Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 1, 2014

I Must Be a Genius – Dog On Fleas
First Day of School – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
The Best Parts – Eric Herman
Midnight Memories – One Direction
Liza Jane – Jr. Madness
Every Day At This Time It Rains – Django Jones
All Together Now – Caspar Babypants
Tacky – Weird Al Yankovic
Manatee – The Whizpops!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 31, 2014

DJ All Day – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Dance 'Til I Drop – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
Smallest Breed – Django Jones
We Are All One Kind – Jambo
Are We There Yet? – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
NOW That's What I Call Polka! – Weird Al Yankovic
Coral Reef  – The Whizpops!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tonight – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Shine – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Robots From The 4th Dimension – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Sunflower – Josh And The Jamtones
Jump Right In – The Twigs
Hipster In The Making – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Word Crimes – Weird Al Yankovic
If I Could Fly – Riff Rockit

Whizpops Wave at the Ocean from Montana

Concept albums are hard to pull off. Most often kindie musicians feel the need to stretch their points to the extreme. This may stem from the fact that a great number of them arrived from the teaching ranks. It's just in their nature.

And nature is the theme of the Whizpops' third CD, SEA BLUE SEA. With two elementary school teachers and a biologist (!) in their lineup, the Montana-based group takes an aquatic trek beneath the waves to introduce the ocean and its denizens. The calypso beat of "Octopus" contains a jaunty, tongue-tying rap:

I'm an octopus and I'm a funky cephalopod
If I lose an arm I'll grow it back right where it was on my bod.
My pigment cells are there to change my skin with camouflage.
If a moray eel comes, I'm as elusive as a mirage.

"Manatee" sounds like a bonus track from Recess Monkey's 2013 release, DESERT ISLAND DISC. Not bad company to be in. "Dolphin Disco (Super Pod Party)" pleads with organizations like SeaWorld to let sea life swim free. "Manta Ray" has a Jack Johnson acoustic vibe. "Sea Turtle" features Margi Cates and girl group harmonies. "Coral Reef" delves into the dilemma of pollution with horns and rap lyrics. Paging Mista Cookie Jar or Secret Agent 23 Skidoo for an all-too-obvious guest spot. I guess they don't traveling that far in the direction of the northeast.

The Whizpops prove that the kindie attitude is alive and well, even in places that we don't hear from all too often. Who would have ever thought that we'd get an album of ecological enthusiasm from Missoula, Montana? It's tough to ace a concept album, especially when your topic isn't native to your environment. But the Whizpops care about kids and the SEA BLUE SEA shows they care about protecting the underwater world for generations of kids to come.

SEA BLUE SEA is available Tuesday, August 19 from the Whizpops website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video from the Whizpops' tune, "The Owl Song":

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why I Love The Seasons – Jon Samson
In The Group – Tom Chapin
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
My Secret Robot – Justin Roberts
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
Banana Pudding – Sugar Free Allstars
Upside Down – Ratboy Jr.
Backyard – Riff Rockit
Foil – Weird Al Yankovic

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 28, 2014

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Garbage Bugs – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
Continental Geography – Astrograss
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
New Shoes – Riff Rockit
Handy – Weird Al Yankovic

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 25, 2014

Life Is Better With You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Future Days – Pearl Jam
Marsupial – Danny Weinkauf
We Can't Stop – Miley Cyrus
Always On The Run – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
I'll Be An Alien  – Justin Roberts
Tomorrow's People – Brady Rymer
Stay Up Late – Dean Jones
I've Got a Tiger By the Tail – Buck Owens and His Buckaroos

Riff Rockit: Bon Juvy For Kids

Sometimes it takes a real kick in the ass to want to make kick-ass music, especially for kids (where you have to call it kick-butt music).

Riff Rockit (aka Evan Michael) hit that life milestone as a teenager, overcoming childhood leukemia. Two battles with cancer took their toll, but also instilled dual missions – entertain and inspire kids and their families, as well as raise money for charities such as BeTheMatch, whose mission is to deliver cures for blood cancers.

His alter ego, Riff Rockit, engages younger audiences. Call him Bon Juvy (Juvenile). His stage show involves a puppet-playing band. Yes, you heard me correctly. Riff's new CD, IF I COULD FLY, is full-throttled hair-metal for the post-diaper set. Do I really need to tell you what "Backyard" or "Food Groups" are about? Although "Mr. Tux" requires a little explanation, since it's a boy-band tune about a black-and-white California kitten.

Continuing the dual theme, the title track is ostensibly about a boy recalling his first airplane trip and wishing he had wings. But knowing Michael's medical history, one can also wonder if IF I COULD FLY is his way of looking back to a time when he felt detached from his body, imagining a time when he could become more than his physical limitations. He spent significant time in isolation in the hospital, building back his immune system. Who wouldn't picture themselves taking flight to get far away from those conditions?

If you know hard rock, you know how the album sounds. If you know children's music, then you know that "Birthday" is a poppy celebration song and "Wintertime" is a snuggle by the fire ballad. There's an honest earnestness to what Evan Michael (and producer Bob St. John) put into Riff Rockit.

Did I mention that all proceeds from IF I COULD FLY are being donated to BeTheMatch? Or that free downloads of the album will be available if you make a voluntary donation to BeTheMatch? Or that his website has links to a half-dozen cancer charities? That's something that Bon Jovi has in common with Riff Rockit. [Bon Jovi is involved in a number of charities–Ed.]

IF I COULD FLY is available July 29 from Riff's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for Riff's song, "Pearly Whites":

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wake Up – The Neville Brothers
Me Time – Chibi Kodama
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Closer To You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Braces – Recess Monkey
Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
Mystery – Dean Jones
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve