Matt Irie Band Debuts New Single, ‘Coastal’

Courtesy: CowgirlZen Entertainment

Independent rock act, Matt Irie Band released its latest single last month.

The band premiered its new single, ‘Coastal‘ Oct. 13. The song’s musical arrangement is a smooth, relaxed composition whose laid back guitar approach immediately takes audiences back to the reggae/rock sounds of the 90s. The immediate comparisons that come to mind are to acts, such as G. Love and Special Sauce, Dirty Heads, and Sublime. Audiences could even argue that there is an influence from Jack Johnson exhibited here, too.

The band discussed the song’s arrangement in a prepared statement.

“We wanted to deliver a fun & upbeat anthem that we hope everyone can relate to,” the statement reads. “This one is for everyone dealing with too much-unwanted stress, this one’s for you all.”

The song’s lyrical theme matches well with the band’s statement. That is evidenced as band namesake Matt Irie sings about having a “coastal dream” and the welcome feel of the sand and waves. The overall theme is certain to put any listener in a positive mindset, even during the coming cold, winter days.

More information on Matt Irie Band’s new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:



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Audiences Will “Celebrate” Kurt Baker’s Latest LP

Courtesy: Wicked Cool records

Independent pop rock artist Kurt Baker is scheduled to release his latest album After Party Friday.  The 12-song record is, like his label mate Jessie Wagner’s new album Shoes Droppin’, another surprisingly enjoyable musical diamond in the rough in the year’s field of new albums.  The four singles that the album has already turned out more than prove the noted statement true.  They are but a snapshot of what makes After Party so enjoyable.  ‘Used To Think,’ which comes late in the album’s run, shows in its own way what makes the album so engaging and entertaining.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Should’ve Been The One,’ the 36-minute record’s penultimate entry, does its own share to show what makes the album stand out.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Waiting For You,’ which comes a little earlier in the album, is another notable addition to the record.  When it is considered along with the other two songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of its entries, the whole of After Party proves itself to be a presentation whose arrival listeners will happily celebrate.

Kurt Baker’s new solo album After Party is a wonderful new offering from the independent singer-songwriter.  It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of listeners with its musical and lyrical content alike.  The singles that the record has produced leave no doubt about that.  They are just a portion of what makes the album so enjoyable, too.  It boasts plenty of entertaining and engaging songs other than the noted entries, not the least of which is the song ‘Used To Think.’  The musical arrangement featured in this song is a unique presentation in itself.  It mixes elements of music from the 1980s and 50s for its whole.  The 1950s style sound is more evident in the choruses, with the simple, infectious calls of “ooh-ah, baby” while the more 80s pop rock style sounds are more commonplace in the verses.  The pairing of the sounds does not seem like it would work on paper, but in hearing them together here, they make for such a fun song.  When they join with the song’s lyrical theme, which comes across as Baker looking back on life and learning from his experiences, but doing so with a positive mindset, the song becomes even more accessible and enjoyable for audiences.

The noted lyrical topic is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, in which Baker sings, “I used to think that I wanted money/I used to think that I wanted fame/And looking back/Though it may seem funny/I used to think that was just a game/I used to think/That maybe one day/You might get up and go/I used to think/But now I know.”  The noted theme is continued in the song’s second verse as he sings, “I spent a lot of money on used records/I spent a lot of money on cheap beer/But in the end I got no regrets ‘cause/All that spending got me right to here/I used to think/That maybe one day/I would reap what I sow/I used to think/But now I know.”  He adds in the song’s third verse, “I realize that things are more important/I realize that things are black and white/To understand just how this world works/You’ve got to be in it for the fight/I used to think…”  that last refrain is tough to decipher. That is a minor issue.  Looking at the bigger picture of the lyrical content, it delivers a relatively positive message of someone who has learned some valuable life lessons and grown as a person as a result of those lessons.  That is, as always, just this critic’s own interpretation.  Hopefully it is close to being a correct interpretation.  Regardless, that it is not just another typical song about relationships and that it couples with an equally accessible musical arrangement, makes it that much more enjoyable for audiences.  It is just one of the works that shines so brightly in this presentation.  ‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another enjoyable entry in the record’s overall presentation.

‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another of those songs that mixes influences of the 1950s and 1980s.  What is important to note here is that it is unique from the album’s other entries. In this case, the song’s musical base takes elements of 1950s doo-wop a la The Skyliners, The Everly Brothers, and Ritchie Valens and crosses that with the synth-pop sounds that were so popular during the 1980s.  The hybrid approach makes the song a surprisingly appealing composition that holds its own alongside the album’s other arrangements.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too.  The song’s familiar lyrical theme of a relationship adds to its appeal.

