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.

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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Audiences Will Have No Trouble “Warming Up To” The Okee Dokee Brothers’ ‘Winterland’

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing — aka The Okee Dokee Brothers — have, over the course of the past nine years, become one of the most well-known acts in the world of family music.  That is because the Minneapolis, MN-based duo’s music has managed to defy the barriers of the genre, both musically and lyrically, with the release of each of its past six albums.  The pair’s recently completed “adventure album” trilogy, which saw the longtime friends writing their albums while actually traveling the length of the Mississippi River, the Appalachian Trail and the Great Divide, certainly had to have helped the duo build its reputation and success, too.  Considering the success of those three albums and that of their predecessors, changing pace again for its latest effort, Winterland — which was officially released Oct. 19 via the pair’s own Okee Dokee Music – was a gamble.  That is because the duo’s “adventure albums’ showed the men at the peak of their career.  Listening through the 16-song, 45-minute record, it becomes clear that the album is a “lucky seven” for the guys.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The record’s lyrical themes are just as important to the record’s presentation as its musical arrangements, and will be discussed a little bit later.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Winterland. All things considered, they make the album a work to which listeners will have no problem warming up.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ seventh full-length studio recording Winterland is a strong new offering from the veteran performers to which listeners will have no trouble warming up, and that also proved to be a “lucky” gamble for the longtime friends.  That is evidenced in part through the record’s musical arrangements. The arrangements, in large part, are familiar offerings from Mailander and Lansing, with their bluegrass and country leanings.  Though, there are some slight variations that change things up a bit throughout.  Case is point is the arrangement at the center of ‘Ice Fishin’ Shack.’  The pair’s familiar bluegrass-tinged sound is there at the arrangement’s base, however the addition of the baritone sax (or at least what sounds like a baritone sax), flute and washboard gives that bluegrass a new twist that the pair has tried very little if at all.  ‘Keep Me Warm,’ which immediately follows ‘Ice Fishin’ Shack’ adds in some zydeco influences, again changing things up yet again, and in the best way possible.  ‘Slumberjack,’ with its full-on a capella approach is largely unfamiliar territory for The Okee Dokee Brothers, too.  The approach here, with its vocal layering technique, goes a long way toward not only making the song one of the record’s best moments, but also one of the best examples of the Celtic roots of bluegrass and country.  The song comes in just short of two minutes, but is still a powerful moment in its own right.  ‘Ukelele in a Snowstorm’ takes listeners to the warm shores of Hawaii, changing things up yet again, and in turn keeping the record interesting musically.  ‘Snowpeople’ is yet another example of Mailander and Lansing switching things again in this record.  With its waltz time approach, tuba, trombone and subtle banjo lines, the song is anything but bluegrass or even country.  That argument is strengthened even more as a whistling “chorus” comes into play.  As if all of this is not enough example of the importance of the record’s musical arrangements, ‘Lazy Day’ can also be used to support that statement.  The arrangement is in itself a lazy sort of sound, yet is the perfect fit for the song.  It conjures thoughts of so many easy listening pieces that have ever been crafted, yet is actually enjoyable.  When this arrangement is considered along with the others discussed here, it becomes clear that Mailander and Lansing have gone to painstaking efforts to develop their sound even more this time out without alienating their more seasoned fan base.  Those efforts have paid off, giving listeners a good balance of the familiar and less familiar alike.  To that end, the record’s overall arrangements prove critical to the overall presentation of Winterland.  They, collectively, are only one of the most important elements that plays into the album’s whole.  The record’s lyrical themes are just as important to examine as its musical arrangements.

