Friday, June 8, 2012

Reminiscing... bring a hankie for the last one.

Summer break has started, and so I thought this would be a perfect day to pick out my favorite "Remember When" kind of songs. One of the things I like about the Remember When songs if that when they come up in my playlist when I am by myself I enjoy them just as much when the girls are singing along with me. I guess the changes and good times going on in the springtime put us in this nostalgic mood, after reading Dan Pearce's Remember that time when… post recently. What it comes down to, I guess, is moms and  dads see themselves getting more and more grown-up, because when you have kids that's what happens, and we have a hard time letting go of that, much like the little preschooler who clings to Momma's leg in the morning because she realizes that soon she will be in kindergarten and there will be no more clinging to legs. So here are a couple picks to reminisce about the times when you were the little girl in pigtails, the boy playing Star Wars, and summers in the outdoors.
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I have a new favorite right now, and I just love the name Rabbit! for a kid's band. They say they're really just poppy,  whimsical and bubblegummy, and they are categorized as indie-pop, but add in a couple of the band members' kids, and they would totally pull a Caspar Babypants/They Might Be Giants, where they realize they are singing kids music as much as indie music. Singer Ashton Allen says: “We wanted to write music that would motivate happiness and allow people to take a break from frustrations that come with everyday life". But in "Best thing Around" he sings "I've seen London/I've seen France"... these are totally big kids at heart. And that's why I heart them. So download "When We Were Young," at least, or event the whole album. It makes you feel  like you are six-- or at least, were six not too long ago. 
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In college, when Jack Johnson was first popular, he had kind of that "too soft-rock/ not rock at all" feel, and we were ALL closet Jack Johnson fans. So now that we have kids, we can TOTALLY get on the Jack Johnson wagon, because it's KIDS' music!!! So when he came out with the Curious George Soundtrack, and all the girls downloaded this, because his voice just. makes. us. meellllllllttttt. I think this is what happened to all those "old" (ahem, 30-something) ladies back in the day felt about Michael Bolton? Denial tells me, Noooo, Carrie. It's different. It's meaningful. But seriously, download Curious George, and listen to "We're Going to Be Friends" (or even the White Stripes Version, which is just as good but gets you  cool alt-rock bonus points) and reminisce about Kindergarten and PB&J sandwiches.


The last awesome Remember When song has to be Iz, Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." This guy has the smoothest voice ever. Anyone who does not get sentimental hearing this, has to have no heart. He passed away several years ago, after his song made the 50 First Dates soundtrack and he was starting down the road to stardom, so it even has a sad backstory. And so I am going to go listen to music and cry into my pillow, and think about fond memories. But I'll leave you with this video of Iz, the gentle giant of Hawaii
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Recess Monkey AND Caspar Babypants this week???? No WAY!! (and this post has more parentheses than even I can take!!)

Two of Kindie Rock's favorite dahhlings are releasing albums this week, and so if you are a) under 6, b) hyperactive, c) dancy d) all of the above e) something else, or any variation of these choices (this is why I didn't make a good teacher) you can REJOICE!!! These are great shows for you Seattlians (I just made that up) also, so please check their websites for constantly updating show dates! I have totally been waiting for this, and so I am now going to dedicate TRACK 3: Twins! to my own twin sister (who lives outside of Seattle and will have almost-Irish-twin boys as of this summer. They will be 14 months apart).

RECESS MONKEY: I just want to congratulate these three Seattle-area teachers for for making me love Kindie music, in their Beatle-esque ("Carousel") and sugar-sweet rock beats. I thought kid's music would be just more Raffi (GASP!!) and Laurie Berkener. Which is fine, once in a while. But all day long? No. Give me some Recess Monkey and Justin Roberts. Their lyrics, which are fun and meaningful to little kids, i.e. "Day Job"-- haha, Pants just  told me the other day, "I do have a job, Mommy. You told me I did. I go to SCHOOL."-- are great, and the beats and rock sound are totally fun for momma. I am totally downloading this to add to my Elliptical playlist (which will then lead me to be "Covered in Band aids", from the accident that happens when I realize I am singing out loud at the gym).

