Radio Playlist: New Music April 2016

I know that new music season must be approaching its peak, because there's quite a bit of music I've received I just haven't had a chance to choose the best from, and still this list is a half-hour of great stuff.  (If you want to catch my list from March, another full list, you can see that playlist here.)

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 right here in you're in Spotify).

**** New Music April 2016 (April 2016 Kindie Playlist) ****

"Wake Up" - Red Yarn (w/ Morgan Taylor)

"Animal Tracks" - Laura Doherty

"All The Things I Found" - Frances England

"One Verse Song" - Sugar Free Allstars

"O pato" - Paulinho Garcia

"Chugga Chugga" - The Singing Lizard

"One" (feat. Dub Tonic Cru & Tommy Shepherd) - Aaron Nigel Smith

"Kelp!" - Two of a Kind

"Obla Dobla De" - The Que Pastas

"Sing a Summer Song" - Charity and the JAMband

Podcast Review: Ear Snacks

Ear Snacks logo cover

Ear Snacks logo cover

Well, with this the plural in "Podcast Reviews Are Now a Thing Here" is in fact true.

The Los Angeles-based kindie duo Andrew and Polly first became known to the kids music world for their melodic and occasionally quirky music, but it's their podcast Ear Snacks that is, I think, their most forward-thinking creative effort for audiences of kids.

They call it a "radical new podcast for kids," and while I tend not to believe most descriptions that try to hype the individuality of the product, in this case I think the phrase fits.  Each episode is loosely structured around a single theme -- the most recent one, Episode 9, is "Rain," but they've also covered beeps, pairs, disguises, balls, and more.  The duo (married, with a kid of their own) tackle the topic by talking with one another, playing audio clips of kids talking about it, talking with adult experts, and playing music.  The adults they talk with are sometimes scientists, but sometimes they're just people with a hobbyist's interest (like Polly's father or a friend who just really digs seahorses).  The music, well, as you'd expect, it's really good.  (The song at the end of the "Rain" podcast is one of the best kids' songs you'll hear this year.)  And all of this is wrapped into a single, well-edited whole.

The podcast is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7.  The iTunes link for the show is here (you can find it elsewhere, of course, including at the podcast's main page above).  Episodes are roughly 15-20 minutes in length, and are released roughly monthly.  (Sometimes there are much shorter bonus episodes released in between the main releases.)  Aside from a suggestion of supporting the show, perhaps by buying a t-shirt, the show is ad-free.

I recently called Ear Snacks a half-absurdist podcast for kids, and I stand by that assessment.  Yes, it features kids, and curious ones at that, and that's nothing new, but its blend of music and its deemphasis on straight-forward storytelling is certainly unique for the emerging genre.  It's a hoot.

Video: "Beautiful Day" - Red Yarn

Wake Up and Sing cover

Wake Up and Sing cover

Today is the release day for Red Yarn's new album, his third, titled Wake Up & Sing.  I can think of no better way to celebrate new music from the Portland musician and puppet impresario than to feature the first video from the album.  It's for the leadoff track, "Beautiful Day," and it features a whole host of puppet friends.  Don't let the horse drive the bus! (Or car.)  A beautiful day, indeed.

Red Yarn - "Beautiful Day" [YouTube]

Video: "Helen's Song" - The Que Pastas

Meet You By the Moon album cover

Meet You By the Moon album cover

I'm not one normally to post videos featuring user-submitted photos and videos because I don't tend to find them particularly compelling.

But this new one from The Que Pastas features lead singer/guitarist's Gene Davis' own photos and videos from, like, just about his entire life.  It gives his song, or rather, "Helen's Song," already lovely in audio form, that much more "oomph."  This one's probably more for the dads (and moms) in the audience than their kids, but the older kids looking for a soundtrack for a Father's (or Mother's) Day video could do much, much worse.  The song's from the brand new album from the Texas band, Meet You By the Moon.

The Que Pastas - "Helen's Song" [YouTube]

Top Kids and Family Podcasts (An Attempt to Chart)

I've written recently about how hard it is to discover good podcasts for kids and families, partially pinning the blame on iTunes, whose "Kids & Family" section approaches kids and families as not only the target audience but also the subject area, which leads to including a lot of parenting podcasts in the mix.  Stitcher is the same, though at least they're willing to retitle the category a little more accurately as "Parenting, Family, & Kids" (probably in that order).

As a result, I want to try to create a "kids and family"-only chart of top-rated (audio) podcasts.  Now, I've done the chart-viewing thing before for kids music myself, and frankly, doing it every week was not only taxing, it didn't produce much useful information.  Sort of like watching your 18-month-old: hard to notice change week to week, but easier to do so month to month.  I should also note that these charts, particularly the iTunes one, are pretty opaque, and it's not entirely clear what they're measuring.  It's sort of like trying to chart the growth of that 18-month-old by looking at their Duplo block constructions.  But it's better than nothing, and I'm hopeful that by combining (and equally weighting) the iTunes and Stitcher charts, I'll come up with something moderately useful.

(Other technical matters: results compiled from Top 100 podcasts on iTunes and Stitcher "kids and family" charts as noted above on Friday, April 15, 2016.  Podcasts that appear on both charts rank higher than podcasts appearing on only one chart.  Your mileage may vary.  Charts not valid in New Hampshire and the District of Columbia.  Take all of this with the large grain of salt it so richly deserves.)

Here goes...

1. Brains On

2. Storynory

3. (tie) Tumble Science Podcast for Kids

3. (tie) Stories Podcast

5. Story Pirates

6. Story Time

7. The Official Adventures in Odyssey Podcast

8. Family Folk Tales

9. (tie) Sparkle Stories

9. (tie) Activated Stories

Others (alphabetical): 1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales, Barefoot Books Podcast, Biddy the Duck's Bedtime Stories, The Children's Corner, Classics For Kids, The Cramazingly Indcredifun Sugarcrash Kids Podcast, Gather 'Round Kids, Little Stories for Tiny People, The Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl, Spare the Rock Spoil the Child, The Story Home, That Story Show

Monday Morning Smile: "Ma'agalim" - Jane Bordeaux

Got an e-mail the other day from Lori Henriques the other day which just included a subject line -- "Thought of you :)" -- and a Vimeo link.

Turns out Henriques has me pegged pretty well.  The link was to this video for "Ma'agalim" by Jane Bordeaux.  The Jane Bordeaux Band plays "Americana Hebrew Folk Country music," so be advised that unless you're a Hebrew speaker, you're not going to understand the lyrics.  But the lovely video from director Uri Lotan will likely cause you and your kids to stare slightly slackjawed at the gorgeous animation of a penny arcade machine that tells a years-long story.  Full of wonder.

The Jane Bordeaux Band - "Ma'agalim" [Vimeo]