Every year there's an outpouring of holiday-related music spanning all genres, and while kindie's participation in holiday music is down a bit from, say, 2-3 years ago, there are still a handful of new entries. Time's a ticking -- we're in the middle of Hanukkah and Christmas is but 4 days away, so let's jump in.
Bobs and Lolo: Wave Your Antlers -- My favorite kindie Christmas album of 2014, this is a solid collection of pop originals ("Festive Time of Year" and the catchy-in-spite-of-all-attempts-to-stop-it "Chris Moose") and Christmas classics, including some songs you don't typically get on kids' Christmas albums (I'm looking at you "Dona Nobis Pacem"). Fans of the British Columbia duo will definitely want to pick this up, and most fans of kindie pop will find this a pleasant addition to their holiday rotation.
Farmer Jason: Christmas on the Farm with Farmer Jason -- Jason Ringenberg's kids' music as Farmer Jason has often had the energy of his Jason and the Scorchers work, but totally wholesome. Songs like "All I Want for Christmas (Is a Punk Rock Skunk)" and "Eat Your Fruitcake" blast through the stereo speakers, to be sure. I am usually a big fan of diverse musical approaches on albums, but to me, those songs sat a little uneasily next very sincere renditions of a religious Christmas classic like "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" or a Ringenberg original, "The Animals Sang." Farmer Jason fans will probably like the album, but non-fans may want to give the album samples a few spins to see if the bifurcated approach appeals before committing to the album
Mighty Magic Pants: It Must Be Christmas -- Mike Mennard and his crew offer a mostly irreverent take on Christmas -- titles like "Santa's Stuck in the Chimney," "Rudolph on the Barbecue," and "Grandpa Ate Too Much Again This Christmas" will give you a pretty good sense of the attitude. It's respectful irreverence, to be sure -- "Lay Down Your Drum, Little Drummer Boy" is sung from the point of view of Mary, gently pleading with the Little Drummer Boy to stop his rum-pa-bum-bum-ming so Baby Jesus can get some sleep. There's nothing particularly memorable about the musical settings, but with short poems serving as interstitials between many songs, this is essentially an hour-long Christmas revue musical that will likely provide some chuckles of recognition.
Idina Menzel: Holiday Wishes -- It's not a kindie album, but it's new this year. No, she does not sing "Let It Go," because even though Frozen was released last Christmas, that song -- the song her obituary many years hence will no doubt reference -- has nothing to do with Christmas. She does, however, sing a dozen Christmas-related songs in a perfectly tasteful and enjoyable way. I could do without her duet with Michael Buble' on "Baby It's Cold Outside" (I've come to actively dislike the song for lyrical reasons), but the rest is well-chosen and produced. If it sounds like I'm lukewarm, it's only because there's little here to distinguish it from dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of other Christmas albums from singers with beautiful voices. I'm sure I'll listen in future years, but I doubt it'll become a treasured favorite.
This year Hanukkah runs almost concurrently with Christmas, and Alison Faith Levy offers up a fun new song titled "All I Want for Chanukah is a Ukulele," strumming on a uke (natch) with fellow Bay Area musician Karla Kane from the Corner Laughers. If only I knew eight chords on my uke.
With "Got the Spirit," Mista Cookie Jar offers up a super-positive holiday jam (does MCJ do any other kind?) for your favorite nondenominational (or denominational or multidenominational) kid, again infusing his '50s soul with a thoroughly modern attitude. Or is it vice versa?
Danny Weinkauf – Wonderful Christmas Day
Farmer Jason – All I Want for Christmas (Is a Punk Rock Skunk)
Bobs & Lolo – Chris Moose
Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips – Got the Spirit
The Wanna Bees – Party On the Rooftop
The Mighty Magic Pants – Pirate's Christmas Eve
The Wanna Bees – Snow Ball Fight