New on Pure Pop Radio 05.18.17: Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007; Chris Price; Fun of the Pier, and More

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Spins and Reviews | 05.18.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Various Artists | Songs, Bond Songs: The Music of 007 (2017)
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Curry Cuts’ third release, after swimming with lite rockers and second British Invasioneers, continues the label’s successful run of specially-curated themed compilations with this gathering of 26 covers of all of the songs featured in James Bond films.

This merry mix of moods invites repeat listens: standouts include Popdudes’ straight-ahead, rocking take on Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die”; Lannie Flowers’ Merseybeat-ish “James Bond Theme,” which glistens with power pop polish and a pair of nifty nods to Fab notions; and Zach Jones’ brightly-lit, soulful run through “All-Time High.” The Corner Laughers’ sprightly, jazzy version of “Diamonds are Forever” is a keeper, and don’t count out Big-Box Store, aka The New Pornographers’ Joe Seiders, who turns in a commanding, moody performance of “Die Another Day.”

Grab a martini–shaken, stirred, or otherwise appointed–and know how it feels to have an all-time high. (If you missed out on Curry Cuts’ first two releases, Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock and Here Comes the Reign Again: The Second British Invasion, click here with due speed.)

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “All Time High,” Zach Jones; “Diamonds are Forever,” The Corner Laughers; “Die Another Day,” Big-Box Store; “For Your Eyes Only,” Freedy Johnston; “From Russia with Love,” The Stereo Twins; “Golden Eye,” Identical Suns; “James Bond Theme,” Lannie Flowers; “Live and Let Die,” Popdudes; “Moonraker,” Gary Frenay; “The Living Daylights,” Cirrone; and “Writing’s On the Wall,” Cliff Hillis
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

chris price stop talking coverChris Price | Stop Talking (2017)
The blue-gray washed inner, two-panel spread of Chris Price’s second album shows Price in contemplative repose standing at the foot of the ocean, at the beach, wearing a suit and tie, his hands in his pockets, his longish hair being blown back softly as the tempered waves draw close behind him. Even the blue-tinted dog on the cover looks like he, or she, has a few things on his mind.

chris price ocean photo 5Five years on from his first solo album, and after producing Emitt Rhodes and Linda Perhacs, these 14 songs recorded by Price between 2013 and 2016 make up the ironically-titled Stop Talking, which isn’t really what this thinking-man’s popster wants you to do after hearing the catchy “One of Them,” the Paul McCartney-meets-Stephen Bishop-meets-Rupert Holmes “Man Down,” and the tour de force, “Darkness.”

Stop talking? No, no. What Price wants you to do is listen and then talk about these songs. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbors–the guy who delivers bread to your local supermarket, even. In this social media age especially, it’s word of mouth, communicated far and wide, that moves souls in search of the next big thing from point a to b.

So let’s start talking. This album’s highlights are many, brought to life by Price who, in addition to being the artist, wore the hats of producer, engineer and mixer, and a number of additional musicians. The tender, Nilsson-esque “You and Me (And Everyone Else),” co-written by Price and The New Pornographers’ Joe Seiders, who plays a delicate piano here, puts the spotlight on Price’s voice, a strong, emotional instrument. The pounding piano song “One of Them” is a pure pop delight. And the toe-tapping, orchestrated charmer “Once Was True” puts a lovely chord progression and melodic structure center stage.

Perhaps the centerpiece of Stop Talking is “Darkness,” a patchwork of a song, rallying different time signatures around a handsome melody for a bravura performance that takes less than three minutes to bring to a close.

