Category: Kids’ Music That’s Actually Good

The (Really Great) Okee Dokee Brothers

You aren’t likely to find me at a folk music festival or a bluegrass jamboree, but I’m totally taken by The Okee Dokee Brothers’ new release, Kids with Beards. This two-member band from Minneapolis make twangy, toe-tapping folk music with smart, funny lyrics that are equal parts hillbilly, seven-year-old boy and your favorite teacher. Running in heavy rotation in my head is Too Much Time in Candy Land which wisely warns, “Mike and Ike were not my friends, And Laffy Taffys weren’t so funny” (the perfect pr-trick-or-treating song if I’ve ever heard one). I have even started enjoying the...

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Where Mother Goose meets Aphex Twin

If ever a CD was made to be played in a W Hotel guest room that requests a crib, Chill Baby, by Californian musician and producer Cordovan, is it. It’s cool as the name suggests, mixing mellow electronica with both original and familiar children’s melodies from Puff the Magic Dragon to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. What could have turned out cheesy is actually sophisticated and soothing. Check out samples on Amazon or CD Baby but we think you’ll like it enough to get the whole album. This is the perfect music to lull your future ambient music lover off...

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Little Monster Records – Giving the Kids Some Soul

I’ll admit it: I was prejudiced. Before I heard the newly released Soulville and All Together Now from Little Monster Records, I was prejudiced against CDs whose singers included a “children’s chorus,” codeword for “cheese.” Thankfully, I faced my biases head on and was blown away by Soulville‘s first song. Because, while there is a children’s chorus (that does a damn good job I might add), most of these 60’s and 70’s soul music covers are sung by unbelievably talented people from the R&B world like RedRay Frazier and Tabitha Fair. The cover of the Jackson’s Five ABC is...

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One Good Egg

In my 20’s, I’d go to a small dark club in Rhode Island to watch obscure indie rock bands play loud, jangly music.  We were a fairly homogeneous group, save for one earplugged little girl of about 3 who would sit on her dad’s shoulders and watch her mom play the drums until well past midnight. They sure made the effort to combine their rock n roll life with parenthood, but I imagine that having kids must put a damper on the musical career of plenty of indie bands.  The three-members of LA-based Egg came up with a solution...

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Barney. The Good One.

A certain purple dinosaur has given this dude a bad name. But I’m thinking Barney Saltzberg is taking the name Barney back (yeah!) with 30 incredible children’s books and four really swell CDs in his arsenal, including his latest musical artistry, Crazy Hair Day. (Did this pacifist just make a weaponry reference in the other Barney’s general direction? I think I definitely did.) Maybe it’s my Austin roots, but I’m really loving the laid back folksy brilliance of this album, which sounds like a relaxed rainy Sunday afternoon–the children’s music equivalence of the great background soundtrack you want to...

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Music Together: Out of the Classroom and Into Your iPod

When I heard that Music Together was creating a CD for everyone, and not just the lucky families who get it free along with their children’s music classes, I jumped at the opportunity to check it out. Granted I’m a registered Music Together teacher currently on mom-hiatus so yes, I’m biased. But if you’ve ever taken a class, or heard the music, you’ll know exactly why this is audio crack for kids. A research-based program that encourages the love of music in kids from a very early age, Music Together is all about culturally diverse tunes along with a...

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Pop Fly: It’s a Hit

“HEY!  Don’t turn that down!”, I snap at my husband who has interrupted my backup singing so he can figure out some complicated directions on our way to Boston. He looks at me, warily, from the corner of his eye. Shoot. I have been caught singing along to the kids’ music. It’s no secret that I dislike a lot of the music my kids love. This is a big reason we listen to a lot of audio books in the car. But, then kindie rock artist all-star Justin Roberts releases his new CD, Pop Fly, and I actually get...

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Frances England’s Family Tree: Your CD Player Will Thank You

If you heeded our advice and snatched up much lauded performer Frances England’s debut album, Fascinating Creatures, then you and your kiddos will be glad to know she’s got another great one to add to your collection. On Family Tree, Frances’s ethereal voice sounds more like something you’d hear at your local live music joint than in your kid’s CD player. Her simple lyrics combined with uncomplicated accompaniments are pleasantly devoid of goofy made-up words and electronica. In fact, the only indicators that it’s a kid’s album are the few itty bitty voices interspersed in a few of the...

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I Never Thought I’d Utter “Perry Farrell” and “Juice Box” In the Same Breath.

