Beat “Summer Brain Drain” With New Family Music

I’ve never been successful at keeping up with my kids’ academics during the summer. On more than one occasion, I’ve suddenly realized its August 1st and dragged my kids to a bookstore, bought summer activity books, and subjected my kids to daily worksheets in an effort to help them overcome the dreaded summer brain drain before starting the school year.

You can imagine how much they love that, right?

However, workbooks can only do so much. When I really stop to think about all my kids are experiencing in the summer time, they’re learning plenty. It’s not just counting how many Otter Pops they can consume in one sitting either. Outdoor summer fun is ripe with science and geography lessons. Board games and a rousing go at “Capture the Flag” challenge logic and strategy skills. Language art gets satisfied with our weekly trips to the library. Cannonballs off the high dive board fulfill PE requirements.

And we get plenty of fine arts lessons by way of the constant stream of music we listen to. Luckily, there are some great family music releases this summer to keep young minds thinking, questioning and learning.

Summer Music pt 2 group

RRTM1-4PAN1T.cdrFirst up, The Whizpops fourth album Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix, Vol. 1 (released May 20) features 11 original songs with wildlife themes. This album is the first in a series in collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation to support its conservation efforts.

Missoula, Montana elementary school teachers Kevin Cashman and Casey Schaefer comprise The Whizpops with other gifted musicians, who created science-based music. National Wildlife Federation’s adorable raccoon ambassador Ranger Rick helps The Whizpop’s spread their messages about endangered animals of North America, aided by a veritable “Who’s Who” in kindie artists like The Pop Ups, Recess Monkey, Danny Weinkauf and Bill Harley.

The Whizpops make smart music, embracing a range of genres from pop (like the 80’s vibe of “Pika”) to reggae (“Monarch”) to country (“Stream That I Call Home [Bull Trout Song]).

They’re not afraid to utilize electronic, synthesizer solos while they drop nuggets of animal trivia (like, did you know that a polar bear’s seal meal will give him eight days of energy?). This approach is quickly apparent in the lead-off track, “Swift Fox,” an upbeat pop tune sung from the point of view of a fox.

The album content feels like a tour through the wilderness with a private park ranger as each song focuses on a particular animal, each with its own distinct musical personality. The piano intro of “Black Footed Ferret” sounds like it could easily be a Ben Folds track, launching in to a funky tempo with a fun rap bridge.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is the slower tempo pseudo-ballad “Everything’s Better with a Mustache (Walrus Song),” bringing up a Foo Fighter essence with rocking guitar solos as an ode to the Walrus and mustaches. Another tune I found listening to a few times on repeat is “Polar Bear,” with its groovy hook.

Other tracks include the dreamy, laid-back beach vibe of “California Condor,” “Gulo Gulo (Wolverine),” “Bison,” and the final track “Extinction Really Stinks,” which builds awareness of dwindling animal species, the impact extinction has on our planet and what we can do to help, with a big ensemble of vocalists. Think “We Are the World” for extinct animals.

A downloadable learning guide for family and educators will be available this summer from this collaboration, just another way you can check the Science box of your summer learning curriculum.

The Whizpops Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix, Vol. 1 is available on iTunes and Amazon.

 

Press PlayYou can always rely on Brady Rymer to deliver an album full of fun arrangements and diverse musical styles, and his latest release, Press Play is no exception. Released June 24, Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could offer 12 original songs that encourage listeners to try new things and believe in themselves.

This latest release feels a bit more mature and sophisticated, with many songs on the album hitting home with me as a parent in ways I hadn’t expected. But this doesn’t mean that young ears won’t love this album as well. The title track, “Press Play” starts off the album with a catchy beat and lively horns and piano that hook you in to see what else Rymer has up his sleeve.

The sweet piano intro on the ballad “ The Only One” reminds me of the Hill Street Blues or Cheers theme. That sense of melancholy, combined with the wistful sounds of the brush drumstick makes this one of my favorite songs on this album as it encourages listeners to be who they want to be and remain as authentically unique as they are.