The man at the foot of the ocean can stop contemplating now. Stop Talking is a keeper.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Hi Lo,” “Man Down,” “Once Was True,” “You and Me (And Everyone Else),” “Sigh,” “Darkness,” “James Bond Theme,” “One of Them,” and “Anhedonia”
black box Where to Get It: Kool Kat Musik, Amazon

cover artFun of the Pier | “Cavern Song” and “(In) My Town” (from the forthcoming album, 14:42)
Nottingham, England’s Mark and Helen Luker, along with Richard Hattersley, make a welcome return to the pop landscape with two new songs that will feature on the duo’s forthcoming, long-awaited album, 14:42.

band shot“Cavern Song” is a sprightly toe-tapper about getting into the world famous venue on a number of fronts. Taking to task entitlement (“What d’you mean we have to pay?”), expressing the excitement of being there on social media in the most basic of terms (“Take a photo of a photograph/Now upload it to your page/Oh we’re havin’ such a laugh/Take a selfie on the stage”), and the power of the artist (“And at least I get to work it out/With some lyrics…”), the song is perhaps the very first lively, happy-sounding cautionary tale of 2017. Somewhat recalling the vibe of Paul McCartney’s “Hope of Deliverance,” “(In) My Town” examines life in a small burg under siege, from which youth is unable to break out (“Is it any wonder they can’t meet/The demands of a world unknown”). All three players shine, but let’s give Mark top marks for some quite inventive bass playing.

A CD containing both of these songs is slated to be given away at the Cavern Club in conjunction with Fun of the Pier’s performance at International Pop Overthrow this coming weekend. Meanwhile, bring on the album. We’ve loved Fun of the Pier’s sound for a long time. Welcome back.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Cavern Song” and “(In) My Town”
black box Where to Get It: Not yet available

Now Is The Time Cover ArtStrangely Alright | “Now is the Time” (2017)
Regan Lane and company return to the Pure Pop Radio airwaves, and your stereo components, with this spacey, Marc Bolan-in-space vibe-y number. Hypnotic and inviting, the song fills the here-and-now stereo soundfield with ’60s-inspired joy. Don’t miss it.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio
black box Where to Get It: iTunes, CD Baby

Crime Scene - Carnival Queen coverCrime Scene | “Carnival Queen” and “The Highs and Lows of Love” (2017)
Former members of the great Swedish Longplayer Orchestra–Ulf Holmberg, Jon Sundberg, and Göran Holmberg–join Per Östling to deliver one of the big treats of the spring on this nifty digital single.

“Carnival Queen” is a majestic mid-paced, McCartney-esque ballad with a catchy chorus; “The Highs and Lows of Love” starts out as a rockin’ blues belter that becomes a pure pop delight in the chorus, which is preceded by a sly nod to the Electric Light Orchestra (spot it if you dare!) and topped off with a surprise coda. Whew! Lots of fun.

black box Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Carnival Queen” and “The Highs and Lows of Love”
black box Where to Get It: Not yet available

Also added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist and currently spinning in rotation:

your gracious host boomerangYour Gracious Host | Boomerang (2017) | “Boomerang,” “Honor the Aim,” “Rest of Us in the Third World,” “Spritely,” and “You See Right Through Me” Bandcamp, Kool Kat Musik

Plasticsoul - Therapy coverPlasticsoul | Therapy (2017) | “Her Raincoat,” “The Girl of Many Tribes,” and “Babylon” Plasticsoul Pre-Order

love minus zeroLove Minus Zero | “Mary Says” Bandcamp

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Happy Days are Here Again! We’ve Got More New Music Spinning…It’s Another Melodic New Music Day on Pure Pop Radio!

happyLongtime Pure Pop Radio listeners (and readers of this website) know we’re all about adding as much new music as we possibly can. And so it goes–today, we’ve got another group of songs and artists playing for the very first time on your 24-hour-a-day home for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe.

Without further ado, here we go!

steve robinson and ed woltilsteve robinson and ed woltil photoSteve Robinson and Ed Woltil | Cycle We have long been fans of Steve Robinson’s music; Ed Woltil’s solo release from last year, Paper Boats, A Reverie in Thirteen Acts, was one of our Favorite Records of 2014, which is only fair since Ed is an old power-pop hand, having served time in the Ditchflowers, another favorite act around these parts. Steve and Ed have joined forces to create what amounts to a clear winner of a song cycle that should garner a picnic basket-sized bucket of kudos and huzzahs when the best-of 2015 honors are dispensed.

