The Okee Dokee Brothers’ New LP Is Another Great New Musical Adventure

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

First, they canoed the length of the Mississippi River.  Then they hiked the entire Appalachian Trail.  Now The Okee Dokee Brothers have returned with yet another new adventure and collection of songs to boot in the form of their new album Saddle Up.  The album, the duo’s third full-length release, will be available in stores and online next Friday, May 13th via the duo’s own label Okee Dokee Music.  Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the Okee Dokee Brothers audiences of all ages will find themselves getting hooked on the music made by these musical “brothers” on their latest LP.  That is because Lansing and Mailander have once again given audiences something familiar without repeating themselves musically and lyrically.  They will also find themselves just as riveted by the pair’s adventure along the length of the Great Divide presented in the album’s companion DVD.   The album’s companion booklet plays just as much of a part in the album’s presentation as its DVD and its new offering of songs.  It is presented in the same journal style format as the booklets that were included in the duo’s previous albums.  While it is nothing new for the Okee Dokee Brothers, it is still a fun, welcome sight and addition to the album’s presentation.  Together with the album’s DVD and its music, all three elements combine to make this album one of the year’s best family records, one of the best of the year’s new country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana, and one of the year’s best new albums overall.

Saddle Up is one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is also one of the year’s top new family albums and one of the best among the ranks of the year’s new country, bluegrass, folk and Americana offerings.  One reason for this is the fact that Mailander and Lansing have managed to craft another original record that boasts the duo’s familiar mix of said genres without repeating themselves once again.  This applies not only to the album’s musical content but that of its lyrical themes, too.  The album’s lead single ‘Jackalope’ is a prime example of how Lansing and Mailander have managed to keep things familiar yet fresh on this album.  In regards to its musical content, the song boasts a clear Johnny Cash influence thanks to the pair’s guitar work.  That simple two-chord progression that serves as this song’s foundation also served as the base for nearly every single song that Johnny Cash ever recorded over the course of his career.  Given, there were songs that didn’t utilize it.  But by and large, those familiar with Cash’s work will agree just how commonplace it was in his work.  It is a sound that the dup had not presented in its previous efforts.  So to that end, the music here shows why it is an important part of the album’s presentation.  In terms of the song’s lyrical content, it is original to say the least.  Who but the Okee Dokee Brothers could write a song about a mythical (or is it?) creature and actually succeed in doing so in the process?  The song itself is just one part of what makes the song’s lyrical content so important.  The secondary message of having something to believe in makes the song even richer in terms of its lyrics.

‘Jackalope’ is just one example of what makes Saddle Up’s general content so important to its presentation.  It is just one example for that matter.  ‘Somos Amigos’ can also be cited as an example of the importance of the album’s content.  Mailander and Lansing delve into the world of Mexican music in this piece.  The guys are joined by Carlos Medina and his friends for the song which mixes Mailander and Lansing ’s own sound with that of the traditional accordion-driven sound of so much Mexican music.  Yet again these are waters that The Okee Dokee Brothers have never actually waded into before.  They succeeded just as much here as with the case of ‘Jackalope.’  And again that success shows at least musically why this album is so enjoyable.  Moving on to the song’s lyrical content, the song is centered on the message of friendship.  The group presents the Spanish word for friend—Amigo—and even have Medina and company join in to sing of the importance of friendship.  It isn’t the pair’s first time presenting a message of friendship in its music.  It is, however, the first time that Mailander and Lansing have presented the familiar message in the format used here.  Considering this, the combination of the two elements here makes this song yet another example of what makes Saddle Up’s general content so important to its presentation.  It still is not the last example of what makes the album’s presentation overall so enjoyable either.  ‘Cow Cow Yippee’ is one more example of what makes this album’s musical and lyrical content so important to its presentation.

‘Jackalope’ and ‘Somos Amigos’ are both clear examples of what makes Saddle Up another album from The Okee Dokee Brothers that will make listeners of all ages want to saddle up with the guys for this musical adventure.  They are hardly the only songs that could be cited in showing what makes this album’s musical and lyrical content so important to its presentation.  ‘Cow Cow Yippee’ is one more example of the importance of the album’s lyrical and musical content.  In regards to its musical content, this song stands out from every one of the album’s other offerings.  Musically, it mixes Dixieland elements with a classic country western sound for a song that stands out just as much as anything else on this record.  As a matter of fact, those that are familiar with American Public Media’s beloved radio variety program A Prairie Home Companion will find this musical mix to be very similar to much of the music presented on said program.  The same can be said of the song’s silly lyrics and the duo’s delivery of said lyrics.  Lyrically, the song is just a fun, nonsensical work about cattlemen (not cowboys) and life on the range.  The half sung, half spoken delivery of the song’s family friendly lyrics makes one think of APC’s beloved cowhands Dusty and Lefty.  Whether or not this was intentional is anyone’s guess.  But the similarity is there and it is undeniable.  It is a great comparison, too.  Once again keeping this in mind, it shows yet again why the general musical and lyrical content presented in Saddle Up is so important to the album’s overall presentation.  It shows the duo’s ability yet again to write serious songs, silly, songs, and songs somewhere in between both musically and lyrically.  That is clear not just in this song and the previously noted compositions but in every one of the album’s offerings.  Now, keeping this in mind, the musical and lyrical content is just one part of what makes Saddle Up such a fun family record.  The record’s companion DVD is just as important to its presentation as its general content.