The noted theme is presented right from the song’s outset as Baker sings, “I found a true love/But I threw it away/She gave me all the lovin’/Day after day/But I was getting careless/I was foolin’ around/And I shoulda known that you would find out/Always act suspicious when I came home late/I told you I was working/And you took the bait/Rumors have a funny way of making their rounds/But the truth came out/And you found out/I know I let you down/Should’ve been the one to tell you/I should’ve been the one to say/Should’ve been the one to let you know…I can’t change my ways/Should’ve been the one to say.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “We were having our share of sleepless nights/Every disagreement/Turned into a fight/She came out of nowhere/There was nothing I could do/She makes me feel the same way I did when I met you.”  Even lyrically this song harkens back to the 1950s, as it is a song sung from the male perspective, knowing that he has done wrong, and he is basically showing his remorse to the woman he wronged.  This, and the song’s catchy musical arrangement, pair up to make the song that much more unique and interesting.  It is just one more way in which Baker’s latest offering proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable work.  ‘Waiting For You’ is yet another way in which the album exhibits its appeal.

‘Waiting For You’ is unique in that while it does present its own 1950s sensibility, one could also argue a more modern influence a la Jack Johnson.  That is presented through the simple piano riff and guitar line.  Baker’s vocal performance is the main point at which the 1950s influence shows through.  In this case, it conjures thoughts of Buddy Holly.  That in itself is enough to generate plenty of appeal.  When that element is coupled with the equally familiar modern pop rock influence that is spread across Baker’s record, the song becomes even more enjoyable.  Add in the familiar relationship-based lyrical content and audiences get an even more pleasant presentation.

The lyrical presentation featured here comes across as that of a man who is completely devoted to a woman.  That is inferred as Baker sings in the song’s lead verse, “You were shining bright/On a warm summer night/And I was waiting for you/People smiled at me/’Cause I bet they could see/I was waiting for you/It was something real girl/How you made me feel, girl/And I always hoped you would feel it, too/Well we lost it all, girl/Sometime in the fall, girl/And I’m still in love with you.”  One need not really much deeper than this, as the rest of the song follows in similar fashion.  Though Baker does ask in the second verse, “What else can I do girl/It’s all up to you girl/Did you start a love affair with someone new?” as he tells the woman “I’m still in love with you.”  This is a man who is head over heels for a woman, point blank.  Again, this lyrical theme itself even throws back to another time.  When this is considered along with the song’s equally enjoyable musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes yet another truly high point of After Party.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole becomes a presentation overall that is a wonderful work that any listener will celebrate.

Kurt Baker’s new album After Party is a surprisingly enjoyable offering from the independent singer-songwriter.  Its musical and lyrical content alike more than prove that true.  That is proven through the songs noted here and through the record’s singles, as well as its other works.  All things considered, they make the album its own party for listeners ears that audiences will find themselves celebrating.  It is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records.

More information on Kurt Baker’s new single and album is available along with all of his latest news at:




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Andy Jenkins Debuts New Single, ‘Far Away From Here’

Courtesy: Spacebomb Records

Independent singer-songwriter Andy Jenkins debuted his latest single this week.

Jenkins debuted his new song ‘Far Away From Here‘ Tuesday.  The easygoing arrangement, whose foundation is formed through its subtle guitar, piano and vocals, is a work that will appeal to fans of similar acts, such as Ben Harper and Jack Johnson.  Audiences will find the song’s lyrical theme just as familiar in its own right as its musical arrangement.

Jenkins discussed the song’s lyrical theme in a recent interview.

“‘Far Away From Here’ is a song about the after images of love, remembering those free and easy times, heightened emotions and lengthening shadows,” he said.  “It also describes the realization — after love is gone — of feeling pretty alright.  I pictured someone at the end of a long day of traveling, who realized they felt good for the first time in a while.  ‘I don’t mind the way I felt today, far away from here.’  What’s the saying?  Distance makes the heart grow.”

Additionally, Jenkins talked about the song’s creation during his interview.

“We tracked last summer to tape at Spacebomb Studios with four of my favorite musicians:  Pinson Chanselle, Cameron Ralston, Alan Good Parker and Jacob Ungerleider,” he said.  “I produced a song of my own for the first time.  Erin Rae recorded vocals in Nashville.  her last record, Putting on Airs, was a personal revelation, beautifully crafted, cutting and calm.  I feel lucky that she is singing on this track.”

Rae appears as a guest performer on Jenkins’ new track, singing alongside him throughout the song.

‘Far Away From Here’ is available to stream and download through various platforms here.

Jenkins’ new single is his first new music since the release of his EP The Garden Opens last year.  He released his debut album Sweet Bunch in 2018.  That record was received with praise from the likes of Mojo magazine, Uncut and Stereogum.

