Video: "Thinking Machine" - They Might Be Giants

Thinking Machine

Thinking Machine

I don't think I've ever thought of them this way until now, but They Might Be Giants are models for me.  Yes, I've listened to them for nearly 30 years now, and they remain one of my favorite bands, but what I'm talking about is something different from artistic merit or affinity.

Rather, it's how they've managed to keep a musical career going, and not just going, but spinning off into new and challenging ways long after the expiration date of most rock bands.  There's the kids music, of course -- we'll get to that in a minute -- but there's the work-for-hire, the Instant Fan Club, Dial-A-Song Direct (a reboot of a 30-year-old idea featuring new songs and videos released weekly), and lots more, to say nothing of their artistic evolution.

I guess what I'm saying is that as someone hitting middle age (or who is there already), their constant evolution -- and artistic and what I'm presuming is some level of commercial success -- serves as some inspiration for how I should continue to approach my own life.

Having said all that, with the impending release of their new album Glean next week, they're turning their attention to their next 2015 album, which is reportedly a kids' album.  (The band is definitely releasing a kids' album this year, it's only the timing that is not yet publicly known.)  I've heard it rumored to be a sequel to No!, the freeform first kids music album from TMBG, as opposed to a sequel to any of the "Here Comes..." albums that followed.  (Alas, no sign that Here Comes Political Science is becoming reality.)

We don't know much more -- and really, we don't know much at all -- but there is speculation/hope on the Dial-A-Song Direct page for the download and the YouTube page for the video that this track might be from the forthcoming kids' album.  It wouldn't surprise me if that's the case.  I don't want to spoil the song by describing it too much, but it features vocal interplay between John Flansburgh and John Linnell that I really only hear in their kids' stuff.  Lyrically, it'll amuse older kids.  And the glitchy, kid-friendly -- even the dog peeing is kid-friendly -- video for the song is directed by David Cowles and Jeremy Galante, who've co-directed other kids' videos (and non-kids videos) for the band.

Basically, we shouldn't assume that this is from the upcoming kids' album, but we shouldn't not assume that, either.  Either way, fun stuff.

They Might Be Giants - "Thinking Machine" [YouTube]

Video: "Zar and the Broken Spaceship" - Dino O'Dell (World Premiere!)

If you haven't noticed, more and more kids' musicians are dipping their toes (or jumping in wholeheartedly) into the children's book pond.  One of the newest dippers is Kansas City's Dino O'Dell, who's coming out with a children's book based on his song "Zar and the Broken Spaceship" later this year in July.

I'm over the moon (and stars) to present the world premiere of the video for the book.  O'Dell notes that this weekend is the anniversary of the first human space flight, by Yuri Gargarin 54 years ago on Sunday, so that's as good a time as any to premiere this video (directed by Santiago Germano) about the first time O'Dell met the friendly alien Zar.  It's a fun song that speeds up slightly as it goes along, and if that doesn't amuse the kids, I'm pretty sure the turtle at the turntable will.  (It did me, at any rate.)  If you want to pick up the mp3, you can do so at iTunes and CD Baby.

Dino O'Dell - "Zar and the Broken Spaceship" [YouTube]

Video: "The National Tree of England" - Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly

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Spring has sprung, and that means it's time for the release of Trees, the brand new album from Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly.

[Commence celebration.]

I encourage you to read my interview with the duo, and listen to the whole darn album, but before, after, or during (maybe not during) doing so, you can also watch a Brand New Video animated by Mr. Kelly himself.

[Commence celebration.]

I really love this song.

Molly Ledford & Billy Kelly - "The National Tree of England" [YouTube]

Video: "Too Much Junk" - Elska (World Premiere!)

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Woohoo, new music from Elska!  And a sparkly new video to go along with it.

It's been more than a couple of years since the release of Middle of Nowhere, the singular debut album from Shelley Wollert's Icelandic-inspired electronica-kid-pop, and since that time Wollert and long-time collaborator Allen Farmelo have been exploring new musical avenues and themes, including via a residency at The New Victory Theater's Lab Works Artist Residency.

Wollert also's been collaborating with others, including Mikael Jorgensen, who's probably best known as the lead pianist and keyboardist for a little band you may have heard of called Wilco.

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Wollert went to Jorgensen's Brooklyn studio and over the course of a day filled out this song, "Too Much Junk," with bubbling arpeggios and other sounds.  Jorgensen recalled (humorously) that "There was a point where Shelley stopped me and, very gently, let me know that her songs were about half the length of what I was making.  From there we narrowed, and it was really great to work on such a tight production."  (No "Spiders (Kidsmoke)," evidently.)

Beyond the song itself, whose themes of reducing reliance on, and obsession with, manmade itself ("plastic stuff") and relationship with nature Wollert says are reflected in her next full-length release, the video features more scenic visuals from Iceland as well as romps through a snow-covered Christmas tree farm in New York's Hudson Valley.

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OK, enough of my talking.  I'm tickled to offer the world-premiere video for "Too Much Junk."  Enjoy!  (And if you want to grab the song for very own, head here for purchasing links.)

Elska feat. Mikael Jorgensen - "Too Much Junk" [YouTube]

Photo credits: Christopher Vetur (2015).

Video: "Los Planetas" - Nathalia

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There are lots of reasons kids of various might enjoy "Los Planetas," the first video from Los Angeles-based Nathalia and the opening track on her new album Dream a Little: the self-empowerment message,  watching kids messing around with science experiments, the slight revenge plot, all done with high-quality production values.

But if I had to pick the most appealing thing about the bilingual pop song's video, it would be the offhand moments shown here -- the kids dancing, or just interacting with each other.

Nathalia - "Los Planetas" [Vimeo]