Review: Raise Your Hand - The Not-Its

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Like their fellow Seattle kindie musicians Recess Monkey and Caspar Babypants, The Not-Its have settled into a nice groove, delivering a new album consistently every 12 to 18 months since bounding onto the kindie scene in 2009.

And like Recess Monkey before them, the pop-punk quintet has begun to hone their songwriting skills so that by the time they got around to releasing Raise Your Hand, their fifth album, last summer, listeners could feel confident of hearing a nice little playlist of pop nuggets inside.

In that regard, the album does not disappoint.  "When I Fell (The Scab Song)" is power-pop punk at its finest, with the next track "Motorcycle Mom" just as ear-wormy.  And "Haircut" has that appropriately '80s hair-metal sheen for a song about a kid who just wants his (or her) hair to remain wild and untamed.  Even the songs that I was just fine with, a song "Funniest Cat Video" or the title track, inevitably have some sort of musical hook or distinctive production that make the song worth hearing.

As with many of their previous albums, there's a blend of earnestness and sophisticated attitude to the song lyrics -- "Funniest Cat Video" is about the narrator trying (and failing) to make a funny cat video for YouTube, while "Nose In a Book" is all about how awesome reading is.  The references in "Hey 80's" will go straight over the 6-year-old heads (and straight into their 38-year-old parents' heads), while songs like "Bee's Knees" and "Echo" tackle their subjects (bees' environmental fragility and love equality, respectively) with directness.  As an older listener, I wouldn't mind hearing the band tackle some of their more "serious" subjects with a little more of the irreverent attitude they display on their less serious subjects, but that could be the preference of the adult who has heard far more kids music than the vast majority of parents ever will.

Raise Your Hand is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 9.  And as has become expected with Not-Its albums, the design, from Don Clark, is once again top-notch.  I realize that in the age of Spotify, album designers are probably an endangered species, even in the kids music world, but the CD ain't quite dead yet.  You can stream the entire album here.

As I hope I've made clear, Raise Your Hand is a solid collection of songs, radio-ready pop candy for the first-grade masses.  Families who are longtime fans won't be disappointed and while I might recommend its predecessor KidQuake! as the best introduction to the band, that's just personal preference as opposed to any demonstrative difference in quality.  The quality continues.  Definitely recommended.

Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.

Weekly Summary (8/25/14 - 8/31/14)

You Get a Present for Spare the Rock and Zooglobble's Birthday

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So ten years ago this week, this humble little website was born (more on that a little bit later this week).  And nine years ago earlier this month a humble little radio show, Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, first aired.  In that time, I've written hundreds of reviews and featured hundreds of reviews, while Bill Childs and his kids have played thousands of songs on air (and internet).  We've done lots of other stuff separately and together, and we each have new and exciting projects in the works, but my site has always been at the heart of what I do, and I'm sure Bill feels the same way about his show.

I thought it might be fun to celebrate both this site's birthday as well as Spare the Rock starting its tenth year on the air, something that might span a year's worth of time.  And, yes, Bill was very much onboard.

So we're pleased as punch to announce the first in a series of free kids music tracks for you to enjoy.  Bill and I are talking to some of our favorite kids' musicians, both those making music for kids even before we hopped onto the Internet as well as newer artists continuing to shake up the genre, asking them if they'd be willing to write a song to give away.

But in the spirit of collaboration Bill and I have often shared, we're asking them to write and record those songs with another kindie musician.

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Our first track is called "When I'm Ten" and it's from Seattle-area bands and friends Recess Monkey and The Not-Its.  It's bit of a nod to the Not-Its' song "When I'm Five," but it's got a crunchiness (and slightly older perspective) all its own.  Recess Monkey bassist Jack Forman reports that "writing the tune with Drew [Holloway from Recess Monkey], Sarah [Shannon] and Danny [Adamson, both from the Not-Its] was totally organic - like we'd all been in a band for years."

Play the song below or download it -- for the next month only -- here[Sorry, the month has expired. Will the song ever resurface? Who knows????]

(Recess Monkey photo credit: Kevin Fry)

Radio Playlist: New Music July 2014

The July playlist is a little smaller than the June playlist (see that playlist here), but this is a nice 20 minutes or so of tunes.

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 go right here if you're in Spotify.

**** New Music July 2014 (July 2014 Kindie Playlist) ****

The Not-Its! – Raise Your Hand
Bill Currier – Old Macdonald Family Band
Jon Samson – Mockingbird (Something to Say)
Daisy Uke – Watering Can Can
Raffi – Love Bug
Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips – My My My
Sara Hickman – Beautiful Boy

Weekly Review (6/30/14 - 7/13/14)

Video: "Haircut" - The Not-Its

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Seattle's sartorially-superior schoolhouse rockers The Not-Its are releasing their fifth album Raise Your Hand in a couple weeks and judging by their brand new video for "Haircut" (premiered this morning over at USA Today's Pop Candy blog), they have chosen to not cut their hair until the album actually drops.  This will amuse the kids and parents for different reasons -- the kids for the silly hair, the adults for the silly... OK, it'll amuse 'em for the same reason.  (Is it churlish to wish they'd also thrown in a Pavement reference?)

The Not-Its! - "Haircut" [YouTube]