35 Reviews in 7 Days, Part 5 CLIFF HILLIS – Many Happy Returns Cliff Hillis keeps releasing EPs. Cliff’s EPs are always very, very good. I keep hoping for a full-length record from Cliff, but Cliff keeps releasing these damned EPs. His latest damned EP begins with three Hillis-written tunes, all of which are great. “Superfluous” mines a softer pop sound while still retaining the non-stop melodicism for which Hillis has become lauded. The damned EP concludes with three co-writes with Dan Bern, Bill DeMain and Robbie Rist, respectively, all of which are also great. The lauded Hillis melodicism rears its lovely head again on “Never in a Million Years” (the Hillis/Rist-written one), which is an easygoing pop gem, like pretty much everything here. Hey, Cliff – release a damned album, would ya? Grade: A” - John M. Borack


Cliff Hillis |Many Happy Returns (Tallboy, 2017)Always a reliable writer and performer, Cliff returns with arguably his finest release, an EP’s worth of pop songs that sing. Even the bouncy popper “Time an Evangelist,” a hopeful look at today’s fractured political landscape, is a catchy treat whose heart beats proudly (“Poor musician/Sings a protest song/All he wants is the world to sing along”). The title number is a pure poppy delight with a fun, vocally percussive underpinning; the four-on-the-floor “Never in a Million Years,” a co-write with Robbie Rist, rocks with a determined guitar attack as it pops; and the lovely mid-tempo ballad “With All the World,” written with Pure Pop Radio favorite Bill DeMain, is alight with Burt Bacharach-y horns. Wonderful.  Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Time an Evangelist,” “Many Happy Returns,” “With All the World,” “Hey Pretty Face,” and “Never in a Million Years” Where to Get It: Tallboy Records on FacebookiTunes” - Alan Haber

Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio

Ladies and Gentlemen…Cliff Hillis! This isn’t the first time Cliff Hillis has made it into Beatles Freak Reviews, but truth be told, he just keeps continuing to impress me every time he comes out with new music. My husband I got to see him last week at the CD release party for his latest EP. A Beatle fan himself, you can easily hear the influence the Fab Four has had on Cliff, especially in the title track from his new six song EP – Many Happy Returns. And for those of you that are fans of all things pop-culture, Robbie Rist, the guy who played Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch, actually co-wrote another song on this album – Never In A Million Years. Many Happy Returns was just released last week on June 9, 2017.  You can preview and download a copy at iTunesAmazon or Spotify…or order a copy of the CD (just $6+shipping) from TallBoy Records. If you’re still not sure if you want it, just listen to the title track on the player below… ” - Jennifer Vanderslice

Beatles-Freak's Reviews

Best EPs of 2016 We kick off our year-end “best of” lists with a discussion of the finest EPs we’ve heard over the past year. The nature of an “EP” is subject to interpretation these days. However, for our present purposes, if it has between three and eight songs, its an EP. We will be discussing the finest LPs of the year in the coming days, and will conclude the year-end festivities by a look at distinguished works that do not quite fit either category — non-LP singles, multi-artist compilations, tributes, and the like. Call that one “odds and ends.” Enough chit chat. Let’s get down to business.   2.  Cliff Hillis — Love Not War: Hillis is one of the finest contemporary American songwriters. This seven-song EP is everything we have come to expect from him: richly detailed slices of life and love set amid instantly compelling hooks and instrumentation. Sample and buy here.”

Pop That Goes Crunch!

Cliff Hillis – Love Not War With his Love Not War EP, Cliff Hillis gives power pop fans one of the best power pop records of the year so far. Sure, it’s an EP of only 7 songs, but virtually every one is a gem. The title track gets things off to a great start with its battlefield analogies, bouncy rhythm and bridge with ornately placed horns. “The Buddha’s Belly” is a superb bit of honky-tonk and lyrically apropos for today’s mindset. The pace slows with “Don’t Drown The Wind” but things pick right back up with the best track on the disc, the incredibly catchy, start to finish hook entitled “Boy Downtown”. This tune will become ingrained in your psyche. “Boy Downtown” is power pop boiled down to its most basic essence. It’s just one monster hook. Hillis wrote the track, sang it and played all the instruments. “Suicide Doors” and “Mayor of Midnight” are also winners. Start to finish, there is not a better collection of pop songs so far this year than Cliff Hillis’ Love Not War. If this is any indication of an LP to come, power pop fans are in for a real treat. Pick this one up at Tall Boy Records. ” - Richard Rossi