While the title of The Okee Dokee Brothers’ new LP is Winterland and some of its tracks are centered on winter, even those that are centered on the season are not entirely about the season.  Case in point is the song ‘Snowpeople,’ which uses, literally, snow men and snow women as the basis for a discussion on gender roles.  ‘Ice Fishin’ Shack’ centers on being out on a frozen lake, fishing in one of those tiny shacks.  On a deeper level, though, it’s a song about friendship.  ‘The Abominable Yeti’ takes the legend of the Yeti and uses it as the basis for a discussion on taking the time to try to see past preconceived notions.  It is really a good piece as it can especially apply in discussions about accepting people who look different from us.  Along with the winter-centered songs that are used for those deeper discussions, the album does in fact feature songs that are just about winter, such as the album’s opener, ‘Blanket of Snow,’ ‘Ukelele in a Snowstorm’ and ‘Slumberjack.’  There are also straight forward deep pieces to compliment all of this in the form of ‘Candles,’ ‘Great Grandmother Tree’ and ‘Howl.’  ‘Candles,’ simply put, is a takeoff of the standard ‘This Little Light of Mine.’  It centers on the metaphorical light in each person as it talks about not letting the light be blown out.  It truly is one of the album’s most powerful entries.  ‘Great Grandmother Tree’ focuses on the very tough discussion on the topic of the circle of life, yet it does so in such a tactful fashion.  ‘Howl’ is a much more upbeat song that centers simply on the reality that sometimes, a person just needs to get out their frustrations.  Again, it does it in an upbeat fashion that will put a smile on any listener’s face.  Between these songs, the songs which center directly on winter and those that use the season as the base for discussions on bigger topics, and of course the rest of the album’s additions, the whole of the album’s lyrical themes proves to be just as critical to the album’s presentation as its musical arrangements.  While both of these elements are key to the album’s whole, they are not its only important elements.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

 

The sequencing of Winterland is so important to its presentation because the energy in the album’s songs plays just as much of a part in maintaining listeners’ engagement and entertainment as the record’s musical and lyrical content.  Without a stable balance of energies (as has been noted so many times in other reviews), that noted engagement and entertainment would be anything but assured.  Keeping that in mind, the album’s sequencing is its own positive.  The record starts off upbeat in its first two songs before pulling back a bit in the more laid back vibe of ‘Ice Fishin’ Shack.’  Once that song is done, the energy picks right back up again with ‘Keep Me Warm,’ and while it pulls back just a little bit from there, that pullback is not too much.  It stays up just enough to keep listeners’ toes tapping right up until Mailander and Lansing move into ‘Candles.’  From ‘Candles’ to ‘Howl,’ the albums energy gradually rises again, giving listeners even more to appreciate.  From there to the album’s end, the energy continues to rise and fall at all of the right points right to the record’s finale, ‘Signs of Spring,’ which is a wonderfully upbeat work about the connectivity of spring and winter.  It also uses that discussion as a bigger, heavier discussion on the connection of life and death.  Simply put, from start to end, the album’s energies are well-balanced throughout the album’s 45-minute run.  Considering this, along with the importance displayed in the album’s musical and lyrical content, the whole of Winterland proves to be a gamble that paid off for The Okee Dokee Brothers, and to which listeners will have no problem warming up.

 

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ seventh full-length studio recording Winterland isa gamble for the guys that clearly paid off. It is a record to which listeners will have no trouble warming up.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements, which go back to the duo’s past while also presenting more of its familiar bluegrass-infused sounds.  The lyrical themes exhibited throughout the album play a critical part to the album’s whole, too.  That is because of the diversity clearly exhibited in said themes.  The album’s sequencing ensures that listeners will be able to hear all of that for themselves without stopping at any given point in the album’s run.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of Winterland.  All things considered, they make the album a wise gamble from The Okee Dokee Brothers, and an album to which listeners will have no problem warming up.  More information on Winterland is available online now along with The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.okeedokee.org

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OkeeDokeeBros

 

 

 

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 Get “Cool” On ‘Winterland’

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

The wait is almost over for The Okee Dokee Brothers’ new album.

The duo recently announced that it will release its fourth full-length studio recording Winterland on Oct. 5.  The 16-song record takes listeners from the change of seasons from autumn to spring that the whole family will enjoy while curling up together at the fireside.

Along with being a record for the whole family, the record also addresses the issue of climate change.  The record’s full track listing is noted below.

