Good to have Mista Cookie Jar back to offer us more kindie music from about 15 minutes in the future. This brand new track "Free Bubbles" might make you feel a little irie, thanks to two of the most positive kids musicians -- that's saying something in this genre. It's the L.A.-based MCJ himself, teaming up with his New York-based cross-country doppelganger Father Goose.
There's a little more (OK, a lot more) Auto-Tune on this track celebrating free bubbles (soap bubbles, but also more metaphorical bubbles) than Father Goose probably experiences when he plays with frequent collaborator Dan Zanes, but that's just the way that Mista Cookie Jar rolls.
Now, you may have already heard this song getting some airplay on your favorite radio/satellite radio/podcast, for a limited time, starting this first day of summer, you can download the track for name-your-own-price (including free!). Just follow the link below, and even if you stumble upon this later this summer or the midst of winter, give it a spin for more summertime vibes.
You wouldn't know it by reading this space, but there's been some holiday kids music released this Christmas/Hanukkah/winter-holiday-of-your-choosing season. Not as much as in years past, but enough stuff worth your time checking out (and my time writing up).
I'll be reviewing some albums in a subsequent post, but here are a few tracks to stuff in your kids' stockings.
The Not-Its change gears and offer up a tender, acoustic... aw, who am I kidding? There are loud guitars, natch. It's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," not "Tip-Toein' Around the Christmas Tree."
Bari Koral offers up her take on the familiar gingerbread man tale with a zippy "Gingerbread Man."
Brady Rymer is spending his holiday season "Untanglin' the Christmas Lights," though the song seems way too happy for that frustration. Available here for the price of an e-mail.
It's not quite a Christmas (or Hanukkah or even Halloween or Arbor Day) song, but it feels appropriate for the season. SteveSongs gifts you "Our World" -- just click on this link to start the download process.
Randy Kaplan delivers a nicely understated version of the classic "Frosty the Snowman." With the harmonica, it's got a touch of Dylan. (Again, Hannukah 2013 playlist early addition? "Oh Hannukah")
Todd McHatton'sChristmas Songs started out as a mini-EP, then over the years became a full EP, and now at 11 songs, I think it's graduated to full album status. McHatton added another song this year, "I Think I'm a Christmas Bunny." Download the whole thing for just $1.99, and as an extra stocking stuffer download "Ooh Shiny" (appropriate for a season of gifts and ornaments) for free.
I would suspect that many readers already have the album, but the fancy reissue also comes seven bonus tracks, including a brand new version of "Alphabet of Nations." "Brand new," you say? "What's wrong the original version?" Well, nothing, but as anyone who've seen the band perform the song live (or on Conan O'Brian) can attest, the extended version they perform is just extra... awesome.
Hey, at the request of the band I've removed the download and stream of "Alphabet of Nations," but I'll be uploading another track for your downloading/streaming pleasure shortly. I assure you, the version of "Alphabet of Nations" is worth your 99 cents at your favorite e-music-supplier.
The band's hosting a challenge on Tumblr and Twitter, crowd-sourcing images from around the world to include in a brand-new video they're creating for this new version of the song. They're looking for you to post photos on Twitter with the hashtag #TMBGnation or tumblr at http://tmbgnation.tumblr.com/. By July 10, they're looking from 3 photos posted from people from, or hailing from these specific countries:
They're looking for portraits of faces (big smiles!), flags, celebrations of culture, and/or action photos. (And even if you're from a country not on a list, they still want to see those photos. We're all from West Xylophone, right?) Go, go, crowdsourcing iPhone users!
Yes, I'm excited and I'll use a few more exclamation points!
It is not hyperbole to call They Might Be Giants' 2002 album No! a seminal album in kids music, one of a handful of albums that actually altered the direction of the genre.
It was also a darn fine album.
So am I geeked to hear that the band is reissuing the album with bonus tracks to celebrate its 10-year anniversary? Darn tootin' I am!
On June 26, 2012 exactly 10 years (and, er, 15 days) to the day after it was originally released, you can pick up No! in all its glory along with seven bonus tracks.
The bonus tracks include some live recordings ("Robot Parade" and "Clap Your Hands") as well as a brand new extended studio recording of "Alphabet of Nations." (I can confirm that this new version is no less excellent than the original.) The rest of the tracklisting I'm not at liberty to reveal at the moment, but I think TMBG fans of all ages will be pleased.
Anyway, I am pleased as punch to offer a download of "Clap Your Hands," one of the live bonus tracks, courtesy of the band (or feel free to simply stream it below). If that doesn't merit an exclamation point or four, I don't know what does. Yeah!
A while back, I highlighted Plays Well Together, a free collection of mp3s from Seattle-based Burnside Distribution. While I focused on the mostly Seattle-based nature of the artists, there were a couple artists with whom I was unfamiliar.
One of them was Edukator Jr. Now, they're a band that clearly didn't spend too much time pushing the album (that's a Myspace link, for example, and not a particularly up-to-date one at that). But as EPs go, their self-titled debut is pretty good. It's squarely in the preschool/early elementary education wheelhouse and its subject matter -- songs about ABCs, brushing teeth, taking naps, etc. -- is nothing that hasn't been done before but it's wrapped in a shiny, mostly indie-pop sheen that stands up to repeated listenings.
Don't believe me? Well, you can check it out for yourself here, or just use this widget to listen to it or download for the price of an e-mail.
A few years back, I was a little enchanted by What Did You Do Today, Steven Scott Lee?, the debut album from Nashville-based Steve Lee. Lee leaped right into the kids' music scene, got a bunch of his Nashville friends (they have a musician or two there), and recorded a bunch of incredibly catchy songs (along with a few skits). I called "Grab a Balloon" my favorite track, "quite possibly of the year", and the album made my list of top albums from 2007.
Lee has been a little bit quiet on the kids' music front since then, though he's been keeping himself busy out and around Nashville and tour-managing some acts.
Even better (from these admittedly biased quarters), Lee's been starting to play kids music around Nashville with a band he's put together called Yumza!. In talking with Lee, I'm pretty hopeful that the rest of the country will here the new songs pretty soon.
In the meanwhile, use this widget to grab six of the songs (including "Grab a Balloon") from Stephen Scott Lee for the price of an e-mail and zip code. I promise you that you'll find at least a couple songs to love.