Author Archives: Philly B

About Philly B

I've been playing music for a long time, so that means I think I know more about it than I actually do. I'm a brand new dad of a sweet baby girl who has me wrapped around her finger already.

Review: Recess Monkey – Deep Sea Diver


CD:
Deep Sea Diver
Artist: Recess Monkey
Audience: Anyone who is at any point along that evolution diagram where they show a monkey becoming a human.
Sounds like: Everything. I will elaborate on this later.
Buy from: recessmonkeytown.com and iTunes
Random Thought: Rhesus macaque have 50 vertebrae on average. I hope Wikipedia didn’t lie to me.
Tweet Sized Review: Many bands strive to be masters of one style. Recess Monkey laughs at them as they master them all.

Would you like to hear something interesting? A review of a really good CD doesn’t actually write itself. Trust me, I sat on this one long enough that it probably should have. There are really three reasons as to why it has taken so long for me to write this. I’m a procrastinator, kids are a lot of work (Yeah I only have one, so), and I wanted to make sure I did this album justice. I probably won’t, but I’ll try.

How good is Recess Monkey’s new album, Deep Sea Diver? It’s really good. Like, so good that I would listen to it without my daughter in the car. So good that I would catch myself humming and singing the songs as I walked around the office. It’s kind of tough to explain to adults without kids what you are singing, but it didn’t matter. This album is really good.

I’m going to make a comparison that probably won’t make a lot of sense to some, but oh well. This is my space. The first band that popped into my head when I listened to “Deep Sea Diver” was The Urge. That’s right, that band from the ‘90s that had a couple of songs that received moderate airplay. “The Urge?”, you say? Let me explain. The Urge released an album in 1998 called Master of Styles. This CD did cover several different styles of music, some attempts more successful than others, but it is an album that I still appreciate to this day. I’m making this comparison because I think that Recess Monkey should have called this album Master of Styles instead of Deep Sea Diver (I know it doesn’t fit the nautical theme of the album, but work with me here).

I’ve tried to count how many different styles Recess Monkey uses on this album but I lose count. Many bands try to use different styles (especially in kindie) with varying amounts of success. Deep Sea Diver doesn’t miss on one single attempt at different styles. The album is enjoyable from start to finish and is really strong while Jack, Drew, and Korum incorporate more styles than you can shake a stick at.

Deep Sea Diver starts off strong with “Tambourine Submarine” which is a rocking track that begins to show the range the group has. The second track, “Fish Sticks”, is probably my favorite. “Fish Sticks” features several drum solos and several different styles in this one song. The fifth track, “Shrimp”, is sure to be a favorite. It has an excellent hip hop/funk feel to it. This song also features some clever lyrics. That is another thing I love about this album.

Recess Monkey does a great job of sprinkling clever lyrics throughout Deep Sea Diver. There are plenty of lyrics that kids will catch, but there are also several that seem to be placed strategically for the parents to catch. If you ask me, this is one aspect that makes it so enjoyable. Not only is the music good, it is clever and it has something for everyone.

What else can you expect from Deep Sea Diver? How about a pirate tune? How about a funky disco track? How about tunes that remind you of everything awesome about all styles of music? It’s all there!

I also enjoy that Recess Monkey sings about topics that kids can understand and relate to. It can be difficult for a band full of adults to pull that off. Kids can tell when something is lame and not give it the time of day. That will not happen with this album or this band. Oh, and kids might actually learn some things about the ocean, sea, or maps (“Compass Rose”) just by listening to this album! That’s a win in my book.

I would also feel like I’m not doing my job if I don’t mention how awesome their name is. Their name is Recess Monkey. Recess Monkey. Get it? They’ve been around long enough that I’m sure they are sick of people telling them how clever that name is, but I’m new to the scene and I’m going to talk about it. It might be one of the best band names I’ve ever heard.

So, to conclude, buy this album. I tried to do it justice through my rambling above. I probably should have just written that you should buy it because it is awesome. That probably would have done a better job and made a heck of a lot more sense.

CD Review: Moona Luna – Vamos, Let’s Go!

Moona_Vamos_cover-300x267
CD:
Vamos, Let’s Go!
Artist: Moona Luna
Audience: Speakers of English. Speakers of Spanish. Don’t understand either? You can listen too!
Sounds like: The best mix of Latin music and kid’s tunes you will hear. (editor’s note: Phil – also check out Lucky Diaz & Ozokidz)
Buy from: Amazon.com, iTunes, CD Baby
Random Thought: There is only one man in the moon, but there are two men in Moona Luna.
Tweet Sized Review: My Spanish is very weak, but it doesn’t matter when a CD like this comes around.

I have been called a music snob by many a person. I take offense to this because I think I like WAY more music than the normal person, but that is a different argument for a different time. Even if I am a music snob, I can’t find anything to not like about this album.

I had never heard Moona Luna before getting my hands on Vamos, Let’s Go!. Since I’ve had a chance to listen to this album over and over again, I can tell you that I’m going to make sure to get the first release from this New York based group.

In my last review I talked about how that group did a great job of mixing styles. I’m not saying that Moona Luna does it better or worse, but they do a fantastic job of making songs sound unique while still sticking to their Latin roots.

I absolutely love the first track, which also happens to be the title track, “Vamos, Let’s Go!”. The first time it started playing I thought I had made a mistake and clicked on a Los Straightjackets or 3rd Wave Ska track. It has such a happy and upbeat “surfer” feel to it. Plus, accordion!

