Video: "Frog Skin" - Molly Ledford

Aw, this is just such a sweet song.  It's from Molly Ledford, multi-hyphenate extraordinaire.  (You know, from Lunch Money! And Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly! And from Instagram and Facebook photos of her kids, who I feel should have a book deal or video deal or some deal from somebody because they're just awesome.)

At first she just wrote music for one puppet musical.  But now she's gone ahead and done it again, which I think officially makes her a puppet musical expert.  This time it's for the Columbia Marionette Theatre's production of the Russian folktale The Frog Princess.

Ledford's released a simple video directed by her husband and fellow Lunch Money conspirator Jay Barry that features Molly accompanying herself on the ukulele while puppeteer Mitra Salehi controls the Frog Princess marionette.  In 86 seconds, they say so much.

Molly Ledford - "Frog Skin" [YouTube]

The Kindie Rock Showdown: Week One in the Books, Week Two Underway!

Kindie Rock Showdown logo

Kindie Rock Showdown logo

Well Week One of the batteryPOP/Zooglobble Kindie Rock Showdown is in the books and...

Wait, you don't know what the batteryPop/Zooglobble Kindie Rock Showdown is?  OK, read this and come back.  It's OK, I'll wait.

So, yeah, last week a bunch of you voted and Danny Weinkauf's "Ice Cream" knocked off Caspar Babypants' "The Stump Hotel" while in a squeaker, Alphabet Rockers' "Dynamite" triumphed over The Bazillions' "No Homework."  Those two winners move on to the semifinals next week.

But this week we've got four new videos going head-to-head: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band's "Blue Bear" vs. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's "Gotta Be You" and Josh and the Jamtones' "John Jacob" (that's a lot of "J"s there) facing off against The Not-Its' "Haircut."  Some solid video action there, too.

You can read more about the videos and the matchups here.  And, just as she did last week, Laurie Berkner's providing some color commentary of her own on the videos.

So head on over, watch the videos, "POP" your favorites daily, and see who moves on to the semifinal round next week!

Itty-Bitty Review: Sundrops - The Harmonica Pocket

Harmonica Pocket album cover

Harmonica Pocket album cover

The Seattle-area duo The Harmonica Pocket (songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Keeth Monta Apger and his wife Nala Walla) have always been led by an animating interest in the natural world, but never quite as fully as on their fourth family album Sundrops, which is officially released today.  The theme -- sunshine and rain -- is a pretty genius one (especially for a Pacific Northwest band) and the dozen tracks here explore (mostly) the beauty of both sun and rain.

The album starts off particularly strongly -- the country-folk of "Sing In the Sun," followed by the pure pop goodness of "Raindrops," which features fellow Northwest musician and co-producer Johnny Bregar on the Hammond B3.  That song, with the lyric "We'll dry off someday / It's just water anyway," and "It's Gotta Rain (If You Want a Rainbow)," give you a good sense of Apgar's songwriting attitude.   (They also feature the small band Apgar and Bregar brought in to fill out the sound.)  Much of what follows is also an enjoyable, amiable folk-pop shuffle through the natural world -- I particularly liked "Digga Dog Kid" (a duet with Chris Ballew AKA Caspar Babypants, who knows his way around songs about being outside) and their reworking of "You Are My Sunshine," featuring many new lyrics.  I didn't like "Are You a Monster Too?," which didn't seem to fit in at all amongst the sun and rain songs, but since I greatly adored "I Love Ukuleles," a song featuring wordplay around the phrase "I love you..." (and Marcy Marxer on ukulele as well, natch) perhaps I just didn't like "Monster," period.

The 40-minute Sundrops is most appropriate for listeners ages 3 through 7.  Its mellow sound and open-hearted lyrics will make a nice accompaniment for both rainy afternoons and sunny Sunday mornings.  Recommended.

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

Video: "Thank You" - Vered

Hello My Baby album cover

Hello My Baby album cover

Vered's latest album Hello My Baby was an interesting album in that it featured songs that were both incredibly sweet and tender about the interaction of between mother and child as well as surprisingly raw about the emotional ups and downs of being a caregiver to a young child.

Her first video from the album, for the song "Thank You," resides in the former camp.  It's a simple video for a simple song, and if you (and your child) learn nothing more than the sign language for please and thank you, then the video's done its job.

Vered - "Thank You" [YouTube]

Intro to Kindie: Dave Loftin (Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl)

Dave Loftin and kids

Dave Loftin and kids

Continuing our Intro to Kindie series -- the fact that there's a second entry makes it a series, right? -- this week I've got a list from Chattanooga's Dave Loftin that outlines how he'd spend an hour introducing kids music to someone new to the concept. 

For more than 9 years, Dave has been spinning music for kids and families on his show, the Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl.  The show airs 8 'til 10 AM on (what else?) Saturday mornings, streamed on out of Chattanooga.

When he sent me the list, he took the "one hour" concept seriously -- he says it's timed out at 59 minutes and 57 seconds.  That doesn't leave a lot of time for intros, bumpers, or chatter, but it does leave a lot of time for some great music.

My first thought about coming up with a “Kindie 101” of sorts was, “Awesome! This will be great.” Then I quickly realized, after being waist-deep in this genre for nine and half years, "this is going to be a lot more challenging than I thought." I’ve been exposed to so much talent over these years and trying to think back to my first kindie discoveries and the elation that accompanied those experiences might prove a challenge.

This list is not a best-of list (because that would just be cruel of Stefan to ask) but rather these are the artists that stood out to me when I first heard them. They all had and have something that can make naysayers of kids’ music rethink what they believe they know of the genre.

This is laid out as a mixtape. There’s no order of importance and it’s not a top 20 list, but it’s made to flow. Not too different than how I program the show. Just like the tapes some of us poured so many hours into getting just right.

Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl logo

Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl logo

So here it is. Your SMCB Mixtape:

Side A

Lucky Diaz - “Blue Bear” [Luckiest Adventures]

Mr. David - “Jumpy in the Jumpy House” [Jump in the Jumpy House]       

Frances England - “Place in Your Heart” [Mind of My Own]

Caspar Babypants - “$9.99” [More Please!]

Alex Volz - “Tommy the Talking Taco” [Awesome Songs For Cool Kids]

Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke - “Big Pet Pig” [Rise and Shine]

Gustfer Yellowgold - “I’m From the Sun” [Wide Wild World]

The Okee Dokee Brothers - “Can You Canoe?” [Can You Canoe?]

Trout Fishing in America - “It’s Better Than That” [Infinity]

Randy Kaplan - “Don’t You Leave Me Here” [The Kids Are All ID]

WAWL logo

WAWL logo

Side B

Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips - “Gratitude”

Shine & the Moonbeams - “Bully Bully” [Shine & the Moonbeams]

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - “Pillowfort Pillowfight” [The Perfect Quirk]

The Pop Ups - “Box of Crayons” [Radio Jungle]

Renee & Jeremy - “Watch Where You’re Goin’” [C’mon]

Ratboy Jr. - “High 5 Your Shadow” [Champions of the Universe]

Recess Monkey - “Knocktopus” [Field Trip]

Egg - “What’s Inside” [Sunny Side Up]

Charlie Hope - “Train Song” [It’s Me!]

Lunch Money - “Time Out” [Spicy Kid]

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]