Video: "Bird and Rhino" - The Pop Ups

Let's wrap up this (unofficial) Day of The Pop Ups -- sort of a pop-up Pop Ups site -- here at Zooglobble on a visual note.  We've had a review of Great Pretenders Club, the first kids music album to be released exclusively on Amazon Music.  And we've interviewed Jason Rabinowitz how the album came about and what we can expect in the future.

One of those things we can expect is a video for each of the album's 11 tracks.  The first video, for the track "Bird and Rhino," is already here.  It's purposefully slightly lo-fi animation nicely captures the track's occasional zaniness.  If you're going to stomp that fire out with a funnily voiced Rhino, that's not exactly something that cries out for verisimilitude.

You can watch the video directly on Amazon's website, but seeing as Amazon Music also has its own (embeddable) YouTube channel, let's go with that.

The Pop Ups - "Bird and Rhino" [YouTube]

Itty-Bitty Interview: Jason Rabinowitz (The Pop Ups)

Jason Rabinowitz with puppet

Jason Rabinowitz with puppet

Usually I like my interviews a little bit longer, but the speed of the release of Great Pretenders Club, the excellent album from Brooklyn duo The Pop Ups demanded something shorter.  Also, given its relative secrecy -- announced and released within a week -- I couldn't do something more extensive.  (I tip my hat to the band, though, for keeping such a tremendous work under wraps.)

But Jason Rabinowitz, one half of the duo, did answer a few questions last week about the process of creating the album, his influences, and what we can expect in the weeks and months to come.

Zooglobble: “Great Pretenders Club” is the first kindie “instant album” (meaning, released almost as soon as it’s announced) -- how long have you been working on it?

Jason Rabinowitz: From the moment we started writing until the moment it came back from mastering was about 3 months. It was hard to keep it under our hats that whole time. 

How did the association with Amazon Music come about?

Our manager (at mTheory LLC)  was at Amazon for a meeting (not about us) and threw our hat in the ring. (I'm going to try and mention the word "hat" in every answer here.)

The album has a definite ‘80s vibe, even more so than your other albums -- do you have any favorite albums from that era?

Purple RainThriller, Graceland: the big three. 

Remain In Light. Doolittle. She's So Unusual. Voices. Freedom Of Choice. Tom Tom Club. Even Worse. Spike

Anything by Men Without Hats. 

Also a lot of 70's albums. Too long to list but some highlights: Tusk. #1 Album. Fulfillingness First Finale

More more more!!!

What else will you be doing with the album and the music from it?

We're making a video for all 11 songs on the album that will stream as a Pop Ups block on Amazon Prime! Very excited about that! So... Hats off to that idea!

Review: Great Pretenders Club - The Pop Ups

The Pop Ups - Great Pretenders Club album cover

The Pop Ups - Great Pretenders Club album cover

It's a brave new world in kids music.  I thought that the genre would have a few more years where CDs would be the primary mode of transmitting music (and funding musicians' careers), but if I had a dollar for every kids musician I've heard in the past year or so describing the collapse of their CD sales, I'd have enough money to go down to my favorite local record shop (literally) down the street and buy a couple albums.

As a keen observer of the music industry -- and someone for whom the CD is still my most preferred listening medium -- I, too, am nervous by what appears to be a shift to streaming services, which could lead to viewing music as a commodity.  What happens to commodities?  They're viewed as raw materials, often easily substituted for and by other items, with price being the main victim.  In this scenario, if you're a producer of said "raw materials," that doesn't end well if you take your time with your craft.

Luckily -- maybe -- kids entertainment is one of the battlefields upon which the new streaming entertainment wars are being fought.  Netflix, Amazon, and other SVOD (streaming video on demand) players both major and niche are touting their own independent series and collection of entertainment.  Video isn't the only battlefield -- players like Rhapsody are developing their own special kids' area, it can't be long until Spotify joins in, and folks like batteryPOP are developing a video-channel hybrid focusing on kid-friendly music and entertainment.

You might be wondering, what in the world does this have to do with Great Pretenders Club, the fourth album from the Brooklyn duo The Pop Ups?


You see, Great Pretenders Club is the very first kids' album from Amazon Music (a second kids' album, from Lisa Loeb, will be released in October) and as such it's a trailblazing release.  It's available exclusively from Amazon Music, downloadable as well as in physical format (print-on-demand CD-R).  More intriguingly, it's being marketed primarily as being exclusively available for streaming on their Amazon Prime service.  In other words, selling the album seems to be a minor point -- what's more important is that you can stream it on Amazon... and not on Spotify, Rhapsody, Bandcamp, and so on.  Amazon has entered the kids audio entertainment fray, and they're using kindie to do it.