More information on Andy Jenkins’ new single is available online along with all of his latest news at:






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Drew Zaragoza Debuts New Holiday Tune ‘Gypsy Christmas’

Independent singer-songwriter Drew Zaragoza is giving audiences a new way to celebrate the holidays.

Zaragoza released his new single ‘Gypsy Christmas’ Dec. 1. The song boasts a gentle, flowing musical arrangement that will appeal easily to fans of acts, such as Jack Johnson and Bon Iver.  Its lyrical content is just as simple as its musical content.

Zaragosa talked about that content in a recent interview.

“Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and the modern commercialism of it can make it stressful, which is the opposite of what it is about,” he said.  “This song is about getting away from that modern commercialism.”

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

‘Gypsy Christmas’ originally premiered online at mxdwn and is the first new music from the Los Angeles-based musical artist since the release of his EP Child of the Sun.  ‘Audiences can download ‘Gypsy Christmas’ here.

More information on Drew Zaragoza is available online now at:





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The Movement’s Latest LP Lives Up To Its Name

Courtesy:  Rootfire Cooperative

Courtesy: Rootfire Cooperative

A little more than twelve years ago a little band that went by the name of The Movement made its first impact in the reggae community when it released its debut full-length studio recording On Your Feet.  The fourteen-song record established the South Carolina-based band as one of the leaders in the next generation of reggae.  That is because it broke the mold used by seemingly nearly every other reggae act out there at the time.  Fast forward back to today.  The band has maintained its place at the forefront of the genre since 2004 with the release of its sixth full-length album GoldenGolden was released Friday, April 8th via Rootfire Cooperative.  The album’s twelve total songs are everything that fans have come to expect from the veteran reggae outfit.  In many cases, a band doing the same thing for so long would be a death sentence for said act.  However that has not been the case for The Movement in this case because its sound, while familiar, doesn’t just repeat the band’s previous work.  Instead, the band has taken its familiar sound and used it to craft an album of wholly new tunes that any listener will enjoy.

The Movement’s latest full-length studio recording Golden is a fittingly titled new effort from the veteran reggae act.  That is because while the album’s overall sound is familiar to the band’s longtime fans, that familiar sound has not equaled to the same old songs as before.  Rather, the band has managed to re-invent itself once again (so to speak) on this, its sixth new album.  The end result is an album that is yet again more than just another run-of-the-mill reggae record.  It is a reggae record that leads the way within its community.  This is evident early on in the album’s title track.  The song, which features Elliot Martin, mixes the band’s familiar reggae sound with EDM elements for what is one of the album’s most standout offerings.  What’s truly interesting here is the group’s ability to balance both musical elements.  Neither one overpowers the other at any point.  That balance forms a solid foundation for the song.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content makes it stand out just as much.  Vocalist Joshua Swain sends some positive vibes through the song’s lyrical content.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “Frost say nothing gold can stay/I guess you can’t measure how much a soul can weigh/And I’ll never let this love unfold and fray/So my heart will stay golden after I’m old and grey/Frost say Eden-ya know it sank to grief/Don’t mean to offend you but it’s not my belief/Wanna scream to the world/There’s only hope and peace/When you have a gold heart and give away the gold leaf.”  This message of optimism and is echoed in the song’s second verse, in which Swain sings, “Frost say nature’s first green is gold/But depending on whether the prior scene is told/It’s a cycle/Forever infinity remolds the heavens/Relax and let the dream unfold/And why is it so hard for us to see/I’m thinking we’re all just in a rush to be somebody/But first ya know we must be free/And in time you will say first I must be free.”  Swain comes across as saying to listeners that they should have love for others, not for themselves.  That is hinted even more in the song’s closing verse in which Swain notes that the fighting among men worldwide will be overcome by that love for one another.  That positive vibe is commonplace in reggae.  But its wording is original in its own right.  And when it is set against the song’s EDM musical arrangement the song stands out even more.  It is just one of the album’s most standout compositions.  ‘On Top (ft. Leilani Wolf)’ is another prime example of what makes Golden live up to its title.

