Radio Playlist: New Music September 2016

We are heading into September, and while this month's list is a little on the short side, there's a whole bunch of music we'll be getting in the next 2-3 weeks as the Grammy window comes to a close.  But, really, this is a fine half-hour of music, too.  (And if you want to listen to last month's list, you can do so here.)

As always, it's limited in that if an artist hasn't chosen to post a song on Spotify, I can't put it on the list, nor can I feature songs from as-yet-unreleased albums.  But I'm always keeping stuff in reserve for the next Spotify playlist.

Check out the list here (or right here in you're in Spotify).

**** New Music September 2016 (September 2016 Kindie Playlist) ****

"Fellini" - Timmy Abell

"If You Can't Sing Well Sing Loud" - Funkinships

"Beautiful Day" - Bobby Beetcut

"Sandwiches" - The Nom Noms

"Las Aves Vuelan" - Flor Bromley

"Sugar Cookies" - Huck & Lilly

"Sanctuary" - Stephen Michael Schwartz

"Things That Go Together" - Zippity2Dads

Video: "Dream Too Much" - Amy Lee

Dream Too Much album cover

Dream Too Much album cover

Clearly Amazon Music is moving full steam ahead in developing a label of exclusive releases.  They started out slowly, but now in addition to The Pop Ups and Recess Monkey, they've got Lisa Loeb, The L (featuring Bob Schneider), and Amy Lee.  The singer (probably best known as the leader of Evanescence) is a parent of a toddler, and in a couple weeks she's releasing Dream Too Much, her first album for kids.

The title track is whimsical and, befitting a song about dreams' often off-kilter narratives, filled with surreal lyrical imagery.  That surreal imagery is made real in her new video for the album's title track.  I like the song, but the paper-based images are even better.

Amy Lee - "Dream Too Much" [YouTube]

How I Got Here: Kaitlin McGaw / Tommy Shepherd (Alphabet Rockers)

Y'all, have I got a musical journey for you.  Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shepherd, the two musicians behind the Bay Area hip hop band Alphabet Rockers, have put together an epic list of songs and albums as part their entry into my "How I Got Here" series.  Soooo many cuts and classic albums to share with your kids or just enjoy by yourself, all cited as influences on their way to their latest EP, The Playground Zone.


What would make two people, one from LA and the other Boston - a “white girl from Harvard” and a “black drummer/beatboxer of 1000 stages” - come together to not only to work together, but to make music? Hip hop music - and kids music at that?

Kaitlin the star

Kaitlin the star

Tommy popping and locking

Tommy popping and locking

It was hip hop. Not just a song, or a dance. It was a statement that we both were writing in our lives.

Truth and Soul cover

Truth and Soul cover

See, the music that influenced us is actually a crate of records. Our collaboration wasn’t just Carole King meets Fishbone, or Green Day meets Mary J. Blige though it was a “Share My World” (MJB, 1997) moment. We lived in different places and gained knowledge from different lives, but we had a collective deck of riffs on lyrics, melodies, rhymes and stories from decades of music history.

Carole King Tapestry cover

Carole King Tapestry cover

This is why hip hop is not just rap. It’s a world made by everything music. And for us, hip hop was life. What’s crazy about the influences within hip hop - you have the nerdy voice of “Back in the Day” (Ahmad, 1994) with eyes on everything. You’ve got the story that needs to be told -Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story.” The sport of incredible rhyme. The majesty of hooks that you sing on a loop - even knowing they are a remix of a melody of years past. The songs with beats that are so fierce you hardly hear the message until you’ve stopped blasting it and sweating it out - and actually hear what it’s about.

Hip hop was “The Message” (Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five). It was the freedom, it was the creativity, the connection, the community, the learning about the world through someone’s eyes. It was the DJ who knew the Top 40 and the basement tapes - and could mix and create something both vaguely familiar and totally “fresh” and new. It was the moves that pushed you into expression from your soul, cracking and swerving to every turn the music took. The beats that made you stop and make a stank face because it's that good. The story that changes your entire life.

Can I Kick It album cover

Can I Kick It album cover

We started working together with a shared love of A Tribe Called Quest and the “Native Tongue” family in general. Years on the road, riffing between shows, revealed hundreds of songs that threaded together humor and wordplay, and a deck of music ranging from Christopher Cross to Kris Kross. Joni Mitchell to Janet Jackson with a Q-Tip.

