Indie Kindie Music Act’s Latest LP Is A Strong New Effort

Courtesy:  Waldmania PR

Courtesy: Waldmania PR

Jeff Kagan and Paige Doughty are likely not one of the more well-known names in the world of children’s music. Interestingly enough the husband and wife duo is nothing new to that realm. Kagan has two solo albums. And the pair together has released two full length studio recordings, all of which have been released without the help of any of the major kindie rock labels out there. And the couple hasn’t stopped there. Last Friday, the duo released its third full-length studio recording Mighty Wolf. Named apparently after the couple’s infant son, Mighty Wolf continues the couple’s long-running tradition of mixing that musical and educational content that it has used in each of its previous recordings. This includes Kagan’s own solo recordings. Even within the context of the album’s musical content, Kagan and Doughty don’t even to one style. That is just one way in which this latest recording stands out. The previously mentioned lyrical content is another important element to consider in this album. Just as the couple mixes things up with the album’s musical content, so does it do with the album’s lyrical content, too. There is a lesson about ecology and a much larger elementary level biology lesson spread across the album’s twenty-three total tracks. Speaking of those tracks, the album’s sequenncing rounds out its most notable elements. While Mighty Wolf consists of twenty-three total tracks, only about half of the presented tracks are actually songs. The other thirteen tracks are set-ups for the the featured songs. The sequencing of all twenty-three songs maintains the album’s fluidity and in turn will keep parents, educators, and children alike fully engaged. That is not to say that the album’s musical and lyrical content won’t keep listeners engaged. As a matter of fact, both elements partnered with the album’s sequencing make the album in whole just as much of a good introduction to Jeff and Paige for new audiences as it is a re-introduction to the couple for those that are more familiar with the pair’s body of work.

Jeff and Paige’s latest full-length studio recording is a good re-introduction for those that are familiar with the couple’s music. For those that might not be so familiar with the duo’s music on the other hand, it is just as good of an introduction. That is because its mix of musical and lyrical content is similar to that of its previous recordings. The musical content displayed in this record is especially worth the note because on that more macro level, the duo even mixes up the sounds exhibited throughout the course of the record. Early on in the album’s run, Kagan and Doughty present a light kindie rock/pop sound in ‘Triple Rainbow.’ This song isn’t the only instance in which that sound is exhibited. ‘Black Widow,’ ‘Beaver,’ and ‘Dead and Delicious’ each have their own original kindie rock/pop sound that stands out from the other noted songs. ‘Dead and Delicious’ offers something of a blues-influenced sound while ‘Beaver’ has more of a light rock influence a la Dave Matthews Band and others of that ilk. ‘Triple Rainbow’ on the other hand has more of a pure acoustic rock sound. These are just a few of the album’s songs that boast a rock sound. ‘Lightning’ also boasts its own kindie rock sound. As if that isn’t enough for listeners, Kagan and Doughty don’t stick to just a variety of kindie rock sounds throughout their new record. There are also Country/Americana variants presented throughout other featured tracks. Those tracks include: ‘Grandma Gatewood,’ ‘That’s Not The Way,’ ‘Aphid Banquet For Two’ and the album’s closer ‘The Great Monarch Migration.’ The couple even included a poppy sound in ‘The Arctic’s Freezing’ and ‘Ungulate.’ The fact that this album boasts such a myriad of musical stylings from beginning to end (and that there are no defined parameters in the transition from one genre to another) is a big plus for the album in whole. It is just one part of what makes this record worth hearing regardless of listeners’ familiarity with Jeff and Paige. The different lyrical topics (and the topics within those topics) adds even more interest to the album.

The various styles of music that are presented throughout the course of Jeff and Paige’s new album are in themselves plenty of reason for listeners to hear the couple’s latest full-length studio recording. While that content is important to the album’s overall presentation in its own right, it is just one part of what makes the album worth the listen. The mix of topics presented in the album’s lyrical content (and the topics contained within those topics) plays an equally important role in the album’s presentation. The central topics in question are topics of biology and ecology. This is nothing new for Jeff and Paige. However the topics that lie within those topics are what really make the picture painted by the album’s lyrical content whole. The biology lesson contained within the album’s songs centers on different animals of the world and their importance to their respective ecosystems. ‘Black Widow’ and ‘Dead and Delicious’ dispelĀ the myths and stereotypes of spiders and certain birds. In the case of ‘Dead and Delicious’ the bird in question is a raven. It is interesting that Jeff and Paige would go with a raven versus a vulture considering the negative reputation that surrounds vultures. The reality of vultures is that just like ravens, they are basically nature’s garbage men, too. They help clear away road kill, and other dead animals by scavenging. That is not to say that they shouldn’t have gone with a raven. A raven is a good choice. It is just a surprise that the duo opted for a less familiar reference. ‘Beaver’ explains through song the important role that beavers play in building their dams while ‘The Great Monarch Migration’ and ‘the Arctic’s Freezing’ are more general. The prior discusses the life span of monarch butterflies while the latter discusses everyday life for animals in the Arctic.

