With school having already started (or starting very soon) all across the country, this is the perfect time to shine a light on Rock-n-Roll Yearbook, the latest album from The Bazillions. This, the fourth album of kid-friendly rock-n-roll from the Minnesota based band is filled with everything that we’ve come to expect from the group – fun, smart lyrics set to jaunty melodies. The opening track, “Back at School” perfectly encapsulates what the first day of school is like and encourages lots of interaction from listeners (clapping, jumping, listening to teacher) while “New Pair of Shoes” captures the joy of getting a “so fast, jump high, supercharged new pair of shoes.”
One of my favorite things about The Bazillions is the skillful way they teach grammar and writing on their albums. This outing, it’s the “Wide Open World of Adjectives” and the writing rules of “Who What Where When Why.” The latter could easily be incorporated into language arts lessons on how to write a paragraph or as a story starter. The empowering messages of “You Could Be the One” (you can grow up to be anything you want), “That’s My Style” (you do your thing and I’ll do mine, and that’s cool) and “More To Be Done” (I’m learning and growing and together we can make change happen) are so important in today’s world of social media bullying and would work well as conversation starters both in the classroom and at home.
This delightful album will be a great addition to classroom lessons as well as family rockin’ out times.
If you’re not familiar with The Bazillions, check-out this video for their song, “Personification.”
I have to admit, as a Michigander born and raised, Randy Kaplan had me at the title to his newest album, Trippin’ Round the Mitten. This, Kaplan’s sixth not-JUST-for-kids album, is filled with zany fun for the whole family. Clever, sophisticated lyrics lead listeners through the twists and turns of the 18 songs on this hour long album that features a smorgasbord of musical genres. Kaplan kicks things off with the rap heavy “Honk Honk” where you are directed not to squeeze his nose before veering off into a combination of original tunes as well as covers like the The Dead Milkmen’s punk-tinged “Beach Song,” and Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” which now has lyrics that describe the power of a child’s favorite “food group.”
Many of the songs written by Kaplan have subjects that will be familiar to parents and older siblings including a little boy who likes to run around without any clothes on in “Supernude,” the jazzy/funk/rap “Cat & Mice” about the escapades of a Dad and his son when mom is out of town on business, and the fantastic “On the Phone on the Toilet” which first leads listeners to believe this is the tale of a mom who is more interested in her phone than her son, but has a great twist at the end. The title track “Trippin’ Round the Mitten” is the only Michigan-centric song and will delight those who are familiar with the state as Kaplan lists off towns and roads from throughout the entire mitten. Randy’s wife, Julie May, shines on two of the songs, a cover of Pete Townsend’s “Sleeping Dog” and the lovely “Bye Bye Baby.”
No matter where you live, the combination of fun, yet informed lyrics with the wide variety of musical genres makes this an album that families will return to again and again.
Gustafer Yellowgold, that little alien from the sun who found a home in Minnesota, returns on September 8 on the full-length album, Brighter Side from Morgan Taylor. Ahead of the new album’s arrival is the release of the first video from Brighter Side. “Hot Nights” tells the story of Gustafer’s struggles with insomnia when trying to get some sleep while living on the sun. Clever animation conveys the misery of poor Gustafer while also providing sly images like a roast toasting out the window or a row of Gustafer’s being cooked on the grill. Gustafer may have been living on the sun, but anyone who has had to endure a heat wave this summer will be able to relate! Enjoy!!