For about a decade now, the New York-based group Hot Peas 'N Butter have turned out a half-dozen albums of original music most distinctively characterized by a blend of sounds that I'd describe as global in nature.
Their latest album, Put Our Heads Together -- their seventh -- continues in that vein, lending a sound to kids music that is still somewhat unique. While many other artists tackle a range of styles on a single album, and a handful like Dan Zanes or Mista Cookie Jar or Secret Agent 23 Skidoo will sometimes mix disparate styles on a single song, Danny Lapidus and his band really do blend Latin rhythm, bilingual lyrics, and modern global pop sounds together to create a bright sound.
This new album features uplifting, feel-good lyrics to go along with those bright sounds. Tracks like album opener "Amistad," a duet with Dan Zanes, feature lyrics in Spanish and English that neatly illustrate the theme of friendship (which is what "Amistad" means in Spanish). "Magic Elevator" weaves in an elevator "door-opening" sound into its story of a globe-trotting elevator. "Colores" is another winning pop song. And it's one of the better kids' albums at incorporating a kids' chorus with out getting too Kidz Bop-py. I didn't think the album worked as well, though, when the lyrics were too on the nose -- "No Bullies" is too didactic for my tastes, and "Fresh Spokes" jams bike safety tips into a perfectly good song about the diversity of experience.
The 41-minute album will be most appropriate for kids ages 5 through 10. Lapidus and crew write an effective pop song with a distinctive sound that's still somewhat rare in the kindie scene. Put Our Heads Together isn't perfect, but there are enough tracks with a fresh, positive sound -- the majority of them, really -- to merit a spin. Recommended.
Note: I received a copy of this album for possible review.