Weekly Summary (2/3/14 - 2/16/14)

Best Kids Music of 2013: Top 25 Songs

It has been too long since I posted a list of my favorite songs of a year.  2011, to be exact.

Oops.

(I already said how embarrassed I was about that.)

Following up on my list of Top 10 kids music debuts in 2013, here's my list of my 25 favorite (or best, depending on your perspective) kids' songs on albums released over the past year ("year" defined as between November 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013, to match the Fids and Kamily Awards this year).  I should note that some of these songs have been floating around for a few years now (the Trout Fishing and Shine and the Moonbeams songs), but have only now found themselves on a proper release.  One could do much worse than to put all 25 on a mix CD or iTunes/Spotify playlist.

Hey, wait, I've done that!  Here's the link (go here if you're in Spotify).  See the end of this post for the embedded stream.  By the way, songs not on Spotify are marked with an *

In any case, picking these 25 songs was tough, tougher than in most previous years, I think.  I had another 15-20 songs I was seriously considering for this list, and on another day, my mood would have struck me differently and at least a couple of those songs would be on here.  But I'm pressing the "publish" button today.

Top 25 Kids Music Songs of 2013 (listed alphabetically by artist)

"Similes and Metaphors" - The Bazillions (Heads or Tales)

"When Pigs Fly" - Sandra Boynton (performed by Ryan Adams) (Frog Trouble)

"Thingamajig" - Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band (Lishy Lou and Lucky Too) -- I know, I know, the album was released on Oct. 1, 2013 and so technically speaking shouldn't be on here.  But come on, this was song was awesome.  And there was a single, so that's what I'm hanging my hat on...

"Lonely Girl" - Cat Doorman (The Cat Doorman Songbook)

"It's Not Fair To Me" - Bill Harley & Keith Munslow (It's Not Fair To Me)

"Dinosaur" - Lori Henriques (The World Is a Curious Place To Live) *

"Wag More" - Boxtop Jenkins (You're Happier When You're Happy)

"Take You Into My Arms" - Joey No Knows (Color This Album)

"Nine O' Clock Behind the Jack Rabbit" - Josh & Gab (I'm Not a Bully!)

"You Made Me a Sock Monkey" - Billy Kelly (AGAIN!) *

"Have You Ever Been Jealous?" - Alastair Moock with Rani Arbo (Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World's Bravest Kids) *

"Let's Skateboard" - The Not-Its! (KidQuake!)

"High 5 Your Shadow" - Ratboy Jr. (Champions of the Universe)

"The Deep End" - Recess Monkey (Deep Sea Diver)

"Recess" - Justin Roberts (Recess)

"Bully Bully" - Shine and the Moonbeams (Shine and the Moonbeams)

"Home of Song" - Paul Spring (Home of Song)

"Song Without a Rhyme" - SteveSongs (Orangutan Van)

"Duermete" - Heidi Swedberg and Friends (My Cup of Tea)

"The Late, Great Nate McTate" - Trout Fishing in America (Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers)

"Here Comes My Friend" - Underbirds (Underbirds)

"Scavenger Hunt" - The Verve Pipe (Are We There Yet?)

"Stay True" - The Watson Twins (Pioneer Lane)

"Bigga Bagga" - Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke (Please To Meet You)

"Honeybee" - Dan Zanes & Elizabeth Mitchell with You Are My Flower (Turn! Turn! Turn!)

Weekly Summary (8/26/13 - 9/1/13)

March Z7: What You Missed (Or Not, I Hope)

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I do feel compelled to remind you occasionally of what great music you're missing out on if you're not signed up for (or opening up) the Zooglobble newsletter.  Newsletter recipients get the occasional Z7 newsletter featuring 7 tracks from 7 artists, downloadable for free for just 7 days.

The March Z7 has come and gone, and here's what we featured this time around:

The Not-Its! - "Let's Skateboard"

Moona Luna - "No Me Digas"

Paul Spring - "Home of Song"

Bill Harley & Keith Munslow - "It's Not Fair To Me"

Milkshake - "Starry Starry Night"

The Boogers - "Pandas Are Dangerous"

Hand Aid - "Felt Around the World"

As a mixtape, I'm not sure that set of songs flows well, but those are seven fine songs, folks.  More Z7s are in the works.  Sign up today.

Radio Playlist: New Music March 2013

It's been about two since my last Spotify update for new music (see January playlist here), so time to publish a new playlist.  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 next month's playlist is only, er, a month away.

Check out the list here or go right here if you're in Spotify.

