The Okee Dokee Brothers Tops This Year’s Phil’s Picks Best New Family Music Albums List

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

Family music entertainers have, like acts in every other genre across the music universe, been adversely impacted this year by the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Their live plans have been put on hold for the foreseeable future.  In the same vein, while the pandemic has put a (hopefully) temporary hold on live music, it has not prevented acts within the realm to release new albums.  That means that a list of the year’s top new Family Music albums is just as qualified as that for any other genre.  This year’s list of top new Family Music albums features new titles from some of the most well-known names within the realm, including but not limited to this year’s list topper The Okee Dokee Brothers, Paul Winter, and Justin Roberts.  It also features some younger acts, such as Roger Day, Greg Lato, and Lindsay Munroe.  Between them and others, this year produced many enjoyable albums within the Family Music world. 

The list of this year’s best new records, offers the Top 10 new albums in the genre and five honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Family Music Albums.


  1. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Songs For Singin’
  2. Alastair Mook & Friends – Be A Pain: An Album For Youn (And Old) Leaders
  3. Justin Roberts – Wild Life
  4. Red Yarn – Backyard Bop
  5. David Gibb & Brady Rymer – Songs Across The Pond
  6. Paul Winter – Light of the Sun
  7. Flor Bromley – Fiesta Global
  8. Lindsay Munroe – I Am Kind
  9. Joanie Leeds – All The Ladies
  10. 123 Andres – Hola Amigo
  11. Rolie Polie Guacamole – Avocado
  12. Roger Day – Invincible
  13. Sara Lovell – Night Life
  14. Greg Lato – Create My Own World
  15. Ants Ants Ants – Colors All Around

Next up from Phil’s Picks is the list of 2020’s Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Folk/Americana Albums.  Stay tuned for that.

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The Not-Its Are “It” In Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Family Music Albums List

Courtesy: Burnside Distribution/Sugar Mountain PR

Family music is one of the most surprisingly entertaining genres that exists today across the musical universe.  That statement is just as true today as it ever has been thanks to this year’s crop of new albums.  Between the arrangements, which will entertain listeners of all ages and the lyrical themes, to which young listeners especially will connect, family music albums prove that they are just as viable as those of their mainstream counterparts.

That is why this year, just as in years past, Phil’s Picks is making sure to give those albums their own time in the light.  This year’s list features new releases from acts such as Mister G, The Not-Its, The Okee Dokee Brothers and plenty of others who might not be so well-known.

Topping this year’s list is the new album from Seattle’s own The Not-Its.  As noted in a previous review of that album, it is a full-on celebration of childhood and the innocence connected to that time in life.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest album Winterland was a risk for the duo because of the success of the group’s “adventure albums” that preceded the record.  Yet, it was a risk that proved to pay off thanks to its musical and lyrical content, which uses winter themes to delve into some very deep and very grown-up topics.

Cheri Magill’s new indie-pop styled record Tour Guide takes third place in this year’s list thanks to its arrangements and its own celebration of childhood (and even parenthood).

The records noted here are just part of this year’s list.  The other 12 records featured in the list are noted with these records below.  As always, the list features 15 total albums, with the Top 10 being the top albums and the following five being honorable mentions. without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Family Music Albums.


  1. The Not-Its — Ready or Not
  2. Cheri Magill — Tour Guide
  3. The Okee Dokee Brothers — Winterland
  4. Mister G — Fireflies
  5. Red Yarn — Red Yarn’s Old Barn
  6. Hullabaloo — 20 Songs in 20 Days
  7. Splash and Bubbles — Rhythms of the Reef
  8. Steve Elci and Friends — Jump in the Puddle
  9. Ants, Ants, Ants — Why, Why Why
  10. Mi Amigo Hamlet — Happy Land is Tierra Feliz
  11. Suzi Shelton — Hand in Hand
  12. Sara Lovell — Wild is Everywhere
  13. Animal Farm — We Are One
  14. Liz Beebe — Hush NowLullabies For Sleepy People
  15. The Green Orbs — thumb Wrestling Champions

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Ants Ants Ants’ Debut LP Will Have Listeners Of All Ages Saying “Yes, Yes, Yes”

Courtesy: Pinwheel Records

Ants, ants, ants.  Why, why, why?  We’ve all been there.  Ants are among the most annoying pests that exist.  We can all agree on that.  Of course when a band goes by the name Ants Ants Ants, then in that rare case, ants aren’t so bad.  The same can be said of the band’s debut album Why Why Why?  The 12-song record from the Portland, Oregon-based duo is a record that will appeal to older inde-rock and folk music fans just as much as it will its target younger listeners.  That applies primarily to the record’s musical content.  The record’s lyrical content will appeal largely to younger listeners.  The whole of that musical and lyrical content leaves this record a collection of songs whose wide-ranging appeal makes it an easy favorite for any family.  This statement is supported early in the album’s run in the form of ‘Are We There Yet?’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Why Why Why? Is another way in which that statement is supported.  It will be discussed a little bit later.  ‘Helicopter Leaves,’ with its retro-indie sound and simple theme, is yet another entry that supports that statement.  Each song shows in its own way what makes Why Why Why? an easy start for Ants Ants Ants.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries – including ‘Pinwheel,’ which lifts lightly from Blood Sweat & Tears’ beloved song ‘Spinning Wheel’ – the whole of the album proves to be a record that proves sometimes, just sometimes, ants maybe aren’t such bad things.