Golden’s title track shows easily in itself why this new record from The Movement stands out.  That is thanks to the combination of its hybrid reggae/EDM sound and the positive message presented in its lyrical content.  It is just one of the songs that shows why Golden lives up to its name, though.  ‘On Top (ft. Leilani Wolf)’ is another of song that proves the importance of this album among this year’s crop of new reggae albums.  Whereas the album’s title track mixed the band’s familiar reggae sound with EDM elements, this song mixes that reggae sound with a hip-hop sound for yet another original composition unlike any presented by the band’s many counterparts.  Also as with ‘Golden,’ the song’s musical content is just part of what makes it stand out.  Its lyrical content will keep listeners just as engaged.  Swain spits rhymes here with the fluidity of a river as he raps, “Pickkin’ up pieces – pardon the prime alliteration/Apparently people notice and perk with participation/But life is a puzzle – Put it together with pride/And you’ll probably find purpose if you put your ego aside.”  This harkens right back to the message presented in the album’s title track.  And it’s just one verse buried within the song, too.  He goes on noting in the song’s final verse “I hate to see my people/Like a flower with the root gone/Drenched like they took a shower with their suit on/Benched – sit or you sleep – Life ain’t a futon/Time to strap ya boots on/Hike a million miles a week to get ya move on/Party like it won’t ever peak/To get ya groove on/Wig out with ya locks/Or be sleek and rock a buffoon/Doesn’t really matter – Just be – And get ya truth on/Dready speak the truth mon.”  It’s just this critic’s own interpretation but Swain comes across here as saying that people should be the most that they can be and do the most possible with life.  Don’t just be weak and sit around and let things happen.  Get out there and make things happen.  That could be totally off the mark, again, being that it is just one interpretation.  What everyone will agree on here is the depth of these lyrics.  That depth, when considered along with the song’s equally enjoyable musical content, shows why the song in whole is yet another of this record’s most notable compositions.  Together with the album’s title track, both songs show even more clearly why Golden is indeed golden.  They are not the only songs that can be cited in making that argument either.  The album’s poppy, guitar-driven closer is one more piece proving why Golden lives up to its name.

‘Golden’ and ‘’On Top (ft. Leilani)’ are both key examples of what makes Golden live up to its title.  They are both stark contrasts from one another stylistically speaking.  And even while their lyrical messages differ, too, they are still similar in that both present positive messages in said content.  While both prove in the end to be key examples of what makes Golden shine (pun fully intended) they are not the only of the album’s songs that can be cited in making that argument.  The song’s poppy, guitar-driven closer ‘Wild Time’ is one more example of what makes this record stand out in whole.  Musically speaking Swain’s work on guitar and his vocal delivery conjure thoughts of Jack Johnson, and to a lesser degree Ben Harper.  Drummer Gary Jackson’s work behind the kit adds even more depth to the song with cymbal crashes in all of the right places and a gentle backbeat.  The song’s touching tribute to Swain’s family and friends back home partners with the song’s musical content to make it all the deeper and more emotional.  Swain sings in a bittersweet manner, “To all my friends up in Philly/And to my family down in Charleston, too/For all my faults/Please forgive me/Didn’t mean to be so rude/I miss my sister out in Rainbow City/I miss my mom and dad out in Columbia, too/I only pray that you believe me/God only knows my words are true.”  This is a deep and moving passage that will leave not a single eye dry in hearing it.  The emotion doesn’t let up at all from here as Swain continues on, singing, “My eyes water as I scan the night sky/And I dream of everything that we might do/I fall asleep praying, “please just let me wake up”/I need another day to make it come true/It’s been a wild time loving you.”  Again, Swain tugs at listeners’ heart strings here, presenting so much truly heartfelt emotion and wording.  And one again, the combination of those moving words and equally moving musical content makes this song stand out just as much as ‘Golden’ and ‘On Top’ if not more.  Regardless it can be easily said of this piece that thanks to its combination of deeply moving musical and lyrical content, it is indeed one more piece proving why The Movement’s new album is in fact musical gold.

The Movement might not be one of the biggest names in the musical universe or maybe even the reggae community.  But it can be said in hearing the group’s sixth full-length album that it should be.  That is because this record does indeed live up to its name.  It lives up to its name as it once again mixes the band’s familiar reggae sound with a mix of sounds from other genres within the musical universe for a record that is in whole another original release from the veteran band.  The hybrid EDM/reggae sound of the album’s title track, the mix of hip-hop and reggae in ‘On Top’ and the poppy, almost Jack Johnson/Ben Harper style sound of the album’s closer all prove this in their own way.  Together with the album’s purer reggae compositions, the album in whole proves to be a record that definitely lives up to its name.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Golden is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:








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Put Our Heads Together Will Get Stuck In Any Listener’s Head

