Radio Playlist: New Music July 2014

The July playlist is a little smaller than the June playlist (see that playlist here), but this is a nice 20 minutes or so of tunes.

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 July 2014 (July 2014 Kindie Playlist) ****

The Not-Its! – Raise Your Hand
Bill Currier – Old Macdonald Family Band
Jon Samson – Mockingbird (Something to Say)
Daisy Uke – Watering Can Can
Raffi – Love Bug
Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips – My My My
Sara Hickman – Beautiful Boy

Itty-Bitty Review: ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! - Andrés Salguero

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I'm not sure what the demand for Spanish-language kids music is, but the supply is once again full.  Three or four years ago, the market was flooded by Spanish-language music that was essentially bilingual early education (songs about numbers, fruits, and colors) and, whatever its educational value, was often low in musical distinctiveness.  That tide has receded, but there may be a new wave of Spanish kindie in which the main purpose is in making fun music for kids that just happens to be (mostly) in Spanish.

Andrés Salguero offered up his entry in this second wave, ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés!, earlier this year.  Compared to the mostly indie-pop and rock sensibilities of his compatriots (Lucky Diaz, Moona Luna, the releases from Spain's Minimusica), Salguero takes a different approach, as his album features 10 different songs in 10 different Latin American musical styles.  From "Los Colores" (a mellow bachata, popularized in the Dominican Republic) to "La Clave" (a percussion-driven -- of course -- Cuban/Puerto Rican salsa tune), Salguero samples Latin America's rich musical heritage.  His most ambitious song is "Daddy Was a Migrant Worker," a Norteño song which takes the rural, ballad form and applies it to the type of narrative to which the Norteño and corrido form often applies.  I tended to find Salguero's music (both the melodies and their performance) more sophisticated than his bilingual lyrics, which often lean towards to the basic and educational.

The 32-minute album will be most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 6.  (Listen to the album here.) ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! is a welcome complement to the indie-rock sound of much new Spanish kids' music.  (I say that even as someone with a natural indie-rock bias.)  I look forward to hearing more from Salguero in the future as he takes his songwriting skills and tells stories for, and celebrates lives of, children from many different backgrounds.  Recommended.

World Premiere: "Archaeology" - Danny Weinkauf

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Danny Weinkauf has released a number of videos for his poptastic album for families No School Today and I'm pleased to bring you the world premiere of his latest video from the album.  It's for "Archaeology," and seeing as he also wrote and sang a little song called "I Am a Paleontologist," perhaps Weinkauf is now attempting to corner the kindie market on these aged issues.

In any case, the video from Yvonne Grzenkowicz is a little kinetic wordplay mixed with some rock.  Or, er, rocks.  Enjoy!

Danny Weinkauf - "Archaeology" [YouTube]

Weekly Summary (7/14/14 - 7/27/14)

Review: Sing As We Go! - Charlie Hope

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Singer-songwriting Charlie Hope has a bright, clear voice that appeals to many ears.  In attitude, temperament, and vocal quality, I've previously compared her to Raffi, and I think the analogy still holds.

On her recent release, Sing As We Go!, Hope continues with the formula that has won her fans on both sides of the Canadian-United States border.  Take a batch traditional songs, mix in a handful of poppy folk originals, add a dash of kindie royalty, and stir.  Hope's voice and producer Dean Jones' unfussy musical choices give a fresh spin to the traditionals.  A simple touch like the toy piano on the old camp chestnut "I Love the Mountains" helps give the song new life to the adult listener who may have heard the song more times than they probably should.  While some of the titles like "When the Ice Worm Nests Again" and "Little Rooster" might not sound familiar, the melodies probably will, with Hope occasionally writing some new lyrics for the songs.

The originals here are lovely -- from the lost '70s AM-radio tune "With You" (co-written and performed by Hope and Gustafer Yellowgold's Morgan Taylor) to Jones' "Harmony" (a duet between Hope and Elizabeth Mitchell) and Hope's own gentle ode to the parent-child bond "From You" -- and feel just as timeless as the actual classics they're next to.  (And speaking of kindie royalty, Molly Ledford, Randy Kaplan, and Chris Ballew aka Caspar Babypants also appear on the album.)

The album is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7.  You can listen to extended clips from each song on the album here.  Also, I happen to find the album art here particularly delightful, an artful mix of hand-drawn, computer-drawn, and knitted illustration from Zooglobble favorite Charlotte Blacker.

I first listened to this album months ago, set it aside as real life took over, and when I came back to it recently in preparation for writing this review, I was struck by just how delightful this is.  It's traditional but not musty, sweet but not cloying, engaging but not pandering.  It's a gem of an album, definitely worthy of a comparison to Raffi.  Highly recommended.

Itty-Bitty Review: Just Say Hi! - Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could

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It occurred to me as I listened to Just Say Hi!, the latest album from Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, that I'm not sure I've ever seen Rymer frown.  I'm sure he must occasionally -- maybe -- but I can't recall anger or frustration when I've seen him play live or at kids music events.  For the most part, it's just a big grin.

Rymer's music for families has typically had that gregariousness, noticeable even in a genre that has more than its fair share of happy, gregarious folk.  On his new album, Rymer doesn't change course as he serves up another 11 tracks of feel-good roots-rock.  It's not that the whole album is butterflies and unicorns, relentless peppy.  Rather, songs like danceable "Just Say Hi!" ("Don't be afraid of the unfamiliar / Look 'em in the eye / Give 'em a smile, and / just say "hi!") and the anthemic "Tomorrow's People" have Rymer's positive attitude baked right in, faces turned toward the sun even when things aren't perfect.  While I could do without the goofy "Pet Song (We Thank You)" because the silly voices sound out of place on the album, for the most part earnest songs like "Red Piano Rag," a ragtime (natch) about Rymer's piano-playing Grandma Helen, or the zydeco-tinged "My Home," stand up to repeated spins.  And of course The Little Band That Could still sounds great.

The album is most appropriate for kids ages 5 through 10.   You can hear the 38-minute album here.  Look at that album for Just Say Hi!.  See that big grin on that monster -- that's Rymer's smile in cartoon form.  I think your family will probably be smiling after listening as well.  Definitely recommended.