Must-Hear Music Monday: Gustafer Yellowgold

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock

Gustafer Yellowgold's Infinity SockThat yellow freckle-faced kid from the sun is up to new adventures in Morgan Taylor’s latest Gustafer installment, Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock.

I feel like I have to assume that you’re fully aware of the Gustafer saga by this point: He’s yellow, he comes from the sun, he lives in a house in the Minnesota woods, he has a pet eel, he eats pinecones… you get the picture.

Like all the Gustafer albums before this one, Infinity Sock comes as a CD/DVD set so you can either listen to the songs alone or watch them with their animated videos. Unlike previous Gustafer albums, this one tells a complete story.

In Infinity Sock Gustafer finds a long, long, long sock and decides to follow it to it’s end. Where will it take him? What will he find? How will he be changed by the journey? Along the way we meet favorite characters and learn more about them. Forest Applecrumbie’s tabby cat, Cheddar, has a song devoted to her, as do the Mint Bee and his band.

GustaferGustafer songs are often silly verging on the absurd, but also posit larger universal themes, which is why they appeal so well to both kids and grownups. One of the themes that you see throughout Gustafer’s repertoire is that everyone has value.

Gustafer has a way of seeing little things, like erring ants, and recognizing their beauty. In the new song, Snake Proms, Gustafer learns that one of his favorite foods, snakes, actually has personality and wit. I think Gustafer may now be a vegetarian.

Gustafer’s also the perpetual student, always seeking, observing, and learning. I love the new song Question Marks about how there is never an end to understanding. There’s always something new to see.

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock will be released on March 1st and it’s a must see/listen. Plus, you have to check out the bonus features for the Gustafer Guitar Lessons where Morgan shows you how to play some of his favorite songs. It’s really very cool.

For more teasers and some clips from the new album, check out www.gustaferyellowgold.com/infinity.html.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

5 New Holiday Music CDs & Songs for Families

Holiday Music For Kids

Do you hear what I hear? It’s holiday music and Christmas cheer! Despite all the stress, I still absolutely love the holidays, and one of my favorite things about the season is all the happy music. Here are some new CDs and songs that we’re enjoying this year….

Ben Rudnick & Friends

Ben Rudnick & Friends are about to play their 9th Annual Holiday Extravaganza Concert at the Regent Theatre (Boston, MA) on December 11th. It’s always a wonderful show full of Christmas and Chanukah songs all wrapped up in that unique BR&F style.

And every year people ask if they have a holiday album… and every year they have to say no, but maybe next year… Until now!

They finally did it! And it was well worth the wait! Their new album, It’s Santa Claus, features eight classic Christmas songs, from Frosty the Snowman to Jingle Bells, and one super cool original song, It’s Santa Claus!

Of course, now they need to put together a CD of all their fun Chanukah songs. OK guys, that’s your assignment for next year!

Daria

Daria’s Songs for Merry Multicultural Mirth is a sweet collection of songs from around the world. We’ve always loved the song Ocho Candelikas, a traditional song sung in Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews. What I love about Daria’s version is that she’s added an English verse, too, so we can sing along. Spanish speakers will enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between Spanish and Ladino.

Daria does such a great job of bringing different cultures together! This CD also feature songs in Spanish (Feliz Navidad), German (Ihr Kinderlein Kommet), and English (Rockin’ Jingle Bells). Check out the liner notes to the album where you can read more about each song and download the lyrics.

Phil Cooke

Speaking of Christmas celebrations around the world, Phil Cooke from Australia has just released a new album, Christmas Time is Coming! Is that Santa surfing on Christmas day? Of course! In Australia it’s summer time during the holidays, so why not?

One of my favorite songs on this album is No Worries Mate (Santa Claus He’s a Surfie). It’s fun and playful—like all of Phil’s songs. Did you know Rudolph once forgot to put sun screen on his nose? How do you think he got that burn?

Renee & Jeremy

I am of the opinion that Renee & Jeremy can do no wrong. Everything they do is brilliant! So of course their new cover of Little Drummer Boy is instantly my favorite version of this song ever. Period.

Combine this song with the beautiful art work by Hsinping Pan that always graces their albums and you’ve got perfection. I love the colors and joy displayed on this CD.

And speaking of art work, have you seen the video for Renee & Jeremy’s It’s a Big World? It’s shockingly beautiful.

DidiPop

Another fun Christmas single comes from DidiPop this year. Let’s Make Santa Claus Happy Tonight is simply adorable. Didi sings along with her kids who are soooo excited about Santa stopping by during the night.

The song is upbeat and playful and reminds us adults about how much fun Christmas Eve is and how hard it is to wait for morning.

And is that an ukulele I hear in the song? That reminds me of Didi’s newest album, DidiPop Goes to Hawai’i, set for release on December 14th. You don’t want to miss it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

New CD Releases: Brian Vogan & Keller Williams

New Music from Brian Vogan & Keller Williams

Keller Williams: Kids

Mark your calendars: Keller Williams will be hosting the Hilltown Family Variety Show on Saturday, January 22nd from 9-10am on WXOJ 103.3FM (Northampton, MA)

Brian Vogan: Sing a Little Song

As much as I like to think of myself as being totally plugged in to the kids’ music scene, lately I’ve been stumbling upon artists that I really should have already been listening to, but I’m only now discovering. That’s OK! I don’t need to be hip—I’m just on a quest for really good family music.

I found that in Brian Vogan’s new CD, Sing a Little Song. This CD catches you with the very first whimsical song, “How to Fly,” with nice light sounds and beautiful harmonies. I also love “Cross the Street” and “Wash Your Hands,” because they’re life-lesson songs that are actually fun to listen to!

