The Not Its’ New LP Will Have Listeners Raising Their Own Hands And Singing Along

Courtesy:  Little Loopy Records

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

The latest release from kindie-rock band The Not-Its is an album that will have both the band’s young audiences and their parents raising their hands and singing along with this fun new record. Parents and children alike will enjoy this fifteen-song album thanks both to its poppy tunes and their equally fun themes. The whole thing is anchored by a song that is sure to impress any parent in the form of the retrospective ‘Hey 80s.’ The song asks what happened to the era that many consider to be one of the best in America’s rich history. There’s also the playful opener ‘Funniest Cat Videos’ that pokes fun at all the cat videos currently making their way around the internet. And ‘Nose in a Book’ celebrates literacy, much like that of fellow kindie-rocker Mister G’s latest album, The Bossy E. There is also a song that emphasizes manners in the album’s title track and plenty of purely playful songs along the way, too. Whether it be for those songs or for those more specifically noted here, there is plenty on this record to have listeners of all ages raising their hands happily and singing along.

So much kindie-rock tends to be aimed primarily at younger audiences. Yes, there are some songs and bands out there that offer something for parents specifically. But they are few and far between. Enter The Not-Its’ song ‘Hey 80s.’ This song is for many parents, a fond homage to an era that they would consider to be one of the best in America’s rich history. Lead vocalist Sarah Shannon sings fondly of that era as she sings, “Hey 80s/Where’d you go so fast/You are my past/And I gotta make you last/I know somewhere/With my baby I’ll share/All my stories, old glories/I know you’re gonna care about neon tutus twirling so pretty in pink/Lucky Star was playing at the roller skating rink/I can’t solve this rubik’s Who am I gonna call?” And yes, she even references directly The Ghostbusters from here, as well as Donkey Kong, Bill Cosby’s famed sweaters, MTV and Michael Jackson’s moonwalking among much more. It’s essentially a musical love letter to an era gone by. Any parent that happened to grow up in the 80s (such as this critic) will most definitely appreciate this poppy song and be thankful for its inclusion on the album.

‘Hey 80s’ is a great piece that any parent and product of the 80s will appreciate. It’s not the only one that they’ll appreciate on this record, either. Any parent that denies having ever scoured YouTube and Facebook for the latest crazy cat video is not telling the truth. Remember kids, it’s not good to note tell the truth! The album’s opener, ‘Funniest Cat Videos’ playfully pokes fun at the whole fad that is people posting videos of their cats online. Shannon sings in this piece that even the cat gave the subject of the song a look that sent a direct message. She sings, “Followed her around with my camera phone/She looked back at me as if to say go spend your time in a better way.” From here, the subject of the song exhibits what is likely the same behavior of all the people trying to get their fifteen minutes of online fame as she sings, “I tried to make the funniest cat video/I tried and tried but it didn’t turn out right/I guess I’ve got to accept the fact that/I tried and tried but she’s just not funny.” It would be no surprise if some listeners have friends or family that have done exactly what the subject of this song tried to do. The reality of that situation only makes this song all the funnier both for parents and children alike, but especially for parents.

The parent friendly songs included on Raise Your Hand are but two examples of what makes this album so enjoyable for listeners of all ages. It’s nice to hear songs aimed more at grown-ups than just at younger listeners on this record, especially since most kindie-rock is aimed mainly at younger listeners. This album has its own share of music for kids, too of course. Case in point ‘Nose in a Book.’ This song celebrates childhood literacy. And as with Mr. G’s new album The Bossy E, this song is an especially welcome opus considering the fact that young people are increasingly turning to the digital world even for books rather than just cracking open a good book. As Shannon sings here, her subject is devoted to reading. The only problem is it causes its share of problems. It causes her subject to run into a friend by accident. It makes her subject’s parents try to get said individual to go to sleep. And her subject is even reprimanded by a teacher for reading so much. Even through it all the subject of the song defies everyone and everything. As Shannon sings of her subject, “I don’t know if I’ve got a new disease/Maybe they’ll name it after me/Cuz I can’t stop reading-I won’t stop reading.” She goes onto sing of the joys of getting from chapter to chapter in a book, thus ending the song. That focus on childhood literacy is such a welcome addition to this and any album. There are so many children out there that can’t read and parents that won’t encourage their children to read. It’s a sad situation, the increasing reliance on technology aside. Keeping that in mind, this song becomes an increasingly welcome addition to Raise Your Hand. Along with the other songs noted here, and those not discussed, it is one more piece that will have listeners of all ages raising their own hands and singing happily along.