The musical and lyrical content that makes up the main body of Saddle Up is in its own right extremely important to the album’s overall presentation.  Even as important as it is to the album’s presentation its fifteen total tracks are just a portion of what makes the album so enjoyable.  The album’s companion DVD proves to be just as important to the album’s presentation as its musical and lyrical content.  That is because of its own content.  Over the course of the DVD’s run time viewers are taken along with The Okee Dokee Brothers on their horseback journey up the Great Divide.  Viewers get to see many of the sights that they saw.  They get to see some of the people that they interviewed and with whom they recorded songs.  For that matter viewers even get to see Mailander and Lansing as they write and work up their own songs along the way.  It’s all in rain and shine.  The journey in itself is so enjoyable to watch because audiences actually see that Mailander and Lansing did indeed make the trip.  On another level it serves as a reminder of the beauty of America ’s national parks.  So one could actually argue to that extent that the DVD serves not only as a way for audiences to join The Okee Dokee Brothers on their voyage but also as a video postcard of sorts showing people all of the great places that they can visit with their families.  This dual purpose (intentional or not) approach in the album’s DVD shows in full why it is just as important to the album as the album’s general content.  It is still not the last important element to note of the album.  The album’s companion booklet rounds out the album’s presentation.

The songs that make up the body of Saddle Up and the album’s companion DVD are both key elements in the album’s overall presentation.  The songs present yet another healthy mix of country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana that thankfully doesn’t repeat the songs from the Okee Dokee Brothers’ previous albums.  Their lyrical content is just as entertaining and engaging with topics that range from the serious to the downright silly and all points in-between.  The album’s companion takes viewers along for the ride with Mailander and Lansing.  It also serves as a video postcard of sorts for viewers, reminding viewers of the beauty of America’s national parks.  For all of the value that the DVD and the songs present to this new album, they are not the only important pieces of the album’s whole.  The album’s companion booklet proves to be just as important to its presentation as the previously noted elements.  Just as with the duo’s previous albums, this album’s companion booklet is presented (and even titled) in the format of a Field Journal.  The whole thing opens with a note from the guys that it presents excepts from the pair’s journals that they kept during their trip.  Each excerpt is entertaining in its own right; just as entertaining as the songs themselves.  Case in point the excerpt for ‘Good Old Times.’  The excerpt shares a number of flashes from their lives growing up such as: Joe eating a worm, Justin falling off of a sled, and Joe’s wedding.  The pair notes at the end of the passage the joy of reliving those memories as adults, which is exactly what the song is about.  ‘One Horsepower’ presents another great excerpt in the booklet.  One of the guys notes in this passage that, “Grandpa always said, “Who needs a 200 horsepower engine when you can just have the horse!””  Yet again it is a simplistic explanation of the song’s topic.  But again that simplicity and light hearted approach makes this excerpt so fun to read.  The same can be said of any of the other passages presented in the booklet.  Regardless of which one audiences choose, every one of the passes will put a smile on audiences’ faces  in its own way.  That smile will grow even more when audiences take in the album’s featured songs and the adventure presented in the album’s companion DVD.  All things considered Saddle Up proves in the long run to be a musical adventure that audiences will want to take time and again.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ new album Saddle Up is a musical adventure that listeners of all ages will want to take time and again, just as with the “brothers’” previous pair of recordings.  That is thanks in part to the mix of musical and lyrical material presented throughout the album’s fifteen total songs.  The music presents a wide mix of country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana from beginning to end.  The songs’ lyrical themes range from the serious to the downright silly.  The album’s companion DVD takes audiences along with the “brothers” for their latest adventure.  It also serves as a video postcard of sorts for audiences, reminding audiences of the beauty that lies across America.  The album’s companion booklet adds even more enjoyment to the album with its passages lifted directly from the field journals that Mailander and Lansing kept during their journey.  Each element proves to be truly important in its own right to the whole of Saddle Up’s presentation.  Altogether, they make this album yet another solid offering from The Okee Dokee Brothers and a musical adventure that every listener will want to take himself or herself time and again.  It will be available in stores and online next Friday, May 13th.  More information on Saddle Up is available online along with all of The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.okeedokee.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/okeedokeebros