While we Gen-X parents may have outgrown our Lollapalooza days (Primus so rocked it in ’93) it doesn’t mean we’re ready to hang up the proverbial Docs just yet. Which is why the Kidzapalooza summer concert has become such a rollicking annual success. This three day family-friendly rock festival was put together by Perry Farrell himself along with producer extraordinaire Tor Hyams, and I can’t think of a better reason to plan a trip to Chicago the weekend of August 1. Scheduled performers include CMP faves The Terrible Twos, the Dream Jam Band and The Jimmies. Plus expect mainstage...

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Getting Funky for NOLA

Do you ever listen to music and think, "Seriously, how do people make these kinds of wonderful sounds?" Me too. And I just did when I checked out Funky Kidz: Kinda lame name, but pretty great album. Funky Kidz features a collection of nostalgic favorites with yummy Crescent City flavor that’s all perfectly suited to children. Songs like You’ve Got a Friend in Me, Hokey Pokey, Yellow Submarine, and my personal theme, If I Only Had a Brain. I guarantee you’ll know 80% of the songs on there by heart (listen for yourself), but you’ve never heard them like...

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Too Much…Magic Bus

Brooklyn parents have surely overheard other moms in the supermarket or the corner diner saying, "Oh we signed up for Kevin…he’s the best." They’re talking about Kevin Meeker, who teaches one of the more popular Music for Aardvark classes in the hood. For those of you in the rest of the country (including Staten Island), there’s always the CDs from his kids band, Opus Ditty. Opus Ditty and the Joyride Jet Engine Bus essentially plays like a cartoon with no picture, a wacky adventure told with music. But even if the littlest ears don’t follow the joyride bus plot,...

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Baby Loves Hip Hop. And Dinosaurs. And Eating Dog Food – But That’s Another Story.

The way I see it, kids are ridiculously obsessed with dinosaurs and they love a kicking beat, so it was only a matter of time before the two came together. Baby Loves Hip Hop made it happen. Adding to their smash hits Baby Loves Jazz and Baby Loves Disco, this latest greatest release brings in an impressive who’s who list of producers, collaborators and singers in the form of five friendly but decidedly cool animated dinosaurs. You might better recognize the voices of The Dino 5 from groups like Jurassic 5, Diggable Planets, and the Roots Crew, so it’s...

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Tell Me More Stories

Amy Friedman’s wonderful multicultural Tell Me a Story compilation was easily one of our favorite CDs of 2006. So of course we’re thrilled that she’s at last released a follow-up with Tell Me a Story 2: Animal Magic. This is the kind of children’s storytelling you won’t mind – no annoying farm animal sound effects, no painfully performed sketches. Instead, this amazingly produced album features 6 original kids stories from around the world, all brought to life with composer Laura Hall’s rich, culturally appropriate music, evocative narration from pros like Len Cariou, and a lovely children’s chorus. The 4-8...

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Wow, It Really Is a Super Tuesday.

Some days just get people excited. October 10, 2007 was one of those days in our house, because that was the day Radiohead released their new album online. And as exciting as it was, that much-anticipated day was nothing comparison to today, Feb. 5, 2008. No, not because it’s Super Tuesday And no, not because it’s Fat Tuesday. Duh. Because it’s Tuesday, Feb. 5th, the day that They Might Be Giants release their new two-disc, CD/DVD combo Here Come the 123s. This follow-up to Here Come the ABCs is, obviously, about counting. So 90% of the songs are about...

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What Are Other Children’s Albums Missing? Oh Yeah, Samuel L. Jackson

It’s rare that my toddler will instantly take to music that she hasn’t already seen on TV, but that’s just what happened when I pressed play on A World of Happiness. No Wheels on the Bus here, this is an album entirely filled with original messages of kindness, compassion and tolerance, all brought to life by an impressively diverse roster of celebs. The opener, the anthemic, inspiring Lou Rawls-led title song set the bar high from the get-go, and yet the rest of the album did not disappoint. My faves included a lively reggae tune from Debbie Harry (my...

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Shiny Happy People Dreaming Jam Band

Imagine if the B-52’s, Abba, REM and Devo moved into a house with four keyboards and a giant dress-up closet. And then imagine that they sang Beatles and Queen and Carpenters songs and sometimes rapped. Dream Jam Band is like that. One of them is related to Abraham Lincoln, one opened for The Who and sang with Bruce Springsteen, one was a Shakespearean actor, one is a music teacher, and one plays 87 instruments. So together, it’s not surprising that they make a sound that’s as eclectic as they are. Eclectic and joyful. When you and your kids start...

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Sing Your Math

One of my few claims to fame is that I can sing the twelve cranial nerves to the tune of My Favorite Things. Hey, it got me an A in anatomy and physiology. Chances are, you’ve used music to try to remember things too. Um. Like the alphabet? So you can’t knock teacher William Avery for creating catchy learning poems then setting them to music. If you’re a lover of traditional song fests then this probably isn’t for you. But if you’re into quirky, somewhat off-the-wall songs–43 of them, to be exact–that will get your kids singing their multiplication tables even...

