Monday, September 01, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Shot Reverse Shot – Jack Johnson
Sing-A-Long Song – Lloyd H. Miller
Manatee – The Whizpops!
Sunflower – Josh And The Jamtones
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
Ice Cream Girl  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
This Is How We Do – Katy Perry
Flannel Jammies – The Not-Its!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 1, 2014

Not Too Young for a Song – Randy Kaplan
Anybody Got A Watch? – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
My My My – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
Handy – Weird Al Yankovic
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
DJ All Day – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Big Green Party Machine – David Heatley
Nose In A Book – The Not-Its!
The World Is Ours – David Correy

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 29, 2014

If Red Tastes Like Strawberry – The Whirlygigs
Marsupial – Danny Weinkauf
Be a Little Angel – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
Turned Out – Paul McCartney
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Grandpa-Land – Bill and Karlee Goffrier
Fun Day (feat. Roxanne Farrell) – Father Goose
Kings & Queens – The Hipwaders
The Baron's Bicycle Balloon – Banana Baron

New Releases Show Depth for Hipwaders, Nunes

Immersing yourself in the kindie music culture is a bit like playing Alice in Wonderland. Every time you go one level deeper, you discover new concepts, interesting hotbeds, and motivated performers.

We've enjoyed the Hipwaders for many years, thanks to Spare the Rock and then through review copies of their material. Based in the San Francisco bay area, the trio has not performed on the East Coast in quite a while. Thus, our enjoyment has been strictly of the music itself. The band has existed for a decade and has a dedicated following.

Some hardships and changes in the lineup have slowed their output, but Hipwaders bandleader Tito Uquillas has stayed the course. The group's sixth CD, YEAR-ROUND SOUNDS, marks their 10th anniversary with a bittersweet farewell to bassist DJ Kinville and a rousing welcome to replacement Smilin' Hal Imbrie.

Hailed by Time Out New York as "one of the 25 best bands for kids," the Hipwaders latest is all over the place, by design. "(Here Comes) Peter Cottontail" rubs furry shoulders with "Here Comes Santa Claus." We were nowhere near ready to toilet train our youngest when "You Gotta Hold It" arrived as a single. Now we're completing the process and we witness the song's irony every time we deal with the obstinate little one.

There's some social consciousness with "Gaia She Knows" tackling Earth Day (put down the pesticides) and a cover of Frances England's "Books I Like to Read" celebrating Read Across America Day. An overall sense of fun shines through, especially on tracks like "Smile About" and "We Can Be Heroes."

Across the country, Vincent Nunes has been recording and performing children's music for more than two decades. Based in Rochester, New York, we were unaware of his material until just recently. A longtime attorney, it was the birth of his daughter that drew Vincent to the world of children's music. With his kids now grown (and into the music world themselves), he is seeking to extend his reach past the tri-state region.

Vincent's new CD, SMART SONGS FOR ACTIVE CHILDREN, is about as self-explanatory as one could imagine. You get some story songs, like Bill Harley. You also get songs that sound right out of the Raffi catalog ("The Rain Falls on Everyone"). There are many performers (I've just named a couple) who are doing exactly the same thing, for just as long, with much more success. But that's a credit to them and not necessarily a knock on Nunes. One makes choices in life and chooses their priorities. Time will tell if he can maneuver into a prime position on the kindie scene.

Vincent uses his past as the song of a Portuguese musician with songs such as "They Speak Spanish (But in Brazil, They Speak Portuguese)" and "Lullaby for Lucy (A Portuguese Lullaby)." But the multi-cultural component is underplayed. The album certainly does not play like each song is a lesson unto itself. And you get some nice child harmonies from the Big Bad Kitchen Band Choir on "Mr. Murphy's Most Amazing Super Savings Store."

In the end, it all comes down to what your kids like to listen to, and what you want them to hear. We're still looking for new artists. And sometimes "new" means "existing" (who wants to call someone old). Whether it's the Hipwaders or Vincent Nunes, there's lots of stuff arriving on the scene. This fall, back to school also means back to the iPod and CD player.

YEAR-ROUND SOUNDS is available September 23 from the Hipwaders website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.

SMART SONGS FOR ACTIVE CHILDREN is available from Vincent Nunes' website and Amazon.

Here is the new video to Vincent's song "Nobody's Going to Keep Me Down":

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 28, 2014

When You're Smiling – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Ben – Zee Avi
I Love the Rain – The Real Tuesday Weld
Roar – Katy Perry
My Daddy's Record Collection – Sugar Free Allstars
National Hiccup Day – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
I Love Music (feat. Wordsmith) – Rhymezwell
The Girl With the Squirrel in Her Hat  – Caspar Babypants
My Dad – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
Sisters and Brothers – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Be a Mime – Eric Herman
Speeding Motorcycle – The Pastels
The Roach Waved Hello – Chibi Kodama
Callooh Callay – Pointed Man Band
Pretty Crabby – Caspar Babypants
When I'm Ten – Recess Monkey & The Not-Its

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Getting A Sunburn – Recess Monkey
The Bicycle Song – Eric Herman
Thingamajig – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Apple Tree – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Fill It Up – Josh And The Jamtones
Freak Out – Astrograss
Bird in an Airplane Suit – Caspar Babypants
Nutritious – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 22, 2014

Broken Record (Featuring Mista Cookie Jar) – Stacey Peasley
Alligator – Paul McCartney
Me And Julio – The Little Rockers Band
Archaeology – Danny Weinkauf
Boo! – Trout Fishing In America
Brave – Sara Bareilles
Food Fight – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Love The Way You Lie (Part II) – Rihanna Feat. EminemAM

Arise! More Reasons to Babypants Your Kids


I'll say that about Caspar Babypants (aka Chris Ballew).

I don't mean it in a bad way, either. His stuff is consistent. Consistently good. For a guy who is producing one CD every nine months, on average, Chris has a pretty high batting average.

His eighth release, RISE AND SHINE! is no exception. After a Beatles-esque detour last year, Chris is back to mining the minds of preschoolers with a collection of original tunes and reworkings of chestnuts like "Rock A Bye Baby" and "Hush Little Baby." Instead of being reverent and treating the songs as sacrosanct, Mr. Babypants stretches them like taffy to their logical conclusions.

For pure silliness, you also get "The Girl With the Squirrel in Her Hat" and "Bird in an Airplane Suit." Chris is happy to provide the "stories behind the songs" on his website. However he has yet to get around to whatever original thoughts provoked these two tunes.

Chris is seriously dedicated to delivering silly and sweet children's music. With guest vocals from Rachel Flotard and Jen Wood, his latest disc is crammed with ideas, characters, and concepts. If there's any theme to RISE AND SHINE!, it's a "day in one disc." After "Good Morning," the littlest worm and the silly bird get their own songs (for some reason, the early bird helps close out the CD). The album ends with the one-two drowsy punch of "Sleepy Eyed" and "Bye Bye Day."

Let me be clear: Caspar Babypants is not trying to teach your children. He is not trying to force them to their feet to dance. He is not even interested in indoctrinating them to new styles of world or multi-cultural ethnic homogenization. He wants to entertain your kids, however long their attention spans may be. And if 19 songs in 49 minutes can't keep your wee ones from nipping at your heels, then you've got bigger fish to fry. Hmm, that's a concept ready-made for Chris.

RISE AND SHINE! is available Tuesday, September 19 from Caspar Babypants' website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for Caspar Babypants' song "I Found You":