Singled Out: “Blink of an Eye” – Frances England

Frances England PromoImageFrances England has a new family album coming out later this summer and her new single, “Blink of an Eye,” is a sneak preview into the wonder of what’s to come.  The symbolism captured in this song, accompanied by soft, acoustic notes can only be described as harmonious, delicate and exquisite.  Can’t wait to hear more!

Check this out: ¡Fantastico! – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

LDFJB_FANTASTICO_WEBWhen I look through childhood photos and see my grandmother, I recall her singing to me in her own language. While I didn’t understand the words at first, repetition and the rich, steady rhythm of her voice compelled me to sing along. Naturally, my mother also sang those songs, sometimes accompanied by the piano as my sister and I gathered around her. This passage of song and tradition is something that still exists in my family today and is always revived when we get together. As I watch my own daughter take my place as the babe in my grandmother’s/mother’s arms, I recall those days fondly and am grateful to be able to share a piece of our history with her.

This is the feeling I get from listening to ¡Fantastico!, the first Spanish-language album by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. On a recent trip to visit family in Texas, Diaz reconnected with his Mexican heritage and was inspired by the experience of sharing it with his daughter, Ella. “Tres Ratones,” initially featured on last year’s highly acclaimed A Potluck, and included on ¡Fantastico!, was the first all Spanish track to come out of that trip.

¡Fantastico! also features one new song by Diaz. “La Vibora,” a quick paced dance tune, is a traditional Latin song which was sung to Diaz by his grandmother and mother when he was a child. The rest of the songs have been reworked and could easily be considered original. For example, “ABC is the Place To Be” appears as “Los Numeros.” Curious about the translation process and the making of this record, I had a chance to speak with Diaz who explained, “We worked with a producer in Texas, named Noe Benitez. He really helped tighten the translation part up as well. We wanted the Latino community to feel the songs’ authenticity but also wanted non-Spanish speakers to enjoy them and feel they could sing along.” As a fan of Diaz’s existing work, I can completely concur that this album is one your family will enjoy regardless of your mother tongue.

While many of the songs aren’t direct translations, we particularly enjoy listening to the English and Spanish versions together. Hearing the English words and understanding the story within the song gives us an idea of what the words mean in the Spanish versions. It’s an educational process that I love engaging in with my daughter even though she is able to follow along with the Spanish words just fine on her own. In fact, she prefers the Spanish versions at times, excited by the fact that she is learning and speaking a new language.

Although we have many favorites, “Tres Ratones” was and continues to be the reigning champion. It’s a fun song about a hungry cat and three mice. The song’s catchy chorus naturally encourages participation as the cat says “meow meow meow.” Other songs we dig are the surf rock beats of “Gato Astronata,” the retro-pop sweetness of Alisha Gaddis’s “uh oh’s” in “A Bailar” and the humorous banter between Diaz and his daughter in “¿Qué dices?” The latter, like its English counterpart, includes some fine scat singing by Diaz which is something my daughter loves to imitate. Randomly hearing “zom bom bom bom ba doba daba doombop boombada do bop” followed by “qué dices” from the mouth of a 4 year old is awesome!

¡Fantastico! is a colorful album steeped in tradition and a perfect reintroduction to the sweet sounds of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. Moving from last year’s communal supper to an all out gran fiesta, Diaz and the crew succeed again in delivering hip, danceable tracks that are filled with undeniable charm and infectious pop melodies.

You can listen to and purchase ¡Fantastico! via the Bandcamp widget below, as well as Amazon and iTunes.

View This: “Fish Sticks” – Recess Monkey

handsAttention deep sea divers, exotic creatures and all other friends of the ocean! Check out this new video from Recess Monkey’s upcoming Deep Sea Diver and this time it features a sea creature like no other. They call him “Fish Sticks,” and he can put together some serious beats.

The video for “Fish Sticks” is simple yet impactful. To start, it makes a point of showcasing Recess Monkey’s new drummer, Korum Fishoff, er, I mean Korum Bischoff whose percussive skills just might blow you out of the water. Ranging from Vintage Rock to Disco (and everything in between), Bischoff doesn’t miss a beat. And, although Drew Holloway is not in any sort of costume per se (see: Sack Lunch), he plays a highly entertaining promoter for the Coral Club in this video.

“Fish Sticks,” aptly displays what makes Recess Monkey so much fun: great sense of humor, clever lyrics and energetic beats.

Singled out: Tornado Relief “(Look for the) Good People” – Sugar Free Allstars

a0713912681_2Oklahoma kindie band, The Sugar Free Allstars, recently released a single in support of those who were affected by the recent tornado.  “(Look for the) Good People” reinforces the idea that there is strength in numbers and people  (“the helpers and the givers“) who are willing to help in times of crisis.

100% of the proceeds from the download of this song will go to the American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma to aid in the disaster relief from the tornados of May 19th and 20th, 2013.  You can listen and purchase the song via the BandCamp widget below.

Additionally, Chris Wiser, front man for the Sugar Free Allstars, wrote a moving account of his experience in the aftermath of the tornado.    Check it out here along with links of other ways to help.