Several other songs tug at my heartstrings, like “ Hold This Home Together.” A groovy baseline serves as the foundation for the lyrics that feel more like a love song for a parenting partner. I love how this song illustrates the makings of a good partnership, emphasizing working together as a united family to keep a home together.

The fiddle and steel guitar on “Dress in Blue” calls to mind Lyle Lovett or Ryan Adams, pleading for the pretty girl to dance with him and be his girl.

I’m not sure what Rymer does best, toe tapping tunes or beautiful ballads, because he excels at both. The love song “Your Love Turns the World Around” feels Randy Newman-inspired, with simple piano and vocal arrangements and lyrics that will make parents want to squeeze their little ones in agreement.

Rymer’s music has good intentions at its core, championing young ears to believe in themselves and their abilities. The reggae track “I Surprised Myself” captures the joy of accomplishing something you didn’t know you could, like riding a bike for the first time or jumping in to a pool. “Don’t Knock It ‘til You Try It” is the quintessential optimism anthem. “It’s a Beauty” is the boastful, rockabilly cry of an old 1933 pumper truck that’s been spruced up to shear perfection after a career of service.

You’ll be able to fulfill some social studies learning while discussing the tracks on the album that help children explore their place in the world. “Me on the Map” finds inspiration from 1980’s/90’s folk rock bands while asking listeners to see themselves in relation to the rest of the world. Through a rocking horn section, “Chain Reaction” discusses a concept I’ve been exploring with my own kids – the idea of creating a chain reaction of good will and paying forward peaceful gestures. “Switcheroo Day” has a Jimmy Buffet feel about it, with its organ and hint of calypso as Rymer sings about the fun of spending time in someone else’s shoes and seeing the world from their perspective.

The album closes with the celebratory gospel-influenced “One Day by the Riverside,” ending the album with a sense of hope and beauty.

Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could’s Press Play is available on iTunes and Amazon.

 

CD cover art Arriba Abajo perfect square small123 Andrés, a new voice to be reckoned with in the family music scene, released Arriba Abajo June 10. This album features 10 original songs in Spanish, followed by the same 10 tracks in English (with a bonus track), that seamlessly integrate educational and language acquisition concepts with lively melodies and a sense of discovery and imagination.

This album acts as a comprehensive learning guide for preschoolers. For instance, it covers music introduction with the rolling music scales of “Vamos a cantar”/“Sing Now With Me”. Numbers are explored through the fun, dense instrumentation in “Diez pajaritos”/“Ten Little Birds” and in the bouncy tempo and soaring harmonies of “El danzón y el cha cha cha chá”/“Danzón and the Cha Cha Chá.”

Language concepts are presented in tunes like the unusually metered arrangement of “Las do vacas”/”The Two Cows” that compares two cows with contrasting adjectives like “enormous or tiny.” “Dame una A”/”Give Me an A” examines vowels and words that begin with letters of the alphabet.

Science concepts get some attention in songs about different body types (in the island vibe of “Cosquillas”/“Tickles”),of a plant growing from a seed (the spoken text and song “La semilla”/”The Seed”), the movement of a scarf and the joy it can bring (“Vuela, vuela”/”Fly, fly”), and the beauty of the atmosphere (“Cielo, suelo”/”Sky, Ground”).

My favorite track on the album is “Lunes luna”/”Monday, Moon,” which discusses the days of the week through a lovely melody and string arrangement. “Colorin, Colorado” is the bonus track featuring Radio Jaracho and Zenen Zeferino, with fun guitars and clapping in a fun syncopated rhythm.

Included in the album is a 35-page learning guide for educators and families that acts as an extension of the concepts introduced in the album, such as numbers, shapes, and “pre-reading.”

123 Andrés’ Arriba Abajo is available on iTunes, Amazon and his site.

 

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!

 

Dive In To New Music This Summer

Summer is here! For many families, summer break means more time to relax, spend time with family, and explore new things. This summer, my kids signed up for the local dive team, and are stretching themselves by learning how to flip off the low dive. My new adventure this summer is learning how not to panic when they do.