Track List

The Okee Dokee Brothers

Winterland

  1. Blankets of Snow
  2. Welcome Home
  3. Ice Fishin’ Shack
  4. Keep Me Warm
  5. The Abominable Yeti
  6. You You You
  7. Candles
  8. Slumberjack
  9. Ukulele in a Snowstorm
  10. Howl
  11. Snowpeople
  12. Lazy Day
  13. North Country Dance Band
  14. Great Grandmother Tree
  15. New Year
  16. Signs of Spring

Ten percent of the album’s sales will go to benefit Askov Finlayson’s Keep The North Cold initiative.  The company works to fight climate change by supporting other initiatives that slow factors such as greenhouse gas emissions.

Ten percent of ticket sales at the pair’s Nov. 3 hometown show will also go to benefit the organization.  The group will also donate ten percent of ticket sales at its Nov. 4 Denver, Colorado show to Protect Our Winters, which also works to combat human-caused climate change.

More information on Winterland is available online now along with the Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.okeedokee.org

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

Twitter: 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.

 

Franti’s Latest LP “Rocks” Phil’s PIcks 2016 Albums Of The Year List

Michael Franti and Spearhead Soulrocker Cover Art

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

The time has come.  Today is New Year’s Eve eve.  That means 2016 is nearly in the books.  With that year right at it’s end, it’s time for the last two of this year’s Phil’s Picks best of lists.

Rounding out this year’s lists are the year’s top new albums overall and the year’s top new overall movies.  The year’s top new albums list is up first.  It was not an easy list to assemble either as there were so many stand out records released from across the musical universe’s many genres.

This year’s top albums list is represented by music from the jazz community, the world of children’s music, rock, blues, and even reggae in the form of Michael Franti and Spearhead’s new album Soulrocker.

As with every previous Phil’s Picks list, this list features Phil’s Picks’ top 10 new titles plus five honorable mention titles, bringing the total count to 15.  Having noted that here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 new albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

 

  1. Michael Franti & SpearheadSoulrocker

 

  1. Santana IV

 

  1. Joe BonamassaBlues of Desperation

 

  1. YellowjacketsCohearance

 

  1. FoghatUnder The Influence

 

  1. The Okee Dokee BrothersSaddle Up

 

  1. Songs of the Night: Dance Recordings by the Joseph C. Smith Orchestra 1916 – 1925

 

  1. Marian HillAct I

 

  1. Love and a .38Nomad

 

  1. Red Hot Chili PeppersThe Getaway

 

  1. Rich RobinsonFlux

 

  1. Charles Lloyd and the MarvelsI Long To See You

 

  1. Logan Richardson Shift

 

  1. Tedeschi Trucks BandLet Me Get By

 

  1. Mountain HeartBlue Sky

 

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.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ New LP Is Another Great New Musical Adventure

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

First, they canoed the length of the Mississippi River.  Then they hiked the entire Appalachian Trail.  Now The Okee Dokee Brothers have returned with yet another new adventure and collection of songs to boot in the form of their new album Saddle Up.  The album, the duo’s third full-length release, will be available in stores and online next Friday, May 13th via the duo’s own label Okee Dokee Music.  Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the Okee Dokee Brothers audiences of all ages will find themselves getting hooked on the music made by these musical “brothers” on their latest LP.  That is because Lansing and Mailander have once again given audiences something familiar without repeating themselves musically and lyrically.  They will also find themselves just as riveted by the pair’s adventure along the length of the Great Divide presented in the album’s companion DVD.   The album’s companion booklet plays just as much of a part in the album’s presentation as its DVD and its new offering of songs.  It is presented in the same journal style format as the booklets that were included in the duo’s previous albums.  While it is nothing new for the Okee Dokee Brothers, it is still a fun, welcome sight and addition to the album’s presentation.  Together with the album’s DVD and its music, all three elements combine to make this album one of the year’s best family records, one of the best of the year’s new country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana, and one of the year’s best new albums overall.

