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
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
The Monkey three!
Being in a band and having produced 2 CD’s in the last 4 years gives you perspective on how much it takes to produce said product. So when an artist releases not one but two CD’s with 15 songs on each, in the same year, you can imagine my annoyance. Damn you Recess Monkey! Quit making (so many) CD’s ya damn dirty apes! Yes I did just paraphrase Charlton Heston from Planet of the Apes. Yes I know that monkeys are “technically” not apes. Get off my back! (monkey-back-get it!) There is always room for cheesiness on this blog. But I digress… The Kindie vs. Kindie Matchup for today – Recess Monkey takes on itself!
The first to be released was Deep Sea Diver. It’s a classic pop album doing what RM does so well. Funky bass beats, cool licks combined with humor, silliness and sharp lyrics. The have a coming out party for new drummer Korum Bischoff on the song Fish Sticks. It’s a primer on drum beats and the man can play. Korum also adds some bass vocals on a couple tunes especially on family favorite song Shrimp. Having fun with (and understanding) height issues it’s a fine song with a message (funktastic wurly playing by Johnny Bregar (the kindiependents strike again). I must mention the song Walkie Talkies (second family fave) has the best radio handle name ever!! FUNKY CHEETAH. The overachievers already have FOUR videos done for the disc. C’MON ALREADY! (We’re yet to make one video for the new disc.) But I digress again… It’s a good CD and you should go check it out.
Turning to Desert Island Disc we see an expansion of the Monkey sound. Trailblazer reminds of one of my favorite RM songs Sack Lunch but more. The natural progression of a band that know what it wants. Songs My Treasure, Sunburn and title track Desert Island got a whole Brian Wilson ocean vibe going on . Desert Island not only has that add some Beatles influence. It’s my favorite song on the disc. Strings, woodwinds, horns and harmonies mean that not only did they do 2 CD’s this year there was lots and time and commitment involved. The winner is the listener once again. So support the artist and go buy it! Link to videos and CD sales below.
This is the disclaimer that the CD’s were sent to me for reviewing and that all opinions are our own.
Posted in CD reviews, Recording
Tagged Apes, Charlton Heston, Children's, Deep Sea Diver, Desert Island Disc, Johnny Bregar, kindie, kindiependent, Korum B, Monkey, music, Primates, Recess