Once the second track hit I thought my iTunes had randomly shuffled to something that would have been heard on the jukebox in a 50’s ice cream shop. After listening I realized it was still Moona Luna! I said to myself, “Well this is a cool track. It’s like something from “Grease” but good and appropriate for children!” I couldn’t wait for the rest of the tracks to play.

Once the third track of this album rolls, Moona Luna really hits their stride. The first two tracks are really good, but I think the remaining are really in their wheelhouse. Not only are they in their wheelhouse, but they knock them out of the park. No swinging and missing here. I’m not going to talk about each and every track (we would be here awhile), but the fifth track, “What Time Is It? (Que Hora Es?)” is a laid back track that I find myself either singing or whistling all the time. I’m pretty sure my coworkers are ready to tell me what time it is.

Track seven, “One of Those Days (Uno De Esos Dias)” not only has very relatable lyrics, but a tango beat that will have you dancing across the room. Track nine, “All The Time (Todo El Tiempo)” made this rude boy flash back to good memories with the upbeat guitar strumming and fun accordion licks (it seems as if our fearless leader has me pegged on what music to review).

The final track, “Beautiful Birthday (Cumpleanos Feliz)” is a very strong end to the album. It is not only a track that is probably going to be played at some point during my daughter’s birthday just based on the title and because I love her, but it is bright, peppy, and just downright fun.

I didn’t even get to the most important part yet. In the constant struggle to find music that is appropriate for the entire family, you don’t want to settle for low hanging fruit. Not only does every song contain both English and Spanish lyrics, but there is repetition in each song. Well, at least from my poor Spanish skills there seems to be. If a word that is repeated throughout the song is said in English, there is a good chance it is said in Spanish as well. Those of us that work with kids know that repetition does work. It works even better when it is presented in a fun format. This album is way more than a fun format.

We know that a child’s best chance to learn a foreign language is start them early. I can’t think of a better way to introduce them to Spanish. If I can learn and remember some basic Spanish just by listening to this album, I have no doubt your child will as well. Do everyone a favor and turn off the Maroon 5 (no seriously, please stop) and play Vamos, Let’s Go! instead.

Don’t believe the review? Listen for yourself.

CD Review: The Not-Its! – KIDQUAKE!

Kidquake_DigipackCD: KIDQUAKE!
Artist: The Not-Its!
Audience: You.
Sounds like: Nothing like what you would hear on Top 40 radio… so it’s good.
Buy from: iTunes and bandcamp on February 5th
Random Thought: If they are all not it, then who is it? That is existential, man.
Tweet Sized Review: I never thought kid’s music could be like this. Being a dad won’t be so bad!

I’ll start off this, my first review on Dadnabbit, by saying that I am a new dad. My daughter will only be 4 months old when this album comes out. This should tell you a couple of things. I don’t know much about being a dad so far. I also don’t know what the heck I’m getting myself into. While I have some ideas, I still don’t know. Finally, I’m struggling with the thought that I will have to give up my radio dial/iPod dominance in the car.

These thoughts/fears became a little easier to stomach after listening to the latest offering from The Not-Its!. The fearless leader of our blog said that he had this album in mind for me and was interested in hearing what I thought about kindie. I of course thought he typed the word kidney wrong and was hoping he wasn’t going to ask me for one, but after I realized that kindie was a music genre, I was in. I am excited that The Not-Its! were my first exposure to this much needed genre of music.

I am a SKA/Punk kid at heart and KIDQUAKE! made the kid inside me (and the adult on the outside) smile and consider skanking it up. The Not-Its! do a great job of mixing (WARNING: Cheesy music review language ahead) tasty licks, catchy melodies, crunchy guitars, a tight rhythm section, and positive and fun lyrics.

There is a lot to like musically and lyrically on this album. The first track, “KIDQUAKE!” sets a good tone with its energy. It is a track that will get your kids moving and maybe even busting out a little air guitar. “Busy”, track number three, is a true SKA song that will take you back to the mid-90s. It contains a nice horn line that I find myself whistling as I walk around the house. Not only is the album musically sound, I also enjoy the humor in a lot of the lyrics. Listen carefully and make sure to catch what they are saying in a song like “Busy”. The fifth track, “Temper Tantrum”, that starts off with an intro that includes a description of everyone’s little brother, is a very relatable song. It is also a great example of how The Not-Its! blend the vocal abilities of their members. Looking for more on this album? You even get a little country twang on track ten, “Walk or Ride”, which delivers a message of bike safety.

I would love to ramble on about every track, but the last one I’m going to mention is “Participation Trophy”. Hilarious? Yes. Musically sound? You bet. My favorite track on the album? Without a doubt. I’m not really sure what to compare it to, but it sounds like something any number of pop punk bands of the past 15 years could have released. You can probably figure out what the song is about based on the title. I’ll leave it at that and let you enjoy it.

I didn’t even mention who is in this band yet. Have you heard of Sarah Shannon? Well if you haven’t, she was a part of Velocity Girl who was well known on the scene in the 1990s, and that is pretty darn cool. Michael, the drummer, also played with Harvey Danger and I guarantee you know who that is. All of the members are very talented musicians (they all lend vocals on the album and many play multiple instruments) and it shows. They also care about music and the message they are sending out. Oh, and they also like to have fun. That’s what it’s really all about, right?

Do you love your kids? Instead of the new Twilight, I suggest you give them this album for Valentine’s Day. They will thank you. More importantly your ears will thank you. And while my daughter is just three months old at the moment, she stopped crying when I started playing this. That should be enough of an endorsement for anyone.

Get more from The Not-Its straight from their website.

Here’s a live performance of their song, “Let’s Skateboard”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amCaa-JOdhY?list=UUoAx8j7vUq0GCX5zSY_0lXQ]