Top 20 Albums & Honorable Mentions

Happy New Year! I’ve been tinkering for weeks about whether to put together a “best of” list. Lists have never been my thing, but this week when I pulled up past interviews, reviews and music, I was quickly reminded that 2015 was in fact another incredible year in kids’ music. So, let’s do this thing!

The list below represents a sampling of the 20 best albums from 2015 plus one from 2014 (because I included my picks for the Fids and Kamily Awards which considers albums between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015) and a few honorable mentions. The albums are presented in no particular order, and are personal favorites of mine and those of my 7-year-old daughter Emily. They appeal to families who love music, the adventure of finding more of it, and parents who want to foster a love of music in their own kin. This, for me, is the big enchilada. It’s what I enjoy most about being a part of the industry and covering it for you.  Take 10 minutes and sample a few songs on each album. I promise you’ll find more than one to love, regardless of your age.


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Pointed Man BandFlight of the Blue Whale (Interview)

[Flight of the Blue Whale] is eccentric. There is a meticulousness in the overall composition that captured my attention, in addition to the variety of instrumentation. Waltzes serve as segues, buoyantly carrying the listener along, while nontraditional objects are used to emphasize critical pieces of the story, e.g. Drinking glasses sonically illustrating weightlessness as a baleen whale takes flight.

 


Animal-Tales-Cover_smKey Wilde & Mr. Clarke – Animal Tales (Review)

Imagine if you were to open a National Geographic Kids or Ranger Rick magazine and there was music playing on each page. Animal Tales takes the pages of these beloved magazines and brings them to life with soundtracks cleverly matched to a variety of animal personalities. Each song is rich with fun animal facts, infused with the artists’ lovable sense of humor and clever ability to play with words and phrases, making it one of the most listenable and entertaining albums out there.

 


51TlHTX-0hL._SL500_AA280_Big Block Singsong – Greatest Hits (Interview)

The musical variety of Big Block SingSong is tremendous and the lyrics are insightful and amusing, A block with a German accent singing in euro-funk style about hair; a monkey snapping off bluegrass-y lyrics about a “Two Banana Day”; and, with a catchy indie-pop backdrop, caveman named Dave pointing out that an erupting volcano is a hot mess. These are just a few of the priceless gems you’ll find in this collection.


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Check this out: Cat Doorman – Calling All the Kids to the Yard!

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Cat Doorman (aka Julianna Bright) is back with a new EP! Calling All the Kids to the Yard! takes a quick little jaunt through a garden of fresh, rockin’ songs. Making a perfect companion to the ethereal Songbook, Bright’s kindie music debut, Calling All the Kids to the Yard! kicks things up a notch with 4 sprightly tracks eager to make you dance.

One of the many things I admire about Bright’s music is the cohesion between the vocals and instrumentation. Accents such as the piano or hand claps are perfectly timed and in sync with the meter of the song, as well as Bright’s bouncy vocals. There is clearly a lot of thought put into the production of her work!

Each track, infused with beautiful themes such as peace, love, kindness, and wonder, are filtered through inspiring words that are refreshing to hear.

“Drink this cup” picks up where “Peaceful” (from Songbook) left off. “Peaceful” ends with the lyrics “This life we choose, it fills our cup/ This life we choose, it gives so much,and “Drink this Cup” opens with Bright gratefully declaring that it’s time to “Drink this loving cup” and be nourished by the beauty life has to offer. “Wake Up” encourages kids to move through their day with kindness and an open heart while the title track encourages community building and care for the environment. “All the Pretty Little Horses,” is taken from a saunter to a canter as it urges you to “Kick up your hooves” and shake your tail, which you certainly will. Bright’s playful take on this classic showcases her hip style and dynamic range as a musician.

I love Bright’s style and am really enjoying the upbeat swing of this EP. Calling All the Kids to the Yard! is the first in a series of 4 seasonal EPs that are set to release over the course of this year. You can purchase this digital only release through the Bandcamp widget below.


For more Cat Doorman, check out Bright’s recent DJ spot on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, and her interview with the The Oregonian.

FREE MUSIC: Kick Out the Jammies: Various Artists

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I’ve gone through many a compilation over the years and sometimes a compilation can greatly succeed all expectations and other times, not so much. Finding that one compilation that contains stellar music, organized in just the right way, is priceless. Burnside Distribution recently released their second compilation, Kick Out the Jammies, containing 11 rockin’ tracks from kindie artists such as Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke, The Verve Pipe, Caspar Babypants, Recess Monkey, The Not-Its!, The Harmonica Pocket, Cat Doorman, Miss Nina and several other wonderful artists that make our souls come alive with the sound of music.