**** New Music March 2013 (March Kindie Playlist) ****

The Not-Its! – Busy

Moona Luna – No Me Digas

Cat Doorman – Peaceful

Bill Harley & Keith Munslow – Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something

Marcy Marxer – Things Are Coming My Way

Alphabet Rockers – Shape Rap (Remix)

Jambo – Hootenanny

The Golden Records Orchestra – The Noise Song

nick cope – Crazy Crazy Dinner Lady

Like Totally! – Things That Fly

The Non-Toxic Band – Have I Got a Tail for You

Wayne Potash – Allis Chalmers

Interview: Bill Harley & Keith Munslow

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Are they musicians who tell stories or story-tellers who play music?  Whichever the case, Bill Harley and Keith Munslow are of my favorites.  Inspired by a Sirius-XM Kids Place Live contest which challenged them to write a song with the title "It's Not Fair To Me," the duo recorded a whole album of songs (titled It's Not Fair To Me) filled with rivalries and humor, sibling and otherwise.

I called them up in New York last week to talk about the new album just before they were heading off on a road trip down the Eastern Seaboard to play a handful of shows.  After some good-natured ribbing as they figured out the mechanics of the 3 of us talking (Harley suggested that Munslow go to another room so they could both conference in on their individual phones, then joked, "who wants to hear two of him [Munslow]?  That's too much"), we got down to talking about their own sibling histories, the process of recording the new album, and finding time to make music even as you're about to become a parent for the first time.

Zooglobble: What are your first musical memories?

Bill Harley (BH): My dad was a classical and jazz musician, so it was listening to him.  I played music.  My mom wanted to make sure I had lessons -- I thought I was playing music until they gave me lessons.

Keith Munslow (KM): I remember the piano.  My 3 older sisters took lessons, so I remember them playing showtunes, pop music of the time.  My grandmother would come over and play.  I didn't take lessons on the piano at all -- I wanted to play drums, which is ironic since I primarily play piano now.

Did you get along with your siblings?

KM: I got along with my sisters.  I was the youngest -- my sisters are 6, 11, and 12 years older.  My rivalry was with my brother.

BH: I was in the middle -- 3 boys within four, five years of each other.  We were squabbling constantly.  My older brother is a mild, gentle soul; I had more of a rivalry with my younger brother.  But, you know, I was on a plane recently, and I could some siblings fighting with each other ahead of me, and they were across the aisle from each other.

KM: Yeah, brothers definitely fight more.

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Are the songs on It's Not Fair To Me based on your own families or observations of others?

KM: Both.  If it wasn't your family who was fighting, it was your friends who had families.  The culture of squabbling has not evolved at all.

BH: Families are the basis of how people begin to relate to one another.  There is an endless amount of material, but it all has the same basic theme.  The subtext, of course, is that squabbling doesn't work, but people laugh because they recognize themselves in the stories.

KM: It feels real comfortable.

BH: In some ways, [the album] comes out of us performing on stage.  There is a storyline out of having 2 people on stage.  At the beginning of us performing on stage, there was a lot of Keith trying to disrupt me.

KM: There were some shows where Bill had some broken fingers as a result of a basketball injury, and I had to play more of the [backing] music, and it was too tempting for me not to do something with that.

BH: In clowning, there's the theory of the high status/low status clown.  "High status" is someone like John Cleese.  We used that some.

You recorded some (most?) of the album separately -- how did you get the interplay between the two of you to work?

KM: Actually, we did a good amount of the record in the same room.

BH: We shared some tracks via Dropbox -- Keith was the engineer for the albm.

KM: We did a lot of the arguments more than once.  In the process, those arguments may have gotten better, tighter.

BH: In some ways, it would have been nice to have a separate producer to focus more on that.

KM: But can I just say that a huge part of the fun of making this album was that we had to play everything.

BH: We actually had to practice...

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It sounds like you enjoyed making the album.

BH: The crafting of a song is work.  You find yourself beating your head against the wall a lot.  Sometimes Keith would bring a couplet and we'd just work it.

One of the best parts was being in our recording studio.  If you're paying, you might feel guilty about it, but in this case, we had no deadlines.

KM: Sometimes in the studio you're basic decisions on the fact you're paying $100 per hour.  There was one track for the new album where, when we both listened to it a week later, we both said, no, that's not working.  The playfulness is more easily accessed.

What's next -- will you be playing more shows together?

BH: We don't have a whole lot scheduled right now.  This week we're going down to record a show for Kids Place Live, play just outside DC, then some shows here in New York.

KM: We're trying to schedule more stuff.

BH: I'm excited that my son Dylan's going to play drums for us on some shows.

Oh, yes, he just finished up his Kickstarter pitch.

BH: He's very excited about that.

OK - final question. You both have lots of different things going on at any particular time. How do you keep it all straight?

BH: Keith?

KM: [laughs]

BH: He's about to have a kid.

Congratulations!

KM: Thanks.  My wife's due in a couple weeks.  You have to have somebody keeping things straight for you.  You have a balance of jobs that pay and others you do for fun.

BH: Anytime you do one thing, something else suffers.  I work in crisis mode.  For example, there's this book deadline that just spring upon me.

Being an artist is a hustle -- there are many things in the air at any given point.

KM: I am surprised at the things that catch on, that gets an audience.

Photo credits: Ears - Erin K. Smithers; Ice Cream - Pam Murray