It’s hot. Real hot. Crazy hot…for May. Tomorrow we go to the Appel Farm Music Fest in NJ and it will be hot there too. But Brandi Carlile is playing, so it’s cool. That is apropos of exactly nothing.
Here’s why you’re here: to get the skinny on five of the more prominent kindie CDs due out in the very near future or having been released in the not at all distant past.
You’ll notice the 2nd is thin on the written word. That’s because it was composed for the ears, not the eyes. The 3rd one is a bit odd too, but for the opposite reason.
Have at it.
Shine and the Moonbeams Shine and the Moonbeams (to be released officially in mid-June)
Like being in on the ground floor of a glitzy tech company that didn’t actually exist.
Such was my long standing but slightly fictional relationship with the NYC kindie soul band Shine and the Moonbeams. I’d begun to think it was all a myth. I started to doubt my own memories — had I actually seen them perform? Did I really interviewed the dynamic front woman Shawana Kemp? Was it all a dream like Newhart. Did I have a pair of brothers each named Darryl? (bonus points for getting that reference.) Answers: Yes, Yes, No, No. The self-titled debut album that’s been teased (often by me) for ages is out, for real for real, and it’s as triumphant a collection of songs as we who’d witnessed the star’s swift ascension into the kindie night sky could have hoped for. A reworked, slow-jam version of the bona fide hit “High Five” wins on every front (the original version is included here too) while the ass-shaking club track dedicated to tired moms, dads, and older siblings, “Do You Ever Stop?” steals the show. Thanks be to whoever, Shine and the Moonbeams made an album. And what an album it is. Hear that dance hall number on the tween dance party edition of the OWTK podcast.
Recess Monkey Deep Sea Diver (to be released June 18th)
Listen below to OWTK’s 1st ever audio album review, all radio-style and whatnot, from the band who continue to write memorable choruses on top of melodious melodies whether on land, in space, or out at sea. (if you’d rather download the review than stream it below, just right click here. Or subscribe to the OWTK Podcast, it’s waiting for you there too.)
Guy: Is it just me or do these songs sound familiar? I mean, I don’t have a clue what the singer is singing, but I feel like I know these songs. Is that possible? Is this what was playing in that cute Mexican place we ate at last week, on the way back from the camp out?
Girl: You mean the place where you ordered the giant steak chimichanga?
Guy: How was I supposed to know it was going to be that big?
Girl: I guess you couldn’t have known, but you didn’t have to finish it.
Guy: Fair point. I did feel kinda sick afterward.
Girl: Yeah, we could all hear the noises.
Guy: What are you taking about?
Guy: Whatever. So, the music, do you recognize this or am I losing my mind?
Girl: Both, actually.
Guy: Funny. But really, where do I know this singer’s voice from and the melodies of ALL of the songs on this album?
Girl: It’s Lucky Diaz, you dunce.
Guy: Really? But I have no idea what anyone’s saying?
Girl: And this is news, because…?
Guy: Yeah, I have been sorta out of it lately.
Girl: Ya think? This is the new Lucky Diaz album, Fantastico!
Guy: New? But I know these songs, and so do the kids. They are dancing and singing along. So how is that possible if it’s a new record, huh smarty pants?
Girl: These are old songs, dummy. They played a lot of them when we just saw the band at Kindiefest.
Guy: Um, ooooookay.
Girl: Lucky and Alisha rewrote and rerecorded their most popular songs, like “Let’s Dance”, “Say What?” and “ABC Is The Place To B”, only this time, in Spanish. They told you about it after their Brooklyn show. You really are a dolt, aren’t you?
Guy: Yeah, pretty much. This is an awesome record, isn’t it? My favorite Lucky Diaz song, “Let’s Dance,” sounds even better en español, if that’s even possible. Next time we’re in Spain, I’m totally dancing down the aisle of a grocery store with the girls singing this.
Girl: Okay, just to level set for sec — you’ll be doing that solo. But you’re right, this CD is terrific. And it would’ve sounded a lot better in that Mexican joint than your rumbly tummy yelling at you for feasting on that chimichanga and multiple baskets of chips and salsa.
Guy: True. But it was all SO yummy. And you can’t eat this CD, no matter how good it is. So there.
Girl: Zing. You really got me with that witty retort, dude. Maybe you can dance around with the girls here in the States and burn of some of those calories.
Guy: That’s a fantastico idea.
The NYC chanteuse makes her strongest album to date by dialing down the sheen, but there are still thorns on this rose. The darling songbird nails it on the ragtag title track, warms hearts with the help of Jonathan Brooke on “Family Tree,” and will have you floating on a “Little Cloud” alongside angel-voiced Rachel Loshak (Gustafer Yellowgold), but again falls into the instructional trap that continues to claim many a talented musician making music for families — I still hold the ‘wrap it up with a lesson’ final 35 seconds of the hilarious “Little Elf” against Leeds. And here, it’s trio of songs in the middle of the disc leave me ice cold regardless of the warm temps outside: advocating avoiding ice cream (“Nutritious”)???, making sure headgear is worn while riding a bike (“Helmet”), ugh, and “Use Your Words,” that one speaks for itself, are topics that have no place on an album. Imagine listening to a record yourself to learn how to make a lasagna or a tune that aggressively reminds you to use a turn signal when making a left into the shopping center. It wouldn’t fly. I want to be the one to parent my kids. I want musicians to entertain them and usher in copious amounts of joy into their lives. This is not to say artists shouldn’t try to make audiences of any age think critically or reflectively, but more nuance is required when doing so to avoid sounding like a preacher. I mean, “keep away from candy and ice cream”? I can’t imagine a single child buying into that sentiment. If anything, kids will dismiss this album out of hand at the mere suggestion of giving up treats. Still, I’ve got a seat reserved on the Joanie Leeds bandwagon, but I might jump off for a stretch in the middle of the victory parade.
They had me at the nonsensical Brit-punk scat “Bigga Bagga” but there’s more to the new KW&MC disc than just a smattering of Oi’s. It’s also a rockin’ “Railroad Medley” that shifts tempos while the duo barrel down the track singing pieces of public domain, train-themed traditionals your kid already knows and loves. It’s about “not fitting into this world” because you were “born in the forest” and “Raised By Trolls.” Yeah, this is modern kid’s music — as bizarre as any Shel Silverstein poem and as tuneful as anything in your dusty stack of LPs. The punkountry “Pleased To Meet You” is nothing short of brilliant. Need more convincing? “Eggplant Man.” [drops mic]