Not really sure what Amazon's been thinkin', but somebody last month must have said, "Hey, you know what would be cool? Free kids' music!" And, then, actually followed through on that idea, because now there are a handful of free EPs for the digital downloading, with easily 15 to 20 good songs worth your time. Justin Roberts leads the pack with his, er, Snack Pack EP, featuring songs from 5 of his albums. You probably have some of these already, but maybe not the earlier songs ("Little Raindrop" or "Billy the Bully"), and if you don't have any of them, then get over there pronto. The real find in the craziness is Roberts' fellow Chicagoans Bloodshot Records' Fun For All Ages sampler, which includes seven tracks from four fine albums, Songs for Wiggleworms, Wiggleworms Love You, Animal Crackers, and The Bottle Let Me Down. Do not hesitate in picking up this album, the Alejandro Escovedo track is especially lovely. But that's not all. VeggieTales aren't for everyone (particularly if you're not religious and you're listening to their Bible-based stuff), but their silly secular stuff can be fun no matter your denomination or lack thereof. Their Five Super Silly Songs EP is exactly that; it includes versions of a couple songs that were big hits on Kids Place Live, "The Hairbrush Song" and "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything." What's that? You want more? How about some Sesame Street? Their Amazon sampler has a more energetic version of "Ladybugs' Picnic" than you might be familiar with (but it's still good) and also features "What's the Name of that Song?" You can also pick up an EP from the Wiggles as well as a Cedarmont collection and a sampler from a Rockabye Baby-style knockoff called "Cradle Rock." Not my thing, those last two, but your mileage may vary.
Well, it's that time of year when folks all across this great Interwebs of ours put together listings of Christmas and other holiday-themed lists. And I'm no different. I haven't bothered to put together a "most essential" list of holiday albums -- rather, here's a list of some CDs that have crossed my desk over the past year... If you need to see last year's list, go here. You can also read a 2006 essay here. (Yes, that Sufjan Stevens collection is still getting lots of airplay 'round these parts...) Let's start out with the clear winner of the kids' music holiday competition -- Wee Hairy Beasties' Holidays Gone Crazy. This isn't really a winter holiday collection as it contains a fair number of tracks from their Creepy Lullabies Halloween 7", but it does have a few Christmas tracks -- the why-didn't-I-think-of-that "Dinosaur Christmas" (as gloriously jolly and dorky as you'd expect) and its predecessor "The Tail of the Night Before..." But it's also got non-holiday-themed tracks like "Here Comes My Shadow" and "Bury Me in the Sand." Filled with the Beasties' trademark Americana (washboards, harmonicas, kazoos, and lap steel guitar, for example) and 5th-grade-humor (what do you expect from an album with a "Yellow Snow PSA"?), it's definitely not for the reverential times. You can get it in a physical format a lot of places, but at this late date, why not get it electronically here? But even if you get it in February, you might just listen all year long.
I told you last week about the two new releases from the wonderful Wee Hairy Beasties. Jon Langford, Sally Timms, and Kelly Hogan, backed up by Devil in a Woodpile, are giving their bug-sized slice of Americana another shot, this time with a Halloween take, on their Creepy Lullabies double-single/EP. And you can now go hear for yourself. Get yourself on over to their Myspace page to give five new songs a spin. "Wee Scary Beasties" gives their theme song a twist, "Creepy Lullaby" is a gentle, ever-so-slightly-askew, lullaby, and "Monster's Disco" would be, if there was any justice in this world, a massive novelty hit. "The Lonely Vampire" and "Pumpkinhead" also make an appearance. In addition, there are some more details about that second full-length. It's entitled Holidays Gone Crazy, and it's set to be released Nov. 4. It appears that many (all?) of the Halloween songs will make an appearance on this full CD, along with more traditional songs such as "Dinosaur Christmas." (What? That's not a traditional Christmas song? Well, maybe it will be.) Anyway, go listen.
Word from Sally Timms (AKA Monkey Double-Dippey) that the Wee Hairy Beasties will have not one but two albums coming out in the next 2-3 months. The first is Creepy Lullabies, a double 7" single which will be released Oct. 14 on their own, new Wee Beatz Records and credited to -- get this -- the "Wee Scary Beasties." Ha! Timms promises "songs about lonely vampires, monsters busting a move, and a... veggie-patch dweller named Pumpkinhead." It's on vinyl, but there will be digital downloads available for those of us who aren't hip enough to have kept their record player. (You know what, they totally need to start releasing kids' songs on this kind of vinyl.) The second album is a Christmas/holidays-themed album, which I believe will bypass the vinyl stage. Because I love you guys, I'm gonna give you some recently-recorded Wee Hairy Beastie YouTubage... And one more "Wild Thing"...
The third quarterfinal matchups sees "Willy Was A Whale" from Justin Roberts, the #1 seed in the Woody Guthrie Region against "Toenail Moon" - Wee Hairy Beasties, the #3 seed. Vote in the comments below. Rules: Video with most votes wins. One vote per e-mail address, please. Votes due by Tuesday 11 PM-ish East Coast time. "Willy Was A Whale" - Justin Roberts "Toenail Moon" - Wee Hairy Beasties
Our first matchup on the third day of KidVid Tournament 2007 pits the #2 seed in the Woody Guthrie Region, "I Found It!" from Brady Rymer against the #3 seed, "Toenail Moon" from Wee Hairy Beasties. Vote in the comments below. Rules: Video with most votes wins. One vote per e-mail address, please. Votes due by Tuesday 6 PM-ish East Coast time. [Note: Hey, I can embed both videos here! Thanks, Internet-friendly kids' musicians and labels!] "I Found It!" - Brady Rymer "Toenail Moon" - Wee Hairy Beasties