Casper Babypants, once the lead singer from Presidents of The United States, has been one of my favorites since "Lump" and that song about the dune-buggy bug. It's a little more folky that the POTUS days, but it's still fun. His stuff is not easy to listen to on repeat for 17 hours, but if you are looking for good, clean, poppy kid's music, download this, momma. His girlfriend's artwork serves as his inspiration, so the songs can be very plain and simple, and cutesy. But he never sings about poopy or butts, so I put this on the PLAY list. The CD just released today, so I have not heard it yet, but plan to soon! I'm looking forward to it, for sure!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards

This past weekend was the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards, and after seeing the highlights from the show, I am not surprised parents are bored with kid's entertainment media. Yes, I know it's just a show, it's supposed to be cheesy and silly and slimy, and I didn't watch the whole thing, so I am just going on the clips from the website. But Katy Perry and Big Time Rush's performances were over-scripted (not even choreographed; there was very little dancing but quite a bit of pantomiming some stupid story about kings and shaking hands with kids in the front row). And as with past years' KCA "orange carpet" runways, we saw some extremely goofy fashion choices from folks like The Smiths and Katy Perry, who obviously need a little more reliable fashion advice. 

Will Smith yelled everything and CeeLo Green tried to sabotage the event with the worst gimmick ever on a children's show. Which was pretty stupid. He should have just brought his peacock outfit out of the closet for this occasion. That would have spiced it up, and I wouldn't have even minded that if it stopped the "Creepy Voice" spiel. Sadly, Adam Sandler, the current fall-from-grace star beat Jack Sparrow with his awful Jack And Jill performance. My heart aches for those legitimate performers who were beat out by Sandler in a dress. Sad...

But the highlight of the night? Taylor Swift's Big Help Award (presented by cool mom role model, MIchelle Obama). And here's a run-down of the other awards. Not that awesome, but at least Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez got to take home some blimps. 


Favorite TV Show: Victorious
Favorite TV Actor: Jake Short
Favorite TV Actress: Selena Gomez
Funniest TV Sidekick: Jennette McCurdy
Favorite Reality Show: Wipeout
Favorite Cartoon: SpongeBob SquarePants
Favorite Movie: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Favorite Movie Actor: Adam Sandler
Favorite Movie Actress: Kristen Stewart
Favorite Animated Movie: Puss in Boots
Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie: Katy Perry
Favorite Music Group: Big Time Rush
Favorite Male Singer: Justin Bieber
Favorite Female Singer: Selena Gomez
Favorite Song: Party Rock Anthem (by LMFAO)
Favorite Buttkicker: Taylor Lautner
Favorite Male Athlete: Danica Patrick
Favorite Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series
Favorite Videogame: Just Dance 3
Big Help Award: Taylor Swift

Friday, March 23, 2012

Do something for a good cause... "Do Fun Stuff"

A friend recently pointed me towards a fun new blog, called Pacing the Panic Room and he works together to produce an album benefiting PRISMS, a foundation for research and support for Smith Magenis Syndrome, a rare and very unknown chromosomal defect. His son has this condition, and so he blogs about living with a special needs child and you know, life. He has a beautifully poetic outlook on things, so add him to  your reader or follow him or whatever, 'cause his is an amazing perspective on things!

But the CD, Do Fun Stuff, is an awesome compilation of songs for the 2-and-up set. I died laughing at the "Potty Time" song, because what parent has not sang a song about flushing, peeing, and wiping??? And Cracker Jackson has a song about ALL of it!! And it's not as bad as mine was: "Pee Pee in the Potty! Pee Pee in the Potty!"-- not my best work. I just can't carry a tune, so simple is better for me.

I love that there are 4 tracks by Rabbit on this album. I really enjoy their songs. I sing along to "When We Were Young" whenever it comes on the radio-- it's one of those songs where if you get in the car by yourself and it's on, you don't change the station, even though you prefer AltNation to XM Kid's Place Live. And so the cool thing about this album, is it totally fits into the mold of "Kindie Rock"-- it's music that kids can listen to, has lyrics they understand and enjoy, and it's a style that moms and dads like. "Morton the Caterpillar" is a soft, bittersweet track that talks about believing in yourself and trying again. And so cute-- Morton curls up in his sleeping bag in his "Pickle Tree" :) I love that! I want a pickle tree, and I hate pickles.