Raise Your Hand is available in stores and online now. Fans can also purchase Raise Your Hand now at any of The Not Its’ live performances. The band is currently on tour in support of its new album. It will be at the Steamboat Springs Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado June 24th. The band’s most current tour schedule is listed online at http://www.wearethenot-its.com. Audiences can also check out the band’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/TheNotIts for all of the latest news from the band. To keep up with all of the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Desert Island Disc Twice As Nice As Deep Sea Diver

Courtesy:  Waldmania PR/Recess Monkey

Courtesy: Waldmania PR/Recess Monkey

Recess Monkey has done it again.  This Seattle, WA based trio of teachers released early in 2013 an album that is without a doubt one of the year’s best children’s albums in Deep Sea Diver.  Now mere months later, the men of Recess Monkey have released yet another impressive new album in the form of Desert Island Disc.

Desert Island Disc is not entirely different from Deep Sea Diver.  Its overall sound though, is noticeably different from that album.  The overall feel of the album is different, too.  And it is that combination of a different sound and feel that makes for a good starting point with this record.  Where the sound and feel of Deep Sea Diver was perfectly linked to its nautical theme, so does the sound and feel of Desert Island Disc follow its more tropical, “beachy” theme.  The album’s opener, ‘Coconut Radio’ is a perfect example of that more tropical, “beachy” theme.  The ukulele, strings, and bongos together backing singer Drew Holloway will instantly conjure thoughts of a sun-drenched tropical island a la Gilligan’s Island (only parents would get that reference).  It will have no problem having young listeners (and maybe their own parents) dancing hula style to the music and singing along.  Making this song even more enjoyable and funny is the mini-cartoon included in the CD’s packaging explaining how to make a coconut radio.  The figure in the instructions must have known the Professor pretty well to be able to construct his own coconut radio ba-dump-bump-bump.

‘Coconut Radio’ is a fun kickoff for Desert Island Disc.  It is in fact just the beginning of the album’s fun.  Along with its generally fun songs, Recess Monkey also has maintained its reputation of including positive lyrical content in with that fun music.  A key example is the equally tropical and “beachy” ‘Trailblazer.’  By itself, ‘Trailblazer’ is another fun song that matches the album’s overall theme.  Lyrically, it’s just as family friendly as it serves to build up young listeners’ self-confidence.  Holloway sings in the song, “You are a trailblazer/You’re gonna find your path/You leap and you sing now/You make us smile and laugh!/You make us, make us, make us smile and laugh…Dream your dreams/And/You’re gonna find your way/Around the world alright.”  Recess Monkey isn’t the only band to craft inspirational songs.  But it can be said that in terms of originality in bringing inspirational messages to young listeners, Recess Monkey is one of the most original acts to do so.  And for that fact alone, the band and its new album deserves even more credit.

The positive messages and fun music work in tandem throughout Desert Island Disc.  They are not just there in the already noted.  The band offers its young listeners plenty of choices from which to choose in terms of songs that are both fun and empowering for its listeners.  For instance, who but this quirky trio could write a song about a hermit crab and actually make it a fun song that can be taken for the fun opus that it is?  Exactly.  There are also songs about appreciating the little things in life such as sea glass in ‘My Treasure’ and the one downside of playing in the sun; sunburn.  Parents will especially enjoy this song with its obvious Beach Boys influence.  They are just a tiny extra sample of what parents and children can expect from Recess Monkey on its new album.

