For a reviewer, the beauty of releasing an album loosely themed around different seasonal activities is that regardless of when one gets around to reviewing it, it's still timely.
So let's give it up for the Hipwaders' Year-Round Sounds and its opening track "Mic Check." Yes, it's literally a song about a mic check -- a short, sharp power-pop song that at 61 seconds packs more hooks in than most songs three times its length -- and not about the new year. But of course it's a perfect way to start out the year, er, album. (Perhaps they can conclude their next album with a song called "Mic Drop.") And if you're looking for another alternative take on the New Year, that's followed up by "Kings & Queens," all about babies and again a perfectly appropriate "start of the year" song. Onward through the year, covering spring (a cover of "Peter Cottontail" and the swirly "Gaia She Knows"), school ("The Books I Like To Read" and "Smile About"), plus Halloween and Christmas (including an appropriately Bakersfield-y cover of Buck Owens' lost Christmas classic "A Very Merry Christmas").
The album is most appropriate for kids 4 through 9. At 14 tracks and 30 minutes in length, the album flies by and if your family doesn't dig one of the songs (or if it's July and and you have no interest in their appropriately Bakersfield-y cover of any Christmas song), another one's coming up shortly. (Listen to samples via the player at the bottom of this page.) While it's not quite the classic that the Hipwaders' last album, The Golden State, is, Year-Round Sounds still satisfies. Fans of the Hipwaders, power-pop, or of noting celebrations big and small will find a lot to like here. Definitely recommended.
Note: I was given a copy of the album for possible review.