Listen To This: "Cousins" - Dean Jones, Grenadilla, Recess Monkey

Five things to love about this video for "Cousins," a song recorded a couple weeks ago in New York by Dean Jones, Grenadilla, and Recess Monkey. 1. Dean Jones 2. Grenadilla 3. Recess Monkey 4. The fact that these three groups got together to write and record a song. 5. The discussion of "homophone." Dean Jones, Grenadilla, Recess Monkey - "Cousins" [YouTube]

This Cover Art is FLYING!

FLYING Cover 72 dpi.jpgAh, Recess Monkey, look what you've done now. You've proven beyond all doubt that Mayor Monkey is indeed your secret weapon. Clearly the slightly bumbling and affable nature of Hizzoner is just a front, judging by the cover of the band's upcoming release FLYING!. That's a great photo, boys. (The rest of the album art is from Jarrett Krosoczka, creator of the Lunch Lady comics). Tracklisting for the Tor Hyams-produced album, due out June 21 -- along with the listing of a gazillion guest stars -- is after the jump.

Live Video: "Sojourner Truth" - Deedle Deedle Dees / Dean Jones

I know, I already mentioned the Elizabeth Mitchell / Frances England release concert for the release of Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti. But the Boston-area show last weekend, featuring The Deedle Deedle Dees (and a bunch of other folks), featured another collaboration -- the aforementioned Dees along with Many Hands creator/producer Dean Jones on trombone for their unrecorded (though couple years-old) tune "Sojourner Truth." Good stuff. The Deedle Deedle Dees with Dean Jones - "Sojourner Truth" [YouTube] Following the jump, another tune from the show, a raved-up (relatively) version of a track from the Dees' latest album, plus their contribution to Many Hands

Producing Music for Families (Tor Hyams / Dean Jones)

I can't remember when I first realized that producing kids music was a new sub-specialty I wanted to investigate, though it couldn't have been hurt by the kids music production panel at this year's Kindiefest. But more significantly, it just seemed to me like in the past year, more artists were securing help in recording their albums, and I was curious why that might be happening. I spoke with a couple of the producers on the panel, Tor Hyams and Dean Jones, last month, prior to their panel in Brooklyn about producing albums. Hyams has produced kids albums by Frances England, the Okee Dokee Brothers, Jim Cosgrove, and Lunch Money as well as Milkshake's Grammy-nominated Great Day and his A World of Happiness compilation. (He's also produced albums for Lou Rawls and Joan Osborne, among others.) Jones' producing credits include 5 albums for his band Dog on Fleas, 2 solo disk, Uncle Rock's The Big Picture, and the forthcoming benefit compilation Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti. He's also done work for various film, stage, and TV projects -- "an awful lot of awful work for awful TV shows," as Jones jokingly puts it. They have as much broad background as any as producing albums for families these days. Zooglobble: What do you actually do as a producer? Does that differ from project to project? There is no single answer, and, yes, that varies from project to project. Jones notes that "the term 'producer' is a loose one - I might do exactly the same thing for 2 different artists and be called a producer on one of the records and engineer on the other." Hyams says,
"I typically do everything from helping to finesse the songwriting, advising on song arrangements, sitting in on band rehearsals to determine sounds and arrangements, booking the recording studio, hiring musicians (if needed), planning out the recording (the order of tracking based on number of days, overdubs, etc). Once in the recording studio, I acquire all the right sounds, from getting the right amp sounds for guitar and bass to choosing the right microphones for acoustic based instruments and vocals. During the actual recording or 'getting takes,' I will often comment and advise on performance (suggest a better or different way to play a part, come up with parts on the spot and work with the musician to execute those parts), all the while making sure the recording is sonicaly rich and, ideally, doesn't sound like anyone else. All in all, I like to help create the sound of a band/artist or, at least, bring something new the the table the artist has not produced before. The ultimate goal of producing for me, though, is to serve the singer and the song, to make the best sounding recording available given the performers.
While Jones' response isn't as technical, he makes the same point -- he serves the artist:
"I think ultimately a producer should have the overall vision of a recording project in mind, and help the artist make a great record. It really can differ from project to project. A producer may be making decisions as to what songs an artist records, or have no say in that at all. Some producers have their own "sound" that they apply to every record they do, and others try to make themselves go unnoticed. In the producer role, I like to hear what songs an artist wants to record, and try to hone in on an overall mood and sound for the record. Should it sound loose and homey or full and layered with lots of instruments and sounds? I try to find what will make each song reach its full potential."
Hyams notes that because he's been a professional recording artist, he's "been on both sides. Musicians seem to like that I can hear when they play a wrong note or chord or comment on intonation issues (maybe not the tenth time, but certainly at first!). And Jones' work on compilation disks such as Many Hands is another beast entirely:"It's more about emailing and waiting for emails than making music. I can see why I don't like very many compilation CDs. It's easy to be lead away from one's original vision. You have very little control. But I must say, with the Many Hands CD, I held on to a belief that the musicians would come through and be on the mark, and I was pleasantly rewarded!" Is there a difference between producing kids' albums and albums for adults?

Review: Rock Paper Scissors - Dean Jones feat. the Felice Brothers

RockPaperScissors.JPGThis is the noisiest kids' CD you'll hear all year. Dean Jones, musician with a dozen hats (including one as the ringleader of the wonderful folk/pop/jazz/whatever band Dog on Fleas), turns to a bunch of friends, primarily the Felice Brothers and Earmight, for his latest album Rock Paper Scissors. Unlike his first solo kids' disk, the lullaby(-ish) Napper's Delight, this new album is loud and sloppy and all over the place. (If the two albums are in the same place at the same time, they will explode, just as if you put matter and anti-matter together.) The opening track, "Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here!" outdoes Dan Zanes and anybody else who's ever attempted to put a party group jam on record. You will not hear a better album-opener all year, and the album almost suffers from being unable to match that level of energy and raucous joy the rest of the disk, as if anything could. As the album proceeds, Jones and his pals move from the jazzy title track, the Jazz Age novelty track (in spirit, anyway) "Butterflies" to the sing-it-loud-and-proud midtempo "Sing Like a Sparrow." Jones pal Uncle Rock shows up to mug his way through the loudest song about snoring you'll ever hear "Roncando," while the band channels a little bit of the great band Morphine on "Poison Ivy." It moves through many emotions and many instruments (haven't seen "car-horn-o-phone" on an instrument list lately). While this isn't quite the folk/pop that Dog on Fleas mastered on When I Get Little, people who adored that album and didn't have quite the attachment to its follow-up Beautiful World will probably find this a worthy successor. Kids ages 4 through 8 may dig the album more so than kids of other ages, though kids ages 34 through 38 will enjoy it just as much. You can hear clips from the approximately 34-minute album here. So, yeah, Dean Jones throws in everything but the kitchen sink on Rock Paper Scissors, and then goes ahead and throws in the sink for good measure. Lots of kids albums describe themselves as a good party, but this album is the real deal. Definitely recommended.