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Andy Gibb, The Legal Matters & Jenn Cleary

Various Artists

Higher Than A Mountain: The Songs Of Andy Gibb (Curry Cuts)

https://currycuts.bandcamp.com/album/higher-than-a-mountain-the-songs-of-andy-gibb

When it comes to these tribute compilations, nobody does it better than the Curry Cuts label. Indeed, their previous releases, Songs, Bond Songs, and Here Comes The Reign Again, are high-ranking favorites here at Pop-A-Looza HQ.

Higher Than A Mountain is a revelation, in that it serves to jog our collective conscience into recalling what may have been forgotten….that Andy Gibb had a very impressive, albeit short, career. Pop 4 opens the comp with (Love Is) Thicker Than Water, Gibb’s first Gold single. The vocals on this one are simply to die for.

The Corner Laughers follow with Shadow Dancing, which nearly bests the original. Lisa Mychols takes on (Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away, complete with chill 70’s electric piano and breathy vocals. With remaining tracks provided by the likes of Coke Bela, Greg Pop, The Armoires, Irene Pena and Ken Sharp, this release is the perfect combination of reverence and nostalgia.

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The Legal Matters

Chapter Three (Futureman)

https://futuremanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/chapter-three

In the interest of full disclosure, the three guys that make up The Legal Matters are all friends of mine. I’ve been a Chris Richards fan since 2009’s Sad Sounds Of Summer, recorded with his excellent band, The Subtractions. Chris records for Keith Klingensmith’s Futureman Records, as do I. The third Legal Matter, Andy Reed, produces and engineers all parties mentioned here. Talk about yer nepotism.

Chapter Three is as comfortable as a favorite sweater, bathed in production techniques that recall Apple Records’ later output. If things like tea towels on toms and mellotron keys strike at the pleasure centers of your brain, you’ll love every second of this 41-minute long player.

 Andy Reed’s The World Is Mine creeps along in sneering John Lennon fashion, while Chris Richards’ sweet That’s All floats with ethereal harmonies. The advance single from the album, the buoyant Light Up The Sky, still sounds as good as the first time I heard it. On the same level as the best of bands like Fountains Of Wayne or The Red Button, it’s an almost other-worldly good piece of music. Few bands have a song this strong, or the immaculate harmonies that Richards, Klingensmith and Reed have in combination. Top shelf.

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Jenn Cleary

All Together Now! 

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Jenn Cleary’s latest, All Together Now!, “…offers children and families messages of connection, community, and caring for each other and our environment.” Considering what most of us have experienced in the last year and a half, that’s exactly what we could use more of. Love Right Now was suggested by Cleary’s mother, for that very same reason. 

Continuing on in the same spirit, the pretty All Kinds Of Families acknowledges that families need not be made up of blood relatives exclusively. Considering that Cleary’s family includes an adopted daughter, this song is especially touching.

All of these songs are filled to the brim with warmth, and the hope that we may someday get to a place filled with kindness and compassion for others, as well as our natural world. That’s a sentiment that shouldn’t be hard for anyone to get on board with. Very well done.

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Rena Strober and Friends / Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo & Jeff Moss

Rena Strober and Friends

Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo & Jeff Moss

renastrober.com

It’s no stretch to say that over 100 children’s CD’s cross my desk in a year, and I listen to the bulk of them, for better or for worse. Rarely, have I been so impressed by a release in this genre, that my socks were literally blown off. I only wish that it happened more often.

Listening to Imagine That! Was like taking in a first-class Broadway show. You know how when you see a professional production, and as soon as the singing begins, you’re so taken aback that you remark to yourself, “Oh, Wow! These people aren’t fooling around!”? This CD will give you that same sensation.

Rena Strober’s pitch-perfect voice is as friendly as they come, and her renditions of classic Sesame Street songs are delightful. Somebody Come And Play immediately transported me back to my Kodachrome childhood in the 1970’s, when it seemed like the sun was always shining. Kermit The Frog’s trademark Being Green is wistful, if not a bit sad, and it’s sentiments related to the world today are not lost on me.

My fave of the set, however, is Im Pretty/I’m An Aardvark, sung with all due silliness by guests French Stewart and Jason Alexander. They get lost in their characters, and the listener does, too. To be fair to the extremely talented Miss Strober, though, it’s a great moment that is surrounded by only great moments. Highly recommended!

From the press kit;

Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo & Jeff Moss is being released in celebration of National Guide Dog Month in September. A portion of the proceeds from all digital and hard copy sales of the album will go to Guide Dogs of America and the Gavin R. Stevens Foundation, whose mission is to find a treatment and cure for blindness, focusing on Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA).

Dan Pavelich

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Rolie Polie Guacamole / Avocado

Rolie Polie Guacamole

Avocado

http://www.roliepolieguacamole.com

In today’s often dark and chaotic times, we all could use a smile to lift our spirits, and Rolie Polie Guacamole does just that. My introduction to the band was their latest video, for their song, Avocado. Without giving away why it will make you smile, I’ll just say that it’s well-worth taking three minutes to watch it.

Rolie Polie Guacamole is made up of two Brooklyn boys, Frank Gallo and Andrew Tuzhilin. Regular readers of this column know that when it comes to children’s music, I like a little something different. Gallo and Tuzhilin check that box, emphatically. Firetruck, Pizza Pie and the aforementioned Avocado, are irresistible to ears of any age.

I especially enjoyed Sammi The Cat, a story song about a stray cat in Brooklyn, and the surprises that she find’s in the subway. There is charm, friendliness and warmth throughout Avocado, which your family will undoubtedly enjoy. Very highly recommended.

Dan Pavelich

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Ben Rudnick / Monster NO!

Ben Rudnick and Friends

Monster NO!

http://Soundcloud.com/ben-rudnick-and-friends/monster-no

Ben Rudnick knows just how kids can keep themselves safe from the pandemic we’re all sheltering from. Keep that monster away by washing your hands with soap, doing a silly dance, and then talking like a frog! Ben’s got the right idea in turning what might be a chore, into a singable activity that kids will actually look forward to.