Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio is the premier website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and new-to-you releases. Pure Pop Radio plays the greatest melodic pop in the universe 24 hours a day.
And now, a few more melodic Christmas goodies to add to your gift lists (another 11 are reviewed here). There are only five more shopping days until the big day, so you’d better get clicking…
Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, everyone. We’ll see you again in January, with the kind of reviews and articles you expect from the premier website covering the many moods of melodic pop music.
Dana Countryman and Matt Tyson, featuring Scott Bennett | “It’s Christmas Time” (2019)
Pure Pop Radio favorites Dana Countryman and Matt Tyson stir up a cheery, upbeat, non-alcoholic cocktail echoing the sounds of the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and Jeffrey Foskett–a joyous two minutes and forty-five seconds worth of catchy musical magic. With a rocking guitar solo played with “I Get Around” aplomb by Scott Bennett, this is Southern California pop under sunny holiday skies.
Aka Katy Pearson (Anchor & Bear), Bearkat’s richly drawn holiday collection, bringing together a pair of previously-released EPs–2012’s It’s ChristmasTime and 2013’s A Winter Suite–and two new recordings, is an endearing survey of vocal harmony pop painted atop spare instrumentation and a whole lot of holiday heart.
Pearson’s sweet voice quietly dazzles, whether as a strong solo instrument or as elements within rich harmony stacks. Her songs paint a snowy, emotional portrait of holiday feelings, each one alive with lovely melodies.
Here is just one example, the banjo-driven, folky, harmony-laden, wintry wonder, “Snow”:
And here is another, a breathtaking, a cappella version of “Auld Lang Syne,” sung passionately by Pearson and her husband, Brian Bringelson, also from Anchor and Bear:
Zach Jones | “I’ll Be Home (Xmas Day)” b/w “Joy to the World” (2019)
Zach Jones paints his pair of holiday tunes with a quite different, yet catchy, soulful brush. The emotionally-cast, mid-tempo ballad “I’ll Be Home (Xmas Day)” and the slightly funky instrumental take on perennial carol “Joy to the World” are soulful pop gems. A wonderful holiday listening experience.
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.
Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.
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.
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.
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) Big 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.
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.
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.
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):
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!
We hope you’ve been enjoying Pure Pop Radio’s Big Week of Summer Fun. We’ve certainly enjoyed bringing lots of new music to you. We’ve enjoyed bringing you new editions of our signature Beatles programs, Ken Michaels’ Every Little Thing and the weekly Fab roundtable, Things We Said Today. And let’s not forget, we brought you the exclusive worldwide broadcast premiere of Pop 4’s “Don’t You Be Like That” this past Tuesday evening.
Now, we’ve got more new music from your favorite, heritage artists and out-of-the-box artists we think you’ll come to know and love.
Let’s run down the latest list, shall we?
Fireking | Double TroublePop and rock meet each other head on in the music of Fireking. The group’s double album bristles with energetic, windblown guitar power and commanding melodies for a can’t miss experience. You can just hear the sweat pouring off the band as they deliver song after song–they’re invested in their material, and it shows. We’ve chosen five numbers for our rotation: “Built to last,” “A Sentimental Education,” “Contagious,” “(Untitled),” “So You Say You Lost Your Baby,” and “Power Pop Chords,” the last of which really says it all as the band stakes their claim in their bid to keep the spirit of power pop alive. Great stuff.
Zach Jones | Love What You Love From the very first song on this terrific album, it’s obvious that Zach Jones is a master of the art of bringing together various influences. The result is a punchy, giddy love for melody in every song, which is why we have added every song to our playlist. There’s a loving attention to detail, as genres swirl around each other to great effect, like in the wonderfully addictive “Away from You,” which mixes pure pop and easy soul for a verse-chorus construct that’s awfully hard to resist. Save for drums, percussion and strings, Jones plays every instrument, which puts him in the pilot seat as he showers his songs with lots of love. In addition to “Away from You,” we’re playing, in rotation, “Everything’s Fine,” “Hate What You Hate,” “Song in the Sunshine,” “In Love,” “Lucky One,” “Nothing’s Changed,” “Some Other Day,” “Little Light,” and “Out On the Town.” Lovely.
Stephen J. Kalinich | “Start Your Day With Gratitude” (with Jez Graham) and Each Soul Has a Voice (with Jon Tiven) More music for Pure Pop Radio from a veteran poet who has logged many decades of service bringing art to hungry, musically-minded listeners all over the world. We previously added songs from Stephen’s album made with Dave Humphries, No One Like U, under the name the Hollywood Project. First up this time around, a smiling collaboration with Jez Graham, “Start Your Day With Gratitude,” from the album You Can Soar. A sunny song about positivity, it’s an infectious number. We’re playing that song in rotation, and serving up seven songs from the fantastic album Stephen recorded with veteran music man Jon Tiven, Each Soul Has a Voice: the title cut, the inspirational “Choose Life”; “Usually” (shades of Adam Ant!); “Harmony”; the medium-tempo, bluesy “Blue Teal Wall”; the bouncy “Addicted to Pain”; and “To Each and Every Soul.” More to come from Stephen and his magical creations.
The Big Believe | Illuminate and Various Tracks From the southeast of the United Kingdom comes Amanda Thompson’s recording project, which boasts some really great pop songs that we’re thrilled to be able to play in rotation on Pure Pop Radio. We’ve added to our playlist two songs from the forthcoming album, Illuminate: the pretty title cut, and the pop/new wave hybrid, “Creatures.” We’re also playing three additional songs you’re sure to love: “Let’s Pretend We’re Spies,” another mighty catchy new wave/pop confection; and the equally new-wavey “Eternal Youth.” We look forward to more from Amanda Thompson and the Big Believe.
Tiny Rhymes | A Kinder HistoryBuffalo, New York’s Tiny Rhymes, led by guitarist Sharon Mok, packs a lovely chamber pop punch on this wonderful EP, released just a few weeks ago. Guitars, cello, violin, percussion and trombone meet up with beautifully rendered vocals to deliver warm, pastel-tinted, heartfelt songs. Tiny Rhymes is a collective to watch. We are now playing, in rotation, “Arrows,” “Oh, Amaranta!,” and “Gold Mountain.” Gorgeous.
Summer Fiction | HimalayaSummer Fiction’s second album, following on four years from the group’s self-titled debut in 2011, is teeming with pure pop treasures. Lovely melodies, lovely vocals, and lovely everything else abound. We’ve added six songs, all made for group hugs and big smiles: the made-for-radio, Todd Rundgren-esque bouncy confection,” Dirty Blonde”; the straight-ahead, poppy “On and On”; the gentle, pretty “Lauren Lorraine”; the acoustic, folky “By My Side”; the also-radio-friendly and jangly “Perfume Paper”; and the gliding, melodic charmer, “Religion of Mine.” A classic platter.
B and Not B | Popular PastimesLongtime Pure Pop Radio favorite B and Not B returns with their latest release, from which we’ve taken two upbeat tunes that are now playing in rotation: the rock ‘n’ popper “All the Lonely Kids,” which features horns, guitars and great harmony vocals; and the pulsating, upbeat toe-tapper (kinda sorta in the pop mode of Chicago, no fooling), “Winter.” PPR loves B and Not B.
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That’s it for today. You know we’ve got more new music to be added to our playlist; check back next week for another list of wonderful songs that will be filling your summer soundtrack with delight and beauty!