Thursday, October 08, 2015

Smiles Ahead and Much Love from Vivi Melody

Last week, Amazon Prime Music announced its new streaming service for children's music featuring the Pop-Ups and (upcoming) Lisa Loeb. This week, Mighty Mo Productions goes back to the future to release its first physical CD, a sampler of independent kindie music entitled SMILES AHEAD.

What a difference a week makes, hmmm? It's an era of Kickstarter and Indiegogo and other crowdfunding sites that children's artists (among others) use to scrounge resources to produce music. Are the two concepts diametrically opposed? I'm sure Amazon will embrace music produced independently. Many of the tracks on SMILES AHEAD have been released by the artists themselves, such as Brady Rymer's "Jump Up!" and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's "You're It!" There is no shortage of exclamation points on this compilation, by the way.

Rissi Palmer brings a touch of soulful country to "Best Day Ever" (not the Spongebob kid's favorite) and local artist Katydid makes her spotlight debut with "The Together Song." Kira Willey's "Gotta Lotta Happy" makes a welcome re-appearance after its debut on her yoga CD earlier this year. As Matthew pointed out when we tracked SMILES AHEAD during dinner, SiriusXM's Kids Place played the song over the weekend. You also get Frances England, Caspar Babypants, and the Okee-Dokee Brothers, among others.

Jim "Mr. Stinky Feet" Cosgrove deserves credit for stepping into an arena where even Disney washed its hands and went back to its tween offerings. Mighty Mo is taking a different path – issuing compilations rather than fully-fleshed brand spanking new music. The Verve Pipe offered up their new anthem, "Get Happy."

SMILES AHEAD is available October 16 from Mighty Mo's website and Amazon.

Speaking of happy times, Vivi Melody and Family are ridiculously delirious. Or deliriously ridiculous. Their new CD, MORE LOVE, is 15 songs that practically club you into a cuddly coma. "All You Need Is Love" features her dad, Don "Poppy" Villemez, doing his best Willie Nelson-esque recital of the lyrics. An ancient favorite, "A Bushel and a Peck" emerges for the second time in a decade, after Randy Kaplan resurrected it for his shows.

As mentioned, MORE LOVE was a Kickstarter effort. Vivi, her family, and puppet (Goober) stay mostly in their Texas home base. But there's a universal appeal to her concept and whose family couldn't use more love nowadays?

Skewing towards the youngest youngsters (who would think "All You Need is Love" is an original composition), Vivi touches on "The Four Seasons" and includes the "Recycling Song" and a happy-everyone's-all-together singalong "Saturday."

There's a basic decency and clarity to MORE LOVE, without any undercurrent of sarcasm or pretense of adult asides. It's hard to promote a puppet through a CD (even Elmo is a tough sell if your kid doesn't see Sesame Street). But that's why Vivi has her YouTube channel.

MORE LOVE is available from Vivi Melody's website, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video from Vivi Melody's song "We Can Still Be Friends," featuring singer Billy David Millican:

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