Before I depart for Kindiefest, where I will speak, enlighten, and possibly embarrass, here are some quick-ish thoughts on four new-ish albums from the world of all-ages music. That’s right, it’s the Golden Age of Family Music Report Card for April ’13! Cue applause and wild Kermit-esque arm movements!!
I don’t expect bi-lingual music to swiftly have me conversing in a foreign tongue, but I am happy to pick up a few words and phrases to use the next time we visit Barcelona. Not Catalan, but close enough, Moona Luna show us that English and Spanish lyrics go together as perfectly as Serrano and Manchego by swapping lingoes on consecutive verses on the dance-around-the-clock-in-a-poodle-skirt number “It’s 12 O’Clock (Son Las Doce).” The NYC band, lead by the tour de force front woman Sandra Lilia Velasquez, tap into a 1950’s brand of American rock-n-roll — think Ritchie Valens, Chuck Berry, and Cliff Richard’s version of “Do You Want To Dance” (not Bette Midler’s! For god’s sake, not Bette Midler’s) — with a focus on the passage of time in a grand way (“Do You Remember”) and on a smaller scale (“What Time Is It (Que Hora Es).” I am a complete sucker for this. All of this. Now, we may not own much in the way of Doo Wop music (although I did just pick up The Neighbors Complaint LP for the Mrs.) but I grew up with Jerry “The Geator” Blavat alternating with Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole on the family radio, and I will never change the station should a Buddy Holly song come on. I still adore the sounds of that era and excitedly share Moona Luna’s interpretation of it with my daughters. Listen to a couple new Moona Luna songs on the OWTK Kid’s Music Monthly Podcast! (Photo Credit: M.Sharkey)
Has anyone in the kindiesphere had a better 18-month run than Mr. Dean Jones? He seems to have worked with everyone (Okee Dokee Brothers, Frances England, Recess Monkey to name just three) as a producer, released the amazing Invisible Friends with his band Dog on Fleas, won a Grammy (for producing Can You Canoe?), and now has a solo album out. He is the Tiger Woods, circa 2005-2006, of kindie without a single lick of the controversy or, unfortunately, the 8 figure Nike sponsorship deal. Dean’s new album showcases every single thing he does well as a songwriter and musician: thoughtful, big idea folk (title track, “A Sparrow’s Soul”, “Stand With Me” sung beautifully by Shamsi Ruhe), goofy electronica dance (“Outshining Nomads”, “Snail Mail”), and bountiful arts-n-crafts tenderness (“I Tried To Make A Friend”). He is a versatile human cornucopia of creativity, and just about the sweetest man on Earth, who promotes ideas of love, peace, harmony, goodness, and a little bit of ornithology, without ever turning into a preacher man. Jones makes whatever messages he decides to slide inside his songs go down smoother than a glass of Organic Valley chocolate milk, and has you coming back for more time and time again.
Dean Jones’ When The World Was New will be released on May 14th.
Ethan Rossiter made several small waves in the kindie pool with his 2010 debut album Double Barrel Popsicle. It sounded good, relying heavily on snappy interpretations of classics like “Ladybug Picnic”, a shortish version of “Michael Finnigan”, and a musical take on a book we loved called “Duck in the Muck”, but the album art was superb, proving that sometimes a nice presentation will open up a door or two. The band has changed here (The Hartwells —-> The Jamberries) but Rossiter is back with another full length album mixing enjoyable rootsy pop originals like “Cool Watermelon” and “Kyle’s Raincoat” with refreshed familiars (“Miss Mary Mack”, “Mr Sun”, “I Think I Can”).
Sometimes, you just like someone’s music and you aren’t even 100% sure why. That sorta describes my relationship with Langhorne Slim (who’s tunes aren’t really outstanding, but are presented with might and gusty) and with Istvan and his Imaginary Band. I dig the music, especially the spunky “What’s Mama Doin’?” from the Chicago band’s debut EP — the girls and I loved the crap out of that track — but there is something more. I’m pretty sure I’d get along real well with Istvan, should we ever hang out playing foosball or something. That might be it. Musically though, there is an undercurrent of professionally executed nonchalance and a pleasing roughness around the edges to the acoustic pop-rock he and his band make that’s 100% in my wheelhouse, and the resulting songs sound real and uncompromising for ears of all-ages (not unlike the work of Dean Jones). Istvan has a daughter (she has appeared on his albums and podcast) and so on record he sounds like a handsome, talented, and hip version of me: an awesome dad having a ridiculously fun time making up songs that’ll get his girls to laugh (see: “Pajama Party”, “Pio Ta Gogo”).
*Copies of all CDs discussed above were sent to OWTK for review consideration. The opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always. This post continues affiliate links to Amazon. OWTK will make a few pennies should you buy/download any of the music I discussed here. Thanks in advance for that.