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":

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sing To Me – Walter Martin
I Got You – Jack Johnson
Pendulum – Pearl Jam
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Now Let's Dance – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Jump On The Moon – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Don't Touch My Stuff! – Trout Fishing In America
Brick By Brick – Recess Monkey
Swing Low – Josh And The Jamtones

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
You Remind Me Of You – Jack Johnson
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Lose My Mind – The Wanted
My Own Detective – Tom Chapin
Shrimp – Recess Monkey
The Flying Fox – Davy Andrews
Jim-A-Long Josie – Jr. Madness
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Flat Stanley – Play Date

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Turn! Turn! Turn! – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Electric Guitar – Laura Doherty
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
You Can Do This – Hullabaloo
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
A Million Ways to Play – Eric Herman
Unstoppable – Salim Nourallah
Born To Rock – David Tobocman
Raise Your Hand – The Not-Its!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 18, 2014

Till the Sun Goes Down – Poochamungas
Dream a Little Dream of Me – Zee Avi
The World Is a Wonderful Place  – Nora and One Left
Ice Cream Soup  –  Jambo
Show Me A Sign – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
Stay in the Pool  – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym Jam
Metaphor  – The Alphabeticians
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 15, 2014

Change – Jack Johnson Feat. Ben Harper
Who Loves the Sun – Zee Avi
Smile in My Heart – Suzi Shelton
Don't Fill Up On Chips – Randy Kaplan
Roller coaster – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Constant Sorrow (feat. Dan Zanes & Coolie Ranx) – Father Goose
Up Periscope – Recess Monkey
Human Bean – Dean Jones
Throw Me Something Mister – Jazzy Ash

Multicultural Movement Celebrates Jenkins' 90th

Twenty years ago, Smithsonian Folkways released MORE MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN'S SONGS FROM ELLA JENKINS. Over time, that CD has gained traction and become a perennial favorite for families. Now the label is re-releasing it as part of a celebration of Jenkins' 90th birthday.

Many would say that current kindie performer Laurie Berkner has usurped Jenkins' title as "First Lady of Children's Music." However those would be the parents who are unaware that Jenkins has 60 years in the trenches, educating and entertaining kids around the world before Berkner was even conceived. She received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for her contributions to the recording industry. And the plaudits keep arriving in her golden years.

MORE MULTICULTURAL SONGS is pretty self-explanatory…it's a trip around the world (Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Germany, China, Greece, Russia) with tunes in many languages. As with most of Jenkin's oeuvre, there's a lot of call-and-response as well as hand clapping and other body movements. And there's nothing to a song as simple and expressive as "Shabbat Shalom" (repeat 300x).

The truest test is always exposing one's own children to the music and gauging their interest. Both kids recognized several songs and sang along, even to numbers that they had been unfamiliar with. Jenkins was a master of her craft and MORE MULTICULTURAL SONGS remains one of her seminal works. In her 90th year, she can rest well knowing her legacy is being preserved and that the traditions she fostered are being cultivated by her kindie disciples.

MORE MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN'S SONGS FROM ELLA JENKINS is available from Smithsonian Folkways' website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 14, 2014

Les Petits Poissons – The Good Ms Padgett
When the World Was New – Dean Jones
Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
Alive – Eric Herman AM
The Owie Song – David Tobocman
H-U-L-L-A-B-A-L-O-O – Hullabaloo
Imaginationology – Jon Samson
Monsters – Edukator, Jr.
Unconditionally  – Katy Perry

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Till There Was You – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Changes – David Bowie
Recess – Justin Roberts
Hundredaires – Dog On Fleas
Light of Love – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Shutterbug  – Recess Monkey
Kids in America – The Muffs
Take Back the Night – Justin Timberlake

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Radiate – Jack Johnson
Sleepover – Ellen & Mark
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Jamaica Ska (feat. Coolie Ranx & Little Goose) – Father Goose
Just Say Hi! – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
The Hustle – Van McCoy
Combination Pizza Hut – Das Racist
Sunshine – The Twigs

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 11, 2014

Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band
Lucky Day – Stacey Peasley
New – Paul McCartney
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
This Moment – Katy Perry
Mooshpie – The Whirlygigs
Join a Rock and Roll Band – Dean Jones
Loose Change – Joe Hall And The Treehouse Band
Up In Cat's Room – David Heatley

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 8, 2014

Great Day – The Not-Its!
Lightning Bolt – Pearl Jam
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone
Can We Buy a New Car (So I Can Have a Balloon) – Eric Herman
Glass Bottom Boat – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym Jam
Mockingbird – Lee Alexander
Shake It Off! – Uncle Rock
Puppet Playground – The Pop Ups
Voodoo Doll – 5 Seconds of Summer

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 7, 2014

Long Gone – Recess Monkey
Potted Plant Guy – David Heatley
That's Just Us (Playing Rock-n-Roll) – Hullabaloo
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
The Ballad of Ben – Danny Weinkauf
Haircut – The Not-Its!
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Robot Dance – The Pop Ups
Amnesia – 5 Seconds of Summer

Appetite for Music Builds for the Pop-Ups

The Pop-Ups are all about kinetic energy, which is also what kids are all about. It's no coincidence that these three things effortlessly merge on APPETITE FOR CONSTRUCTION, the duo's third CD.

Their bio does not state how Jacob Stein and Jason Rabinowitz first met. But who really needs to know; I'm a children's music reviewer not the NSA. The guys set out to interact with the kids on their level and that includes activities. This may explain why "Glitter Everywhere" features a power saw sound effect.

In order to test their theory that building things was a good theme for their new release, the Pop-Ups released two singles, "All These Shapes" and "Costume Party." The songs received an enthusiastic reaction and heavy airplay on SiriusXM Kids Place Live. And a concept album was born.

Much like how Recess Monkey devise a theme and structure the songs around it, the Pop-Ups' checklist covers many bases: Build a companion? Check – the disco "Robot Dance." Making a collage? Yep – with horns and harmonies, "Pictures Making Pictures." Playing outside and dealing with insects – the 70s sounding "Bug Out."

You can't separate the arts from the crafts or the family from the participation aspect of the CD. "I wish that Craft Night was every single day," the guys sing on "Craft Night," and they mean it. The Pop-Ups may sound polished, professional, and peppy, but they're a work in progress. Why else would they produce their music (and t-shirts and puppets) in an open garage in Brooklyn? Possibly because they like kids? They really, really like kids? Yes, quite possibly that could be it. If the Pop-Ups had a mantra, it could be "the music is building and the building is music." Batteries not included, of course.

APPETITE FOR CONSTRUCTION is available August 19 from the Pop-Ups website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the band's song, "Costume Party":

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 5, 2014

a wild one – Justin Roberts
Desert Dogs – Shiprock and Anchordog
Fortune Cookie – The Little Rockers Band
You Are An Astronaut – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Duck Ellington – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Pumpin Blood – NONONO
Is This a Joke? – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer

Monday, August 04, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes – Kristin Andreassen
Cheese World – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Grandpa Is A Time Machine – Recess Monkey
Everybody Out There  – Paul McCartney
Earn It – Hullabaloo
Shakin' Up The Pollen – ScribbleMonster
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow
BroOKlyn – Mil's Trills
Don't Stop – 5 Seconds of Summer

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 4, 2014

You Got It On – Justin Timberlake
Little Things – One Direction
Imagination – Shine and the Moonbeams
Like a Bird Must – Hullabaloo
Motorcycle Mom – The Not-Its!
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
It's a Beautiful Day – Suzi Shelton