Hot Air Is One Of 2015’s Best New Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  Recess Monkey

Courtesy: Recess Monkey

Veteran kindie rock band Recess Monkey released its latest full-length studio effort Hot Air last week. The twelfth full-length release from the Seattle, Washington-based trio, it is one of the band’s best works to date. That is thanks in large part to the mix of its indie-rock style musical content and its original lyrical topics. From a song about the joy of taking in a thunderstorm to an equally entertaining piece about speaking “penguin-ese” to a piece that every Star Wars fan ou there (yes, the band even has a song centered on the Star Wars universe), and more Hot Air proves from start to finish just what makes it such a fun record and even one of the year’s best new children’s records.

Nearly a year to the day after it released its 2014 album Wired, Recess Monkey has released its twelfth full-length album Hot Air. Twelve albums is a lot for any musical act regardless of genre. For any musical act to maintain its creativity, energy, and originality over such a span is just as much of a feat. Somehow though, the members of Recess Monkey–Drew Holloway (vocals, guitar), Jack Forman (bass, keys), and Korum Bischoff (drums)–have managed to do just that. That is clear in the songs that make up Hot Air. The album’s mix of indie-rock musical styling coupled with its original, creative lyrical topics will have listeners of all ages enjoying it from start to finish, even singing along (and maybe even dancing along, too). One of the songs that serves to prove this is the album’s song about the joy of thunderstorms, ‘Thunder & Lightning.’ While not the first song ever crafted about thunderstorms, the band’s approach to the song makes it stand out quite well among those other songs. The band wastes no time jumping right into the song, offering up an up-tempo piece set against the rumbling of thunder. What’s really interesting here is that the band uses not only an up-tempo musical backing for the song, but plays in a major tone, too. Even more interesting of the song’s musical side is that one could actually call it avante garde to a point. That is because of its non-standard style especially in its verses. This seems minor on the surface. But on a deeper level, it helps lay a positive foundation for the song. It’s not the standard emotional approach used by so many other children’s entertainers in handling the subject. Nor is it an ominous sound. Rather it is somewhat playful for lack of better wording. It is a really smart approach used by the band in this song. Holloway sings over that upbeat foundation, “The sky is a canvas for each lightning bolt/It’s painted so lovely and it gives me a jolt/Yeah, hear a big old rumblin’ all across the sky/Watch it light up like the fourth of July.” The picture painted by Holloway as he sings is not one of something ominous or scary but rather one of something truly incredible to behold. The lightning bolts are equated to giant electrical paint brushes (doesn’t that sound like the name for some kind of indie garage rock band?) that paint their way across the canvas of the sky. It’s a great way to both get young listeners to appreciate the beauty and power of storms and show them that there’s no reason to fear storms. Being such a multi-faceted song, it proves quite well within itself to be one of Hot Air’s best tracks and just one example of why Hot Air is one of Recess Monkey’s best LPs to date.

‘Thunder & Lightning’ is within itself one of the best songs included in the body of Hot Air. It also proves in the grand scheme of things to be one piece proving what makes Hot Air one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date. It’s just one song that proves both arguments. The album’s lead single, ‘Penguinese’ also serves to show that Recess Monkey still has not lost its touch or its originality and creativity even twelve albums in. The song is about exactly what one might think. It is a fun, nonsensical piece about learning to speak “Penguinese,” the supposed language of penguins. It’s such a nonsensical song, yes. Yet it is that nonsensical approach that makes it so fun. Think for a brief moment and try to name one band in the mainstream or even kindie rock world that has written such a song. Can’t think of one? Exactly. Holloway sings over Bischoff’s infectious 2/4 disco-style beat, “Just got a new kid/A new kid at school/He’s a little bit different/But a lot of bit cool/He’s not from around here/He’s from far away/Doesn’t speak the language/But you really oughtta hear him say his penguinese. The sound effect in the background that is apparently supposed to be a penguin “talking” adds to the song’s hilarity and creativity. Holloway goes on to sing of the penguin, “Folks don’t understand him/He don’t act like they do/Take a look in his lunchbox/And they give a big “Ewwwww/But he’s a snappy dresser/With a tux every day/He doesn’t speak the language/But you really oughtta hear him speak his penguinese.” The recorders (yes, the band even uses recorders in this song. That’s just as original) somehow work in some odd way. Who would have thought? Recorders actually serving a real musical purpose. It’s okay to laugh. Don’t be ashamed. It’s so nonsensical yet so fun that listeners of all ages will find themselves unable to deny just how fun it is. In having to admit how fun it proves to be, listeners will agree that it is one more example of what makes Hot Air one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date. It also shows itself to be one of the best of the album’s songs overall.