Hopefully your summer explorations mean you have some time to check out new music for your family, and there’s plenty to dive in to! (See what I did there?)

Dive In To Summer Music

saddle_cover_flatFirst up, Grammy Award winning The Okee Dokee Brothers are back with their third release in their adventure series albums. This time, they head West with Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album, which was released May 13.

The Western theme suits the vocals and essence of the Okee Dokee Brothers very well. This album, with its easy going tempos, embodies that feeling of singing around a campfire in the wild West, surrounded by cowboys while eating baked beans.

For this concept album, the Okee Dokee Brothers headed out on a 30 day horseback trek along the Continental Divide, visiting camping sites and five national parks along the way. Their encounters and experiences inspired the tracks on this album which weave bluegrass, cowboy folk and Mexicali folk into a tapestry of heartwarming songs that we’ve come to expect from the brilliant minds of Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing.

One of the great things about this band is that their love of the outdoors oozes through their music, inspiring listeners to head outside and discover their own adventures.

Like their previous albums, this one is gorgeously produced and the first track provides an excellent example in the waltz “Saddle Up,” a track that motivates listeners to get up and start the journey.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’s peppy version of “Don’t Fence Me In” with the loping change of tempo in the bridge will surely get your boots tapping. “Jackalope” has an “old western movie soundtrack” feel with its steel guitars and twang, describing the animal myth and the power of believing in something you cannot see.

Several tracks stand out on this album, but considering this is the Okee Dokee Brothers I’m talking about, is that any surprise? “The Great Divide” is this album’s “Can You Canoe?” and “Along For the Ride.” Soaring harmonies promise to cross what ever obstacles divide us in order to see the other side and create unity.

The honky tonk “One Horsepower” is another one of my favorites, applying automobile terms to actual horse power. “Somos Amigos,” featuring Carlos Medina, is another standout, and its quicker tempo and accordion solo make me miss living in San Antonio. The theme of this tune? Life is better when shared with friends.

“Sister Moon and Brother Sun” is another favorite of mine, and showcases the Okee Dokee Brothers’ ability to compose some of the most gorgeous melodies in family music today. The track begins with Native American singing, then begins to tell the tale of Mother Earth and how world was made.

“The Legend of Tall Talkin’ Sam” features beautiful harmonies with Rosie Newton. The simple banjo and percussion accompaniment of “Hard Road to Travel” incorporates fast, rolling lyrics that make a nod to “Old Coat” by Peter, Paul and Mary. “Shootin’ Star” encourages famous old west sharpshooting legends to trade their guns for guitars.

“Last Lullaby” has a sweet and tender melody that makes it a perfect closer. “Cow Cow Yippee,” “Good Old Times,” “The Grass Is Always Greener,” “Lead a Horse to Water” (with John Sebastian) round out the album.

Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album also comes with a DVD documentary of the Okee Dokee Brothers’ journey through the West, filled with music videos and great educational information, and videos that capture how much these two guys enjoy traveling with each other and making music. Be on the look out for a full-length movie of Saddle Up streaming on Netflix in June!

image001Completing the whole experience, the Okee Dokee Brothers have released a hardback picture book of all three albums. CAN YOU CANOE? AND OTHER ADVENTURE SONGS (Sterling Children’s Books) captures the cross-country journeys with illustrations by Brandon Reese and celebrates the beauty of being outdoors.

To start your summer off right, I’m offering to give away a copy of this book to one of my readers! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter widget below by Monday June 21 at 11:59pm EST. Open to all contiguous U.S. residents.

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The Okee Dokee Brothers’ Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album is available on iTunes, Amazon, their website and elsewhere.

 

EARTH_cover_1500Charity and the JAMband delivered EARTH on Earth Day, April 22. Lead by Charity Kahn, the San Francisco-based Charity and the JAMband have been performing together for 15 years. Their latest album includes 10 original songs that have a spiritual foundation, promoting the power of love and mindful living.

The folksy instrumentation with Charity’s cheery, clear voice places this band in the same camp as artists like Suzi Shelton. Younger audiences will likely enjoy this album better than older listeners, but the messages are universally appropriate for all ages.