You can stream the CD from the widget below, but please go to ITunes and download it and support a good cause! Thanks Folks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Big kid and little kid pick this week!

I am a little late this week because I was getting ready for a new addition to the family last week. My DH was in Hotlanta last week for the ACC tournament, and while he was out of NC I decided to ask him to get a tortoise for the girls. So I had to track down a tank, research species and find a pet store with one in stock. And so we now have added Rocky Supertortoise Drago to our menagerie. Totally worth the effort!

So today I have 2 picks for the "Got to Check Out" Bands. I rarely pick little kid songs, and but when @LadybugMusic tweeted me last week I went to their site and ITunes store. They have several albums out that they use for their children's dance & movement classes, so a lot of the finger play-type songs (like "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Open Shut Them") and so it is definitely little kid stuff. The voices are all your basic, preschool teacher kind of softness, so don't anticipate rocking out to Ladybug, but if you are looking for a good CD to take to playgroup next week this would be a lot more enjoyable that Rockabye Baby or The Wiggles. (Oh, don't get me started on The Wiggles!! Shivers down my spine. Please, Mr. Jeff or whoever-- just stop!) The thing about preschool music that makes it so difficult for grown folks, is that it is repetitive, simplistic and short to help develop their language skills, but then momma doesn't want to listen. There is just no getting around that. As our school counselors pointed out in one of the kindergarten readiness presentations last year, they need this key concept in pre-literacy skills, but some parents are foregoing the "little finger muscles" lessons and language lessons they gain from these songs. My advice is to sign up for a class, join a playgroup, or listen as part of your nap/bedtime routine, because kids learn through play, and Mother Goose is one of the ways they do that. So stick in the Ladybug Music CD and sing along!

So if you have finally grown past Mother Goose, and are now exploring the joys of hiphop, there are alternatives to Flo-Rida and Nicki Minaj (because we all LOVE our toddlers repeating rap lyrics, RIGHT?!?!) Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is totally awesome!! A copy of weeks ago I posted about the 2012 Grammy Awards,  where the compilation album that featured Skidoo won Best Children's Album. But my all-time favorite is "Luck"--funk, banjo and hiphop? Yes, Please! But the cool thing about Skidoo is always his practical advice, and his reassurance that the things about growing up is hard sometimes, and you don't always understand what's going on, but it'll be okay. He continues to nail this concept on his album, "Underground Playground" with "Mind Over Matter" and "Chase the Rain." But if your kids are big 23 Skidoo fans, check out the DVD "Spelunk the Funk!"-- the music video version of Underground Playground, with some live tracks from The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC. I'm sure the whole DVD is packed with the same fun, positive and energetic tracks as his CDs and shows!

My sister is a new mom-- her little boy will be one in June, and she is expecting baby number TWO in AUGUST!! (Yes, I have told her she is crazy. Every one else has too, by now, and so now we're going to put that to rest and say OMG, how FUN!! What a wild ride you're in for!) She wants to know-- Who are the best bands for the under two crowd? Comment below! Let's put together a great playlist for her!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Davy Jones, 1945-2012. Eternal Boyish Charm.

Sadly, singer and famous Monkee frontman passed away this week, and so we would like to take the chance to post some links for awesome Davy Jones music and videos. The Monkees were one of the first made-for-TV bands, which kicked off the whole man-made pop group phenomenon (I think I can accurately say the only earlier one would be Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Not too sure about that, though.) And Davy Jones' adorableness and mischievous twinkle really had quite an effect on us... I remember the reruns coming on when I was a little girl and loving the music. And, of COURSE, there was that Brady Bunch episode-- and I found out on his website that that was the most rerun show in syndication history-- how 'bout that?? I then discovered the Beatles and other great 60s bands, and moved on to be a classic rock and Alt-music girl, but now that I have children The Monkees has resurfaced and introduced a whole new generation to 1960s pop, which thrills me! I know it's cheesy, but in college even I rocked out to the music from Shrek, and have often included "I'm a Believer" on mixed CDs I've made for the girls! (And I recently found a stash of those, so maybe I will post some playlists here on the site soon!) 