Courtesy:  Sugar Mountain PR

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

Veteran kindie-pop act Hot Peas ‘N Butter is set to release its latest full-length studio recording Put Our Heads Together this week. The album, set for release this Friday, September 25th, is just as enjoyable for those that might not be so familiar with the band’s extensive body of work as for those long-time fans that have followed the band since its infancy. The main reason for that is the album’s mix of infectious, upbeat pop sounds and its equally accessible lyrical content throughout the course of its twelve track, forty-minute body. That is evident early on in the album’s opener ‘Amistad.’ The song celebrates the power of friendship and boasts vocals sung by front man Danny Lapidus both in English and Spanish throughout the song’s near four-minute run time. The band’s anti-bullying anthem ‘No Bully’ is just as impressive of an example of what makes this record so enjoyable. And while summer is winding down, that does not lessen the enjoyment of the celebratory ‘Here At Last!’ As a matter of fact being that the new school year has just recently started for many school districts across America, the inclusion of this song was one more smart move by Lapidus and his band mates. All three songs noted here are within themselves wonderful examples of what makes Put Our Heads Together. There is no denying the enjoyment offered by the album’s remaining nine songs, two of which are in fact re-mixes, in the enjoyment of the album in whole. As a matter of fact all twelve tracks show Put Our Heads Together to be an album that will be stuck in every listeners’ heads long after it is over.

Whether listeners are new to the music of Hot Peas ‘N Butter or they are more familiar with the veteran kindie-pop act’s body of work, all listeners can agree in hearing its twelve songs that it is a solid new effort from the Brooklyn, NY-based band. That is made clear early on in the album’s opener ‘Amistad.’ The song’s title in itself generates quite a bit of interest for listeners. While the title bears the same name as the infamous slave ship La Amistad, there is likely no connection between the two. That can be assumed considering that in Spanish, Amistad translates to “Friendship.” And the concept behind the song’s lyrical content is in fact that of friendship. As Lapidus sings in the song’s lead verse, “Aint it good to know/That I got you and you got me/And now we have each other/Now we have each other like sisters and brothers/When you’re blue/I will see you through/Just call my name/I’ll come running in the rain.” Lapidus leaves nothing to doubt here. The sentiment is one that one can only dream of nowadays. It seems near impossible to find such true friendship in the world today. Considering that both younger listeners and their adult counterparts might benefit from hearing this song.

Thanks to its infectious musical content and equally positive lyrical content ‘Amistad’ shows itself to be a solid opener for Put Our Heads Together. It is a song from which adults will take away just as much as children considering that mix of material. For all that the song offers listeners, it is just one of the songs that makes this album so enjoyable for the whole family. The album’s anti-bullying anthem ‘No Bullies’ is another great example of how much this record has to offer its audiences. The song celebrates the differences that set us apart from one another through both its lyrical and musical content. The song’s musical content is based on a catchy hip-hop style beat over which is laid a Jack Johnson style guitar riff played by Lapidus that eventually evolves into something more akin to Breanaked Ladies in the song’s chorus. The song’s lyrical content is just as enjoyable in the bigger picture as its musical content with Lapidus singing in the song’s chorus, “There’s no secret/There aint’ no shame/We’re all so different/And that’s exactly what makes us the same/No need to run/No need to hide/No need to feel like we’re on the outside/Shine a light for all to see/Lead the way/And all of us so different/And that’s exactly what makes us the same.” Lapidus goes on to sing in the song’s second verse about all of the things that make people different from one another and how those specific differences make everybody the same and so great. The most impressive aspect of all of this is that the band didn’t take that all too commonly cheesy route taken by so many other children’s acts when tackling this exact subject. Rather the band opted to make a fun, poppy song that grownups won’t have to be ashamed to admit that they enjoy as much as their children. Considering this it is clear why this song is another great example of what makes Put Our Heads Together an album that will get stuck in listeners’ heads. It is not the last example either. The celebratory ‘Here At Last!’ is just as much of an example of what makes the album enjoyable as the previously noted compositions.

Both ‘No Bullies’ and ‘Amistad’ are clear, enjoyable examples of what makes Put Our Heads Together an album that adults will enjoy just as much as their younger counterparts. For all of the enjoyment offered by both songs, they are hardly the only compositions presented as part of the album’s whole that makes it so enjoyable. ‘Here At Last!’ is yet another example of how much the record has to offer listeners of all ages. The song celebrates the joys of summer vacation all while touting the excitement of the upcoming school year. Any parent of a young child will especially be able to relate to the overall sense of excitement expressed here both musically and lyrically. In examining the song’s musical content, older listeners will especially appreciate the song thanks to its eerie to the song ‘You Get What You Give’ from the one-hit wonder band New Radicals. That is not to say that Hot Peas ‘N Butter is a one hit wonder at all. It is just this critic’s own interpretation of the song that it sounds a lot like the music of New Radicals. Moving on to the song’s lyrical content the noted sense of overall excitement is exhibited as Lapidus sings, “Summertime is here at last/So hold on to old friends/But can’t wait for new beginnings/A summer dream that just keeps shining/Oh keeps spinning.” He goes on to sing about the excitement felt by children as their look forward to their annual summer vacations and all that comes with them as they count down the days to the start of a new school year. Now given the song (as part of the album’s whole) comes at an interesting time considering that most schools around the country have started back. Regardless, it is still a good addition to the album. That is because the song could generate thoughts of all the enjoyment had by those young listeners and in turn help motivate them to get through the difficulties of those first few weeks back. This makes it one more clear example of the album’s ability to entertain listeners of all ages. Together with ‘No Bullies,’ ‘Amistad,’ and the rest of the songs not noted here, all twelve tracks featured in this record make it a record in whole that will find itself stuck in any listener’s head.