Full of clever twists and turns and knowing nods to a variety of pop styles, Cycle’s heartbeat is perhaps best demonstrated in the gorgeous. slightly trippy folk-pop number, “Elastic Man,” a sixties hug with echoes of Paul McCartney and Donovan that sounds like it’s enclosed in a Dukes of Stratosphear wrapper. The elegant “Wake Up Dreamin'” evokes images of a warm summer night that follows a sunny day that was chock full of surprise. The very English ballad “Little Regrets” conjures up images of Martin Newell as arranged by George Martin, a very good thing.

And there you have it: three examples of what you’ll find on this special record, written, recorded and performed by two of pop’s most prodigious creators. We’re playing the entire album, minus a short instrumental that opens up the proceedings: “Love Somebody,” “Wake Up Dreamin’,” “Elastic Man,” “Godspeed,” “Little Regrets,” “Wintersleeping,” “The Boy from Down the Hill,” “Who You Are,” “Hello, Hello (We’re Back Again),” “Butterflies,” “Liberty Daze,” and “Seize the Day.” Miraculous.

the connection labor of loveThe Connection | Labor of Love When we get a new album by the Connection for airplay, we get the dance floor ready for action (and prime the spacious, roped-off area we have for air guitar enthusiasts). Labor of Love, just released digitally, does not disappoint; what it does do is get the proverbial power pop juices flowing in a big, massive, huge, megaton kind of way. The title cut, which opens these proceedings, bashes and explodes out of the speakers with muscular guitars, thrashing drums, and insistent, energized vocals for a workout that puts you in the center of the action. The upbeat, driving “Good Things” keeps the party going with a slightly less-manic attack that still delivers the crunch guitar effect. Similarly, “You Ain’t Special” takes the less-manic approach, mixing in keyboards amidst the rock ‘n’ pop muscle.

There is a whole lot to savor here–even a countrified pop-rocker (a la the Rolling Stones), “Let the Jukebox Take Me,” about the magic of the jukebox and the comfort of the feeling of being at home in one’s surroundings. Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer have written a great bunch of songs, and we’re playing all 10 of them, in rotation: “Circles,” “Don’t Come Back,” “Pathetic Kind of Man,” “Red, White and Blue,” “So Easy,” “Treat You So Bad,” and the songs already mentioned. Listen to Pure Pop Radio and hear songs from what will surely be one of the most talked about–and played–albums of the year.

gordon weissGordon Weiss | It’s About Time Gordon Weiss, a Pure Pop Radio regular, hits a melodic bulls-eye with this just-released collection of beautiful, cleverly constructed songs that speak from the heart. From the opening, Rolling Stones-kissed number, “The Ugly Inside,” to the cleverly arranged ballad “The Great Imitator” and the album’s centerpiece, the glorious, anthemic “Spinning ‘Round,” which features a beautiful string arrangement from Wim Oudijk, this is a classy collection that will hold pride of place in your music library. We’re playing, in rotation, the aforementioned songs, plus “Saccharin, Aspartame, Splenda, You and Me,” “My Love Still Grows,” and “Sticky Thoughts.” Nice going, Gordon.

4Panel CD Jacket with 2 Pockets-LE-C1101 copyAlicia Witt | Revisionary History Ever since we first encountered the music of actress Alicia Witt (we played her great holiday number, “I’m Not Ready for Christmas,” during this past holiday season’s annual holiday extravaganza), we have longed to play more of her piano-based tunes. Her new album is pretty much bursting with great songs, from the powerful power-ballad “Consolation Prize” and the emotional “Already Gone” to the very pretty “New Word,” a song that builds nicely and features Alicia’s distinctive keyboard work. All told, we’re playing seven songs: the aforementioned numbers and “Friend”; “About Me”; “Blind”; and “Theme from Pasadena (You Can Go Home),” performed with Ben Folds. Distinctive, adult pop from a most talented practitioner.

