Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bringing the Silly With Andrew & Polly

A good (no, great) portion of children's music is about getting silly. And the more psyched the performers are about getting in touch with their inner silly child, the better the music gets.

Andrew & Polly are really silly, in that good way. They have compiled songs from their kid's podcast, Ear Snacks, into a new collection. Titled sensibly EAR SNACKS: SONGS FROM THE PODCAST, you get a dozen tunes that resonate instantly with listeners. We just returned from a long road trip and "Grapes" and "I Wanna Be a Giraffe" were big singalongs. As far as the silly, "Why is Fruit Fruit?" is actually two songs in one, since it meanders from the central theme to a tale of lost house keys.

Sarcasm is an acquired taste and Andrew & Polly tend to shy away from that particular brand of humor, based on their audience age range (3-7). Matt hits that sweet spot and Ben, while older, does not really appreciate top-notch snark. He enjoyed the gentle "How Can You Tell If It's Going to Rain?" and farfisa-organ opener "Dancing Pants," featuring LA kindie rapper extraordinaire Mista Cookie Jar.

Andrew & Polly visit old concepts with new eyes (using the vantage point from their two-year-old son Izzy). EAR SNACKS may lack a central theme but listeners can hear genuine enthusiasm as well as stellar production values. I'll take that over another acoustic lecture about family values any day.

EAR SNACKS: SONGS FROM THE PODCAST is available on September 30 from Andrew & Polly's website, iTunes, CDBABY, and Amazon.

Here is the video for Andrew & Polly's song, "Ballphabet":

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 22, 2016

Chain Reaction – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Do You Talk To Yourself – Dean Jones
Don't Fence Me In – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Oh Island in the Sun – Aaron Nigel Smith
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
Small Bird – Caspar Babypants
So Gazed Upon – Cat Doorman
The Ultimate Frisbee –  Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 18, 2016

Clap Your Hands  – Red Yarn & Mo Phillips
Eyes on the Prize  – Cat Doorman Cat Doorman
Hammer  – Aaron Nigel Smith
Have You Ever Been Real  –  Dean Jones
The Only One   – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Rattlesnake  – Caspar Babypants
Run For The Sunshine  –  Sunshine Collective

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Amistad (Featuring Dan Zanes) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
Banana Bread – Caspar Babypants
Forever Young  – Andrew & Polly
Hamsterdam – Ratboy Jr.
Look At Those Clouds – Danny Weinkauf
One – Aaron Nigel Smith
To and Fro – Cat Doorman

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Because I Love You – Caspar Babypants
Brain Freeze – The Not-Its!
Fourth Day Of July – Red Yarn
Fresh Spokes (Featuring Susan Lapidus) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
Ghostbusters – Andrew & Polly
People Watching – Dean Jones
T.L.C. – Alison Faith Levy

Caspar Babypants Takes Us Away Once More

The ever-prolific and versatile Caspar Babypants (aka Chris Ballew) has returned to Stompy the Bear's home territory for his newest kid's CD, AWAY WE GO (artwork as always by illustrator spouse Kate Endle).

The world of Caspar Babypants is filled with such fantastic creatures as "Sleepy Snail And Speedy Spider" and "Jellyfish Jones." And Chris loves to take cherished nursery rhyme songs and add his own signature twist – and additional verses. This time it's "Pop Goes The Weasel." In Chris's mind, the song is now about a 1960s band from London that sings for shillings in the streets.

As a prodigious baker, I was quite taken with "Banana Bread," the saga of fruit gone nearly-bad but still salvageable. In going through the "stories behind the songs," I learned that Chris wrote this tune with his late father. He has completed an amusing tribute that has already inspired many car singalongs:

Me and the boys have been together for so long
We grew up on a banana tree and learned to sing this song
All the young bananas learned it in case they get forgotten
So people don't throw them out just because they look a little bit rotten

Chris tends to deal with simple, gentle concepts with a whimsical, friendly access point for young children. Chris's alternative past has led him through a looking glass to a similar vantage point for kids. Everything is possible, everything can be fun, away we go. Caspar Babypants CD come out at quite an incredible rate. This is apparently the age of Babypants, so enjoy "Tiny Horse," "Moody Susan," "Chicken In The Cornbread," and all the characters who join the parade in this 2016 edition.