Put Our Heads Together is a surprise among this year’s crop of new children’s albums. It is an album that adults will be just as happy to admit that they enjoy just as much as their children. That is thanks to the infectious pop sound that serves as the foundation for each of its songs. The positive lyrical content that is communicated through each song makes the album in whole that much more enjoyable. All things considered Put Our Heads Together proves in whole to be an album that will find itself getting stuck in any listener’s head. It will be available in stores and online this Friday, September 25th. More information on Put Our Heads Together is available online now along with all of the latest news from the band at:



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Zee Avi To Release First Ever Family Album This Spring

Courtesy:  Little Monsters Records

Courtesy: Little Monsters Records

Malaysian-American singer/musician Zee Avi will release her latest album this Spring.

Night Light, which is a collection of covers of family favorite songs, will be released Tuesday, April 15th. It is the first ever family for the artist who has also released albums via Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records. The album includes covers of Louis Armstrong’s ‘Dream a Little Dream’, Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’, Joni Mitchell’s ‘The Circle Game’, and even ‘Colors of the Wind’ from Disney’s Pocahontas among many others. It was produced by Little Monster Records head Kevin Salem at his company’s studios in Woodstock, New York and conjures thoughts of Avi’s earliest releases. Salem noted of the overall fell of Night Light, “There’s a lot of soul and great musical nourishment here.”

Zee, who is a Malaysian native, has recognized her as one of the Top 10 Malaysians. She won the International Youth Award in her home country in 2011. These honors have led to numerous speaking engagements around the world and performances at some of the world’s biggest festivals. Those festivals include: Borneo’s Rain Forest World Music Festival, Australia’s Byron Bay Festival, San Francisco’s Noise Pop Fesitval, Austin’s SXSW Festival, New York’s Mountain Jam Festival, Lilith Fair, Bonnaroo, and San Diego’s Street Scene. She was also just recently tapped to perform at the KiddieComm family music festival in Philadelphia, PA on June 28th.

More information on Zee Avi’s upcoming performances and album is available online at,, and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

England Channels Johnson, Jones On Fun New LP

Courtesy:  Frances England Music

Courtesy: Frances England Music

Frances England’s new album, Blink of an Eye is a good listen for anyone that is a fan of Jack Johnson and Norah Jones.  For those not familiar with either of these artists’ musical or vocal styling, the artwork on England’s new album is a fitting description and companion to both her own material and that of Johnson and even Jones.  For those unfamiliar with the work of either artist, the album’s inner artwork serves as a good visual of the music’s general feel.   The album’s inner artwork presents a beach scene that includes two young boys running along the unnamed beach in question.  The waves are gently coming in and the sun is shining.  The songs culled for the album are very much in that very vein.  This is evident from the album’s title track and opener.

‘Blink of an Eye’ works perfectly with the artwork of England’s new album both with its musical side and the imagery presented lyrically.  The gentle acoustic guitar and the auxiliary percussion combine with England’s lyrics to make a song that instantly conjures thoughts of relaxing on the beach at night, taking in everything around one’s self.  She sings of looking up at the stars, seeing something flying in the night sky just below Orion’s Belt in the blink of an eye.  There is also mention of seeing a mother bird with her babies as they learned to fly.  On the surface, this is just an easy going song about nature.  But on a deeper level—in this critic’s own view—the mention of noticing things “in the blink of an eye” and the joy of doing so is more an emphasis on appreciating the little things in life; those things that we see but to which we choose to give only a passing thought.  Appreciating these little things serves to make our lives happier and more meaningful.  Such a revelation makes ‘Blink of an Eye’ a fitting and fun opener for this record.

Much of the material on Blink of an Eye is similar stylistically speaking, to the album’s opener.  Though there is at least a trio of pieces that stands out from the rest of the album’s material.  Those songs come in the form of ‘Move Like Saturday Night’, ‘Bicycle Built for 2’ and ‘The Sun Will Shine Again.’  The latter pair of the trio has far more poppy sound than the prior.  Though that doesn’t make ‘Move Like Saturday Night’ any less enjoyable than the latter songs noted here.  This song is such a fun piece because it is a percussion-centric piece.  As any music lover knows, drums and percussion are the heart of any song, regardless of genre and sub-genre.  It’s the drums and percussion of any song that will get listeners moving and dancing.  The drums and percussion in this song will in fact have listeners of any age “ready to move light Saturday night” as Mrs. England sings.  It’s just one more positive to this already fun album for the whole family.