But one thing about Jones that appeals to moms, is his sweet face and adorable voice, and he came back to the kid's music scene when he performed "Personal Penguin," the board book by author Sandra Boyton (and you can download a free copy on her website here, just scroll almost all the way to the bottom). We heard the announcement of his death this week and they played "Gonna Buy Me a Dog, from the album The Monkees. To kids growing up with music videos and YouTube, the clip of this song from the show is more their speed than many of the clips from old show from our youth-- for example, the episode of the Brady Bunch where he is recording, "Girl." A sweet song, but they play the whole song (just so cute how Marcia just sneaks into the studio and is like, "Please! I'm the President of his FAN club!" Ohhh, geez. Sure, Marcia, I'll play at your prom. But Davy Jones' music had a simple, light-hearted sugary feel like that. Awww, almost as cute as a penguin. We'll miss you, buddy. Thanks for being our Personal Penguin.


And in other news! We are off to see Dr. Seuss' The Lorax today, STARRING the girl's favorite singer (and Pant's idol, the whole reason she wants to learn to pick the fiddle), Taylor Swift, and Zac Efron, so we will see if they break out in song, and how we like the movie. I'm excited for this-- so far from the previews it looks like a good one. Happy Dr. Seuss' Birthday!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#Whois PaulMcCartney???

Sunday night was The Grammy awards, and like any decent, red-blooded American over the age of 25 I did not watch them, because I was lying in bed reading a book, and so I missed the performance by Paul McCartney. Of course, I don't watch them now (as I used to be an awards show addict, and dog shows too), because Extra, CNN, YouTube and any other current events program will show the best clips the next day and then we get to get on with our lives in the real world. But anyway, Paul McCartney performed a sweet and soulful "My Valentine" and then closed the show with a medley of "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight," and "The End" and the whole Twittersphere errupts with hashtags of "Who the !@#$% is Paul McCartney?? Serious, World? This is how dumbed down our culture is getting? Pop culture can't remember one of the members of the band that undeniably changed music as we know it? The original pop teen icons, the Beatles, lead to the invention of pop rock & roll music, boy bands, live music, and not to forget, the use of drugs in the 1960s to influence how they listened to and made music. The Beatles, and especially Paul McCartney (seeing as how he is one of the surviving members and has continued to make music all those years), have lived a life in the spotlight since Beatlemania originally hit the US. Now, of course, some speculate that this was just a joke that people took way to seriously, just like when Eddie Murphy supposedly died a couple weeks ago. But just to show that my children are so much brighter than the silly braindead teenagers out there, Pants has recorded her response to this silly ethereal dialogue.

 

And speaking of the Grammys, congratulations to North Carolina's Secret Agent 23 Skidoo! His song "Cooperation" was on the anti-bullying album "All About Bullies...Big and Small!" I've heard it's a fun show, so if he is here in Raleigh and you want to see a kid-friendly hiphop show, check out his website for dates!

And here's Pants:

So not all kids are stupid. Smarty Pants.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pants' Musical Ear, and her picks this week.

I didn't post last week, because I had the killer virus that has been going around our kids' schools and could not get out of bed. I had cough, sore throat, stuffed-up ears, shivers. The works. And I am still walking wounded, but sort of okay. The last thing I could think about was music, singing, and little kids dancing to songs about cupcakes. But the girls has been sick, too, and so their grandmother had sent a sweet little care package with a couple of children's CDs and some Valentine's crafts. And I handed those over them, and voila. Peace for poor sick mommy.

