Check out this new video by Play Date! It’s for “The Number Song,” from their debut children’s album, Imagination. Set on the beach, husband-and-wife duo, Greg Attonito (The Bouncing Souls) and singer-songwriter, Shanti Wintergate, tell the tale of how the number one won the race of numbers.
What you’ll love about it: These two are more fun than a barrel of monkeys (just check out Attonito’s serious dance moves)! They are equally playful and full of zest, which is what makes their music so appealing to kids (and grown-ups). “The Number Song,” is an example of how this duo thoughtfully brings familiar concepts to life (see also “XYZ,” chosen for a Nordstrom digital commercial). By teaching counting through storytelling and visual cues, Play Date cleverly lays the foundation for kids to have fun while learning. The joy of childhood is very much alive in in the sounds of Play Date’s music.
Want to learn more? Of course you do! Play Date will be releasing a vinyl version of Imagination through their label Fun Fun Records in early 2015.
Holiday gift guide: In the spirit #SmallBizSaturday and #IndiesFirst, you can support Play Date by purchasing the album, Imagination, through the Bandcamp widget below.
When you purchase their Eco-Friendly Digipak CD you get a colorful piece of art, perfect for hanging in a child’s bedroom, and a coloring booklet. Artwork by Shanti Wintergate and Zak Kaplan.
Wintergate and Attonito are authors! Keep your imagination flowing by reading the children’s book responsible for inspiring the creation of their band, as well as the songs on their album. “I Went for a Walk,”winner of a2014 Child’s Magazineaward, is a chapter book that takes children on an adventure through space where they have fantastic experiences in different worlds. Each page is made up of Attonito’s fanciful paintings. I Went for a Walk is available through Amazon and Chunksaah Records.
Do you know the difference between Sea Lions and Seals? I frequently get confused! Here in the Bay Area, there are a number of both. So when I holler out “Oh, look at that sea lion!” I always internally question whether it really is a sea lion or a seal. Now, thanks to Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam‘s groovy tune “Five Sea Lions,” I have regained confidence! With the premiere of this playful video, Didner and the crew educate listeners on the differences between these sleek marine mammals.
As a bonus, “Five Sea Lions” doubles as a counting song which is always good fun for the youngest of listeners. Didner explains, “Pre-schoolers and toddlers are learning to count down from five, as they might with other songs like ‘Five Little Monkeys’ or ‘Five Freckled Frogs,’ while at the same time, grade schoolers are picking up a little marine biology and the differences between sea lions and seals. Later on in the song, we get into the reason for those differences.”
Didner and his wife Amy wrote the lyrics to this song as a gift for their now-three-year-old daughter based on the excitement of knowing that the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, their local zoo, was to open a new sea lion exhibit. “This news touched on a fond memory we have of our first trip to California together, where the sea lions were playing and barking on the pier at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf,” Amy added. “We were inspired.”
“Five Sea Lions” is the Jungle Gym Jam’s third video from their debut album Everyone’s Invited! and the band’s first animated video thanks to Glen Biltz (known for his work directing multiple live-action and animated videos for award winning kindie band Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights).
When the announcement of Pete Seeger’s passing was made, I was in the midst of preparing a review about Ella Jenkins‘ latest release with Smithsonian Folkways. As I read the obituaries of and tributes to Seeger, I thought more about the profound effects each of these artists have had on audiences of all ages. In light of my reflections, it occurred to me how many parallels there are between these two legends. To start, each has earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for their musical contributions. Along with this honor, they each have had a rich recording history with Smithsonian Folkways, releasing a legacy that will forever set an example for others within the music and educational fields. Not to mention the multigenerational and cultural impact their music has had on children and families throughout the world. Most importantly, what ties them together the most is that they have lived their lives with purpose and that purpose has been fueled by a sense of pride and joy, coupled with the belief that music is meant to be shared.
On her 34th release with Smithsonian Folkways, Ella’s joyful spirit is captured once again. The songs on 123s and ABCs are simple and highly interactive, presented mostly in Ella’s signature call-and-response style and provide layers of benefits for young listeners. The album contains 16 wonderfully curated tracks aimed at teaching letters, counting and basic math (addition and subtraction). The secondary benefits seek to build language skills, strengthen memory, and develop rhythm through a variety of musical games. And, remaining loyal to Ella’s multicultural appreciation, 123s and ABCs presents songs in four languages – English, Spanish, Swahili, and Yiddish.
The album opens with “Easy as ABC,” an alphabet game that encourages listeners to associate a word with a letter and then use that word in a sentence. As Ella sings, “C is for caring/ And I care a lot about you,” it’s hard not to feel comforted by her sincerity. It is this line that captures Ella’s authenticity and loving heart.
“Eight Clay Pigeons” and “And One and Two…” are fun counting songs that encourage movement while “ABCs” is a sweet little chant that underscores the positive effects music has on learning: “123, 123 were the very first numbers that were taught to me…/ ABC, ABC were the very first letters that were taught to me/ XYZ, XYZ were the very last letters that were taught to me.”
123s and ABCs is another fine example of how wonderful it feels to sing along together. Ella is a teacher, a leader and a friend who has devoted her life to sharing that which has enlightened, educated and enriched so many children’s (and grown-ups’) lives. The following quote perfectly describes Ella’s grace and thoughtful approach to music making. (source: NPR):
“I think most people like music and most children like music, and there’s a variety of music. But whatever you happen upon with something that you really feel that you really like, I’d say listen to it and listen to it often. And if you want to kind of emulate it, if you want to try to repeat or imitate, do it in a way that when you’re sharing it, someone else is going to think it’s beautiful, too. So there are a lot of wonderful composers around the world, and sometimes we get a lot of them right here in Chicago. But anyway, when you get these and you start to sing or you can dance like the people that you have heard or watched, then put your best performance forward, and I think the children will do the same.”
A new video from Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke with a fun twist on counting. All of the elements that make this dynamic duo so interesting are once again featured in this video: colorful graphics and animation, clever rhyming and a great sense of humor. There is even a trip to France complete with a French accent as 8 red ants “dance ze night away” on the Champs-Élysées.
Although the title of the video is called “One Fat Frog,” those familiar with the duo’s existing work will recognize the song as “Counting One To Ten” from their 2010 release, Rise and Shine (an excellent and highly recommended piece of work). Listeners not previously acquainted with their work, well, you’re in for a treat.
Want to hear more? The 11 Rise and Shine tracks are available for purchase (CD comes packaged with a board book) from Little Monster Records. The album is also available for purchase or download from Amazon.com and iTunes.
You can also view a video for the single, “Animal Alphabet,” here.
Because I Said So!, the third release from North Carolina’s Big Bang Boom, is a real family jam party. This high energy album is packed with a dynamic blend of styles from good ole rock n’ roll to hip hop and even a bit of funk.
Big Bang Boom is made up of a trio of Dads, including Steve Williard, Eddie Walker and Chuck Folds, brother of Ben Folds (yep, as in Ben Folds Five). Because I Said So! feels like an introduction to college rock for tots. But make no mistake, the music is meant to appeal to a broad range of ages, including adults. And it certainly does! I can’t help but reminisce on my college days while listening to their catchy choruses and thought-provoking verses.
Because I Said So! delivers an enjoyable bunch of songs that address the deeper meaning of parent-child relationships and family dynamics. As fathers themselves, these guys write thoughtful lyrics based on their own experiences, as opposed to writing generic songs that simply fit the mold of being a band that makes music for kids. Their songs put the role of “kid” front and center, and it is that “kid” who sings about and responds to interactions with his or her parents. The scenarios are so relatable, it’s uncanny. There are several Seinfeld moments where I laugh out loud while listening to real-life scenarios throughout the album. Although, I can’t help but feel as though I am being taught a lesson, as well. Not in a preachy way, but in a way that makes me think more about how my own daughter experiences life through her little eyes and ears.
One of our favorite songs, “Make Me,” appeals to the idea that kids make mistakes but also seek to understand why there are rules and consequences. The song is so upbeat and catchy that you can’t help but get excited when you hear it. You can view the video below, as well as read my earlier post here.
Oftentimes it feels as though the sound and tempo of a song seem to match the message being expressed by either the parent or the child. “Bicycle,” a freewheelin’ (see what I did there) pop track that conveys a sense of pride and joy as a result of facing your fears while mastering a new skill. The verse and following chorus line proudly exclaim “…when I turn around I’m surprised I found/dad/let go of me/I’m rollin’ free/so I roll on and on and on….ridin’ my bicycle.” Every time we play this song, Em either says “This song makes me want to ride my bike!” or “Mom, when can I get a bigger bike to ride on my own?”
The growling intro to “Are We There Yet?” very accurately expresses the frustration often felt on car trips. The call and response style, mixed-in with a little cowbell, feels similar to a Beastie Boys song. “Because I Said So!,” the album’s title track, sounds like a mix between the Ramones and Blink-182 with its pop-punk makeup. The tone of the song accurately matches the discontented feeling a blanket answer like “because I said so” might feel to a kid.
The album also aims to educate with songs like “Green Light,” which lays out the rules of the road in a really fun and easy way. I have always found yellow to be a more difficult color to explain. However, this song ties it all together with the short and sweet catchphrase, “yellow means slow.” In fact, it’s so easy to convey that when my little backseat driver calls out “Mom, you are supposed to stop at yellow!” I am almost too pleased to remind her about this song and then ask, “What does yellow mean?” which is always answered with “Yellow means slow!” Of course, at the mercy of my own guilt, I still find myself launching into a wordy explanation, which almost always results in the snarky retort “Mom, I can’t hear the music.” Ah, parenting….
Other notable songs include, “The Counting Song,” a quick-paced rap which makes a game out of simple math (addition, subtraction) by using your fingers. “Put one finger up that’s all you gotta do/add another finger to the one and that’ll make 2/ take the one away from 2 it’ll leave you just 1 …grab yourself a friend plus you makes 2/ add the 1 and 1 that’s all you gotta do. ….so we added two fingers and we added two friends/added more and more so the counting never ends…” The call and response portions of the song carry a bit of a Sesame Street vibe as the chorus of kids echo back numbers as they are called out.
“Control” offers a bit of advice on impulse control and sibling rivalry while “One” encourages goodwill and a giving heart.
The album ends with “Goodbye,” a sweet little song with some humorous reminders mixed in. Because I Said So! contains 11 tracks with a runtime of 27 minutes which is nice for the shorter attention spans of the younger bunch while leaving the older bunch eager to put the album on repeat. Em and I dig the sounds blasting out of our speakers and we think you will too. Recommended for all ages and then some!
You can listen to samples of the entire album here. The album can be downloaded and purchased through Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby.
Full Disclosure: I was provided with a copy for possible review. All opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own.