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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Moms (And Families) Everywhere Are Sure To Enjoy Cheri Magill’s Latest LP

Courtesy: Red Shoe Records

Being a mother is a special experience for so many women.  From the most stressful moments to the most heartfelt, the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, mothers are there for their children and families.  So in return for all that mothers do and all that they are, singer-songwriter Cheri Magill will release a new tribute to mothers everywhere next week in the form of her new album Tour Guide.  It goes without saying that this 10-song record is a tribute that mothers everywhere will appreciate.  That is thanks in part to the accessibility of its lyrical themes.  This will be discussed shortly.  The varied musical arrangements presented in the songs play their own collectively important part to the record’s whole, and will be discussed later.  The record’s sequencing plays into its appeal by its target audiences, too.  That is because it is just as certain as the record’s musical and lyrical content to keep those audiences engaged and entertained.  When it is joined with that musical and lyrical content, the whole of those elements makes Tour Guide in whole, a work that will appeal not only to mothers, but to grandmothers as well.  Keeping this in mind, it goes without saying that Tour Guide is easily one of this year’s top new family albums.

Cheri Magill’s forthcoming album Tour Guide is a work that, in whole, is certain to appeal not only to mothers, but also to their mothers.  That is due in no small part to the accessibility of its varied lyrical themes.  From start to end, Magill touches on topics to which every mother can relate in the noted themes.  From the stresses of dealing with picky eaters and cleaning up after those adorable little ones in ‘Crazy’ to the emotional growth that a mother experiences as her child/children grow in ‘Brave’ to the love that a mother shows by trying to balance schedules and keep up with her kids in general in ‘Don’t Forget,’ and beyond, the themes presented throughout the album are wholly relatable to any mom.  For those who hope for that standard over-the-top emotional ballad, Magill has included that here in the form of ‘Unconditional,’ in which she sings about…well…a mother’s unconditional undying love for her children.  No doubt this one, with its overly saccharine sweet lyrics and musical arrangement, will leave not a dry eye in the house.  That and other arrangements included in the album will be discussed shortly.  Staying on the topic of those relatable lyrical themes, the reality of said themes and their ability to connect to mothers everywhere in itself forms a solid foundation for this record, making for a great starting point for its presentation.  The arrangements strengthen that foundation through their variety and through their impact on the songs themselves.

As noted already, the arrangement at the center of ‘Unconditionally’ is a gentle, saccharine sweet, piano-driven arrangement that makes the song quite the powerful composition.  Making a comparison here, it’s the kind of composition that will appeal to fans of Paula Cole and other similar singers.  It’s just one example of why the album’s arrangements are so important to the whole of Tour Guide.  For those wanting something a little more light-hearted, Magill offers the decidedly “poppy” ‘Lasso The Moon,’ which is certain to appeal to fans of Michelle Branch and other similar acts.  The arrangement that forms the foundation of ‘Crazy’ is a fun, light-hearted indie-pop style composition that is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face just through that arrangement.  Anyone that’s a fan of Maroon 5 and Andy Grammar will enjoy the equally light, airy arrangement at the center of ‘Better.’  As if all of that isn’t enough, the gentle, flowing piano-driven arrangement at the center of ‘Tour Guide’ conjures thoughts of a certain song from the soundtrack of Disney/Pixar’s Up.  Given, it’s not exactly the same, but there’s something in the two arrangements that invariably connects them.  That is meant in the best way possible.  The arrangement at the center of ‘Brave’ is one that will appeal just as easily to any mainstream pop fan, too, with its brooding keyboard and strings.  Between these arrangements and the others not directly noted here, it should be clear at this point just how important the album’s musical arrangements are to its whole.  They offer just as much variety and entertainment as the songs’ lyrical themes.  Keeping this in mind, the lyrical and musical elements of this album collectively go a long way toward making it a truly enjoyable musical gift for moms everywhere.  Even as much as they do for the album’s whole, they are not its only key elements.  The album’s sequence rounds out its most important elements.

The album’s sequencing is so critical to its enjoyment because without the thought and time put into the sequencing, the songs would still be enjoyable, but not as engaging.  Right from the album’s outset, listeners get an up-tempo arrangement in its title song.  The energy of that song continues on into ‘Lasso the Moon’ (on a side note, one can’t help but wonder if Magill was watching the classic James Stewart movie It’s A Wonderful Life when she developed that song’s title.  Getting back on the topic at hand, Magill pulls back, but only minimally as the album progresses into its third song, ‘You Are Here.’  This song, by the way, is certain to generate plenty of smiles, laughs and tears of joy through its flowing musical arrangement and vivid lyrical picture.  Things pick right back up after ‘You Are Here’ with the previously discussed arrangement in ‘Crazy.’  This light-hearted, bouncy arrangement is infectious to say the very least, and is certain in itself to keep listeners engaged.  As the album moves into ‘Brave,’ its mid-point, it moves into a much more dramatic sound and feel, which definitely changes things up and keeps the album interesting.  The energy gradually builds back from here over the course of the album’s next few entries – ‘Still,’ ‘Don’t You Forget’ and ‘Better.’  As the album moves through its last two songs, ‘Unconditionally’ and ‘Chopsticks Lulllaby,’ its energy again becomes reserved, finish off in very gentle fashion.  That gentle, flowing finale is a direct contrast to the energy in the album’s opening and first half in general.  Obviously, this was done intentionally.  It shows, once more, the time and thought put into the album’s sequencing for the utmost impact.  Taking this into consideration along with the time and thought put into the rest of the album’s sequencing, the whole of that element proves to do just as much for the album as the songs themselves.  When all three elements are joined together, they make Tour Guide a record a wonderful, moving musical trip for moms (and even families) everywhere.

Cheri Magill’s latest album Tour Guide is a wonderful musical trip for moms (and families) everywhere that is also without doubt one of this year’s top new family albums.  That is proven in part through its completely accessible lyrical themes.  Those themes are topics to which every mom (and even dad, believe it or not) can relate.  The diverse range of musical arrangements presented throughout the album do plenty to make this record enjoyable, too.  The obvious time and thought put into the album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to the album’s overall presentation.  Each element is, again, clearly important in its own way, as has been pointed out here.  All things considered, they make Tour Guide not only fun for the whole family, but in turn, one of this year’s top new family albums.  It will be available May 4 via Red Shoe Records.  More information on Tour Guide is available online now along with Magill’s latest news and more at:









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