It’s official. We are in the proverbial Dog-Days of Summer. Lucky for all of us though, this means more new music is heading our way to take us through the last few weeks before the kiddos head back to school. Let’s take a look at what August has in musically in store for us!
The Imagination EP is Jess Penner’s debut in the world of kindie-pop. But, make no mistake, she is no rookie. Firstly, she is a mom, which automatically gives her a good dose of street cred. in so far as knowing her audience! More importantly, you have heard Jess Penner’s music before. She is already an accomplished indie pop songwriter that has over a thousand film and tv song placements to her credit. This is a hard-working lady! But enough about Ms. Penner herself and on to her music. Imagination has 6 covers of children’s classic songs and 2 original compositions. All of the songs, classics and originals alike are treated with an ethereal vocal styling achieved by layering multiple voice tracks over themselves giving the songs a similar feel to the songs in Petra Hayden’s Imaginary World. Right off the bat, the listener is brought into the album with I’ve Got No Strings, made famous in the 1940 animated film by Disney, Pinocchio. This song, when given a effervescent electro-pop instrumentation and layered vocals, transforms into a celebration of freedom and creative expression. It perfectly sets up the vibe for the rest of the album with its call to freedom and joy. I’ve Got No Strings is followed by a quieter, more contemplative original song, I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon. The song retains the buzzy layered vocals, but pairs down the instrumentation to just an acoustic guitar and a little bit of synth. Here the elegant simplicity and introspection of the song made me think of Jess Penner’s Hawaiian roots (she was raised on a banana farm in Hawaii), echoing a sound made famous by Iz Kamakawiwoʻole. The rest of the album continues in this vein, centered around sun-and-rainbow-centric songs and a sweet tone of optimism. And who, these days, can’t use a good dose of that?! Treat yourself to some sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. Imagination drops on August 11th and is available for pre-order on iTunes and Amazon.
Danny Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants fame has a new album out! In this third Red Pants Band album, Danny Weinkauf continues to groove in educational pop music fun and plays with many different musical styles in the process. In Totally Osome! you’ll hear influences from the Blues, The Beatles, Classic and Contemporary Jazz, just to name a few. The latest single off the soon-to-be released album, I’m a Girl (Step Aside) has been a hit at Sirius XM radio channel Kids Place Live. As you might have guessed by the title, it is a girl-power song dedicated to girls all over the world. As the mother of a young girl, who can’t get behind a song like that? A few more stand out songs on the album are N Then We Danced, Super Powered Mindy, Rock In My Shoe and the two versions of Put Down That Smart Phone. N Then We Danced is a super catchy, upbeat, dance-out your bad feelings type of song, while Super Powered Mindy derives its energy from a 70s funk sound. Rock Inside My Shoe is musically reminiscent of The Beatles Obladi-Oblada which is pretty apt for the story the song is telling. Plus, if your kids memorize the lyrics to this song, they will know the names of at least 5 different types of rocks and minerals. Remember when I said Danny Weinkauf was continuing in the educational vein? Now, for the two versions of Put Down That Smart Phone. Musically speaking, the two songs are very different. The version that first appears on the album is a rockabilly song that postulates what awesome things could happen if we all engaged with each other directly instead of being perpetually absorbed in the screens of our smart phones. A couple of songs later on the album, Smart Phone re-appears in an 80s new wave version complete with sounds that tonally evoke iPhone ringtones. Same lyrics, totally different sound. With a few nods and a wink, the album as a whole is a fun musical journey on which we hope you and your family choose to go. Totally Osome! is out on August 11th.