Thursday
Jul222010

A Gustafer Yellowgold Scoop

January 4, 2010

By Jeff Bogle

 

First, some bad news: don’t expect a new Gustafer Yellowgold DVD/CD in 2010.

But dry those eyes, ’cause the decade’s 2nd year will see not only “The Infinity Sock” DVD/CD – the first GY release to rely on a story arc from start to finish – but also a book/CD combo.  Morgan Taylor, the creative genius behind Gustafer, told me that the next album/animated DVD will feature new songs for Eel, the singing Bees (Gustafer sticks his head inside the hive and witnesses a concert) and Forrest Applecrumby (the pterodactyl’s song will actually focus on Cheddar, his adorable cat).

But wait!  There’s more! Gustafer will visit Wisconsin, marking the 1st time he departs his home state of Minnesota since landing on Earth several years ago.

Nothing left to do now but sit back and wait 12+ months to see and hear all this new mellow yellow goodness.

Additionally, the GY live show will be undergoing big changes starting in ‘11.  Taking a clue from The Decemberists, as well as numerous older bands resurrecting a classic album in it’s entirety, the new Gustafer Yellowgold live show that will accompany the 2011 release will be “The Infinity Sock” – top to bottom (or, more appropriately, calf to toe).

If you’ve never had the pleasure, you should really gather up yer children and get thee self to a Gustafer Yellowgold show – it’s a kid’s musical experience like no other.  Morgan is once again taking said show on the road in the early part of ‘10, hitting most every state on both coasts.  Check out all the dates here.

One more thing – check out the brand new photos page on the GY site.  After perusing the site, you’ll likely get the urge to go all “Flat Stanley” with your Gusty doll during your next family vacation.  Via this sweet page you now have the means to share your own Gustafer Yellowgold pictures, drawings and more with others ‘keeping it yellow’.

Thursday
Jul222010

A Very Yellow New Year

December 30, 2009

By Jeff Bogle

 

In what is turning into a New Year's tradition, OWTK will be attending the Jan. 2nd Gustafer Yellowgold show at World Cafe Live. I may have even used this blog post title before. It's Deja Vu, all over again.

It seems the yellow guy visits Philly on the 1st weekend of each New Year and, you know what, I cannot really imagine a better way to kick off another year of great family music.

We haven't seen Gusty since the release of "Mellow Fever". I'm quite interested to see how Morgan Taylor and Co. squeeze in the new songs ("Panther Stamp Pants", "Quite Easily Lost", etc) while also playing the older tunes essential in telling the Yellowgold tale ("Your Eel", "My Dragon"), so that new converts have some semblance of a clue as to what is going on...and do all that in 45-55 minutes.

Wednesday
Jul212010

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Mellow Fever - Review

March 17, 2009

By Jeff Bogle

 

It's always a happy day when new Gustafer Yellowgold songs surface...and today is that day! Our little buddy from the sun is back with 11 new tales. He's as cute & quirky as he was when we first met him over 2 years (and 2 DVDs) ago.

The new batch of mellow yellow songs from Morgan Taylor & Co. are texturally rich and more lyrically complex than prior efforts. Yet, at the same time, the cuts that comprise "Mellow Fever" maintain the dreamy pop sound that has made Gustafer Yellowgold such a phenomenon in the children's music world.

For the uninitiated, songs & videos in Gustafer Yellowgold's World are like mini theatrical productions capable of standing alone or as part of a whole. This is possible because there isn't a linear storyline within each CD/DVD. While this format remains true on Mellow Fever, there are now these short lead-ins (5 to 20 seconds each) before every song/video - entertaining interludes that help flesh out the story while bridging the narrative gap between the tunes. These added A/V clips make the disc feel more like a holistic piece of work and less like a collection of kick-ass You Tube clips. A perfect touch, one that I hope Mr. Taylor continues to employ going forward.

As for the songs themselves, we discover some added details about our hero's time on the Sun and his eventual voyage to Earth. "Butter Pond Lake" tells of the Yellowgold's favorite watering hole, a warm relaxing retreat complete with darkening bugs, the Sun's version of fireflies. We witness Gustafer's emotional farewell to his parents and his dog, Ray, on "Sunpod". A song that serves as the visual prequel to the GY classic "Your Eel" and also where we learn of the architectural influences for Gusty's Minnesota home. We also meet a couple new friends on the sweet "Sugar Boat" and "Quite Easily Lost" (featuring Lisa Loeb).

It took a little time before the greatness of "Mellow Fever" made itself audibly evident to me. Save for the danceable "Panther Stamps Pants," the new songs seemed, at first blush, less catchy then the tunes on "Wide Wild World" and "Have You Never Been Yellow?". As a result, the music didn't instantly connect with me or the kids when we first watched the DVD.

Everything changed when the CD entered the car. Once the focus of the new stories and instrumentation was isolated to my ears, I quickly came down with a severe case of Mellow Fever. I know why the record didn't immediately click for me. It's been the pattern of great music hitting my humble ears, it takes a while for the layers of beautiful sound to penetrate my novice musical brain. Of the records that have proven their staying power in my library, nearly all of 'em provoked melancholy reactions initially.

So I needed to start with just the music and once I did, the subtle grace of the tracks was undeniable. Now the visuals, which deserve their own glowing review entirely, make perfect sense and are equally brilliant. Thinking about it now, it's almost ridiculous that the songs didn't click the first time because they are so insanely wonderful.

While each and every song is gorgeous to look at and listen to, for me, "Mellow Fever" is all about it's closing act. The disc's finale "Constellation Pies," contains the fewest words of any GY tune yet is the prettiest and most musically creative. As the song unfolds an elegant french horn plays through the refrain of each of the previous 10 tracks. On the DVD, the main image from each song appears in the sky as a constellation, high above Gustafer as he rests in the grass. It's magnificent and utterly sublime and, in just 3 minutes, encapsulates the greatness of what Morgan Taylor has created in Gustafer Yellowgold.

I've no doubt that "Mellow Fever" will be in the running for the Kid's Record of the 2009. There is simply no weak moment here and I declare, without hesitation, that "Mellow Fever" is Morgan Taylor's most accomplished work to date.

Also included on the DVD, a hilarious mockumentary called "Looking for Gustafer Yellowgold". The grainy footage, goofy interviews and hilarious reenactments are so authentic you'll start to believe the thing could actually run on the History or Discovery Channel.

Enough of my words, GO NOW and BUY "Mellow Fever" directly from Yellowgold Headquarters!

Wednesday
Jul142010

October 22, 2007

‘Have You Never Been Yellow?’ Review

By Jeff Bogle

 

The new Gustafer Yellowgold DVD/CD set was unleashed on to the world last week. Morgan Taylor and his talented Lower East Side cohorts deliver another stellar set of mellow pop goodness on "Have You Never Been Yellow?" - the follow up the the wildly popular "Wide Wild World". The new offering consists of nine beautiful short animated tales/songs that are all at once funny, sweet and charming. There is not as much of a story arc on "Have Your Never Been Yellow" (as there was on the first DVD) but the songs still flow nicely together. What these new tunes do very well is show us Gustafer's love for nature and the creatures that surround him on Earth.

The DVD includes an artist commentary feature that may very well be a first for a kid's flick. While you will probably not huddle up on a weekly basis to listen to this, it is an enjoyable listen. It is rather interesting, and often humorous, to hear Morgan talk about his approach to drawing the scenes for these new songs. Taylor's artistry is as brilliant as ever on these ten shorts. There are so many small details in the scenes that are quite interesting in their nuance. Morgan reveals that he was able to take more time with the illustrations and drew the scenes with the knowledge that they will be animated - something that was not the case the first time around. The attention to detail pays off as the imagery all over "Have You Never Been Mellow?" is stunning, but "The Bluebird Tree" is absolutely gorgeous.

"Pinecone Lovely", the disc's opener, is a near-perfect tune and features an appearance of Crunch-O-Pine (a Gusty web favorite). I cannot say enough about how good this cut is. The bass-only breakdown after the first verse is quite rad. While "Pinecone Lovely" is the finest song here, the other eight are not too far off. Kids will go crazy for "Punching Cheese" the epic follow up to "I Jump On Cake" - extolling Gusty's other favorite food destruction pastime. "Aye, Aphid" was a slow grower for me, but is now seemingly forever stuck in my head - the simple melody is unnervingly contagious. The disc ends with an ode to the earth and the environment and with Gustafer asking us to dream in green with him, with a sing-along worthy crescendo.

I would love to experience some more dramatic tempo changes in future Gustafer tracks, as sometime I feel that the set could use a bit of a kick in the butt - ya know? That being said, top to bottom, Gustafer Yellowgold's "Have You Never Been Yellow?" is still a strong, albeit short (clocking in at just over 30 minutes long), collection of tunes that will have your entire gang singing together locked into a cool, mellow groove.