Boo! Halloween season continues at Nugget Island as we present our special YouTube playlist of non-stop Halloween goodness for the kiddos. Tune in via your smart TV, set-top box or old-fashioned laptop for classic clips from Disney, kindie music videos, and much more. Click here to get access to it on YouTube or watch below.
Although I am still in denial, the dreaded F word is upon us. I know some celebrate the season of Fall, but give me hot sweltering weather any day. (Though I do LIKE “I Will Go Slightly Out of My Way To Step On A Crunchy-Looking Leaf” on Facebook. ) Weather preferences aside, in anticipation of the new season, let’s do an iPod refresh and check out some new options for your library.
Lucky Diaz – Luckiest Adventure
After checking out the amazing album artwork for Lucky Diaz’s family music EP, Luckiest Adventure, I knew I was in for an original project. Lucky Diaz delivers an excellent 5-track contribution to the family music scene, full of finely-crafted acoustic pop tunes. Whether bringing a fresh take on a tired standard, “This Old Man,” or introducing his own originals like “Fire Fighter Girl,” Diaz is a promising new artist on the scene.
Todd McHatton – Sundays at the Rocket Park
Todd McHatton’s Christmas E.P. put him on our radar last year. His new full length release further showcases his sunshiney pop-rock sound. Full of harmonious and quirky songs about animals, superheroes and a guy who enjoys eating clothes, McHatton’s latest is one of those rare releases that you can play from start to finish without hitting the skip button.
The Rattles – Rattle On
Sure, a band fronted by cartoon characters can be gimmicky. But what if the band made music that was actually interesting? Gorillaz for kids, perhaps? Fronted by cartoon animals Gus, Kitty, Hal and Sal, The Rattles put cartoon bands like The Archies to shame. Think quality kindie pop music represented by a kid-friendly, TV pilot-ready quartet.
Dream Jam Band – Leave it in the Soup
I will admit, the album cover had me worried that I was about to hear some Aqua-style Euro Pop. I was quite wrong. The Dream Jam Band is actually four music teachers making high-energy music for kids that spans multiple genres from surf rock to bluegrass to classical. Their Children’s Music Award and Sirius chart success is well-deserved as they know their audience well and make interactive, high-energy music that is sure to satisfy.
The Okee Dokee Brothers – Take It Outside
I love any band that expands both my music horizons and my daughter’s at the same time. Before kindie music entered our household, bluegrass was a dirty word. But bands like The Okee Dokee Brothers have changed that. Take It Outside is the latest effort from this Twin Cities duo, mixing a twangy sound with bits of rock, funk, pop and country. Bringing their sense of humor and high energy to each song, The Okee Dokee dudes deserve all the praise this album has received.
The Bazillions – Rock-n-Roll Recess
Speaking of the Twin Cities, The Bazillions is another act making waves in this city and beyond. While their pop-rock sound is reminiscent of Justin Roberts, their vocals are their own and finely tuned thanks to their work with their own indie-rock band, The Humbugs. This band, created by parents/educators/singer-songwriters Adam and Kristin Marshall, knows how to write a memorable, catchy tune that will stand out in the iPod mix.
The Not-Its – Time Out to Rock
Yes! Our beloved Seattle kindie rock group is back again. Fronted by 90’s indie pop it-girl Sarah Shannon, The Not-Its matches their cool clothes and images with a kindie rock sound widely lauded by fans. This time they are rocking even harder with stand out tracks like “Welcome to Our School” and title track “Time Out to Rock.”
Monkey Monkey Music with Meredith LeVande – What Are the Odds?
Meredith brings on music and movement in this album that is pure preschool gold. This is the album to bring to your child’s preschool teacher who is stuck playing that factory-bred toddler tune album. Instead, share Meredith’s sweet voice and original mix of acoustic, funk and pop-style tunes. Or, enjoy the album at home and have fun interacting with each song or enjoying Meredith’s wordplay.
