Friday, December 26, 2014

Kindie Quick Hits: Billy Jonas Returns, Jefrey Au-Go-Go Debuts

Five years is an eternity in children's music. You can miss a whole generation and suddenly there's a new audience that has no awareness of you. Say "Billy Jonas" to the parent of an under-eight child and the most likely response is, "Which one of the Jonas Brothers was he?"

Putting those references to rest, Billy Jonas has returned to the recording studio with his full ensemble – the Billy Jonas Band – for BUILD IT BACK AGAIN. First off, Billy does return to the quirky wordplay and serious frivolity of "What Kind of..." that he initially generated in 2002 with "What Kind of Cat Are You," his breakout, signature song. The new release has "What Kind of Bear Are You," which moves from bears to fish to bats.

Billy has yet to meet a pun he didn't want to include in his music. "Hairy Things" is not necessarily about hirsute people or animals. For instance, Hogwarts isn't about hairy, it's about Harry. You get the picture. The full band allows Billy to produce some sweeping harmonies and simply messaging on the title track and "It's Good For You And Good For Me":

Mama always held my baby sister in her arms.
She said, "I'm scared she'll stumble. I must shelter her from harm."
One day she let her go, she fell, it was for the best.
Sister learned to walk and mama's shoulders got a rest.

If you're into ecology, into people, into music that only sometimes takes itself seriously, then you'll be happy to hear that Billy Jonas is back in business.

BUILD IT UP AGAIN is available from Billy's website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.

Here is the video of their song, "Fireworks of Applause":

When your target audience ages out at 7 or 8, you really better like little kids. They have short attention spans and while basic stuff impresses them, if it comes off as phony to their parents, you're through. Jefrey Au-Go-Go (Jeff Siler) seeks to be a Pee-Wee Herman in the truest form of the notion – a character with character, but not a joke.

Our younger son is right in that "sweet spot" now. He's four and loves to listen to music. First it was only his older (13) brother's stuff. But as the older one turned to Rihanna and Five Seconds of Summer, the little nipper decided to pursue his own tastes. So far, he did not seem impressed by Jefrey. Perhaps that's due to exposure to so many children's artists. Perhaps that's due to the setting – we were having dinner at the first listening. But then again, he's burst into spontaneous singalongs just when we thought he was tuning something out.

Finally, perhaps it's just that after you've seen the Wiggles, it's tough to introduce a one-man operation, especially without the video component. I'll introduce the YouTube rendition of "Peter the Pushy Pup" and see if that does anything. But once again, if you've ever tried to force a youngster to have medication, you know that they can sense when something is being forced down their throat. So far we have to give Jefrey an A for effort and a C for connection on this end.

JEFREY AU-GO-GO is available at Jefrey's website, Amazon, and CDBABY.

Here is the video from "Peter the Pushy Pup":

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