitar in quite a Fab way. The heartfelt Four Freshmen homage, “The Night I Fell in Love With You,” is an unforgettable, romantic number with an affecting tea room orchestra arrangement and warm lead vocal sung by Tim Smolens from I.S.S. (Ideal Social Situation).

Cabaret of Love is chock full of guest star turns from such pop favorites as Klaatu’s Terry Draper (who turns in a top-shelf, particularly romantic lead vocal on “I’ll Be Shining Above You”), Klaatu’s Dee Long (electric guitar on “Shout”), and Tiny Volcano’s Scott McPherson (vocals on “You’re Still Number One”).

Cabaret of Love is a glorious gift for music lovers everywhere.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Amazon

Carpenter Smith and Jones | Petty (Big Radio, 2018)
Petty is a sincere and lovely celebration of the music of one of rock’s most magnanimous songwriters and performers, now sadly departed. It is a triumphant achievement, performed with heart by Michael Carpenter and songbirds Abby Smith and Sophie Jones.

The trio’s earthy vocal blend and the perhaps more deliberate pacing of the songs combine to amplify the emotions contained within the lyrics and music for a particularly engaging listen.

“Runnin’ Down a Dream” is recast as a slow, sometimes moody shuffle, a vocal workout bolstered by bracing electric guitars and Carpenter’s forceful drums. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” finds itself swimming atop a dreamy landscape played out with only nimble electric guitar backing beneath the trio’s emotional vocals (the final harmony stack is a joy to behold). And the Traveling Wilburys’ “End of the Line,” which closes this collection, takes on a singalong gospel tone; handclaps and joyous, freeing vocals abound. Prepare for an emotionally uplifting listening experience.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Kool Kat Musik

The Grand Levé | The Grand Levé (2018)
Göran Hjertstedt, who made the quite grand The Grand Levé with Europe’s (the Swedish rock band, not the continent) Ian Haugland, Ulf Holmberg, Göran Holmberg, Staffan Ebbesten, and Jonas Karlberg, is a music making veteran (best known for the equally grand Longplayer).

Although The Grand Levé fairly obviously shares cell structure with the music of Jeff Lynne, 10cc, Queen, Tom Petty and other members of the usual suspects club, and traffics in motifs pioneered during such periods as the 1960s and 1700s (note the classically-inclined first track, “And Light Appeared,” which straddles influences by either consciously or subconsciously quoting Elton John), the artist Hjertstedt is his own man, and The Grand Levé is his album.

Dig the Electric Light Orchestra vibe of “All in the City.” “Free” is very melody-rich Tom Petty, and “Yesterday Man” is very pure pop and Göran Hjertstedt by way of Longplayer. The mutli-retro “Two to Tango,” a bluesy drawing room number about love and dancing that namechecks Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, is another slice of joy.

The Grand Levé makes its mark because its sound pictures, drawn with love and affection, tell an affecting, collective tale. The Grand Levé is nothing less than a triumph for fans of melodic pop music.

black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, CD Baby. Stream on YouTube and Spotify

Louise Goffin | All These Hellos (2018)
An exceptional dialog driven by melody and emotion, All These Hellos is a steamer trunk full of memories placed under a microscope to help us figure our place under the sun.

Anchored by Goffin’s lovely, fragile vocals and superb playing from star musicians such as Fernando Perdomo, these 10 songs are quite an attractive showcase for superlative songwriting. The artist is clearly invested in these slices of reflective pop; such is the strength of communication with the listener.

Goffin embraces her pop side with a number of straight ahead, upbeat charmers. “Good Times Call” is a soulful and very catchy sixties-esque pop number about being in love and feeling it. “Life Lessons,” another upbeat pop tune with piano at its core and punctuated by horns, is about being true to yourself and following your heart. And the title song is an inviting mid-tempo number about needing the memories of a childhood place to fade.

A wonderfully rich collection of songs; a terrific album.

black box Where to Get It: Amazon, iTunes

 ∴

Super 8 | Hi Lo (Futureman, 2018)
Paul Ryan, d/b/a Super 8, ended 2018 with another top-flight recording–his third of the year–collecting 11 strong songs about employing hopefulness along one’s path through life.

“Angels and Neil Diamond” is a tremendous piece of writing, an easygoing, acoustic look back on childhood’s glory days, reliving one’s youth through good times and bad. It’s a lovely, affecting song that is followed by proof that the title is holly holy. Ryan presents a clever take on Diamond’s wonderful “Cherry, Cherry,” which is pretty life affirming on its own, especially in Ryan’s recasting of the tune as part garage, part coffee house, and all Super 8.