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OkeeDokeeBros

 

 

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Lishy Lou and Lucky Too Another Contender For One Of 2013’s Best Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  Sugar Mountain PR

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band return next Tuesday with the group’s third full length studio release.  Lishy Lou and Lucky Too! The L.A. based five-piece’s new album comes only months after the release of its first ever EP, fantastico!  It is yet another fun and original release from Lucky and company.  Even more, it serves as more proof of what makes children’s albums just as viable as “grown-up” albums if not more so.  That is primarily because much like so many other children’s acts, the band has managed to come up with a new sound on each of its albums so far.  Even its sole EP bears a style and sound different from its previous pair of full length releases.  It has continued that tradition with this album, too opting for something unlike any other children’s or grown-up act.

Lishy Lou and Lucky Too! Is nothing like fantastico! or its previous full length releases.  This time, the band takes listeners of all ages way back in time.  It goes back to the golden days of broadcasting when radio was the only means of broadcast entertainment for audiences.  It does this with its own family friendly “radio comedy.”  For those that perhaps might not know, the days of radio broadcasting “saw” some of the greatest ever programming make its debut.  And the “show” put on by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is just as entertaining as any original family friendly radio show put on during that great era.  It might be a bit of a stretch, but the closest comparison that can be made in this era is perhaps to that of PRI’s (Public Radio International) “A Prairie Home Companion.”   Those that are familiar with that landmark radio show are welcome to debate that comparison.  That’s just the view of this critic.  Perhaps for those that are not so familiar with the work of Garrison Keillor and company, maybe this review will be the catalyst to get said individuals interested not just in this new album, but also in “A Prairie Home Companion” and other public radio programs.

The overall presentation of Lishy Lou and Lucky Too! is wonderful fun for the entire family.  The jokes are groaners, obviously.  That’s not a bad thing.  Any grownup that allows themselves to do so will find them such groaners that they’ll laugh at them, much like those told by Svengoolie’s rubber chicken friend, Kerwyn (BERWYN!).  Any Me-TV fans will get that reference.  The jokes aren’t all that audiences will appreciate in this new record.  The introduction of new characters Pockets, Time Travelling Tina, Milt, Alistair, and Chantal is a great touch to the record.  New friend Pockets is a wonderful throwback to the late great Harpo Marx.  He only talks through sound.  And his skits are among the funniest on the entire album.  Parents and children alike will love how he gets tricked into introducing a song all about him after having just gotten into a little argument with Alistair.  It would be a surprise if this moment doesn’t leave listeners of all ages laughing to some extent.

Lucky and company offer listeners of all ages so much enjoyment throughout the course of the band’s new album.  It pays homage to old time radio with its overall presentation.  This is wholly original and more than deserving of praise.  It’s nice to see someone trying to develop a starting point to get today’s audiences interested in broadcasting’s golden era.  This critic challenges anyone to find another act—children’s or otherwise—that has done what Lucky Diaz and company have done here.  Of course for the homage paid to classic radio on this record, the band also pays tribute to the golden days of film, too.  It does this through the inclusion of its own acoustic take on Meredith Wilson’s ‘Till There Was You.’  The gentle acoustic guitar set against the song’s vocals and the harmonica part will bring back fond memories of the Morton DaCosta directed 1962 classic, The Music Man.  It is played with the same gentility as when it was sung between Marian (Shirley Jones) and Professor Hill (Robert Preston) as they stood on that bridge under the moonlight.  For all of the funny moments offered to audiences throughout this record, this one moment stands out like a shining beacon unlike anything else included in its sequencing.  And it makes the rest of the record that much better.  For that matter, it makes one wonder what a full album of jazz covers would sound like form Lucky and company.  Yes, that’s a hint to Lucky and company should they read this critic’s review.

Lishy Loud and Lucky Too! has so much heart and so much substance to listeners, as one should be able to tell at this point.  Whether one is familiar with the band or not, this is still a solid record from beginning to end.  Its skits are wholly entertaining.  Its cover of a jazz classic adds even more heart to the album.  And with any luck, because of the overall presentation, it could even serve as a starting point to get listeners of any age interested in classic radio and the history of radio entertainment in general.  So much more could likely be noted of this album.  But that would entail aimless rambling for days.  Keeping that in mind, the album will be available next Tuesday, October 1st.  It can be ordered direct from the band’s website at http://luckydiazmusic.com/merchandise/lishy-lou-and-lucky-too-by-lucky-diaz-and-the-family-jam-band.  More information on this and all of the band’s albums is available online at http://luckydiazmusic.com, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lucky-Diaz-and-the-Family-Jam-Band/182600891967, and http://twitter.com/Lucky_Diaz.

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