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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FREE MUSIC: Somethin’s cookin’! Thanksgiving Playlist before the feast!

Thanksgiving is the holiday before the holiday rush starts. It’s the pause, the calm before the holiday storm. Although, this year it felt like Christmas started the day after Halloween as Christmas villages, gold garland and colorful striped candy canes made a fresh appearance on fully stocked shelves.

As I was thinking more about today’s post, the general food theme, and the feast that comes along with the upcoming holiday, three words came to mind: comfort, memories and gratitude. Each of the following songs filled me with an unexpected eagerness for the holidays. Feelings of comfort flooded through my body as I thought about spending time with family I don’t get to see very often. Memories of being glued to the television, wide-eyed, watching big balloons float along in the parade filled me with joy. Gratitude for accomplishments, friends and the love that I am surrounded by every day swelled my heart. Sure, there’s a bit of wacky in there, too, but what would the holidays be without a bit of madness?!

It’s funny to think that songs, related to food, would bring forth these emotions, but that’s the power of music! And now I get to share them with you. As Cathy Fink says in her song below, “Bon Appétit!”

Spread the love by sharing these tracks with your family and friends. Download the Soundcloud playlist for FREE through Friday, November 20, 2014 . If you like what you hear (I promise you will!) consider supporting the artists by clicking on their corresponding links below.

Having trouble playing the Soundcloud songs? Follow this link.

Song List

1. Kira Willey music – “The Mixing Bowl
2. LisaLoeb – “The Disappointing Pancake”
3. Heidi Swedeberg and the Sukey Jump Band – “My Cup Of Tea”
4. Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke – “Eggplant Man
5. Brady Rymer – “Picky Eater
6. Danny Weinkauf – “Whipped Cream
7. Okee Dokee Brothers – “Big Rock Candy Mountain
8. Cathy Fink – “Bon Appetit

Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips – “Gratitude

Naturally, Mista Cookie Jar, Miss Ava Flava and the rest of the Chocolate Chip crew bring heartfelt words with a big bang of soul. On the below track, MCJ gets brassy with the sax, adding some pizazz to the mix (this guy has endless talent!) while reminding us to “give thanks” by spreading our love everywhere because “Gratitude is contagious“! So true! Check out the rest of the song’s lyrics here.

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Check this out: Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke – Animal Tales

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Welcome to the Kingdom of Animalia! Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke (KWMC) are back and this time they have a whole new cast of animal characters for you to meet. Animal Tales is the duo’s fourth album and one that you should expect to spend a lot of time with because it’s just that good. We have had it on repeat for over a month now and I still learn something new with every spin. Em liked it so much that she illustrated her own book featuring every animal from the album. Now that’s love! She even insisted on contributing her own thoughts “for other kids!” which is featured at the end of this review.

As always, the brilliance of KWMC’s work can be found within the fine-tuned details. Whether it’s Wilde’s gorgeous illustration that graces the album’s cover or the skillful way each song is constructed, it’s clear that this talented duo puts a ton of thought into their work. 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 that are cleverly matched to a variety of animal personalities. The songs are rich with fun animal facts that also include the 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. “The Buck Stops Here,” is a prime example of these guys totally nailing it.

I heard that the buck stops here/ They tell me that the buck stops here/ But I’ve been here for a year/ And I Ain’t seen a single deer/ Gotta move on it’s time to roam/ But I’ll wait until the cows come home/ Heard that the buck stops here/ …/I’m waiting ’til the cows to come home/ But the cows may never come home/ It’s a waste of time and I’ll tell you why/ Cows will come home when pigs can fly… /Some say pigs can fly/ Others say it’s just a lie/ Never seen a pig in the sky/ But the doctor says pigs can fly/ Doctor said it so it must be true/ Doctor said “Swine flu.”

“Larry the Lobster” also includes a brief quip which gets me smiling every time. When Herman the Hermit Crab moves to a new shell, he bids his anemone friends farewell by saying, “With friends like me who needs anemones?

While most of the 13 tracks on the album relate to animal stories, there is also support for wildlife conservation, reminding us of the challenges animal’s face whether it’s due to population decline, habitat changes or environmental challenges. “The Bear Song,” one of our favorite songs, teaches about 8 species of bears throughout the world.There’s even a shout out for the sugary kind. Do you know the color of a Polar Bear’s skin or which bear sings her cubs to sleep? The song and its accompanying video were created in collaboration with the Woodlands Wildlife Refuge, a non-profilt wildlife rehabilitation facility dedicated to the care and release of orphaned and injured wildlife. Emily loves this song so much that she actually said to me “mama, be quiet and listen to the facts.” I mean, that’s for real.

Animals have always been a central theme with this duo. Animal Tales, in particular, was largely inspired by Wilde’s interest in animals from his own childhood and the intrigue they brought him. He explains,

As a child I was constantly drawing pictures of animals. I loved reading about animals and  observing them whenever possible. To me, each species expressed its own character and personality. Music was another big obsession and I suppose I made this record because I would have loved it when I was a kid.”

Animal tales is truly an album for families to share. Listeners will be treated to a musical expedition accompanied by a bountiful supply of fresh tracks that both educate and entertain. You’re always taken on a wild adventure with this dynamic duo which is exactly why we love them.