The Rolling Stones nod, “Good Times” (“Had enough of the bad times”), is a happy stroke in the running order, as is the pop-folk hybrid “Bob Dylan Said That,” about getting by in life with your own vision, and, no doubt, following on from what you’ve learned from the bard’s poetry.

The hits just keep on coming; you’ll love every one of them, delivered in Ryan’s emotive style. And for those of you wondering why the man didn’t go for four albums in a single year, just remember…there’s always this year.

Where to Get It: Futureman, Kool Kat Musik

The Grip Weeds | Trip Around the Sun (Jem, 2018)
This dynamic collection, recorded at the Grip Weeds’ home base, House of Vibes in Highland Park, New Jersey, pushes across the finish line a dozen high energy songs. The band has upped the level of urgency normally associated with their work. In other words, business as usual, with a bit more zing.

In the well-appointed, melody-drenched opener, “Vibrations,” the stage is set with a mix of chiming guitars and rich harmony parts. Not for the first time on this album, I felt as though I were listening to Free Design vocalizing decades after that group’s 1960s and 1970s heyday. The effect that the Grip Weeds have achieved with this song alone is hall-of-fame worthy.

So it should hardly come as a surprise that the band’s deft weaving together of yesterday’s musical signposts and today’s contemporary approaches continue throughout these songs. Take the poppy “After the Sunrise,” for example, which slides from tender acoustic to more upbeat electric guitar stances so expertly, with a lovely melody and sweet harmonies in tow.

The whole pop-rocking ball of wax rolls into the exhaustive closer, the six-minute-long title track, which states its introductory case firmly opened in widescreen, Who territory and concludes with all instruments and vocals blazing and coming together in an impassioned burst of emotion. What a welcome shout of energetic joy this album brings!

black box Where to Get It: The Grip Weeds’ Trip Around the Sun Store, Amazon

Vegas With Randolph | Legs & Luggage (2018)
Legs & Luggage is Vegas With Randolph’s best album yet. It is a marvel. This is a new-phase VWR album that thunders across the plains with harder-edged chutzpah than their previous releases. The guitars are louder and the sound is more aggressive. The sound is more purposeful, but just as catchy and fun as always.

For this new album, the band has recorded songs with flashy hooks just as they have done all along, but this time around, there is perhaps a little more oomph spitting out of the engine. This new-phase VWR is a well-oiled and rocking machine.

It’s not just the sound of this thing, it’s the words sung sweetly, confidently, meaningfully and powerfully all the way through, telling stories of a scholarly seductress (“She’s An Intellectual”), completely fulfilling forever love (“I Have You”), and riding the roller coaster of love even though it might tug back (“Jacob”). Then, there’s “Three Red Hooks,” presenting the power of music as a metaphor for confident performance with perhaps this album’s most creative lyrics (“Rock steady/Kick it like Eddie/Didn’t know if he meant Van Halen or Vedder/But whatever/While we’re together/We’d better turn it up loud/And kick it on out”).

This album is titled Legs & Luggage because the songs are largely about transitioning from one thing to another, about taking chances, about moving on from here to there—about transporting emotion packed neatly, or otherwise, in virtual compartments. Legs & Luggage functions as a bridge to the next chapter in Vegas With Randolph’s life; how that reality will manifest itself is unknown at present. But manifest itself it will.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order, with Bandcamp/CD Baby/website links):

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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 this last August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy New Year!

Need Gift Ideas for the Melodic Pop Fans In Your Life? For You? We’ve Got ’em, All This Week

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We are now officially in the 2018 holiday gift giving season. I know…it seems like only yesterday, blah blah blah… Well, it does, but here we are again, faced with making those decisions that, year after year, are just plain hard to make.

Well, we’re here to make it all easier for you. We’re here to help you to choose gifts for the melodic pop fans in your lives (and for yourself). Relax. Below, you’ll find  new reviews of new 2018 releases, in-depth as always, along with links that will take you to the very websites from which you can purchase them. You’ll also find links to previously posted reviews of albums you should consider.

Be with us every day this week. There’s a whole lot of gold out there from which to choose the perfect melodic pop presents for your friends and loved ones. Let’s get started.

