Category Archives: song reviews

Don’t call it “kiddie music”… It’s rock n’ roll to me!

ROcksteady Josh and the Jamtones

Nobody rocks harder than Josh and the Jamtones. Period.  Other bands are equal too but nobody surpasses the kinetic energy this band brings to shows and CD’s. Once they get moving this Jam is hard to stop!  I’d class them sharing the most energetic kindie band title with The Not-Its (one of our favorites and awesome live shows!).  These are bands that can rock out with anyone.  Don’t just call it “kiddie music.” There is a whole lot going on here for the whole family!  On their upcoming release Rocksteady, Josh and the Jamtones folk Josh Jamtonesbring all that power once again. Not only that but I think this is their most cohesive effort to date. Don’t misunderstand me. The music is always infectious, horn powered and rocking!  While I loved the music I found the narration on their  last effort  Bear Hunt a little distracting. However my kids found it hilarious. So-what-do-I-know???  On this one the whole clan is in agreement and Rocksteady has been sharing space in the much vaunted car CD player with Red Yarn’s upcoming release (review next week). The groves and vibes are so good on this CD it’d make Pooh forget about honey, Snow White forget about that poison apple and Scrooge a good tipper!  Rocksteady is a infectious, skatastic driven, old school, original  horn powered reggae music festival of kinetic joy!  When it comes out GO BUY IT!  The CD releases on August 21st and will be available at the Jamtones page plus iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.  Go support an independent artist today!!!  Check out the first video from the new CD Rocksteady below!!!

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This Years Rymer Recipient

It’s with a bit of irony that the man who I named the award for best Children’s Album that should of been nominated for a Grammy but wasn’t is himself nominated for a Grammy this year. Brady Rymer.  He latest effort Just Say HI!BradyRymerJustSayHi is pretty darn good.  Almost as brilliant as the one I started this award about (Love Me For Who I Am) and another excellent effort. A big congrats too getting the Grammy Nomination this year as he is an artist well deserving of it.  So are his fellow nominees Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, The Pop Ups and previous winners The Okee Dokee Brothers.  The fifth spot is filled not by a musical artist but by the book reading of the inspiring story and Nobel Peace prize winning – I Am Malala.  I have already spoken on how I think this has been placed in the wrong category in a previous post (Comparing Apples to Steak…).  No the guys whom I thought put out the Best of the Best musically this year for “Children” this year did it all analog. I am referring to those guys from Seattle – The School Break Primates. Better known to the public at large as Recess Monkey! The put out one smoking hot CD  called WIRED Cover Art_Recess Monkey_72 dpiWIRED which filled my number one spot this year on my top ten  (and my amended top ten). In fact all the nominees except for the book reading were in my top ten!  So please go check out WIRED as it is a superior product as well as the rest of the nominees as they are well worth the listen. Go support an independent artist today.

 

The song I wish I had written. Kalamazoo Star by Gerald Dowd.

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The best written song I have heard this year is the non-kindie type written by all things a drummer in a kindie band. A DRUMMER! Yes though I am not as shocked and amazed as you might think. The song is Kalamazoo Star and it’s written by one Gerald Dowd.  Most of the time you find him behind his kit backing one of the many fine bands he plays and sings with (Justin Roberts, Robbie Fulks, Frisbie, Kelly HoganElectric Dirt, etc) but, on this occasion he has released a CD of his own material.  Home Now is a great example of American Music and Kalamazoo Star is as good a song as one can ever hope to write. A superior CD with filled with great American music.  Props to Liam Davis stars-in-the-night-sky(producer), John Abbey (engineer) and the many wonderful musicians and singers (too many to list) behind the music. As good as the CD is this tune stands apart.  The magic of the song is its positive message in the face of and mournful and sad occasion. Add in the fact the band itself sounds like they could be playing on your front porch, barn, campfire etc. It’s a celebration of life in the face of death and it’s all done in a single take (They saved the best take for last!).  “There’s another star in the Kalamazoo Sky tonight. Same old sky but it feels brand new”. Someone special has passed on and even in death they are looking over family and friends. It’s poignant, sweet and smart. Anyone who ever penned a song wishes they could write songs like this. Thanks for this one Gerald. I’ll be looking for that star next time I’m in Michigan.  So where can you get this CD.  Head on over to www.geralddowd.com and he’s supposed to have it available by Friday.  You can also catch him in the street or a concert venue near you. I’m sure he’ll gladly sell you a copy or two. I intend to buy a bunch as Christmas gifts this year. Go and support an independent music artist today!