The band is currently touring in support of Desert Island Disc and its companion piece, Deep Sea Diver.  So parents and children will get to hear some of the band’s new music before the album is available when they go to see the band live.  The band will be in Everett, Washington this Saturday morning performing at the annual Peps-A-Palooza.  It will perform alongside The Not-Its and Caspar Babypants among others.  And then next Tuesday, the band will perform for the Mercer Island Preschool Association in Mercer Island, Washington.  More dates are scheduled from here.  Parents can check and see if Recess Monkey will be coming to their town on the band’s official website, http://www.recessmonkeytown.com.  And fans can also keep up with all of the latest news from the band on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/recessmonkeytown.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Not-Its! New LP Fun For Kids AND Parents

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

The members of Seattle, WA’s The Not-Its! are back once again.  This kid friendly quintet has produced in its fourth new release an album that is unlike any other children’s album out there right now.  Kidquake is a semi-pop punk record that will appeal both to parents and to kids with its rhythms and its lyrics.  From the very moment that the album is unwrapped, listeners automatically are presented with the album’s first positive.  That positive is that the album is presented in a gatefold package.  And printed in each fold are the full lyrics to each song on the album.  This allows parents and kids alike to follow along with each song and even talk about each one as the album proceeds thanks to this.  This is an excellent first impression whether one is new to the music of the Not-Its! or not.  From here, the positives keep coming in the form of the album’s set list.       

The album’s opener and title track instantly grabs listeners with its kid friendly pop punk vibe as vocalist Sarah Shannon sings, “I wonder if you ever get the feeling/From your head down to your toes/Wanna get up, keep your body moving/Kids have a power no one knows/Shake, shake, shake/Kidquake/Kidquake/We’ve got the power to move any mountain/No way to keep this power down.”  Shannon is singing here about the power in every child.  That’s made especially clear as she sings, “So when you’re feeling down like the world is moving too fast/You gotta tap into that molten kid core and make it last/There’s a seismic shift you’re gonna feel all over the world/There’s an energy we’ve got to set it free c’mon every boy and girl.”  If this mix of positive lyrics and up-tempo music doesn’t get any young listener moving, nothing will.  It’s a great first impression for this album.  And in an age when there’s so much emphasis on getting kids moving and keeping them fit, this song is a great way to get kids active right off the bat.

Parents will appreciate the album’s opener as it encourages kids to get moving.  They’ll also appreciate it for its catchy hooks and melodies.  Just as they’ll appreciate this song, parents will especially appreciate the song, ‘Busy.’  What parent hasn’t felt bogged down trying to get their child(ren) ready for school while they themselves are trying to get ready for work in the morning?  This song expertly exemplifies exactly what every parent feels in this all too common case.  The ska style music base gets the frantic energy across all by itself.  Shannon’s equally frantic vocals make the song even more believable as she sings, “The alarm clock, didn’t go off and now we’re late/Grab your backpack and your lunch box no time to waste/Where is your left shoe?  What are we gonna do?/The baby’s barking, the dog is screaming/The school bell’s ringing/(we gotta go) Where are the keys?/(we gotta go) Who’s gotta pee?/We gotta go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go………….”  Parents will laugh at the confusion between the baby and the dog.  Any parent will agree that that kind of confusion really does happen.  The comic element of the song makes this another highlight.  But it’s the song’s chorus that really makes the song hit home for parents.  Shannon and her band mates sing in the song’s chorus, “We need to just Slow down! Slow down! Slow down!/We’re just too busy”  That couldn’t be more true.  It seems that we’ve always got so much on our plate.  Sometimes parents just need to slow down and take a break.  The chorus comes across in a semi-comical manner.  But there’s a much more serious side to that chorus, too.  And any parent will agree with that, again, proving just how impressive an addition this song is to this album.

‘Busy’ and the album’s title track are both great additions to the brand new release from The Not-Its!  They’re just a part of what makes this album so enjoyable for parents and kids alike.  There are songs about the joy of skateboarding, playing pinball, Rock Paper Scissors, and even the tumult of a child’s temper tantrum just to name a few other topics included in this LP.  Whether for these songs or the song, ‘Operation Cooperation’, which teaches the importance of working together, kids and adults have more than enough to enjoy out of this album with every listen.  The band is currently touring in support of its new album.  So kids and their parents will get their chance to see the band live now.  The band will be performing this Saturday, February 16th in New York City and then in Philadelphia, PA on the 17th.  Those shows will be followed by a pair of dates in the nation’s capitol on the 18th and 19th.  Parents can get the full information on these upcoming shows and lots more when they visit the band’s website, http://www.wearethenot-its.com.     

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.