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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Video: “L-O-V-E You” – Play Date

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Recently, Play Date released a video and it’s L-O-V-E-L-Y. Together, Gregory Attonito and Shanti Wintergate (husband-wife duo) capture the spirit, mystery, playfulness and omnipresence of love. It’s such a sweet video to accompany an equally heartwarming song.

Take a listen and then go spread some of that warmth to the loved one(s) in your life.

“L-O-V-E You” is a single from Play Date’s most recent release We All Shine which can be purchased through Play Date’s merch site.

Watch This: “The Number Song” by Play Date

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Check out this new video by Play Date! It’s for “The Number Song,” from their debut children’s album, Imagination. Set on the beach, husband-and-wife duo, Greg Attonito (The Bouncing Souls) and singer-songwriter, Shanti Wintergate, tell the tale of how the number one won the race of numbers.

What you’ll love about it: These two are more fun than a barrel of monkeys (just check out Attonito’s serious dance moves)! They are equally playful and full of zest, which is what makes their music so appealing to kids (and grown-ups). “The Number Song,” is an example of how this duo thoughtfully brings familiar concepts to life (see also “XYZ,” chosen for a Nordstrom digital commercial). By teaching counting through storytelling and visual cues, Play Date cleverly lays the foundation for kids to have fun while learning. The joy of childhood is very much alive in in the sounds of Play Date’s music.

Want to learn more? Of course you do! Play Date will be releasing a vinyl version a2013637842_10of Imagination through their label Fun Fun Records in early 2015.

Holiday gift guide: In the spirit #SmallBizSaturday and #IndiesFirst, you can support Play Date by purchasing the album, Imagination, through the Bandcamp widget below.

When you purchase their Eco-Friendly Digipak CD you get a colorful piece of art, perfect for hanging in a child’s bedroom, and a coloring booklet. Artwork by Shanti Wintergate and Zak Kaplan.

Wintergate and Attonito are authors! Keep your imagination flowing by reading the children’s book responsible for inspiring the creation of their band, as well as the songs on their album. “I Went for a Walk,” winner of a 2014 Child’s Magazine award, is a chapter book that takes children on an adventure through space where they have fantastic experiences in different worlds. Each page is made up of Attonito’s fanciful paintings. I Went for a Walk is available through Amazon and Chunksaah Records.

Tune in: Happy Halloween playlist that will lift your spirits!

FullSizeRenderAs the days creep closer and closer to Halloween, we are firing up our playlist and enjoying not-so-terrifying tunes as we parade around in our costumes and finish decorating our jack-o-lanterns.

Below the Spotify playlist you will also find a new video by Todd McHatton and a groovy new song from Charity and the Jam Band called “Halloween” delivering the most essential reminder: No matter what you’re gonna be for Halloween, you can still dance in your costume!

Enjoy!

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If you like what you hear, please consider supporting these artists by purchasing/downloading these songs through the links below. Please note that these links are also affiliate links which help support this blog.

Monsters” by Jazzy Ash (from Home)

Monster Boogie” by Laurie Berkner (from Buzz Buzz and The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)

“Dance LIke A Monster” by Play Date (from Imagination)

“Costume Party” by The Pop Ups (from Appetite for Construction)

“Them Bones (feat. Outtasite)” by Caspar Babypants (from Sing Along!)

“Always Be A Unicorn” by Helen Austin (from Always Be A Unicorn)

“Every Little Monster” by Todd McHatton (from Super Audio Sunshine)

“Gettin’ Down On Halloween” by Boxtop Jenkins (fromYou’re Happier When You’re Happy)

“Three Little Pumpkins” by Little Miss Ann (from Follow Me)

“Five Little Pumpkins” by Raffi (from Singable Songs for the Very Young)

“Scared Scare Crow” by Caspar Babypants (from Hot Dog!)