Even better, the compilation is FREE. See, priceless!

Download Kick Out The Jammies from Amazon here.

NOTE: This is Burnside Distribution’s first compilation, released in 2011, is also full of kindie music featuring some of the same artists as mentioned above. “Plays Well Together” can be found via Amazon and is also free.

California’s Tricycle Music Fest 2013 – Back and Bigger Than Before!

Tricycle Music Fest 2013 opens on September 7 and 8 with The Not-Its!

Summer may be quickly moving into Fall but the Bay Area is about to heat up as the most supreme family music festival hits the West Coast. Taking place every weekend in September, October and early November, the 5th annual Tricycle Music Fest will peddle its way through 28 libraries for a total of 29 FREE concerts featuring 9 award-winning performers (full schedule below). Think indie music– family style– and libraries and you have the essence of Tricycle Music Fest.

This year, Tricycle Music Fest makes its debut in San Mateo County as the San Francisco Public Library and the San Mateo County Library partner up to make this the biggest version of the festival to date. Christy Estrovitz, early literacy coordinator for San Francisco Public Library, says “Music unites us all. For young children, musical experiences, including singing and dancing, are essential to build early literacy skills. It’s thrilling to work with San Mateo County Library to engage even more families through music at the library.”

Because playing is just as important as singing in early childhood learning, there will be a raffle offering one tricycle to a lucky concertgoer at each event. All the more reason to skip the nap, grab your boogie shoes and catch a show!

The Not-Its! to open Tri Fest the weekend of September 7 and 8 with 4 shows!

Remember your first rock concert? Now your kids can too as Seattle’s most rockingest band, The Not-Its!, open this year’s Tri Fest with a bang! Armed with an energetic blend of power pop and serious rock n’ roll, this fashionable quintet puts the phrase “shake your sillies out” to shame. Curious? Get to know The Not-Its! in this clever video put together by the San Francisco Library and the San Mateo Library.

For more information on Tricycle Music Fest, please visit sfpl.org/tricycle and smcl.org/tricycle.

Also, stay tuned to this site for more updates, videos and music from each of these awesome bands.

TRICYCLE MUSIC FEST SCHEDULE:

The Not-Its!

Saturday, September 7at 11 am, Mission Branch Library

Saturday, September 7at 3 pm, Portola Branch Library

Sunday, September 8 at 11 am, Mission Blue Center in Brisbane

Sunday, September 8 at 2 pm, Belmont Library

The Corner Laughers

Saturday, September 14 at 11 am, Parkside Branch Library

Saturday, September 14 at 2 pm, Portola Valley Library

Saturday, November 2 at 1 pm, San Carlos Library

The Hipwaders

Saturday, September 21 at 11 am Redwood City Fair Oaks Library

Saturday, September 21 at 3 pm, Presidio Branch Library

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Saturday, September 28 at 11 am, Half Moon Bay Library

Saturday, September 28 at 3 pm, Portero Branch Library

Sunday, September 29 at 1:30 pm Pacifica Fog Fest

The Okee Dokee Brothers

Saturday, October 5 at 10:30 am, Foster City Library

Saturday, October 5 at 1 pm, Ortega Branch Library

Saturday, October 5 at 4 pm, Bernal Heights Library

Sunday, October 6 at 11 am, Pescadero Elementary School

Cat Doorman

Saturday, October 12 at 11 am, Excelsior Branch Library

Saturday, October 12 at 2 pm, Woodside Library

Sunday, October 13 at 3 pm, Marina Branch Library

The Pop Ups

Saturday, October 19 at 1:30 pm, Park Branch Library

Saturday, October 19 at 4 pm, Merced Branch Library

Saturday, October 19 at 10 am, Brisbane Library

Sunday, October 20 at 3 pm, Atherton Library

Alison Faith Levy

Sunday, October 20 at 3 pm, West Portal Branch Library

Aaron Nigel Smith, Finale Weekend

Saturday, October 26 at 3 pm, Western Addition Branch Library

Saturday, October 26 at 11 am, East Palo Alto Library

Sunday, October 27 at 10:30 am, Millbrae Library

Sunday, October 27 at 3 pm, Main Library, Koret Auditorium

Summer Songs

It’s heating up here on the West Coast and we’ve been spending alot of time in the car searching for cooler places.  As such, we have been racking up a list of some summer songs that take our minds to a better place and off the scorching introduction to summer.

