Pre-K danceaholic kiddos take note, the sophomore album from Kids Imagine Nation has just been officially released and the party is on! The trio behind Kids Imagine Nation pour their high energy beats throughout the record, so if your kiddos have a case of the “Spazzy McGee” wiggles and they love to dance, this is your new go-to album. Two‘s tone is set right off the bat with the first track, I See the Sun, an upbeat ode to sunshine to get the kiddos enjoying the great outdoors (which is quite apropos for a kindie band from southern California). This is quickly followed up with an 80s Josie Cotton-esque song Rock Party which formally invites listeners to join in the fun. Once everyone has jumped into party mode, the games begin, like in the track Monkey See Monkey Do, a cooperative, cooler version of Simon Says in song form.
The energy continues to crank throughout the album, even the song Luau, exploring sights and sounds of the Hawaiian party experience isn’t mellow! But, just when you start to fear that this album is the kid version of a giant house party, Kids Imagine Nation sensitively sprinkles in some “slice of life” songs for good measure. Taking inspiration from the now retired Nickelodeon/ Nick Jr. show, Yo Gabba Gabba, Two contains songs about driving an imaginary car, exercise, and politeness. Two also hits some quintessential kids’ album moments by including songs about favorite colors, a Freeze Dance game, and bedtime. These tracks will definitely appeal to the Pre-K/ Kindergarten set. By mixing themes of life and play, Kids Imagine Nation knows how to speak to their audience, and with a nod to parents, they end Two with the song Thank You. Always end with a gesture of gratitude.
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Every once in a while, there is a kindie album that stops me in my tracks (no pun intended), pulls me in, and sonically asks me to pay attention and listen closely. Ready Or Not! is one of those albums, it was love at first listen. The Not-Its have a decade’s worth of solid kindie rock behind them and this album continues the band’s well-established tradition of creating beautifully produced, thoughtful, collegiate indie rock-gold themed for the junior set. Well balanced in its pacing and filled with classic childhood moments, Ready Or Not! is replete with songs themed around classic real and imaginary games (Hide & Seek, Staring Contest, Runaway Bike, Let the Games Begin), friendship (Little Bug), wonder (Tiger Moth, What Will I Be) fears (Daddy Long Legs), and awkward intersections with the adult world (Potty Mouth, A Lie is a Lie, The Battle of Curriculum Night). Musically, there are some hints of R.E.M, X, and Daddy in His Deep Sleep (I know I’m going fairly obscure on this reference, but for those of you who are familiar with the band, you’ll know what I’m talking about), but it is all fused together in an original, definitive sound that has been cultivated over many years.
The Not-Its are deft at musically echoing what they are lyrically describing. In the song, A Lie is a Lie, listeners feel the child’s guilt and regret through sonic tensions created by the bass groove and guitar, melodically emphasized midway through the track by a violin. In What Will I Be, The Not-Its describe a kid’s existential questions in a perfect soundtrack for pondering the realm of endless possibilities. Hilariously, the song ends in mid-phrase, as the child drifts off to sleep. Ready or not, here comes an album that is lyrically clever, authentic and sensitive to the experiences of a child’s emotional inner realm and to their adventures in the physical world. Their lucky 7th album is the one that defines this band and endears them to new and old fans alike.
Hey Washingtonians, The Not-Its are having a FREE CD release concert!
September 30th, 1pm, Sonic Boom Records, Ballard WA. Full Tilt Ice Cream will be there slinging some delicious kid cones!
Debut album alert! The Green Orbs threw down their first album earlier this month and announced their notable presence on the kindie scene. Pulling from a wide array of musical influences from 60s-80s, The Green Orbs dish up a big scoop of surrealist silly (Monster Spray Parts I, II, and III, Flower In My Shower) peppered with moments of heartfelt kid advice (Tips From Toby the Turtle, Twelve Steps to Eating Your Veggies) and story songs (Doug the Bug, Ruby the Tooth Fairy, Robert Broccoli, The Duck of Whistleburg). The record kicks off with its title track Thumb Wrestling Champions which echoes the concept of MTV’s Celebrity Death Match– if the wrestlers were only using their thumbs for combat! Musically the song has a definite 80s influence, reminiscent of The Buggles, Sparks, The Plimsouls, and Devo. But, as aforementioned, the album does not remain in that 80s sonic space, the musical influences shift from song to song and range from 80s to folksy to broadway theatrical to 50s/60s doo-wop. There is even a funny, driving, guitar-laden, Neil Young-esque song called Soup. The album, structurally speaking, is divided into three parts with each section punctuated by a faux advertising interstitial. Despite this, I wouldn’t call this record a concept album per se, however, you could safely say that this record was made possible by the generous support by the good people behind Monster Spray! Check out The Green Orbs’ video for The Suction Cup Shuffle!
Latin GRAMMY Award winner Mister G taps into America’s traditional musical roots on his ninth family music album Fireflies. This quiet and contemplative album beautifully blends influences from the Americana musical lexicon, serving up an almost reverential tone to frame themes of summertime and children’s wonder for the natural world. The title track is anchored in folk music tradition, tinged with a bluesy country vibe accented by a slide guitar which gives the song a particularly expressive and wistful feel. Though this tone reverberates throughout the album, there are some more upbeat tracks such as Sweet Summertime (which has a definite Michael Penn influence with its blues/ soul presence), Me and You, S’Mores, Big Old World, and Together As One. These tracks round out the energetic balance of the record. The perfect camping album, it’s the one you can listen to and wave a fond farewell to your summer as you pack up your tent and head back to your daily schedules. It is an album that is equally pleasing to adults and the junior set alike, an album that evokes the feeling of morning dew on a grassy meadow and gives you a sense of appreciation for the world around you. Mister G is not only asking listeners to commune with nature but to hear the call to action for stewardship of the natural world. Through unity in action, you’ll, “do what you can, don’t hesitate…let’s fix the world” (Me and You) and listen to some solid tunes while doing so. It’s a win/ win for all.