The album begins with the ethereal “Keep a Green Tree In Your Heart” based on a Chinese proverb with a melody that reminds me of Balinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place On Earth.”

From there, the album makes a 180 degree shift to the rocking guitar intro of “Share Your Love” (which promotes being kind and respectful as a sign of love) and the rock-pop chorus feels like a nod to the Bangles. Love plays an important role in the album, and appears in other songs like the groovy “Shine,” and “We Love Everyone,” which encourages sharing, peace, kindness, tolerance and respect backed by an upbeat tempo and hand claps.

There are several songs on the album that pay tribute to and appreciation for the planet we inhabit. “Earth Day” opines that every day should be earth day. Perhaps a nod to The Lorax, “We Speak For the Earth” (sounding slightly Breeder-esque or Liz Phair-ish) sings about the connection we all have to each other. “I Am the Earth” continues on this theme with a simple piano and drumbeat accompaniment, feeling more like a chant with its repetition (but could perhaps be a little shorter).

“Sing a Summer Song” demonstrates the “jam” in JAMband with its solo breaks and flute feature. The song gives a shout out to all of the summer staples like gardening, grass, insects, and weather patterns.

The breathing meditation, visualization and affirmations of “Pebble Meditation Song” are drawn from the work of spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh. The lullaby, supple melody and simple guitar of the reassuring and comforting “Little One” makes this track my favorite on the album.

Charity and the JAMband’s EARTH is available on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby and more.

 


9782924217696
The Secret Mountain
releases a new classical music book and CD focused on water themed compositions in Amazing Water, written by Ana Gherhard (a concert pianist at the Mexican National Conservatory) with illustrations by Margarita Sada. An array of composers from the 17th century through the present are featured, who were inspired by oceans, lakes and rivers to write captivating, lush compositions that cascade, ebb and flow, and are as powerful as any body of water.

The 20 excerpts are performed by world renown institutions such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, La Scala Chorus and Orchestra, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

The accompanying 68-page hardcover picture book acts as a vibrant look at music history through three centuries. It includes a listening guide with composition notes for each piece of music, biographies of the composers, and a glossary of musical terms for those who want to learn more about the complex essence of each composition.

The tracks are just short enough to hold a young audiences attention, but not long enough to get “drowned” in an evening-length symphony. I could easily see a teacher playing this album in the background during a science exploration of water’s properties, or in an art class with students are working on their own version of “Water Lillies.”

There are a few easily-recognizable compositions on the album, including “Alla Hornpipe,” one of my favorite pieces by George Frideric Handel from his Water Music suites. “Barcarolle” (an excerpt from Jacques Offenbach’s final opera “The Tales of Hoffmann”) may be familiar to some listeners as well, with its mysterious beginning and rich voice of opera singers.

The variety of compositions show that water can take on many personalities such as strong and powerful (the tumultuous “Scheheradzade:” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov), playful (“Water Games” by Maurice Ravel), full of adventure (“Setting Out to Fish” by Silvestre Revueltas), or all of these at once (“Play of the Waves” by Claude Debussy).

Rain and storms are prominent themes in many compositions such as the piano composition of “Gardens in the Rain (by Claude Debussy), or the brooding swells and crashes of notes in “The Storm” (by Ludwig VanBeethoven) that create movement and energy to sound like a thunderstorm.

More contemporary, modern, non-traditional or avant garde compositions include “Sea-Nocturne (…For the End of Time)” by George Crumb, whose dissonant, eery start and amplified flute, cello and piano sounds like a whale chorus; the percussive “Rain Tree” (by Toru Takemitsu), which builds in intensity and instrumentation; and “The Drop of Water” (by Fernando Sor) whose dripping guitar notes create a serene and deceptively simple composition that is one of my favorites on the album.

Other tracks on the album include “And the Winds Joined Battle” by Giacomo Carissimi, “The Moldau” by Bedřich Smetana, “Scene by the Brook” by Ludwig Van Beethoven, “Christ Our Lord Came to the Jordan” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Gondoliera’s Song” by Franz Liszt, “Agitated by Two Winds” by Antonio Vivaldi,“On Sunday Morning” by Benjamin Britten, “The Trout” by Franz Schubert, and “Water Clock” by Mario Lavista.