Emily’s Take: They always know what to do about soaring things in the sky and on land. Bears, birds and bees, squirrels and frogs. Things you don’t know about animals you get to learn! They make children laugh. It’s kind of funny when you think about a cat named Beastapuss. Animal facts are fun.

Liner Notes:

– Animal Tales was produced by Grammy-winning producer Dean Jones
– Favorite songs: The Bear Song, Alligator Get-Together, Beastapuss
– 
Key Wilde has done artwork for Avanti Greeting Cards, the Central Park Conservancy and the Woodlands Wildelife Refuge which was featured in a book called Broke Leg Bear, a true story about a badly injured cub who was rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Learn more and purchase the book here.
– KWMC’s “Animal Alphabet” video has reached over 660,000 views! The song is also featured in a Mibblio app along with Wilde’s beautiful artwork.

Meet Armando Armadillo from last week’s video release and grab a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song.

You can purchase the album through Amazon, or iTunes.

Make sure to follow Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke for updates via Facebook and Twitter!

 

Watch This + Free Download! “Armando Armadillo” by Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke

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Today’s video premiere and free download is for the song “Armando Armadillo” by Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke (KWMC). It’s also just one of many entertaining stories from their latest release, Animal Tales.

What you will love about it: The illustrations and animation, clever sense of humor and wacky Armadillo facts! Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke’s attention to detail is what consistently sets them apart. What you will find in this video, as well as the rest of Animal Tales, is KWMC’s uncanny ability to tap into a rich, imaginative space that takes listeners/viewers on an adventure along with the characters they create. By presenting a relatable narrative, paired with beautiful artwork, viewers will feel as though Armando is their friend.

What you should know: “Armando Armadillo” is a cautionary tale about a hard working Armadillo who lives with is wife and 12 children (3 sets of identical quadruplets) in a Nacogdoches (Texas) burrow.

Armando has to make daily treks across the busy Highway 21 to get to his job as a gardener which could prove dangerous since armadillos instinctively jump straight up into the air when they get spooked. Even a suit of plated armor is no match for oncoming traffic! But, as the lyrics say “that’s just the way it goes/ For armadillos.”

Viewers will get a chuckle as they are introduced to Armando’s family through a Brady Bunch style grid and as they watch Armando weave his way across the highway with Frogger-like style.

Behind the Scenes: The entire video was illustrated and animated by Key Wilde. Grammy winning producer, Dean Jones, joins in on the guitarron contributing to the Mexican flair of the song.

Want to learn more? Of course you do! Head on over to Facebook and “like” Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke’s page to stay up to date with what they are working on and where you can see them perform. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Key Wilde has done artwork for Avanti Greeting Cards, the Central Park Conservancy and the Woodlands Wildlife Refuge all of which can be found in Key Wilde’s portfolio. I highly recommend checking out his work, as well as KWMC’s Animal Alphabet iPad app and “Animal Alphabet” video.

Stay tuned for my full review of Animal Tales which is akin to an audio version of a National Geographic Kids magazine.

In the meantime, you can download “Armando Armadillo” for free through the Soundcloud link below.

Check this out: Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke “Animal Alphabet” and new Mibblio mibblet

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It’s National Reading Month and to celebrate Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke you can listen to a bit of their rockin’ song, “Animal Alphabet” from their highly acclaimed release, Pleased to Meet You.

Additionally, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke have paired up with Mibblio to produce an Animal Alphabet mibblet (Mibblio’s animated musical story book) for iPhones and the iPad

Through gorgeous illustrations and clever use of alliteration, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke’s “Animal Alphabet” sets in motion the foundation for language development and reading. Although there are many renditions of the alphabet song out there, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke quickly capture their audience’s attention with creative language like “…nautical narwhals nuzzling noses.” And thanks to Mibblio’s interactive musical interface, kids can jam along with the animal alphabet band, too. When we were done jammin’ with the band, Em and I made good use of the mibblet’s pause button to practice reading at our own pace while further admiring Key Wilde’s glorious artwork.

This is one artistically arranged animal alphabet adventure you won’t want to miss.
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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.

View This: “Rattling Can” – Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke

61SWz4FRpXL._SL500_AA280_Although, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke just released the adventurous Pleased to Meet You, I couldn’t wait to post this video once I read a portion of the bio from their site. From their 2010 release, Rise and Shine, “Rattling Can” deconstructs a bottle of juice right down to the quarks that make up its composition.

Usually I like to add my own commentary, but I think reading about the song, in KWMC’s own words, really sums up the energy of it all.

“They had seen it all before. An overzealous fan rushes the stage, grabs a microphone stand and begins rocking it back and forth in wild abandon. Mr. Clarke, no stranger to pain, continues to sing and play without missing a beat as the microphone smacks him repeatedly in the teeth. But the year is not 1983 and the setting is not a dark basement club on the Lower East Side. A new millennium has dawned and Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke are performing their first official kids concert at the Garden Preschool Cooperative in Jersey City. The enthusiastic fan was a five-year-old preschool graduate carried away by the energy and rhythm of the “Rattling Can”. The show was an unqualified success and Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke felt they had finally found their true audience.”

Learn more about this dynamic duo at their official site and purchase Pleased to Meet You through Amazon and iTunes.

[Video courtesy of wildebor via YouTube]