Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Is It Live or Coming Up Lacking?

An Age-Old Question for the Wanna Bees and Kira Willey

Music can be deceiving. Sometimes when I review a CD, I instantly "get" the concept, if there is one. Other times, I feel as if I'm missing something – perhaps in the presentation or because the music cries out for the accompanying live experience.

The Wanna Bees' new CD, DREAM BIG, falls into that chasm. Fronted by "Doctor Dan" (Chuck Riepenhoff) and "Builder Brad" (Rob Donaldson), the disc introduces a series of characters (and their cohorts) to listeners. But it comes off as mostly a laundry list. First they ask "Do You Like (Vet)." That's followed by "Valerie Vet." That's followed by Valerie's pal "Stephanie Stethoscope." Next is "Do You Like (Fireman)" and you can tell what's coming after that. By the time we got to "(Hooray for) Heidi Hose," my wife asked, "How many more songs?"

I don't want to seem too down on the guys. Clearly the Wanna Bees want to rock out while promoting occupations and showing kids all the fun things they can grow up to become. But the repetition did become a bit numbing. Princess Katie and Racer Steve play characters as well, but they never released a CD that doubled as a checklist of things you'd appreciate more in a stage show.

Speaking of live experiences, when you go to a Kira Willey concert, sometimes a yoga lesson sneaks in. Kira is keen on music and the mind-body connection and her third CD, HOW TO BE A CLOUD, mixes and mingles those concepts.

On CLOUD, there are 13 kids songs along with nine yoga tracks. Once again, listening to yoga tracks when you are not doing yoga reminds you that there's nothing like a live music experience. But the 13 kids songs are another story entirely.

"Dancing With My Daddy" is a melodic rhumba. The almost-misnamed "Jazzy" seems more of a country tune. "Colors (2014)" is a remix of her 2008 song that was used in a Dell TV commercial. The title track, "How to Be A Cloud, should not be confused with the Dean Jones song of the same name. It's an ethereal harmonic song, later reprised (as are many of the others) as a yoga track (with directions over the music bed).

As always, I cannot over-emphasize taking your children to a live music performance. In the case of the Wanna Bees, they may discover the joys of being a fireman. With Kira Willey, they can jump around and do a series of relaxing poses. Either way, their new CDs provide the blueprints.

DREAM BIG is available November 11 from the Wanna Bees website, Amazon, and iTunes.

HOW TO BE A CLOUD is available on November 18 from Kira Willey's website, SoundCloud, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is a video of Kira Willey's song, "ROLLER COASTER":

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