Itty-Bitty Review: Ear Snacks: Songs from the Podcast - Andrew & Polly

Ear Snacks: Songs from the Podcast cover

Ear Snacks: Songs from the Podcast cover

Readers of the site over the past year or so know I've paid a lot of attention to podcasts made for kids, and one of the most delightful of the bunch is Ear Snacks, a funny and occasionally surreal podcast for preschoolers from Los Angeles-based duo Andrew & Polly.

They've now collected the best tracks featured on the podcast's first season in the prosaically titled Ear Snacks: Songs from the Podcast.  That title is the most straightforward and boring thing about the entire album whose unifying theme, if anything, is silliness.  There's a meta-song for preschoolers about dancing to songs ("Dancing Pants," featuring fellow L.A. musician Mista Cookie Jar), a swinging song about getting the mail ("Mail," natch), and the crunchy pop of "I Wanna Be a Giraffe."  And I haven't even mentioned until now the stone-cold classic kindie classic track "Grapes."  It's not total silliness -- listen to the gorgeous "How Can You Tell If It's Going To Rain?" -- but the meter swings more to the giddy rather than somber.  (Just listen Andrew and Polly hiding in the hidden track at the end...)  I liked Odds & Ends, the duo's previous album that featured some songs from early podcast episodes, but I found the songwriting here to be a step beyond that -- they sound quite confident in their own, quirky voice.

At 37 minutes in length, the album is just the right length for the 2-to-6-year-olds who are the album (and podcast's) target audience.  (A shout-out as well to the liner notes, filled with "Snacktivities" listeners of any age can do using just their creative brains.)  Filled with goofiness leavened with just enough sweetness, Ear Snacks: Songs from the Podcast is a collection of music you don't need the podcast to appreciate.  It's a fabulous compilation of more than a year's worth of creativity, a great bunch of songs for listening at any time.  Definitely recommended.

Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review. We also both participate on the board of Kids Listen, an advocacy group for kids' podcasts.

Video: "Lemonade" - Justin Roberts

Justin Roberts Lemonade cover

Justin Roberts Lemonade cover

Yay for new music from Justin Roberts!  In the wake of a successful PledgeMusic campaign, his brand new album Lemonade will quench the thirst of families wanting more of his folk-pop goodness.  (I swear, that's the only drinking-related pun I'll be making here.  Today.)  The album is formally released on October 14, but your family can watch the amusing video for the title track right here, right now.

The two kids playing the main characters are cute, but if I'm honest, the lemons-as-puppets steal the show.

Justin Roberts - "Lemonade" [YouTube]

Video: "Banana Bread" - Caspar Babypants

Away We Go album cover

Away We Go album cover

You can view Caspar Babypants' song "Banana Bread" (from his new album Away We Go!) as an ode to that wonderful baked treat, or perhaps as a metaphor for life and value of being flexible.  Either way, I think you should watch the brand-new hand-animated video for the song.  Bananas wearing top hats for a song co-written by Chris Ballew and his dad (!).  If the Beatles were ever to have written a song about banana bread, this would have been it.

Caspar Babypants - "Banana Bread" [YouTube]

Top Kids and Family Podcasts (September 2016)

Sliding in just under the wire, it's time for a September look at the nebulously-ranked world of podcasts.  This month's list differs slightly from last month's list of top-ranked kids and family podcasts.  For the most part, the order is the same, and the rankings of these particular podcasts within the "kids and family" charts in the iTunes and Stitcher kids and family charts are generally in the same range as last month.

On the downside, none of the podcasts here ranked within the "all podcasts" chart, which is a change from past months, when they sometimes did.  But the number of podcasts on one of the two lists ticked up to 29, an all-time high, up from 22 in June.

As always: this is a blunt instrument, combining pure rankings from two fairly opaque charts, and for a variety of reasons has only marginal value as a measure of quality.  (Results compiled from Top 100 podcasts on iTunes and Stitcher "kids and family" charts on Wednesday, September 29, 2016.  Podcasts that appear on both charts are listed with numbers; remaining podcasts only appeared on one list.)

Two other reminders:

1.  If you're looking for a list that has most (or all) of these podcasts, check out my comprehensive list of podcasts for kids.

2. If you're interested in the future of podcasts for kids, you might be interested in Kids Listen, a grassroots organization of podcasters and folks like me interested in helping high-quality audio for children thrive.  We're looking for other interested folks -- producers or otherwise -- to join in!

With that out of the way, let's get to the chart.

1. Stories Podcast

2. Brains On

3. Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified

4. Storynory

5. Tumble

6. Story Time

7. (tie) The Cramazingly Incredifun Sugarcrash Kids

7. (tie) Story Pirates

9. The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd 

Others (listed alphabetically): 1001 Classic Short Stories and Tales, Activated Stories, Bedtime History, Book Club for Kids, But Why, Children Stories and Joyful, Children's Fun Storytime, Ear Snacks, Family Folk Tales, Grimms' Fairy Tales, Little Stories for Tiny People, Molly and the Sugar Monster, Official Adventures in Odyssey, Podcast Kid, Porters Podcast, The Secret Diaries of Tara Tremendous, Short & Curly, Spare the Rock Spoil the Child, Sparkle Stories, The Story Home, That Story Show

Monday Morning Smile: "Vote for Jim Gill" - Jim Gill

Vote for Jim Gill cover

Vote for Jim Gill cover

As you're aware, usually these Monday Morning Smiles are not kid-music-specific, but when I saw this video from Jim Gill, I knew that this movement-based song would be perfect for this morning of the first presidential debate of 2016.  It's a bit of "Vote for Jim Gill," the title track from his brand-new album, and it's tailor-made for playing during the ad breaks in tonight's debate.

It even includes a baby-kissing politician.  Seriously -- couldn't be more appropriate for this evening's event.

Jim Gill - "Vote for Jim Gill" [YouTube]