The Secret Mountain’s Amazing Water is available on Amazon, and their website.

 

 

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!

 

The Answer to My (Grocery) Prayers – Door to Door Organics Giveaway

Remember last year when I went on that 30-day cleanse and started hallucinating about food? I’m not cleansing anymore, but the detox helped me realize how good I feel when I eat clean and organic.

However, if your grocery store is anything like mine, finding organic produce can be tricky.

Our grocery store has the majority of their organic fruits and vegetables tucked away in the back corner of the produce section. Shopping in that corner makes me feel like I have a dirty little secret, and even when I get there, I’m rarely impressed with the produce I find. Why do grocery stores insist on making it difficult to purchase clean, organic food?

Thankfully, I’ve found an easier solution – Door to Door Organics! It’s an organic produce subscription service that delivers organic fruits and veggies to my doorstep every week. It’s beyond awesome and has become the answer to my prayers.

The Answer to My (Grocery) Prayers - Door to Door Organics

 

Door to Door Organics provides a variety of box sizes, combinations, and delivery dates to help suit my family’s needs. I can choose all veggies, all fruit, or a combination of both. We chose the Bitty Box to come once a week, though we could change it to every other week if we wanted. This size is designed for 1-2 people, but I find that it suits our family of 4 just fine. And if we need to, we can always change our box size later, which is a great option for those weeks we might plan a cookout or party.

The customization of the service is a big selling point, and one of the things I love most about it. When I set up my profile, I was able to establish my preferences in fruits and veggies, and had the kids check out the extensive list of produce with me. We said yes to our standard staples (apples, bananas, oranges, kiwi, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, celery) and HECK YES to our favorites (sweet potatoes, carrots, berries).

But even more importantly, we were able to identify food we DON’T like (YUCK to rhubarb, leeks, brussels sprouts, etc.). This is a great option for families who have food allergies or sensitivities. While I don’t think it’s a guarantee that an item won’t appear in my order once in a while, so far, my orders have included foods that we eat on a regular basis.

And even if a stray okra or radish might show up in my order one week, there’s a very easy fix for this – substitutions! This is perhaps one of the most awesome features of the service. I can make up to five substitutions for the week, so if I see something in my order we don’t like or want, I can simply switch it out for something else.

Every Friday I get sent an email telling me what seasonal produce to expect in next week’s box. It’s a great planning tool! Taking a look at my order gives me ideas about what to plan for the week’s menu.

If a veggie is included that I have no idea how to use, before I make a substitution, I take a look at their recipe library and search by that specific vegetable to get some inspiration. There’s also a really useful planning tool on their site to help me map out the week and shop for other ingredients.

I also take a look at our week’s activities to see if I have enough fruit to pack for snacks, and can tweak my box a little to accommodate needing more apples for gymnastic practices, for instance. In essence, I use the service to both supply me with the regular produce we enjoy, but also to experience new ones we might not normally cook with.

There are also options to purchase other goods besides fruits and veggies. Need some Ezekiel bread? Just add it to my cart! Want some Applegate Organic turkey slices to make a sandwich with our beefsteak tomato and green leaf lettuce? They’ve got that, too. I find that these extras are comparatively priced to my local store, but better yet, can get them delivered to my front door.

My first box delivery was an exciting event in our household. Cracking open the first box should have been accompanied by the opening song to The Lion King.

DTDO

Our first box of goodies included: a bag of baby carrots, a couple of pears, apples grapefruits, kiwi and cucumbers; three bananas, three red-on-the-vine tomatoes; and a box of white mushrooms. Seriously, this is exactly what I would bring home from the grocery store, except the produce wouldn’t look as great, and I’d have to change out of my pajamas.

DTDO 1st box

Let me say here, too, that the produce tastes amazing! We have yet to bit in to something that wasn’t top rate. Even my husband, who’s not entirely on the organic bandwagon, has raved about how delicious his morning grapefruit is.

