The Not-Its Are “It” In Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Family Music Albums List

Courtesy: Burnside Distribution/Sugar Mountain PR

Family music is one of the most surprisingly entertaining genres that exists today across the musical universe.  That statement is just as true today as it ever has been thanks to this year’s crop of new albums.  Between the arrangements, which will entertain listeners of all ages and the lyrical themes, to which young listeners especially will connect, family music albums prove that they are just as viable as those of their mainstream counterparts.

That is why this year, just as in years past, Phil’s Picks is making sure to give those albums their own time in the light.  This year’s list features new releases from acts such as Mister G, The Not-Its, The Okee Dokee Brothers and plenty of others who might not be so well-known.

Topping this year’s list is the new album from Seattle’s own The Not-Its.  As noted in a previous review of that album, it is a full-on celebration of childhood and the innocence connected to that time in life.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest album Winterland was a risk for the duo because of the success of the group’s “adventure albums” that preceded the record.  Yet, it was a risk that proved to pay off thanks to its musical and lyrical content, which uses winter themes to delve into some very deep and very grown-up topics.

Cheri Magill’s new indie-pop styled record Tour Guide takes third place in this year’s list thanks to its arrangements and its own celebration of childhood (and even parenthood).

The records noted here are just part of this year’s list.  The other 12 records featured in the list are noted with these records below.  As always, the list features 15 total albums, with the Top 10 being the top albums and the following five being honorable mentions. without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Family Music Albums.


  1. The Not-Its — Ready or Not
  2. Cheri Magill — Tour Guide
  3. The Okee Dokee Brothers — Winterland
  4. Mister G — Fireflies
  5. Red Yarn — Red Yarn’s Old Barn
  6. Hullabaloo — 20 Songs in 20 Days
  7. Splash and Bubbles — Rhythms of the Reef
  8. Steve Elci and Friends — Jump in the Puddle
  9. Ants, Ants, Ants — Why, Why Why
  10. Mi Amigo Hamlet — Happy Land is Tierra Feliz
  11. Suzi Shelton — Hand in Hand
  12. Sara Lovell — Wild is Everywhere
  13. Animal Farm — We Are One
  14. Liz Beebe — Hush NowLullabies For Sleepy People
  15. The Green Orbs — thumb Wrestling Champions

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The Not-Its’ Success Continues On Its Eighth LP, ‘Ready Or Not’

Courtesy: Burnside Distribution/Sugar Mountain PR

The Not-Its are at it again.  The veteran kindie-rock act released its latest full-length studio recording Ready Or Not late this past September, and the 12-song, 36-minute album another entertaining new offering from the Seattle, WA-based band.  That is because overall, the album is a celebration of the innocence of childhood, with the highs of childhood and the lows.  The end result is a work that is without argument, another welcome offering from the group.  The album’s opener and title track is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘The Battle of Curriculum Night’ is another important addition to the album that cannot be ignored.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Runaway Bike’ is yet another work that shows what makes Ready Or Not another positive effort from The Not-Its.  It will also be discussed a little later.  Of course, it is not the last of the songs that show what makes Ready Or Not so enjoyable.  Any of the album’s remaining eight songs can be used just as easily as the songs noted here, to exhibit the album’s strengths.  Between those songs not noted here and the songs more directly discussed, the whole of Ready or Not proves to be not only another welcome offering from The Not-Its, but another welcome offering that is also among the year’s top new family music albums.

The Not-Its’ latest full-length studio recording Ready Or Not – its eighth – is another welcome offering from the veteran kindie-rock quintet that is also without argument one of the year’s top new family music albums.  That is proven in part through the album’s opener/title track.  The song’s “poppy” upbeat guitar-driven musical arrangement is an infectious indie-rock type of opus that wastes no time getting stuck in listeners’ ears and minds.  That includes not just children, but grown-ups, too.  Drummer Michael Welke’s work, pushing the 16th notes on the hi-hat couples with the guitars to keep the song moving forward.  This critic’s own view of the work (being a drummer/percussionist, too) is that using eighth notes on the hi-hat would have been just as good as 16ths thanks to the song’s fast-moving 4/4 time signature.  Either way, it still works.  That high-energy arrangement compliments the energy exuded in a game of Hide-and-Seek.

