Wednesday, April 30, 2014

D is for Django: A CD Review

FLAGSTAFF, AZ -- Last September brought the disbanding of award-winning indie band Girlyman, but three of its members have reconstituted themselves as Django Jones, bringing Girlyman's sweet harmonies to kids and families.  Django Jones's debut family music album, D is for Django, will be released on April 29.  (Deputy Jones Records, $15.00, for ages 4 - 9, run time 53 minutes.)

Girlyman traversed the U.S. and Europe for twelve years, wowing audiences with tight, three-part harmonies, heartfelt songwriting, freely improvised "tuning songs," and wildly unpredictable stage patter.  The transition to music for families has been a natural evolution.  Django Jones was inspired, in part, by the sheer number of underage Girlyman devotees.  Parents would remark that their children were enchanted by the harmonies, the humor, and, most of all, the silliness of the made-up tuning songs.

When the time came to develop a family music repertoire, Doris Muramatsu, JJ Jones, and Nate Borofsky simply pretended they were kids again (it wasn't very difficult) and imagined what they would have liked to hear.  The resulting album they cooked up, D is for Django, is replete with songs about germs, our 206 bones, and Bigfoot, seasoned with lullabies and served as musical nourishment for the "inner child" that is snuggled within all of us.

D is for Django (named for Doris's charismatic Chihuahua mix) is programmed so that energetic tunes comprise the first half of the album, with softer songs and lullabies making up the second half.  "We wanted parents to be able to use the second half to help calm their kids down so they can drift off to sleep," explains Nate.  The songs range from educational ("Bones" and "Counterpoint") to food-oriented ("Breakfast" and "Popcorn") to self-empowerment ("Smallest Breed" and "All That I See"), and the lulabies are capped by a stunning rendition of a traditional kundalini mantra ("Long Time Sun").  Listeners get a "behind the scenes" chance to meet Doris, JJ, Nate, and even Django via the brief spoken intros interspersed between songs.

The album kicks off with "All That I See," a pop song about seeing people for the beautiful beings they are, which showcases Doris Muramatsu's glorious voice backed up by gorgeous harmonies from her Django Jonescolleagues layered over a mesmerizing, rhythmic ostinato.  The musical motion is seconded with other highlights like "P-O-P," a fun, rockin' ode to the most popular "popped" movie treat, "Bigfoot," an unlikely romantic ballad that offers a tip of the musical hat to the Shangri-Las' teen melodrama from the '60s, "Leader of the Pack," and "Counterpoint," a brainy tune that demonstrates, in a most engaging fashion, just exactly what counterpoint in music is.  Kids will have fun working out the melodic puzzle as they follow along with Nate's melody, Doris's melody, or JJ's melody and see how it all fits together. 

The D is for Django recording process was experimental and playful.  Doris and Nate brought pans of Jiffy Pop to record the kernels popping on the stove for "P-O-P," and JJ danced around hitting practically every percussive instrument she has ever collected to produce the background "bones" for the Bones song.  "It was such a relief to be silly again," says Doris, whose last few years have been shadowed by a leukemia diagnosis and eventual recovery, while she continued to tour with Girlyman.  "I think Nate, JJ, and I didn't realize how much hardship we had gone through together while I was sick and touring, how much we needed to be playful and light.  Making this record helped to heal us, and we rediscovered our joy through music."

Girlyman albums include Supernova (2012), Everything's Easy (2009),Somewhere Different Now (2008), Joyful Sign (2007), Little Star(2005), and Remember Who I Am (2003).

My Review:

We have had a fantastic time listening to, singing along with, and dancing to, this newest release from Girlyman, D is for Django! With a fun combination of pop, rock and softer ballads, your children (and you, I guarantee it!) will be loving this CD for years to come! Our family favorite songs were Bones, Jack of all Things, Potato Leek Soup and Love You Like I Do. I have even caught myself humming the songs when there are no children around:) To be honest though, the entire CD is remarkable! With 27 tracks there is a little something for all music lovers, children and adults alike! I loved too that there are introductions to each song and concepts like food, colors, counting, health, and is a sweet, fun CD to add to your collection of children's music. 

I highly recommend this CD and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: D is for Django will be available at, CDbaby, iTunes, and other digital outlets.  D is for Django released April 29!

***I received a complimentary copy of this CD, courtesy of Waldmania PR, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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