My girls listen to CDs for hours and hours. I do not have a musical ear at all; I like music and I sing along to the ones I know the words to (but not around people, mostly), but I grew up surrounded by rock music. My dad was a classic rock guy, and he listened to new stuff a lot too, and so when he was around the music was on. But what fascinated me about the girls and music is how intense they are about it. Pants turns it on and reads the liner notes until she knows every word, every. word. by. heart. And she can do that in a day or so. The educator in me (I taught English for a couple years) has spent the last 6 years evaluating their learning styles. Brain is a logical, spatial & scientific, and Miss Pants is musical, linguistic & spatial. So they both love art and music, but in different ways. It is interesting to me to see how these skills progress in school, because the school they are going to has a lot of fine arts opportunities, and Pants has already expressed a desire to learn how to fiddle. She loves violin already, and she is only in kindergarten, and that's the only instrument they play that early on.

Pants is going through a stage where she has musical obsessions, and artists she wants to hear on repeat all the time. Before Christmas we listened to The Muppet Soundtrack over and over on the way to school, and then she got "Speak Now" for her birthday, and then she got an mp3 player that had all "her" music on it, and she would only listen to Taylor Swift and The Design. Now we have the second album from The Design, and it actually has a couple songs with explicit lyric warnings, but I have been letting her listen to the ones that are not, and she has enjoyed that. We know the lead singer for that group, so the dream of growing up and being a rock star is a little more concrete for her, and so often she imagines herself growing up to be a singer and fiddle player in a country band. And Kat came to our house a couple months ago, dressed in her rock star clothes, and played for the girls, and gave them their own guitars and showed them some chords. It was so much fun and I'm sure if they become serious artists in their lifetimes, they will remember that as an event that spurred their love of music. But it is fascinating to me to see how she picks our her favorites and plays music to really listen to it, not just as a noise to have on. Listening is a real activity for her.

So as Pants' musical talents are being nurtured, I have noticed something fun. She has really great taste in music! Even at a young age she was soothed by quiet, pretty singing, and Daddy used to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in a deep, lullaby tone, and she was one of the only kids ever to learn the additional verses to it (we had a board book that she loved that had all the verses), and she picks out great music to listen too. She surely beats the pants of Mitt Romney in "America the Beautiful"!! And she knows all the words, too.

So Pants' pick this week has been an album that came from who knows where, and she knew all the words when they started playing it on the radio, so I guess she heard it at her grandmother's, which is weird to me because I didn't think this was grandma's style. But Rachel Platten is a new artist, just starting to get radio play on XM, and she has an awesome, sweet song called "1,000 Ships" out right now. "Nothing Ever Happens" is our next fave pick, but ALL the tracks are fun, poppy, lyrical songs. I would definitely suggest checking out ITunes for this underrated but enjoyable artist. I hope we see more of her in the future!

On another note, the winner from Bill & Keith's Excellent Song Contest was "It's not fair to me." Sounds like a cool new song will be coming out from them soon! Can't wait to hear it! In the meantime, let me know what you think of High Dive. The story on "Monster Valentine" is great for next week's holiday event. Share with your kids--coming out on February 14th! Bill is a great story-teller, so I know we'll enjoy it!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Contest for Bill & Keith Fans!

From the awesomeness that brings us "The Leftovers" and "Down in the Backpack" (a funny take off "Down on the Boardwalk") is another even FUNNER idea-- YOU WRITE THE TITLE, THEY'LL WRITE THE SONG. No way!! For real!


I took the pleasure of sitting down with the awesome creative mind of Miss Pants over here at Kindieriffic, and emailed in some fabulous ideas. We could have come up with many more, but it was a teacher workday for her, so we had to pick up The Brain at Preschool, and go pet the bunny. It was a very busy day.


So in case there are still ideas floating out there in the netherworld to be snatched up and emailed to the fabulous duo, email them to Bill & Keith at contest@billharley.com. And go hhhhheeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeee for contest rules!! Good luck!

 I don't know who this 
                                                    bear is, I just thought he 
                                       was awesome.

''Plays Well Together'': Fabulousness to Download!

Burnside Kid - Dependent Presents ''Plays Well Together''

Free! My favorite price. I was driving home today and this popped up in my playlist. I had forgotten I downloaded it a while back. I looked up, and OMIGOSH! Still free from Amazon. Burnside Kid is not an actual band, which confused me at first. I was thinking this would be a cool superband a la Travelling Wilburies, (who were a family favorite of ours growing up). It would be nice, now wouldn't it? Our favorite Seattle bands getting together and rocking the preschool? Yes!

