Music Swap Wrap Up

swap

Trying something new at work can bring a mix of emotions: excitement and anticipation when people start responding to it, and fear and anxiety that something might go wrong. Over the last couple months I experienced a lot of these things as I worked towards our July music swap. I’m happy to say that the result was mostly positive, though there were some downsides that resulted in a very valuable learning experience.

First the pros, since everyone likes a happy story. As soon as I started planning this event, my excellent co-workers were quick to rally to offer their assistance. Equally invaluable was the friendly willingness of two bands, Fauna Shade and Crater Lakes, who agreed to play my weird little event for free, even providing all their own equipment. As the event approached, our swap items were a little sparse until I received a call from Julie Muhlstein asking for all the details; her wonderful piece was what we needed to open the floodgates, and a variety of music poured in. On the day of the event we were visited by around 60 people who rummaged through the swap bins, enjoyed the bands, and walked out happily toting some new music. We even had some neighbors hanging out their windows and deck doors to watch, which was fun to see.

Now the cons. We were loud and we caught some of our neighbors unaware. Though I had reached out to the residents at Library Place and posted flyers around town, I had failed to find a sure-fire way to give a heads up to our neighbors to the north. This led to a few disrupted afternoons and unhappy phone calls. To those folks who were upset by the noise our concert generated, my sincere apology – I am truly sorry. I learned an invaluable lesson about outdoor acoustics and neighbor-friendly volume which will be applied to any future events I might organize. I also learned about how gracious people can be when you listen to their feedback and take it to heart. Thank you for being understanding.

On the whole, I’m happy I was able to try something new at the library. It was a lot of fun to see how willing friends, colleagues, and neighbors were to come together to make something different happen. Thanks to everyone who participated in a variety of ways.

On a semi-related note, here are my quick picks for July music new arrivals – place your holds now:

Hiatus KaiyoteHiatus Kaiyote – Choose your Weapon (Flying Buddha) – This is hands down my favorite album of the year thus far. From start to finish it’s a joyride of blended styles: RnB, Soul, Drum and Bass, Hip-Hop, Funk, Jazz, and much more. It’s really impossible to sum up – you just have to trust me and give it a listen.

BilalBilal – In Another Life (Entertainment One Music) – A solid soul album with a little funk. Though Bilal is an established artist in his own right, you can appreciate the influence artists like Prince and Stevie Wonder have had on his music. This isn’t to say that Bilal is imitating anyone – his style is refreshingly original.

Fuzz Skating Polly – Fuzz Steilacoom (Chap Stereo Records) – Gritty, growling, totally punk rock. This album is loud and fun. A simple description for a pretty straight-forward album. It’s worth a listen.

 

 

 

March New Music: a Horse of a Different Color Edition

Photo from wikipedia.

Photo from wikipedia.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite scenes in The Wizard of Oz was when Dorothy, wide-eyed and full of wonder, was pulled through Emerald City by the Horse of a Different Color. Not one to bow its shaggy mane to conventional horse ways, this amazing beast would periodically change its color to various vibrant shades to suit its fancy. I see a similarity between Dorothy’s rainbow-hued guide and some of the music we purchase for the library. While it is in the librarian’s nature to try to classify the things she buys in order to make them more findable for our users, sometimes that task feels impossible. We are constantly working on the language we use to make sure that we keep up with changes in music and literature, but it can often be hard to be as accurate as we’d like to be and still remain organized. So this month, I wanted to highlight some of our latest Arrivals of a Different Color to pique your interest. They may defy our ability to apply just one golden label, and might not be placed where you’d expect them (not for lack of trying!), but that doesn’t make them any harder to enjoy. Be sure to place your holds now!

tracker cover imageMark Knopfler – Tracker (Verve). Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame, has returned with his ninth solo album. While this will be placed in the Rock section, it could easily appeal to fans of old-school country, Irish folk music, jazz, and bluegrass. I like to think of this one as sea shanties and ballads for the urban cowboy.

Tego Calderón – El Que Sabe, Sabehttp://wpac.epls.org/polaris/search/title.aspx?ctx=1.1033.0.0.7&cn=550071 (Universal Music Latin Entertainment). El Que Sabe will wind up in our Latin Pop section, but listeners will find a mix of reggaeton, hip-hop, reggae, electronica, bomba, and more. While the overall tone is dark but dancy, there are a couple lighter, more laid-back cuts. ‘La Media’ was a standout track for me; it reminded me of mid-90s hip-hop, to be enjoyed in the sun.

Just Kids Cover ImageMat Kearney – Just Kids (Republic Records). Also bound for our Rock section, Just Kids speaks to a few different interests. At first blush this sounds almost like a Coldplay album, but then Kearney starts rhyming, a little like Macklemore, but with vaguely Christian Contemporary lyrics. Did I mention he has bluegrass overtones but also likes to play around with synths? Christian folk-hop? Sounds about right, and it works.

Panda Bear Cover ImagePanda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (Domino Recording Co.). If we were going to indulge in smaller musical genre sections at the library, I’d place this in ‘chillwave’ – basically synthpop’s grandbaby – but I do not want our catalogers to start hating me. For simplicity’s sake, this album rocks out, so it belongs under that heading. Panda Bear’s sound is psychedelic, synth-driven, and sample heavy, but layered over with vocal harmonies that have often been compared to the Beach Boys.

For those of you who would like some less-complicated notable new arrivals, I also really enjoyed these two:

One-derful Cover ImageVarious Performers – The One-derful! Collection (Secret Stash Records). An outstanding collection of soul and funk classics recorded at One-derful! in Chicago between 1962 and 1971. I can’t recommend this compilation enough. It’s the first of six that will be released over the next few years.

Vestiges and Claws Cover ImageJosé González – Vestiges & Claws (Mute). Straight-up, no-nonsense indie-folk music. This is a really enjoyable album, with beautiful guitar melodies, intriguing lyrics, and dreamy vocals.

Kid’s Music: Old and New Favorites

duckindexindexpete

I’ve been listening to children’s music ever since my children were little and my son turns thirty this week! Back then, we loved Raffi, Disney songs and Pete Seeger. Children’s music has come a very long way in recent years. I know because now I listen to music with my granddaughters and the children in story times at the library. I also purchase the children’s music CD’s for the library. It’s important to know which artists can pass both the kid’s and adult’s quality tests. By this I mean that young children will listen to the latest Disney songs (FROZEN) for ever, but you may not want that in your home or life. Here are some artists which I listen to alone. By myself. Willingly.

indexQM6GB4RGMy absolute favorite children’s recording artist is the fabulous Elizabeth Mitchell. Her compact disc You Are My Little Bird is so wonderful that you can just leave it in your CD player because it is primarily acoustic and purposefully low-key, which allows the melodies of her songs to shine through. Mitchell’s singing is elegant, unforced, and a thoroughly natural pleasure to listen to.

seedElizabeth Mitchell has been lending her lovely voice to folk-leaning indie rock for years, and in recent years she’s been displaying the same intelligence and playful joie de vivre on a handful of recordings for children. Her album Little Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie collects recordings of Mitchell’s interpretations of the legendary folksinger’s songs.  What a pleasure!

nancyNancy Stewart is a children’s singer-songwriter based in Seattle and be sure to check out her fabulous website. This website is dedicated to providing FREE songs, resources and information for teachers, parents, librarians, and home schooling families. You can download her music onto a CD or just click and play. I get so many wonderful tunes from Nancy and you could too.

index (2)I asked my fellow children’s librarians who their favorite musicians are and one loves the Laurie Berkner Band. I do too!  It doesn’t get much better than the Best of the Laurie Berkner Band which features twenty tracks taken from her first five albums. It’s bouncy and fun. The production and performances are top notch which makes it music for all ages.

indexT4OJMRVKJim Gill is the favorite children’s music artist for two of our librarians. He is a nationally acclaimed author and musician who has received five separate awards from the American Library Association. Studies have shown that there are many connections between music, play and literacy. This is wonderfully playful music for the little ones in your life.

indexX12JJSPSSome of my favorite CD’s are from Putumayo Kids. This world music label is dedicated to providing high-quality music played by traditional and contemporary artists. You must listen to Hawaiian Playground if you’re making a trip to the islands or just want to pretend by listening to the song “Come to Hawaii”. Just try to get the tune of the “Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai” out of your head.

indexB8E1SJGCLikewise, check out Cowboy Playground if you’re driving to Idaho or Montana or any other horsey place out west. You’ll love singing along with “Back in the Saddle Again”, “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Happy Trails.”  It was perfect for my cowboy storytime.

indexH51ZRUETAnd who can resist Reggae Playground? This is an outstanding album for children and moreover an entirely enjoyable album for adults also. There are excellent performances all through this upbeat offering which does not dumb-down music for children. Everett Public Library has no less than 28 Putumayo Kids CD’s, so there’s sure to be one to your liking in the bunch.

index (3)Caspar Babypants has a new CD of Beatles music for children and it’s marvelous!  He’s also coming to the Main Branch of the Everett Public Library on Wednesday, December 10th at 10:30 AM. Be sure to come to the auditorium to hear this acclaimed local children’s musician and author present his signature mix of catchy lyrics and bouncy beats. Families with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will especially enjoy this performance. After the show, be sure to take home some of these fabulous children’s music CD’s. Rock on!

Don’t Panic!

Tick, tick, tick. That’s the sound of the holiday shopping clock running out. If you are among the millions of people who still have some holiday gifts to purchase, panic may be setting in at this point. You probably have the major players (spouse, parents, children) covered by now but those hard to gift folks (friends, co-workers, distant relations) may still be on your list. If you are still scrambling for gift ideas, let us show you a little library secret that might be of assistance.

The New Titles feature of our library catalog can be a great source for gift ideas. This menu allows you to browse the latest books, movies, and music recordings that are currently available. From the Everett Library webpage simply click on the library catalog and then check out the New Titles section on the right sidebar. In addition, several new title lists are displayed on the front page of the catalog itself.

Here are just a few of the new books listed:

Science of LoveTimeless MakeupUnfair TradeBruceKings and Queens of BritianBest Dog Ever

How about some new movies:

Dr. Who Series SevenDark Knight RisesOdd Life of Timothy GreenHope SpringsThunderstruckTed

And don’t forget the new CDs:

Tender TrapSwing to MagellanGreen Day

We hope this helps with your last-minute shopping. And remember to cut yourself some slack. It is the thought that counts after all.