DTDO bounty

After being a subscriber for a couple of weeks, I’m not sure I ever want to shop at my local grocery store again. Door to Door Organics helps me maintain my clean eating, organic lifestyle and has made my hectic life a bit easier.

I’m so in love with this service, that I’m offering a fantastic giveaway! The kind folks at Door to Door Organics were generous enough to give one of you lucky readers a $50 gift certificate to use for their service!

For the chance to win this certificate, you’ll need to enter the Rafflecopter below by 11:59pm on Thursday, April . In order to redeem the gift certificate, you must live in Door to Door Organics delivery area, so you should first check to see if you’re in an area here: https://ohio.doortodoororganics.com/signup

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Those Door to Door Organic lovelies have also created a unique code specifically for my readers. Simply use the code FULLOFIT when subscribing to receive $10 off your first order. Again, you don’t need to live in Ohio to use the coupon code, but you will need to live within one of Door To Door Organics’ delivery area, and you can check your zip code at www.doortodoororganics.com.

This is a Door to Door Organics sponsored post, for which I received compensation.  However, all opinions are my own.

Spring Growth: New Family Music for April

There’s something sacred and fulfilling in the process of making art. As a dancer, I was always more interested in the process of making work than I was with the performance of it. Exploring a concept from different angles. Trying something, failing, then trying again. It’s the original growth mindset. For me, the journey is always a richer environment for growth and self-discovery than the final destination.

Which is why I’m so excited about two new family music releases dropping this spring. There’s something about the start of Spring that promotes new growth and development. These two albums offer deep insights in to the artists’ creative process, and it translates to a rich experience for the listener.

Spring Growth Family Music for April

frances2Frances England releases her fifth family music album, Explorer of the World, on April 1, celebrating explorations big and small.

The ten tracks on England’s latest album encourage a spirit of curiosity about not only the world at-large, but the immediate world around the listener. England inspires listeners to look around and find delight and wonder in the everyday.

England explains that the soundtrack of her hometown of San Francisco was the inspiration for this latest album, and she incorporates the actual sounds of the city in to her compositions.

Frances England ExplorerThe overarching theme of the album emphasizes the importance of looking up and around, paying attention to the world around you, both near and far, evident on the title track “Explorer of the World.” The adventurous spirit also appears on “My Street” with its fun, electronic beat, and “All the “Things I Found” (which examines the fun in keeping record of what’s been discovered).

England pays tribute to her own neighborhood in several tracks, capturing the energy of a bustling city. “City Don’t Sleep” features urban sounds that England recorded while walking late at night (think: the squawking breaks of a city bus). The tune also boasts a fun horn break, arranged by Dave Winer.

You can check out the video for “City Don’t Sleep” and other goodies from Frances England on her YouTube channel HERE.

The city life also appears on “Street Life” (with its bucket drum performer and great tuba intro), and “Ballad For a Beatboxer,” in which you can feel England’s appreciation for the skill, magic, rhythm and passion a beatboxer possesses.

“City of Hills” feels like a love song to San Francisco, mentioning famous landmarks of the city and the herald of lovely voices in the chorus. Who wouldn’t want to visit San Fran after hearing this song?

My favorite track on the album is “See What We Can See” which so purely captures the lovely simplicity of childhood adventure. The duet with Stew Peck on “Closer To You” sweetly explores different modes of transportation to get to each other.

The lullaby “Little by Little” closes out the album with its music box instrumentation, as England sings about all the things she loves about her little one and how much of the world they have left to explore together. This song hits home with me, as I love seeing the world through my kids eyes, and even the cities that I know so well look different when I visit them with my children.

Francis England’s Explorer of the World will be available April 1 on iTunes and Amazon. Be sure to follow Frances on Facebook and Twitter @FrancesEngland.

 

SFAThe Oklahoma City-based Sugar Free Allstars endeavors to “bring back the funk” in their latest released, the self-titled album Sugar Free Allstars on April 2nd.

