simpatico

Video Debut: Renee & Friends – Gather Round featuring Lisa Loeb

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Renee & Friends is just that. Renee Stahl and a bunch of her friends writing and recording songs with producer Rich Jacques for her new album Simpatico.  Her circle of friends on this album include Lisa Loeb, Maya Rudolph, Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket, Colin Hay, Caspar Babypants, Molly Shannon and Jeremy Toback – her partner in crime from Renee & Jeremy. Simpatico will be released August 28th.

First listen: ‘Gather Round’ featuring Lisa Loeb is the lead track off of Simpatico. 

All tracks on the album are originals, except Renee & Maya Rudolph cover ‘Starfish and Coffee’ by Prince, which you can stream via SoundCloud. And Molly Shannon’s song “Happiness” is from the musical “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.”

You can pre-order the album straight from their website: reneeandfriends.com

PlayDate

Review: Playdate – We All Shine

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Play Date is Greg Attonito of Bouncing Souls and his partner in crime, Shanti Wintergate. They have returned with their second album, We All Shine, and shine they do. The record is the follow up to their debut record Imagination that was released on Mike Park’s Fun Fun Records. Despite being musicians for decades, writing music for families is an entirely different beast. And not nearly as simplistic as some might think. Thankfully, PlayDate are starting to find their groove. We All Shine is a gleeful, power pop paradise.

Topics on this album are what you would expect from a band with only two family records under their belt – Colors, hugs, love and a cardboard box. We All Shine is also interspersed with witty PSAs about fruits and vegetables that keep the album moving.  Greg & Shanti show signs of really stretching the kindie genre in new directions.  I’m anxious for what’s in store for albums three, four and five (and hopefully more).  Seriously, go buy this record so that have that opportunity.

Standout Tracks: We All Shine, Ninja Pajamas & Colors.

You can buy the record for a mere $10, right here.

DVD Review: McFarland USA

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With the words “based on a true story” and “Disney” associated with McFarland USA, you understand you’re not getting a documentary. You’re getting a modified version of the real events. All that said, McFarland USA is a thoroughly enjoyable underdog-over-comes-the-odds movie. As a former cross-country runner in high school, I found the practices and meets portrayed in the movie to be realistic.

McFarland USA is based on the true story of the McFarland High School cross-country team and its journey from the very beginnings of formation to success. Along the way you get a glimpse of life in California that many Americans don’t necessarily think about. For viewers willing to look deeper, it can be an eye opener.

Coach Jim White, played by Kevin Costner, finds himself moving his family to a small predominately Latino town. The town’s livelihood is dependent on “pickers,” workers who go out into the fields to pick vegetables and fruit. Kids are up before the sun to go to work in the fields and then run to get to school on time. Their families depend on their involvement in the fields to make ends meet. That can often mean education takes a backseat and most definitely extracurricular activities.

While McFarland USA shows the journey of the team, you also experience the journey of self-discovery for Coach White, his family and the teammates. On the surface, you never truly understand the challenges of someone else’s life until you experience it firsthand. McFarland USA is a great reminder to look beyond yourself.

An additional aspect that makes McFarland USA, such an enjoyable movie is the soundtrack. It was an immediate download after seeing the movie in theaters. Whether it’s the original music from Antonio Pinto, classic tracks from War or a new song from Juanes, it all fits perfectly into the movie.

Overall, if you go into it knowing McFarland USA is a classic underdog movie, you can’t go wrong.