I’m on a detox thing and haven’t had any wheat, corn, dairy, sugar, alcohol or caffeine in over three weeks. If you know me, you know that discipline and will power really isn’t my thing, so I’m amazed that I’ve made it this long without biting anyone’s head off in my household.
While my hankering for highly processed foods 24/7 have mostly waned, a nice salty crunchy thing, or a sweet gooey thing sounds pretty good right about now.
There’s a big new batch of family music recently released, though, that comes pretty close to satisfying those cravings.
For starters, Flight of the Blue Whale from Pointed Man Band is a CD that plays like my favorite snack, popcorn, in that it’s something I could make room for any time of day. It’s music that’s not only upbeat and wholesome, but it also has just the right amount of flavor and bite to appease my taste buds and make me happy.
This album is a sophisticatedly crafted narrative that weaves a story about a fox with some pretty spectacular musical composition. Pointed Man Band’s latest release has a great vibe that’s parts Black Keys, Tom Waits, Beirut and Modest Mouse, a combination that’s sure to entice an older listener’s palate.
Notable songs on this album include the first track “Red Fox” with it’s rolling melody and Beatles-esque quality, “Forget the Sea” which displays the clear, gorgeous voice of Kay Elliot like a beckoning siren, and the fun, party-atmosphere track “Apodidae Reggae.” Pointed Man Band’s Flight of the Blue Whale is available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.
The Harmonica Pocket is a band that hails from the Pacific Northwest, delivering organic music to grow on with their May 19th release, Sundrops.
As refreshing as a summer salad, this album is crisp, clean, and every now and then offers something a bit more savory to bite in to, like a crumbly piece of cheese drenched in delicious dressing, with tracks like “Getting Night Now.” My favorite track on the album has to be “I Like Ukeleles” and its witty play on words that begin with the “you” sound. Sundrops can be purchased on The Harmonica Pocket’s website and is available on iTunes and Amazon.
If you’re looking for something to pique your appetite, like a piping hot bowl of shrimp gumbo, then look no further with the latest album from All Around This World with their release of All Around This World: Africa. These 32 tracks that come on two discs (one for West, Central and South Africa, and then North and East Africa) are full of flavor, soul and variety.
Africa is a fantastic introduction to the vibrant sounds and rhythms of different music from various regions in Africa, and you’d be hard pressed to find something on this album that doesn’t get your soul dancing.
Favorites include the upbeat “Kikalama” and “Sai,” “Carnaval” with its horns and salty tempo and timbre, the ska track “He Motsoala,” “Nanu Nanu Ney” (which makes me wonder if The Police didn’t find find inspiration in THIS REGION’s music), the soulful, almost gospel quality of “Thinantsha” and the lullabye “Atas Atas.”
And as if Emeril gave this dish a big giant “BAM!”, All Around this World: Africa is also the basis for an interactive global learning platform, with cultural lessons created for families and teachers by Jay Sand. You can find this network of “1000 Classrooms” HERE.
All Around This World: Africa will be available on their website June 21st.
If Africa is gumbo, Alastair Moock & Friends’ June 19th release All Kinds of You and Me is a scrumptious beef stew – simple yet hearty and satisfying.
The jazzy “You Might Be a Girl” challenges the gender stereotypes usually attributed to girls. “My Life (Is a Lot Like Yours)” sheds light on similarities between family lives even though their makeup might look different. “I Am Malala” is a tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize winning young woman and proposes that we are all Malala when we speak up for injustice.
On the track “You and Me,” Alastair discusses his experiences listening to Thomas’ groundbreaking album, and it effortlessly transitions to “This Land Is Your Land”, both songs embracing the power of hope and change for a better world to live in. It’s a perfect finish to the album, like a cold glass of milk, smooth and full of good healthy stuff. Alastair Moock’s All Kinds of You and Me is available on iTunes, Amazon and his Bandcamp page.