Mikah Wilson | Sunshine Grooves
(You are the Cosmos, Burger Records, 2018)
A real find, Los Angeles’s Mikah Wilson pretty much defines the state of sunshine pop in 2018. Let’s just say that if your jam is 1960s Beach Boys, Curt Boettcher, current sensations the Wrecking Two and their like-minded compatriots, this will be your jam, too. Comprising “Sunshine Grooves” and the two songs contained on the “Sweet Jules” single (“Sweet Jules” and “Look at the Way”), this is the soft-pop EP of the moment. Don’t miss it.

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

Various Artists | White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams
(Curry Cuts, 2018)

Curry Cuts’ loving tribute to singer, songwriter and all-around entertainer guy Paul Williams, White Lace and Promises, releases on December 7 in digital form and around a week or so later in physical form and on streaming platforms. I’ve already sung its virtues here, where I waxed poetic about some of the tracks. I’ve now heard the entire megillah, so it seems prudent for me to wax poetic some more.

It’s obvious, to me at least, that the artists who have signed on to Andrew Curry’s latest tribute harbor a great affection for Paul Williams’ work; each of the 23 tracks here functions as a great big hug, a happy thank you to the artist for doing what he does so very well.

Here are some of my favorites, standout tracks all:
* “Someday Man.” Zach Jones turns in an affectionate, somewhat faster version than Paul Williams’ cut
* “You and Me Against the World.” Lisa Mychols ramps up the tempo on this classic. The harmonies and electric guitars really shine
* “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Cliff Hillis sings this lovely song, made famous by Karen and Richard Carpenter, solo
* “I Won’t Last a Day Without You.” Chris Price gives the Carpenters’ version a bit of a run for its money, turning in a lead vocal that is sincere and without question his best yet
* “You Give a Little Love.” This song from famed film Bugsy Malone gets a joyous Broadway kind of treatment from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, and it’s fabulous
* “An Old Fashioned Love Song.” Cait Brennan turns one of Paul Williams’ greatest songs into a deeply-felt, alternative romp, centered around Cait’s intense, emotional vocal

“You know you’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do,” Karla Kane sings as part of “You Give a Little Love.” Wise words that have deep meaning. The world is going to remember the great works of musical art that Paul Williams and his collaborators have given to the world; here, 23 artists have paid homage to that art, and we, the world’s listeners, are the grateful recipients. White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams is essential listening.

black box Where to Get It: Releases December 7 in digital form and about a week later in physical form and on streaming platforms; you can pre-order on Curry Cuts’ Bandcamp page

Karla Kane | “Goodguy Sun” b/w “Sisters of the Pollen”
(Big Stir, 2018)
Bkarla kane - sisters of the pollen coverkarla-kane-goodguy-sun-coverig Stir Records, helmed by good guy Rex Broome and good gal Christina Bulbenko from the Armoires, have set into motion a series of delicious digital singles with this double-sided wonder from the Corner Laughers’ Karla Kane, whose 2017 folk-pop solo album, King’s Daughters Home for Incurables, was a big spinner on Pure Pop Radio.

“Goodguy Sun,” written by Cleaners from Venus’s Martin Newell, is a charmingly melodic, very British mid-tempo ballad with the Bye Bye Blackbirds’ Bradley Skaught playing alongside usual fellow travelers Khoi Huyhn and KC Bowman (Gina Sperindle contributes lovely vocal harmony). Kane’s “Sisters of the Pollen,” a mesmerizing folk-pop pearl recorded with husband Huyhn, closes out with an a cappella workout and the actual sound of bees doing their business. Delicious.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Big Stir Records

Irwin | Ride On (2018)
Jamie and Steve’s Jamie Hoover worked with Bill Irwin, from late-1980s-1990s Georgia pop-rockers Impulse Ride, to produce this tasty EP, pairing four new tracks with two previously unreleased Impulse Ride tracks from 1994. The new tracks, mostly mid-tempo, tuneful slices of pop, were written by Irwin and Hoover and feature both on a variety of instruments. Of the new songs, “King,” a soulful Beatlesque power ballad with Paul McCartney-inspired bass and an indelible melody, and “Georgia Peach,” an easygoing sway of an Americana-soaked pop song with a lovely, joyous melody, are tops.

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby, Amazon

Kenny Herbert | “I’m Growing Old With You” (2018)
Kenny Herbert’s charming pop confections were a mainstay of my playlists throughout Pure Pop Radio’s 23-year history. I continue to be enthralled by everything Kenny adds to his considerable, collectible catalog. His latest release is a typically melodic, uptempo love song, inspired by Caroline, the love of his life. It has a lovely Bobby Goldsboro-meets-Gallagher and Lyle vibe about it. It’s one of those very special recordings that just makes you feel good to be alive.