Both ‘Thunder & Lightning’ and ‘Penguinese’ are high points to Hot Air in their own right as well as points proving why Hot Air is one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date. They are just a couple of examples of what makes this album so enjoyable, too. The album’s penultimate opus ‘Oh Lando,’ which is a direct tribute to George Lucas’ classic Star Wars franchise, is another of the album’s high points. It is also one more prime example of what makes Hot Air one of Recess Monkey’s best records to date. Yet again, how many bands out there either the world of kindie rock or mainstream music have crafted any songs in tribute to one of science fiction’s greatest properties? Exactly. For that reason alone, grown-ups will want to hear this song just as much as their younger counterparts. The song, which centers on the events that happen in Cloud City in Star Wars: Episode V–The Empire Strikes Back. The song’s bass-driven musical side is infectious and will instantly have listeners tapping their toes. Considering that Disney is preparing to release the next chapter in the Star Wars franchise this winter, it makes this song a fitting way to remind audiences of where the Star Wars franchise has come from as audiences prepare to see where it is going. It is original. And it is fun. Ergo, it is one more great addition to Recess Monkey’s new album and yet more proof of why Hot Air is one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date. Set alongside the likes of ‘Thunder & Lightning’ and ‘Penguinese,’ all three songs show in their own right why Recess Monkey remains one of the best acts in the world of kindie-rock today. That is not to discount the album’s other tracks by any means. ‘Hand Me Downs’ lets listeners know it’s okay to have hand me downs. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in wearing them. The Benny Goodman-esque clarinet work on ‘Carry A Tune’ is sure to impress jazz lovers. And the indie rock style of ‘Lighter Than Air’ coupled with its bright lyrics about soaring among the clouds will put just as much of a smile on listeners’ faces. Whether for those songs, the compositions more directly noted here or any of the album’s other tracks not noted here, it can be said with ease that considering each of the album’s tracks, Hot Air is full of anything but hot air. It is one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date and one of the best new children’s albums of 2015.

Hot Air proves from start to finish to be one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date and one of the best new children’s alums of 2015. That is thanks in large part to the creativity and originality displayed throughout the course of the album’s fifteen tracks and thirty-eight minutes. It is available now in stores and online, and can be purchased online via Recess Monkey’s online store at More information on Hot Air is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and tour schedule updates online now at:



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Cohen Media Group’s Re-Issue Of Syncopation Hits All The Right Notes

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group/RKO Pictures

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group/RKO Pictures

Every year, any number of classic movies is re-issued on DVD and Blu-ray. The re-issues range from modern movies that come from the latter part of the 20th Century (the 1980s and beyond) and those that come from Hollywood’s golden era (the 1970s and before). Among that yearly mass of movies, some are sort of memorable. And then there are those that prove to be must have movies for any true movie buff. While 2015 is still very young, already one movie has been released that is more than deserving of the title of a must have for any movie buff. The movie in question is the 1942 classic RKO Pictures movie Syncopation. It was re-issued on Blu-ray and DVD February 10th via Cohen Media Group. Syncopation is a must have not just for any true-blooded movie buff but for any true-blooded lover of music (and more specifically jazz). While it has never been known as one of the major blockbusters of Hollywood’s golden age, it is still a wonderful work. The main element of this movie that makes it a must have for any true-blooded movie buff and lover of music is its story. Writers Philip Yordan, and Frank Cavett have crafted a tale from Valentine Davies’ original story that bucks the general trend of most romantic movies. Rather than putting the script’s romantic plot line at the center of the story, they instead make the movie’s music the center of the story. It is the central element off of which the story’s romantic subplot works for its own development. And just as the story’s essentially inverted story makes the movie enjoyable, so do the transitions used throughout the story. Audiences are presented with solid scene transitions throughout the movie’s nearly ninety-minute run time that make the movie’s central story easy to follow. The end result is a story that will not only entertain viewers but is also easy to follow. In turn, it will keep viewers engaged from beginning to end and is sure to, again, show why this movie is a must have for any true-blooded movie buff and lover of music. The largely original story and its easily followed transitions are both key elements of what makes Syncopation a must have for any true-blooded movie buff and lover of music. If they are not enough reason, collectively speaking, for audiences to pick up this golden age re-issue, the footage and performances included with the movie as bonus material is sure to convince audiences. Cohen Media Group has included as bonus material a number of classic recordings from the likes of Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and others that equals out to roughly nearly an hour and a half in itself. The recordings in question are taken from their original tapes. And being that they have not been re-mastered, they look just as they did nearly a century ago. And that is not a bad thing, either. As a matter of fact, it helps the overall presentation of Syncopation in terms of taking audiences back in time. It is a wonderful feeling brought on by both that bonus footage and the movie together is a realization that Cohen Media Group’s new re-issue of Syncopation is indeed a must have for any true-blooded movie buff and music lover and one of this year’s best new re-issues.

