Itty-Bitty Review: We're a Club in the Woods - Bears and Lions

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My introduction to the Florida-based duo Bears and Lions was at Kindiefest a couple years back, where a couple guys dressed up as, yes, a bear and a lion (in '70s era basketball uniforms, no less), strode up on stage and proceeded to play one of the more goofy sets of songs I'd heard in kids music.  Jangly, southern-fried guitar-pop songs about jumping out of airplanes, man's best friend, and PAN! CAKE! SWEEP! STAKES!  (Just listen to "Pancakes" all the way through, trust me.)

So a lot of my attitude regarding their 2014 debut, We're a Club in the Woods, is colored by the impressions their slightly anarchic set created.  They mostly played  uptempo songs during their abbreviated Kindiefest set, and the gleeful energy on tracks like "Pancakes," "Airplanes," and "Mediocre Kid" is every bit present here on the album.  Slightly less energetic songs like "Jeremiah" don't stand out nearly as much.  The album, when played live, is intended to be more a story, so the pogoing theme-song-like "Bears and Lions" makes more sense if you think of it as the song they play at the very end of the set after Bear and Lion have formed their own club in the woods.  It's not a perfect album by any means, but nobody would consider it cookie-cutter kindie-pop.

The 36-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 8.  You can stream the album here.  We're a Club in the Woods is a little odd, but in a good way, and well worth checking out.  Definitely recommended.

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, not me personally.  This site.

That's right, exactly ten years ago today I burst forth onto the kids music scene with these words (actually, these words, but whatevs):

Welcome to Zooglobble! It's my hope that this blog/website will become a reference site for great kids' music that parents can enjoy as well. If you like Ralph's World, Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Justin Roberts, among others, stop by on a regular basis for news, reviews, and goodness knows what else. It might take some time, but we'll build this up to something worth your time.

Thanks in advance for your time and patience.

Those 75 words launched a million more -- probably two million more.  Over the past ten years I've reviewed well over 600 albums, listened to probably close to 3,000 albums, featured hundreds if not thousands of videos, interviewed dozens of artists, and done lots of other things I can't count.

My life is different now than it was in 2004, and one such way is that I'm busier to the extent that I'm not going to try to count those things, my math-nerd tendencies notwithstanding.

Of course, the most important things that have happened over the past ten years as a direct (and indirect) result of my work on this site are difficult if not impossible to quantify -- bonds shared with family, friends made across the country, communities supported, joy felt.  Through luck and hard work I've had the opportunity to meet some great people, learn new skills, and have some amazing experiences.

Thanks to everyone who's made their way here over the past decade -- there are far too many of them to pick any one of them out except for my wife and kids who have indulged me in this hobby.  Thanks to musicians, readers, and all of you in this world who are supporting the creation of art for kids and families.  To paraphrase Richard Scarry, there are all kinds of musicians.  The best musicians record kids' albums.

Thanks, y'all, for coming to the party, don't be stranger 'round these parts, and don't forget your goodie bag on the way out.

Itty-Bitty Review: 'Til the Morning: Lullabies and Songs of Comfort - Edie Carey & Sarah Sample

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Reviewing lullaby albums can be difficult because the expectations people have for lullaby albums can vary dramatically.  Some people want music to play in their infant's room while the infant sleeps, while others want mellow songs for cool-down time, and still others want to listen to their own favorite band's songs recrafted with bells.

Personally, I land solidly in the camp of quiet music for nighttime feedings, so my praise for 'Til the Morning: Lullabies and Songs of Comfort should be viewed through that lens.  The album is the product of Edie Carey and Sarah Sample and while they hadn't recorded an album together previously, their voices make for a sleepy blend.

Overproduction is the biggest pitfall for a lullaby album a parent might conceivably use late at night for, you know, getting their child to sleep.  This album is generally well on the safe side of that line, with Carey and Sample underplaying their vocals and the musical production, while tasteful, not overpowering the songs.  The album is evenly mixed between well-chosen covers (the Dixie Chicks' gorgeous "Lullaby", or an interesting reworking of "California Stars," the Woody Guthrie-by-way-of-Wilco song), lullaby standards ("Slumber My Darling"), and originals (I particularly liked "Your Own Stars").

You can stream several of the songs from the 49-minute album (most appropriate for kids ages 0-5) here'Til the Morning is an album of love songs, just like all lullaby albums should be, and beyond that it also has a feeling of things fitting just so, its songs of comfort also comfortable.  Definitely recommended.

You Get a Present for Spare the Rock and Zooglobble's Birthday

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So ten years ago this week, this humble little website was born (more on that a little bit later this week).  And nine years ago earlier this month a humble little radio show, Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, first aired.  In that time, I've written hundreds of reviews and featured hundreds of reviews, while Bill Childs and his kids have played thousands of songs on air (and internet).  We've done lots of other stuff separately and together, and we each have new and exciting projects in the works, but my site has always been at the heart of what I do, and I'm sure Bill feels the same way about his show.

I thought it might be fun to celebrate both this site's birthday as well as Spare the Rock starting its tenth year on the air, something that might span a year's worth of time.  And, yes, Bill was very much onboard.

So we're pleased as punch to announce the first in a series of free kids music tracks for you to enjoy.  Bill and I are talking to some of our favorite kids' musicians, both those making music for kids even before we hopped onto the Internet as well as newer artists continuing to shake up the genre, asking them if they'd be willing to write a song to give away.

But in the spirit of collaboration Bill and I have often shared, we're asking them to write and record those songs with another kindie musician.

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Our first track is called "When I'm Ten" and it's from Seattle-area bands and friends Recess Monkey and The Not-Its.  It's bit of a nod to the Not-Its' song "When I'm Five," but it's got a crunchiness (and slightly older perspective) all its own.  Recess Monkey bassist Jack Forman reports that "writing the tune with Drew [Holloway from Recess Monkey], Sarah [Shannon] and Danny [Adamson, both from the Not-Its] was totally organic - like we'd all been in a band for years."

Play the song below or download it -- for the next month only -- here.

(Recess Monkey photo credit: Kevin Fry)

Monday Morning Smile: "Unpack Your Adjectives" - The Corner Laughers

Anything from Schoolhouse Rock is probably the prototypical Monday Morning Smile, something geared to both parents and adults.  So when the Hipwaders' Tito Uquillas mentioned to me that he really liked a version of "Unpack Your Adjectives" by the Bay Area not-specifically-for-kids band The Corner Laughers, I knew I had to check it out.  Sure enough, this live version of the classic SR track is sweet, highlighted by Karla Kane's vocals.

The Corner Laughers sometimes back up fellow Bay Area musician Alison Faith Levy, so they're no strangers to kindie, and while they're not writing kids music per se, most of their jangly indie pop would pass kindie muster, lyrically too, if not necessarily as verbose as George Newall's "Adjectives"...

The Corner Laughers - "Unpack Your Adjectives" (from Schoolhouse Rock) [YouTube]

Weekly Summary (8/18/14 - 8/25/14)

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Slow week.  More this week, I promise.

Blog Video: "Sea Turtle" - The Whizpops (World Premiere), Interview: Tito Uquillas (The Hipwaders)

Videos:  None this week

Listen to MusicIf We Must We Must - The Good Ms. Padgett

Free MusicNone this week

Kids Music ReviewsNone this week

iOS Apps:  None this week

Upcoming Releases: Constantly updating...

Podcasts

Kindie Week in Review:   None this week

My Other Other Gig:  None this week

Bake Sale:  None this week