The lesson about biology and biodiversity is just one of the lessons presented in this album. There is also a lesson about ecology presented in ‘Grandma Gatewood’ and ‘That’s Not The Way.’ ‘Grandma Gatewood’ presents the lesson about ecology and preservation through a story about the real life figure Emma Rowena Gatewood. Gatewood is famous for being the first woman to have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail (that is 2,168 miles) by herself and in one season, too. The song tells of her great deed and at the same time celebrates the beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Essentially it emphasizes the need to protect it (and in a larger picture, nature in whole) for the next generation that might want to try to accomplish her feat. On a different note, ‘That’s Not The Way’ discusses the interweaving roles that man and nature play on one another each day. It is a relatively broad topic. But the duo pulls it off quite well here. Together with the lessons on biology and biodiversity, the lessons centered on ecology and nature preservation show in whole why the varied lyrical topics presented throughout this album are just as important to the record’s whole as its varied musical styles. The two elements together give listeners new and old alike plenty of reason to hear Jeff and Paige’s new record. They are just part of the reason that listeners will want to hear Mighty Wolf. The album’s sequencing rounds out the reasons that the album proves itself worth the listen.

The musical and lyrical content that make up the body of Mighty Wolf makes the record an ahem* mighty collection of songs. While both elements together play an important role in the success of this record, they are only a portion of what helps it live up to its title. The album’s sequencing rounds out the ways in which it proves itself to be a strong new effort from the independent children’s entertainers. As previously noted, not all of the tracks featured in this record are musical compositions. Roughly half of its twenty-three total songs are musical numbers. The other tracks are little skits that Jeff and Paige use to introduce each song. On the surface this may not seem like much. However, the sequencing of the musical and non-musical tracks together is more important to th record’s overall presentation than one might think. The introductions serve a double purpose. Their primary purpose is to serve as an introduction to each lesson. The secondary purpose of each non-musical track is as a breather of sorts between songs. They help to break things up as the album progresses. The end result is an increased chance of keeping listeners engaged. It is a smart approach to keeping the album’s pacing solid. That solid pacing combined with the album’s equally engaging musical and lyrical content makes Mighty Wolf a truly mighty new release and an equally mighty independent release for the children’s entertainers.

Mighty Wolf is only the third full-length studio recording that Jeff Kagan and Paige Doughty have recorded together. For Kagan, it is his fifth full-length recording overall. That aside, this latest effort from the husband and wife children’s entertainers is indeed a mighty new release. This is exhibited through its variety of musical and lyrical content. Its sequencing plays just as much into the album’s success. All three elements are equally important to the album’s overall success in their own right. Collectively they make Mighty Wolf a mighty success for Jeff and Paige. Mighty Wolf is available now. It can be ordered online now via CD Baby at and downloaded via Amazon at More information on this and other releases from Jeff and Paige is available online now along with the latest news from Jeff and Paige at:




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The Pop Ups Prove They’re The Real Deal With Their New LP

Courtesy:  Pop Up City Records

Courtesy: Pop Up City Records

When the kindie rock duo The Pop Ups released its album AppetiteĀ For Construction last year, it released an album that was one of the year’s best new children’s albums. That is because it was one of the most creative both in regards to its musical and lyrical content. Now a little more than a year after the record’s release–the pair’s third full-length studio offering–Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein have followed it up with what is some of its best work to date in its fourth full-length recording Great Pretenders Club. This record is *pardon the bad pun* proof that The Pop Ups are no pretenders. Rather the pair has proven with this record that it is the real deal. Over the course of its eleven tracks and thirty-eight minutes, Rabinowitz and Stein show that they have re-invented themselves yet again all while maintaining some sense of their previous records. This applies largely to the record’s musical content. In regards to the record’s lyrical content that is just as family friendly as ever. As important as both elements are to the whole of this record, the sequencing of the songs is just as important to the album’s overall presentation as the songs’ content. The combination of all three elements makes Great Pretender’s Club a record that is a real contender for a spot on this year’s list of the best new children’s albums once again.

The Pop Ups’ new full-length studio recording Great Pretender’s Club is a real candidate for a spot on the list for this year’s best new children’s album. There is a number of reasons that this is the case. The central reason for its success is its musical content. Throughout the course of the record’s eleven songs and thirty-eight minutes Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein show time and again that they have re-invented their sound once again all without losing the elements that made their previous albums so entertaining. The 80s sound that served as the foundation for 2014’s Appetite For Construction is included once again here. But it is far less prevalent in this record than its predecessor. The only place in which that sound is truly evident is in the synth-driven ‘Googly Eyes.’ There are just as many elements of the pair’s 2011 debut album Outside Voices and its followup, 2012’s Radio Jungle throughout the rest of the record beginning with the infectious danceable vibes of the album’s opener ‘Pretend We Forget’ and ‘We Live in An Orchestra.’ The more airy, indie rock sound of ‘On Air’ is just as entertaining as is the R&B-influenced ‘Bird & Rhino’ and the upbeat rocker that is ‘Treasure Hunter.’ Those that are familiar with The Pop Ups’ body of work so far will even catch the band’s throwback to its previous albums in the semi-reggae-infused ‘Stuff.’ These are just a handful of examples of how the musical content exhibited throughout Great Pretenders Club makes it an impressive new release. That is not to take anything away from any of the songs not noted here. All eleven songs show in their own right just how enjoyable Great Pretenders Club is for listeners. Collectively they are plenty of proof in the argument for the album’s place in the list of this year’s best new children’s albums. They are just one reason that this record proves so impressive, too. The lyrical content put on display throughout each of the record’s songs is even more proof in that argument.