Below is a Spotify playlist of just some of our favorites.  It includes old and new tunes we hope you’ll enjoy.

KidQuake! – The Not-Its! from KidQuake!
The Ground – Underbirds from Underbirds
The Seven Cs – Recess Monkey from Deep Sea Diver
Sailing – Ratboy Jr. from Champions of the Universe
A Bailar – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band from ¡fantastico!
Go! – Alphabet Rockers from Go!
Bikeride (Bonus Track) – Vered from Good Morning My Love
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke from Pleased To Meet You
Big Wheel – The Pop Ups from Outside Voices
Bully Bully – Shine and the Moonbeams from Shine Your Shine
Sunshine Through My Window – Play Date from Imagination
We Just Wanna Have Fun – Milkshake from Got a Minute?
The Way It Goes – Grenadilla from Can’t Wait
Yes, We Have Rhythm – Lunch Money from Silly Reflection
Little Cloud (feat. Rachel Loshak) – Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights from Bandwagon
I Go – Mariana Iranzi from Hola Hello
Beautiful Mess – Kindiependent from The Happy Birthday EP
Turn Around – Cat Doorman from Songbook
Rain – Paul Spring from Home of Song

FREE Download: Summer 2013 Rockin’ Kindie Road Trip Playlist

Summer is a comin’ and having a soundtrack to go with it is an absolute must! The good news is that from now until June 1 you can download 13 rockin’ Kindie tracks for FREE. Normally, I would be wary of the number 13, but in this case I can honestly say 13 is a magic number!

Presented by BunchFamily and cleverly curated by Beth Benz-Claus, this list ebbs and flows like a fine mixtape (or digital playlist, in this case) should. You’ll find a variety of styles some of which include Americana, good ole Rock n’ Roll and even some Soul. Check the list and download now before time runs out!

“Wander Round the World” – Key Wilde and Mr Clarke from Pleased to Meet You
“Train Song” – Charlie Hope from I’m Me
“Outshining Nomads” – Dean Jones from When the World Was New
“Slow” – Trout Fishing in America from an unreleased album due out this summer.
“Hard Travelin'” – Alastair Moock (featuring The Okee Dokee Brothers) from an unreleased album due out this summer.
“She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” – Johnny Bregar from Putumayo Kids American Playground
“Honk Honk” – The Monkey Bunch from Power to the Little People
“My Green Kite” – Peter Himmelman from My Green Kite
“Let’s Skateboard” – The Not-Its! from KidQuake!
“Kilimanjaro” – Shine and the Moonbeams from unreleased album due out this summer
“Turn Around” – Cat Doorman from Cat Doorman Songbook
“Fruit Jar” – Justin Roberts from Pop Fly
“Down at the Sea Hotel” – The Secret Mountain

View This: Cat Doorman Live – Oregon Public Broadcasting

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Photo courtesy of OPB

The radio sounds a serenade that’s carrying us on
Surely it is my song 
Surely it is yours 
Surely it was made just for us all at once and all at once
Surely it is my poem surely it is yours
Let the meter move us, turn us, take us up and ever make us new…
-Cat Doorman

Those lyrics are from the song “Turn Around” from Cat Doorman Songbook, the debut children’s album by Portland’s Julianna Bright (known as Cat Doorman in the kindie world).  Between the eloquence with which Julianna Bright sings and the lyrics themselves, the song gives me chills every time I hear it.

I am so pleased to present to you some videos of Julianna and her band performing songs off of Cat Doorman Songbook, which just received a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award.  “Turn Around,” “Madame Claire” and “Whistling Song” are performed live from her living room and sound just as eloquent as they do on the record while Julianna delivers them ever so gracefully.  Her band does a stellar job accompanying her as well.

The videos were shot by Oregon Public Broadcasting as a feature in their Arts & Life section.

If you have not yet taken a listen to the The Cat Doorman Songbook, I highly recommend it.  The sounds and complexities of the songs provide an opportunity for children to connect with music on a deeper level with themes that relate to the earth, self-acceptence and love.  For more information, check out my review of the album, as well as view another video for “Inspiration,” a haunting track inspired by the birth of Julianna’s daughter.

Enjoy the videos below!

Turn Around by Cat Doorman from Cat Doorman on Vimeo.

Whistling Song by Cat Doorman from Cat Doorman on Vimeo.

Madame Claire by Cat Doorman from Cat Doorman on Vimeo.