The lyrical side of ‘Ready Or Not’ couples with that well-thought-out arrangement to make the song stand out even more.  Front woman Sarah Shannon steps back on this work, letting her band mates – Danny Adamson (rhythm guitar/vocals), Tom Baisden (lead guitar/vocals), Jennie Helman (bass/vocals) and the previously discussed Welke – take the lead here.  The band illustrates the joys of a game of Hide-and-Seek expertly, singing, “Are you ready or not/’Cause here I come/Gonna find you/You can’t hide all day/Did you think that you could pull a fast one on me/Like you did when we were 3/Uh-oh/So let’s go/The game is on.”  One can almost see a group of young children, going back and forth with one another here, smiles bright on their faces.  Again, going back to the song’s arrangement, that musical side couples with this almost celebratory lyrical content to start the song on the highest note possible.  The group goes on to sing, “Are you ready to get caught/’Cause here I come/I see you hiding in the closet, yeah-yeah/Did you think I wouldn’t see your feet/I even heard you try to hold in a sneeze/Now you’re it/You’re it/The game is on!”  Again , here is that clear joy and innocence of childhood.  It is something to which listeners of every age can relate.  Children will relate because they enjoy that play and innocence every day.  Adults will relate as it will take them back to those days of innocence and joy.  Through it all, it will put a smile on every listener’s face.  That is even more the case when the lyrical content is coupled with that catchy, indie-pop rock arrangement.  All things considered, it makes the song a clear example of what makes Ready Or Not another welcome offering from The Not-Its.  It is just one of the songs that supports that statement.  ‘The Battle of Curriculum Night’ is another work that shows what makes Ready or Not so enjoyable.

‘The Battle of Curriculum Night’ stands out primarily because of its lyrical content.  The song takes on a “battle” about which every parent knows – the battle of funding for America’s public schools.  The band notes in the song’s lyrical side, “Budget cuts seem to be driving my parents nuts/My school is over-enrolled without enough teachers to go around/Thirty-three students, all in the same class as me/The principal gathers us in the gym/the moms and dads, their arms crossed/Faces turning red/I think there’s gonna be a fight at curriculum night/Try to work it out, but the budget is tight/There’s gonna ba a fight at curriculum night, yeah!”  From there, the song continues vividly painting that picture in which every parent has taken part, noting “It’s such a crazy day/Every single person has something to say/The tension is rising, and no one can hear each other anyway/Everyone is there/Grown-ups squeezing into tiny chairs/The teacher seems nervous/Handing out packets to be scrutinized/Parents glare/Don’t see my kid’s artwork anywhere/Don’t you know how gifted they are?”  What’s really interesting here is the fact that this whole song is told from the vantage point of a child.  This shows on one end that children are far more aware of what is going on than that for which adults give them credit.  On another end, presenting the song from a child’s eye also gives a clearer view, showing just how volatile those school meetings can and do get.  Add in the fact that few, if any, other family music acts have ever tackled the issue of public school funding – let alone in such a fun fashion – and the song becomes even more important an addition to this album.

While the lyrical content presented in this song is obviously important to the song’s whole, it is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its musical arrangement adds to its enjoyment.  Many listeners might not be familiar with the reference, but the song’s mid-tempo arrangement here conjures thoughts of Dinosaur Jr’s classic hit ‘Feel The Pain.’  Given, that song is not as upbeat as this one, but stylistically speaking, the similarity is there, and it is sure to be a welcome comparison for grown-up listeners who are familiar with the band and its work.  Considering this along with the thought-provoking lyrical content in this song, the whole is yet another clear example of what makes Ready Or Not another positive effort from The Not-Its.  It is not the last example of what makes this record either, just as the album’s opener/title track was not the only example either.  ‘Runaway Bike,’ which comes a little later on in the album’s run, is one more example of what makes the album stand out.