Here’s a live take on this wonderful song:

Where to Get It: iTunes

More Great 2018 Releases, Perfect for Gift Giving

We’ve reviewed many terrific 2018 releases, any of which would make great gifts for the melodic pop fans in your life. Here are just a few (click on the links to read our reviews and then add the releases to your shopping list):

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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 ended this past August. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today. Happy holidays!

 

Reviews | 10.31.18: Vegas With Randolph’s Fourth Full-Length Serving, Legs & Luggage

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Vegas With Randolph | Legs & Luggage (2018)

On the Occasion of a Fourth Helping of Vegas With Randolph

vegas with randolph legs and luggage coverFive years ago, a whoop-de-do was set into motion at Northern Virginia’s Jammin’ Java to celebrate the release of Vegas With Randolph’s third album, Rings Around the Sun. The musicians approached, instruments in hand, songs in mind and set up straight across the bandstand; only the drummer, tucked away a bit behind the conga line, was in his own space. He lorded over his high-hat and snare with his toms leering from front to right. And then, he set the beat and the band was set into motion, calling patrons to the stage.

Now, mind you, this scenario doesn’t occur very often, because the lads of Vegas With Randolph, anchored outside of Washington, D.C. by songwriters John Ratts and Eric Kern, who were childhood pals and still are joined at the hip and their guitars and writing songs, as they always have, when they’re not tending to their own families and day jobs, don’t play out or release new albums very often, although their fans, many and plenty, wish that they would.

The lads of Vegas With Randolph, known sometimes by the swinging three-letter calling card VWR, choose to concentrate on recording albums, the fourth of which, Legs & Luggage, has been released. VWR released its first album in 2008, and this is 2018, which means that they have been assembling tuneage for 10 years. You might say their output does not constitute an avalanche, and you’d be right, but the weight of that output is strong and sure, so you’d probably be best not concerning yourself with geology.

Legs & Luggage is VWR’s best album yet. It is a marvel. This is a new-phase Vegas With Randolph album that thunders across the plains with harder-edged chutzpah than their previous releases. The guitars are louder and the sound is more aggressive. The sound is more purposeful, but just as catchy and fun as always.

vegas with randolph legs and luggage blue image“We wanted to kind of rock a little bit on this album,” says John. This is clearly an understatement of some kind, but make no mistake—Vegas With Randolph is a band that has recorded, for this new album, songs with flashy hooks just as they have done all along. This time around, though, there is perhaps a little more oomph spitting out of the band’s engine. This new-phase VWR is a well-oiled and rocking machine.

That the aforementioned oomph, in part, powers the songwriting team of John and Eric is a given, but so does the assembled co-conspirator contingent that plays along with them, skillfully and dutifully, helping the co-pilots steer the ship (a mixed metaphor, I know). Brock Harris’s lyrical guitars and Andy Hamburger’s thundering drums and percussion are essential ingredients in VWR’s new songs—indeed, the songs would not be as alive without them—but the heart and soul of it all may well belong to their bass player, the late and very much missed Dan Aylestock.

vegas with randolph dan ayelstock

Dan Aylestock

Passionate and warm and committed to the music always, Dan passed away last year from liver cancer. A founding member of VWR, he played bass on nearly every one of the songs on each of the band’s releases. These songs on these albums beat with the heart of a player who knew instinctively how to ring emotion out of every note as he traversed up and down the fretboard.

“He would take his time to craft unique parts for every song,” says Eric. “He was always prepared. He was always ready to go.” Just listen to Dan’s work on this album. You will feel his intensity, which manifests itself in any number of ways—with driving force, as on the pounding “She’s an Intellectual,” punching bass notes as one-half of the redoubtable VWR rhythm section, or with sensitivity, in the intro to “I Have You,” and during that ballad’s stronger, more forceful sections.

Dan is right there on this album, which is dedicated to him. Dan is there, and so are the other players, so powerful and electric that their intensity could keep the lights on in a big city for weeks on end. Set the breathless “You Could Say Yes” into motion, propulsive and beat-driven, with fierce drumming, Dan’s pumping bass, and all those guitars keeping the catchy melody afloat, and you’ll see—no, you’ll hear what I mean.