The Song and the Process. I Must Be a Genius by Dean Jones

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Dean Jones is busy these days recording other peoples music.  When I called he was in a session with Molly Ledford (Lunch Money) and Billy Kelly who are working on a project (they had stepped out for lunch). He also works or has worked with with Story Laurie, Recess Monkey and those two Grammy winning children’s music impostors (they’re really great folk musicians in disguise) The Okee Dokee Brothers and many others.  Dean’s really a go to guy when it comes to music production but he is also a most talented songwriter in his own right and likeable fellow as well.  There aren’t a lot of smartly written love songs in the kindie music world that I know of.  The two that come to mind are Pandas are Dangerous by The Boogers and I Must Be A Genuis by Dean Jones. While the Pandas song isdog on fleas bogof totally Punk Rock (still sentimental) this one is more charming and sweet reminiscent of the 40’s piano driven pop song.  I think Bing Crosby but I digress…  When asked where the song came from Dean said “Out of the blue. Some of the best songs are BOOM. The Phrase just came out.”  So he had the I must be a genius and the love me, love you too part so he needed music.  He went to his default chord structure.   A bunch of chords he was used to writing in (mine is E A D). Dean wasn’t always a kindie music guy.  He had a band like all those other bands out there and one day his  friend who owns a toy store told him “his songs where juvenile.  Why not write songs for kids?” So that’s what he did and Dog on Fleas was Born.  When not writing or producing music he also plays out professionally, accompanies  a puppet company plus Dad and dishwashing duties. Dean is married with two kids one of whom is already songwriting at 7 yrs old and in his (Dean) words “Writes good stuff.”  Me, I’m thinking Dean writes really cool offbeat tunes and with this song he is quite genius indeed with this shuffling drum, trombone highlighted, piano driven two minute masterpiece.  Go check out  this song on Buy One Get One Flea!  Go check out all of his work and go support an independent artist today!

Some of our favorite Kindie Vids!

I was looking at youtube the other day and noticed some really great kindie videos aren’t getting the views they deserve cause they’re pretty darn good! Here are some of the family favorites

Justin Roberts Obsessed by Trucks.  Who doesn’t have that family member who drives them crazy with a particular obsession?

The HipwadersEducated Kid.  Really great animations with a bit of humor.  One of our favorite bands

The Boogers Pandas are Dangerous.  A great DIY shoot by The Boogers themselves and a punk rock love song disguised by Pandas!

Tim and the Space CadetsSuperhero.  Tim is a busy guy these days with playing bass on Americas Got Talent (houseband), Tambourine Guy with the brilliant Post Modern Jukebox and hanging out with Chica (Sunny Side Up Show).  But before all that he put out one of the all time best kindie videos ever!  You be the judge…

The Song and the Process. Imaginary Friend by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

 

secret agent 23

Here’s a crazy fun fact! Would you believe that Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and I lived within a half block of each other in 1994? Right here in Chicago by Belmont and Clark? Well it’s true!  What is also true is the genius of this song and writing from the view of an imaginary friend who looks at the world in the belief that he’s real and the boy he hangs with is the imaginary one.   It all started with the idea for a song about imaginary friends.  Mr. Skidoo let it marinate in the brain awhile.  Like myself 23 is a big fan of comics and the idea of the parallel or multiverse.  This is where the idea of what if the Imaginary Friend had a universe of his own.  Telling the song not only from the child characters point of skidoo-photo6-lgview but making it a duet by having Pickles (the Imaginary Friend) who believes he’s real and the child he’s with imaginary contribute to the story. Two universes in one song!   So the idea is set and now he sets up Pirate/ Sea Shanty hook.  Which is how the Skidoo Process works.  IDEA – HOOK – MUSIC – LYRICS.  He tends to write when he has to. He disappeared for a month writing for this CD though he is storing ideas all the time in his phone. The ideas use to exist on scraps of paper under a stuffed monkey (which may be a song idea of its own) but with technology he may be saving a few trees. But I digress…  Because he’s now living in California and likes to record back with his crew in North Carolina there was a bit of travel involved with the CD.  For him the funky music groove he needed was where he had done his previous album in NC. The musicians do a fantastic job (I love the horns and the spooky keyboard).   He has one ending written but ends up changing it under the advice of his wife (a honest sounding board is very helpful).  Now he needs a pirate voice so he calls his pirate buddy (Of Course Secret Agent 23 Skidoo has a pirate buddy) to lay down perfect quirka vocal but… too scary.  How about Jack Forman (We’re big fans of this Recess Monkey/KPL DJ)?  Too nice.  So Skidoo is showing another vocalist what he’s looking for and bingo.  He finds that groove he’s looking for within himself.  Not too scary or nice but just right!  If you like smart songs with a funky haunted house vibe and great horn play check out this song.  Right now Secret Agent is in the middle of a National tour, finishing up a Halloween song and putting out a 7” vinyl with The Not-It’s.  Imaginary Friend can be found on The Perfect Quirk. So go listen to Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and support a Kindie Artist today!

 

School Break Primates (aka Recess Monkey) are at it AGAIN!

WIRED Cover Art_Recess Monkey_72 dpi

I mentioned while talking about Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and his wonderful Imaginary Friend (on The Perfect Quirk, June 24) was sharing space in the coveteded car CD slot with WIRED by Recess Monkey.  This is one my favorite CD’s this year.  I could go on and on about the entire CD. How they recorded in San Francisco with John Vanderslice, recorded it on 2″ tape, a minivan of unused instruments but I already did that in my interview with Drew Hollaway… Opening track Take Your Kid To Work Day is just electric mayhem (sounds like a name for a band…). Seriously this one song gets you pumped up for the whole day. Great funky bass, smokin’ guitar licks and primal drums rhythms all make you want to dance.  Lyrically it’s just so much fun as a kid describesrecess monkey segway a day at dad’s (or moms) workplace. The whole CD is reflected in the vibe of this one song which will be available to you on JUNE 17th.  GO!  This is an amazing CD and you should buy it on pre-sale today. Go support a kindie artist today!