Video premiere: “Hold On To Your Dreams” – Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips

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As parents, we want our children to dream big.

Telling my daughter “the sky’s the limit” feels powerful. Honoring her ideas and imagining all the possibilities with her creates moments that I hope feed her soul and open up her field of vision to look beyond the obstacles. And if an obstacle pops up, my wish is that she’ll know it’s neither the end of the story nor the end of the world. It’s just a bump on the road to reaching her goal.

The real reward, after all, isn’t “winning” or “nailing that project” but what we’ve learned along the way. How we pushed through the moments of frustration and desperation. And how we got stronger and more self-assured for all the sweat and angst. That’s what I want my daughter to know. It takes patience to fulfill your dreams and take action on brilliant ideas and it just isn’t easy sometimes. But the gold at the end of that rainbow is worth it.

LA-based group Mista Cookie Jar and The Chocolate Chips (MCJ) are one of the biggest champions of bringing positive messages into households. This family ensemble is eager to reach young, developing minds and to inspire thinkers, dreamers, and those of us young at heart.

Today I am proud to premiere the first video in a series of video releases this week celebrating MCJ’s forthcoming album, Music is Everywhere (release date: March 11, 2016).

“Hold on to Your Dreams” is an all-natural fam jam that calls attention to a critical part of the dream equation. The act of encouraging kids to hold on to and follow their dreams is a big piece, and the love and support we offer as parents is the charge in the formula that gives our kids the surge to “keep goin’, keep holdin’ on.” To travel carefully over each bump.

Role models come in all forms and MCJ and the Chocolate Chips are making their mark. In just over a year, they have written 13 songs (one song per month) as well as produced their own videos. In “Hold On To Your Dreams” and with their forthcoming release of new songs and previously released singles this group has become a shining example of what it means to persevere. They have done it as a family, showing that having a solid family foundation fuels the flames that lead to glorious results. And that makes it all worth it in the end.

Keep up with Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips this week through their official site, FB page and Twitter. You can also subscribe to their YouTube channel to get updates on new video releases. Below is a brief interview with Mista Cookie Jar about this week’s plans and a brief behind the scenes look the making and meaning of “Hold On To Your Dreams.”


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KCG: Tell us a bit about how the song and video cam about. How did you start making music with Tembra and Lyrin?

MCJ: Our friend Tembra and her daughter Lyrin have been in the Chocolate Chip crew from the very beginning. Lyrin is like a cousin to my kids, Ava and Lucas. They grew up together. Tembra is childhood friends with Jenna aka Missis Cookie Jar. “Hold On To Your Dreams” has been around for years, honed and crafted over late night jam sessions and bonfires. Tembra and Lyrin moved up to the redwoods a few years ago from LA, so we’ve continued the tradition of family sing-a-longs and camping when we go up north to visit them in. This video captures the spirit of enjoying the wonders of nature in Northern Cali with friends and family. Cell service is terrible so it’s a nice treat to have some phone detox QT with the whole fam bam.

Tembra and Lyrin first appeared in our 2nd album, Ultramagnetic Universal Love Revolution in the song, Shaggy Bee. As you can see, Lyrin has her mother’s talent for singing. We’re so happy this song has received high praise from our fans, and a lot of air play on Sirius XM 78’s Kids Place Live!

KCG: The album and this song particular has a real “lived-in” vibe. I’m sure this has a bit to do with your song-a-month mission and EP release. Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting/recording process?

MCJ: Our new album, Music is Everywhere, has an organic quality to it which I believe is something to appreciate. It’s this soulful approach to playing music that is becoming a rare bird, especially for younger tech-savvy generations. I’m happy to toss my hat in the ring and go back to the roots — especially before I switch it up again with some banging beats!

KCG: What’s in store for this week?

MCJ: Everyday this week, Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips will be dropping 5 new music videos – one new on each day – leading up to the world premiere of our 3rd album, Music is Everywhere. This release process was totally inspired by the marketing stunt for Weird Al’s last album release. We wanted to really make the new album an event, ya know? I’m excited to share all the videos! Don’t wanna give too much away, but there is some claymation, some ballet, some live stuff and even cutting edge 360 video technology — you know, where you either have one of those Oculus head sets or you just move your phone around or scroll with your finger to see the YouTube vid in 3D.