The 11 tracks on the album traverse a diverse range of tempos as genres as Boom! (aka Cris Wiser) and Dr. Rock (aka Rob Martin) look to funk, rock and R&B recordings of the 70’s and 80’s for inspiration. Being that this is the era in which I grew up, I related to these songs in a deep, “Step aside kids and let Mommy show you how to get your groove on” kind of way.

SFA Album CoverOne of my favorite things about this album is the clever album listening guide Sugar Free Allstars has included. It identifies their influences for each song as well as things to listen for (nods to artists, certain instruments, etc.), offering an opportunity for both children and adults alike to expand their music listening palette. This insight to their song writing builds a deeper appreciation for their music and creative process.

The album starts off rocking with “Monster Truck,” which Sugar Free Allstars cites Deep Purple, 70’s easy listening and Black Sabbath as an influence. My son would have loved this when he was in his truck phase, and this track will surely be a hit with the preschool circuit. It reminds me of the Riverbottom Nightmare band from Emmitt Otter’s Jugband Christmas with its driving drums, synthesized organs and howling vocals.

The video for this track is pretty freaking cute. Wait, I probably shouldn’t say “cute” with regards to monster trucks, so I’ll say, RAD!

 

My other personal favorites on the album include “Mr DJ,” “If I Didn’t Have You,” “Grumpopotamus (and the Crankosaurus Rex),” and “Breakdancin’.”

The funky “Mr DJ,” clearly influenced by early Prince recordings, offers solutions for little ones who struggle with bedtime by suggesting they fight the urge to sleep by dancing their pajamas off. The mid-song sermon proposes crazy ideas about what parents do after kids go to bed, a clear contrast to what actually goes on.

The adorable “If I Didn’t Have You” appeals to this New Orleans native, with its Second Line vibe. Guest artist Fred Tackett, who recorded music and toured with Bob Dylan and plays with Little Feat, appears on this track that reminds me of that blues song by Clarence Henry “Ain’t Got No Home.”

If you’re a parent of a little one, you know all too well how quickly a happy kid can turn sour in a heartbeat. That transformation is the basis for the groovy “Grumpopotamus (and the Crankosaurus Rex)” featuring Genevieve Goings from Choo Choo Soul.

I think the Sugar Free Allstars and I had a similar childhood, because “Breakdancin’,” with its references to old school rap, backspins and windmills speaks to me. Now I only need to locate our old slap of linoleum to practice my moves to this track.

Another standout is the cover of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem’s “Can You Picture That?” from the original Muppet Movie. I loved this song as a kid, and this groovy, updated rendition does the original justice.

Other tracks on the album include “I Can See It Now” (exploring the idea of kids explaining what they’ve drawn), “Upside Down Town” (which starts with a great drum beat and includes a tour guide to a unique town), the big sing along “One Verse Song,” the short and sweet barbershop quartet style of “My Dog Pete,” and the closing track “BunnyBot,” featuring Beck keyboardist Roger Manning.

You can dance and groove to your own copy of the Sugar Free Allstars Sugar Free Allstars by preordering before the April 2 release on their website.  Check out what Sugar Free Allstars is up to on Facebook and Twitter @SFAS.

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!

New Family Music for February

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Ohio, this February has been pretty mild and warm. However, I know that as soon as I hit “publish” on this post, a massive winter storm will sweep in and I’ll be cursing the moment I commented on the easy weather we’ve been having.

I’m not too afraid though, because I have some great new family music releases to listen to that will warm me up, keep me calm and get me rocking hard when I get cabin fever. I’m sure it will give you and your family those warm and fuzzy feelings this Valentine’s day as well!

New Family Music for February

Heart BeatsFirst up, Mighty Mo Productions is back after their last album, Smiles Ahead, with Heart Beats: Feel Good Songs for Families, a collection of 12 lovely love songs from some of the best children’s music artists, including some of my personal favorites.

I guarantee you’ll be eager to spread love and joy to your loved ones after listening to this album. It includes a wide variety of wonderful voices in offerings of zydeco (in “Light of Love” by Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could, perfect for Mardi Gras day!), rockabilly (Katydid’s “Love My Lovely” by), lullabies (“E’s Lullaby” by Ratboy Jr.) and quirky, boppy tunes like “Because I Love You” by Caspar Babypants.