Ants Ants Ants’ debut album Why Why Why? is an interesting start for the up-and-coming family entertainment act.  That is thanks to musical arrangements that will appeal to a wide range of older listeners and lyrical content that is accessible both to grown-ups and children alike.  That is proven early on in the album’s run in the form of the song, ‘Are We There Yet?’  The song’s light, bouncy surf-rock arrangement will have older audiences tapping their toes while younger listeners, at the same time, will happily dance along to the fun, arrangement.  The lyrical content, which is sung from a child’s standpoint, focuses on a child’s eagerness to get where the family is headed.  Singer Johnny Clay sings here, “Over the river and through the hills/We’re headed to the coast/Round and round the winding road to the place I love the most/But all along the way/All I wanna say is Are we there yet?”  Those four words are the bane of every parent’s existence, yet somehow Clay and fellow musician Dave Gulick manage to make those words somehow endearing.  That applies even as Clay goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Driving on the longest road/Staring at the clouds/Playing games and singing songs/With the music way up loud/But it seems so long/You know my favorite song is: Are we there yet?”  The song’s final verse illustrates even more how hard it is for young children to be patient on any extended trip.  That innocence illustrated in these words and fun musical arrangement, in its own odd way, serves to remind adults that children are just excited when it comes to big trips.  Considering that reminder (intended or not), it makes this song a valuable addition to Why Why Why? that cannot be ignored.  To that end, it is just one of the songs that serves to show why this record will appeal just as much to older audiences as children.  It is only one of the songs that shows that reach.  The album’s title track is another key entry.

‘Why Why Why?’ is a key addition to Why Why Why? because, as with ‘Are We There Yet?,’ it celebrates, in its own way, the innocence of childhood.  Once again sung from a child’s vantage point, this song highlights another question that every parent dislikes, “Why?”  From asking why the sun sets and moon shines to why we have bones and more, the song, written this time by Gulick, embraces a child’s awe at the world.  As with the previously discussed song, this one seems to serve dually as a reminder for parents that children don’t ask to be annoying, but simply out of their own curiosity and awe.  This is hinted in the song’s finale, which states, “Sometimes the answers aren’t so clear/’Cause they go on and on and on.”  Every parent wants to have all the answers, and gets flustered when he/she doesn’t have all the answers.  Thus the reminder in question is added to the end in order to keep older listeners from losing their cool, once again.  When the song’s almost Beatles-esque musical arrangement is added to that light-hearted message, the whole of those elements shows even more why this song is another key addition to Why Why Why?, but most certainly not the last.  ‘Helicopter Leaves’ is yet another important addition to the album.

‘Helicopter Leaves’ boasts its own clearly Beatles-influenced arrangement that is certain to appeal to older listeners with its piano-driven sound.  That light, upbeat arrangement does plenty to make this song appealing to a wide range of audiences, but is certainly not the only part of the song’s positive.  As with the prior songs, this one also serves to celebrate the innocence of childhood, but in its own unique way.  This time, the celebration comes in the awe of something as simple as “helicopter leaves.”  Who doesn’t remember the joy of watching those leaves spin to the ground like tiny helicopter blades.  Commonly known as seeds from the American Sycamore and the Silver Maple, they are the source of so much joy for so many generations of children, including parents who were themselves once parents.  Clay celebrates that joy as he writes in the song’s main (and only) verse, “Maple seeds or whirly birds or keys, it doesn’t matter what you call these (spinning jennies)/Spinning through the air/Look up, they’re everywhere/Maybe someday I can fly like helicopter leaves.”  Any grown-up that doesn’t smile, remembering his or her own childhood as they hear these lines has completely lost his or her childhood.  It is, again, that reminder of the simple things that make life so worth living.  That reminder shows clearly why this song is just as important to this album as ‘Why Why Why?’ and ‘Are We There Yet?’  The same can be said of the song’s comparison to the other songs not noted here.  Each of those other songs is important in its own right to the whole of Why Why Why?  All things considered, Why Why Why? proves to be a record for which audiences of all ages will find themselves saying, “yes, yes, yes.”  That being the case, this record deserves consideration for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family albums.

Up-and-coming family entertainment act Ants Ants Ants’ debut album Why Why Why? is a strong start for the Portland, Oregon-based duo.  From start to end, the song serves as a reminder of the joys of childhood innocence.  This is something that far too many adults have lost sight of as they have gotten older.  To that end, having that reminder as the basis of this record makes for more than enough reason to hear each song.  The varied musical arrangements presented throughout the record are accessible to grown-ups and children alike.  Though, they will likely find more audience in older listeners than children.  Even with that in mind, the fact that this record presents such a welcome reminder to parents to not lose their own childhood – and to kids to enjoy every second of theirs – while also musically entertaining listeners of all ages shows its reach.  In turn, it shows that it has plenty to offer audiences.  Keeping that in mind, the album in whole clearly proves that it deserves consideration as one of the year’s best new family albums.  It is available now.  More information on Why Why Why? is available online now along with all of Ants Ants Ants’ latest news and more at:









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