The past few spins around the sun have really lulled my neck of the Midwest into a false sense of wintermonth security. A few mild winters will make even a quasi-REAL winter feel like a nonstop onslaught of crystalized water particles. “Snow again?” was recently muttered from the lips of my ever-cold bride and I had to smile… I mean, it’s not the winters fault is it? We’re technically still a full month away from spring.
Possibly one reason I’m ok with the cold this year is that I stumbled onto a really amazing winter album. Normally for me winter and music mash into a very melancholy mood-altering mixture. I have to be careful with it since I’m already prone to thinking on the negative 50% of the water glass… even when the sun is full-blown shiny.
A few months ago The Okee Dokee Brothers put out their latest album Winterland. Any of you who read me on the regular will already know that I have a penchant for seasonal-based songage. So (no surprise) I was immediately roped into checking this out. And I’m 100% glad I did!
I knew nothing of the Okee Dokee Bros before this, mind you. As a general rule, I steer clear of the kiddo/family music genre. Nothing specifically against such bands, I just prefer to hold onto some semblence of my sanity while I navigate parenthood (Bahahaha! Good luck!). There are of course some exceptions. Laurie Berkner is a household fave and I can get down with her and her dinosaur stompin’ tunes. But I also appreciate that my kiddos are developing an ear for quote/unquote Real Music. You know, the stuff sane-adult-type-people listen to.
Now I’m going to have to swallow my pride WHILST eating my words… *ahem*
The Okee Dokee Brothers are fan-dang-tastic-tremendous!
To further exclamation-point this statement, I will add that I would currently be listening to Winterland even if I didn’t have a 5 and 1 year old in the car with me. The Okee Dokee Brothers are now the Official exception to my previous stated kid-band rule.
For starters their songwriting is solid. Lyrically fast, loose, and fun. They have a nice bluegrass base that ventures seamlessly into all the assorted Americana-based adjacent avenues. They are fun without being corny… and even when they veer into corny it’s incredibly endearing. These guys are dorks who embrace their dorkitude and use it to their advantage. A stroll through their back catalog also reveals their passionate-outdoors-adventure-worldview (regardless of the weather out there!) and for this album it gives them a wonderful knack for pulling all the positives out of this dreadful, bitter cold season.
There I said it… The Okee Dokee Brothers have made winter fun again! Don’t believe me? Welp… this album has *draws in one long exaggerated breath* :
Jack Frost dancin’ with his special ladyfriend
jigs up on tables to welcome you in from the storm
howling at the moon with the other sled dogs
fishin’ out on the ice with gummy worms
snow people in every imaginable garb
lumberjacks that saw the logs you’re dreaming
ukuleles where no self-respecting uke would normally go
One smoking hot dance band that will play the chill right out of your bones!
For serious: Check out the delightful track “Keep Me Warm” and tell me you don’t feel that smiley-glow in the cockles and sub-cockle regions of your frosty February heart:
Yeah, I really like that one… I even put it up in my kitchen:
And these guys aren’t all just fun and games and fluff. When they decide to really tug on your heartstrings they will play you like a banjo. Check out “Candles” or “You You You” or “Great Grandmother Tree” or “Snowpeople” for just a few prime examples. They’ve got the range and they don’t waste any time on filler. Each track on this album is worthy of its place on it. (All 16 of them!).
And with each song in it’s place they end their jaunt through winter with the track “Signs of Spring.” An apt reminder that all seasons come and go and the warmer weather is not too far in the future.
Although I suspect I might actually find myself in the rare position of longing for the winter months this year. If only to be able to revisit these fantastic Winterland tunes. Luckily, the Okee Dokee Brother’s Discography has plenty to enjoy in the warmer months too… Check ‘em out! (regardless of your kid-status or ideas about “Family Musicians”).
(One more for the road! Take it away Joe and Justin!)