The songs on Music is Everywhere have mostly all been released as singles or on an EP during my single-a-month run this past year. But there will be a couple brand spanking new tracks on the record — one of which will be released with a video on the same day of the album release.

Music is Everywhere will be premiering March 11, 2016 on Zooglobble. Stay tuned via the aforementioned links to get the latest and greatest updates.

Top 20 Albums & Honorable Mentions

Happy New Year! I’ve been tinkering for weeks about whether to put together a “best of” list. Lists have never been my thing, but this week when I pulled up past interviews, reviews and music, I was quickly reminded that 2015 was in fact another incredible year in kids’ music. So, let’s do this thing!

The list below represents a sampling of the 20 best albums from 2015 plus one from 2014 (because I included my picks for the Fids and Kamily Awards which considers albums between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015) and a few honorable mentions. The albums are presented in no particular order, and are personal favorites of mine and those of my 7-year-old daughter Emily. They appeal to families who love music, the adventure of finding more of it, and parents who want to foster a love of music in their own kin. This, for me, is the big enchilada. It’s what I enjoy most about being a part of the industry and covering it for you.  Take 10 minutes and sample a few songs on each album. I promise you’ll find more than one to love, regardless of your age.


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Pointed Man BandFlight of the Blue Whale (Interview)

[Flight of the Blue Whale] is eccentric. There is a meticulousness in the overall composition that captured my attention, in addition to the variety of instrumentation. Waltzes serve as segues, buoyantly carrying the listener along, while nontraditional objects are used to emphasize critical pieces of the story, e.g. Drinking glasses sonically illustrating weightlessness as a baleen whale takes flight.

 


Animal-Tales-Cover_smKey Wilde & Mr. Clarke – Animal Tales (Review)

Imagine if you were to open a National Geographic Kids or Ranger Rick magazine and there was music playing on each page. Animal Tales takes the pages of these beloved magazines and brings them to life with soundtracks cleverly matched to a variety of animal personalities. Each song is rich with fun animal facts, infused with the artists’ lovable sense of humor and clever ability to play with words and phrases, making it one of the most listenable and entertaining albums out there.

 


51TlHTX-0hL._SL500_AA280_Big Block Singsong – Greatest Hits (Interview)

The musical variety of Big Block SingSong is tremendous and the lyrics are insightful and amusing, A block with a German accent singing in euro-funk style about hair; a monkey snapping off bluegrass-y lyrics about a “Two Banana Day”; and, with a catchy indie-pop backdrop, caveman named Dave pointing out that an erupting volcano is a hot mess. These are just a few of the priceless gems you’ll find in this collection.


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Video: “L-O-V-E You” – Play Date

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Recently, Play Date released a video and it’s L-O-V-E-L-Y. Together, Gregory Attonito and Shanti Wintergate (husband-wife duo) capture the spirit, mystery, playfulness and omnipresence of love. It’s such a sweet video to accompany an equally heartwarming song.

Take a listen and then go spread some of that warmth to the loved one(s) in your life.

“L-O-V-E You” is a single from Play Date’s most recent release We All Shine which can be purchased through Play Date’s merch site.

Video: “Gather Round” by Renee and friends featuring Lisa Loeb

downloadRenee Stahl of Renee & Jeremy will be releasing a new album called Simpatico (under the name of Renee & Friendswhich 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 SimpaticoAmazon and Google Play.

Keep up with Renee & Friends on Facebook and Twitter for updates and stories and visit the official site to learn more about the project and special guests on the album.

Singled Out: “You’re Bound To Look Like A Monkey” – Papa Crow

papa-crow-snowstormFollowing the awesome rendition of Manu Chao’s “Bongo Bong,” Jeff Krebs, aka Papa Crow, has a new single from his upcoming mini-album, Monkeylele: songs about monkeys performed on the ukulele.

