Check It Out: Ellen and Matt – It’s Love

Listening to the second release from Los Angeles-based Ellen and Matt is like a journey through time. “It’s Love” presents itself as a comprehensive music box containing classic sounds from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It also once again showcases the band’s musical talent and solid songwriting skills.

Since their debut “Best Friends,” released about 5-6 years ago, Ellen and Matt have been busy trying to balance raising their 3 sons, touring and producing a new record. And it’s from their familial experiences that the couple drew inspiration for “It’s Love,” which includes relatable topics packaged up with a retro vibe and some serious rock n’ roll.

The recording of the album was made successful due to the fund raising campaign that took place on indiegogo, a crowd funding site which provides a platform for people to raise money for the projects they are working on, much like Kickstarter. The money that was raised helped make this record possible and, in an offering of gratitude, the couple included a candid thank you song at the end of their album for those who made contributions.

Ellen and Matt’s music is honest and they stick with their roots which is what I think makes this album so special. With each song, “It’s Love” evokes a different emotion and overall carries a more diverse sound within the kids music scene. It reminds me of the awesome music we used to listen to on road trips growing up. Blending progressive rock, soft rock, new wave, punk and even some good ole country twang, the two clearly inject their musical influences into their sound, channeling greats like Karen Carpenter, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash and The Sex Pistols, just to name a few. Ah, sweet nostalgia.

As I’ve listened to the album, I’ve grown very fond of it. There are so many levels to each song and with each spin I hear something new that impresses me even more about the band’s musical talents, whether it be sweet guitar licks in “Tickle Bug,” overall composition, storytelling skills or Savannah Duplissea’s echoey vocals at the end of the funky disco track “Drive Thru” (which are reminiscent of Clare Torry’s vocals at the end of Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig In The Sky”). They even have a steady cowbell workin’ the beat in the title track “It’s Love,” which also features a killer guitar solo by Tony Atkinson. It reminded me a lot of the movie “Dazed and Confused” and is sure to be a regular summer jam in our house.

Ellen and Matt’s songwriting abilities are stellar but you might just find yourself falling into the groove of the music before catching onto the lyrics, which is not a bad thing, but more of a case to replay the album and listen to the message within each song. In general, I think the target audience is mainly the 5-8 crowd. However, there are some sweet songs that the under 5 crowd will catch on to and enjoy as well like “Playground” which goes through all the exciting things that can happen where “all the active kids meet,” “Shadow” which features Ellen’s soulful Carpenter-esque crooning and is E’s favorite song and “Your Body is a Zoo,” a fun little honky-tonk number with a catchy refrain (“moo oink bow wow chicka licka meow meow”). Even Matt does a solo in the sweet song “Teddy Bear” which is about the companionship that only a soft little friend can provide.

“It’s Love” provides an eclectic mix of music aiming to bring families together. And without a doubt, Ellen and Matt show us that rock n’ roll is here to stay!

You can find Ellen and Matt here as well as sample and download their album here.

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the album for possible review.

Below are two videos which further show the band’s ability to get the kids’ movin’.



Check It Out: Mr. Ray – The Classroom Collection – Best Of…

This morning was another gloomy one  with nothing but clouds and promise of rain.  Yuck.  I hate those mornings.  I like a bit of sunshine with my coffee and busy toddler.  As usual, we went to turn on music and I was instantly racking my brains for some good music that we haven’t listened to a million times over.  I decided to browse around for some new music and came across Mr. Ray’s Best Of….The Classroom Collection.  Presto!  It was just the right amount of happy that we needed to get the morning started.  Mr. Ray has a very catchy way of hooking you into bobbing up down and snapping.  His songs are more than catchy and speak to important themes such as sharing, waiting your turn, cleaning up and using your manners (which is a dub inspired tune reminding our children to say ‘please’).  And, for those passionate about acronyms (I will never forget the Every Good Boy Does Fine acronym from my piano lesson days) there is a tune about a boy named Roy G Biv whose name stands for the colors of the rainbow of course.  And who doesn’t love learning about a rainbow.  You and your child will love bopping up and down and maybe even skipping to Mr. Ray’s infectious kindie (that’s Indie + Kids) grooves.

Bio: A jersey rocker turned kindie rocker when he was invited to perform for kids at his wife’s preschool.  After performing a couple of songs for the kids, he instantly became Mr. Ray.  Mr. Ray has an extensive rock bio including playing and touring with Meatloaf, playing with Springsteen and Bon Jovi, and even getting to play for the United Nations in NYC.  His passion for the last several years has been playing for kids under the age of 8 and has been loving it.

This just might be a case where I end up stealing from my daughter’s music chest.

You can find Mr. Ray here
You can listen to clips here