The beginning of our work was about bringing hip hop to life on stage. It was about creating space for kids and parents to be who they are within this “freedom culture” and giving access to that hip hop deck of experiences while letting parents know we had the references to all the music they played out in their lives. We played out our lives in hip hop in the way we created with the kids. It led us to an incredible place in making our latest album The Playground Zone.

J Dilla Donuts cover

J Dilla Donuts cover

What was missing for us in our work was how to tell the stories that really mattered to us - our message and our truth. We went back to the drawing board of musical influences to bring out the sounds and experiences we wanted to create. We spent time with J. Dilla and The Roots  albums. We debated about old school vs. classic and pop hip hop music - and the way music and messages impacts our audience. We are a dance-driven crew of creators aiming to make kids see that they are in the center of the cypher - that everything they share changes the world around them. And the music impacted us just as it changed the way our audience related to each other, making new connections and asking us to keep going deeper with the message and the motivation.

So we are on the next wave, writing and creating with hitmaking pop/hip hop/trap producers from around the country. We’re rooted in the old school as it is our history that drives us forward. We’re riffing over the chopped up tracks thinking of our classic faves. And we’re changing cadence and timing to tell the story for today’s tomorrow.

"i" single cover

"i" single cover

We are two individuals who began on opposite coasts, in a country where our lives would be absolutely different based on the skin we’re in. The both of us, absorbing all information and influences from the diverse American and world cultures, rendering our own voices and deciding what to do with them to be of service to the world. And yes, every step of it was musical. Our future is to be a source of musical memory for all of the kids who are questioning how they fit in this America and asking, is it me? We create for them now, to clarify through music, beats, message and movement, that they belong - with us, in hip hop. And that together we will change that world that is making it tough for them to feel like this is a place they can be “Free to be You and Me” - but it’s a place they can shout “I love myself” (Kendrick Lamar, “i”).

Video: "Sol Nal" - Elena Moon Park and Friends (World Premiere!)

Rabbit Days and Dumplings cover

Rabbit Days and Dumplings cover

We haven't heard a lot from Elena Moon Park in the years since she released Rabbit Days and Dumplings, her collection of family folk songs from Asia.  It's not that she's been silent, of course, we just haven't had any new music.

And, no, I'm not about to tell you of new music... but I am here to premiere a brand new video from the album.  It's for "Sol Nal," a Korean song celebrating the New Year.  A simple video to be sure, but it features Park and Dan Zanes and Sonia de los Santos playing (and Colin Brooks messing around with a balloon animal), along with some Korean language translations.  In its good vibes and obvious camaraderie, the video fits nicely with the song, which I've always liked the song.

(By the way, if you like that camaraderie, might I suggest the upcoming Nov. 5 show with Park and de los Santos at Symphony Space?)

Elena Moon Park and Friends - "Sol Nal" [YouTube]

Video: "Jellyfish Jones" - Caspar Babypants

I know, I recently posted Caspar Babypants' video for "Mister Cloud" but I'm just a sucker for his stuff.

Especially when it's as cute and whimsical as his video for "Jellyfish Jones," another track off his brand new album Away We Go!.  This song features the title character who wishes for a skeleton so he can go on land and do a bunch of stuff.  As you might expect, the illustrations of possible activities -- my favorite is the ice skating jellyfish -- are delightful.  (They're courtesy of Mike Holm.)

Caspar Babypants - "Jellyfish Jones" [YouTube]

Listen To This: Super Deluxe Action Figures - Todd & Cookie (World Premiere!)

Super Deluxe Action Figures cover

Super Deluxe Action Figures cover

Yay, brand new music from Todd & Cookie!

Wait -- you don't know who Todd & Cookie are?  Well, I can't blame you if you're not familiar with them as it's been 3 years since their last and only EP -- the Epic 3-Song Starter Park.  they're the awesome duo of Todd McHatton (aka Todd) and Mista Cookie Jar (aka Cookie -- this isn't a terribly complicated naming system here).

But, yes, they've been thinking about more music since the first EP.  Cartoons and videos are on the way.  And most importantly for our purposes, they've got a brand new 3-song EP, Super Deluxe Action Figures.  The new music is every bit the blend of psychedelia and multicultural hip-hop you'd expect from the duo, both sonically and lyrically (those titles! "eMutt," "In the Backyard," and my favorite "Ice Cream Time Machine.")   Like ice cream swirls?  You'll love this.

You can, of course, buy the EP (less than $3) below, but here's something you can do if all or your kids you do is press that big triangle below, click that "share" link and spread the love.

The album officially drops today -- thanks to the boys for world premiering it here!