A Sleigh-Load of Christmas/Holiday CD Reviews

There's so much holiday music in the kids music genre that just listening to it all this year was a daunting task. I've got eight albums that grabbed my attention in one way or another; one of them is bound to please your family (unless you're looking for a solstice, Kwanzaa, or Festivus album). Let's start out with my 3 favorite albums of this particular season... KindieChristmas.jpgThe most ambitious kids music holiday album of the year comes courtesy of The Hipwaders, whose A Kindie Christmas isn't so much an album of Christmas music as much as it is a Christmas concept album, covering the emotions and anticipation of the season. It's a collection of all-original tunes, done in the Hipwaders power-pop/rock style. "It's Wintertime" is a great dance tune, and "Santa's Train" sounds like an outtake to a Johnny Cash Christmas album, but my favorite track here, maybe of the season, is "There's Too Much Good," a very affirming sentiment at this time of year. AndAHappyNewYear.jpgTo say that the collaboration of Danny Adlerman, Kevin Kameraad, and Yosi finally bridges the divide between Christian and Jewish holiday traditions makes ...And a Happy New Year sound a lot duller than it really is. In reality, the three kids rockers mostly take turns in providing songs, alternately deeply sincere ("Starlight" and "Two Sets of Footprints") and goofy (the "12 Days of Christmas" reworking "A Pickle for my Christmas Tree" and a cover of Tom Lehrer's "I'm Spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica"). Featuring the season's hardest-rocking tune, the trio's cover of "Frosty the Snowman," it's an interfaith collection worth exploring regardless of whether you light menorah or advent candles. ExpressYourElf.jpgRobert Burke Warren, AKA Uncle Rock, spent time in London's West End performing a Broadway show but also rocked in far earthier terms. On Express Your Elf, Warren taps into both of those performing personalities. On the one hand, he offers a crooning take on "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and a peaceful "My Favorite Things" (a perfect holiday song, when you think about it). Those tracks share space with the rootsy original long-lost nugget "Santa's Coming in a Whirlybird" and a cover of "Feliz Navidad" that neatly weaves "La Bamba" into the mix. It's a tough (and close) call, but it's my favorite kids music holiday disk of the year. There are others for your listening pleasure. Read on for more...

Two For One (OK, Three. Sort Of.)

A brief note about an interesting-sounding show tonight in New Jersey. Danny Adlerman and Yosi are appearing at the same show tonight in Metuchen, New Jersey, opening up for Mr. Ray. That by itself wouldn't necessarily lead to a mention here, but what I love about it is that Danny and Yosi are going to play each other's songs. It's kind of like a kids' music hoot night except that it's two artists, not the more typical one, and the hooted artists are actually on stage together, and other people aren't singing. So, really, nothing like a hoot night at all. But still kinda cool.

Review: Listen UP! - Danny Adlerman & Friends

ListenUp.jpgNew Jersey-based Danny Adlerman is part of the kids' music equivalent of the Rat Pack (or the Brat Pack, or the Frat Pack, depending on your generation) -- along with Kevin Kammeraad and Jim Dague of ScribbleMonster, they seem to be responsible for about 10% of the kids' music released every year, and they all seem to be on each other's albums. Adlerman's latest contribution to the genre is the recently-released Listen UP!, and while Dague isn't here, Kevin Kammeraad and a whole host of others join in. One benefit of having such a large extended musical family is a sense of familiarity blended with a diverse set of approaches. Although the songs are typically squarely in the rock tradition (the Who-inflected "Veggie Song," for example, or the big guitar-pop of "Crooked"), the musicians also tackle a few less straightforward songs such as the call-and-response game of "Flea Fly." In either case, the band sounds great together, especially on my favorite track, the goofy wordplay of "The Dozsins." I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention Jim Babjak from the Smithereens, who plays on the album and co-wrote 5 of the album's songs. A couple of the tracks -- "In the Future" and "Somewhere I Wonder" sound like they could have fit into a Smithereens album without much rewriting. Lyrically, those songs don't have an obvious "kids' music" stamp too them. Other songs, feature topics like eating pizza ("Too Much Pizza Blues") and the hundredth day of school (the old-timey "Hundred's Day," natch). Overall, the album is nice blend of songs targeted right at the kids and songs less age-specific. I think the album is most appropriate for kids ages 5 through 9. You can hear samples from the 37-minute album at its CDBaby page. I hope Danny Adlerman keeps hanging out with his friends, because he's got a good thing going on musically. With a gentle sense of humor and playfulness, Listen UP! will be popular with many families looking for an album of kid-appropriate rock-n-roll. Recommended.

Songs For Groundhog Day

A last-minute collection of songs for Groundhog Day, a short-but-sweet list: "I Hog the Ground (Groundhog Song)" - Steve Burns / Steven Drozd: view the YouTube video for this awesome song here "Oh Groundhog" - Elizabeth Mitchell / Lisa Loeb: Off their Catch the Moon album, this is a pleasant and mellow little ditty "How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?" - Danny Adlerman and Friends: It's not really a groundhog song, but this is a fun little ditty off their One Size Fits All disk that at least mentions groundhogs...