Thursday, June 09, 2016

Kindie Quick Hits: Free Recess Monkey Single, Music from Jammin' Randy and Alphabet Rockers

Recess Monkey is back! The Seattle-based kindie trio will be releasing their 13th (!) CD, NOVELTIES, next week (watch for my review). In the meantime, you can grab the first single, "Time to Make to Donuts," from Amazon Music, for free, through June 23.

Both kids were super-anxious to get their hands on this release as Jack, Korum, and Drew are among their favorite recording artists – that includes music for grown-ups, too. They are already walking around the house singing along to this tune (and "Every Flavor"). So click wisely and click often, before June 23.

Speaking of children's music from all over the place, Kansas-based Randy Sauer (Jammin' Randy) recently released his new CD, BE KIND (and yes, the title track does end with "Rewind"). A longtime music educator and award-winning teacher, Randy's guitar-twanging tunes have them rocking in the great plains. There must, I mean must be children's music everywhere and especially live music. His original compositions delighted his students. Smash-cut to 25 years later and Randy performing throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

Rap has completely infiltrated the heartland, as evidenced by "Hip Hop Shake." Guest vocalist Natalie Metcalf delivers soothing vocals to the elementary-school ballad "I Need a Friend." Any Nick Lowe fans out there? "Cool to be Kind" is a title that harkens back to days of Rockpile but delivers a positive message about doing the right thing. Having just written about the Crazy Frog, I'm sure that "Rusty the Robot Gets Fit" is one of the best ways to use vocal distortion to get kids to exercise while driving parents up the wall.

Inspiring kids, creating a love of music, and promoting values are the holy trinity of kindie music. Randy Sauer has spent a lifetime, in-school and independently, delivering on those promises. The least I can do is draw some attention to his activity and his music.

BE KIND is available from Randy's website and iTunes.

Heading back to the West Coast, the Alphabet Rockers dropped their latest EP, THE PLAYGROUND ZONE. The duo of Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shepherd use the culture of hip-hop much in the same way as Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and Mista Cookie Jar – heavy on the beats and easy on the lectures.

Even the song titles play off the tropes of hip-hop. "Players Life" is all about respecting the rules of authority, such as in the playground. "Wiggle Jiggle" is a party-in-the-bouncy-house kind of jam. "That's Your Name, Wear It Out" is about pride, pronunciation, and performance (as in dancing). "Gimme Some Skin" refers to high-fiving your peers of all shades. "Oddball" points out that everybody has something that makes them a little different. The EP concludes with power ballad "Change the World":

Wishing for a day when we don't have to hide who we are
How we pray how we love
Where people stand up, stand up for what's right

The nature of kindie demands inclusion; that's the very heart of every kindie song – are you enjoying yourself? Are you singing along? Do you want to participate? While mainstream artists struggle with declaring what side they're on, kindie artists have consistently been on the right side, forward-facing for the future. With THE PLAYGROUND ZONE, the Alphabet Rockers may have crafted only 17 minutes of music, but the songs are right for the times and right on.

THE PLAYGROUND ZONE is available from the Alphabet Rockers' website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.
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