Saddle Up is one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is also one of the year’s top new family albums and one of the best among the ranks of the year’s new country, bluegrass, folk and Americana offerings.  One reason for this is the fact that Mailander and Lansing have managed to craft another original record that boasts the duo’s familiar mix of said genres without repeating themselves once again.  This applies not only to the album’s musical content but that of its lyrical themes, too.  The album’s lead single ‘Jackalope’ is a prime example of how Lansing and Mailander have managed to keep things familiar yet fresh on this album.  In regards to its musical content, the song boasts a clear Johnny Cash influence thanks to the pair’s guitar work.  That simple two-chord progression that serves as this song’s foundation also served as the base for nearly every single song that Johnny Cash ever recorded over the course of his career.  Given, there were songs that didn’t utilize it.  But by and large, those familiar with Cash’s work will agree just how commonplace it was in his work.  It is a sound that the dup had not presented in its previous efforts.  So to that end, the music here shows why it is an important part of the album’s presentation.  In terms of the song’s lyrical content, it is original to say the least.  Who but the Okee Dokee Brothers could write a song about a mythical (or is it?) creature and actually succeed in doing so in the process?  The song itself is just one part of what makes the song’s lyrical content so important.  The secondary message of having something to believe in makes the song even richer in terms of its lyrics.

‘Jackalope’ is just one example of what makes Saddle Up’s general content so important to its presentation.  It is just one example for that matter.  ‘Somos Amigos’ can also be cited as an example of the importance of the album’s content.  Mailander and Lansing delve into the world of Mexican music in this piece.  The guys are joined by Carlos Medina and his friends for the song which mixes Mailander and Lansing ’s own sound with that of the traditional accordion-driven sound of so much Mexican music.  Yet again these are waters that The Okee Dokee Brothers have never actually waded into before.  They succeeded just as much here as with the case of ‘Jackalope.’  And again that success shows at least musically why this album is so enjoyable.  Moving on to the song’s lyrical content, the song is centered on the message of friendship.  The group presents the Spanish word for friend—Amigo—and even have Medina and company join in to sing of the importance of friendship.  It isn’t the pair’s first time presenting a message of friendship in its music.  It is, however, the first time that Mailander and Lansing have presented the familiar message in the format used here.  Considering this, the combination of the two elements here makes this song yet another example of what makes Saddle Up’s general content so important to its presentation.  It still is not the last example of what makes the album’s presentation overall so enjoyable either.  ‘Cow Cow Yippee’ is one more example of what makes this album’s musical and lyrical content so important to its presentation.

‘Jackalope’ and ‘Somos Amigos’ are both clear examples of what makes Saddle Up another album from The Okee Dokee Brothers that will make listeners of all ages want to saddle up with the guys for this musical adventure.  They are hardly the only songs that could be cited in showing what makes this album’s musical and lyrical content so important to its presentation.  ‘Cow Cow Yippee’ is one more example of the importance of the album’s lyrical and musical content.  In regards to its musical content, this song stands out from every one of the album’s other offerings.  Musically, it mixes Dixieland elements with a classic country western sound for a song that stands out just as much as anything else on this record.  As a matter of fact, those that are familiar with American Public Media’s beloved radio variety program A Prairie Home Companion will find this musical mix to be very similar to much of the music presented on said program.  The same can be said of the song’s silly lyrics and the duo’s delivery of said lyrics.  Lyrically, the song is just a fun, nonsensical work about cattlemen (not cowboys) and life on the range.  The half sung, half spoken delivery of the song’s family friendly lyrics makes one think of APC’s beloved cowhands Dusty and Lefty.  Whether or not this was intentional is anyone’s guess.  But the similarity is there and it is undeniable.  It is a great comparison, too.  Once again keeping this in mind, it shows yet again why the general musical and lyrical content presented in Saddle Up is so important to the album’s overall presentation.  It shows the duo’s ability yet again to write serious songs, silly, songs, and songs somewhere in between both musically and lyrically.  That is clear not just in this song and the previously noted compositions but in every one of the album’s offerings.  Now, keeping this in mind, the musical and lyrical content is just one part of what makes Saddle Up such a fun family record.  The record’s companion DVD is just as important to its presentation as its general content.