The album opens with a charming and infectious song you’ll be singing all day, “Litta Bitta” You by Andrew & Polly. The softly sweet “When One Became Two,” about a growing family, is one of my favorite tunes by the Verve Pipe, and I was delighted to hear it on this album. Jim Cosgrove, Mighty Mo’s “Chief Groove Officer” also appears on the album with Jazzy Ash in the adordable rockabilly-swing “Love Comes Back.”

Heart Beats: Feel Good Songs for Families by Mighty Mo Productions is available on their website.

 

If you’re snowed in and need something to get your body up and moving, The Not-Its! Are You Listening? can take care of that for you.

The-Not-Its-Are-You-ListeningThis Seattle band’s sixth studio album is set to release February 19th, and it’s an album that this punk rock-infused band says is inspired by their daily family life.

Drums and guitars drive this album to rock, and rock hard. What I love about The Not-Its is their commitment to creating music that is accessible to young ears without compromising their distinctly edgy sound.

Are You Listening? opens with “Dance with Me,” reminding me of Tony Basil circa “Mickey.” “Done with the Science Fair” is a song that will sound familiar to both parents and kids who have suffered the woes of a school science fair project.

“Don’t Fear the Dentist” reassures young listeners that there’s nothing to worry about when getting your teeth checked, in serious punk-rock fashion. “Washington DC” is my favorite track on the album. I love how the track starts with a tourist attraction slant, but turns halfway through the song to the importance of democracy and getting your voice heard.

My only criticism is that most of the songs on the album have roughly the same tempo, and I would have loved to hear  tackle a semi-ballad.

“Traffic Jam” provides respite from the driving music of rest of album with a lilting harmony and endearing canon of voices towards the end of the track.

The Not-Its’ Are You Listening? will be available February 19th.

 

Once you’ve rocked your hearts out and need to feel grounded, you could pop in Kira Willey’s  latest album, Mindful Moments for Kids.

mindful-momentsA yoga instructor and children’s musician, Kira Willey (also known for the enchanting tune “Colors”) has released an album that includes 30 short guided mindfulness exercises to help children manage stress, find calm moments and use mindfulness to focus their energy.

While it’s geared towards children, I have to admit that I’ve been sneaking this CD when I’m alone in the car on stressful mornings. The breathing exercises and self-awareness principles are beneficial to anyone of any age.

The album is divided in to five distinct sections: Calm, Focus, Inspire, Energize and De-stress. Each exercise is backed by music that is upbeat without being distracting, setting a intentioned mood.

Willey’s exercises encourage listeners to become aware of their breath, get in a positive mindset and let go of tension in their body through fun and imaginative imagery. The album also includes two bonus tracks: “Just Be” about relaxing and being content with yourself; and “Dance for the Sun,” in which Willey showcases the strength and pliancy of her voice as she sings through yoga sun salutations.

Kira Willey’s Mindful Moments for Kids is available on iTunes, Amazon and her website.

 

Finally, if you’re feeling nostalgic, you might want to check out Raffi’s newest album, Owl Singalong.

Raffi-OwlSingalong_CVR_RGBIf you’re reading this blog because you are the parent of young children, you’ve probably heard Raffi as a child yourself. With a career that spans over four decades, and most known for “Baby Beluga,” Raffi paved the way for children’s music, and he continues to leave his mark on the industry with his newest album.

A mix of both original tunes and cover songs, Owl Singalong weaves animal and environmental themes with Raffi’s unmistakable melodic vocals.

Young listeners will recognize songs like the classic “The More We Sing Together,” and delight in the fun animal spins to standards like the Hokey Pokey (in “Lion Pokey”) and The Wheels on the Bus (in “The Dog on the Bus”).

Two standouts on the album are “Who Hoo Could I Be” (with moments that nod to the vocals of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan) and the charming French song “Dans La Forêt Lointaine.”

Raffi’s Owl Singalong is available on iTunesAmazon and his website.

 

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!