Syncopation is one of the best new re-issues of 2015 and a must have for any true-blooded movie buff and music lover. This movie was never one of the bigger names from Hollywood’s golden era. But it is still a wonderful classic that any movie buff and lover of classic movies and music will love. The main reason for this is the movie’s story. Crafted by co-writers Philip Yordan and Frank Cavett, the movie takes a route not very often taken by screenwriters both past and present. Instead of just being another romance movie, Syncopation makes its romance story secondary while putting the evolution of America’s greatest music front and center. From the Dixieland and blues sound of New Orleans to the more up-tempo sounds of Chicago’s jazz scene and more, audiences get to hear for themselves the roots of the jazz community. Even better for audiences is that jazz legends Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Harry James, and Charlie Barnet all get some screen time along the way. Getting to see and hear these legends perform makes for an excellent introduction to them and their music for those that might not be so familiar with them or their work. It could be a doorway into a whole new world of music for that matter. And for those that are more familiar with them and their music, it is that much more reason to add this movie to their home collections.

The musical elements of Syncopation’s story more than make this movie worth the watch by anyone that has any love of classic movies and the rich history of Hollywood’s golden era. They are just part of the story’s whole, of course. They are the base on which the movie’s secondary romance story sits. The romance side of the story follows Kit Latimer (Bonita Granville) from her childhood in New Orleans to her adult life finding love, losing that love because of war, and learning to love again afterward. Director William Dieterlie didn’t allow this subplot to overpower the movie’s central story honoring what is America’s music, instead balancing both elements together. The end result is a story that proves to be unlike so many other romance stories both of its age and Hollywood’s current era and in turn one of the perhaps most underrated movies in Hollywood’s history. It is one that any true lover of movies and music should add to their collections should they not already own it.

The dual-lined story that serves as the body of Syncopation makes for plenty of reason for any movie buff and music lover to add it to their personal movie libraries. They are but a tiny portion of what makes it worth the purchase, too. Throughout the course of the movie’s story, director William Dieterlie and those behind the cameras make following the story especially easy thanks to the story’s scene transitions. The scene transitions are smooth dissolves. There is no jumping from point to point. Audiences will see this as Kit leaves her childhood behind in New Orleans for her new home. They will see it just as clearly when America is pulled into Work War I and the man she loves goes off to fight for her country, and after the death of her childhood nanny Ella. The examples could go on and on. But it should be clear just how Dieterlie used this effect to help advance the story. And because he used them when and where he did, it went a long way toward keeping audiences engaged from beginning to end thus making for even more reason for true-blooded movie lovers and music lovers to pick up this movie’s much deserved re-issue.

