Best Kids Music of 2015: Top 30 Albums

Slowly but surely, I'm getting better about writing these "Best of" lists in something approaching timeliness.  Even if it might be a bit late for holiday gift-giving purposes, I'm writing about the best of 2015 in 2015.

This past year was another good one in terms of new releases, so once again it was difficult to narrow down the musical year -- I'd guess that I once again listened to 250-300 albums -- to what is, in essence, the my favorite 10%.

As always, my year-end best-of list matches the Fids and Kamily year -- that is to say, from October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015.  So some good albums from the last couple months [waves at They Might Be Giants] will just have to wait for next year's list.

 Trees cover

Trees cover

#1 (tie) - Molly Ledford & Billy KellyTrees

[Review] - "Like the trees they sing about, this duo's connection six years ago has grown into a sturdy friendship and musical collaboration. You're unlikely to hear a more joyful celebration of the natural world and our relation to it this year."

 Great Pretenders Club cover

Great Pretenders Club cover

#1 (tie) - The Pop UpsGreat Pretenders Club

[Review] - "So often trailblazing releases are notable more for their context than their content, but in the case of Great Pretenders Club, the album's music is every bit as notable as the way it's been introduced to the world.  This is, simply put, one of the year's best albums."

 How Great Can This Day Be cover

How Great Can This Day Be cover

#3 (tie) - Lori HenriquesHow Great Can This Day Be?

[Review] - "After winning the Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award, named for the composer of classic songs for Sesame Street and the Muppets, last year, her smart and joyful music, which sounds like it’d fit right in on those classic shows, is finding a wider audience.  Her new album How Great Can This Day Be shows off those musical talents."

 Deep Woods Revival cover

Deep Woods Revival cover

#3 (tie) - Red YarnDeep Woods Revival

[Review] - "Red Yarn’s fervor for American folk music is evident on Deep Woods Revival.  While folk music has never gone away in the children’s music genre, he forcefully makes the case for its continued relevance in the era of the mp3."

 Big Block Singsong cover

Big Block Singsong cover

#5 (tie) - Big Block SingsongBig Block Singsong Greatest Hits Vol. 1

[Review] - "So, yeah, I’m late to the party, but better late than never.  Big Block Singsong is ten tons of fun.  After listening and watching, your kids’ll probably have a two-banana day, too."

 Beehives and Bedheads cover

Beehives and Bedheads cover

#5 (tie) - Duke OtherwiseBeehives and Bedheads

[Review] - "Looking for an album that provides guidance on moving through early childhood life transitions?  Move along, then, because this album kicks off with a song called “Dancing Pig” that answers the question, “What would a Tom Waits song about a prancing porcine sound like?,” and never really gets any less weird from there."

 Peter and the Wolf and Jazz cover

Peter and the Wolf and Jazz cover

#5 (tie) - The Amazing Keystone Big Band w/ David Tennant - Peter and the Wolf and Jazz!

[Review] - "The melodies themselves are unchanged, but the band's arrangement brings in a wide variety of jazz styles -- stride piano, hip-hop, free jazz, blues, cool jazz, and the like.  None of the stylistic shifts seem out of place -- rather, they feel appropriate to the story."

 Rocksteady cover

Rocksteady cover

#8 (tie)  - Josh and the JamtonesRocksteady

[Review] - "Have I made it clear enough that Rocksteady is a party, through and through?  Because it is, enough so that your kids probably won't even need that lullaby album to fall asleep to after dancing like crazy."

 Jazzy Ash cover

Jazzy Ash cover

#8 (tie)  - Jazzy AshBon Voyage

[Review] - "With Bon Voyage, Jazzy Ash fully connects with her own family’s musical heritage, yet incorporates those 100-year-old traditions into 21st century kids music.  It's a buoyant and warm-hearted album for the younger set."

 Where the Path Will Wind cover

Where the Path Will Wind cover

#8 (tie)  - Charlie HopeWhere the Path Will Wind: Songs, Stories and Friends 2

[Review] - "Where the Path Will Wind is essentially an audio magazine, an aural equivalent, perhaps, to her Sing As We Go! video series."

 Tim Kubart Home cover

Tim Kubart Home cover

#8 (tie)  - Tim KubartHome

[Review] - "While I've always thought Kubart's music had their share of pop hooks, Home is bursting at the seams with them and is his best effort yet... [B]less Tim Kubart and his big pop heart."

 The Start of Things cover

The Start of Things cover

#8 (tie)  - Alison Faith LevyThe Start of Things

[Review] - "Imagine, however, if other musical strains of the [1960s] -- psychedelic pop, Phil Spector's Wall of Sound production -- also found themselves working their way into kids'  music with songs for the youngest listener."

 Night Night! cover

Night Night! cover

#8 (tie) - Caspar BabypantsNight Night!

[Review] - "I hope Ballew doesn't take this the wrong way, but his album is forgettable in all the right ways.  What I mean by that is the music, while catchy, isn't necessarily one bouncy hook-filled song after another.  Rather, it features a more consistent -- and obviously far mellower -- tone."


The eagle-eyed among you will note that that list includes a baker's dozen of albums, not ten.  I didn't squeeze an extra three albums into my ballot -- only 3 of those 6 albums tied for 8 made it in.  But it was such a hard choice that I'm sure I'd pick a different 3 every week.  For Fids & Kamily I need to make a choice.  But this is my list, and so I'm listing thirteen albums.

After these top thirteen, distinguishing between the rest of my list becomes even more difficult.  So once again I'm taking the easy way out - alphabetical order for albums 14 through 30.

Turkey AndersenTurkey Andersen [Review]

The BazillionsOn the Bright Side [Review]

Bunny ClogsWhales Can't Whistle [Review]

Cat DoormanCalling All the Kids to the Yard [Review]

Sonia De Los SantosMi Viaje: De Nuevo Leon to the New York Island [Review]

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam BandAdelante! [Review]

Hilary Grist - Tomorrow Is a Chance To Start Over [Review]

Gustafer YellowgoldDark Pie Concerns [Review]

Lloyd MillerGlory! Glory! Hallelujah! [Review]

Alastair MoockAll Kinds of You and Me [Review]

Keith MunslowTiny Destroyer [Review]

Pointed Man BandThe Flight of the Blue Whale [Review]

Recess MonkeyHot Air [Review]

Renee and FriendsSimpatico [Review]

RocknocerosPlymouth Rockers [Review]

Big World Audio TheatreThe Peculiar Tales of the S.S. Bungalow [Review]

Suz SlezakWatching the Nighttime Come [Review]