Brian and his Good Buddies (that’s his band) are currently rocking in Seattle, but hopefully they’ll make it out to Boston soon. Meanwhile, check out their new CD. You can also watch their video for “That’s How a Pumpkin Grows” to get a feel for their mellow rock and rich instrumentation.

Keller Williams: Kids

Keller Williams is another artist that’s new to me, even though he’s about to release his sixteenth album. Of course his newest CD, Kids, is his first CD for… well… kids.

I was first attracted by the guitar (and Ivan always reacts so positively to accomplished guitar), but what really got my attention was the beat. Each song sways and moves to its own beat and rhythm that you just can’t help to respond to.

The fourth track, “Hulahoop to da Loop,” is a perfect example. It almost sounds like something from Stomp or Blue Man Group that just builds and builds on itself. It’s really a trip!

The humor on this album is just the sweetest. Songs about Taking a Bath” to get the stink off your feet, or about Good Advice (never pick your toes and then pick your nose because then your nose smells like your toes and that’s not good—that’s bad), or how Mama Tooted.” Well, you get the point.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Mind of My Own: France England’s Newest CD

Frances England: Mind of My Own

Frances England: Mind of My Own

Mind of My Own, due out November 9th, has a frenetic energy that is exciting and contagious!

You know when you hear an artist for the first time and they just grab you? That’s what happened for me when I heard Frances England’s new CD Mind of My Own.

On the one hand I was upset with myself for never having listened to Frances before, but on the other hand I was excited that she has two other CDs! I immediately ordered Fascinating Creatures and Family Tree. She’s just glorious!

If you’re familiar with Frances’ earlier work, then you already know about her sultry voice, creative lyrics, and timeless melodies. Her songs are easy to hum to and often the choruses are easy to sing to your kids later to get them to calm down. Many of the songs on her first two CDs are very soothing, but her new CD, due out November 9th, 2010, has more of a frenetic energy that is exciting and contagious.

As with many mommy artists, Frances’ music has grown with her kids. You can hear in this album the emerging independence I’m sure she’s seeing in her sons. The title song, Mind of My Own, is all about finding your own way while also maneuvering through all the rules your parents place on you. I absolutely adore the song Red Balloon where Frances describes a child growing in perfectly poetic language:

I’m a red balloon
I’m a full moon rising
I’m an apple tree
I’m a lemon drop
I’m a flower petal
I’m heavy metal
I’m two years old and I’m nonstop
I’m two years old and I’m nonstop

In the song To Be we hear Frances really appreciating the simple things in life. As parents we all know how sobering it can be to suddenly see the world through our kids’ eyes and realize the beauty of a flower or triumph of climbing a tree.

Frances says: “As a mother of two, it… feels really good to use song writing as a way of reflecting on daily family life. It’s such a precious time but too often we all lose sight of how significant it is because of our crazy schedules. For me, writing and singing these songs serves as a reminder that this stage in our families’ lives is golden.”

That’s a good reminder for all of us. Please check out this CD when it’s released in November. You’ll be so glad you did!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Minnesota’s Newest Kids Band: The Bazillions

The Bazillions

Take a tablespoon of Recess Monkey, add a heaping cup of The Hipwaders, and stir in a bit of power pop to even out the heavy rock flavor, and you’ll have the recipe for Minnesota’s new kids’ band, The Bazillions. Yum!

The Bazillions is the family-friendly iteration of the grown-up band The Humbugs, but their kids’ fare sounds much happier (though their grown-up songs are actually very good, too).

As the Bazillions they sing about Mac -n- Cheese and a Super Sonic Rocket Bike, perfect for the younger generation. Their lyrics are witty and silly and, above all else, they rock!

Their new album, Rock-n-Roll Recess, features the requisite Hello and goodbye songs, but done in a decidedly rock fashion (very cool) and the last two tracks are lyric-free recordings of previous songs so you can sing along at home karaoke style. Kids love that.  Read the rest of this entry »

Must-Hear Music Monday: Jungle Gym

Jungle Gym

Justin Roberts isn’t just a musician; he’s a phenomenon. When we hear that Justin has a new CD coming out, we begin pining for it immediately. We don’t worry if it will be good or not—it’s just a question of which songs we will love the most.

And Justin has been receiving some much deserved accolades in the mainstream press lately. The New York Times wrote about him in April and I was glad to see that the reporter was a true fan who recognized Justin as a “natural poet,” quoting some of his best lines from classic songs like Picture Day and Sandcastle.

Justin was also featured in a recent article in Time Magazine, which was accompanied by a video interview online.

At his root Justin is an incomparable lyricist. His songs move smoothly from verse to chorus and are divine to sing along to. He gets you thinking, laughing, and every so often even crying—and sometimes that can all happen in the same song (like From Scratch, which gets to me every time I hear it).

His new CD, Jungle Gym, is no exception. The songs take the perspective of a child, but in a way that we can all relate to. We all know what it feels like to get an unexpected day off—whether we’re a kid finding out school’s canceled due to a Snow Day or a mom who’s just been given the afternoon to herself. And in the song Never Getting Lost, is he really singing about a child getting lost in a mall or about losing our way in life and needing to reconnect?

Justin’s new CD is set to release this week but can be pre-ordered now. In the meantime, you can check out this video for Obsessed by Trucks:

And once you’ve got your new CD and you’re singing every song by heart, you’ll be ready for Justin’s upcoming performances, including the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA on July 25th. Yes, it’s time to get excited.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

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