Monday Morning Smile: "A New Wave" - Sleater-Kinney

Sleepy this Monday morning?  Need a pick-me-up?  Then might I suggest the latest video from the awesome Sleater-Kinney?  It's for "A New Wave," and features the characters from the Fox animated comedy Bob's Burgers dancing while animated versions of the trio play one of the strongest songs from their new album No Cities To Love.  (Love drummer Janet Weiss shaking her head back and forth.)

While you or your kids might not pogo up and down like Tina Belcher, this'll serve as the equivalent of a cup of coffee or can of soda.  Energy!

[Almost entirely unrelated note: I get to see Sleater-Kinney in concert this spring.  Squeeee!]

Sleater-Kinney: "A New Wave" [YouTube]

Review: Gustafer Yellowgold's Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom - Gustafer Yellowgold

GustaferYellowgoldWisdomToothOfWisdom.jpg

First off, no, that's not a misprint -- the sixth Gustafer Yellowgold album really is called Gustafer Yellowgold's Wisdom Tooth of Widsom.  The extra "wisdom" is for, er, wisdom.

Yes, that's a deliberate pose our favorite yellow alien from the sun is striking on the DVD cover, as the story inside deals with his search for wisdom.

As creator Morgan Taylor has run out of the original batch of songs that made up the first few Gustafer DVDs, individual DVDs have become more unified in structure, songs organized around a single principle.  Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom is the first DVD, however, in which I felt like there was something at stake in the story.  Rather than just illustrating a personality quirk (e.g., "I Jump on Cake," still a classic GY song), the songs here help move along a plot that sees Gustafer struggle with giving up something that's important to him and what the true source of wisdom is.  His external journey -- finding the source of the titular tooth -- is matched by an interior journey.

Of course, the heart of any Gustafer DVD is still the music, and it's every bit as '70s-soft-rock-with-a-hint-power-poppy as ever.  (That's a good thing, natch.)  "Telephone Called" is a bit of Broadway jangle-pop, followed by the fuzzed-out and hand-clapped strains of XTC heard in "It Suits You."  (Yes, the DVD case suggests that XTC reference, but darned if it doesn't hit the nail on the head.)  One of my favorite tracks, "Toothloser," sounds to me like Billy Joel at his early '80s narrative best, with "Secret Fox" a wistful follow-up.  Other strong tracks in "I Can't Feel My Face" (shout-out to Billy Shears!) and "Yawn," the first song I've heard that actually tries to be yawn-inducing.  The music might have some odd lyrical references if you're not familiar with the video, but the music isn't dependent on the visuals for your enjoyment.

As always, the animation -- featuring Taylor's own art -- is minimal, more moving picture book, but it's the most technically-proficient video yet, often beautiful to look at.  (There's a scene near the end where somebody's recording a meeting on a cell phone, and you can see the characters on the tiny phone's screen doing exactly what the actual characters are doing.)  The videos themselves have some nice jokes for the adult (or smart kid) to appreciate in addition to the broad humor in many of them.

The video is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 10.  You can watch a preview of the 41-minute DVD here.  The DVD includes a couple bonus features (a 6- minute guitar lesson with Taylor for his hit "Cakenstein" and a 20-minute documentary about the making of the DVD) and more importantly, a 30-minute CD with all 10 songs from the video.

Now that Taylor has been living with Gustafer in his head and on the screen for more than a decade, he's had some time to stretch what he's going with the character and his world.  This is all to the good, and makes me that much more excited about the next Gustafer video, already in the works.  The music is definitely recommended, as good as ever, and the DVD is highly recommended, the best Gustafer Yellowgold video yet.

Note: I was provided a copy of the DVD/CD for possible review.

Video: "Champion of the Spelling Bee" - Danny Weinkauf (World Premiere)

Danny Weinkauf's album No School Today is an example of kindie power-pop at its best, filled with excellent pop songcraft.  Weinkauf's released a handful of videos that are every bit as slightly quirky but nicely done, and I'm pleased to world-premiere the latest video from the album, the video for "Champion of the Spelling Bee."

Now, I'm sure that being featured on ESPN as part of their Scripps National Spelling Bee coverage with the song was probably a bigger deal, but I like to think that this cute video, featuring animation from Vanessa Appleby and vocals from Weinkauf's son son Kai, will live on long after we forget the kids we see standing at the microphone each spring.

Danny Weinkauf - "Champion of the Spelling Bee" [YouTube]

Video: "Just Not Me" - The Hipwaders

For my tastes, Bay Area band The Hipwaders ranks right up there with Recess Monkey and Caspar Babypants in having kindie's best set of videos in terms of quality, quantity, and diversity.  Their latest video for "Just Not Me," off their new album Year-Round Sounds, pulls in another animator into the Hipwaders' fold, Will Guy of Goopymart, and with just a handful of touches (the tattoo parlor, the backwards "E" in the title character's graffiti, perfectly captures the narrator's... recalcitrance to mind rules.  Much fun.

The Hipwaders - "Just Not Me" [YouTube]

Video: "The Creatures Under My Bed": Caspar Babypants

I know, I just posted a review of Caspar Babypants' newest album Rise and Shine!.  Shouldn't I give somebody else some coverage on the site?

Yes, yes, I should (and soon!), but this brand new video from CB for "The Creatures Under My Bed" is just so much fun that I didn't want to wait another week or so.  I'm impatient that way sometimes.  Good stuff again from occasional Caspar Babypants-collaborator, New Zealand-based Mukpuddy. Happiest creatures of the week, by far.

Caspar Babypants - "The Creatures Under My Bed" [YouTube]

Video: "No Homework" - The Bazillions

BazillionsRockinVideoCollection.jpg

I like to think of myself as liking a broad range of musical styles, but, yeah, powerpop!  One of the most consistent kindie powerpop purveyors are Twin Cities band The Bazillions, and when you add their consistently great videos to the mix, no wonder there's all sorts of Bazillions videos up here in this site.

The latest video from the band and their partners at eg design is for "No Homework," and while it's school-inspired, it doesn't quite have the learning-first approach of some of their best-known classics.  In fact, given that the song is called "No Homework," maybe it's learning last?  Anyway, the video can also be found on their brand-new Rockin' Video Collection DVD, available on their website.

The Bazillions - "No Homework" [YouTube]