Red Yarn’s Deep Woods Revival, marketed as rousing sing-along songs “for everyone,” goes down like the perfect platter of fried chicken – southern flair, rich and impossible to stop after one taste.
A satisfying mix of folk, bluegrass, rock and blues, Red Yarn’s latest album is presented in two parts. The first contains traditional, familiar songs like “Skip To My Lou”, with Andy Furgeson’s charming and alluring voice.
Part Two is a narrative, a popular method of songwriting for family music lately, meant “for brave kids and grownups.” It follows a younger Red Yarn through adventures in the outdoors as he experiences life and loss. The second half of the album is definitely more somber as it delves in to deeper issues of nature and the cycle of life with milder tracks like “Buckeye Jim” (my favorite track on the album) and the slow waltzing “Animal Fair.” “Sourwood Mountain” is grizzly and sweet at the same time. The title track “Deep Woods Revival” is a whopping good time for sure.
Red Yarn’s Deep Woods Revival will become available June 25th.
And you know what sounds good every once in a while? A little animal cracker or a popsicle. Something that reminds me of what it’s like to be a little kid. Lianne Bassin’s latest album Breathe In does just that.
Bassin has a voice that is sugary sweet, much like Kira Wiley with the upbeat personality of Suzi Shelton, and this album is best suited for children in the 2-4 years of age range. It helps young listeners build confidence and gives them strategies to handle big emotions, conflict resolution and living mindfully.
The airy, dreamy track “I Am” reminds us that we’re all connected with nature. There are several songs on the album that would be great lullabye’s for a daycare scenario, like “Peaceful Place.” My favorite song on the album is “Wishing Tree” with its lovely accumulation of lilting voices.
However, if a hard-core treat is what you’re after, than look no further because Recess Monkey’s Hot Air is a tasty one. Like the glorious chocolate cake with hidden motlen ganache inside that you see on the menu and decide to skip an appetizer so you can savor every bite of it.
The highly anticipated 12th studio album from Recess Monkey gets released today with a two-disc package. One disc is comprised of 14 original songs, and a DVD that incorporates these tracks into an animated story. The concept album that focuses on themes like flight and the courage to face the unfamiliar. Recess Monkey once again brings their A Game with smart lyrics and even smarter composition.
Some of my favorite tracks on the album include the Ben Folds-ish quality of “Lighter Than Air”, the dreamy “Head in the Clouds” and what is sure to be a crowd favorite, “Oh Lando” with it’s awesome baseline.
Recess Monkey knows how to get your toes tapping, and it especially shows in songs like “Penguinese” (which celebrates the uniqueness of someone who is different and new) and the funky “Hand Me Downs” and the rockin’ “Thunder and Lightning.” The band has a soft side too, demonstrated on tracks like “My Balloon” (about the all-too-familiar tale of losing your grip) and the sweet call and response of “Carry a Tune.”
And if that wasn’t enough, what better way to cap off a hearty meal of music than with a night cap? Last month The Secret Mountain released Sleep Softly: Classical Lullabies by Grahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy… and it’s the perfect end to your day. Performed by L’Ensemble Agora, these 16 tracks are like a cozy cup of chamomile tea after a perfect dinner.
The CD comes with a beautifully illustrated book that gives information about each song and its composer, facts about composition, orchestration and instrumentation. Some of the tracks on the album are familiar melodies (like Johannes Brahms “Wiegenlied (Lullaby)”), some of them are not quite as familiar (“Feuillet d’album (Album Leaf)”, but all of them are gorgeous. It’s the perfect accompaniment to ride off to sleep with. I’m partial to Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 1” and Franz Shubert’s “Ständchen (Serenade),” but there are many lovely lullabies included in this album.
The Secret Mountain’s Sleep Softly: Classical Lullabies by Grahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy… is available on Amazon.
There you have it, some new family music to sink your teeth in to. Is it as good as a vat of queso and tortilla chips, chased by a delicious margarita and finished with a giant bowl of ice cream? Good God no. But these new releases come awfully close.