“You’re Bound To Look Like A Monkey” is based on a song that Krebs’ grandpa used to sing for kids back when he was a kid. It’s a fun track that is clever and….cute. The lyrics refer to monkeys in an unexpected way that serve as a good reminder not to take life too seriously (especially if we are bound to look like a monkey). “You’re “Bound To Look Like A Monkey” is a sprightly, knee knocking little tune. Another promising glimpse into what is proving to be a great album so far.

https://soundcloud.com/papacrow/youre-bound-to-look-like-a

View This: “Bigga Bagga” – Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke plus iPad App

A perfect video to head into the weekend! “Bigga Bagga”, a song off of Key Wilde & Mr Clarke‘s album Pleased to Meet You (currently on the Grammy ballot!), gets video treatment.

The video features a montage of curious illustrations, penned by Wilde, while the song challenges to make your tongue numb. It’s good fun and I dare you to sing along!

Also, check out their Ipad app by Mibblio which features their song “Animal Alphabet” and lots of irresistible illustrations.

Animal Alphabet from Mibblio on Vimeo.

Check This Out: Turn Turn Turn – Elizabeth Mitchell with You Are My Flower and Dan Zanes

81UOKIKRSJL._SL1500_Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell have devoted what seems like a lifetime to making music; in particular, kids music. Each artist has been producing albums for over a decade now and whether they are singing their own renditions of classics or creating new ones, their music always brings comfort and joy.

In Turn Turn Turn Zanes and Mitchell deliver a basket of folk goodies. Although they have come together as a duet on singles before (“Green, Green Rocky Road” from Mitchell’s Sunny Day album), this is their first full-length collaboration, and the pairing is as natural as bread and butter!

Turn Turn Turn starts off strong with the song “Sail Away Ladies,” an upbeat jig that will get you moving and is fun to sing-along with.

Although this effort is a collaboration, there are songs that favor each artist’s style. “Coney Island Avenue,” one of my favorites on the album, is a signature Zanes song and one out of the 5 Zanes originals on the album. It’s a hip song that provides a picturesque depiction of what it might be like strolling down Coney Island Avenue “Counting all the barbershops 1-2-3/ And all the little markets A-B-C.” Alternatively, “Honeybee” is a signature Mitchell song, co-written by Mitchell and her sister-in-law Anna Padgett, which prominently features Mitchell’s delicate voice floating over simple, sweet lyrics.

I particularly love the asynchronous harmony between Zanes and Mitchell on “So Glad I’m Here,” which first appeared on Mitchell’s You Are My Sunshine. Zanes’ almost faint, echoing vocals emphasize Mitchell’s more prominent, angelic tone, making the words “so glad I’m here every day” as much of a definitive statement as it is a personal one. The song strays a little from the original with the fresh addition of a plucky banjo throughout.

Both Zanes and Mitchell encompass what it means to make “family style” music. Whether they are writing songs, recording or performing live, you can be sure to find a melange of instruments and a band (pun intended) of friends and family joining in. Turn Turn Turn, for example, was recorded in just 3 days at the home studio of Mitchell and husband, Daniel Littleton as they were surrounded by family, friends and lots of food.

An added bonus to the album are the verses sung by Storey, Mitchell and Littleton’s daughter. Adding Storey on tracks like “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” originally written by Pete Seeger, is touching considering Seeger’s wife, Toshi, added verses specifically for children. Adults and children will no doubt love Storey’s singing as she reminds us that there’s “A time to cry and make a fuss/ A time to leave and catch the bus/ A time for quiet/ A time for talk/ A time to run/ A time to walk.”

Other songs that showcase the effortless talents of Zanes and Mitchell is the joyful, “In the Sun,” which is filled with positive vibes as it reminisces on things to be grateful for. “When You’re Smiling,” is a wonderful song to whisper to your little bundle or sing along to as you snuggle with your big tot.

Turn Turn Turn is a joyful experience reminiscent of a Sunday afternoon backyard jamboree. Highly recommended for all ages. Digital samples of tracks, as well as the full album can be found at Dan Zanes’ online shop, as well as our affiliate Amazon. Below is another video for “Now Let’s Dance,” which pretty much speaks for itself in its intent. So grab a partner and get ready to dance, dance, dance!