It’s not just the sound of this thing, it’s the words sung sweetly, confidently, meaningfully and powerfully all the way through, telling stories of a scholarly seductress (“She’s An Intellectual”), completely fulfilling forever love (“I Have You”), and riding the roller coaster of love even though it might tug back (“Jacob”). Then, there’s “Three Red Hooks,” presenting the power of music as a metaphor for confident performance with perhaps this album’s most creative lyrics (“Rock steady/Kick it like Eddie/Didn’t know if he meant Van Halen or Vedder/But whatever/While we’re together/We’d better turn it up loud/And kick it on out”).

The songs that make up this fourth Vegas With Randolph album, that present the case for this band being the band of the moment, a band that has come into its own because the songwriters and the players believe in the value of their work more than ever before, are only part of the VWR equation; the way that the songs are written, and how the band performs them, is the rest of it.

“You want a song to be meaningful,” says John. “You want the music to be so catchy that you want to hear it again. You want the lyrics to touch you enough that you want to hear the song again. We’re trying to make people happy. We’re trying to be memorable.”

Employing the talents of Fountains of Wayne’s Jody Porter (on “Chick Fighter”) and Texas popster Lannie Flowers, who cowrote and plays on the lively rocker “The Weekend’s Coming,” certainly helps to make this album memorable. And rocking.

vegas with randolph cd artwork legs and luggage

There will be more Vegas With Randolph recordings after Legs & Luggage; there are more songs, around a dozen of them, in various states of dress, all of which are sparked with the magic of Dan Aylestock’s bass (“The notes he played will have a long sustain,” the band says in Legs & Luggage’s CD booklet). And perhaps, in addition to at least a festive release show for this album, there will be more live performances to come, designed to show people what this band can do in person.

I’ve been there; I’ve seen what this band can do on stage, and I’ve seen how the band members relate to their audience, and each other. I’ve felt the presence of these individual talents, coming together for a common purpose; I’ve seen their faces light up as the music plays and draws people close to them. I’ve felt the warmth and humanity in their songs.

This album is titled Legs & Luggage because the songs are largely about transitioning from one thing to another, about taking chances, about moving on from here to there—about transporting emotion packed neatly, or otherwise, in virtual compartments. Legs & Luggage functions as a bridge to the next chapter in Vegas With Randolph’s life; how that reality will manifest itself is unknown at present. But manifest itself it will.

(The preceding review appears, in a slightly different form, as the liner notes to Vegas With Randolph’s Legs & Luggage)

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon

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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. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream, which ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018, succeeded the weekly Pure Pop Radio show, which began in 1995. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.

New on Pure Pop Radio 03-01-17: Vegas With Randolph, Terry Draper, The Del Zorros, The Squires of the Subterrain, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 03.01.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Today’s batch of reviews features a preview of a new song from Pure Pop Radio favorites Vegas With Randolph, new releases from a trio of prolific melodic popsters, and much more…

vegas with randolph women in airportsVegas With Randolph | “Women in Airports”
Departing from Fountains of Wayne National Airport, Vegas With Randolph flies the friendly skies with this eminently catchy boarding pass of a song that happily charts a sweet flight path for these Washington, D.C. popsters. Captains of the pop industry, VWR is in full pop song mode with a look at love in all the airborne places, starting on the ground and looking up to 30,000 feet in the air.

The clever, observational lyric stipulates the narrator’s love for females in airports, no matter where they may come from or what their relationship status might be: “Women in airports/Are perfect for me.” But there is at least a small measure of concern in this well-appointed lyric: “I know she has baggage/But does she have baggage?” In fact, he seems quite content and self-assured: “We’ll hit cruising altitude and see/The best is yet to be.”

Are airports the choice spot for companionship in the ’10s? The narrator seems convinced. “I would really like to take you/On the greatest trip you’ve ever seen (so snap your seat belt),” he sings. “Find that sunny place inside your dreams (clouds are fading)/As we pry into the skies of possibility/We will smash the past in our jet stream/The best is yet to be.”

“Women in Airports” is a great Vegas With Randolph song, a pop and roll track sweetened by a gooey, catchy center. Fly in lots of guitars, popping percussion, and great vocals, and you have a classic number that will stay with you as you negotiate your future flight path. Get your ticket today!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

