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 bring 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!!!
Posted in CD reviews, family, gigs, Kindie, live music, Music, song reviews
Tagged independent, Josh, Josh and the Jamtones, kindie, kinetic energy, music, New CD, reggae music, Rocksteady, ska, The Not-its
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! 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 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.
Posted in CD reviews, family, Kindie, Music, song reviews
Tagged Brady Rymer, Children's, Grammy, kindie, malala, music, nobel peace prize, nomination, Okee Dokee Brothers, Recess Monkey, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, The Pop Ups
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 Hogan, Electric 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 (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!
Posted in CD reviews, Kindie, live music, Music, Recording, song reviews, songwriting
Tagged americana, CD, Gerald Dowd, Home Now, John Abbey, Justin Roberts, Kalamazoo Star, kelly hogan, Liam Davis, music, Robbie Fulks
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 is 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!
Posted in family, Music, Recording, song reviews, video
Tagged Billy Kelly, Children's, dangerous, kindie, Lunch Money, Molly Ledford, music, Pandas, Recess Monkey, Story Laurie, The Boogers, The Okee Dokee Brothers
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 Hipwaders – Educated 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 Cadets – Superhero. 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…
Posted in Kindie, Music, song reviews, video
Tagged children, family, hero, Justin Roberts, kindie, music, Post Modern Jukebox, Super, The Boogers, the hipwaders, Tim and the Space Cadets, Tim Kubart, Trucks
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 view 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 a 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!
Posted in CD reviews, family, Kindie, Music, song reviews, songwriting
Tagged California, friend, hip hop, imginary, kidhop, Kids Place Live, kindie, music, North Carolina', Recess Monkey, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
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 describes 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!
Posted in CD reviews, family, Kindie, Recording, song reviews
Tagged Bass, break, Children's, friend, funky, imaginary, John Vanderslice, kindie, Monkey, music, Primates, Recess, School, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, the perfect quirk, wired
Two CD’s have been rocking the coveted car CD slot are WIRED by Recess Monkey (upcoming review, releases June 17) and the upcoming release from Secret Agent 23 Skidoo The Perfect Quirk.
The CD is very popular with my kids especially the songs Pillow Fort Pillow Fight (my daughter) and PJ’s All Day (my son). But for me the song that really makes it is Imaginary Friend. What a great song! Lyrically and musically. The idea that the imaginary friend thinks the kid is imaginary is pure genius. That the two characters come to an agreement that neither is a “co-star” but both get equal billing in the friendship. Musically this is filled with horns, violins and a funky haunted house vibe. Rapping between the kid and the imaginary friend is a lot of fun which I have come to expect from Mr. Skidoo. Fun. This is one of the smartest songs I have heard in a long time and I suggest you go and get a copy when it comes out. I shall be sending a request over to the Skidoo camp to get an interview for my Song and the Process series cause it is really a genius song. The Perfect Quirk will be available June 24th. Go check it out and support a kindie artist today.
The music reviewed was provided free to this blogger but the opinions expressed are his own.
Posted in CD reviews, family, song reviews
Tagged Children's, fight, fort, june, kindie, music, pillow, Recess Monkey, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, wired
The idea came from a father on the road with a band sending home photos and videos to his train obsessed son. It was a way to stay in touch even when he couldn’t be with the family. Bands tend to travel and good bands travel a lot. Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players are one of the best (Two Grammy nominations.) They travel quite a bit. It started with the melody and the words “Seems like you’re always looking for trains.” So began Looking for Trains by Justin Roberts off of his recently Grammy nominated CD Recess. The father in the band is drummer Gerald Dowd (drummer, father and good guy extraordinaire) who was doing what dads do. If the kids wants to see trains you send that kid pictures, books, videos and whatever else you find train related. With a melody and opening lyric Justin then further developed the song on his guitar which is not how he usually works these days. Nowadays he likes to develop songs on Logic. This is an Apple program that allows him to add all sorts of instrumentation. Strings, horns, guitars, etc. So when he heads into the studio he already has a direction and feel for a song. But this time he grabs his guitar and starts working it out old school (I’m a big fan of old school.) Lyrically he comes up with every rhyming verse he can think of that makes references to trains. Then he inserts the lyrics to mimic the train rhythm he has set up in the instrumentation. When it comes to the bridge he envisions it as getting bigger. This is where his co-conspirator/producer and fellow band member Liam Davis stepped in, stripped it down (just piano and violin) holding the listener right when the point of the song is being made. The best thing about this song is that it’s about more than trains which I suspected and Justin confirmed. It’s about life. About hope. How we are all looking for our trains “even though all we can see right now are the cars.”
“Maybe it’s caught up in tunnels in the middle of a mountain so wide. Maybe it’s stuck over bridges trying to get to the other side. Either way it’ll be here any day I can see it now it’s coming through…”
I asked if Mr. Roberts writes the music or words first and he said said both. That he writes the words and the melody at the same time. He is also not a constant writer or an inspirational writer but rather a “writes when he has too” writer. Which is impressive. Knowing you have a deadline puts added pressure on the whole process. This works good for some but poorly for others. He also made a simple statement when asked why he writes kids songs that I find resoundingly true. That he “just writes songs.” Rather good songs if you ask me. These days Justin has a new picture book coming out called The Smallest Girl in The Smallest Grade (Putnam Books), is writing a musical, got elected to the Chicago Chapter Board of The Recording Academy and will be touring with the band. Do yourself a favor. Whether you have kids or not go and give Recess a listen and you tell me if it’s not a power pop masterpiece (It is). Good music knows no age is our motto and Justin Roberts and his band mates put out some of the best music around for kids, families, aliens, dockworkers and whoever else is listening. Listen to the track (pun intended) below and go support your local kindie artist today.
Looking for Trains
Posted in family, Kindie, Recording, song reviews
Tagged apple, children, family, Gerald Dowd, Justin Roberts, kindie, Liam Davis, logic, music, Power pop, process, Recess, songs, trains