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 Whizpops’ New LP Is A “Wildly” Fun New Offering For Audiences Of All Ages

Courtesy: Th Whizpops/Sugar Mountain PR

Courtesy: Th Whizpops/Sugar Mountain PR

Four years ago The Whizpops first broke out in the world of children’s music with the release of the band’s debut album Adventures of Stretch McCoy.  The sixteen song record was an impressive first impression for the band as it took listeners into the forest and presented songs about just some of the animals that call the forest home.  It was also the first time that the band had teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation and its mascot, Ranger Rick.  Now flash forward to 2016.  The band has teamed up with Ranger Rick and the NWF once again for its latest album Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Vol. 1.  The band’s fourth new full-length studio recording, it is another fun musical trip into the wild.  That is due in part to the varied sounds presented throughout the album’s eleven songs.  The topics tackled within each song are just as important to the record’s presentation as its varied musical styles.  Last but hardly least of note in the record’s presentation is its sequencing.  Each elements plays its own important part in the record’s presentation.  Altogether they make Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Vol. 1 yet another “wildly” fun record from The Whizpops.

Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Vol. 1, is a “wildly” fun new offering from The Whizpops.  The band’s fourth full-length studio recording, it is also the third time that the Missoula, Montana-based band has taken listeners into the wild.  The first time was in 2012 in its debut album Adventures of Stretch McCoy.  Then in 2012, the band took listeners under the waves in Sea Blue Sea.  Now the band is headed back to the forest once again, even teaming with The National Wildlife Federation and its mascot Ranger Rick for the record, thus the album’s title.  One would think that considering that the band has already taken listeners out into nature not once but twice before, originality would be something hard to come by for a third time.  However the band managed to prove that misconception wrong in this record beginning with its varied musical styles.  The styles in question include hints of pop, blues, reggae, and even rock throughout the course of its eleven songs.  What’s more audiences will note some very familiar sounds in at least two of those songs.  ‘Black Footed Ferret’ is a prime example of that familiarity in musical styles.  The song sounds very similar to Maroon 5’s hit song ‘This Love.’  It’s not the only song that boasts a familiar sound.  ‘Everything’s Better With A Moustache (Walrus Song)’ is quite similar stylistically speaking, to certain Weezer songs right down to the use of the keyboards and vocal delivery style.  And ‘Monarch’ instantly conjures thoughts of Bob Marley and the Whalers both with its musical arrangement and vocals.  Ironically, it’s a song about Monarch Butterflies.  Strangely enough the juxtaposition of that lyrical and musical content works.  That will be discussed later.  For now however, it should be clear through these examples just why the album’s musical diversity is so important to its presentation.  They are just a few of the songs that could be cited in supporting that argument, too.  ‘Polar Bear’ takes listeners back to the days when Disco was king.  ‘Gulo Gulo (Wolverine)’ is based on a solid hip-hop/Dixieland hybrid sound and ‘Extinction Really Stinks’ offers up its own interest.  The song’s chorus makes listeners think of older, celebrity-driven songs such as ‘We Are The World’ and ‘Do Thy Know It’s Christmas.’  At the same time the song’s piano intro is somewhat similar to Motley Crue’s ‘Home Sweet Home.’  There are even other sections in the song that conjure thoughts of Elton John due to the piano arrangement in said sections.  It is enough to really stand out quite starkly from the album’s other songs.  Whether through that song or any of the others cited here, it should be clear just why the musical arrangements presented in Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Vol. 1 is so important to its presentation.  The arrangements in question are collectively just one part of what makes this record so “wildly” fun.  The topics that are tackled in the course of the record’s thirty-five minute run time are just as important to its presentation as its varied musical styles.

