Moock’s New Album Is All Kinds Of Enjoyable

Courtesy: Moockshake Music

Courtesy: Moockshake Music

2015 has been quite the fruitful year for the world of children’s music. New releases from veteran acts such as Recess Monkey, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, and Josh and the Jamtones have joined releases from others such as Jazzy Ash, The Bazillions, and fellow veteran performers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer among others to form a field that has offered up quite the selection of music for audiences of all ages. Now another veteran artist by the name of Alastair Moock has added yet another new release to this year’s field, making things even more interesting for those keeping track. The album in question, All Kinds of You And Me, comes only a few months after fellow veteran entertainers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer released a similar album in the form of Dancin’ in the Kitchen: Songs For All Families. While the two acts’ new albums are similar in their lyrical topics, it can be said that Moock’s new album manages to maintain its own identity apart from that of Frink and Marxer’s new album thanks to the fact that it takes the foundation established by Fink and Marxer’s lyrics and builds on it with even more interesting topics. It also builds on the pair’s foundation with its mix of musical styles. That is the second reason that audiences will enjoy this album. Last but hardly least of note of this album is its run time. The album doesn’t even hit the one-hour mark. Rather it clocks in at forty-five minutes. The album’s longest track, its closer ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ comes in at just over five minutes. And the shortest comes in at just under the three-minute mark. That each of the album’s songs runs at a relatively normal time makes each one all the more apt to keep listeners of all ages locked in from the album’s opener to its end. Moock’s lyrical and musical approach to each number does just as much to keep listeners engaged. All three elements considered together show All Kinds of You and Me to be one of this year’s bravest and most confident children’s records. What’s more that confidence and bravery pay off in spades, proving it to be one more of this year’s best new children’s albums.

Veteran singer/songwriter Alastair Moock’s latest full-length studio recording All Kinds of You and Me is one of this year’s best new children’s albums. The twelve-track, forty-five minute recording is not the first of its kind to be released this year. Fellow veteran performers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer released an album in Dancin’ in the Kitchen: Songs For All Families only months before this album’s release. While the two albums are similar in regards to their lyrical content, they are also quite different. That is proven first through the fact that Moock doesn’t stick to just the concept of the different kinds of families that make up America’s population. He does cover this topic. That can’t be ignored. However, he doesn’t stop there. Instead he branches out paying tribute to Malala Yousefzai in ‘I Am Malala’ and even to Woody Guthrie in his cover of ‘This Land is Your Land’ and its narrative intro ‘You and Me.’ There’s even a playful little piece about the different holidays in the simply titled ‘Every Day’s A Holiday.’ While those songs each help to make Moock’s new album stand out among this year’s field of new children’s releases, the songs about families and America’s social norms do just as much to help it stand out. Moock tackles the rigid social norms and gender roles that dominate American families in the album’s opener ‘It Takes All Kinds,’ and in the two songs that follow, ‘PEOPLE’ and ‘You Might Be A Girl.’ These songs are brave to say the least. They take a similar track as that taken by Fink and Marxer. But unlike them he takes more of stand against those norms established by American culture in these songs. Every one of the songs noted here shows in its own way to play an important part in what makes All Kinds of You and Me a standout recording. While each of the noted songs plays its own role, that is not to say that the others don’t play a role, too. Quite the opposite actually. Each one of the album’s twelve total tracks plays its own part in the whole of the album’s impact with all twelve showing clearly why the lyrical approach to this album makes it one that every family should take in together. Any family that does will be glad that it did. That is because of the foundation for discussion that each song’s lyrical content forms. It’s just the starting point of what makes this record such an interesting listen. The musical approach taken by Moock throughout the record is just as important to its success and enjoyment.

The lyrical content of Alastair Moock’s latest LP is within itself plenty of reason for audiences of all ages to hear this record. That is because of the number of topics covered by Moock throughout the course of the album’s twelve tracks and forty-five minutes. He tackles the strict gender roles and social norms established within American culture in the album’s first three songs before going a little more playful as the album advanced. He even pays tribute to human rights and women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai and to folk legend Woody Guthrie in the album’s closer among much more content. It is just one portion of what makes this record so enjoyable, though. The album’s musical content makes it just as enjoyable. By and large, Moock presents a folksy, bluegrass style sound throughout the record. Though, he does break off at a few random points. The album’s opener presents a fun, rockabilly sound while ‘PEOPLE’ boasts a lighthearted Dixieland style sound. ‘You Might Be A Girl’ is just as enjoyable in regards to its music as it boasts something of an old school R&B influence. That is of course this critic’s own interpretation. And then there’s the dreamy, dulcet tones of ‘My Life(Is A Lot Like Yours)’ that will conjure thoughts of Allison Kraus and Norah Jones. That is a tribute to vocalist Jennifer Kimball’s extraordinary talents. ‘All In A Day’ also boasts that old school R&B influence. It conjures thoughts of Otis Redding. For all of the interest that the noted songs generates, the most intriguing of the album’s songs (in terms of their musical content) is ‘I Am Malala.’ The song largely boasts a gentle, beachy sound that conjures thoughts of Jimmy Buffett by and large. Though, interestingly enough the song switches things up in its final bars, sounding more like the opening bars of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ than that beachy sound that makes up the rest of its body. All of these examples together paint a rich musical picture that is just as certain to keep listeners engaged as that painted by the album’s lyrical content. The album’s musical and lyrical content taken jointly into consideration, they give listeners of all ages plenty of reason to hear this brave, enjoyable record.

