Video: "Just Not Me" - The Hipwaders

For my tastes, Bay Area band The Hipwaders ranks right up there with Recess Monkey and Caspar Babypants in having kindie's best set of videos in terms of quality, quantity, and diversity.  Their latest video for "Just Not Me," off their new album Year-Round Sounds, pulls in another animator into the Hipwaders' fold, Will Guy of Goopymart, and with just a handful of touches (the tattoo parlor, the backwards "E" in the title character's graffiti, perfectly captures the narrator's... recalcitrance to mind rules.  Much fun.

The Hipwaders - "Just Not Me" [YouTube]

Listen To This: "Crumb by Crumb" - Justin Roberts (from Hansel & Gretel)

HanselAndGretelCastRecording.jpg

If Justin Roberts writes music and lyrics in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

OK, that's a bunch of nonsense.  If Justin Roberts writes music and lyrics for a musical taking place in a forest and other people sing it, is it the same thing as a Justin Roberts song?

Let's explain then -- Roberts wrote the songs for Hansel & Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat, a brand new musical aimed at young crowd that's now playing in Chicago.  You can hear one complete track, "Crumb by Crumb" -- this is the story of Hansel and Gretel, after all -- and immediately you can hear how Roberts' affinity for wordplay, narrative, and emotional truth would translate well to the (off-)Broadway stage.

If the sounds of "Crumb by Crumb" (or this sampler) intrigue you, you can pick up a copy at Roberts' website; copies will hit Amazon and iTunes in the new year.

Cast of Hansel and Gretel - "Crumb by Crumb" (music and lyrics by Justin Roberts)

Weekly Summary (11/24/14 - 12/7/14)

I'd intended to post more here over the past couple weeks, but Thanksgiving + flu = not much posting.

And while I don't have something on the site (yet), congratulations to Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, The Pop Ups, and The Okee Dokee Brothers for their Grammy nominations for Best Children's Album.  They, along with the audiobook recording of "I Am Malala," will be competing for the Grammy on February 8.

Blog: Video: "Hair" - fleaBITE

Videos:  "The Number Song" - Play Date

Listen to Music:  None this week

Free Music:  "Favorite Cousin" - The Pop Ups

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

Video: "Hair" - fleaBITE

My choices for picking a new video from New Zealand band fleaBITE were this one for "Hair," about hair growth taken to extreme lengths, or this other one, "Don't Sit Under the Poo Tree," about, well, some sage advice. (Watch that video if you want to learn more.)

But, yes, I decided to go with the abnormally healthy follicles.  The song is from the band's 2011 debut album In Your Ear (the band's got a new album out, their third, called The Jungle Is Jumping this month). It's lyrics worthy of Shel Silverstein meeting the visuals worthy of Dr. Seuss. As combos go, that's a pretty good one.

fleaBITE - "Hair" [YouTube]

Weekly Summary (11/17/14 - 11/23/14)

Review: Love Bug - Raffi

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There is no question that Raffi is kids music royalty, one of the first names lots of people probably think of when they hear the phrase "kids music."

But he's also been comparatively quiet in the past decade, at least in the kids music world, since the release of 2002's Let's Play.  Not quiet in the broader world, mind you -- he's the founder of the Centre for Child Honouring, and a prolific Twitterer -- but there's a whole decade's worth of preschoolers whose exposure to Raffi's lovely voice has been limited to older songs, starting with one of the foundational albums of kids music, 1976's Singable Songs for the Very Young.

So it was with some surprise that the world received news that the Canadian artist was going to release an album of brand-new recordings in 2014.  Sure enough, this summer he released Love Bug, and in many cases, it's like he never left.  Why now? Raffi says he "make[s] music when I feel a new stirring," and in this case it was feeling like he wanted to record music celebrating the natural and "real world." (Although an active Twitter user, Raffi uses a fair number of those tweets to suggest that kids should have far less of an online/electronic presence.)

There are parts of Love Bug that are absolutely among Raffi's best work (which, for the record, I find to be his first 3 albums, which have been played literally hundreds of times in our household).  The title song, with some kids singing along in parts? Classic.  Same goes for "Doggone Woods," which features the man who's sold millions of albums giving his best "woof!"  (There's something to be said for the idea that the reason Raffi has sold millions of albums is precisely because his empathy and understanding of kids allows him to bark on record.)  Songs like "Free To Play" and "In the Real World" teach lessons obliquely about, well, playing and exploring the real world (as opposed to online).  And as someone who's half-Canadian, I was glad to hear Raffi re-purpose Woody Guthrie's classic "This Land Is Your Land" for Canadian geography.

There are some songs that may frustrate some listeners -- "Mama Loves It" is more explicitly lesson-teaching, and the look I got from my wife after we listened to "Seeing the Heart" on a car ride spoke very clearly that she never wanted to hear Raffi sing about the "mother and son connection" ever again.  Ours is a Raffi household, and so I can accept the track "Wind Chimes," which is, simply, 1 minute and 22 seconds of wind chimes.  Others may not want to travel that path.

Technically, there are no great shifts compared to Raffi's past work.  The arrangements are gentle, non-obtrusive -- mostly piano and guitar-folk with mellow percussion that features Raffi's voice, as pristine as ever.  It doesn't sound like a kindie pop-rock record, and for that, we can be thankful.  The 43-minute album is probably best for kids 3 through 7 (and "Belugagrads," as Raffi has nicknamed his now-adult fans from his past, of all ages.)

I will say that I wanted to like this album even more than I did -- I wanted it to be every bit as perfect as I think Singable Songs is.  Other listeners may in fact think it is.  But it is good, very good, and every family who's had a place in their heart for Raffi in their lives will find lots of music here worth space in that heart as well.  Definitely recommended.

Note: I was provided a copy of this album for possible review.