The more poppy ‘Bicycle Built for 2’ and ‘The Sun Will Shine Again’ are just as enjoyable as ‘Blink of an Eye’ and ‘Move Like Saturday Night.’  They are a nice change of pace from the more laid back material that populates the majority of the album.  The drums and the keyboard on this modern take on the children’s classic are a nice touch.  They really help to drive the song and give it a little bit of a kick.  The call and response between England and guest vocalist Molly Ledford is a nice added touch, to the song, too.  All three come together to make this song one of the album’s most standout moments.  ‘The Sun Will Shine Again’ is just as fun as the previously mentioned songs because it bears more of a poppy vibe than other pieces on the album.  The poppy feel of the song is only part of what makes this another standout moment.  The song’s lyrical side puts it over the top.  It’s a song that reminds listeners that no matter how bad things might get, things can and will get better.  The song’s music expertly serves as a companion to its lyrics, making a song that speaks to listeners like a close friend or parent as England sings, “If you get to feeling down and out/Go ahead and scream/Go ahead and shout/Do what you do to shake that off/Of you/Cause you belong with the best/You are the one/That lets the rest of us know/That the sun will shine again.”  If this doesn’t motivate a person and generate even the slightest of smiles on a listener’s face, then said person needs to be checked for a pulse.  The world is in turmoil right now.  Children are dying and suffering terrible psychological damage as a result of bullying from one another.  So this song is a perfect fit for listeners of any age especially in the current world climate. 

The songs examined here are all excellent additions to this new album.  There are seven more tracks from which listeners can choose as their favorite on this record.  England doesn’t have any shows planned right now at which audiences can hear her music.  But fans can go online right now and check out the trailer for her new album to get a feel of what to expect.  Audiences can check it out now on YouTube at  Audiences can also keep up with all of the latest news and tour information from Frances England when she announces new dates online at and

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Recess Monkey Returns With More Fun On New LP

Courtesy:  Recess Monkey/Waldmania Publicity

Courtesy: Recess Monkey/Waldmania Publicity

Recess Monkey is back!  This kid friendly Seattle, WA based trio of teachers has released yet another album that both kids and adults will enjoy.  Its mix of sounds and equally fun and funny songs are sure to get younger listeners moving and parents tapping their feet.  One part Jack Johnson and one part Presidents of the United States, the band’s new album is a good introduction to the band for any first time listeners.  This time out, the band—Drew Holloway (guitar, vocals), Jack Forman (bass, keys), and Korum Bischoff (drums)—presents audiences with fifteen tracks of seaworthy silliness and some more serious subjects handled in a wonderfully family friendly fashion.  Having listened through this whole record, it stands out as one of the year’s best children’s albums.

Deep Sea Diver, the newest album from Recess Monkey, opens with the silly song, ‘Tambourine Submarine.’  While it may not be entirely intentional, this song is sure to conjure up instant comparisons to The Beatles’ famed ‘Yellow Submarine’ as well as certain compositions by Jack Johnson with its poppy grooves.  Younger listeners likely won’t get the references.  But the silly lyrics combined with the up-tempo music make together, for a solid opener to this album.  Holloway and his band mates sing on this song, “Hear the jingle jangle beat/That gets the big propeller spinning around/The periscope’s up.  We’re looking for a crew/Could it be you/To dance around to the sound/Down, down, down we’ll go/To move and shake/And make some waves/On the ocean floor below.”  It’s just a fun, happy song that will, as the lyrics note, get young listeners to dance around and have a fun time.  Those same young listeners will have just as much throughout the course of the album’s tracks, including what is sure to be a hit with both parents and kids alike in ‘The Deep End.’

‘The Deep End’ is a fun, beachy tune about a family trip to the pool.  Though its tropical vibe mixed with the topic of swimming is sure to invoke images more of a family beach trip than to the pool.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.  Considering this combination of sound and images, one could close one’s eyes and see images of a pool with palm trees rising around as the sun shines overhead.  This is one of those songs that simply shout music video.  Parents will especially appreciate ‘The Deep End’ because of its horn section.  The backing horn section plays a rhythm that sounds oddly like a certain 80s tune titled, ‘I’m Walking on Sunshine.’  Keeping this in mind, this song is another hit both for kids and parents.  Kids will enjoy the tropical rhythms and the lyrical expression of a child’s excitement over going swimming on his or her own early on.  Parents will enjoy it for the tropical rhythms and for the nostalgia generated by the horns.  And of course, as fun as this song is, it’s a wonderful candidate for a music video.  All of this combined proves even more what makes Deep Sea Diver such an enjoyable album.