Both the lyrical and musical content presented throughout the course of Alastair Moock’s new album make for plenty of reason for families to hear this record. While both elements are equally important to the whole of the record’s success and enjoyment, there is still one last element that should be examined in the whole of its presentation. That element is the record’s overall run time. The album clocks in at forty-five minutes. That is actually a relatively standard length both in regards to the realm of children’s music and that of music for adults. The album’s longest song is its closer, the cover of Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land.’ It comes in at five minutes and three seconds. The album’s shortest song is its second track ‘PEOPLE.’ That song comes in at two minutes and twenty-two seconds. Some might ask what significance any of this plays in the grand scheme of the album. It significance is that when set against the songs’ musical and lyrical content together, it can help to determine just how long the songs (and the album in whole) are likely to keep listeners engaged. Being that the songs’ musical and lyrical content is not over the heads of its intended audiences and the songs themselves are in fact really standard length, it means a greater chance of keeping audiences’ ears from beginning to end. Sure, five minutes for a song–especially a children’s album–might seem like a lot. But the simple redundancy of the song’s chorus makes it (‘This Land is Your Land’) one that will definitely keep young listeners’ ears for the full length of its run time. That, friends, is the importance of the album’s run time. And on a smaller scale the run time of each of the album’s songs. Those run times, set against the songs’ musical and lyrical content, make one whole record that stands out against its counterparts within the realm of children’s music this year. In turn, the combination of all three elements makes this record one of this year’s best new children’s records.

All Kinds of You and Me is a record that can be said to be all kinds of enjoyable from beginning to end. That is thanks to the album’s mix of musical stylings and lyrical themes. The run times of each of the album’s twelve total songs makes a total run time that together with the album’s musical and lyrical content is sure to keep listeners fully engaged regardless of their ages. All things considered, All Kinds of You and Me proves in the end to be all kinds of enjoyable for listeners of all ages and in turn one of this year’s best new children’s records. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Alastair Moock’s official website at http://www.moockmusic.com. More information on All Kinds of You and Me is available online now along with all of the latest news from Alastair himself at:

Website: http://www.moockmusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alastair-Moock-Music/43677062968

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlastairMoock 

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Fink And Marxer’s New Album Is One Of The Most Original And Enjoyable Children’s Albums Of 2015

Courtesy:  Community Music, Inc.

Courtesy: Community Music, Inc.

This past March, children’s entertainers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer released their new album Dancin’ in the Kitchen. The album–released via Community Music, Inc.—was released specifically on March 17th. It was fitting that the duo released the album on St. Patrick’s Day. That is because luck was definitely on the women’s side when they and their fellow musicians recorded this outstanding collection of songs. The record stands out first and foremost thanks to its lyrical approach. It celebrates families and their many quirks in every form and fashion. The variety of musical styles on which the songs are built makes the album even more enjoyable. Fink and Marxer have also included short notes on the inspiration behind each song within the album’s companion booklet. It’s too bad that more artists—whether they be children’s entertainers or otherwise—don’t do this. It really helps give full insight into the songs’ inspiration and what message each is attempting to deliver. Whether for this aspect, for the record’s musical variety or its overall musical message, Dancin’ in the Kitchen offers audiences so much reason to hear it. They show collectively why this record is another of this year’s best new albums for not only children but grown-ups, too.