Power Pop News Blog

    | Cliff Hillis Cliff Hillis' show at the Steel City Coffehouse celebrates new EP Wednesday April 6, 2016 12:01 AM By Don Botch   His music is inspired by the past, but not stuck in it. Singer-songwriter Cliff Hillis and his wife, Beth Lennon, moved to Phoenixville 10 years ago from his native Delaware, lured by the town's old-timey charm and haunts like the Colonial Theatre and Vale Rio Diner. They're old souls, for sure: he the performer of retro rock 'n' roll with his band the Forward Thinkers, and she the author of an online blog called Retro Roadmap, which pinpoints vintage places to go and things to do across the country.  True to his band's name, Hillis' music may be inspired by the past but is not stuck in it. On Friday night, he and six of his finest musician friends will pack the stage at Steel City Coffeehouse, a 100-seat BYOB establishment on the main drag in his adopted hometown, for a Vinyl 45 Release Party. It's going to be a big ol' thing," Hillis said. "Hopefully we'll have a full house. The show will celebrate the March 18 release of his self-produced EP "Love Not War," which hearkens back to the melodic, harmony-filled sounds he discovered as a child. The title track - Side A of the red 7-inch that attendees can take home for $10, which includes a digital download card for the entire seven-song EP - is a perfect example. It's sort of like a '70s throwback," Hillis said, "but trying to float between modern and the retro thing, because I'm a big fan of '60s and '70s Beatles and Beach Boys and all that kind of pop stuff. He released the song in advance of the EP back in November, and it has garnered airplay on WXPN in Philadelphia as well as SiriusXM's The Loft, a satellite station that mirrors XPN's adult contemporary, indie-rock sensibility. They gave the song a good few plays, which was pretty cool," Hillis said. The Buddha's Belly," a rockabilly number that's the B side to the 45, is beginning to make headway of its own on Triple A (Adult Album Alternative) radio. Hillis enlisted the help of friend Mike Molnar, guitarist for the Austin, Texas, band the Bellfuries, to give the tune its twang. It's the first song I've ever really written with that kind of a flair," Hillis said. "I was channeling Dave Edmunds and NRBQ. The lyrics stem from a prompt given by a songwriting group Hillis participates in, helped along by Lennon, who earned a songwriting credit - her first. Long story short, my wife made a joke, because I said something about scratching the Buddha's back, and she actually said, 'Everybody wants to rub the Buddha's belly, but nobody wants to scratch the Buddha's back,' which I thought was pretty funny," Hillis said. "So then I was like, 'OK, there's my song.' Hillis works out of his home studio, called the Hacienda, where he records local singer-songwriters like J.D. Malone, Joe Miralles, Nik Everett and Billy Penn Burger, and is well-connected regionally and beyond from time spent with the Philadelphia supergroup In the Pocket, fronted by David Ousikkinen of Hooters fame; Scandal, fronted by Patty Smyth; the power pop band Starbelly; and the Caulfields, Power Trip and IKE, all projects of John Faye, who will open Friday's show. Hillis is justifiably enthused about his band, his latest EP and his life in general in Phoenixville. The town seems like it's blowing up, hopefully in the best way," he said. "It's definitely an exciting time to be in this area. If You GoEvent: Cliff Hillis Vinyl 45 Release Party, with guest John Faye.When: 8 p.m. Friday.Where: Steel City Coffeehouse, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville.Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 day of show, $19 for advance reserved, $26 for advance reserved and entree. There’s a $5 per person fee for BYOB.Phone: 610-933-4043.Web: www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com. By the way: The EP “Love Not War” is available digitally at cliffhillis.com, iTunes.com and other online music retailers. Contact Don Botch: 610-371-5055 or dbotch@readingeagle.com ” - Don Botch

Reading Eagle

Passport Cliff Hillis Posted on 3/25/16 by patrickdonders   What was the biggest fun during the making of “love not war”? For me it was to actually play drums on a couple of my own songs. I’m a terrible drummer but love to play, and thanks to the magic of the studio and editing I was able to play drums on two songs (Mayor Of Midnight, A Boy Downtown). “A Boy Downtown” is actually the first song I’ve ever sang & played all the instruments on. I have to say, it was also fun being able to get all the various amazing musician friends on there. Without their talents it wouldn’t be the same. One particular memory was getting Dan Bern, who I wrote “Too Many Songs” with, to record the harmony vocal in the dressing room of the Tin Angel in Philadelphia before a gig we played together there with my mobile setup. If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why? I’d say the title track “Love Not War”. It’s as much a relationship song as it is political, but in these crazy times of violence and uncertainly I think choosing love over war is something more people should strive for. The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not? I’d agree that the music industry has changed a lot. One thing the current situation has brought to me is the ability to record, release and promote a record on my own, and have a platform (mostly digital) for people anywhere in the world to hear it. The downside is of course that the streaming revenue for music is currently pretty terrible, so making a living playing & writing music is harder than ever. Who is the best musician in the world nobody has heard of yet? And why will this change very soon? I’m not sure if this will change very soon, but I’m a big fan of Walter Sear who people may know as a studio engineer/producer. He passed away a few years ago. One of the first things I listened to as a little kid was his “The Copper Plated Integrated Circuit” moog album. It was on the flipside of a cassette that my Uncle from Holland sent over. Took me many years to figure out who it actually was. Even though I’m mostly a guitar player that record inspired me greatly. She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixt tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on? Wow, that is tough! But off the top of my head- The La’s- There She Goes Hans Rotenberry & Brad Jones- Back To Bristol Kinks- Waterloo Sunset Glen Campbell- Wichita Lineman Wilco- Can’t Stand It What’s up for the next couple of months? I have a bunch of live shows in the area that I’ll be doing solo and with my band The Forward Thinkers to promote the new EP, and looking at a trip to California as well. Plus I’ll be putting out a 45 in April that will be available from my good friends at Tallboy Records (http://www.tallboyrecords.com).     ” - Patrick Donders