The varied musical styles presented throughout the course of The Whizpops’ new record are important in their own right to the record’s overall presentation.  They boast sounds that some might find very familiar and sounds that are entirely original.  They are, collectively speaking, just part of what makes this album such a “wildly” fun offering from the band.  The topics (animals) that are tackled in the record play their own part in the album’s fun.  What’s really interesting in noting the different animals here is that not all of them live in the forest.  The walrus and polar bear are both native to the Earth’s Arctic region while the Monarch Butterfly is native to many regions of the United States, even breeding in Mexico.  Even more contrast is that of the bison, swift fox, California Condor, and Pika.  These animals are spread out across America’s various regions from the plains (Bison, Swift Fox, and Black Footed Ferrit) of the Midwest to the mountains and cooler climes of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest (Pika—pronounced py-kuh), to the west coast and southwest (California Condor) the animals featured here come from every corner of the country and beyond.  That’s just the top of the iceberg, too.  The song’s don’t just feature the animals in question but what makes each animal unique from the others.  The case of the ‘California Condor’ is just one example of that specific notation.  The song notes how the California Condor is nature’s garbage man.  ‘Bison’ addresses the impact that humans have had on the once great masters of the plains.  ‘Gulo Gulo’ discusses Wolverines’ scavenging nature and the importance of that behavior within their larger ecosystem.  ‘Black Footed Ferret’ approaches the relationship that the role of the animals in question to their prey (prairie dogs) and other unique properties of the ferret.  It’s just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to the album’s presentation.  The rest of the album’s songs could be cited just as easily in that statement, too.  All things considered the combination of the songs’ musical and lyrical content makes even clearer why this new record is such a “wildly” fun new offering from The Whizpops.  They are not the only key elements to the record’s presentation.  The album’s sequencing is the last of its most notable elements.

The musical and lyrical content presented in The Whizpops’ new record are both key in their own way to the album’s overall presentation.  That is because of the entertainment and educational content that they offer.  They are not the album’s only important elements.  The album’s sequencing is just as important to note as its overall content.  Audiences will note in listening through the record that it maintains a relatively steady energy throughout the majority of the record’s body.  The only point at which it even remotely lays back is in ‘Monarch.’  And even at that point, the energy only pulls back a little at the most.  That reserved vibe follows the band on through to the end of the album even as powerful as that last song becomes in its chorus.  The end result of the album’s sequencing is an album that will keep listeners engaged with its expertly balanced energy.  That energy, when coupled with the album’s musical and lyrical content, makes for an album that will not only keep listeners engaged but entertained, too.  All things considered, Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Volume 1 a “wildly” fun new offering from The Whizpops.

The Whizpops’ new album Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Volume 1 is a “wildly” fun new offering for audiences of all ages.  That is due in part to a musical variety that will entertain listeners of all ages.  There are some original pieces that will entertain younger listeners set right alongside other pieces that older audiences will appreciate, too.  That is thanks to the the similarity of those songs, stylistically speaking, to acts that only those older audiences will know (I.E. Weezer, Maroon 5, Motley Crue, Elton John).  That mix of far-reaching musical content is just one part of what makes the album so enjoyable.  The album’s lyrical content plays its own important part in the record’s presentation, too.  That is because of the equally wide range of animals featured throughout the body of the record.  The expertly-balanced energy in the album’s sequencing rounds out the record’s presentation.  It is just as certain to keep listeners engaged as the songs’ musical and lyrical content is to keep them entertained.  Each element proves its own importance in the bigger picture of the record.  Altogether they make this album, again, a “wildly” fun record for audiences of all ages.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Volume 1 is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

Website: http://www.thewhizpops.com

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

 

 

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.

Animal Tales Is An Invaluable, Enjoyable Album For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Worm Hole Productions

Courtesy: Worm Hole Productions

Children’s entertainers Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke will release their latest album Animal Tales next Tuesday, October 21st.  The new album is the fifth for the British duo.  And it is a wonderful companion piece to The Whizpops’ latest full length studio effort Sea Blue Sea.  Whereas The Whizpops take audiences below the waves in Sea Blue Sea, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke bring audiences back to the land for a journey around the world that teaches audiences about all the different animals that populate Earth’s different regions.  Along the way, they also teach a valuable lesson about ecological conservation that it very subtly mixed in.  So it doesn’t come across as being preachy.  The end result is an album that adults will find just as entertaining and valuable as children.

Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke have crafted an album in Animal Tales that adults will value just as much as children.  One of the main reasons for this is its accessibility in terms of its writing.  The elementary biology lessons prove to be just as enlightening for children as for adults believe it or not.  One prime example of that accessibility comes in the form of ‘Bear Song.’  The song introduces audiences of all ages to just some of the different species of bears that live around the world.  The duo introduces audiences to polar bears, black bears, and koalas, pandas, and even the different species of brown bears including the kodiac and the standard brown bear. Along the way, the duo makes note of pandas being endangered but keeps the mood light by making a light hearted joke about pandas not wanting to have babies in captivity.  It’s a light hearted joke.  But there is also a certain element of seriousness to this statement.  It shows the importance of trying to breed pandas especially in zoos as a means to hopefully one day take them off of the endangered species list.  The song’s semi country-folk sound adds to its enjoyment.  It’s just one of so many different musical styles presented throughout the album.  That variety of musical elements is another aspect of Animal Tales that makes this album such a joy for audiences.

The musical trip on which Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke take listeners on the duo’s new album is the central point of this record’s enjoyment.  Speaking of the album’s music, its musical side is another reason that audiences of all ages will enjoy the album.  Wilde and Clarke present each of the record’s songs in a different musical style from the others.  ‘Armando Armadillo’ is presented accordingly against a decidedly Tex-Mex sound.  ‘The Buck Stops Here’, clocks in at just under two minutes.  But in that short time, its semi-bluegrass feel proves to be just as perfect a fit.  By direct contrast, ‘Platypus’ is presented against a playful Dixieland style musical backing.  The song’s lyrical content makes that sound even more fun for audiences.  And the laid back, bluesy sound of ‘Alligator Get-Together’ fits this song just as well as alligators are so commonly seen mostly just relaxing on the banks of rivers or swimming easily up and down said bodies of water.  It’s one more example of how the musical variety presented throughout this record makes it even more enjoyable for audiences.  What’s more, the variety of musical styles presented on this record also serves as a great starting point in terms of introducing young audiences to different musical styles.  So not only does this album serve as a great elementary level lesson on biology and conservation, but it also serves as a solid introduction for music classes, too.  Once again, audiences are presented with another reason that this record is so enjoyable.

Animal Tales offers so much enjoyment for audiences.  As noted, it is an entertaining and easily accessible musical lesson on biology and conservation.  It also serves as an equally enjoyable elementary level introduction to a number of different genres of music.  Simply put, Animal Tales is more than just a bunch of songs about animals.  It is a multi-purpose teaching tool that can be used in both an elementary level science class and a music class at the same level.  That is actually a much wider expanse of uses than some might think.  Young audiences could even use it as a learning tool at home as it does offer a number of pneumonic devices throughout each song.  That multi-purpose educational use is just as important as the record’s general entertainment value.  When both of those factors are examined in depth as has been done here, they prove once more why this record is just as entertaining and valuable in the classroom as the living room.  It is an album that adults will find just as valuable and entertaining and children.

Animal Tales will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, October 21st.  It can be ordered online direct from Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke’s website.  More information on this album, all of the latest news from Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke, and all of the duo’s latest tour updates is available online at:

Website: http://keywildeandmrclarke.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Key-Wilde-Mr-Clarke/112784651164

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wildeclarke

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 Whizpops Make A Splash On Sea Blue Sea

Courtesy:  Stretch McCoy Records

Courtesy: Stretch McCoy Records

The Whizpops get *ahem* two fins up for the band’s latest full length album Sea Blue Sea.  The third full length release from the band, it follows much the same trend as the band’s previous releases in presenting one clear and specific theme.  The band’s 2012 debut was science themed.  Its 2013 follow-up Adventures of Stretch Mc Coy took listeners on a camping trip into the woods.  And now on its third album in as many years, the band—Kevin Cashman (guitar/vocals), Casey Schaefer (guitar/vocals/ukulele), Steve Kalling (upright bass), Margie Cates (vocals), Daniel Kiely (drums/timbales), and Keaton Wilson (piano/keyboards)—takes listeners on a journey into the deep blue sea, as inferred by the album’s title.  This collection of songs is a joy for listeners of all ages.  And it is so for a number of reasons.  It isn’t just an album with songs about undersea life.  It’s more than that.  It teaches marine science at the most basic of levels through each song.  It also teaches the importance of the preservation of the world’s oceans.  Rounding out the entire presentation is its various musical stylings.  From start to finish, each song presents to listeners a different style of music which also expertly complements the songs in question.  Case in point is the album’s opener ‘Coral Reef.’  Its easygoing, poppy vibe, makes one fee like one is taking a trip, cruising around just beneath the waves as the band’s members sing about the different life that lives on a coral reef.  And then there is the even more laid back, Jack Johnson style ‘Manatee’ that makes visualizing the cows of the sea gently swimming along.  And the album’s closer ‘Octopus’ has almost as many movements and musical styles as there are arms on an octopus itself.  It’s the perfect way to close out an album that is a sleeper hit in the race for the year’s best new children’s albums.

