Sound Bites for August

Well, it’s the middle of August. AUGUST, people! For many of us, that means that summer is winding down, school-clothes shopping is underway, and carpools are being organized.

But fear not, those commutes don’t have to be boring that first day of school! Some fantastic new music for families is being released to make the transition a bit easier to swallow.

Two bands are releasing albums on August 19th that will blow your mind.

First, it’s The Pop Ups with their latest, Appetite for Construction. I was fortunate enough to debut the World Premiere of “Puppet Playground” here earlier this week, which I adore. And let me tell you, the rest of the album does not disappoint.

I love bands like this, ones that just ooze fun and genius creativity. They’re thinking about the complete kid – not just their ears, but their minds. Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein, the force behind The Pop Ups, are some of the most innovative, original musicians making music for families today.  With a unique blend of quirky instrumentation, clever and often syncopated rhythms, and variety of tempos combined with inventive content, The Pop Ups have carved out a very special place for themselves in the family music genre.

This is an album that I got excited about from the first few notes of the first song. It’s not often that I’m wiggling so enthusiastically while previewing an album that my husband asks what I’m listening to, but he did with this album.

The Pop Ups have crafted an album in which they say that every song “provides an active participation point for whole-family engagement, celebrating imaginative play, building, dance, puppet making and more.”  Appetite for Construction encourages pushing the limits of your creativity, expanding your imaginative horizons. “Pictures Making Pictures” “Craft Night” and “Puppet Playground” invite listeners to channel their inner Martha Stewarts and get cracking on their own creations.

There’s no doubt The Pop Ups love what they do, and it shows, especially on catchy songs such as “All These Shapes,” (with it’s rockin’ backbeat) or the dreamy, funky “Go To Sleep.”  The album is masterfully produced, often providing listeners with an electro-pop flood of music, and once the album is over, I want more.

Other personal favorites include “Costume Party” (which sounds straight out of the 80’s, with its horns on the mellow bridge and smooth vocals), “Your Own Imagination” (which gives kids alternatives to pulling out your electronic device as a means to pass time) and “Glitter Everywhere” (ending with the essential Dust Buster.  Seriously, these guys break out an actual Dust Buster).

The Pop Ups Appetite for Construction will be available August 19th on iTunes and Amazon.


Another album being released on August 19th is Sea Blue Sea, the third album by The Whizpops. Hailing from Montana, The Whizpops is comprised of two elementary school teachers (Kevin Cashman and Casey Schaefer), a biologist (Keaton Wilson) and other artists.

They’re taking sea life by storm with this album.  Their next stop? Taking the family music circuit by storm as well.

Sea Blue Sea is an aural aquatic lesson. The latest album by The Whizpops would make a great science class accompaniment, using groovy, hip melodies and fantastic production to discuss all types of sea creatures.

I am enamored by artists like The Whizpops, who can incorporate high-level concepts in to music and allow someone to learn without even knowing it. The lyrics in Sea Blue Sea are sophisticated, but still accessible to young ears, often allowing for further discussion about words like “cephalopod.”

With rapping similar to something like The Imagination Movers, and Margi Cates soulful vocals, The Whizpops create music that just makes you feel good, like “Manta Ray,” or like you’re at a party, with songs like “Dolphin Disco.”

From the rockabilly “Sea Turtle” to the driving waltz of “Whale Shark;” from the bold accordion and Piratey swag of “Anglerfish” to the calypso style of “Blue Whale;” from the soft rock of “Starfish” to the reggae beat of “Octopus,” the fun lyrics and rhymes created by The Whizpops would be a funky marine musical adventure for just about any age group.

Sea Blue Sea by The Whizpops be available August 19th on iTunes and Amazon.


The “First Lady of Children’s Music,” Ella Jenkins, recently turned 90 years old. 90, ladies and gentleman. If you’re not standing up and clapping for her, do it, right now.

To celebrate her birthday, Ella released a new album with Smithsonian Folkways, More Multicultural Children’s Songs, her 40th title, that features 20 tunes from previous albums.

In this new release, Ella relies on the simplicity of her vocals and minimal ukulele accompaniment with a classic call-and-response style and repeatable stanzas to transport any listener to far-away places.

Listening to Ella Jenkins makes me feel like I’m in the warmest preschool classroom on the planet filled with a vibrant energy ripe for learning.

Spanish, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Japanese and Chinese languages make appearances in this album through a mixture of spoken text and singing.  This album is a great way to introduce your children to different cultures that span the globe from Australia (with “In Australia” and “Australian Zoo”), to Europe (in “A German Counting Rhyme” and “Tee-kan-yas”), to Asia (“In the People’s Republic of China”).

Ella teaches young listeners little nuggets of different languages, like how to say “How are you?” in Mandarin (in “A Train Ride to the Great Wall”) or “Good Morning” in Russian (in “Rushing Around in Russia”) or how to count to 10 in Japanese (in “Count from One to Ten”).

“I’m Going to Cairo” capitalizes on the fun aspect of having a city of the same spelling in vastly different countries, like Cairo, Egypt, and Cairo Illinois.  “Differences” is a spoken word track that discusses the subtle differences between American English and British English. “Canadian Friendship” is lovely, lilting song with beautiful harmonies, strumming guitars and ukulele.

Ella Jenkins’ More Multicultural Children’s Songs is available through the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings website, iTunes, and Amazon.


Dan Crow  is a musician and educator who weaves in linguistic themes of alliteration, rhyming, synonyms, action words and phonics to create the lively album, As the Crow Flies.

An Emmy award winner for his video “Just For Fun,” and songwriter for the Disney Channel, Dan Crow has his finger firmly on the pulse of what makes a younger listener tick, and makes music that would liven up any preschool class.

Crow tackles issues young kids are all too familiar with, such as bullying in “Bully Girl and Bully Boy,” and the multitude of stuff kids can acquire in “Too Much Stuff.”

His sense of humor shines in songs like the surfy “Stevie’s Got a Maui Owie,” and “Tooth Fairy Take Me Home,” sung from the point of view of a loose tooth.

“The Frog Song” uses the literary device of accumulation – in this case, animals upon animals – to talk about feelings.  And “Gravy and Potatoes” is a modern take on “Apples and Bananas” with a funky electronic vibe.

Dan Crow’s As The Crow Flies is available on his website and iTunes.


Banana Park is the brainchild of a father who wrote songs for his kids and posted them on YouTube. An album of those songs followed, titled Let’s Go Play.

This album has a little Jimmy Buffet feel, with short, upbeat tunes that possess an island easiness to them.Better suited for the preschool gang, Banana Park makes music with concepts honed in on younger interests, like food (“Fruity Snack” and “Crackers and Melted Cheese”), animals (“Animals”, “Butterfly”, “Monkey Do Monkey Say”) and games (“Making a Castle”).

“Let’s Go Play” and “Riding Our Bikes” are the more mature and sophisticated tracks on album, with swinging guitars and catchy baselines. “I Love You” reminds me of those unsolicited warm pronouncements of love from my kids, as a small child explains the simple things his parents do that make him feel loved. And the sweet tracks “Snowflakes Falling” and “Bedtime” are lullabies you can add to your repertoire.

Let’s Go Play by Banana Park is available on iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon.


Now, it’s YOUR turn. What are you planning on listening to on your way to school this fall?




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