The Not-Its’ New LP Will Keep Audiences Of All Ages Listening

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

Late this winter kindie rock band The Not-Its released its latest full-length studio recording Are You Listening?  The band’s sixth album, it comes a little more than two years after the release of its fifth album Raise Your Hand (2014).  This ten-song record is not only a fun follow-up to that record but also some of the band’s best work to date, too.  That is thanks in part to the album’s catchy pop punk sound.  That is just part of what makes this record such a success.  The album’s wide variety of lyrical themes is just as important to note as its musical foundation.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.  Each element is equally important in its own right.  Altogether they make Are You Listening? a record that will make audiences of all ages want to listen.

The Not-Its’ new album Are You Listening? is a record that will make audiences of all ages want to listen to its ten songs.  As a matter of fact after hearing this record it could even leave audiences of all ages wanting to listen to each of the band’s previous offerings, too.  The main reason that it proves such an enjoyable record is its musical foundation.  The foundation in question is formed by the catchy, pop punk sound that is present throughout the course of the album’s ten songs.  In the world of mainstream music pop punk is very much limited to a specific audience in terms of its appeal.  But there’s something about the way that the band—Sarah Shannnon (lead vocals), Danny Adamson (rhythm guitar, glockenspiel, vocals), Tom Baisden (lead guitar), Jennie Helman (bass, vocals), and Michael Welke (drums, percussion, synthesizer, vocals)—executes the songs on this album that makes their sound one that will appeal to a much wider spectrum of listeners than that of more mainstream pop punk acts.  Maybe it’s in the songs’ instrumentation as with the near Ramones style sound of ‘Kid of the Week.’  It could be in the vocal arrangements, such as in the dual harmony in ‘Done With The Science Fair’ or maybe it’s both elements together such as in ‘Washington D.C.’  Regardless of which aspect applies, it can be said with certainty that from beginning to end, the album’s musical content serves as a solid foundation for The Not-Its’ new album.  It is an element that is certain to keep audiences of all ages listening from beginning to end if only for that element.  It is just one part of the album that will keep audiences listening.  The album’s varied lyrical themes are just as important to the album’s presentation as its musical content.

The catchy, pop punk sound exhibited throughout the course of The Not-Its’ new album is in its own right hugely important to its presentation.  That is because the manner in which the band executed each song sets the album’s sound apart from that of so many mainstream pop punk acts.  The manner in which the ban executed the album’s song makes it more accessible to a wider audience than say those mainstream pop punk albums that are obviously aimed more at teens and tweens.  Even with its importance it is just one part of what makes this record stand out.  The wide array of musical themes presented throughout the record’s twenty-nine minute run time is just as important to the album as its musical content.  The lyrical themes presented here include the silly (‘Brain Freeze’ and ‘Grandad is a Spy’, the educational (‘Done With The Science Fair’), the motivational (‘Don’t Fear The Dentist’) and even the deep (‘Washington D.C.’).  The latter of those songs is among the most important of the album’s varied lyrical themes.  The main reason for that is that while educational on the surface, it clearly serves a much deeper purpose than just educating.  That is clear as the band sings in the song’s chorus, “D.C./Do you hear me/D.C./Are you listening/D.C./Are you tuned in to me?” In the verse that follows there is mention of contacting representatives, speaking publicly about one’s views (essentially protesting) and basically being active in the political process.  This is obviously way over younger listeners’ heads.  So one can only imagine that this was aimed largely at older listeners while the song’s first half was aimed more at those younger listeners.  Thinking about it, spitting the song in such seemingly blatant style was pretty smart.  It ensured that it would be accessible to listeners of all ages.  The first half would cite all of the sites that make the nation’s capitol so great while the second half encourages older audiences to get involved in the political process.  Such a presentation, when set alongside the rest of the album’s other lyrical themes, makes the greater picture of the album’s lyrical content all the more entertaining for audiences of all ages.  When those themes are set alongside the album’s catchy, pop punk sound the two elements come together to show even more clearly why this record stands out.  It still is not the last remaining element to consider in examining why the album will keep audiences listening.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.