terry draper - if i only had a brain graphicTerry Draper | “If I Only Had a Brain”
The former Klaatu member’s creative juices have been flowing fairly regularly of late, which makes us very, very happy. Releasing, since 2014, two full albums–Searching and When the World Was Young–and a retrospective of unreleased material, Window on the World: The Lost 80’s Tapes, Terry has been busy, and he shows no signs of stopping. He’s recorded a treasured number from The Wizard of Oz, the ultimate “what if” song. Terry’s whimsical arrangement is pure sugary heaven. Fun fact, according to Wikipedia: “Originally written by (Harold) Arlen and (E.Y.) Harburg as ‘I’m Hanging On to You’ for the 1937 Broadway musical Hooray for What!, the song was ultimately dropped from that show, and when the pair was later hired to do the songs for (The Wizard of) Oz, Harburg simply wrote new lyrics to the tune.” Purchase immediately? The Scarecrow would probably say “Gosh, it would be awful pleasin’,” and we wholeheartedly agree.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: iTunes, Amazon

the del zorros prudenceThe Del Zorros | “Prudence”
Speaking of continually flowing creative juices, there’s also something in the water over at Casa de Del Zorro. Monty and Stede’s latest is an immensely satisfying tribute to the magic of The Beatles, an easygoing shuffle, in the rhythmic, melodic and lyrical senses. Weaving a bevy of Beatles song titles and melodies into three minutes of Del Zorros charm, the brothers wink along with you and ask that you only sway to the feel and smile. Clueing you into all of the so-that’s-where-that-comes-froms would mean you’d miss out on some of all of the fun, so we’ll only put the spotlight on “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You,” and “Please Please Me.” Oh, and there’s a touch of “Sugar, Sugar” in here, too. Sweet!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: CD Baby

scot sax grooved pavementScot Sax | “Busy Bee”
Another pretty prolific popster, this one out of Nashville, is beating the drum for pop and roll, with a healthy smidge of soul blended into the mix. We go back a long way with Scot Sax’s music–songs from his time with Wanderlust and Bachelor Number One continue to play in rotation on our air. We’re also playing songs from Scot’s recent releases; his duo album with wife Suzie, Our Album Doesn’t Like You Either, is another Pure Pop Radio favorite playlist add. From Scot’s current collection, Grooved Pavement, comes this fun, soul-pop confection, a singalongable, clapalongable earworm that is a joy from first note to last. Get busy, and bee-lieve!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

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

geno and the jukebox hipster coffee shopGeno and the Jukebox | “(Kicked Outta the) Hipster Coffee Shop”
Gene Pompilio, formerly of New Jersey’s prime pop outfit Cosmic Avenger, which also counted his brother John as a member, returns to Pure Pop Radio with a lighthearted, smiling workhorse of a pop song, another mirthful number that will put a smile on your face. There are lots more of these just-over-two-minute-long creations on Gene’s Soundcloud page. Go get ’em!

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Soundcloud

the squires of the subterrain slightly radio activeThe Squires of the Subterrain | “Slightly Radio Active”
The Squire (aka Chris Earl) returns to Pure Pop Radio and the world-at-large with the first, powerhouse track off of his upcoming album, Slightly Radio Active. A rather straightforward (for the Squire, at least) pop and roll workout, “Slightly Radio Active” features a guitar line somewhat reminiscent of the Beatles, and the Squire’s usual joie de vivre. And a lot of guitars. Stomp along with the Squire.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: The Squires of the Subterrain website

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New on Pure Pop Radio 1-26-17 Starring Kelley Ryan, The Simple Carnival, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 1.26.17
Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

We continue to add new and new-to-you songs and artists to our playlist; hundreds have made their Pure Pop Radio debut in the last few weeks. Here are just some of the most recent treasures we’re playing in rotation, with lots more to come:

kelley ryan telescope Kelley Ryan | Telescope (2017)
astroPuppees veteran Ryan’s latest long player is a master class effort of melodic proportions. Her luscious compositions are carefully crafted, charming objects of desire that sneak up on you and calmly rock your world. Working with singer Marti Jones; Marti’s husband, veteran musician and producer Don Dixon, who plays bass; and drummer and percussionist Jim Brock, Ryan delivers her usual enticing mix of balladry and radio-friendly should-be-top-of-the-pops creations; “Real Gone Girl,” this album’s catchy, mid-tempo closer, feels like a hit to me, its enticing melody and lovely harmonies memorable and magical. The gentle “Pulling for Romeo,” from which this album gets its title (“You’re at the end of your rope/Don’t need a telescope…”) will make you wonder why all songs aren’t this pretty. What you won’t need to wonder about is how this album fits into the current melodic pop landscape, because I have the answer: It fits like a glove.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Cigarette,” “Crack in the Sky,” “Passing Through,” “Pulling for Romeo,” “Real Gone Girl,” “Save Me,” “Secret Life,” and “The Broken News”

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

the simple carnival smittenThe Simple Carnival | Smitten (2017)
Jeff Boller, resolutely soft pop from head to toe, sang sweetly on his wonderful 2008 album Girls Aliens Food, a one-man-band effort released under the Simple Carnival nom de plume. Featuring the dreamy, first-class earworms “Caitlin’s on the Beach” and “You Jump First,” it followed the 2005 release Menlo Park, a mostly instrumental EP, and Sonic Rescue League Vol. 1, a collection of early odds and ends.