The musical and lyrical content that makes up the main body of Saddle Up is in its own right extremely important to the album’s overall presentation.  Even as important as it is to the album’s presentation its fifteen total tracks are just a portion of what makes the album so enjoyable.  The album’s companion DVD proves to be just as important to the album’s presentation as its musical and lyrical content.  That is because of its own content.  Over the course of the DVD’s run time viewers are taken along with The Okee Dokee Brothers on their horseback journey up the Great Divide.  Viewers get to see many of the sights that they saw.  They get to see some of the people that they interviewed and with whom they recorded songs.  For that matter viewers even get to see Mailander and Lansing as they write and work up their own songs along the way.  It’s all in rain and shine.  The journey in itself is so enjoyable to watch because audiences actually see that Mailander and Lansing did indeed make the trip.  On another level it serves as a reminder of the beauty of America ’s national parks.  So one could actually argue to that extent that the DVD serves not only as a way for audiences to join The Okee Dokee Brothers on their voyage but also as a video postcard of sorts showing people all of the great places that they can visit with their families.  This dual purpose (intentional or not) approach in the album’s DVD shows in full why it is just as important to the album as the album’s general content.  It is still not the last important element to note of the album.  The album’s companion booklet rounds out the album’s presentation.

The songs that make up the body of Saddle Up and the album’s companion DVD are both key elements in the album’s overall presentation.  The songs present yet another healthy mix of country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana that thankfully doesn’t repeat the songs from the Okee Dokee Brothers’ previous albums.  Their lyrical content is just as entertaining and engaging with topics that range from the serious to the downright silly and all points in-between.  The album’s companion takes viewers along for the ride with Mailander and Lansing.  It also serves as a video postcard of sorts for viewers, reminding viewers of the beauty of America’s national parks.  For all of the value that the DVD and the songs present to this new album, they are not the only important pieces of the album’s whole.  The album’s companion booklet proves to be just as important to its presentation as the previously noted elements.  Just as with the duo’s previous albums, this album’s companion booklet is presented (and even titled) in the format of a Field Journal.  The whole thing opens with a note from the guys that it presents excepts from the pair’s journals that they kept during their trip.  Each excerpt is entertaining in its own right; just as entertaining as the songs themselves.  Case in point the excerpt for ‘Good Old Times.’  The excerpt shares a number of flashes from their lives growing up such as: Joe eating a worm, Justin falling off of a sled, and Joe’s wedding.  The pair notes at the end of the passage the joy of reliving those memories as adults, which is exactly what the song is about.  ‘One Horsepower’ presents another great excerpt in the booklet.  One of the guys notes in this passage that, “Grandpa always said, “Who needs a 200 horsepower engine when you can just have the horse!””  Yet again it is a simplistic explanation of the song’s topic.  But again that simplicity and light hearted approach makes this excerpt so fun to read.  The same can be said of any of the other passages presented in the booklet.  Regardless of which one audiences choose, every one of the passes will put a smile on audiences’ faces  in its own way.  That smile will grow even more when audiences take in the album’s featured songs and the adventure presented in the album’s companion DVD.  All things considered Saddle Up proves in the long run to be a musical adventure that audiences will want to take time and again.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ new album Saddle Up is a musical adventure that listeners of all ages will want to take time and again, just as with the “brothers’” previous pair of recordings.  That is thanks in part to the mix of musical and lyrical material presented throughout the album’s fifteen total songs.  The music presents a wide mix of country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana from beginning to end.  The songs’ lyrical themes range from the serious to the downright silly.  The album’s companion DVD takes audiences along with the “brothers” for their latest adventure.  It also serves as a video postcard of sorts for audiences, reminding audiences of the beauty that lies across America.  The album’s companion booklet adds even more enjoyment to the album with its passages lifted directly from the field journals that Mailander and Lansing kept during their journey.  Each element proves to be truly important in its own right to the whole of Saddle Up’s presentation.  Altogether, they make this album yet another solid offering from The Okee Dokee Brothers and a musical adventure that every listener will want to take himself or herself time and again.  It will be available in stores and online next Friday, May 13th.  More information on Saddle Up is available online along with all of The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.okeedokee.org

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OkeeDokeeBros

 

 

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 Unveil ‘Jackalope’ Video

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

This spring Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, a.k.a. The Okee Dokee Brothers, will release their latest full-length studio recording Saddle Up.  In anticipation of the album’s release, the duo has unveiled the video for the album’s lead single ‘Jackalope.’