“Where Do Monsters Go?” by Ratboy Jr. (from Champions of the Universe)

“Confusing Costume” by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights (from Good Egg)

“I’m Not Afraid Anymore” by Papa Crow (from Things That Roar)

Want more Halloween fun, check out the Halloween Digest featuring videos by The Hipwaders, Mista Cookie Jar and Play Date and a fun Halloween word activity!

Halloween Digest 2014: Part 1 – Videos and Activities!

I love Halloween and all the preparation, spooky tales, trick or treating adventures and the rest of the absurdity that goes along with it. Today’s post is the start of a few posts related to this holiday. We’ll start with some videos, round things up with a monster dance party, and end with a book suggestion and fun Halloween activity. The party is just getting started! Fill your treat bucket with a Halloween playlist full of fresh tunes that will lift your spirits!

The HipwadersPumpkinhead” –  The legend of Pumpkinhead muhahaha… Actually, this is a fun, cautionary tale about the consequences of eating too much candy. The Hipwaders relay this tale with a smooth, reggae beat making it hip for Halloween. A great song and terrific video featuring a rotating set of vintage Halloween postcards. I want some of those in my pillowcase!

Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips – “Halloween Every Night” – This haunt floats in with some surf-rock grooves as Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips present a “spirited” video featuring a cast of spooky characters having fun together on Halloween night. There’s a bit of retro fancy in this video as well when the colorful crew takes to the “Spooky Movies” where they are presented with clips of classic freaks from the past (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Munsters even show up). Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans might feel a bit of nostalgia here as the monsters’ silhouettes are superimposed at the bottom of the scene in a similar fashion. The entire concept, drawing and animation was done by Mista Cookie Jar and family. Very cool.

Play Date – “Dance Like A Monster” – This is a classic and I encourage you and your family to “get your monster boogie on” with the rest of the Ghouligans in this video. There’s even a call to “let our your monster cry!” A perfect addition to a Halloween playlist and impromptu monster mash dance parties.

Additional Halloween Fun

UnknownWhen you’re through with dancing, check out “Glad Monster, Sad Monster” an awesome book that helps kids channel and communicate their emotions. This book goes through what makes each monster happy, glad, sad, mad, scared, etc, and then prompts kids to put on the monster masks and express their feelings in the same way. One of our favorites!

 

 

Looking for a fun activity? Do some Halloween Word Mining! Read this PBS Parents feature by Jeff Bogle from Out With The Kids for instructions and a printable activity sheet to get you started. http://www.pbs.org/parents/adventures-in-learning/2014/10/halloween-word-mining/

Rockin’ ABCs: “Rock n’ Roll ABCs” – Kristin Kellner and “XYZ” – Play Date

As much as I have heard the ABCs, and sung them (backwards and forwards), I am always pleased when artists come up with their own unique versions. Below are two that we encountered recently that are worth mentioning.

celbrateKristin Kellner – Rock n’ Roll ABCs

San Francisco singer-songwriter, Kristin Kellner, serves up a fun version of the alphabet with eye pleasing animation (hat tip to Jovanna Tosello) and some rock n’ roll swagger. Each letter is attached to a word which makes this song an excellent vehicle for supporting language and literacy skills. Rock n’ Roll ABCs is perfect visual aid  for little ones just learning the song, toddlers ready to recognize letters, as well as big boys and girls who are ready to practice reading and writing.

Rock n’ Roll ABCs can be found on Kellner’s children’s music debut, Obstacle Course, which she hopes will  “prompt family jam sessions and inspire budding musicians everywhere to pick up an instrument and ROCK!” Check her out!

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1406833827653Play Date – “XYZ”
Keeping on the alphabet rock tip, Play Date’s “XYZ,” from their NPR featured album Imagination, features Shanti Wintergate’s sweet voice with even sweeter lyrics: “J is for Joy..to the world/K is for Kindness for every boy and girl.”

While “XYZ” does not have an original video, Nordstrom loved the song so much that they created their own Back to School 2014 version for a commercial called “The A-Z Life.” Pretty stylin’!

Congrats Play Date!

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