Dancin’ in the Kitchen offers so much reason for audiences to hear it. One of the key ways in which it proves itself so well worth the listen is through its lyrical approach. The fifteen songs that make up the album celebrate families in all of their variety. There is also a pair of essays in the form of ‘Dinnertime Orchestra’ and ‘Who’s in Charge of the Colors’ go deeper than discussing just the variety of families out there. Rather, one discusses the quirks that make our families special and the other ties in some social commentary to the discussion on familial variety. Both essays will have listeners laughing and thinking all at once. This is especially the case with Irwin’s essay about the colors assigned to people’s skin and the reality of those assignments. He is spot on here. And because of how right he is, he will really have audiences laughing and thinking all at once. Getting back to the compilation’s musical numbers, the songs that make up the record will make audiences just as happy as the essays. Fink and Marxer’s song ‘Happy Adoption Day’ is one of the best of those numbers. It is a happy yet still moving piece celebrating the joy felt by a family at adopting a child and welcoming that child into his or her new home for the first time. The story behind the song that is included in the album’s booklet makes it even more touching. There’s even an interesting up-to-the –times piece titled ‘I Belong To A Family’ that centers on the issue of children raised by two parents of the same gender. The issue of children raised by gay parents is a hot button issue. But Fink handled it with the utmost class and tact in this piece. It’s one more way in which the lyrical approach of the songs is so integral to the enjoyment of this record. It most certainly isn’t the last great example, either. Every one of the album’s fifteen tracks could serve to make this argument. Because every one of the songs could serve in this capacity, it by itself makes Dancin’ in the Kitchen well worth the listen by audiences of any age.

The lyrical content of the songs included on Dancin’ in the Kitchen is more than enough reason for audiences to check out this impressive record. It is collectively only one part of what makes this record so enjoyable for audiences of all ages. The equally varied sounds exhibited in each of the record’s songs makes for even more reason for audiences to hear this record. The album’s opener and title track kicks things off with a fun little trip down to New Orleans thanks to its Zydeco sound. The celebratory sound exhibited in ‘Howdy Little Newlycome/Ceilidh House Polka’ will take listeners on a trip across the Atlantic to Ireland in what is one of the record’s more interesting moments. It is so interesting being that considering its lyrical content, one would think this song to be more of a lullaby. But it doesn’t take that route. Rather it offers a more celebratory sound showing the excitement felt by a new mother. It is definitely a road far less taken by other children’s entertainers. That being the case it serves as one of the best examples of how the album’s varied sounds make it so enjoyable. The Appalachian sound exhibited on ‘Twins’—performed by The Canote Twins—serves as yet another great example of how the album’s varied musical sounds make it so enjoyable. Brothers Greg and Jere are joined by Fink and Marxer on this song for a full-on acoustic piece that will have listeners dancing and singing along thanks to its catchy sound and the brothers’ playful banter style lyrical delivery. As with the songs’ lyrical approach, this is just one more example of how the varied musical sounds that make up Dancin’ in the Kitchen make the record in whole so enjoyable. Together with the songs’ lyrical variety, both that variety and the songs’ musical variety make the album that much more enjoyable for listeners of all ages and even more a candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

Both the music and lyrics that make up the body of Dancin’ in the Kitchen make for plenty of reason for audiences of all ages to check out this great new family friendly record. For all of the enjoyment that they offer audiences, they are still not all that makes it so enjoyable. Fink and Marxer have also included short blurbs in the record’s companion booklet about each song. While relatively short, the blurbs in question offer up just enough insight into each of the songs to make for more insight and in turn appreciation among audiences. This is an approach that far too few acts across the musical universe use in their albums and EPs. But being that so few acts utilize this approach it makes Fink and Marxer’s use of it that much more original and welcome. Together with the album’s musical and lyrical side, it rounds out the ways in which Dancin’ in the Kitchen proves itself a joy for listeners of all ages. Together with the aforementioned elements, Dancin’ in the Kitchen proves without a doubt that it definitely deserves to be on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

Whether for its musical side, its lyrical side or for the extra insight included in its companion booklet, Dancin’ in the Kitchen proves in so many ways to be one of the most original and most enjoyable records released for children so far this year. The concepts discussed in each song are accessible to both children and adults alike. And they are handled with the utmost class and tact, too. The varied musical styles incorporated into the songs makes them even more enjoyable. And the insight into each of the song gives them even more depth, making for even more appreciation for each work. All things considered Dancin’ in the Kitchen offers to audiences with these elements a work that again is one of the best new children’s albums of 2015. The album is available now in stores and online. More information on the album and all of the duo’s latest tour dates is available online now at:

Website: http://www.cathymarcy.com

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

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Through The Woods Is Another Grand Musical Journey From The Okee Dokee Brothers