Smitten, Boller’s delicious new Simple Carnival offering, on which the artist is supported by drummer Chris Belin and a bevy of background vocalists, one of whom sings co-lead on the winsome “Lunch for Dinner,” is another winning collection of pretty, catchy songs with a decidedly Eric Carmen-esque air about them. “This is what happens when you are smitten,” Jeff sings during the title track. “This is what happens when you’re in love.” Expect nothing less. Lovely songs, all sporting gorgeous melodies, abound. (By the way, Boller is a filmmaker too, and an award-winning one at that. Read about Smitten 3D by clicking here.)

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “A Geek Like Me,” “Elizabeth’s House,” “Everything that Grownups Know,” “Go Away I Like You Too Much,” “Kiss Her You Dummy,” “Lunch for Dinner,” “Smitten,” “That Thing We Got,” and “The Problem with Friends”

black box Where to Get It: The Simple Carnival Shop, Amazon

vegas with randolph complicated 2016Vegas With Randolph | “Ain’t So Complicated” (2016)
One of our favorite bands returns with a typically catchy number about the power of love. The beat is infectious, easy going and breezy, and charming, as are all Vegas With Randolph tracks.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

wilbur this is wilburWilbur | This is Wilbur (2016)

From Minneapolis, Minnesota comes this lovely four-song EP with a decidedly mid-1960s bent, sounding like a melodic meeting of the minds between the Cyrkle and the Left Banke, particularly on the upbeat, gentle raver “She’s Gone.” The folk-meets-baroque ballad “Perfect Stranger” is a particular highlight, sporting affecting, attractive harmonies and an entrancing melody. Well done.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “This is Sunshine,” “Perfect Stranger,” “Miss Hardy,” and “She’s Gone”

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

nezrok strong loveNezrok | “Strong Love” (2017)

Chris Korzen, joined by top-flight musician pals Dennis Diken (The Smithereens), Chris Bolger, and Dave Amels, celebrates his 10th wedding anniversary with this happy mid-tempo testament to love. Cool song. We’re happy to help spread the good feelings.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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New on Pure Pop Radio 8.31.16

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Spins and Reviews | 8.31.16 | by Alan Haber

We’re playing these, and many thousands more, in rotation…

ryan allen and his extra arms basement punkRyan Allen and His Extra Arms | Basement Punk For his third album as the multi-instrumentalist with more upper limbs than a normal person would know what to do with, Ryan Allen rolls through eleven supercharged sides, plucking at guitar and bass strings, covering the circumference of keyboards, and bashing the bejeezus out of drum parts. In other words, it’s another exciting showcase for the amazing Mr. Allen, who is featured prominently on Nick Piunti’s new album. This album, out September 30, takes charge with strong melodies and ace playing and never lets up. “Gimmie Some More” kicks out a popped-up jam with lots of guitars and a sweet riff; “People Factory” is equally strong, and “Everything (In Moderation)” is a mid-tempo, melodic gem that closes out the proceedings. Mixed and mastered by Pure Pop Radio favorite Andy Reed, this one’s what we used to, and still do, call a keeper.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Chasing a Song,” “Mal n’ Ange,” “Gimme Sum More,” “People Factory,” “Gorgeous with Guitars,” and “Everything (In Moderation).”
black box When and Where to Get It: September 30 at Kool Kat Musik and Bandcamp.

vegas with randolph free your soulVegas With Randolph | “Free Your Soul” Our favorite Washington, D.C.-area popsters ramp up the electric guitars for a balls-to-the-wall rocker driven by runaway drums, plucking bass and the usual catchy melody. This tale of giving into the positive side of the eternal equation (“Sometimes it’s best to just let go/So free your soul”) will most certainly get you out of bed in the morning. Another VWR winner.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp.

