Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ben's Final Playlist of 2017 - Thursday, December 28, 2017

I Feel Better – Caspar Babypants
Solar Flares – Mo Phillips
Feels Like Summer – Weezer
That's My Style – The Bazillions
Me On The Map – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Must Be This Tall – Justin Roberts
Have Some Fun Out There – David Tobocman

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Matt's Final Playlist of 2017 - Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Despacito (feat. Daddy Yankee) – Luis Fonsi
Hey Jude – Caspar Babypants
ABC – Jackson 5
One – Aaron Nigel Smith
Dodgeball – Justin Roberts
Dog Park –
Jack Forman

Monday, December 25, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song) (Featuring Sonia De Los Santos, Elena Moon Park, & José Joaquin Garcia) – Dan Zanes & Friends
Do You Talk To Yourself – Dean Jones
Forever Young – Andrew & Polly
Lost And Loving It – Kepi Ghoulie
Loving & Kind – Aaron Nigel Smith
What Lovers Do – Maroon 5 Feat. SZA
Your Happy Place – Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam

We Deserve a Justice League of Our Own

DC Comics created a slate of superheroes almost 100 years ago. Marvel Comics and their characters are half as old. Yet seniority does not equate to supremacy when it comes to the cinematic achievements of their respective rosters.

Having recently seen JUSTICE LEAGUE, I walked out with more a sense of fatigue and frustration. The movie seemed to have been built to serve many masters and wound up pleasing no one. A tease here and there (Superman racing the Flash) but mostly a series of ponderous events tenuously tied together. Set pieces and action sequences so slipshod and seemingly random that you wonder why they even bothered to put "Superman" and "Batman" into this movie.

Whereas Marvel Studios, with its grand scheme and 10-year long-term plan, does exactly the opposite. Starting with an almost marginal player in IRON MAN, they have managed to foment expectations and give people what they want, while still intoxicating even the hardest hearts of critics. Whether it's all right, like THE AVENGERS or even half-right, like THE AVENGERS 2, Marvel has employed the right people at the right time delivering the right product.

My kids sat there blankly for most of JUSTICE LEAGUE. For the first 30 minutes, it's almost comprehensible unless you are a hardcore fan. Which my seven-year-old is not. Then when the "connective tissue" of the movie starts to come together, there are still tangents – like the unnamed Russian farm family – who serve little purpose and could have been eliminated in their entirety except for needing to be saved near the conclusion.

And the characters' personalities seem to have been determined by a focus group – Cyborg is angry and confused. Aquaman is a loner. The Flash is a motor-mouth kid with a chip on his shoulder. Wonder Woman is luminous and above the fray. Batman is, well, not Christian Bale. Superman is dead and loving it. Then alive and loving it. When they come together in different iterations, there is sporadic chemistry. But lots of glowering, followed by smirks and smiles when they save the day. Suddenly everyone's friends. Including a fist-bump and two scenes setting up the sequel.

Contrast this to what felt like almost organic interactions between the Avengers and their villains – the Hulk throwing around Loki in their first meeting. Then, a few films later, Hulk throws around Thor the same way and Loki gets to laugh at the turnaround. Even if you're not a hardcore fan, and you didn't see the first film, you understand his reaction from the relationships. None of that is given enough time to breathe in JUSTICE LEAGUE – and it's still over two hours long!

Understandably, since half the team doesn't have their own tentpole movies yet, JUSTICE LEAGUE is kind of a placeholder. But Henry Cavill has already played Superman in four films. Ben Affleck walked away from directing another standalone Batman film, so he's already bored with the role (if not with the money to star in it). I wanted to like JUSTICE LEAGUE. I badly wanted to walk out and say how it took me back to how I felt when I first read these characters decades ago. Ultimately though, it remained a tease... Just as SUPERMAN VS BATMAN was a tease. Warner Brothers better get serious about straightening their House of DC film division. I'm just one fan, but we've had another teasing with these iconic characters.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 19, 2017

Cow Cow Yippee – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Have Some Fun Out There – David Tobocman
Jersey Dinosaurs – Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam
Help Me Out – Maroon 5 & Julia Michaels
You're The Best Thing About Me – U2
Beautiful Trauma – P!nk

Quick Hits: Groovy Purple Fox, Para-Dox's Santa Song

When you think about San Francisco and music, people of a certain age (ahem) automatically drift to tie-dyed shirts and bell bottom jeans. Purple Fox and the Heebie-Jeebies do nothing to dispel this legend with the cover of their first CD, MY PURPLE FOX. However once you're inside, you learn that they're more about the funk. And there's even some vocoder on the title track.

