It’s music review time! This month, we’ve got a nice array of bands that fall into the many different sub-genres in the wide-tent of the kindie music scene. Look out world, here comes new music from The Lucky Band, The Shytunas, Mista Cookie Jar and Renee & Friends!
“We’ve tried to capture the energy of having a young child in the home.”~ Lucky
The Artists Formerly known as Lucky Diaz & The Family Jam Band are releasing their latest album under a new name, The Lucky Band. Although their name has changed, the Grammy winning band is still bringing their signature warmth and jubilant energy to their latest album, Buenos Díaz. The bilingual Spanish/ English album is festive in tone and deftly combines a mixture of musical influences from Bossa Nova (the overarching sound on the album), Mariachi, 70s Funk, and Surf Rock that compels listeners young and old to move their feet.
The album celebrates the stuff of life. Everyone loves good food, good tunes, and a welcoming vibe. A third of the album’s tracks are thematically dedicated to Latin American food and cooking. A band after my own heart. The Lucky Band dedicates a song on the album to the secret history of the popular snack Nachos, which turn out to have been named after the maitre d’ Ignacio Anaya (nicknamed “Nacho” by his friends). The Lucky Band takes listeners through a Mariachi-infused tune while telling us the story of how, in a pinch, “Nacho” Anaya took some leftover ingredients from his restaurant’s kitchen and created what would become a much loved treat the world over. Speaking of much loved treats, The Lucky Band also gets young listeners spelling out T-a-c-o T-u-e-s-d-a-y on their second single from the record. Taco Tuesday rightfully kicks the energy into technicolor high gear propelled by surf guitar licks and B-52’s-inspired vocals. Who doesn’t do the taco dance when you find out it’s Taco Tuesday?
The dance party continues on the tracks Mix It Up and El Corazon, songs that speak to optimism and curiosity. The album is bookended by Bossa Nova, the energy becoming less frenetic and definitely more of a cool down, yet still danceable (to strategically wind down the kids). The final song, El Sol Te Siga, is a bilingual cover of the 1980s single The Sun Will Follow by Pianosaurus. Playfully peppered with the light, whimsical “plinks” of the toy piano, the song sends you off with the wind at your back and the sun warming your face. Buenos Díaz is an infectiously joyful family album that celebrates cultural diversity and invites everyone to the party. Buenos Díaz officially drops on April 5th. How will anyone resist?
Check out the latest music video for Taco Tuesday:
Speaking of the B-52’s and their influence on the current kindie scene, the name of this next band, The Shytunas, references a vintage dance craze listed in the B-52’s classic Dance This Mess Around. But this Florida-based band has not been messing around.
The Shytunas were busy busy busy this past February. In those wee 28 days, they cranked out an album lovingly dubbed February Fiasco. The eponymous opening track summarizes their experience– which sounds like it was more than a little crazy-making for them. In the lyrics February Fiasco, The Shytunas describe locking themselves in their room, running out of food and ideas, and finally resorting to recording all their songs on smartphones because their recording equipment died. That was unfortunate for them, but fortunate for us because we reap the musical benefits of this scrappy band’s grit. All these self-described mishaps resulted in an honest and funny album that epitomizes the very spirit of the garage band. How punk rock is that?! It’s cuddlecore for kids, chock full of DIY record-in-your-living-room energy, literally.
The Shytunas’ sound lives comfortably in the space of the 90s bands Cub, Blake Babies and Talulah Gosh unplugged. A 26-second song called Hurry! Press Record touches on harmonies found in X’s rockabilly punk aesthetic. The cell phone recordings add a warm lo-fi charm to The Shytunas sound. All of their “out-of-necessity MacGyver-ing” somehow works in their favor. Their songs are sweet, raw, and tongue-in-cheek, jumping between childhood realities and flights of fancy. In songs like Raining Magic, the lyrics are full of funny oddball observations. They thematically center around about the magical and life-sustaining qualities of water which makes up rainbows and about 75% of your brain’s weight. The album’s last song I’m a Unicorn seems to sum up the ethos of the band’s existence, “Got this horn growing out of my head, thought it’d be hard to disguise myself in times like these, instead I fit right in. I’m a unicorn…sent back to this world to save it from self-destruction, pretty sure I can, I’m a unicorn.”
In a time when everything can be so finely manipulated and dialed-in, it is refreshing to come across an endearingly awkward and free-spirited endeavor. If you are ever in need of an antidote from the ultra synth sounds of the current Top-of-the-Pops’ hits, I’d highly recommend taking a big spoonful of The Shytunas’ catchy three-chord kindie pop.
One of our favorite kindie kings of collaboration, Mista Cookie Jar, is back with a new single featuring GRAMMY winning Kid Hop artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. Rock This World is a testimony to the power of positive thinking. So press the pause button on all those looming problems, be present in the moment, give yourself over to the beat, and indulge in that 4-minute dance party. This dance pop track tells listeners of all ages to keep your hearts open and dare to dream. The youth need to have the audacity of optimism. Because not only is optimism contagious, but it roots listeners in a seat of positive power. As Cookie sings, “By having fun, that’s how you shine.” So put your shades on, ‘cuz the kids are about to “shine so bright, like a strobe light, I might go blind! Everyone is coming to play, all of the shadows are running away.” Hooray! The single is available on streaming services and for download purchase.
If Mista Cookie Jar is a king of collaboration, then Renee Stahl of Renee & Friends is definitely one of the queens. Her new album of musical collaborations, Kindred, is set to drop on April 12th and she once again has joined forces with some impressive talents. Renee Stahl enthuses, “I am thrilled that these wonderful musical artists, whom I so much admire, have given their time and talent to help make Kindred. [This Is] what Renee & Friends is all about: people helping each other, coming together, and promoting kindness.”
Messages of kindness, community, wonder and inspiration abound in this collegiate coffee house folk album for all-ages. This album has a mellow tone that is as warm and welcoming as a favorite blanket on a cold and rainy morning. It is quiet and contemplative, but not without its little surprise flourishes to be discovered throughout the album. Its opening track, Kindness, has a cool, bluesy twist to its folk sound while Leaders of the World features an unexpected infusion of hip hop rhythm from none other than Secret Agent 23 Skidoo! His rap paired with the chorus of children singing the refrain makes for an inspired and uplifting song that was conceived as an homage to the youth of today, the future leaders of tomorrow. But the album is not just taking folk fusion in different directions, it also tips its hat to the past in the form of a few cover songs.
Notably for these covers, Renee Stahl teamed up with some pretty heavy hitters. She sings a duet with Ziggy Marley on a cover of Cat Stevens’ Where Do the Children Play? which is exquisitely spare, focusing on harmonies of the two vocalists and subtleties of pizzicato guitar plucking and brush percussion. Her cover of the 1959 classic High Hopes is performed alongside Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell. This version is a breezey aspirational song, quietly punctuated with clarinet. The clarinet along with the arrangement of Loeb, Mitchell, and Stahl’s harmonies gives a knowing wink to the musical stylings of the past all while keeping the overall effect pleasantly current.
The overall qualities of the album are soothing and intimate, weaving in personal and global sentiments within the lyrics of each song. The album closes with a wistful song from a mother to her child. The song, like the rest of the album, is poignant and dreamy– A thoughtful and ideal note to end on, with hushed reverie for listeners to quietly contemplate.