kenny herbert 3 bridgesKenny Herbert | “3 Bridges Queensferry Crossing” This typically lovely song from Kenny Herbert, about the three Forth bridges in Scotland, is a hearty tale and well worth reading about (click here for the full story). “3 Bridges Queensferry Crossing” celebrates the bridges, and as Kenny says, “the people who built it and the new Queensferry Crossing which is opening May 2017.” The song’s cover illustration depicts Kenny’s wife’s grandfather David Rendall who, Kenny points out, “worked on the Forth Rail Bridge for 30 years as the bridge carpenter until 1969. Davie’s father Thomas Rendall also worked on the bridge from 1903; he was a painter and lamplighter.” A little history and a lot of melody make for a heartwarming experience.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box Where to Get It: iTunes.

poppermost kelly green sundayPoppermost | “Kelly Green Sunday” The first new song from Alex Oliver, Roy Rendahl and Debbie Sanchez in two years is a welcome treat, an acoustic melding of southern California and uptempo folk influences emanating a kind of warm hootenanny atmosphere and sending out a message of old-fashioned love (“Oh Kelly Green, every time you think of me/Please keep Sunday just for you and me”). Joyous.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp.

orbis maxOrbis Max | “Lonely,” “I Call Your Name,” “All of Me,” and songs from Orbis Max and Friends Beginning their shared trek playing covers back in 1973 in Poway, California, the group’s various members have connected in the here and now via the Internet to record their own songs. New members Dennis George, Rod Bennett and Bruce Walker have joined original Maxers such as Craig Carlstrom and Don Baake to release Orbix Max and Friends, a vibrant collection of catchy numbers like the upbeat, poppy “You May be the One” and “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over.” The group’s latest song, not on the album, is “Lonely,” a horn-infused Stax-meets-Motown soul-pop slice of joy. Two other songs, also not on Orbix Max and Friends, are choice covers of the Beatles’ “I Call Your Name,” and the old jazz standard “All of Me.” Fun stuff.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: From Orbis Max and Friends: “Standing Next to You,” “You May be the One,” “Glad She Found Me,” “Without You,” “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over,” and “Start All Over Again.” Tracks not on the album: “I Call Your Name” and “All of Me.”
black box Where to Get It: CD Baby and iTunes.

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More New Music is Flowing on Pure Pop Radio

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s list of new songs and artists added to our playlist, we’ve slotted in more classic sounds now being heard in rotation. Care to peruse? Go, cat…go!

vegas with randolph three red hooksVegas With Randolph | “Three Red Hooks” This Washington, DC-area pop powerhouse’s latest song, a lively ode to rocking steady and having a great night, namechecks a trio of rock ‘n’ roll Eddies–Van Halen, Vedder and Money–and is a mighty tasty treat. “Three Red Hooks” is a delightful, hooky bubblegum charmer with crunchy, screaming electric guitar lines that’s happily reminiscent of the Sweet’s “Little Willy” and the catchy sound of the Rubinoos. Kicking off with a percussion stomp that owes a debt to the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go,’ “Three Red Hooks” hits the sweet spot that tingles and glows inside every fan of melodic pop. It kick starts that oh-so-wonderful feeling–the unmistakable slambang explosion of sheer joy that only the right combination of musical notes can achieve. Now playing in rotation, this may well be Vegas With Randolph’s most delightful waxing yet.

bertling noise laboratories 5Bertling Noise Laboratories | “Talking In Your Sleep” Nick Bertling is like the quintessential, shaggy-haired musical mad scientist ensconced in his secret lair stocked full of instruments that shake, rattle and roll. Just look at him, stage left. Our guess is Nick doesn’t get much sleep, because here he is with a rocking cover of the Romantics’ hit “Talking In Your Sleep.” Hopefully he can get some shuteye while this cool cover plays in rotation!

trip wireTrip Wire | “Long Days Gone” and “Winter Song” Just out from this San Francisco band is a terrific new double A-side single pairing “Long Days Gone,” a catchy, uptempo power pop number, with a pretty midtempo, string-laden ballad. These songs leave us wanting more, so you know…get to it, boys.

 

the tonellisThe Tonellis | “I Know You” We were delighted to receive an email from the Tonellis’ Robert Stoppenbach, who subsequently responded to our query about any new material the band might have by sending this lovely midtempo ballad, co-written by Robert and Scott Palmiter. Sounding like the second cousin to any number of songs recorded by the group Venice, “I Know You” sports an easygoing vibe, punctuated by fiddle and mandolin parts that shine. Now playing in rotation.

That’s all for today. More new songs and artists next week. Join the fun by clicking on one of the listen links below to hear nearly 8,300 songs now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. Enjoy!

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