Video: "Hot Nights" - Gustafer Yellowgold

Yay for new Gustafer!  That's right, our favorite animated friend from the sun is back.  September 8 sees the release of Brighter Side, the eighth Gustafer Yellowgold release from Morgan Taylor.  The album promises a look at both Gustafer's childhood on the sun along with more peeks into his current life in Minnesota.

"Brighter Side" is a funny take on really hot evenings featuring a melody and production that would slide right into '70s AM radio.  Speaking as a resident of desert Arizona, I can relate to the subject matter.  Speaking as someone who's listened to a bit of '70s AM radio, I can relate to that as well.

Anyway, enjoy this video, because unlike the other seven Gustafer releases, this new album is a music-only release and so there won't be a video for every song.  (I am very pleased, however, to see that there will be a video for "Baconstein," a sequel to one of the all-time great Gustafer songs "Cakenstein," along with at least one other.)

Welcome back, Gustafer!

Gustafer Yellowgold - "Hot Nights" [YouTube]

Video: "Froggie Went a Courtin'" - Caspar Babypants

It's a little hard to hear because of his history with the pop-punk Presidents of the United States of America, and because his Caspar Babypants project has such a whimsical pop sensibility, but Chris Ballew's work as Caspar Babypants is very, very folk.  His originals generally have a simple core, easily replicable as sung work by the novice.  And he's very committed to reworking folk song classics and giving them new life.

Jump for Joy album cover

Jump for Joy album cover

For "Froggie Went a Courtin'," perhaps the hoariest of folk song chestnuts, Ballew ditches the amphibian's sword and pistol, and replaces them with a ring and bouquet -- because Froggie's asking to get married, duh.  It's not that this new version is any better than the thousands that have come before it (though it's better than a lot of them), but his willingness to make the song his one is folk as anything.

The song is on his forthcoming album Jump for Joy! (out August 18), and as with many of his videos, features Ballew's own drawings.  (Look for Beatle John.)

Caspar Babypants - "Froggie Went a Courtin'" [YouTube]

Video: "Hambone" - Jazzy Ash feat. Uncle Devin (World Premiere!)

Swing Set album cover

Swing Set album cover

I'm excited for Jazzy Ash's newest album Swing Set to reach the public's ears in a couple weeks, but in the meantime you can get a taste of the jazz-inspired set for your favorite preschooler right now in this world premiere video.  It's for the well-known call-and-response song "Hambone" and features Washington, DC kindie artist Uncle Devin.

Jazzy Ash and Uncle Devin at Big Ego.

Jazzy Ash and Uncle Devin at Big Ego.

Now normally I'm not a huge fan of studio-based videos, but I really like how in this one the viewer can see how album tracks are really recorded.  Instead of band members all facing in the same direction, no music stands to be found, this one feels real -- Devin with his lyrics written out on a piece of paper singing out the call while he's hand-clapping, Jazzy Ash (aka Ashli Christoval) closing her eyes trying to focus on her response, and in the back Sarah Reich, who sometimes performs with Postmodern Jukebox, stomping.  (Anthony Shadduck is the bassist, similarly concentrating.)  It's a learning experience, even if the video isn't necessarily meant to be.

Anyway, I really like the song.  (That's always a big one for me.)  And as for the track itself, Christoval notes that,

The “Hambone” rhythm is based on the West African hand-clapping tradition called Juba, which was carried to the U.S. by slaves. The “Hambone” lyrics were added later, as a reflection of the early African-American experience. Because the song is passed on through oral tradition, there are many versions of the lyrics, some more “family friendly” than others. Almost all versions have a similar theme: A man has had a long, hard day. He’s reflecting on things he wish he had. Then, he sits down to a big meal and gobbles it right up!

Swing Set is out July 21.

Jazzy Ash - "Hambone" feat. Uncle Devin [YouTube]

Photo credit: Brock Christoval

Video: "Used to Be" - Spring Bees (World Premiere!)

Spring Bees album cover

Spring Bees album cover

I love to get word of musicians trying their hand at the kids music world for the first time -- so much promise and uncertainty.  So when self-described "indie rock Texpatriate" Monte Holman (he lives in Kansas City at the moment) sent me a copy of his debut album recorded as Spring Bees and cited folks like Dolly Parton, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Joao Gilberto as musical reference points, I was eager to hear it, to see what came out of it.

Almost as cool as hearing new music from new bands is seeing that they've got their act together, and in this case, Holman already had his debut video lined up.

The first video from Spring Bees' self-titled album, "Used to Be," is a celebration of a love that will last a long, long, looooong time.  The lyrics suggest a series of lifetimes that the singer has lived through caring for someone else, suggesting a love that survives reincarnation.  But because those lifetimes feature, say, giraffes and alligators, it gives the weighty concept a much lighter feel.  The video was created by animator Cody Ground, who used stop-motion animation featuring what I like to think of as all those "zoo in a tube" tiny plastic animals you're stepping on when you're not stepping on your kids' Legos.

I'm guessing that the band name is inspired by the name of Monte's daughter (which starts with the letter "B"), and unsurprisingly given that track above, there's a strong feeling of love suffusing the entire album.  And those references above?  Totally earned.  (Just wait 'til you hear "Burp," which feels like a missing track from Getz/Gilberto.)  The album definitely will give you warm and fuzzy (and fuzzed out) indie rock feelings, but not in a too-cool-for-school way.

The self-titled debut is out April 21, but in the meantime, I'm happy to world-premiere this video and help get Spring Bees' music slowly out into the world.  I'm eager to see (and hear) what will happen.

Spring Bees - "Used To Be" [Vimeo]

Video: "Vegetables" - Rabbit!

The Golden Carrot album cover

The Golden Carrot album cover

It's been a case of long-time-no-hear for the band Rabbit!  They released the kid-friendly album Connect the Dots in 2010, another EP called The Hopscotch EP the next year along with a cute video for their song "Magic."  

They took a hiatus for a few years starting in 2012, but now they're back with a brand new EP called The Golden Carrot EP.  The 5-song EP is out on March 21st and for the most part, the music is hook-y, bubbly pop that nobody would think was "kids music" unless somebody put it in that box for them.

One track, though, definitely has a younger audience in mind, and that's "Vegetables."  While regular readers will know that I'm not a big fan of "educational" music, but just as a well-prepared dish of veggies will get kids to eat foods they need, if the song's catchy and has a sing-along chorus, you can sing about just about anything.  That's the case here, and with doctor/rapper ZDoggMD adding vocals and a cute lyric video bursting with color and energy, I think kids will want at least one serving.  Maybe more.

Rabbit! - "Vegetables" [YouTube]