The ‘Jackalope’ video follows Mailander and Lansing as they hunt for the elusive, legendary half rabbit/half antelope hybrid in the mountains of Oregon.  The song features a musical foundation that is very much akin to the sound made so popular by country music legend Johnny Cash.  As the “brothers” note in their field journal of their search for the jackalope, “We’ve been on the lookout for a real-life North American jackalope.  We’ve searched high and low. They’re tricky to see ‘cause they’re quicker than lightnin’. They’re impossible to hear ‘cause their feet are as soft as fresh moss. And they’re hard to catch ‘cause they can escape any trap. Some people don’t believe they exist, but if you ask us, those people are probably just jackalopes in disguise.”  While Mailander and Lansing eventually come up empty-handed (not to ruin things too much) audiences will get to see the jackalope for themselves as it eludes the men, even getting to see it add its own “musical chops” to the song along the way.  The video is streaming online now via The Okee Dokee Brothers’ official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPLtMrGchfA.

 

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

 

More information on ‘Jackalope’ and its video is available online now along with all of the latest news on The Okee Dokee Brothers’ new album, its live dates, news, and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.okeedokee.org

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

Twitter: 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.

Phil’s Picks Is Giving Away Two Great Grammy-Nominated Albums For The Whole Family

The 2015 awards season is officially underway. The Golden Globes has come and gone and so has the annual People’s Choice Awards show. Next up is the biggest night of the year for the music industry–Grammy night. The Grammys will be broadcast live Sunday, February 8th on CBS. Obviously there are varying opinions on the legitimacy of the annual awards show. That is mainly because it focuses mainly on the mainstream acts that everyone knows about. Sadly, that leaves out the acts that really deserve some coverage, including artists and bands in the realm of children’s music. This year, a number of the bands and artists in the children’s music genre that have been nominated are also acts whose releases this critic personally reviewed throughout 2014. And in honor of their nominations, Phil’s Picks is giving away CDs from two of this year’s nominees in the Children’s music genre. Those acts are The Okee Dokee Brothers, and The Pop Ups. Both acts released albums that in their own way have proven to be anything but albums solely for children. If anything, both The Okee Dokee Brothers’ Through The Woods and The Pop Ups’ Appetite For Construction prove to be albums that are just as much for children as for their parents. And now two lucky families will get a chance to win one of those CDs courtesy of Phil’s Picks. For those that haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing either of them, a short overview of both albums follows.

Through The Woods

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

Through The Woods is a wonderful album not just for children but for adults, too. That’s first and foremost because of its music. It is clear that it isn’t aimed just at children. In the same vein, older audiences will recognize the likes of David Holt, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, and Hubby Jenkins of the Carolina Chocolate Drops on this record. The inclusion of older musicians, music, and lyrical themes that are aimed more at general audiences than specifically at children goes even farther to prove just how enjoyable this record is for listeners of all ages. It serves to show that Lansing and Mailander are perhaps branching out of their niche realm without alienating the parents and children that they entertained early on. It’s even more reason to applaud this album.

The music and special guest appearances on the album’s songs collectively create a solid foundation for Through The Woods. That foundation having been established, Lansing and Mailander make their latest album even more enjoyable for audiences thanks to the inclusion of a bonus companion DVD that comes with the CD. The album’s bonus DVD documents the journey undertaken by Lansing and Mailander. Along the course of their trip, the men interview a number of individuals who share the history of Appalachian/Mountain Music in their given region. As noted previously, well-known North Carolina musician David Holt is one of those individuals. He makes the interesting statement that he prefers to call Appalachian music “Mountain Music.” That’s because as he puts it, it encompasses the music of every region along the Appalachian Trail. It makes sense. The other interviews featured through the pair’s journey are just as interesting as they come from ordinary people who live along the trail. Audiences will be able to relate to these average, every day figures. And because of that ability to relate, audiences will enjoy the presentation even more.

The documentary following the Okee Dokee Brothers included on the album’s bonus DVD is a wonderful addition to the disc. It’s not all that the bonus DVD offers audiences. The Okee Dokee Brothers sweeten the deal even more by including their album in its entirety on the DVD, too. So not only do listeners get to hear Through The Woods on CD, they also get to hear it on DVD. It makes the bonus DVD that much more of a true bonus and welcome companion to the album. It seals the deal for this album that has justifiably earned itself a spot on the list of this year’s nominees for “Best Children’s Album.”