Sounding very much like a West Coast version of AudraRox, Purple Fox raps "I Got Mad Style" with brassy horns and seems to love the concept of infinity, with two songs – "123 Infinity" and "I Love You, Infinity." There's a little Secret Agent 23 Skidoo in "Red Hot Lava" and the adjacent "Red Hot Hot Rod" will get your youngsters' dance engines revving.

There are 10 musicians credited with making the funktastic sounds of Purple Fox. But focal vocalist Josh Friedman is the main man (recorded in his studio). When you think of red and blue and white tinsel this holiday season, also think of a little tie-dye and some funky foxes.

MY PURPLE FOX is available from Purple Fox and the Heebie-Jeebies' website, Soundcloud, CDBaby, Amazon, and iTunes.

Something's going on with Uncle Dox...  Just in time for the holidays, he's decided to re-write Camila Cabello's "Havana" for the Christmas holiday. In its place... behold "Santa Claus." The video is here for all the enjoy. And for all who enjoy, a happy holiday daze for you. You can also get Dox's music at Bandcamp.

Monday, December 18, 2017

It's All Ridiculous Nonsense to Mil's Trills

Amelia Robinson is ridiculous. She also sings about nonsense. Now, in addition to all that, she is giving herself one hell of a Google search combination with the release of her third children's music CD as Mil's Trills with RIDICULOUS NONSENSE.

Amelia knows that too much curiosity killed the cat. But the coolest cats and kittens must retain a little curiosity about the silly world around them. To that end, RIDICULOUS NONSENSE delivers "Stale Bread," "Lost Sock," and "Swallowed A Bug."

Kids über-producer Dean Jones helms RIDICULOUS NONSENSE and provides serious fun and delightful unpredictability with noises and instrumentation. The funky "Globals" starts with a list of different "balls" before getting to its stated purpose. Then back to the balls. The CD finishes with the mellow punch of "You Are A Star" and "Love the Music," with sweet harmonies on the chorus:

I love the music
Right now we all could use it

It's tough being a kid and Mil's Trills tackles the hard topics on "Put Your Pants On" and "Make Some Noise," which begs for some czarist Russian dancers in its video. There's also the power of positivity with "This Is My Body," which bristles against the mantra of "eat healthy and exercise." You can't really body shame these days, but Amelia was part of Michelle Obama's "Partnership for a Healthier America" and really, if it's your body you can be proud of it, but do whatever you can to stay in shape. Rant over.

Based on what's going on in Washington, there's room for RIDICULOUS NONSENSE for all of us, down to the smallest tot. Amelia Robinson and Mil's Trills have signed on. Register your vote by clicking through and deliberating on how wonderful it is to be ludicrous and laughable and love your kids.

RIDICULOUS NONSENSE is available on January 21 from Mil's Trills website, Amazon, Bandcamp, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the song, "Say Hey!"

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 15, 2017

Cold (feat. Future) – Maroon 5
Must Be This Tall – Justin Roberts
Window – Gustafer Yellowgold
People Watching – Dean Jones
Calling All the Kids to the Yard – Cat Doorman
The Only One – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
New Pair Of Shoes – The Bazillions

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 14, 2017

How Lucky We Are – Justin Roberts
Do You Talk To Yourself – Dean Jones
I Love The Night – Gustafer Yellowgold
Rock Island Line (Featuring Billy Bragg) – Dan Zanes & Friends
Visions – Maroon 5
It's A Wonderful Life – Kepi Ghoulie

Quick Hits: Billy Kelly, NY Family Music Showcase & Brady Rymer Videos

Children's comedian/musician (how's that for a specific hyphenate) Billy Kelly returns to Symphony Space this weekend with a whole spanking new show (and no spanking). Join Bill on Sat., December 16 at 11:00 am at Symphony Space’s Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre. Tickets are a mere $14 and $17.