The foundation established by the musical and lyrical content of Are You Listening? goes a long way toward keeping audiences of all ages listening to this album.  While both elements are unquestionably important in their own right to the album’s presentation, the album’s sequencing cannot be ignored in its presentation.  The album’s sequencing is so important to its presentation because it is what keeps the album’s energy moving throughout the course of the album.  Older audiences will take greater note of this than younger listeners.  But there is a clear, intentionally set sequence here in regards to the album’s energy.  The album opens with a bang in ‘Dance With Me.’  ‘Done With The Science Fair’ follows with a gentle opening that eventually leads into a much higher-energy presentation.  ‘Washington D.C. is very much the same stylistically speaking.  It starts off with a decidedly reserved sound before really launching into the song’s more energetic core.  The energy becomes more direct in the album’s next two offerings—‘Grandad Is A Spy’ and ‘Don’t Fear the Dentist.’  One can’t help but wonder if this is a tribute to Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper.  Older audiences will get that joke more so than younger listeners.  Getting back on track, the band keeps the energy at just the right levels through the remainder of the album right up to the exhibiting more energy at times and then pulling it back just enough at others.  The end result is a ten-song set that will keep audiences of all ages listening just as much for its balanced energy as for its musical arrangements and its varied lyrical themes and in turn another candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s albums.

The Not-Its’ new album Are You Listening? is a record that will keep audiences of all ages listening.  That is thanks in part to its musical foundation.  The album’s catchy, pop punk sound will appeal to a much wider audience in this case than that of most mainstream pop punk acts.  The album’s varying lyrical themes will keep audiences of all ages just as engaged.  The album’s sequencing brings everything full circle.  It keeps the album’s energy just right at all of the right moments.  All three elements, when combined together, make The Not-Its’ new album not only an album that will keep audiences of all ages listening but also an album that is another candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s albums.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via The Not-Its’ website at https://squareup.com/store/the-not-its/item/cd-are-you-listening.  More information on this and the band’s other albums is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.wearethenot-its.com

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

 

 

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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:

Website: http://www.hotpeasnbutter.com

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

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.

Audiences Will Want To ‘Buy One’ (Or More) Copy Of Dog On Fleas’ New LP

Courtesy:  Sugar Mountain PR

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

Family and children’s albums are some of the most enjoyable records that anyone can listen to today.  Believe it or not, they are just as enjoyable as any mainstream album because they are actually more creative than mainstream records.  That was proven time and again throughout 2013.  And now in 2014, that argument has already been proven true time and again with releases from the likes of Django Jones and The Little Rockers Band.  Now, Dog On Fleas has come along to prove that more than ever with its latest full length studio album, Buy One Get One Flea.  This album, the band’s eighth, has officially taken the top spot on this critic’s list of the year’s top Children & Family albums.   That is because the band has taken the genre as a whole and turned it completely on its ear throughout the course of the record’s fourteen total tracks.  From musical vocabulary lessons to a completely random piece about spending a lazy day in some pajamas to a playfully jazzy love song, this record runs the gamut.  All the while it will have listeners of any age smiling and singing along without fail.  In the end, listeners will agree with this critic that so far in 2014, Buy One Get One Flea is the best album in the Children & Family category.

Buy One Get One Flea right now sits atop this critic’s list of the year’s best new Children & Family albums because it has taken that genre and completely turned it on its ear.  That’s because of the fact that it runs the gamut in terms of its combined music and lyrics.  One prime example of how it runs the field is the bluesy musical vocabulary lesson that is ‘It’s a Ruse.’  The song teaches the meaning of the word “ruse.”  The smoky, bluesy musical backing perfectly complements the song’s lyrics, which state, “It’s a ruse/It’s a ruse/It’s meant to confuse/It’s a ruse, yeah/You gotta read the fine print/You gotta read between the lines/You gotta trust as many people as you possibly can/Then you just might smell a rat sometimes/It’s a ruse/Yeah it’s a ruse/It’s meant to confuse/It’s a ruse/It’s a trick/It’s a scam/It’s too good to be true/Don’t snooze or you’ll lose/Somebody rusing you/It’s a ruse!” This is the kind of thing that would be a perfect fit for an episode of perhaps the PBS Kids’ series Word Girl.  One could so easily see this song being performed in a scene of an episode with maybe The Butcher or The Learnerer.  So if any of the writers behind Word Girl are out there reading this, take note.  This critic wants credit if this ever happens.

‘It’s a Ruse’ is a great example of how this album runs the musical and lyrical gamut.  Another wonderful example of what makes Buy One Get One Flea such a talker of an album comes in the form of ‘Pardon My Pajamas.’  This song is a great addition to this album because as with ‘It’s a Ruse’, this song is as random as they come.  Yet it is still such a fun song thanks to its combination of music and lyrics.  It is about exactly what the title states, a male figure that is just spending a lazy day at home, not even changing out of his pajamas.  The song’s subject sings in the slow, almost Dixieland style piece, “Pardon my pajamas/I didn’t bother/To get myself dressed today/Pardon my pajamas/I’d really rather/Not have to blather on this way/In bed I’ll stay/The livelong day/And who could blame me really/Yeah, I’ve set my bet/So this is it/What you see is what you get.” This verse alone is one to which even the oldest listener could relate, especially on the weekend or on a weekday vacation from work.  To an extent, older audiences could almost playfully call this song an anthem of sorts because of that verse.  The subject goes on to defend himself, singing, “Pardon my pajamas/Don’t call me lazy/Don’t think that I’m blasé/Pardon my pajamas/It’s inspiration/I hope to find in bed today/I’ll read my book/Or maybe I’ll cook/Invent a little riddle/I’ll practice my drums/On my tummy-tum-tum/I’ll do a paradiddle/Yeah.”  That laid back, easygoing vibe established through the song’s lyrics and music together could so easily put any listener at ease.  And its overall originality makes it all the more enjoyable of an addition to the album as a whole.

‘It’s a Ruse’ and ‘Pardon My Pajamas’ are two of the most original songs that this critic has ever heard from any entertainer in the world of Children and Family music.  This applies collectively in the music and lyrics of each song.  There are so many songs throughout this album that could have just as easily been used as examples of what makes this record so fun.  One of those examples comes in another song that older listeners will enjoy in the form of ‘I Must Be a Genius.’  This song is a wonderful, jazzy love song that is sure to have any couple dancing happily as the subject of the song sings, “I must be a genius/I’ll tell you why/I’ll tell you why/I must be a genius/Because I’m in love with you/I must be a genius/I’ll tell you why/I’ll tell you why/I must be a genius/Because you love me, too/Every time I look in your eyes/I’m reminded that I’m a genius/And every time I look in the mirror/I’m reminded you’re a genius, too.”  Those simple, classic jazz style lyrics set along the equally classic big band style musical backing makes this one more wonderful addition to Buy One Get One Flea.

All three of the songs noted here are songs from Buy One Get One Flea that every listener should hear.  There are still eleven other tracks on this record from which listeners may find to be their own favorites.  Listeners can choose their own favorites when they order Buy One Get One Flea online via the official Dog On Fleas website at http://www.dogonfleas.com/?page=cds&category=01–Dog_on_Fleas_CDs&display=338.  Parents and kids can find out much more about Dog On Fleas and keep up with the band’s tour schedule and more through the band’s official website, http://www.dogonfleas.com and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/dogonfleas.  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 Trailer For Upcoming Album, DVD

Courtesy:  The Okee Dokee Brothers

Courtesy: The Okee Dokee Brothers

Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander a.k.a. The Okee Dokee Brothers announced today that they will release their new album and DVD this Spring. 

Through The Woods will be released Tuesday, May 20th.  It documents the duo’s journey hiking its way through the Appalachian Mountains.  In anticipation of the release of the album and companion DVD, The Okee Dokee Brothers have debuted a brand new trailer that gives fans a brief glimpse into that journey.  It can be viewed online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2wVoudcQ8E#t=111

The duo just wrapped an East Coast tour and will hit the road again, spreading the word about its upcoming album and DVD beginning in Pella, Iowa this Saturday, March 1st.  Audiences can check out the Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest tour schedule on its official website, http://www.okeedokee.org, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/okeedokeebros, and via Twitter at http://twitter.com/OkeeDokeeBros

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