Time once again for all the news that didn't fit into a separate post due to time, interest, contractual, or legal obligations -- it's your favorite pun-titled file folder of a blog post, the Ketchup Report! Yaaay! (Cue Kermit the Frog wild arm-flailing here...) The World of Happiness single, the "We Are the World" of the kids' biz, "A World of Happiness," is here. Except your kids might actually want to listen to this new song when they become parents themselves. Sales of the single, produced by Tor Hyams and Joanie Leeds, benefit Autism Speaks. The single includes a whole host of folks besides Leeds and Hyams -- Molly Ledford (who gets the honor of leading off the track), Frances England, Ralph Covert... it just goes on and on. A bunch of the participants will be recording a concert later this month for broadcast on Sirius/XM Radio later on. Anyway, it's $1.29 well-spent right here. I could probably start a whole separate post listing all the recent crowdfunding projects in the kids music world. Heck, it's almost getting to the point where I could start a blog listing all the recent crowdfunding projects in the kids music world. I've been partial to Kickstarter, of course. The two most recent projects have been a Professor Banjo and his successful second-album project and Ryan SanAngelo and his not-one-but-two-Kickstarter-projects. But other sites do the same basic thing. Van Oodles didn't quite succeed in making a video for a song of his, but LA indie-rockers Ellen and Matt and Chicago's Laura Doherty are both looking for funds for their next disks. Should you feel so inclined, help out Ellen and Matt here and Laura for her new album Shining Like a Star in the widget there to the side. -- For a limited time, Doctor Noize's "Bananas" iWhatever app is free. Download the ever-so-slightly-educational app here. (Note: may no longer be free.) -- Finally, with Earth Day coming up, a it's time for Earth Day-related tunes. Dan Zanes has a new, original tune, "Hail the Creatures" written by Zanes for a new exhibit at the Philadelphia Zoo. You don't need to be near Philly to enjoy the track, just near an iTunes-enabled gadget that can download this, with proceeds benefiting the Zoo. (More details on the tune and the Zoo's new exhibit here.)... Bill Harley is offering a free download of "Keep It Green" from his 1996 album Big Big World -- you can get it here... And finally, DARIA is offering a mini-CD of 6 "earth friendly" songs, free just for the price of an e-mail address (and an earth-friendly suggestion).
Over at Offsprung there's a KidVid Tournament 2008 matchup from the Leadbelly Region -- the #2 seed "Home" from David Tobocman (from his Very Helpful Songs CD) versus the #2 seed "Bounce" from Ellen and Matt (off their Best Friends album). Go there, watch the videos, and vote by 9 PM today! (You'll need to register with the site, but we're a very friendly group of people. No hassles, we promise.)
Sometimes a record just gets away from you. I can't pinpoint any particular reason why I never reviewed Best Friends, the 2006 debut album from the Los Angeles wife-and-husband team of Ellen and Matt. And I can't pinpoint the reason why I felt compelled to go back and re-listen to the CD more than a year after I first received it. But I'm glad I did. To a great extent my initial thoughts on the CD hadn't changed much. On the plus side, the musical melodies and harmonies here are among the more sophisticated in the kids' new wave, sounding a little like Matthew Sweet on "Go To Bed," a little more like Pete Townshend on "Bounce." Leading off the album "Eat My Dinner" and "Side by Side" have a very sunny beat to them, while their follow-up, the album's title track, is a surprisingly complex waltz. On the other hand, I sometimes wondered if the songs weren't aimed at 7-year-olds with subject matter of greater concern to 4-year-olds. That's why I think the album's best songs are the simplest -- the movement-oriented "Bounce" and "Juice Box Rock" and the sweet "The Goodbye Song." (And I also thought the production could've pushed the vocals a bit closer to the front, aiding the 4-year-old listener who's really the target audience here.) I think the songs here will appeal most to listeners ages 3 through 6. You can hear samples from the 31-minute album at its CDBaby page. The reason I'm glad that I gave the CD another spin or two (OK, five), though, is that I was reminded of the solid songwriting chops on display here. The kids music genre is one in which second albums are often better than the first because the artists road-test their music and figure out what works and what doesn't with audiences of all ages. So if Best Friends sometimes feels a little bit like going around with training wheels, I've got a pretty good feeling that with their next album (production starts in early 2008), Ellen and Matt will be cruising around on their own two wheels.
Thought so. Since before we joined it, our kids' co-operative preschool has eschewed a yearly fundraiser for a flat "fundraiser fee." Now, why they just don't increase the actual tuition by 10 bucks a month is beyond me, but that's probably just a clear indication of why I don't have a bright future in sales. And given the virtual 24/7 fundraising our daughter is now asked to participate in through her (public school) kindergarten ("Mom, they say we need to order pizza tonight or they can't keep our music teacher"), I can assure you that the simple check-writing the preschool approach entails is a vastly superior approach. (Again. Not a retailer.) Having said that, if my neighborhood preschool actually put together a spring fair that included, among other things, sets from The Hollow Trees, the Squeegees, and Ellen & Matt, I'd probably go. Which means, if I lived in Silver Lake and my kid(s) attended the Neighborhood Nursery School, I'd probably attend their Spring Fair on Saturday May 19. As a side note, the "about" section for the fair says "No Bounce Houses, no corporate sponsors and no plastic bottles." Now, I'm with 'em on the plastic bottles, but why does NNS hate bounce houses so much? Bounce houses rule. Also, "no corporate sponsors?" Does that mean there are preschool fundraisers in LA that have corporate sponsors? Do companies fight to sponsor the pony rides? Like I said, Not. A. Retailer.
There's nothing about this video by Los Angeles-based Ellen and Matt that is particularly amazing. It's a live concert video of pedestrian video quality and decent editing. The song, however, is a catchy pop-punk tune. And the real reason to watch is the kids in the audience, who pogo hard. Those of you with kids will not be terribly surprised by the energy. (Bonus amusing moment -- the kid with the spray-painted hair about 3:30 into the video. Looks like somebody removed his hair and put a big blob of cotton candy in its place.)