Whenever I hear about a new "alternative" kids album, I grab it off the shelf, listen hopefully to the acoustic arrangement of "Sheri Had a Little Lamb" (or whatever) and bang my discerning ear drums against a wall. To me, music should be serious business. And by business, I mean something more tolerable than your average American Idol tryout. More artistic integrity, less Sanjaya.
So much to my delight, I recently found a gallery of musical goodness created for kids and parents alike simply called Play. This new DeSoto Records collection of original and inspired children’s songs was written and performed by independent musicians from the D.C., Portland and Seattle areas including Mary Timony, Mirah, Tara Jane O’Neil, Mudhoney and Georgie James.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of any of them–it just means you have a great opening ahead of you. Because the entire eclectic album, which took three years to make, is smart, and entirely enjoyable no matter how much you know about the artists. Click over for a couple of free downloads and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Bottom line: This collection is beyond terrific. It’s the most artful children’s music I’ve ever come across. Each cool song is like a little masterpiece that you’ll want to display prominently on your iPod playlist. –Laura


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