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

The Okee Dokee Brothers are not technically brothers. But the duo (Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander) may as well be brothers after having spent as much time together as they did for their latest album Through The Woods and its predecessor Can You Canoe? Lansing and Mailander actually hiked the Appalachian Trail for Through The Woods, the duo’s second “adventure album” and fifth album overall. This after the men had already paddled their way down the Mississippi River together for their 2012 album Can You Canoe? All of that time together has led to some of the best music that The Okee Dokee Brothers have crafted to date in this new record. Through The Woods is an album that celebrates what North Carolina musician David Holt calls “Mountain Music” in his interview included in the bonus DVD included with the album. That DVD will be discussed at length later. The music itself is the key point of success to the album’s enjoyment. Anyone that is a fan of bluegrass and Appalachian music will thoroughly enjoy every song on this record. Also making the whole experience more enjoyable for audiences is the booklet included with the double-disc album. Together with the music and bonus DVD, it rounds out an album that has not only taken the top spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums, but also the year’s best new albums overall.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ second adventure album is also a double winner in the eyes (and ears) of this critic. It has currently taken the top spot on this critic’s list of both the year’s best new children’s albums and the year’s best new albums overall. What’s truly interesting about such status is that in listening to Through The Woods, audiences wouldn’t even think of The Okee Dokee Brothers to be children’s entertainers. That’s because the “mountain music” that makes up the album will appeal both to parents and children alike. It’s not just the standard children’s album. It really is a family album and an album for anyone that is a fan of Appalachian/mountain music (as guest musician David Holt calls it). Some of the songs included on the album are originals while others are more familiar such as the classic ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain.’ In other cases such as ‘Jamboree’ and ‘Fiddlestick Joe’, Lansing and Mailander took ‘Swing and turn Jamboree’ ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ and used them as the basis for their own semi-new pieces. If the songs themselves aren’t enough to entice listeners to check out this record, maybe the guest spots will help convince said audiences to give it a chance.

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 that 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 justifiably deserves to be called the best children’s album of the year so far and the best new album overall so far this year.

The album and its companion DVD presented to audiences in this set go a long way toward making Through The Woods a wonderfully grand musical journey for audiences.  There is still one more aspect of the album that deserves to be noted that plays a positive role in the grand scheme of things.  That last aspect is the album’s companion booklet.  The booklet includes specific thoughts on each of the album’s songs from Lansing and Mailander and little doodles that accompany each one.  Their thoughts are both enlightening and entertaining.  They playfully comment about an 11-year old musician that in the liner notes for ‘Out Of Tune’, joking that he could eat his own body weight in banana pudding.  They actually interview the boy and his siblings in the companion DVD.  So audiences will get to hear from each of them, too.  It’s not all that audiences will get from the album’s liner notes.  Audiences will also be surprised to learn that one member of the Okee Dokee Brothers actually grew up learning how to play banjo thanks to instructional videos from North Carolina’s own David Holt.  These are but a pair of examples of what makes the liner notes to this album a rare treat.  And together with everything else mentioned, audiences will see more clearly than ever just why Through The Woods more than deserves to be on any critic’s annual “Best Of” lists.

Through The Woods will be available Tuesday, May 20th. The Okee Dokee Brothers are currently touring in support of the album. The duo is scheduled to perform live next Saturday, May 17th at Black Bear Crossings in St. Paul, Minnesota. That show is sold out. However, tickets are still available for the duo’s other upcoming shows. The Okee Dokee Brothers’ current tour schedule is available online at http://www.okeedokee.org. Audiences can also go to http://www.okeedokee.org to keep up with all the latest news from The Okee Dokee Brothers. Fans can also follow the duo on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/okeedokeebros. 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Okee Dokee Brothers Release Details For New Album

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music/Redeye

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music/Redeye

Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander (a.k.a. The Okee Dokee Brothers) return this Summer with their brand new album.

Through The Woods, the duo’s second adventure album, will be released Tuesday, May 20th. It will be released in a special CD/DVD combo pack for SRP of $19.99. The album follows the duo’s journey along the Appalachian Trail and reflects the music that dominates the regions through which Lansing and Mailander crossed along their journey. It features guest appearances by some of the biggest names in  Americana and folk music including: Hubby Jenkins (Carolina Chocolate Drops), four-time Grammy award winner David Holt (Doc Watson/O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Rosie Newton, and two-time Grammy award winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer.

The companion DVD that comes with Through The Woods includes a forty-minute film that documents Lansing and Mailander’s trek. It includes educational segments, bloopers from the duo’s trip, music videos, and interviews with local mountain musicians that the duo met along the course of its journey. All hiking, songwriting, and camping footage was filmed on location along the Appalachian Mountains. It features the music of David Holt, Elizabeth LaPrelle, and Sparky and Rhonda Rucker.

More information on Through The Woods and other Okee Dokee Brothers albums, along with tour news and more on The Okee Dokee Brothers is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/okeedokeebros and http://www.okeedokee.org. Through The Woods can be pre-ordered now through the Okee Dokee Brothers’ official online store at http://www.okeedokee.org and via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Woods-Appalachian-Adventure-Album/dp/B00IKCLHPW/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1397260142&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Okee+Dokee+Brothers. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.