Appetite For Construction

Courtesy:  Pop Up City Records

Courtesy: Pop Up City Records

Appetite for Construction, the latest new release from kindie-pop rock band The Pop-Ups is an interesting work. The twelve-track album from the Brooklyn, NY based band will take parents all the way back to the 1970s and 80s with its mix of sounds all while celebrating the joys of childhood with its lyrical side. That lyrical side will also entertain parents as it will take them back to their own childhoods with songs such as ‘Craft Night,’ ‘Costume Party,’ and ‘All These Shapes.’ That these songs and those not mentioned could reach audiences of so many ages and entertain them at the same time proves once more why children’s music can be and often is just as good as anything crafted specifically for grown-ups.

In ‘Craft Night’ The Pop Ups—Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein—sing about the fun of creating a picture collage. The duo sings about sitting at a table, taking those old tubes of glue, and gluing pictures to sheets of construction paper. Any grown-up that ever did this as a kid will understand and appreciate this song just as much as any child today provided schools still teach children about making collages. Any parent that ever took part in such craft making as children will be taken back in time thanks to the song’s vivid imagery provided via its lyrical content. And any children that actually still take part in such activities in schools today—apparently there are children that focus more on computer-based learning than on arts and crafts—will relate to it just as much. The addition of an old school 1970s/80s sound will entertain parents just as much. The end result is a song that as already noted, is just one prime example of what makes ‘Craft Night’ one of so many examples of the joy offered on this record.

Sitting down and making arts and crafts has been a time-honored tradition for children for generations. Hopefully it hasn’t become an entirely extinct tradition considering the increased emphasis being placed on computer-based learning in schools across the country. Just as much of a time-honored tradition among children is that of the costume party. Boys and girls alike dress up all the time. And their parents did, too. Such a tradition crossing generations, it makes for another great topic for a children’s song. Thus the aptly titled ‘Costume Party’ in which the duo sings of getting dressed up in different outfits. It’s one that both boys and girls will enjoy. That’s because there’s mention of girls getting dressed up in princess dresses and of boys getting dressed in a relative’s clothes. That set against the song’s 80s pop vibe will help the song to connect both with kids and their parents. Speaking of 80s pop, parents that grew up in the 80s will also appreciate the equally creative ‘All These Shapes.’ That song is one more piece from this album that serves as a solid example of what audiences have to expect from this record.

‘All These Shapes’ is another piece that is set against a 1980s era sound for all the grown-up children of the 80s out there. Stein and Rabinowitz sing in this song about all the possible things that could be drawn from the shapes. Parents will appreciate how this song really encourages thinking and creativity. And they will also appreciate that in its own right, that emphasis on creativity makes the song itself creative. It’s just one more piece that shows the extent of creativity and originality that fills this record. There are nine other tracks that display that creativity and originality just as much as this song and those previously noted. Audiences will be able to hear those songs for themselves when Appetite for Construction is released next month.

All three songs are prime examples of what makes Appetite for Construction worth the listen by both children and their parents. And together with the album’s other works the album in whole has also justifiably made a solid case for its nomination to this year’s Grammy category of the Year’s Best New Children’s albums, just as The Okee Dokee Brothers’ Through The Woods. Regardless of who takes this year’s trophy, it can be said that both acts are equally qualified and deserving of the title. They are yet more proof of why children’s music is just as good as music for adults if not more so. For that mater it proves to be just as enjoyable for adults as for children.

Before the Grammys goes live February 8th, Phil’s Picks will give away one copy of each album Friday, January 30th. One family will win a copy of one album while the other will win the other. It is up to the winning families which CD they want when they win. The winning families’ names will be drawn Friday, January 30th at 5pm ET and their names will be announced on the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks. Any family that wants the chance to win one of these CDs need only go to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page, “Like” it and write on the Phil’s Picks FB page, noting that they want to enter for a chance at one of the CDs. It’s that simple. So don’t let this chance to win a Grammy nominated band slip away. Enter now! Spread the word and good luck!

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.