As a mama that likes to dance, I couldn’t help immediately taking a shine to Fancy Pants and Mista Cookie Jar’s latest bi-coastal collaboration, the new single Disco Dancing Mama. This song celebrates moms (Yay! And it is not even Mother’s Day) and the many ways we take care of business! Whether it’s doing the laundry, chauffeuring, or flipping pancakes, this track captures the essence of being a mom who “brings home with the bacon, fries it up in a pan,” and does so in style. Oh yeah. This track has a fun, retro-fusion vibe that brings together the “best-of” the ’70s and early ’80s. The lyrical stylings of Mista Cookie Jar’s rap echoes hip hop’s Fab Five Freddy in the Wild Style, Bronx block party days and kicking up that extra disco flavor, Fancy Pants sings an incredibly on-point Barry Gibb-esque falsetto (you go, girl– that was amazing!). Together, backed by the bass groove, brought to you by none other than Spin Doctors’ Mark White brings a sound that is bound to get your whole family grooving. Time to bust out the gold lamé and shake your money-maker.
Beloved Chicago-based folk-pop singer Laura Doherty has a new album out this month that highlights themes of friendship (real and imaginary), family, school, favorite foods, and luck. This album is aimed at grade school kids, particularly the 3rd graders. And much like 3rd graders, where kids find themselves bridging the space between being a little kid and a big kid, Doherty’s album sonically bridges the gap between music aimed for the younger set and older set. Songs like the first two tracks, Hide and Seek and Muddy Puddles are sure to play well for the little ones. The songs are simple, up tempo and sweet, with lyrics that make it easy to sing along. Muddy Puddles’ refrain and musical bridges are filled with some skillful banjo playing that will cultivate kids into bluegrass aficionados! As the album progresses, the songs gain a little more complexity to appeal to slightly older children. Now I Go to School leads the shift in tone, lyrically exploring the multi-faceted experience of a child’s first day of school. Musically, the track feels reminiscent of fellow Kindie Artist’s sound, Elizabeth Mitchell. And speaking of fellow Kindie Music Artists, none other than Justin Roberts joins Laura Doherty on the following track, Can’t Wait to Turn 8 which thematically speaks to birthday excitement. But, a personal favorite is actually a sweet and instrumentally spare song, Lucky Charm that reminds us there is no shame in having a lucky trinket or two on hand at all times. The album as a whole celebrates the simple joys of childhood. In the words of Laura Doherty herself, “Particularly at this time, I want my music to generate positive energy, (I want to) bring people together and make them feel connected to one another. You can’t do a high five on your own.” Too true.
Hey good people of Wisconsin, join Laura Doherty on her High Five Tour!
4/28/18: Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI
Congolese-American musician Papa Siama has teamed up with singer /songwriter Auntie Dallas to release a new children’s music album, The Land of Yangalele (Land of Happiness). This new album continues Papa Siama’s goals working towards peace through acceptance, diversity and education. The Land of Yangalele, is geared for the younger set (2nd grade and younger) and introduces them to the music, languages, and culture of different African countries. The album opens with a warm official welcome with the short Bakongo Chant then launches into a playful song called Monkey Game, where traditional instrumentation is punctuated by Auntie Dallas playing the toy piano. The album is lyrically imbued with calming empowering songs that encourage children to play, find joy, and honor their journey as they grow. Additionally, the album also has a strong educational bend, especially seen in the songs, Monkey Game, Sweet Water, and ABCD which prompts the listener with questions about the continent of Africa and whose refrain is, “Oh, I want to go to school. Go! Go! Go! To learn more, to learn more.” A standout track on the album is Ko Yimbo Ko, a beautiful song which is sung entirely in the Kikongo language. Kids can easily catch on to the eponymous refrain which literally means, “No, hawk, no!” This track, as explained in the liner notes, is about children telling hawks soaring overhead to move on from their area as they find them scary. There are many opportunities on this album for children to hear languages from across the African continent and beyond. On Auntie’s Song (Yangalele) kids learn how to greet others in Kikongo, Lingala, English, Spanish, French, Ugandan, Swahili, Japanese, Dakota, Ojibwe, Hmong, and Somali. How’s that for encouraging global citizenship! The album closes with another Bakongo Chant (this one about the continuation of the journey), encouraging listeners to keeping making music! It is a fantastic way to transport your family into new sonic experiences. The Land of Yangalele releases 3/23/18, check it out!
