Yo Gabba Gabba!
Music is Awesome!
The first time I heard about the television show, Yo Gabba Gabba! I was visiting friends that have two young kids. They explained to me that the show was something they could watch with their kids and enjoy, and they also discovered some great music from the program. After a bit of research, I realized why they (and their two young girls) loved it so much. The series is a mixture of live action segments, animated sketches and musical numbers. Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh hosts a segment called “Mark’s Magic Pictures,” which teaches children how to draw with their feet. Biz Markie stars in “Biz’s Beat of the Day” where he demonstrates beat-boxing styles and, yes, beats. The “Super Music Friends Show” segment boasts an amazing lineup of celebrity guests and musicians. The first two years of the season welcomed Mates of State, Of Montreal, The Roots, Low and Jack Black, just to name a few. The show is hosted by DJ Lance Rock, a DJ, actor and musician from Los Angeles.
After moving to the West Coast, Rock began to work at Amoeba Music (an independent chain of music stores in California). He became immersed in the local music scene and eventually met Scottie Schultz. A few years later, Schultz asked Robertson to host the show he was co-writing with Christina Roberts, lead singer of the The Aquabats.
Now that you have a bit of background on the show, I can talk about my one of top three picks for the October update. The album, Yo Gabba! Music is Awesome!, is just that – awesome. The track listing is a mixture of Yo Gabba Gabba! tracks and songs from artists that have visited the show. The tunes spout life lessons that teach kids morals, manners, and sound advice. The first song that stands out to me is by The Shins. It is entitled “It’s OK, Try Again” and has really great lyrics like “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it’s OK, try again.” The track sounds like a Shins tune, but with a slight spin on their normal song topics.
My favorite song or ‘lesson’ is from I’m From Barcelona, called “Just Because It’s Different Doesn’t Mean It’s Scary.” The verses read, “New things in life can be great, try new things.” It encourages kids to take mini-risks and not to be afraid of the unknown. “Here’s a new fruit, c’mon let’s taste it!”
Of Montreal contributes “Brush Brush Brush” which, of course, encourages ‘good dental hygiene.’ Brushing your teeth can be kind of boring, but Of Montreal and Yo Gabba Gabba! make it seem exciting! Also, Mark Kozelek wrote a song by the name of “Bedtime Lullaby” for the show. If you are a fan of Mr. Kozelek or any of his projects (Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters) you will fall in love with this lullaby. This album is great, and after all, they are songs written for children. Songs can make learning fun and easy and Music is Awesome! definitely will please the little kid in all of us!
Planet Paprika is the latest release from Shantel, a German producer and DJ. Shantel was born Stefan Hantel in Frankfurt. He is known for his work with gypsy brass orchestras. He is also known for mixing traditional Balkan music with electro beats. He fell in love with “Gypsy music” while watching the audience reactions to Fanfare Ciocarlia (a twelve-piece Romanian Roma brass band) and Boban Markovic (a Serbian trumpet player and brass ensemble leader, who is actually one of the most famous Balkan trumpet players in the world).
Planet Paprika boasts 13 beautifully arranged tracks full of high-energy Balkan brass. The medium-to-fast-paced tempos on the album are extremely danceable and make for a beautifully proportioned mix of old world meets new world. Not only did Shantel write, produce and mix the album – he also sings on several of the tracks.
His arrangements include accordion, trumpet, flugelhorn, baritone and alto sax, clarinet, violin and keyboards. I am a sucker for Eastern European music, Roma or gypsy, Balkan brass or folk. The album utilizes all of these genres to their fullest potential without directly copying from the original sounds. Planet Paprika is partially a dance album. It is a great spirit lifter, and probably a lot different then what you are used to listening to. If you are in Europe, check out Shantel’s live show!
Oct 7 2009 at Palc Akropolis // Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar in Prague, Czech Republic
Oct 8 2009 at Centralstation // Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar in Darmstadt, Germany
Oct 9 2009 at Muffathalle // Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar in Muenchen, Germany
Oct 10 2009 at Wagenhallen // Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar in Stuttgart, Germany
Oct 11 2009 at Jazzhaus // Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar in Freiburg, Germany
Oct 13 2009 at Werk II // Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar in Leipzig, Germany
Awesome New Republic
Hearts is the fifth studio album by the Miami duo known as Awesome New Republic. ANR formed in 2004 when Michael John Hancock and Brian Robertson were attending Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. They had played in a 5-piece band together called Empirical Mile before going on to do their own project. Hearts is the third album they have put out in 2009. They released Rational Geographic Volume 1 in April and Rational Geographic Volume 2 in July. These works are their take on the ties between the Stars Wars trilogy and the past thirty years of the American government.
Hearts has heavy electronic influences. The opening track starts out with layers of synthesizers and electronic beats. It reminds me of mellow 80’s clubbing music, but that definitely doesn’t describe the tone of the whole album. The third track, “Alleycat,” channels their inner Tears for Fears. You can hear it in both the vocals and the instrumentals. If you immediately forward to track four, however, you will taste an entirely different flavor.
My one complaint is that the album doesn’t have a solid vision. Each song is good in it’s own right, but there is no sense of flow or theme to the entire piece. Track 5, “Digital World,” is a letter to the modern world as we know it. Are Hancock and Robertson scared of what is inevitable? I think not, I think it is more of a love letter to the digi-world that has helped to launch their careers. They can’t live without the Internet, for one. Would anyone know of ANR if this medium didn’t exist. Who knows?
My favorite tracks are “Alleycat,” “Wheels No Engines” and “Digital World.” But I have a feeling this album will grow on my ears with each listen. Check out ANR live!
Oct 15 2009 at Rokbar w/ Neon Indian – Miami, FL
Oct 16 2009 at Club Down Under w/ Neon Indian -Tallahassee, FL
Oct 17 2009 at Club TSI w/ Neon Indian – Jacksonville, FL
Oct 19 2009 at The Bridge PAI – Charlottesville, VA
Oct 20 2009 at Bowery Electric – CMJ – New York, NY
Oct 22 2009 at The Space on North 8th – CMJ – Brooklyn, NY
Oct 24 2009 at R Bar – CMJ -New York, NY
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– Lottie Leymarie