‘Runaway Bike’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  Much like the arrangements in the previously discussed works, this upbeat work’s bass and guitar-driven arrangement is very clearly an indie-rock style presentation that is sure to appeal to older audiences of said genre.  Its lyrical content is just as interesting as that catchy arrangement.  That is because it is wide open to interpretation.  Shannon sings here of a child who is sitting on his/her bike in the driveway of his/her home, imagining what it would be like to go off on a journey around the world.  What is so interesting about this is the manner in which this story is presented.  On one hand, the song leaves one wondering if this is supposed to be a child imagining running away, which after all, what child has not done this after an argument with his/her parents?  On another hand, it could just as easily be a song about a child simply dreaming of that great voyage, instead of the thought of running away.  The interpretations are made as Shannon sings from the child’s vantage point, “Get on my bike and ride/I’ll go it alone/And by tomorrow I might reach the state line/I’m leaving home/I don’t know why/Now that I’ve left the state I’m in Idaho/My next destination is the Atlantic Coast Line/Runaway Bike, let’s ride.”  The single line in which she sings, “I’m leaving home/I don’t know why” is one of the reasons that the interpretation of the song’s story is wide open.  Such a statement leaves one wondering if this is perhaps just a young person having that familiar dream of going out into the world.  Shannon goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I’m standing on the beach/In search of a boat heading to Europe/With room for me and my bike/Starting to miss my old life/Landed in Portugal/I pedaled my way to Prague/Now I’m in China-I can see the Great Wall/Runaway Bike go home/I’m a little runaway.”  The song closes with its subject opening his/her eyes after seeing the visions in his/her head of those travels, realizing he/she not run away.”  So again, the interpretation is left up in the air.  Is this a child dreaming of running away, having noted that he/she would miss home and his/her family?  Is it the story of a child simply dreaming of going out and exploring the world?  It would be interesting to discover which story was being told here.  Either way, the fact that the song can be interpreted in either way because of the band’s talent with words here, shows such talent and obvious thought put into the work.  When this talent is considered along with the enjoyment of the song’s musical arrangement, the two elements together make this song one more example of what makes Ready Or Not another enjoyable offering from The Not-Its.  When it is considered along with the other songs discussed here, and the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole proves to be a work that is a positive new offering from the group, and without argument, one of the year’s top new family music albums.

The Not-Its’ latest full-length studio recording Ready Or Not is another strong, welcome offering from the Seattle, WA-based kindie rock band.  It is a record that is without argument, one of the year’s top new family music albums.  That is proven through the songs noted in this review and those not directly discussed.  The songs, in whole, present an album that celebrates the innocence of childhood, in all of its highs and lows.  It is a work to which children and grown-ups alike can and will relate through that celebration.  It is available now.  More information on Ready Or Not is available online now along with all of The Not-Its’ latest news and more at:










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The Not-Its Announce ‘Ready Or Not!’ Release Date

Courtesy: Burnside Distribution/Sugar Mountain PR

Kindie-rock band The Not-Its will release its next album this fall.

The Seattle, Washington-based band’s seventh full-length studio recording Ready Or Not is scheduled to be released September 21 via Burnside Distribution.  It features 12 new songs from the band that cover plenty of ground, lyrically speaking, including trying to chase down a runaway bike, getting lost in a pile of lies, facing the challenge of curriculum night at school and more.

Digital pre-orders for the album are available now via bandcamp.  Physical pre-orders are available via the Not-Its’ official website.  The album was produced earlier this year by Martin Feveyear at Earwig Studios in Seattle, Washington.  It’s cover art was designed by Sub-Pop Records designer Jesse LeDoux.

The Not-Its co-vocalist Danny Adamson said the album offers plenty for listeners to appreciate.

“We’re really proud of this album,” Adamson said.  “We spent a lot of time in the studio with Martin, crafting these songs.  Among all of us, there were a lot of great ideas floating around.  One of the things we pride ourselves in, especially on Ready or Not!, are the small details on the album.  Not only is the album fun and imaginative, but it also has the cool drum fill or the perfect pick slide that the music snob indie rocker in all of us can appreciate.”

The Not-Its gave listeners a preview of its new album August 11 at the Sub-Pop SPF/30 Music Festival and at Madison Square Park in New York City on August 15.  More live dates in support of Ready or Not! will be announced in the weeks to come.  Those dates and more information will be available online at:






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The Okee Dokee Brothers Lead The Herd In Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Children’s Albums List

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

Children’s music has a terrible reputation in America.  The cause of that reputation is pretty easy to figure out.  Certain children’s shows such as *coughs* Barney and others have created that stereotype.  The reality of children’s music however, is that it is anything but what people believe it to be.  If anything, the world of Children’s music is one of the most diverse within the larger musical universe.  This year’s field of new children’s offerings is proof of that.  New offerings from the likes of the Okee Dokee Brothers, Niss Nina and the Jumping Jacks, Dr. Noize and others is proof of that.  Speaking of all of those artists, they are all on this year’s Phil’s Picks top new children’s albums.  They and so many others have made this list another tough one to compile.  But it has been done.

The Okee Dokee Brothers top this year’s list of top new Children’s albums with their new album Saddle Up.  Also included in the list are those new titles from Dr. Noize, and Miss Nina. Also on this year’s list are The Holow Trees, The Sugar Free All Stars, and The Not-Its among others.  As a reminder, Phil’s Picks lists feature the year’s Top 10 new albums plus five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  So without any further ado, here are the Phil’s Picks Top 10 New Children’s Albums.


