The 2015 awards season is officially underway. The Golden Globes has come and gone and so has the annual People’s Choice Awards show. Next up is the biggest night of the year for the music industry–Grammy night. The Grammys will be broadcast live Sunday, February 8th on CBS. Obviously there are varying opinions on the legitimacy of the annual awards show. That is mainly because it focuses mainly on the mainstream acts that everyone knows about. Sadly, that leaves out the acts that really deserve some coverage, including artists and bands in the realm of children’s music. This year, a number of the bands and artists in the children’s music genre that have been nominated are also acts whose releases this critic personally reviewed throughout 2014. And in honor of their nominations, Phil’s Picks is giving away CDs from two of this year’s nominees in the Children’s music genre. Those acts are The Okee Dokee Brothers, and The Pop Ups. Both acts released albums that in their own way have proven to be anything but albums solely for children. If anything, both The Okee Dokee Brothers’ Through The Woods and The Pop Ups’ Appetite For Construction prove to be albums that are just as much for children as for their parents. And now two lucky families will get a chance to win one of those CDs courtesy of Phil’s Picks. For those that haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing either of them, a short overview of both albums follows.
Through The Woods
Through The Woods is a wonderful album not just for children but for adults, too. That’s first and foremost because of its music. It is clear that it isn’t aimed just at children. In the same vein, older audiences will recognize the likes of David Holt, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, and Hubby Jenkins of the Carolina Chocolate Drops on this record. The inclusion of older musicians, music, and lyrical themes that are aimed more at general audiences than specifically at children goes even farther to prove just how enjoyable this record is for listeners of all ages. It serves to show that Lansing and Mailander are perhaps branching out of their niche realm without alienating the parents and children that they entertained early on. It’s even more reason to applaud this album.
The music and special guest appearances on the album’s songs collectively create a solid foundation for Through The Woods. That foundation having been established, Lansing and Mailander make their latest album even more enjoyable for audiences thanks to the inclusion of a bonus companion DVD that comes with the CD. The album’s bonus DVD documents the journey undertaken by Lansing and Mailander. Along the course of their trip, the men interview a number of individuals who share the history of Appalachian/Mountain Music in their given region. As noted previously, well-known North Carolina musician David Holt is one of those individuals. He makes the interesting statement that he prefers to call Appalachian music “Mountain Music.” That’s because as he puts it, it encompasses the music of every region along the Appalachian Trail. It makes sense. The other interviews featured through the pair’s journey are just as interesting as they come from ordinary people who live along the trail. Audiences will be able to relate to these average, every day figures. And because of that ability to relate, audiences will enjoy the presentation even more.
The documentary following the Okee Dokee Brothers included on the album’s bonus DVD is a wonderful addition to the disc. It’s not all that the bonus DVD offers audiences. The Okee Dokee Brothers sweeten the deal even more by including their album in its entirety on the DVD, too. So not only do listeners get to hear Through The Woods on CD, they also get to hear it on DVD. It makes the bonus DVD that much more of a true bonus and welcome companion to the album. It seals the deal for this album that has justifiably earned itself a spot on the list of this year’s nominees for “Best Children’s Album.”
Appetite For Construction
Appetite for Construction, the latest new release from kindie-pop rock band The Pop-Ups is an interesting work. The twelve-track album from the Brooklyn, NY based band will take parents all the way back to the 1970s and 80s with its mix of sounds all while celebrating the joys of childhood with its lyrical side. That lyrical side will also entertain parents as it will take them back to their own childhoods with songs such as ‘Craft Night,’ ‘Costume Party,’ and ‘All These Shapes.’ That these songs and those not mentioned could reach audiences of so many ages and entertain them at the same time proves once more why children’s music can be and often is just as good as anything crafted specifically for grown-ups.
In ‘Craft Night’ The Pop Ups—Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein—sing about the fun of creating a picture collage. The duo sings about sitting at a table, taking those old tubes of glue, and gluing pictures to sheets of construction paper. Any grown-up that ever did this as a kid will understand and appreciate this song just as much as any child today provided schools still teach children about making collages. Any parent that ever took part in such craft making as children will be taken back in time thanks to the song’s vivid imagery provided via its lyrical content. And any children that actually still take part in such activities in schools today—apparently there are children that focus more on computer-based learning than on arts and crafts—will relate to it just as much. The addition of an old school 1970s/80s sound will entertain parents just as much. The end result is a song that as already noted, is just one prime example of what makes ‘Craft Night’ one of so many examples of the joy offered on this record.
Sitting down and making arts and crafts has been a time-honored tradition for children for generations. Hopefully it hasn’t become an entirely extinct tradition considering the increased emphasis being placed on computer-based learning in schools across the country. Just as much of a time-honored tradition among children is that of the costume party. Boys and girls alike dress up all the time. And their parents did, too. Such a tradition crossing generations, it makes for another great topic for a children’s song. Thus the aptly titled ‘Costume Party’ in which the duo sings of getting dressed up in different outfits. It’s one that both boys and girls will enjoy. That’s because there’s mention of girls getting dressed up in princess dresses and of boys getting dressed in a relative’s clothes. That set against the song’s 80s pop vibe will help the song to connect both with kids and their parents. Speaking of 80s pop, parents that grew up in the 80s will also appreciate the equally creative ‘All These Shapes.’ That song is one more piece from this album that serves as a solid example of what audiences have to expect from this record.
‘All These Shapes’ is another piece that is set against a 1980s era sound for all the grown-up children of the 80s out there. Stein and Rabinowitz sing in this song about all the possible things that could be drawn from the shapes. Parents will appreciate how this song really encourages thinking and creativity. And they will also appreciate that in its own right, that emphasis on creativity makes the song itself creative. It’s just one more piece that shows the extent of creativity and originality that fills this record. There are nine other tracks that display that creativity and originality just as much as this song and those previously noted. Audiences will be able to hear those songs for themselves when Appetite for Construction is released next month.
All three songs are prime examples of what makes Appetite for Construction worth the listen by both children and their parents. And together with the album’s other works the album in whole has also justifiably made a solid case for its nomination to this year’s Grammy category of the Year’s Best New Children’s albums, just as The Okee Dokee Brothers’ Through The Woods. Regardless of who takes this year’s trophy, it can be said that both acts are equally qualified and deserving of the title. They are yet more proof of why children’s music is just as good as music for adults if not more so. For that mater it proves to be just as enjoyable for adults as for children.
Before the Grammys goes live February 8th, Phil’s Picks will give away one copy of each album Friday, January 30th. One family will win a copy of one album while the other will win the other. It is up to the winning families which CD they want when they win. The winning families’ names will be drawn Friday, January 30th at 5pm ET and their names will be announced on the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks. Any family that wants the chance to win one of these CDs need only go to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page, “Like” it and write on the Phil’s Picks FB page, noting that they want to enter for a chance at one of the CDs. It’s that simple. So don’t let this chance to win a Grammy nominated band slip away. Enter now! Spread the word and good luck!
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