So often trailblazing releases are notable more for their context than their content, but in the case of Great Pretenders Club, the album's music is every bit as notable as the way it's been introduced to the world.  This is, simply put, one of the year's best albums.  From the minimalist bleeps and and zaps of album opener "Pretend We Forgot" to the trip-hop sound of title track at the very end (featuring HAERTS), Jacob Stein and Jason Rabinowitz give us eleven tracks of '80s drenched pre-K solid gold celebrating imagination and playfulness.  "We Live in an Orchestra" notices and turns into a song the sounds of everyday objects and adds a nifty guitar line and stringed accompaniment.  "On Air" wonders what it would be like to have one's own radio show (with a foam baseball bat), throwing in Duran Duran and Toto references.  "Googly Eyes" has for me a bit of Joe Jackson feel, while the groove of "Indoor Picnic" features in one part a descending melodic part that must be an homage to Tears for Fears' "Head Over Heels."  (I also can't believe that the part in "Make a Rainbow" that apes the Fifth Dimension's "Let the Sunshine In" wasn't intentional.)  I particularly dug the crunchy guitars of "Treasure Hunter," about playing hide-and-seek with different objects.  While there isn't a song that is as sublime as "Box of Crayons" or "All These Shapes," there isn't anything remotely close to a weak or even so-so track.

The 38-minute album will be most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7.  You can preview or purchase (and stream if you're an Amazon Prime member) the album here.

A few years from now, the fact that Great Pretenders Club was introduced to the world, Beyonce-style fully-completed, as the first kids music Amazon Music release will have been forgotten.  While Amazon has the market power to significantly change the trajectory of kids music and kindie's relationship to kids music, its ability to do will also determine whether this particular album itself will be forgotten.  Great Pretenders Club is a great album, so don't screw this up, Amazon.  Highly recommended.

Video: "C Is for Cat" - The Pop Ups

The wonderful duo The Pop Ups are continuing their video series, and their latest, Episode 4, features a BRAND NEW SONG.  The song is called "C Is for Cat," and while I can't say that it reaches the level of bonkers that their video for "Robot Dance" did, it's still pretty darn good as it outlines feline preferences (cars and carp, among other things).  And that robot dance video didn't instruct you or your kids on how to draw a cat.  This one?  Nailed it.

The Pop Ups - "C Is for Cat" [YouTube]

Intro to Kindie: Amberly Warnke (Ages 3 and Up!)


Yay, it's another entry in our Intro to Kindie series! It's America's favorite series for discussing how kindie folk would spend an hour or so introducing kids music to someone new to the concept.  Today, it's Amberly Warnke's turn.

For about ten years, Amberly has been playing music for families and kids on her show, Ages 3 and Up!.  (Note: as far as I know, listeners under 3 are totally welcome.)  The show airs 9 'til 10 AM on Saturday mornings on WRFL 88.1 FM in Lexington, Kentucky.

Without, then, any further ado, Amberly's 20 songs...

Lori Henriques - “How Great Can This Day Be” - How Great Can This Day Be 

Future Hits - “This Past Sunny Weekend” - Today is Forever 

Frances England - “Up A Tree” - Family Tree 

Gustafer Yellowgold - “Getting In A Treetop” - Mellow Fever

Dog on Fleas - “Beautiful World” - Beautiful World 

Caspar Babypants - “Tiger Through The Trees” - This Is Fun! 

Ages 3 and Up logo

Ages 3 and Up logo

Brian Vogan and His Good Buddies - “How To Fly” - Sing A Little Song

Todd McHatton - “Green Eleven” - Sundays At The Rocket Park

Charlie Hope - “One That I Love” - Songs, Stories and Friends:  Let’s Go Play!

Kira Willey - “Caterpillar Caterpillar” - Dance For The Sun:  Yoga Songs for Kids

Medeski Martin & Wood - “Pat A Cake” - Let’s Go Everywhere

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Family - “Go Waggaloo” - Go Waggaloo

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - “Luck” - Easy

Me3 - “Come On” - The Thin King

The Pop Ups - “Big Wheel” - Outside Voices

Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke - “Going To The Moon” - Rise and Shine

Justin Roberts - “No Matter How Far” - Lullaby

The Harmonica Pocket - “Bumblebee Lullaby” - Ladybug One 

John Upchurch and Mark Greenberg - “Hum Drum Bumblebee” - John and Mark’s Children’s Record 

Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower - “I Wish You Well” - Blue Clouds



Video: "Robot Dance" - The Pop Ups

I watch a lot of kids music videos.  Some I like, others I don't, but for the most part into which category a particular video falls is more about execution and the song itself.

Every now and then, however, a video comes along which is so mind-blowing that simply to categorize it as good (or bad) seems not to do it justice.

Such is the case with "Robot Dance," the brand-new video from The Pop Ups.  The song itself is from the band's most recent album, the most-excellent Appetite for Construction.  The video is part of a video series the band is launching today, featuring a mixture of puppetry, live action, and animation.  The other four videos feature some new music, funny puppets, and what would appear to be regular "bits."

But this fifth video, for "Robot Dance," a "freeze" song, is... Well, the most accurate way I can put it is that it's bonkers.  Totally bonkers.  But in the best way.  So much love for this.

The Pop Ups - "Robot Dance" [YouTube]