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Royally Rocking

Right now, with writers striking and award shows canceling, we’re in need of some good entertaining. Thank goodness for Princess Katie & Racer Steve stepping in to save the day by pre-releasing Fast & Feisty, a fast (and feisty) tribute to all that’s great about kids music. The album features ten songs and four skits of pure musical goodness. Songs like Holidays swing, Sneakers rocks, The Pillow cha cha chas, while Go Go Go! uh, goes. And all the while, lead singer Princess Katie (nee Kathleen O’Sullivan) sings her big heart out with her perfected Natalie Merchant sound sprinkled...

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If Mama Can’t Go to the Sippy Cups, Bring the Sippy Cups to Mama

The one downside to The Sippy Cups‘ new concert DVD release, Electric Storyland Live at the Great American Music Hall is it just may bum your kids out – if only in that they’ll wish they were there instead of at home. That’s one heckuva show The Sippy Cups puts on. Think jugglers, outrageous costumes, whimsical story telling, engaging audience interaction. And of course at the center of it all, 16 wonderful songs that have made the six-member band a kids (and parents) favorite in their San Francisco hometown and beyond. Kids can’t help but dance (I think it...

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Kiss These CDs, They’re Irish

Enough with the four thousand versions of "Lullaby, and Goodnight" already. For something out of the ordinary but with the same lulling qualties, I’m loving Putumayo’s new compilation, Celtic Dreamland. The tracks fall on the opposite side of the energy spectrum from the upbeat jigs Celtic music has made famous. Instead you’ll get soothing, authentically Irish melodies that will gently carry your children off to the land of nod. Hopefully for a verrrrrrrrry long time.  Along the same lines, check out beautiful vocalist Julia Norton’s Lullaby Island, a truly sweet collection of 18 original and traditional bedtime tracks. Just...

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And The Award for Least Annoying Kids Music of 2007 Goes To…

If you have one long car ride to the in-laws planned this holiday season, or even one trip to the mall where you’re likely to get stuck in 16 hours of traffic just to get out of the parking lot, you might want to consider updating your savage kid-soothing music selection. Pronto. If you’re looking for a little guidance, we’re pleased to inform you that the results of the 2nd annual Fids & Kamily music poll are hot off the virtual presses. Voted on by a long list of kids music connoisseurs, DJs and artists, you’ll find the top...

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Peace, Love and the Blankies

I think we can all conjure up a few music artists today whose tunes are snappy, but whose life choices and lyrics might be a little, um… toxic. That’s why I dig the idea of cartoon character pop stars. For starters, their managers can make sure they’re focusing on the music. Plus, if they get out of line, no one will draw them in the next album. Meet The Blankies, the latest group in the toddler-rock invasion, featuring four "members" who each sing and play God only knows how many instruments. Each singer has a style and personality of...

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This Farm is Muy Loco

My younger daughter and I are commuting together these days. But my morning radio show of choice? Not so good for the under 5 set. Lately I’ve been mixing it up with some music and learning all in one with Professor Pocket: Our Silly Farm Adventure. This much lauded, award-winning CD was created by two sisters-in-law, and mixes English and Spanish dialogue through both spoken word and singing. The premise seemed odd at first (the characters are a talking chicken and, strangely, a dinosaur visiting a farm) but the seamless integration of languages works. The catchy songs about flying...

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And Another Generation Gets To Love Paul Simon

With a non-stop flow of kid’s music producers using all kinds of schtick to sell their (sometimes not-so-great) albums, it’s hard to track down simple music that you and your kids will want to sing along to. Apparently musical parents Rob and Lisi Wolf felt the same way. Already known for their successful Jewish music CD/DVD Oy Baby, they’ve collaborated on a new effort, That Baby CD: Acoustic rock Classics For Kids and the Grownups Who Love Them. The album (a soundtrack to their newly released That Baby DVD) features beautifully sung acoustic covers from Bob Marley to Fleetwood Mac...

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BFF

Who slipped that new indie rock album into my car’s CD player? Oh wait, that’s no indie rock album, that’s kids’ music. From a duo called Ellen and Matt. Who knew? Their very enjoyable CD, Best Friends has been compared to songsters as diverse as the Pixies, the Carpenters, and early REM–which sort of puzzled me until I heard it myself. Every song has its own vibe, and yet it all truly holds together–Juice Box Rock is like something you could playing on Guitar Hero, Airplane definitely has that Michael Stipe groove going and if the energetic Bounce doesn’t...

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