Tag Archives: Recess Monkey

Fids & Kamily 2016 & Best of the Decade

For those of you new to family music, Fids & Kamily is a yearly poll that compiles the lists of the year’s favorite kids and family music. Music bloggers, radio hosts, etc. They keep letting me vote, so I keep voting. And a couple weeks ago they released the results.

Before we take a look at 2016, let’s take a look back at the last 10 years.

2006-2015-fids-and-kamily

Here is how the committee vetted out.

Here’s a look at my “Best of the Decade” ballot:

1. Dan Zanes and Friends – Catch That Train!
2. Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band – A Potluck
3. Justin Roberts – Jungle Gym
4. The Pop Ups – Radio Jungle
5. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Can You Canoe?
6. Gustafer Yellowgold – Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock
7. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Underground Playground
8. Frances England – Mind of My Own
9. Caspar Babypants – Sing Along!
10. They Might Be Giants – Here Come the 123s
11. The Deedle Deedle Dees – Strange Dees, Indeed
12. Josh and the Jamtones – Rocksteady
13. Lori Henriques – The World Is a Curious Place To Live
14. Dan Zanes and Friends – Little Nut Tree
15. Justin Roberts – Lullaby
16. Recess Monkey – The Final Funktier
17. The Not-Its – Raise Your Hand
18. Various Artists – Science Fair
19. Medeski, Martin & Wood – Let’s Go Everywhere
20. Ozomatli – Ozomatli Presents OzoKidz

And now for 2016. Here’s how the panel of judges voted.

Here is my 2016 Fids & Family ballot:

1. Frances England – Explorer of the World
2. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album
3. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Infinity Plus One
4. Sonia De Los Santos – Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island
5. Dean Jones – In My Dreams
6. The Not-Its! – Are You Listening?
7. Moona Luna – Panorama
8. Sugar Free Allstars – Sugar Free Allstars
9. The Deedle Deedle Dees – Sing-A-Long History Vol. 2: The Rocket Went Up!
10. Mista Cookie Jar – Music Is Everywhere

If you haven’t already, please take a listen to some of these wonderful records and support independent music for families. 

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.

Recess Monkey

Desert Island Discs with Recess Monkey

If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? Yes, we know it isn’t a fair question, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking music fans who happen to be recording artists in their own right. This edition of Desert Island Discs comes courtesy of Recess Monkey, whose latest LP, In Tents!, is out now. You can preview a video from the album below — after reading their Desert Island picks, of course!

Drew:

Jellyfish, Spilt Milk

Just two records from this amazing Bay Area band. I feel robbed. This collection encapsulates so many different influences and emotions. Like many records, this one is the soundtrack for a certain point in my life. There are layers upon layers, melodically and lyrically. I could listen to “Russian Hill” on repeat forever. Never thought I’d fall so hard for a harmonica solo.

XTC, Skylarking

I was first introduced to XTC by a cassette tape my brother got from a friend. It was a copy of Skylarking. This friend had even reproduced the album art on loose leaf binder paper and cut it to size to fit in the plastic tray. From the opening notes of “Summer’s Cauldron” I was hooked. I wish I could crawl inside this record and live there.

And I might just sneak Pet Sounds and Kid A in my pack back while no one is looking. And I could probably fit Summerteeth in my toiletries bag — can I bring one of those?

Daron:

Pixies, Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim

This is one of my favorite albums from one of my favorite bands — a UK release of the Pixies’ first LP and EP combined. You feel like you’re in the studio with the band…full of energy and saucy banter.

Sigur Ros, Ágætis Byrjun

When I first got this album I listened to it for about a week straight. It is so full of textures and layers that I’m still discovering nuances. Sigur Ros continues to create amazing soundscapes, but I’ll never forget the first time I heard them.

Jack:

Elliott Smith, Figure 8

It’s really a toss-up between Figure 8 and xo, but Eliott Smith is definitely at the top of my desert island list. Where to begin? I think he had an exceptional ear for harmony, and I love how he reinforced melodies with several instruments playing in unison. The guy was a downright prodigy — he played nearly all of the instruments on his albums — and manages to channel the Beatles without simply emulating them. He even recorded a lot of his later work at Abbey Road! He had some real problems in his non-musical life, but musically speaking he’s the musician I most wish I were.

John Vanderslice, Pixel Revolt

It’s no secret to Recess Monkey devotees that we¹re die-hard John Vanderslice fans. He manages to keep cranking out amazing albums that represent real growth each time — what an inspiration to see another artist who never stops growing! Pixel Revolt isn’t his newest album, but it’s the one that sticks with me the most — such a unique blend of acoustic guitar, synth pop and manufactured beats. To top it off, he’s a really nice guy AND runs a great all-analog studio in SF. We keep talking about how we can figure out a way to record there.

A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory

Jazz rap. Such a great album — this is one of the ones that instantly transports me back in time, but it is still remarkably fresh to my ears. I remember seeing the video for “Scenario” on MTV for the first time thinking “what IS this!?” It totally changed hip hop for me. Q-Tip is such a powerful MC! This is my favorite hip hop album of all time.

Steely Dan, Gaucho

This is another real toss-up. I LOVE Steely Dan, and each of their records has a special place in my brain. One would definitely be on the list, and this minute it’d be Gaucho. The utter smoothness of “Babylon Sisters” is what’s ringing in my ears as I type this… But if I think about it too long, I’ll probably change my mind to Can’t Buy a Thrill, and then Aja… It never ends. Such an impressive body of work!