PR maven Stephanie Mayers is promoting an all-ages family showcase on Sunday, January 14 at Manhattan's Rockwood Music Hall. Performing acts from her talent roster include Falu’s Bazaar, JoJo & The Pinecones, Billy Kelly (him again?), Lard Dog & The Band of Shy, KB Whirly, Gustafer Yellowgold, the Bilingual Birdies Band, The Pop Ups, and Michael & The Rockness Monsters. Tickets are available for the low, low price of $10 – per family!

Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could have a second Hanukkah video, "Rainbow Candles," that celebrates the holiday. It's direct from their recent CD, REVVIN' UP THE REINDEER. You can get that CD here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Peace Be To All – Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
Forever Young – Andrew & Polly
Summer's Here – The Bazillions
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
Rattlesnake – Caspar Babypants
Mystery – Dean Jones
To and Fro – Cat Doorman

Quick Hits: Saul Paul Raps Acoustic, Rymer Hails Hanukkah

Kid hop is hot. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is the reigning Grammy award winner for children's music with his 2016 CD, INFINITY PLUS ONE. The Alphabet Rockers seek to make the subgenre a repeat winner with their 2017 nominated CD, RISE. And Austin, Texas rapper SaulPaul is next in line (although not a nominee) with his new release, WE DREAM IN 3D.

SaulPaul calls himself a musician with a message and WE DREAM IN 3D celebrates imagination (the title track), movement ("Texas Two Step" and "Do That Hula Hoop"), and family ("Mama"). The disc checks in a a crisp 27 minutes. The standout track, "Rise," features 11-year-old vocalist Alexia Finney, although closing tune "Si Se Puede (Yes We Can)" is right there with it.

There's a whole world in SaulPaul's music and a goodly portion of it is locked inside the heads of its intended listeners. If your kids have already enjoyed some kid hop or if you want a friendly "gateway" act, give 'em a little SaulPaul for the holidays.

WE DREAM IN 3D is available on Amazon and iTunes.

The pride of Long Island, Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, greet the first night of the festival of lights with the video to their new song, "Hanukkah Rocks." It's another lyric video, but you get to singalong, so that's a bonus. Bring the kids – it's a reading test as well!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 11, 2017

White Whale – Kepi Ghoulie
One Day By The Riverside – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
One After 909 – Caspar Babypants
Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song) (Featuring Sonia De Los Santos, Elena Moon Park, & José Joaquin Garcia) – Dan Zanes & Friends
Solar Flares – Mo Phillips
Fly Like A Bird – Dean Jones

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Fresh Spokes (Featuring Susan Lapidus) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
Do You Talk To Yourself – Dean Jones
New Pair Of Shoes – The Bazillions
Free Couch – Caspar Babypants
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama
Washington, DC – The Not-Its!
Dodgeball – Justin Roberts

Friday, December 01, 2017

Quick Hits: Holiday Songs from Laurie Berkner, LARD Dog, Uncle Dox

For adults, there's Oprah. The one-word wonder that everyone knows.

For the under-five set, there's Laurie. As in Laurie Berkner and the Laurie Berkner Band.

And for those kids (and their older siblings, relatives, and parents), there's a new holiday single, "Jingle Bell (Remix)" to be downloaded ($1.29 on iTunes).

 You can click through and hear the song. Or dance to the whole song. What can I say? It's one whole wholesome song, courtesy of the new "A Laurie Berkner Christmas Album." For that. you can click here.

LARD Dog and the Band of Shy are concluding their "Song of the Month" program with December's "Christmas Time Is A Wonderful Time." Kudos to LARD (Steven Erdman) and his cast of characters for walking the fine line between sublime and silly in 2017 with their songs. The year wraps up with a merry blast of 60s style power-pop done a la LARD. Where do they go in 2018? One can only imagine!

Uncle Dox is debuting free music singles this month, starting with "Snow Day." It's different than the other iterations of the song with the same title by several artists (Justin Roberts among others). The tune has a perky rap beat here with kids gleefully singing the refrain "Snow Day! Lets' celebrate!Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and Facebook.
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