Sea Blue Sea’s opener ‘Coral Reef’ is a great way for the band to re-introduce itself to audiences. The song’s easygoing, poppy vibe leaves audiences feeling like they are taking a trip just beneath the waves. All the while, they are learning about the ecosystem of the coral reef and why they should take care of the world’s reefs. Cashman raps (yes, raps) on this track, “Yo/The coral/They got/These creatures/Inside ‘em/Growin’ in clear water/So the sunlight can find ‘em/They help change color/And turn sunlight into food/So to say the least/They’re incredible dudes/Please don’t stress ‘em out/With pollution and heat…Without the coral reef/The ocean ain’t complete.” There are mentions throughout the song of how coral reefs interact with the animals around them and vice versa. Those mentioned interactions between the reefs and ocean life in general paint a clear picture of the importance of coral reefs. And that picture is painted in a manner that avoids any preaching. The ability of Cashman and company to avoid that preaching set alongside the song’s catchy yet relaxing musical vibe makes even clearer the reason that this song was chosen as the opener for Sea Blue Sea. It makes the song even more fun for audiences of all ages, too. Altogether it makes ‘Coral Reef’ not just a great way to open this album but a great addition to the album in whole.

‘Coral Reef’ is both a great song and a great way to open Sea Blue Sea. It is just one of so many songs that make this album so fun for audiences. That fun, easygoing vibe continues in the album’s second song ‘Manatee.’ Any older audiences that are familiar with Jack Johnson will appreciate this piece in which Cashman sings about the life of a manatee. The gentle, flowing waves set against Steve Kalling’s upright bass in the song’s opener instantly establish the song’s positive vibe. Cashman’s Jack Johnson style vocals and Casey Schaefer’s ukulele fill out the song and complete it. The picture painted by the band is so vivid as Cashman outs himself in the vantage point of the manatees, singing, “Well this warm/Water’s just right/For me/For me/Beneath the mangrove trees/Swain’ side to side/For me/For me/Down here/Swimmin’ with my friend/We kinda look like cows/With no legs/The shallow sea/Only place to be/A manatee.” Audiences can so easily close their eyes and see manatees slowly swimming along in their aquatic habitats. Anyone that has ever seen footage of them or even seem them in the flesh know how pleasant a sight this is. Just as with the album’s opener, such a sight drives home the importance of protecting such sea life and its habitat. And it does so yet again without even the slightest hint of preaching. It’s just one more reason that audiences of all ages will appreciate Sea Blue Sea.

‘Coral Reef’ and ‘Manatee’ are both wonderful examples of what makes Sea Blue Sea a wonderful new release from The Whizpops. The band shows both a certain pop sensibility and the ability to reach audiences without preaching to them unlike so many other acts with this album. The band expertly balances that pop sensibility and sense of environmental awareness throughout the course of its new album right up to the album’s closer. That song, ‘Octopus,’ finishes off the album just as well as ‘Coral Reef’ opens the album. It is a three-movement piece that outlines the daily life of an octopus. The song features an ABA format that opens and closes with a reggae sound and is centered with an upbeat, Latin-tinged bridge of sorts. Not only does the band exhibit a pop sensibility here, but it also exhibits a full knowledge of and appreciation for basic musicianship, too. The band blends the two completely different sounds seamlessly. The end result is a song that while it may not have as many arms as an octopus, is still a great closer for an album that will make a *ahem* splash (pun fully intended) with any listener and critic that (here’s another one) dives in.

Sea Blue Sea will be available tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19th in stores and online. The Whizpops will hit the road beginning this Saturday, August 23rd in support of its new album. Audiences can pick up the band’s new album at those shows, as well as online and in stores. The band’s current tour schedule is available online now at http://www.thewhizpops.com. More information on The Whizpops’ new album, tour, and more is available online via both the band’s official website and its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/thewhizpops. 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.