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]

Review: Rise and Shine! - Caspar Babypants

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Music writers -- at the very least, this one -- aren't necessarily fans of consistency in their artists.  It stretches our ability to find something new to say about an artist when she constantly turns out the same type of thing.

Sometimes it's consistently bad, and I imagine that some writers could have fun picking apart those albums exhibiting significant failures of imagination, talent, or quality control, if not all three. (I am not one of those writers.)

But sometimes it's consistently good, and those are the trickier ones for me.  Chris Ballew, aka Caspar Babypants -- he's one of the trickiest.  His seven Caspar Babypants albums have been uniformly excellent, with only his most recent, Baby Beatles, a collection of Fab Four covers, at all deviating from the norm of well-crafted, lightly-arranged collections of gentle and gently skewed originals mixed with covers of folk classics that, like looking through a prism at different angles, retained the essence of the original but let you see (or hear) it in a different way.

So how does his latest album, Rise and Shine, differ from the rest of the CB work?  Hmmm… to begin with, it felt to me like it's his most toddler-focused album in quite some time, songs like the strings-laden Beatlesque "Rise and Shine" and the handclapp-y jam "Littlest Worm" with the hint of lessons might be most… useful for your almost-three-year-old.

But that's the barest of distinctions, and the album feels every bit part of the Caspar Babypants world we have come to know and love.  It celebrates the natural world, with songs featuring birds, worms, mice, and squirrels -- sometimes acting more or less like they actually do in the real world, in the crisp "Pretty Crabby," and sometimes acting more anthropomorphically, as in what is probably one of my top 5 Caspar Babypants songs, "Bird in an Airplane Suit" ("Look up / look up / you can sometimes see / a bird in an airplane suit").  (I also quite enjoy the simple and wistful "Girl With a Squirrel in Her Hat.")

Ballew's ear for reworking traditional songs and mixing those new arrangements amongst his sometimes whimsical originals remains as sharp as ever.  "Rain Rain Come Today" is very much reworked, something you might have heard in the '60s.  And while the traditional lullabies on the disk are hardly lullabies - "Hush Little Baby" is funky, and "Rock a Bye Baby" also fails the sleep test, he does end the album on a slow note, tempo-wise.

I'll peg this album as most appropriate for kids ages 2 through 6.  You can hear samples from the 50-minute album here.

In the end, Rise and Shine is another solid entry in Ballew's kid-canon, as strong as any over the past decade, perfect for your youngest kid or niece or nephew, but still just as delightful to their older siblings (or their parents).  Sometimes novelty is overrated, but Caspar Babypants isn't.  Highly recommended.

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

Video: "No Homework" - The Bazillions

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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]

Weekly Summary (9/22/14 - 11/16/14)

Radio Playlist: New Music November 2014

As we hurtle into the fall/winter gift-giving season, there are a lot of albums that have crossed my desk recently.  I've got a fortnight's worth of songs for your family's enjoyment (if you listen to one track a night, which would be kind of weird). If you missed October's 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 go right here if you're in Spotify.

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

Moona Luna – Together (feat. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo)
The Laurie Berkner Band – Magic Box - Full Band Version
Music Inrichment – Down the Stream
In The Nick of Time – Road Trip
Splash'N Boots – Go with the Flow
Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips – Gratitude
Eric Ode – Possibly the Possum
The Wanna Bees – Valerie Vet
Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke – Katy Caterpillar
The SqueeGees – Outer Space
Papa Snow – Jimi Crack Korn
Alex Mitnick – In the Right Place
J. Cohen – Nightingale Waltz
Suzanne Jamieson Selmo – Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)