Deep Sea Diver boasts loads of fun, beachy and summer themed songs throughout the course of its fifteen songs.  For all the fun songs included in the album, Recess Monkey also touches on more serious issues without being too serious in a handful of songs.  One of the most notable of those songs is ‘Shrimp.’  This funky song touches on the ever growing epidemic of bullying in our country through the concept of kids picking on other kids for their height. This may seem a trivial issue.  But for children it is a very serious topic.  In an age when words really can hurt, kids need to be able to express themselves.  And they need encouragement from adults that it’s okay to be who and how they are.  Enter, ‘Shrimp.’  This song offers that reassurance in a fun fashion that even parents will appreciate.  Hollway and company do a little “rap” session here, writing, “Don’t look in the mirror/And wish you grew/Gotta love everything you see about you/Instead of staying home/Crying boo hoo/Start thinkin’ ‘ bout the things/Only you can do.”  This verse alone exemplifies everything that children need from adults.  It is that encouragement.  From here Holloway goes on to describe the things that smaller people can do such as: not worrying about hitting one’s head on the trees in the forest, or on a funnier note, not having to eat much to be full and thus being able to get to dessert quicker.  Now, who wouldn’t love that?!  Who doesn’t love dessert?  Exactly!  There’s also mention of smaller individuals being able to get into tighter spaces that taller people wouldn’t stand a chance of getting into and so much more.  In short, this whole song is all the inspiration that young people need even if only in this one area.  And what starts as a tiny bulb can grow into a giant tree.  Confused yet?  Simply put this one song could be the seed to having great confidence later, no matter what bullies may try to do to knock one down.  So kudos are in order in the biggest way, to Recess Monkey for including this song on the band’s new album.  It’s one more of so many songs that parents and kids will love to listen to again and again when the album drops on Tuesday, June 18th

While families await the release of this enjoyable album, they can also check out the guys live.  A handful of performances around Washington state have been posted to the band’s main website,  The first of those dates is a duo show with Jack and Drew at the Everett Family Fun Fair next Saturday, May 4th at 1pm.  Fans can check out the full list of performances and all the latest Recess Monkey tour dates and news on the band’s website as well as the band’s official Facebook page, and on Twitter at  And to download the band’s music—including its upcoming release—fans can get to it via iTunes at   

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Dirty Heads’ New LP A Solid Sophomore Effort

Courtesy: Five Seven Music

The release of The Dirty Heads’ sophomore album, “Cabin By The Sea” was released almost a month ago.  Its release couldn’t have been better timed.  Much like its debut album, “Any Port in a Storm”, this new release is a good Summer road trip record.  Fans of the band’s debut album will welcome this release as the sound on both releases is so similar. 

The album’s real opener and title track is a nice easy going beachy island type of sound.  It’s a nice gentle open to the record.  It’s followed by the 311-esque ‘Disguise’.  The hip-hop style mixed with the horns make for an interesting Latin-tinged piece.  Following ‘Disguise’ is perhaps one of the album’s best songs in ‘Spread Way Too Thin.’  This song makes itself a fan favorite without even trying.  It’s infused with elements of Jack Johnson and 311. Front man Dustin Bushnell sings on the song “I, I’m spread way too thin/Everybody wants to know what’s happening/I, I’m spread way too thin/what’s the big rush now/tell me why you’re rushin’.  It’s just an easy going anthem that every listener will love for its theme of relaxation. 

The Dirty Heads show their more modern influences on “Cabin By The Sea” with many of its songs.  But there’s also an older school influence from the one and only Bob Marley.  The band does more than merely showing Marley’s influence on ‘Your Love.’  It pays tribute to Marley with the inclusion of one Kymani Marley on the song.  It takes that Marley influence and seamlessly fuses it together with its own hip-hop style on “Dance All Night’ for another of the album’s high points.  Matisyahu joins the boys on this one to add his own extra spice to the mix.

“Cabin By The Sea” is a good beachy record for a sunny Summer day.  For fans who want a little more, the rap stylings of ‘Mongo Push’ and ‘Smoke Rings’ will get them moving, too.  Del The Funky Homosapien joined the band on ‘Smoke Rings’ for what is the album’s most hard edged song.  It’s definitely not a song for children.  And while it’s not a rap song, the same applies to ‘Best Of Us.’  The more mature themes of these songs and the language are not suitable for younger listeners.

“Cabin By The Sea” is available now in stores and online.  Fans can download an exclusive deluxe edition via iTunes.  The band is currently touring in support of the album.  NC based Dirty Heads fans will get a chance to see the band live this Summer when it performs Saturday, August 18th at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre.  Fans can get a full list of the band’s tour dates and more online at,,!/dirtyheads, and on its official YouTube channel,

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