The writing that went into Syncopation is key to its success and enjoyment. Yordan and Cavett are to be commended for the way in which they balanced the movie’s two separate plot lines. Dieterlie’s handling of the transitions (and that of those charged with assembling the final product) is just as important to the whole of Syncopation. Both parts are integral to the enjoyment of the story in whole. On another branch, the presentation that is Syncopation’s re-issue is made all the more enjoyable thanks to the recordings that make up the movie’s bonus features. Cohen Media Group has included a total of nine classic recordings featuring some of the greatest names in jazz. The names in question include: Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and a handful of others. The recordings are presented exactly as they were in their original presentations nearly a century ago. They look and sound surprisingly good considering the fact that well over eighty years have passed since they were originally recorded. Their collective run time comes to almost an hour and a half if not more than that, with the shortest (Jazz A La Cuba w/ Don Aspiazu) coming in at five minutes and nineteen seconds. The longest (St Louis Blues w/ Bessie Smith) comes in at fifteen minutes and forty-one seconds. The recordings aren’t just audio tracks, either. They are actual audio/visual recordings that tell stories alongside the songs. And they will definitely keep audiences engaged even by themselves. Lena Horne even makes an appearance in one recording, singing ‘Stormy Weather.’ She is presented singing her song inside a house, rain falling on the window. The pain in her voice as she sings against that backdrop makes the classic gives the song so much emotional punch. The other bonus recordings offer their own entertainment, too. And audiences will see that for themselves when they pick up Syncopation for themselves whether on DVD or Blu-ray. It is yet another reason that Syncopation’s new re-issue is a must-have for any true-blooded movie buff and music lover. What’s more it is that much more way in which it proves itself one of this year’s best new re-issues. Together with the work of the movie’s writing team and the work of those behind the cameras, it proves that without even the slightest shadow of a doubt.

Syncopation proves in its brand new DVD and Blu-ray re-issue that it is one of the best new re-issues of 2015. It proves to be a piece that any true-blooded movie buff and music lover should have in their own home libraries. It proves this through the solid work of co-writers Philip Yordan and Frank Cavett. It proves this just as much through the story’s scene transitions. they make both of the movie’s story elements entertaining and interesting for audiences. The bonus classic recordings that were unearthed for this re-issue make its presentation whole. That is thanks to the surprisingly impressive quality of their audio and video. The combination of all of these elements makes crystal clear why Syncopation is such a welcome re-issue. Their combination shows without a doubt why it is one of this year’s best new re-issues and a work that every true-blooded movie buff and music lover should have in his or her home movie collection. It is available now in stores and online. Audiences can check out a trailer from the movie and check out the movie’s image gallery online at A link to Amazon and iTunes is also available at this website for those looking to order or download the movie online. More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online at:



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Idelsohn Society’s New Album This Year’s Best Holiday LP

Courtesy:  The Idelsohn Society

Courtesy: The Idelsohn Society

‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is the best of this year’s annual crop of holiday records.  The record, which was released by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, is subtitled The Musical Battle Between Christmas and the Festival of Lights.  The catch is that this record is anything but a musical battle.  Rather, this record does exactly what music is said to do.  It’s a unifier.  It joins two distinctly different cultures through the medium of music.  On a side note, The Idelsohn Society for those who perhaps may not know was named for its namesake, musicologist Abraham Zevi Idelsohn.  Audiences can learn more about him and the Idelsohn Society’s website,

‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is just the latest in a series of releases from the Idelsohn Society For Musical Preservation.  The compilation features thirty four tracks from across both the Jewish and Christian faiths.  Those songs celebrate, as the subtitle notes, both Christmas and the just ended annual celebration of Hanukkah.  What makes this double disc compilation even more interesting is that both the songs of the Jewish and Christian faiths are sung by both those in the Jewish community and those with Jewish roots.  Among some of the more notable of those artists are the likes of: Mel Torme, Benny Goodman, Lou Reed, The Ramones, Bob Dylan, and Herb Alpert just to name some.  Adding even more interest to this already worthwhile listen, the music presented by the variety of artists makes the record even more multi-cultural.  Some songs are standards, while others are more original, crossing the cultural borders of the music industry. 

All thirty-four tracks in this compilation present enjoyment thanks to their cultural variety.  One of the most enjoyable and interesting of the songs in this compilation comes not from the Christmas side, but from the Hanukkah side.  Gladys Gertwiz’s presentation of ‘A Chanukah Quiz’ is a wonderful starting point for young members of the Jewish community.  Gerwitz sings to her audiences of a “Hanukkah riddle” of sorts.  In reality, this song is a history lesson both of Hanukkah and of Jewish heritage.  She tells parts of the history, and leaves parts blank for listeners to answer (in song form) back.  It’s fun and creative.  On a completely different tangent, ‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah also offers a Latin style holiday song in the form of ‘El Die de la Navidad.’  It’s one more example of just how multicultural this record is.  The upbeat sound alone makes this another enjoyable song.  Add to the danceable sound the lyrical holiday celebration and listeners get another enjoyable addition to this release.  It’s just one more of so many enjoyable songs included in a record that is simply put the best holiday record of the year.  The album is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct at the Idelsohn Society store at

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