SweetSweetMusic Blog

Cliff Hillis and Dropkick  March 24, 2016  powerpopaholic  EP reviews, EPs, Highly Recommended by Powerpopaholic,Power Pop Review Cliff Hillis “Love Not War” EP Cliff is back! Another EP loaded with excellent songs. The catchy title track is finely crafted gem that works on several levels in the pristine production. The follow up “The Buddha’s Belly” has a little honky-tonk styling that just encourages spontaneous dancing. From there the styles shift from folk pop (“Don’t Drown The Wind”) to mid tempo power pop (“Mayor Of Midnight,”) each song a worthy gem that deserves repeat listens. Of course highly recommended, so pick it up! Itunes ” - Aaron Kupferberg

Power Popaholic

Fri, 18 March 2016 Episode 289 - Cliff Hillis Today's guest is Philadelphia area singer/songwriter Cliff Hillis! His brand new EP "Love Not War" is being released today, and Cliff joined me to tell me all about it. I have been a fan of Cliff's music since seeing him open for Smash Palace last year and I'm happy to share his story with you on this special day. We had a great conversation about his early days, the musicians that he works with, our shared love of vinyl records, and our common influences from the late 70's and early 80's. Visit him at www.cliffhillis.com to stay current with his tour dates and learn more about him. Three of Cliff's songs are featured with this episode. Once you listen I'm sure you are going to want to buy the rest. If you reach out to Cliff, please let him know that you heard him here first. Enjoy! If you are looking for an easy way to support this show that won't cost you anything extra, please click through this LINK whenever you shop at Amazon. It goes a long way in keeping the lights on around here. Thank you in advance! We do not own any copyrights to the songs played on this episode. We have special permission by the artists themselves to play their music on the show for promotional purposes for the artists. Direct download: ArtCon_Ep289_Cliff_Hillis.mp3 ” - Matt Kacar

Aritst Connection Podcast

Cliff Hillis Kicks Off Pure Pop Radio’s Week of New for You Delights MARCH 15, 2016 / ALAN HABER'S PURE POP RADIO We’ve got a lot of new music to report to you this week–we’ve added a ton of new songs and artists to the Pure Pop Radio playlist. To kick off our bounty of delights, we present Alan’s feature review of a fantastic EP from one of pop music’s greatest talents. Cliff Hillis | Love Not War Artists like Cliff Hillis make my job easy by always delivering top-flight releases. Love Not War’s seven musical pearls constitute nothing less than the writing of the book on the pop EP as high art; every song is a dream construct, a marvel of melody and harmony. From the single-worthy, should-be-hitbound “A Boy Downtown” and “Suicide Doors,” a meeting of the minds that recalls the spirit and sound of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecelia,” to the pop-rocking, Dave Edmunds-meets-Paul Simon “Buddha’s Belly” and the pretty, shuffling “Don’t Drown the Wind,” which satisfies with an entrancing and beguiling wordless harmony section that will make you drop to your knees, Love Not War is another great, early 2016 release that will undoubtedly earn top marks from all concerned at year’s end. As you might expect, and because it’s the right thing to do, we’ve added the entire lot of these songs to our playlist. So, in addition to the above-mentioned songs, we’re playing “Mayor of Midnight,” “Too Many Songs,” which ends with a lovely, orchestration that absolutely satisfies, and the title track, which has been in our rotation for awhile. Simply fanstastic through and through. – Alan Haber   ” - Alan Haber

Pure Pop Radio review

Download “Love Not War” by Cliff Hillis November 23rd, 2015 | 8:00AM | By Bruce Warren   Philly singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Cliff Hillis has released a new song, “Love Not War,” from a forthcoming EP out in February. A mainstay of the Philly local music scene since his work with the John Faye Power Trip, Hillis has collaborated with various local musicians including John Lilly (The Hooters), Scot Sax, and Jake Snider. Joining Hillis on his EP are Patrick Berkery on drums, (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Pernice Brothers, Wesley Stace), Jason Loughlin on guitar (Amos Lee, Rachel Yamagata), Greg Maragos on bass and keyboards, Shelley Weiss on violin and David Kershner on trumpet. Love And War is Hillis’s followup to the power popster’s 2014 release, Song Machine. Hillis has several shows coming up including November 28th at Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville, and on December 5th at Tin Angel. Below, download “Love Not War” for a limited time.   ” - Bruce Warren

WXPN's "The Key"