AWAY WE GO! is available from Caspar's website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.

Here is the first video from the CD, "Mr. Cloud:"

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 15, 2016

Crazy Mountain Road – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band Here Comes The Sun – Andrew & Polly Loving & Kind – Aaron Nigel Smith Loving Cup – Cat Doorman Take Me Away – Sunshine Collective Washington, Dc – The Not-Its!

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Forever Young – Andrew & Polly
Sourwood Mountain – Red Yarn
Amnesia – 5 Seconds of Summer
Cow Cow Yippee – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Tomorrow's People  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Kid Of The Week – The Not-Its!
My Favorite Sneakers – In The Nick Of Time

Monday, August 08, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

All In A Day – Alastair Moock & Friends
Rest Easy Now – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Ghost Riders in the Sky – Andy Z
Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama
Sons and Daughters  – The Bazillions

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 8, 2016

Thank You for the Box – Andrew & Polly
Hello – Adele
Don't Stop – 5 Seconds of Summer
Sunday Morning – Maroon 5
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
New – Paul McCartney

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 5, 2016

Fun – Coldplay Feat. Tove Lo
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
Road Trip – In The Nick Of Time
Harder To Breathe – Maroon 5
Right Side of the Bed – Ratboy Jr.
California Kids – Weezer

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 4, 2016

River Lea  – Adele
One After 909  – Caspar Babypants
What Kind Of Fruit  – Dean Jones
Jersey Dinosaurs – Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam
Thank You (feat. R. City) – Meghan Trainor
Wind in Our Sail – Weezer
DJ All Day – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday August 3, 2016

Shake a Friend's Hand – Andy Z
Amazing Day – Coldplay
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Permanent Vacation – 5 Seconds Of Summer
Bad Haircut – the Bazillions
Oh Island in the Sun – Aaron Nigel Smith

Vids from 23 Skidoo and M.O.M., Sara Lovell's Got You

My five-year-old does not play video games much. I mean, I practically beg him to play something, anything. But he'd rather watch videos on the iPad. And never mind when the 15-minute timer goes off. He's got a response: "It's almost over," which buys him anywhere from 2-10 minutes.

I try to stay focused so he doesn't wind up spending 30 minutes immersed in video, but with his big brother diverting attention, it's a lot like cat herding – you can try, but you don't often succeed. New York-based rapper Princess Superstar (aka M.O.M.) feels my pain. Her new video, "Put Down Your iPad I'll Put Down My Phone!" deals with this dilemma. You can also contribute to her Indiegogo campaign, "These Are Magic Days," a collection of songs and videos to help program a high emotional intelligence in kids.

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is wasting no time in promoting his new CD, INFINITY PLUS ONE. The video for a non-space-related tune, "Young Soul," has hit the Web. And frankly, you can't watch it sitting down. Just try. And I'm in an open workspace.

Single mom Sara Lovell has written a musical love letter to her six-year-old child. YOU'VE GOT ME is a sweet, ethereal odyssey; 18 tracks that cover a gamut of topics with warmth, clarity, and charm. Lovell is nearly a Sarah MacLachlan for the toddler set.

Sara segued from her adult contemporary to parent conventional sound while missing nary a drum beat. You can tell who inspired such songs as "Dance Like There's Music in Your Pants" and "Oh I'm Bored." There's a soothing calm to "Tell Me Who's the Monster." And the title track paints a plaintive bonding mantra:

You can reach for my hand
I'll be there
You can call for a friend
And you turn around, oh you turn around
Now you know you've got me
You've got me

Sara has embraced the principles of elementary children's music. YOU'VE GOT ME is a primer for early listeners, nearly an hour of tunes that alternately amusing and informs ("Everybody Has a Body"). Single parenthood is something that Sara embraced. She is now spreading that embrace to families through her music. She's got her son and as a result, listeners now have a chance to get her songs for families.

YOU'VE GOT ME is available from Sara's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes (link to come).

Monday, August 01, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Other Days – Andrew & Polly
Hammer – Aaron Nigel Smith
Boredinary – Chibi Kodama
Humans Are Still Evolving – Dean Jones
Best Friend – In The Nick Of Time
L.A. Girlz – Weezer
Hamsterdam – Ratboy Jr.