Video: "I Had a Rooster" - Red Yarn (World Premiere!)

Wake Up and Sing cover

Wake Up and Sing cover

Once you've woken up to a "Beautiful Day," what are you gonna do?  Eat, of course!  And so Red Yarn in "I Had a Rooster" visits all the animals on his farm, feeds them the greenberry tree, and all the animals are vocally responsive.  (You know, "meow meow... neigh neigh...")

I really like the uptempo Red Yarn take on the traditional barnyard song from his Wake Up & Sing album, and his video once again features many puppet-y friends.  My favorite this time is the horse jammin' out on the drums.  Enjoy this video (directed by Jeff Speetjens and featuring a bunch of puppeteers) for "I Had a Rooster," world-premiered here!

Red Yarn - "I Had a Rooster" [YouTube]

Top Kids and Family Podcasts (June 2016)

It's been nearly six weeks since I last produced a list of top-ranked kids and family podcasts, so it's time to see what's up in the nebulous world of podcast rankings.

This month's list is nearly identical in both composition and ranking to the May chart, but I will say that my perception -- I don't have the raw data from May -- is that the rankings of the kids podcasts within the iTunes and Stitcher kids and family charts are higher today than when I checked them last month.  My perception could be wrong, or it could be purely a result of timing, but I'm retaining the data this go-round to see if something changes next month.

As always: this is a blunt instrument, combining pure rankings from two fairly opaque charts, and for a variety of reasons should not solely (or even primarily) be used as a measure of quality.  (Results compiled from Top 100 podcasts on iTunes and Stitcher "kids and family" charts on Tuesday, June 21, 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.

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

1.  Brains On

2. Stories Podcast

3. Storynory

4. Story Pirates

5. Tumble

6. Story Time

7. Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd

8. Spare the Rock Spoil the Child

Others (listed alphabetically): Audio Books for Children, Barefoot Books, But Why, Classics for Kids, Ear Snacks, Family Folk Tales, Little Stories for Tiny People, Molly and the Sugar Monster, Podcast Kid, Porters Podcast, The Secret Diaries of Tara Tremendous, Sparkle Stories, The Story Home, That Story Show

Video: "Time to Make the Donuts" - Recess Monkey

Novelties album cover

Novelties album cover

For adults of a certain age, the phrase "time to make the donuts" will probably ring a certain set of bells.  Our kids, though?  That phrase will be linked with Recess Monkey.

That's because for their brand new album Novelties! (their thirteenth, and first for Amazon Music), they've got the catchy track "Time to Make the Donuts," and a video whose choreographed swooping and strutting seems like something out of an early OK Go video.  Jack sings while Drew and Korum step in and out of the frame with all manner of donut-related equipment in Seattle's own Top Pot Doughnuts' kitchen.  The video, filmed by Aaron Horton, is thoroughly charming.

By the way, for the next week (through June 23rd), you can grab a copy of "Time to Make the Donuts" for free right here.

Recess Monkey - "Time to Make the Donuts" [YouTube]

Itty-Bitty Review: I Believe in Little Things - Diana Panton

I Believe in Little Things cover

I Believe in Little Things cover

I'm surprised there aren't more albums like Diana Panton's I Believe in Little Things. Given that jazz often takes classic songs and standards as the basis for creating something entirely new, why haven't jazz musicians devoted more attention to classic kids' songs?

On her new album, the Canadian jazz singer Panton doesn't reach all the way back to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb," but instead uses classic twentieth century songs written for kids' entertainment as her starting point.  So she turns to Sesame Street songwriter Joe Raposo, Kenneth Ascher and Paul Williams' songs from The Muppet Movie, and some Disney, among others.  Panton's crystal-clear voice is a delight to listen to, with her backing musicians (primarily Reg Schwager on guitar and Don Thompson on bass, piano, and vibraphone) providing a subtle background from which her voice shines without being brassy, which would serve these songs poorly.  As lovely as the renditions are, the musicians explore the songs to a point that some listeners with short attention spans may drift off ("When You Wish Upon a Star" clocks in at nearly six minutes).  As a result, I'll peg the 55-minute album's target age range as ages 5 and up.

I hesitate to call this "kindie" or "kids music" -- remove the delightful album art by Jacqui Lee and replace it with abstract shapes or stylish pictures of Panton and her band, and it's a tossup as to whether it'd be filed in "children's music" or "jazz."  Having said that, the answer to that question is probably a tossup under the current album art as well and probably irrelevant -- it's an album kids and adults are both likely to enjoy settling down with.  Recommended.

Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.

Video: "Take a Bath" - Eric Herman and the Thunder Puppies (World Premiere!)

Bubble Wrap album cover

Bubble Wrap album cover

Today marks the official release date for Bubble Wrap, the brand new album from Eric Herman (and his band the Thunder Puppies).  Longtime kids music listeners will not be surprised to find out that the new album contains a mix of the silly and heartfelt, and while perhaps the Washington-based Herman has strong feelings on the issue of cleanliness, the song "Take a Bath" definitely fits on the silly end of that spectrum.

The reggae-inflected song is amusing by itself, but the cartoon visuals are particularly effective, and I suspect will amuse the youngsters.  (Hey, it amused me, so that age range might be kinda broad.)

Anyway, enjoy this world premiere video!

Eric Herman and the Thunder Puppies - "Take a Bath" [YouTube]

Podcast Review: The Imaginary Accomplishments Podcast

Imaginary Accomplishments logo

Imaginary Accomplishments logo

Amidst the many (fine) science podcasts, Todd McHatton's latest venture, The Imaginary Accomplishments Podcast, stands out.  The iTunes description -- "An imaginary NPR style rock and roll space comedy broadcast twice monthly from a red and white rocket hurtling through the Galaxy featuring friendly monsters, imaginary sports, interviews, and more" -- both captures and fails to capture its essence.

That failure to capture is contained mostly in the dry text of the words.  A couple months ago, before the podcast actually launched, McHatton described the show to me as an "all ages, family friendly mix of The Muppets, Cheech & Chong, Monty Python, and 70s rock and roll cartoon shows," and I think there's way more truth than hype in that description.  Is it as roll-on-the-floor funny as Monty Python? No, but its absurdity will definitely remind the older listeners of that show.  Every show features McHatton's friendly monster creations Larry, Marvy, and Finch, and they travel through the galaxy reporting on absurd sporting events (the "Regional Galactic Semi-Final Doughnut Races," for example).  There are made-up ads, other recurring characters (Captain Stuffy-pants, who tends not to say much more than "I say" in a gruff upper-crust British accent), and as one would hope with the talented musician McHatton at the helm, songs.  (A couple of the monsters do record reviews, where they promise to give albums the finger... a big foam finger... if they like it.  They've liked 'em all so far.)  I'd describe the humor more as silly rather than laugh-out-loud funny, but it's genial good nature carries it a long way.

The podcast is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 8.  The iTunes link for the show is here, although you may be able to find it elsewhere (here's the SoundCloud page).  Episodes are generally 17-18 minutes in length, released a couple times per month.  The show is ad-free (well, except for those fake ads that get woven into the storyline).

The Imaginary Accomplishments Podcast is a variety show of sort that's pretty rare in kids podcasting.  (Only Ear Snacks remotely approaches it.)  McHatton's released five of the at least six episodes he's produced thus far.  We shall see whether it catches on with listeners and families, but with its silly sketches and crunchy power pop, I'd like to think there's some audience out there for McHatton's goofy goodness.