The Sweet Colleens – The Monkey Dance
Mixing up Americana, rock, Celtic and even some Caribbean, The Sweet Colleens are clearly a seasoned bunch of musicians, fronted by a vocalist who stands out from the kindie rock pack. With classic-rock vocals, he adds something extra to kid-ready songs about poopy diapers, monkeys, and road trips. The Sweet Colleens even do a standout take of Woodie Guthrie’s classic “Who’s My Pretty Baby.”
Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band – Play
Swedberg created Play to encourage families to pick up and play the ukulele. But even if you are not a musically-inclined family, Play is still pure listening pleasure. A stripped down, refreshing album full of standard tunes, Swedberg has timeless, inimitable vocals. In between all the kindie rocking, it is nice to sit back, relax and hear some top-notch ukulele playing from a talent who has been strumming away since the ripe age of five.
Bill Harley – The Best Candy in the Whole World
The godfather of children’s music has a new album out this week. On his latest release, Harley’s trademark narrative-filled, folksy tunes are interspersed with his captive storytelling. Harley has been entertaining kids for years with his imaginative songs and stories, and his new album won’t disappoint all the listeners in the minivan.
The emergence of two early 90′s acts on the kindie/family music scene has been getting some attention recently, and deservingly so. Chris Ballew of 90′s alternative rock band The Presidents of the United States of America emerged last year with his excellent kids’ project, Caspar Babypants. Shortly afterward, 90′s rock band and “Freshman” singers The Verve Pipe came out with their top-notch kids’ release A Family Album. Both of these artists are high on our list of favorites in this household. But while the press seems to thematically lump them together based on their previous musical history, despite their very different sounds, I realized that they were leaving another key band out of the mix.
The Not-Its! are a Seattle-based kindie band, burning up the blogosphere since the debut of their album, We Are the Not-Its! in June 2009. Like the aforementioned bands, The Not-Its! are tied to the 90′s through their lead singer, Sarah Shannon. Sarah was the one-time lead singer of successful Sub Pop indie pop band Velocity Girl. Sarah, along with her other Not-Its! bandmates Danny, Tom, Mike and Nori, were inspired to create this new musical project as a way to balance being a parent with their love of music and non-profit projects.
But perhaps an even more important similarity to Ballew’s Caspar Babypants project and The Verve Pipe album is the high quality of the Not-Its’ music and their commitment to the genre.
After a string of festival appearances last year, The Not-Its! will be pounding the pavement in ’10 to get the word out on this release. Lucky visitors to their shows will see the band members giving it their all in their trademark pink tutus for the girl members and pink skinny ties for the guy members. Those not lucky enough to see a show can simply pick up or download their debut album We Are the Not-Its!.
While the band is not afraid to play around with styles throughout their album, their general sound is pop-rock fun. They wear their 90′s modern rock background on their sleeves from the get-go with lead-off title track “We Are the Not-Its!,” a fast driving pop-punk tune with some kid-chanting thrown in. “Come Play At Our House” slows things down a bit, offering a more familiar kindie pop sound about a playdate that expands across the universe. The album also includes guitar-driven pop celebrating standard moments in a kid’s life like bath time (“B.A.T.H.”), summer camping trips (“I Love Camping”) and the joy of compromising (“The Great Compromise”).
Although Sarah Shannon is the lead vocalist, different members often take the mike, as is the case with “When I’m Five,” a song for the Green Day fan in the van about going off to kindergarten. As hinted earlier, the band plays around with styles, as is the case with piano-driven ode to a “Helicopter,” where the guitar takes backseat and the word “Beatlesque” comes to mind. Things even get a tad twangy on “Dressin’ Up,” a ditty about the family stepping out on the town. Finally, props to the Not-Its! for not only creating a top-notch party song but also turning birthday into a verb with “Let’s Birthday.”
I’m hoping this sincere, quality effort from The Not-Its! sets a standard in family music for others musicians considering exploring the kindie music genre. Together, Chris Ballew, The Verve Vipe and Sarah Shannon & co are showing that family music isn’t a type of music artists “fall back on.” Instead, they are proving it is a wonderful, creative outlet that allows for original music experimentation and limitless lyrical-play and comes with an open-minded, receptive audience. Check out We Are the Not-Its! online now and listen to samples of their music.