the orange peels begin the begoneThe Orange Peels | Begin the Begone Another sterling collection of songs from this veteran group, comprising the talents of Allen Clapp, Jill Pries, John Moremen and Gabriel Coan. This is not really a surprise, of course; the proof is in the estimable grooves. The Peels’ sixth album is represented on Pure Pop Radio by five great numbers: the upbeat, sixties vibing “Embers,” which switches gears and becomes an ethereal, atmospheric wonder with a minute and 26 seconds to go; the hip, pop-rocker “9,” which slides into a lovely coda anchored by an acoustic guitar part that plays out through its fade ending; the assured, determined beat of “Head Cleaner”; the energetic push of “Wintergreen”; and the lovely, deeply-felt, mid-tempo, marathon soundscape, “Satellite Song,” buoyed by a beautiful vocal arrangement, elastic electric guitar lines, and a blissful ending. Now playing in rotation, proudly.

your gracious hostYour Gracious Host | The Writers of Our Destiny Michigan’s Tom Curless based this commanding song cycle on a short story he wrote; the results are a tremendous mix of catchy, upbeat pop with close harmony vocals (“If You Ever Have Your Doubts”), atmospheric, wordless balladry (the affecting instrumental “Train Passing”), and Paul McCartney-esque, eighties-inflected, pop-becomes-Beatles/sixties jam (the bouncy-into-wonderfully-paced instrumental bliss of “Heart on the Table”). We’re playing all three of these songs, plus “Facing Me,” “Love or Fear, Pt. 2,” and “World Within a World.” A great record, now playing in rotation.

milk carton kidsThe Milk Carton Kids | Monterey An album of pure beauty, stocked deep with warm, honest songs sung in the classic Everly Brothers style, Monterey is a relatively quiet collection that is nonetheless alive with feeling and emotion. Backed by deftly played acoustic guitars, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, hailing from out California way, build on a folk-pop base which they turn on its head to deliver emotional, classic, contemporary numbers like “Secrets of the Stars,” “The City of Our Lady,” and “Getaway.” Affecting and impossible to resist, this is the romantic side of Pure Pop Radio played expertly with heart to spare. We’re playing the aforementioned three songs in rotation, along with “Asheville Skies,” “Monterey,” “Freedom,” “High Hopes,” “Shooting Shadows,” and “Poison Tree.” Simply gorgeous throughout.

the hollywood projectThe Hollywood Project | No One Like U One of the big, happy surprises of this year has to be this collection of songs written and performed by poet and lyricist Stephen J. Kalinich, who collaborated on songs recorded by the Beach Boys, and musician Dave Humphries. Supporting players, including Wolfgang Grasekamp, who produced and arranged, are instrumental in bringing these numbers to life. At the heart of it all is the one-two punch of Kalinich’s lyrics and Humphries’ melodies. Songs such as the lively, Bob Dylan-influenced title track and the sixties singalong, “Jelly Bean Song,” really sing, as does the gentle, swaying ballad, “I Turn to You.” We’re playing the entire album in rotation–the aforementioned songs, plus “Can There Ever Be?,” “I Break Down and Cry,” “New World,” “I Will Be Strong,” “What Life is For,” and “Enough Love.” Great stuff.

The Custard | “Way Over My Head” Here is another one of those amazing recordings coming out of the Facebook Theme Music group, comprising the considerable talents of the Tor Guides’ Torbjorn Petersson (lead vocals and guitars), Michael Lorant on drums, Frank Padellaro on bass, and the Legal Matters’ Keith Klingensmith on vocals. Catchy? Check. Great melody? Check. Replayability? Is a thousand times too much? Now playing in rotation.

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In case you were curious, and we know that you are, we have plenty more new songs and artists to announce as additions to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. Look for another list of exciting, melodic treasures next week. Until then, click on one of the listen links below and check out the nearly 7,000 melodic pop songs we have playing in rotation every day of the year. Enjoy the melodic soundtrack of your life on Pure Pop Radio!

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes