Renee Stahl of Renee & Jeremy will be releasing a new album called Simpatico (under the name of Renee & Friends) which contains a wonderful collection of songs featuring special guests such as Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket, Colin Hay (from Men at Work!) and Lisa Loeb. Heads up, this album is simply gorgeous.
“Gather Round,” the first video off of Simpatico, makes it’s debut into the world today. The song, featuring delicately balanced harmonies between Stahl and Loeb, is just beautiful both in its sound and its meaning. I love the bare naked rawness that is also so comforting in the spirit of family and community.
Little things like a close up of a girl’s freckles, and Loeb playing her guitar barefoot, underscores the “just bring yourself” aspect of the song. The welcoming lyrics which ask “What can you bring to the table?” feel symbolic in a greater, more profound way. What we can bring to the table in any situation (parenting, work, life, relationships) is ourselves because that’s enough, and as the lyrics remind us “what you bring is always what we need.”
Simpatico will officially release on August 28, 2015. You can download the single for “Gather Round” and preorder the album via iTunes Simpatico, Amazon and Google Play.
When I first saw the above comic, I was instantly struck by the profundity of its meaning. Amidst all of the holiday hubbub, I tend to overlook the true end result as I focus on finding just the right gifts, braving the lines at the post office, and getting ready for travel. Whether it’s being with family, pets, friends, or a larger community, being in the presence of people/loved ones really brings the best kind of presents.
Music is another source of joy, especially during the holidays. We’ve been listening to classics from previous playlists, as well as a few new items mentioned below that have definitely added to the sentiment of presence.
Below you will find a nice mix of Chanukah and Christmas music. Enjoy!
Sometimes it’s hard for me to come up with just the right words to describe a song. Sometimes, a song’s composition is so striking that I can’t help but first “feel” the song. I hear it, yet the music is so rich, so deep that the sounds take me away.
Lisa Loeb’s new Chanukah single, “Light,” does exactly that. It’s a gorgeous song that radiates like the warm glow of freshly lit candles. Renee Stahl, singer-songwriter and one half of the kindie group Renee & Jeremy, harmoniously echoes Loeb with a quiet intensity, filling the air with a special sense of hope. Loeb wrote the song in honor of Chanukah, and to remind us that we can all continue to shine brightly and steadily, with or without the flame.
What can happen in a matter of two weeks? One of the Bay Area’s finest musicians, Alison Faith Levy, expertly answers that question with grace and ease. Inspired by the ukulele tutorials we have been doing over at Moms Making Music, Levy went out and bought herself a uke, learned how to play it AND wrote and produced an original Chanukulele (Chanukah + Ukulele) song and video! In just 2 weeks! And it’s a great song! If you don’t own a uke yet, you might just be inspired to pick one up after watching this video.
You can sing along with Alison by reading the lyrics she posted on her official site.
Interested in learning how to play the ukulele? Learn along with us through our tutorials at the Moms Making Music Facebook page after you enjoy Alison’s performance in the video below.
Back with another holiday jingle, MCJ and the Chocolate Chips come together to spread love, warmth and spirit with a soul-filled throwback to the classic sounds of the 50s. “Got the Spirit” captures the essence of being present during the holiday season by encouraging us to slow down, take a breath, and rock on with our Superbad selves as we soak up the good vibrations of those around us.
Dance because it’s chilly.
Shake until we’re silly.
Slow it down…take a breath.
Now think about the little things
That make you feel so blessed.
Michael Rachap, creator of Readeez, produces original songs and pairs them with animated, lyric videos in an effort to promote a better understanding of the quirky “rules” of the English language, i.e. knowing how letter sounds change when they are next to a vowel. By pairing music with lyrics and illustrations learning is reinforced through visual prompts that aid in pronunciation and foster a deeper understanding of basic concepts. We love watching Readeez videos and with each one, I can point out and talk with my daughter about the differences between what we see, hear and speak.
Readeez’s latest video is an original Chanukah (or Hanukkah depending on your spelling preference) song called “One Blue Candle,” which is in honor of the one blue candle that diligently lights each candle on the menorah every night of Chanukah. It’s part counting song, part holiday song. Simple, but like any Readeez video, colorful, informative and meaningful.
If this song happened to show up at a holiday party and pour itself a cup of egg nog, it would not be weird at all. “I Walk So Slow Under the Mistletoe,” is a whimsical little song that captures the spirit of tradition sprinkled with just the right amount of kitsch. Martin pairs up with singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson whose unique voice blends in a nice dose of retro sweetness.
Martin explains, “I love holiday music, and I tried to pump up all of its wonderful clichés: dreamy romance, choral singing, sleigh bells…etc. I want people to feel like they’re sitting on a gumdrop sofa inside a gingerbread house while it’s raining candy canes and eggnog.”
Edmonson also appears on Martin’s debut children’s album, We’re All Young Together, in “Hey Sister.” I really love the pairing of these two timeless-sounding voices.
I love holiday music that doesn’t try too hard to be holiday music. Sure, most holiday music is covers of covers and renditions of originals but some carry a particularly nostalgic sound that captures the joy of the season in a way that feels authentic and is wonderful to hear on repeat.
British Columbia duo, Bobs and Lolo, created a holiday album called Wave Your Antlers with 15 songs that make things warm and cozy with both originals and classics (“Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” for example). There is a lot of fun packed into these songs which includes the introduction to a Christmas moose, named “Chris Moose,” naturally (see video below). “Go Freeze” offers the opportunity for a family game of freeze dance, while the unexpected rendition of “Dona Nobis Pacem,” which is latin for “Grant us peace,” gives you some downtime and pairs beautifully with candlelight.
Robyn Hardy (Bobs) and Lorraine Pond (Lolo) harmonize in a way that is reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks which is most notably heard on “Old Toy Trains,” a sweet song which is a slight lullaby or soft nudge encouraging little ones to get some sleep in preparation for the arrival of the man in red. Their joy is infectious which is another part of what makes this album so lovely. You can’t help but get happy as you sing right along with them. This album has become a family favorite which I envision being a part of our collection for years to come.
Enjoy the below video playlist which features a selection from Wave Your Antlers, including: “Chris Moose” (official), “Frosty the Snowman” (lyric), “Old Toy Trains” (lyric), “Up Up Up” (official), and “Go Freeze” (official).
Now that we are past Thanksgiving, the holiday season is officially underway. Usually, we break out classic holiday CDs while stringing up lights around the house (and on my daughter’s dollhouse) and taking in the scents of our special candles. I’ve always loved the comfort of Ella Fitzgerald and Brenda Lee. Even Frank Sinatra and some instrumental holiday jazz have warmed our hearts on those cold nights. But for the past few years, we’ve added some variety to our music collection as some very talented kindie artists have released holiday albums containing both originals tunes and renditions of the season’s most beloved classics. The suggestions below are based on what we are listening to the most right now and those that we think your family will enjoy just as much. But, this is just the first list! There’s more to come so stay tuned for part 2!
You will find a YouTube playlist corresponding with the list of albums in this post, as well as the sample track “Jingle Bells” from Renee & Jeremy’s Sunny Christmas,” at the end of this post. Enjoy!
Laurie Berkner – A Laurie Berkner Christmas
We have been devoted Laurie fans for several years now and getting to hear Laurie’s very first Christmas album, A Laurie Berkner Christmas, means this holiday season just got a whole lot sweeter. Coupled with her infectious charm, the songs are catchy and ready for some holiday sing-alongs. The album features 15 traditional holiday and seasonal songs, three of which were originally written by Laurie: “Santa’s Coming To My House Tonight,” “Candy Cane Jane,” originally featured on her 2008 release Rocketship Run, and “Christmas Lights.” Joining Laurie on the album is Brady Rymer in the spirited “Children Go Where I Send Thee (below).” Elizabeth Mitchell also joins in on the beautiful, folksy rendition of “Silent Night.”Kids will enjoy wiggling around, kicking their feet and laughing like they’re Santa Claus in “Santa’s Coming to My House Tonight,” spelling along with Laurie in “Jingle Bells” and learning about Gumdrop Joe, Candy Cane Jane and her horse with the candy cane mane in “Candy Cane Jane.”
A Laurie Berkner Christmas is truly delightful and one that should definitely be opened before Christmas. The album and the single “Candle Chase,” recorded especially for those who celebrate Chanukah, is available for purchase and digital download through Berkner’s site, Amazon, and other media outlets.
Renee & Jeremy – Sunny Christmas
Expanding on their 2011 single “Sunny Christmas,” Renee & Jeremy recently released a 6-song EP of the same name just in time for the holidays. Like other recordings from the Los Angeles duo, Sunny Christmas is like comfort food for your soul. The album opens with a sentimental greeting in “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and you will instantly want to add your voice to the harmonious vocals and your hands to the rhythmic clapping. The title track, “Sunny Christmas,” is a bouncy pop tune that reminds us that the true gift of the season is spreading peace, love and happiness to those around us. It’s hard not to feel cozy and warm while listening to anything by Renee & Jeremy and Sunny Christmas is certainly no exception. So, as you string up your tinsel and mistletoe or sip a cup of hot cocoa, let Renee & Jeremy fill the room with joy as they wish you and your family good tidings. Sunny Christmas can be sampled and purchased through Renee & Jeremy’s site and Amazon, as well as other regular media outlets. And be sure to listen to “Jingle Bells” at the bottom of the post.
Mama Doni – Chanukah Fever
Doni Zasloff, aka Mama Doni has Chanukah FEVER! brings us a quirky compilation of Chanukah songs that is sure to shine like a brightly lit menorah amidst the plethora of Christmas albums on the shelves or maybe even in your living room. Expanding on her 2008 EP, I Love Chanukah, Mama Doni’s Chanukah Fever celebrates the historical and traditional aspects of the holiday through a variety of musical styles, including disco, reggae, rock and ’80s freestyle rap. The 14-song album includes original tracks such as “The Funky Gold Menorah,” “Latke Man” and “La Vida Dreidel.” Even Hanukah Harry gets a personal note. Mama Doni’s songwriting skills and knack for Jewish humor is sure to bring your family to tears with laughter this holiday season.
Bonus: Mama Doni’s cookbook, Get Cooking, was just released, and it includes some fine family recipes and a 29-song CD. Grab it while it’s hot!
2013 UPDATE: Check out for Mama Doni’s new releases, Mama Doni’s Jewish Holiday Party(DVD) and Mama Doni: The Acoustic Jewish Holiday Collection (CD), available beginning November 12 at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, iTunes, FYE Stores, See of Sound, and directly through Mama Doni’s website. This collection of Chanukah themed songs is set to acoustic and bluegrass sounds creating a warm, sentimental vibe. Highly recommended. See YouTube video playlist below to check out some of these sweet sounds for songs like “A Chanukah Love Song, ‘Eight,'” “Honey This Ain’t Money,” and “Chanukah, Oh Chanukah” which contains Hebrew and English verses.
The Hipwaders – A Kindie Christmas
A Kindie Christmas by Bay Area band The Hipwaders is a holiday classic and offers a unique take on holiday jams. The album features 10 original songs filled with a diverse array of sounds ranging from funk in “It’s Wintertime” to country rock in “Santa’s Train,” which features Santa coming down the tracks in a red hopper car full of toys, and the R.E.M.-like sound of “Wake Up.” Other songs include “Tinsel & Lights,” a nostalgic ode to festive traditions, and “Christmas Vicuna,” a humorous tale about a South American camel who dreams of flying like a reindeer.
A 2010 Honors Award winner from the National Parenting Publication Association (NAPPA), A Kindie Christmas is the perfect alternative to the classic carols of the season and will have your family rockin’ around the Christmas tree and beyond.
Dan Zanes – Christmas in Concord Dan Zanes‘ fans will have another reason to celebrate the upcoming holiday season with the re-release of Christmas in Concord. The mini-album which celebrates the old Christian tunes that have been a part of Christmases in Zanes’ hometown of Concord, NH, for generations also has two new songs which feature Pulitzer Prize winning author Suzan-Lori Parks. Parks brings rich, soulful accompaniment in my favorite song, “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow.” The song was initially performed at a legendary local venue for people in need, known as the Friendly Kitchen. During a road trip, Zanes and Parks wrote “I’m Counting the Days Until Christmas” while reminiscing about their fathers’ experiences in the military. As with most of Zanes’ work, there is a feeling of joy in being surrounded by, creating and sharing music. Christmas in Concord carries the same feeling. Coupled with a nostalgic backstory, a well chosen collaboration and Zanes’ soft rasp, classics like “Joy To the World,” “Deck the Halls” and “Silent Night,” are sure to warm your heart as you snuggle and share your own stories with your loved ones. Christmas in Concord can be heard and purchased through Dan Zanes’ official site and Amazon, as well as other regular media outlets.
Ben Rudnick – It’s Santa Claus! It’s Santa Claus! by Ben Rudnick & Friends contains renditions of traditional holiday tunes that don’t stray too far from the sounds of the originals but certainly showcase the group’s signature folksy rock style. The title track, “It’s Santa Claus,” an original on the album, is a bouncy tune that is just as jolly as the man in the red suit.
The album is made up of catchy arrangements filled with the instrumental stylings of the many “Friends” who play along with Rudnick. “Jingle Bells” is jazzy with saxophonic accents, and even “Greensleeves,” a song I obsessively played on the piano in my earlier days, gets a jumpstart with some fast-paced finger picking and accordion before it slows down toward the end.
It’s Santa Claus will provide your family with a fresh festive twist on holiday classics. You can hear samples and purchase It’s Santa Claus! through Rudnick’s site, Amazon and other media outlets. Learn about the inspiration for and the making of the album on Rudnick’s blog.
From their latest release, A Little Love, Renee & Jeremy bring us a breathy, ethereal cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ classic “Give It Away.”
Created by the stop motion film company, Shipmate Title, the video for “Give It Away” takes us on a psychedelic musical voyage spreading peace along the way in the form of ice cream! Even the Man in the Moon is sent a confectionary offering.
When I watch this video I can’t help but think of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. It’s a pretty trippy video that combines fantasy with a bit of science fiction while still retaining its innocence in the form of an adorable mouse and his ice cream truck. It’s certainly not what I expected but I love how Renee & Jeremy weave in an underlying theme, which becomes apparent at the end of the video, tying it all together.
Renee & Jeremy stay true to who they are while delivering a bit of “eye candy.” It will definitely catch the attention of all ages.
Renee & Jeremy are back again with their latest release, “A Little Love,” and this time it’s a little different.
The fourth release from the L.A. based duo is a series of covers built on the theme of universal love. The duo hand-picked some of their favorite songs with very specific criteria: the lyrics should encompass this theme and be family friendly.
I was initially intrigued when I first heard that the duo was going to do a cover album. Cover albums come in all kinds of flavors and some try very hard to recreate an original but sometimes fall short. “A Little Love” is a perfect example of how Renee & Jeremy don’t try to imitate, they simply and effortlessly recreate in a very natural and harmonious way, resulting in a folksy groove that just makes you feel good inside.
The new release will bedazzle you with mellow renditions of Coldplay’s “Yellow,” Supertramp’s “Give A Little Bit,” Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” and, perhaps the most surprising, The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away.”
What I also love about the album is how well it transitions from track to track. The songs flow together like a clean baton hand-off during a relay race.
Although the album falls under the genre of kids music, I could absolutely see it being played on adult contemporary radio stations as well. Suitable for all ages, “A Little Love” once again makes a point of reminding us just how lovely and talented these two artists are.
You can view samples of the album, as well as, purchase digital copies at Renee & Jeremy’s website. Physical copies of their albums are also available at the usual places, i.e. CDBaby and Amazon. I’ve also included a hauntingly beautiful video of Coldplay’s “Yellow” performed by Renee and Jeremy and directed by Jon Izen.
**Updated: Renee & Jeremy also released a video from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ cover of “Give It Away” which can be viewed here.
Sometimes we need a hug, no matter how big or small we are, we just need the warmth of something to surround us and let us know that everything will be ok.
Over the weekend, my 3yr old was overtired and simply tapped out. We are going through the lovely transitionary period where the nap is no longer an option but either is staying up all day. So, last Saturday evening when my daughter couldn’t quite hold it together, she just stood in front of me with tears streaming down her face. She was defeated. So, as we sat on the floor and I held her in my arms, I turned on “It’s A Big World” and for the next 15 minutes we were enveloped in the calming embrace that is Renee & Jeremy.
Renee & Jeremy is made up of two wonderful L.A. based artists who, aside from this effort, are parents and solo artists in their own right. One half of the duo is Renee Stahl, who has released solo albums for film, TV and advertising. The other half, Jeremy Toback, current member of Chop Love Carry Fire, released a couple of solo albums in the late 90’s, and formed the band Brad with Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. As a whole, these two produce soothing sounds that pull you in and sweep you up into an aura of love.
Renee & Jeremy’s debut, “It’s A Big World,” was released in 2007. The first 2 songs written (“Welcome To This World” and “Falling Star Lullaby”) were inspired by Jeremy’s youngest son. What’s even sweeter is that the album was recorded while Renee was pregnant with her first child (they actually recorded the album in the baby’s nursery). Knowing this further increases the depth and sincerity in the sound and spirit of this album. It’s totally authentic and filled with so much love.
While “It’s A Big World” was intended to be a lullaby album, there are a few upbeat songs. One in which I absolutely love and how I came to know Renee & Jeremy is “Night Mantra.” The song’s lyrics are “I will be your home/I will be your guide/I will be your friend/always on your side/sleep now in your room/quiet of the night/surrounded by the moon til you see the light.”
Other great songs include “It’s A Big World”, “Free”, “Powder Blue Solo”, “Sleep My Love” and “Shoorahlaywho.”
“It’s A Big World” should definitely be listened to in it’s entirety and on repeat. It is suitable for the 0-5 crowd but can also be heavily consumed by grown-ups whether you are a parent or not. We enjoy it during quiet time and really anytime the environment is calling for a more chilled out vibe, as was the case last Saturday when my daughter was having a rough time.
Please check them out and perhaps purchase a copy for yourself and a friend.
You can listen to four tracks from this album at the duo’s website. They also have an extra track on their MySpace page. You can get a free download, as well as, purchase digital copies of their album from their website. Non-digital copies of their albums are also available at other regular outlets, i.e. CDBaby and Amazon.
Below are some additional videos for your viewing pleasure: