Category: Kids’ Music That’s Actually Good

Charity and the JAMband know that sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t

My kids are at the age where watching Mommy boogie across the kitchen floor is met with groans. And I’m hearing groans from them a lot now that I’ve got Charity and the JAMband’s danceworthy double kids’ music CD, Party Like a Twinkle Star. Sure, it’s a CD for kids, but it is strong stuff for anyone to resist, something we knew way back when we lauded Charity and the JAMband’s Rock Your Socks Off CD in ’06. The first-of-two CDs, aptly called Party, does just that from the start with the rocking groove of Get Your Booty Out of...

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A (free) singing Valentine from Laurie Berkner

Laurie Berkner, the melodic singing songstress that I most recently loved when I reviewed Rocketship Run, is back to raise awareness for a worthy organization called the Pajama Program by giving us a sort of singing Valentine. Her love note comes in the form of a free downloadable song called Open Your Heart which was actually written to help raise awareness for the Pajama Program’s campaign by the same name. With her guitar, crystal-clear voice, and touching lyrics, Open Your Heart is a reminder to us parents that our little I do it myself offspring need us more than...

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All Around Ralph’s World without leaving the living room

With so much “together” time indoors these cold winter months, my kids’ music has become my music. So I had better like what they have on heavy rotation these days. With their current favorite CD du jour, the new All Around Ralph’s World, I think I’ll retain my sanity just fine, thankyouverymuch. All Around Ralph’s World is the latest in a whole slew of CD’s from CMP fave and Chicagoian Ralph Covert and while the CD doesn’t entirely capture the energy of one of his live shows, I still can happily listen to the pop-rock tunes over and over...

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Kindiefest 2010! Get out your child-safe Zippos.

I’m so excited to be speaking on a panel this spring at the third annual Kindiefest, the conference for all that’s cool in family music (or as we affectionately call it, kindie rock). In other words, the kinds of CD reviews you see on these here pages each week, thanks in part to our indie music-savvy associate editor Christina. While the conference itself is definitely for those in the industry (and hooray for a keynote from Dan Zanes!) on Sunday May 2 there will be a phenomenal concert that’s open to all. Or at least all of you in...

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Some British oi and American folk helps us Rise and Shine

I require a vat of coffee and some peppy tunes to get me going in the morning, and my kids are turning out to be just like me, minus the java infusion. The aptly named Rise and Shine kids’ music album by Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke has the kind of jumpy beat, quick-as-a-whip lyrics and LOL surprises to get our day started on the right foot as we pogo through the morning routine. Starting off with a bang (or really, a rooster), the quick-tempo Rise and Shine catches my kids’ attention with Mr. Clarke’s strong English accent singing,...

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Music for kids with two mommies, two daddies, or even one of each.

When I first discovered the show last year, I didn’t think I could be any more impressed with Dottie’s Magic Pockets as cool kid entertainment. But they’ve gone and done it again with their newly-released CD, The Super Secret Seashell Cave, which is chock-full of kid-friendly tunes won’t make you want to stab a fork through your eardrum. Once again, the songs are served with a heaping helping of “families come in all shapes and sizes” but it never veers into over-earnestness or sap. It’s hard to find anything but amusement in lyrics like “Who’s in your family, a...

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Unwrap a free holiday playlist of kid-friendly songs

If your holiday music collection needs a little boost of something you haven’t heard ten thousand times already, check out  the list of 7 free downloadable holiday tunes from Jitterbug.tv. They’re all original songs from cool bands for kids. In other words: not one cheesy remake of The 12 Days of Christmas in the bunch. Jitterbug’s gift to my ears features festive, fun, and kid-friendly holiday songs from such CMP favorites as The Hipwaders, Brady Rymer and Princess Katie & Racer Steve. Each one can either be downloaded to your mp3 player, iPhone, or played straight off the laptop...

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C’mon by Renee & Jeremy is easy listening, not cheesy listening

My kids are bouncing off the walls with cabin fever already and the constant refrain of “Santa is coming” isn’t helping out. For those moments when we need to seriously chill out without falling asleep, Renee & Jeremy’s new kids’ music CD C’mon suits us perfectly. The LA duo of Renee Stahl and Jeremy Toback follow up their much-loved debut CD It’s a Big World with a dozen mellow beauties. With a sound I’d describe as Jack Johnson meets the coed Indigo Girls, C’mon is full of pretty harmonies and uplifting lyrics, like the opener Share. I’ll play that...

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Get your holiday music the (very, very, very) easy way with Slacker

So what’s a slacker mom like me to do when she’s having a Christmas party for sixty of her closest friends and her entire selection of Christmas music was wiped off the hard drive in the Great Computer Crash of Summer, 2009′? I don’t know about you, but Slacker.com sounds right up my alley. Slacker is an amazing, very customizable internet radio station where I can get all kinds of holiday music–and lots of other music, too. But somehow just the holiday ones disappeared from my computer,  and yes, I often wonder if maybe my grinchy husband had something...

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A Kindie Christmas provides a much needed Christmas carol break

I’ve reached that time of the season when I hit the wall when it comes to Christmas carols, and yet I’m not ready to totally go cold turkey. Let’s just say I need a little holiday music palate cleansing, and The Hipwaders’ new A Kindie Christmas CD is just the ticket. With their distinctive sound we lauded not-too-long ago for their EP Goodie Bag, A Kindie Christmas keeps me in the spirit of the holidays with lyrics about Santa, reindeer and tinsel. But other than the sound of a few sleigh bells and a ho-ho or two, only the...

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Christmas music to help you supress your Grinch; Express your Elf

Whereas Alvin and the Chipmunks blaring on the radio this week was a far too jarring transition for me into Holiday Music Overplay Season, popping in the new Uncle Rock CD, Express Your Elf, was much more what the doctor ordered. Or at least the two kids in the back seat. This album of fun Christmas covers includes Robert Burke Warren’s original takes on Most Wonderful Time of the Year and You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch— seriously, Boris Karloff has competition with that baritone. There’s also a La Bamba-Feliz Navidad mashup that’s so seamless, I kind of wonder...

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Princess Katie represents for feisty royalty everywhere

For my niece’s first Christmas, I got her a big collection of DVDs from great kindie rock artists, hoping it would help keep her away from all that awful kids’ music as she got older. But I never really think to check our favorite musicians’ websites for holiday gift ideas. And then I did. And now I’m glad. Because the Princess Katie and Racer Steve shop is pretty cool. There are holiday gift packs for fans of the band’s bouncy kids music, but what I really like are the Feisty Princess t-shirts which I know quite a few girls...

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The best kids music of 2009 that parents will love too . . . pinkie swear

2009 may go down as a year of the sucky economy, but at least I can feel pretty happy about the state of children’s music. Especially after seeing the brand spankin’ new list of 2009 Fids & Kamily Music Poll Winners. I’m honored to have been one of the judges along with movers and shakers in the kids’ music industry, including bloggers, journalists, performers and producers.  So who won? The geeky brainiacs among us are thrilled that They Might Be Giants’ Here Comes Science topped the list, closely followed by plenty of CMP favorites. I’m also quite pleased that...

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Putumayo comes out with a new Christmas CD, and my ears feel like they got a gift

With all due respect to the latest pop star du jour, most modern renditions of my favorite classic holiday songs leave me wishing for stronger eggnog. But now that I’ve started playing the Putumayo Presents awesome new A Family Christmas CD well before Thanksgiving, I’ve found the perfect soundtrack to take the kids and me straight through to the new year. Starting with Johnny Bregar’s peppy acoustic version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town and ending with a Mardi Gras-esque Frosty the Snowman, A Family Christmas will get me through even my Scroogiest moments. Traditional songs like Sleigh...

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If a CD can make us love Wheels on the Bus you know there’s something to it

I used to want the Wheels on the Bus to fall off and roll into a ditch, especially after having to suffer through that song with three toddlers. But then Rhythm Child‘s Norman Jones and his skillful horn-drum-fiddle-full Rhythm Child Network took that broken-down bus, funked it up and turned it into something something fun and—I can’t believe I’m writing this– cool on their 10-song CD Eat a Bowl of Cherries. What’s also cool is the entire premise of the Rhythm Child Network which singer, performer and hand-drummer Norman and his wife Heather created to expose kids to a...

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Trying Funny Stuff makes me want my kids music with extra Jimmies

I don’t want my kids to grow up listening to lame, easy-listening music which is why The Jimmies’ fun-rock songs have been on heavy rotation since we got Make Your Own Someday, their first CD, a couple of years ago. And now with their jam-packed kids’ DVD/CD combo, Trying Funny Stuff, complete with music videos, a laugh-out-loud “making of” documentary and live-concert footage, we are even more happily covered in Jimmies. Trying Funny Stuff kicks off with six music videos of some of our favorite songs, like the rocking Cool to be Uncool and the sweetly nostalgic Taddy. The...

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Just imagine Johnny Cash pushing a Bugaboo. That’s Hullabaloo.

I don’t yee-haw or two-step, although I may start after spinning Hullabaloo’s country-fried, folksy kids’ music CD, High Roller, a few more times. With my vote for coolest CD cover art of the year, High Roller gets toes tapping with plenty of banjo and fiddle but what really wins me over are the lyrics. How could I resist a title song that has a baby bragging about his cool stroller with its “3.5 inch rims” in a voice that conjures up Johnny Cash pushing a Bugaboo? Most of the songs that this Southern Calfornia duo of Steve Deynes and...

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They Might Be Giants takes on science and like that, a whole generation of future physicists is born.

Hearing my six year old singing songs like Meet the Elements or Photosynthesis makes my geeky-heart’s day, especially considering they are songs from my old favorites They Might Be Giants, on their new kids’ CD & DVD combo Here Comes Science. Normally, anything titled “Here Comes Science” would have me stifling a yawn, but John and John have managed to make educational science songs both brain- and ear-worthy — an instant classic. My 5, 6 and 8 year-olds are the perfect age for this album, whose subject matter is more complex than TMBG’s earlier releases, Here Come the ABC’s...

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Dan Zanes outgrows the house party with The Fine Friends are Here!

My kids don’t need another reason to zone out in front of the TV which is why the energetic new DVD from Dan Zanes, great god of the kids’ indie rock movement, is okay by me. Part live show, part music video The Fine Friends Are Here! practically demands that we get up and dance along with the audience as he rocks, jumps and grooves through an hour of his favorite tunes. And it isn’t just Dan: there are some killer violin, banjo, accordion, mandolin, rap and breakdancing performances from his friends too. Shot at the Jalopy Theatre in...

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Peter Himmelman’s trampoline has room for many

It’s not easy to get into the mind of a kid — just watch me trying to pry “how was your day” from my eight-year-old—but LA singer-songwriter and father of four Peter Himmelman seems to have this knack on his new kids’ music CD, My Trampoline. Whether he’s singing about a child’s unabashed love for a pet tortoise or extolling the virtues of lying under a tree, his ability to wrap smart lyrics around pop-rock beats gives my kids and me something to both listen to, and think about, on our drives around town. Peter’s voice reminds me of...

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Steal this CD

Any band that uses solar power to make their CD then encourages people to copy it for their friends makes me feel all warm and fuzzy before I’ve even heard a note. Thankfully, The Harmonica Pocket‘s new kids’ music CD, Ladybug One, is filled with such cool, trippy harmonies and smart, offbeat lyrics, it’s as satisfying as all their do-gooding. Starting with the sultry, lush Firefly which has me wishing for a hot summer’s night, Ladybug One moves into my fave, the bouncy Spider in my Breakfast–a lot more adorable than it sounds, and my kids find the lyrics...

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Tagging The Not-Its!

I remember when the bands coming out of Seattle’s indie music scene set the bar for what was cool, so it shouldn’t surprise me that the most rockin’ new kids’ band, The Not-Its!, call that region home. Their debut CD, We Are The Not-Its!, makes me want to pull over to the side of the playground, open the hatchback and turn the volume up as high as it’ll go, to share their music with the masses of kids. Yes, it’s that good. What hooked me is hearing kids’ music with real indie-band backing but minus the preachy “wash your...