1) The Okee Dokee Brothers – Saddle Up


2) The Not Its – Are You Listening


3) Dr. Noize – Phineas McBoof Crashes The Symphony


4) The Deedle Deedle Dees – Sing-a-Long History Volume 2


5) Vanessa Trien & The Jumping Monkeys – Wonderful You


6) The Whizpops – Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix


7) Sugar Free All Stars – Sugar Free All Stars


8) Liz De Roche – Club Called Awesome


9) Eric Herman & The Thunderpuppies – Bubble Wrap


10) Miss Nina & The Jumping Jacks – Every Day’s Your Birthday


11) Hulaballoo – I Chew


12) The Hollow Trees – Hello Friends


13) Recess Monkey – Novelties


14) Nathalia – When I Was Your Age


15) Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could – Press Play



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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  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:







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The Not Its’ New LP Will Have Listeners Raising Their Own Hands And Singing Along

Courtesy:  Little Loopy Records

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

The latest release from kindie-rock band The Not-Its is an album that will have both the band’s young audiences and their parents raising their hands and singing along with this fun new record. Parents and children alike will enjoy this fifteen-song album thanks both to its poppy tunes and their equally fun themes. The whole thing is anchored by a song that is sure to impress any parent in the form of the retrospective ‘Hey 80s.’ The song asks what happened to the era that many consider to be one of the best in America’s rich history. There’s also the playful opener ‘Funniest Cat Videos’ that pokes fun at all the cat videos currently making their way around the internet. And ‘Nose in a Book’ celebrates literacy, much like that of fellow kindie-rocker Mister G’s latest album, The Bossy E. There is also a song that emphasizes manners in the album’s title track and plenty of purely playful songs along the way, too. Whether it be for those songs or for those more specifically noted here, there is plenty on this record to have listeners of all ages raising their hands happily and singing along.

So much kindie-rock tends to be aimed primarily at younger audiences. Yes, there are some songs and bands out there that offer something for parents specifically. But they are few and far between. Enter The Not-Its’ song ‘Hey 80s.’ This song is for many parents, a fond homage to an era that they would consider to be one of the best in America’s rich history. Lead vocalist Sarah Shannon sings fondly of that era as she sings, “Hey 80s/Where’d you go so fast/You are my past/And I gotta make you last/I know somewhere/With my baby I’ll share/All my stories, old glories/I know you’re gonna care about neon tutus twirling so pretty in pink/Lucky Star was playing at the roller skating rink/I can’t solve this rubik’s Who am I gonna call?” And yes, she even references directly The Ghostbusters from here, as well as Donkey Kong, Bill Cosby’s famed sweaters, MTV and Michael Jackson’s moonwalking among much more. It’s essentially a musical love letter to an era gone by. Any parent that happened to grow up in the 80s (such as this critic) will most definitely appreciate this poppy song and be thankful for its inclusion on the album.

‘Hey 80s’ is a great piece that any parent and product of the 80s will appreciate. It’s not the only one that they’ll appreciate on this record, either. Any parent that denies having ever scoured YouTube and Facebook for the latest crazy cat video is not telling the truth. Remember kids, it’s not good to note tell the truth! The album’s opener, ‘Funniest Cat Videos’ playfully pokes fun at the whole fad that is people posting videos of their cats online. Shannon sings in this piece that even the cat gave the subject of the song a look that sent a direct message. She sings, “Followed her around with my camera phone/She looked back at me as if to say go spend your time in a better way.” From here, the subject of the song exhibits what is likely the same behavior of all the people trying to get their fifteen minutes of online fame as she sings, “I tried to make the funniest cat video/I tried and tried but it didn’t turn out right/I guess I’ve got to accept the fact that/I tried and tried but she’s just not funny.” It would be no surprise if some listeners have friends or family that have done exactly what the subject of this song tried to do. The reality of that situation only makes this song all the funnier both for parents and children alike, but especially for parents.