But, alas, they are not. Well, not on this album, although folks in Seattle can see them perform together on Saturdays at the Mount Baker Community Center, so if you are in that area you might want to check it out between now and April (for tickets call (206) 722-7209 or email Mount Baker). But for those of us not in the Pacific Northwest, you can download the album and swing your hips with your little ones here. Or go to http://www.kindiependent.com/ and download all their albums! 

Our favorite, by far, is "Flapjacks". Recess Monkey is one of the hottest kid's bands these days, and they have a massive collection of hypnotic tunes. Sadly, I was caught singing this one the other day at work. Everyone loves pancakes-- for breakfast, lunch or dinner in this house! And on this single, Recess Monkey has caught the joy of waking up to the smell of syrup and batter and snuck it into your Sirius radio. Yummmmm... I can smell the comfort food now.

"I've got a Goat" is another fun track-- and for sure, your kids'll enjoy the cutesy little animated music video on their website here and then they can run around the house singing it. And then you can get caught in your little cubicle, belting out a song about your pet ant. 



Monday, January 16, 2012

"I Think I'm a Bunny"

Good Afternoon!!
"I Think I'm a Bunny" is a great music video and song by Todd McHatton  (http://mchatton.com/) from his album Galactic Champions of Joy album. It's another example of an adorable infectious song for Kindie music. McHatton's song fits into the gets-stuck-in-your-head-but-still-makes-a-cute-kid's-song mold we love! We walk around our house singing it (and by we, I mean me). This is quite a humorous tune. The dialogue between the child and the monster is precious and funny, and the video is kinda trippy & hilarious. This is definitely one of the best McHatton tunes, for sure! I asked the carpool for a vote on this one, and The Brain answers: "I like it. It's good." Well thank you, Brain.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sirius XM Kids Place Life VS Radio Disney... No Contest!

Why do I feel like I can tell you all some great tips on Kindie Music and children's media?
I signed up to take my girls to a school 30 minutes from  my house, and so on my non-work days (or my unpaid-days, I mean), I  spend 30 minutes one way. Fifteen minutes in the carpool line. Thirty minutes the other  way, and then ten minutes home from there. Twice a day. Surprising considering the size of our town. But it is worth it. So we read, listen to music and audiobooks, and talk. It's a great way to force your kid to pay attention to you! But my kindergartener can have days where she is so worn down by the end of the day, she does not want to talk. So we turn the music up loud so you can't really talk above it. Problem  solved!

Our satellite radio subscription ran up a couple months ago, and so I went without it for a little bit. Somehow this was an indulgence that I could not live without! I had it added back, and now we listen to Absolutely Mindy on a nearly daily basis! She is quite an entertaining DJ, and she has some great appearances by Kindie music performers and children's media experts. We have learned about everything from gross science to awesome book picks and toy experts! She has the most informative and hilarious broadcasts. And every day at 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30 she does Birthday Missions, and if you give her your name and town, she will wish your kid a happy birthday and they have to complete silly tasks like "Wear your clothes backwards the rest of the day" before they are aloud to grow another year older. And other awesome fact? Mindy has the same birthday as my big girl, so she has an awesome on-air birthday party. How cool is that?

As a parent, I havedecided that over-exposure to material, commercialized images is too much for our children to be exposed to and too much "star worship." In a world where Beyonce and Jay-Z can shut down a hospital because they are afraid someone will sell their pictures to a tabloid, we need to forget about the star-worship a little bit, and they are totally training our kids to do that over on Radio Disney. Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and Willow Smith are regulars on that station, and our tastes are not so Top-40/ pop radio.

So in the future, I will  be posting about all sorts of new, cool, fun kindie artists, and performances and kids' music related info. Occasionally I will venture into other media realms-- internet or video or movies, as it related to music. I hope you all enjoy it here and find my posts informative and intelligent. And fun. 'Cause that's was kindie is about.