The musical content put on display over the course of The Pop Ups’ new album is plenty of proof in itself why this latest offering from the kindie rock duo is deserving yet again of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums. That is because it shows the pair doesn’t rest easy on its laurels. It takes the best elements of its predecessors and mixes them into a wholly new record here. It is just one reason that this album proves so enjoyable, too. The lyrical content exhibited throughout the course of the record’s near forty-minute run time is just as important to note in the album’s enjoyment as its musical content. In the simply titled ‘Bird & Rhino’ Rabinowitz and Stein in fact present the story of a bird and a rhinoceros that are best friends. On the surface, it’s just a fun story about a bird and a rhino. On a deeper level, it is a basic biology lesson about animal symbiosis. It also plays on the legend about rhinos stamping out fires. To this day there is no real proof of rhinos’ tendency to stamp out fires. It is just a fun little tale. And The Pop Ups have made it even more fun here. Audiences can hear the song for themselves right now and even see the song’s companion video via The Pop Ups’ official Facebook page at It’s just one example of how the lyrical content exhibited throughout this record makes it enjoyable. The upbeat indie-rock tune ‘Treasure Hunter’ is another example of how Great Pretenders proves to be the real deal. It comes from the vantage point of a young child using his or her imagination as he or she hunts for “treasure.” The treasure in question doesn’t even have to be gold. As the pair sings in the song’s second verse, “I drew a map/To help you find your keys/You’re gonna find it when you find it/You’re gonna find it when you look right under your keys/I took your hat/Hid it underneath the stairs/You’re gonna find it when you find it/You’re gonna find it when you go to get some extra chairs.” It celebrates the joys of a child’s innocence in just this one way. It could even be argued that it encourages parents to spend time with their kids being treasure hunters with them, building that all too important family bond. The simply titled, infectious ‘Indoor Picnic’ is one more example of how Great Pretenders Club’s lyrical content makes it just as enjoyable as its musical content. Rabinowitz and Stein sing here about children using their imaginations to make…well…an indoor picnic. The pair sings about using their imaginations and that they don’t necessarily have to use real food for said picnic. Of course, it could serve as the catalyst for parents and children taking something bad such as a rainy day and making it great by in fact having a real indoor picnic. It’s one more way in which the song’s lyrical content not only promotes the use of a child’s imagination but the interaction of children and their parents. If for no reason other than that of encouraging parents and children to spend time together, the song’s lyrical content shows why it is just as important to the song as its musical content. It is hardly the last example of how the album’s lyrical content overall plays an important role in the album’s success. There are eight other songs presented here that could show just as much the importance of the album’s lyrical content to its success. Whether for those songs or for the ones directly noted here, it can be said of all eleven songs that their combined lyrical content works hand in hand with their musical content to make a completely clear argument in favor of the album’s placement on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

Both the musical and lyrical content displayed over the course of Great Pretenders Club is more than enough reason for this album earning a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums. For all of the importance that both elements exhibit, they are hardly the only elements that make this album so enjoyable. The sequencing of the featured songs is just as important to the album as their musical and lyrical content. As audiences will note from start to finish the songs’ different sounds change from one song to the next. But through it all, the album never once loses its listeners. It all opens with the infectious vibes of ‘Pretend We Forgot’ before moving on to the equally danceable ‘We Live in an Orchestra.’ The EDM style sound of ‘On Air’ and 80s-influenced ‘Googly Eyes’ are as different as can be stylistically speaking. But the energy exuded by both songs is just enough to keep listeners engaged regardless. ‘Indoor Picnic’ is just as infectious with its upbeat pop rock sound. The funk style sound in ‘Bird & Rhino’ is just as certain to keep listeners engaged, even in its tamer moments. The songs noted here represent just the first half of Great Pretenders Club. The album’s remaining five compositions will each keep listeners’ ears just as much as those that make up the first half of the album. All things considered, the sequencing of this record’s songs coupled with the songs’ musical and lyrical content makes the album in whole one that is, again, a clear candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

The Pop Ups’ latest full-length studio offering Great Pretender’s Club is an aptly titled collection of songs. That is because it shows that this kindie rock band is anything but a pretender. It is in fact that real deal in the world of children’s music. It proves this through music that despite throwing back to all three of its previous albums, is completely original from beginning to end. The album’s lyrical content is just as original. It strays in large part from the standard material presented in so many children’s albums. And the sequencing of the album’s songs solidifies the album, ensuring listeners’ engagement from beginning to end. Each element in its own right plays its own important part in the album’s overall presentation. In whole, all three elements make this record a presentation that is just as much the real deal as the musicians that crafted and recorded it. Great Pretenders Club is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded direct via Amazon at More information on Great Pretenders Club is available online now along with The Pop Ups’ latest news at:




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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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