MR. SINGER & THE SHARP COOKIES, Going to a Party!
Chicago-based kindie rock band Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies are planning a party, and they have lots of ideas on what that should and could entail. This kid party band has a new album out that is chock full of high-energy goodness. With tracks that show a multitude of influences, the overall sound converges into a rockabilly vibe, most clearly heard in the songs, Going to a Party! (Watcha Gonna Bring?), Gonna Ride My Bike, Call of the Wild, Outrrrride the Rrrrrain, and Ramble on Children. Song themes vary from gathering and creating community to green commuting to expressing joy with wild abandon. There is even a ska kazoo song aptly called, A Kazoo Tune. And really, who doesn’t appreciate a good kazoo tune set to a ska beat. The kazoo also plays a big roll a few songs later as the filler for the “sassy back-talk” in Can’t Say Anything Nice… A party isn’t party without at least one kazoo cameo. Kazoos aside, other stand out tracks include Outrrrride the Rrrrrain, Hey Angel Fishy, and Your Sunny Smile. Going to a Party! has wide appeal to kids and adults of all ages. The Call of the Wild has been heard, party on!
Bears & Lions are releasing a sequel to their initial concept album, A Club In The Woods! Navigate, the sequel, begins at the club in the woods, where we find our friends Bear and Lion heeding the call to rescue an old buddy, Jonas the Walrus. Accompanied by Gorilla, Moose, Bison, Giraffe, and Zebra, Bear & Lion set sail to fetch Jonas the Walrus from a pool in Saudi Arabia, as described in the first two tracks of the album, Jonas the Walrus and Little Boat. During their adventures on the high seas, the animal crew meet new friends, like a whale named Hercules on the eponymous third track, and face challenges along the way. A tussle with some pirates give the animal band an excuse to sing a jaunty sea shanty, Pirate Pete. And without giving too much away about the crew’s adventures, through all their trials and tribulations, their journey serves as a beautiful opportunity for each member of the crew to contribute their unique talents to navigate to safety. The overall message of the album is one of unity, perseverance and friendship. Musically, the album’s sound is reminiscent of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album mixed with a tinge of The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society. A few stand out tracks are Little Boat, Navigate, and Merman Named Jim, but it should be noted that all the songs on the album dovetail nicely to create a seamless musical adventure. Navigate drops 3/23/18.
The two-time Grammy winning folk and children’s music duo Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer are back with a space and science themed album, penned by Hy Zaret (writer of Unchained Melody) & composer Lou Singer. Zoom a Little Zoom! A Ride Through Science is a re-imagination of a classic 1961 collection of educational science songs, Ballads for the Age of Science. Some of you will recognize the fourth track on the album, Why Does the Sun Shine? from They Might Be Giants’ 2009 children’s album Here Comes Science, where they re-arranged the song and added the self-penned Why Does The Sun Really Shine? (The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma), which corrects several factual inaccuracies in the original song by Hy Zaret. It’s good to have a pulse on scientific updates! Speaking of which, Zoom a Little Zoom’s reworked songs aim to engage the little listeners to participate in mini experiments like feeling the air leave your mouth as you speak and sing, demonstrating invisible air movement. The album is meant to spark listener’s curiousity to learn, covering elementary school level science concepts. It even comes with an activity guide by Lynn Baum (former head of School Programs at the Museum of Science, Boston) which is filled with easy DIY experiments to try at home or at school using household materials. This album’s doo-wop and boogie-woogie beats will have little kids and parents alike moving and grooving while learning about weather, insects, gravity, and the stars! Zoom a Little Zoom will be available for purchase and streaming on 3/30/18.