The parent friendly songs included on Raise Your Hand are but two examples of what makes this album so enjoyable for listeners of all ages. It’s nice to hear songs aimed more at grown-ups than just at younger listeners on this record, especially since most kindie-rock is aimed mainly at younger listeners. This album has its own share of music for kids, too of course. Case in point ‘Nose in a Book.’ This song celebrates childhood literacy. And as with Mr. G’s new album The Bossy E, this song is an especially welcome opus considering the fact that young people are increasingly turning to the digital world even for books rather than just cracking open a good book. As Shannon sings here, her subject is devoted to reading. The only problem is it causes its share of problems. It causes her subject to run into a friend by accident. It makes her subject’s parents try to get said individual to go to sleep. And her subject is even reprimanded by a teacher for reading so much. Even through it all the subject of the song defies everyone and everything. As Shannon sings of her subject, “I don’t know if I’ve got a new disease/Maybe they’ll name it after me/Cuz I can’t stop reading-I won’t stop reading.” She goes onto sing of the joys of getting from chapter to chapter in a book, thus ending the song. That focus on childhood literacy is such a welcome addition to this and any album. There are so many children out there that can’t read and parents that won’t encourage their children to read. It’s a sad situation, the increasing reliance on technology aside. Keeping that in mind, this song becomes an increasingly welcome addition to Raise Your Hand. Along with the other songs noted here, and those not discussed, it is one more piece that will have listeners of all ages raising their own hands and singing happily along.

Raise Your Hand is available in stores and online now. Fans can also purchase Raise Your Hand now at any of The Not Its’ live performances. The band is currently on tour in support of its new album. It will be at the Steamboat Springs Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado June 24th. The band’s most current tour schedule is listed online at Audiences can also check out the band’s Facebook page, for all of the latest news from the band. To keep up with all of the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Desert Island Disc Twice As Nice As Deep Sea Diver

Courtesy:  Waldmania PR/Recess Monkey

Courtesy: Waldmania PR/Recess Monkey

Recess Monkey has done it again.  This Seattle, WA based trio of teachers released early in 2013 an album that is without a doubt one of the year’s best children’s albums in Deep Sea Diver.  Now mere months later, the men of Recess Monkey have released yet another impressive new album in the form of Desert Island Disc.

Desert Island Disc is not entirely different from Deep Sea Diver.  Its overall sound though, is noticeably different from that album.  The overall feel of the album is different, too.  And it is that combination of a different sound and feel that makes for a good starting point with this record.  Where the sound and feel of Deep Sea Diver was perfectly linked to its nautical theme, so does the sound and feel of Desert Island Disc follow its more tropical, “beachy” theme.  The album’s opener, ‘Coconut Radio’ is a perfect example of that more tropical, “beachy” theme.  The ukulele, strings, and bongos together backing singer Drew Holloway will instantly conjure thoughts of a sun-drenched tropical island a la Gilligan’s Island (only parents would get that reference).  It will have no problem having young listeners (and maybe their own parents) dancing hula style to the music and singing along.  Making this song even more enjoyable and funny is the mini-cartoon included in the CD’s packaging explaining how to make a coconut radio.  The figure in the instructions must have known the Professor pretty well to be able to construct his own coconut radio ba-dump-bump-bump.

‘Coconut Radio’ is a fun kickoff for Desert Island Disc.  It is in fact just the beginning of the album’s fun.  Along with its generally fun songs, Recess Monkey also has maintained its reputation of including positive lyrical content in with that fun music.  A key example is the equally tropical and “beachy” ‘Trailblazer.’  By itself, ‘Trailblazer’ is another fun song that matches the album’s overall theme.  Lyrically, it’s just as family friendly as it serves to build up young listeners’ self-confidence.  Holloway sings in the song, “You are a trailblazer/You’re gonna find your path/You leap and you sing now/You make us smile and laugh!/You make us, make us, make us smile and laugh…Dream your dreams/And/You’re gonna find your way/Around the world alright.”  Recess Monkey isn’t the only band to craft inspirational songs.  But it can be said that in terms of originality in bringing inspirational messages to young listeners, Recess Monkey is one of the most original acts to do so.  And for that fact alone, the band and its new album deserves even more credit.

The positive messages and fun music work in tandem throughout Desert Island Disc.  They are not just there in the already noted.  The band offers its young listeners plenty of choices from which to choose in terms of songs that are both fun and empowering for its listeners.  For instance, who but this quirky trio could write a song about a hermit crab and actually make it a fun song that can be taken for the fun opus that it is?  Exactly.  There are also songs about appreciating the little things in life such as sea glass in ‘My Treasure’ and the one downside of playing in the sun; sunburn.  Parents will especially enjoy this song with its obvious Beach Boys influence.  They are just a tiny extra sample of what parents and children can expect from Recess Monkey on its new album.