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Ja, Little Mon

On a recent drive to the beach, my kids and I glumly watched the black clouds rolling in as we all collectively whined, “Rain again?” Fortunately the CD I chose to turn on at that moment was Asheba’s totally fun calypso and world beat release, In The Kid Zone. The mood in our car changed as soon as we heard the sound of the steel drums and the artist’s joyful, smooth voice. And while I’ve never been to the Caribbean, native Trinadadian Asheba sure made me feel like I was headed that way with the authentic sound of songs...

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Music for families more into Natalie Merchant than Hannah Montana

There is no shortage of princess stuff around my two-daughter household, but that doesn’t mean their CD collection needs to full of sickly sweet commercial voices. In fact, I’m thrilled that they love listening to Mary Kaye’s Music Box, because her voice is so gorgeously rich, deep and unconventionally pretty that I’m totally jealous I can’t sing like her. I’m reminded of Natalie Merchant, but Maine’s Mary Kaye seems to be having a lot more fun singing about creatures of all types — bugs, turtles, robots, fairies — something we loved about her when we reviewed her previous kids’...

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My head isn’t banging, but I’m still loving Charlie Hope

When you hear my kids identifying a song from System of a Down, you get a pretty good idea of the the type of music I lean toward: Loud, fast and hard. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the polar opposite of hand-banging, and I offer up my love of the Charlie Hope’s I’m Me! kids’ music CD as proof. With her clear-as-glass, pitch-perfect voice which calls to mind Frances England with a dash of Elizabeth Mitchell, Charlie Hope has put together a collection of songs that are written, without a doubt, for young kids, but are sung...

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Been Caught Squealing

Back in the day, sweaty dancing to live music, singing loudly and staying up too late was a given during my annual pilgrimage to the Lollapalooza music festival. I’ve had to tone things down a bit now that my hearing is shot, my bedtime is before 10 and the kids are old enough to understand the lyrics to my music. But, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the new Kidzapalooza CD captures a lot of Lolla’s spirit and fun, minus the beer and tattooed guy who eats light bulbs. As with the live Kidzapalooza show, Mr. Lollapalooza, Perry...

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Take a Ride on The Sippy Cups’ Time Machine

They grow up so fast, I’ve said a million times, and while they’re still little I want to introduce them to the coolest indie-vibe kids’ music I can. Like CMP fave The Sippy Cups’ new CD The Time Machine. Mixing bits of “stop and smell the roses” wisdom with fun-loving trippy pop/rock, I wonder if the band is talking to the kids or the parents when they sing in the title track, We spend our days in search of love/And wish the time to linger on and on and on and on. Sigh. Off to go hug the kids...

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Lullaby music gets a nice 21st century update

Now that it’s still light at bedtime, my kids are bouncing off the walls when I try to tuck them under their covers at night. I need help, and I’ll take it in the form of Sunflow’s latest CD, the lullaby collection Under the Stars. It’s totally different than what I usually spin, but seeing as my CD collection is more suited for bouncing off the walls, this is a lovely alternative to me yelling go to sleep already! Sunflow’s duo Fran King and Nancy Falkow are based out of Dublin but don’t expect to hear any Irish jigs....

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The Hipwaders Prove Size Doesn’t Matter

At only 16 minutes long, The Hipwaders EP, Goodie Bag may be short but it’s still the perfect little morsel of music for a quick drive across town, or to get us moving during a speed-cleanup session before company arrives. This Bay Area threesome have a toe-tapping, jangly guitar sound and smart, quirky lyrics that remind me of They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies. But it’s the minor-chords in  songs like What’s That Noise? that give the CD a very cool edge that make it sound even more grown up. My kids especially like Field Trip‘s outer space...

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The Cool Mom Picks Summer Road Trip Mix Tape

I’ve done enough seven-hour road trips with the kids to know that the right music can eliminate the fear of “are we there yet?” So before strapping the kids into their car seats, I spruce up our music collection with some new tunes for less money than we’ll spend on snacks and Tylenol. We thought it would be fun to offer up a selection of some stand-out singles from some of the newer kid-and-parent friendly CD’s that have come our way recently. Just take a listen to a sample, and if you dig it (which we think you will),...

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