The band is currently touring in support of Desert Island Disc and its companion piece, Deep Sea Diver.  So parents and children will get to hear some of the band’s new music before the album is available when they go to see the band live.  The band will be in Everett, Washington this Saturday morning performing at the annual Peps-A-Palooza.  It will perform alongside The Not-Its and Caspar Babypants among others.  And then next Tuesday, the band will perform for the Mercer Island Preschool Association in Mercer Island, Washington.  More dates are scheduled from here.  Parents can check and see if Recess Monkey will be coming to their town on the band’s official website,  And fans can also keep up with all of the latest news from the band on its official Facebook page,

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The Not-Its! New LP Fun For Kids AND Parents

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

The members of Seattle, WA’s The Not-Its! are back once again.  This kid friendly quintet has produced in its fourth new release an album that is unlike any other children’s album out there right now.  Kidquake is a semi-pop punk record that will appeal both to parents and to kids with its rhythms and its lyrics.  From the very moment that the album is unwrapped, listeners automatically are presented with the album’s first positive.  That positive is that the album is presented in a gatefold package.  And printed in each fold are the full lyrics to each song on the album.  This allows parents and kids alike to follow along with each song and even talk about each one as the album proceeds thanks to this.  This is an excellent first impression whether one is new to the music of the Not-Its! or not.  From here, the positives keep coming in the form of the album’s set list.       

The album’s opener and title track instantly grabs listeners with its kid friendly pop punk vibe as vocalist Sarah Shannon sings, “I wonder if you ever get the feeling/From your head down to your toes/Wanna get up, keep your body moving/Kids have a power no one knows/Shake, shake, shake/Kidquake/Kidquake/We’ve got the power to move any mountain/No way to keep this power down.”  Shannon is singing here about the power in every child.  That’s made especially clear as she sings, “So when you’re feeling down like the world is moving too fast/You gotta tap into that molten kid core and make it last/There’s a seismic shift you’re gonna feel all over the world/There’s an energy we’ve got to set it free c’mon every boy and girl.”  If this mix of positive lyrics and up-tempo music doesn’t get any young listener moving, nothing will.  It’s a great first impression for this album.  And in an age when there’s so much emphasis on getting kids moving and keeping them fit, this song is a great way to get kids active right off the bat.

Parents will appreciate the album’s opener as it encourages kids to get moving.  They’ll also appreciate it for its catchy hooks and melodies.  Just as they’ll appreciate this song, parents will especially appreciate the song, ‘Busy.’  What parent hasn’t felt bogged down trying to get their child(ren) ready for school while they themselves are trying to get ready for work in the morning?  This song expertly exemplifies exactly what every parent feels in this all too common case.  The ska style music base gets the frantic energy across all by itself.  Shannon’s equally frantic vocals make the song even more believable as she sings, “The alarm clock, didn’t go off and now we’re late/Grab your backpack and your lunch box no time to waste/Where is your left shoe?  What are we gonna do?/The baby’s barking, the dog is screaming/The school bell’s ringing/(we gotta go) Where are the keys?/(we gotta go) Who’s gotta pee?/We gotta go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go………….”  Parents will laugh at the confusion between the baby and the dog.  Any parent will agree that that kind of confusion really does happen.  The comic element of the song makes this another highlight.  But it’s the song’s chorus that really makes the song hit home for parents.  Shannon and her band mates sing in the song’s chorus, “We need to just Slow down! Slow down! Slow down!/We’re just too busy”  That couldn’t be more true.  It seems that we’ve always got so much on our plate.  Sometimes parents just need to slow down and take a break.  The chorus comes across in a semi-comical manner.  But there’s a much more serious side to that chorus, too.  And any parent will agree with that, again, proving just how impressive an addition this song is to this album.

‘Busy’ and the album’s title track are both great additions to the brand new release from The Not-Its!  They’re just a part of what makes this album so enjoyable for parents and kids alike.  There are songs about the joy of skateboarding, playing pinball, Rock Paper Scissors, and even the tumult of a child’s temper tantrum just to name a few other topics included in this LP.  Whether for these songs or the song, ‘Operation Cooperation’, which teaches the importance of working together, kids and adults have more than enough to enjoy out of this album with every listen.  The band is currently touring in support of its new album.  So kids and their parents will get their chance to see the band live now.  The band will be performing this Saturday, February 16th in New York City and then in Philadelphia, PA on the 17th.  Those shows will be followed by a pair of dates in the nation’s capitol on the 18th and 19th.  Parents can get the full information on these upcoming shows and lots more when they visit the band’s website,     

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