I'm starting to do a better job updating the Zooglobble Radio station -- eventually I'll be updating the station's playlist (or a portion thereof) every week or so. This week's update is the first in a regular series called "Kindiegarten" -- songs about an ostensibly teachable subject, but selected mostly for their tunefulness. The debut playlist features songs about the alphabet, though that definition is stretched a bit to include a few songs that just happen to spell words out and a few songs about books. Yeah, homeschools and preschools should probably use this as music to play during the breaks in their learning. By the way, you can see when particular programs air by perusing the station schedule here. This particular playlist airs in the morning for an hour, but the songs are also scattered throughout the day. Playlist: Kindiegarten - Alphabet Animal Alphabet Song - Alan Mills (Smithsonian Folkways Children's Music Collection) Crazy ABCs - Barenaked Ladies (Snack Time!) S-N-O-W-M-A-N (Snowman!) - Billy Kelly (Thank You For Joining the Happy Club) Alphabet! - The Biscuit Brothers (Family Favorites) Alligators All Around - Carole King (Really Rosie) Let The S Go - Caspar Babypants (Here I Am!) Alphabet Dub - Elizabeth Mitchell (You Are My Sunshine) ABC's - Ella Jenkins (Smithsonian Folkways Children's Music Collection) The Book I Like To Read - Frances England (Fascinating Creatures) My Dog Has Fleas - Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band (Play!) A Counting Error - John Upchurch and Mark Greenberg (John And Mark's Children's Record) Favorite Names - Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke (Rise And Shine) ABCD Medley - Laurie Berkner (Whaddaya Think Of That?) I Love My Library - Lunch Money (Dizzy) Don't Look, I'm Making A Book - Monty Harper & Mr. Billy (Let's Get Creative) Dictionary - Muckafurgason (Greasy Kid Stuff 2 - More Songs From Inside The Radio) Bingo - Neil Bartoleit (Wiggleworms Love You) ABC - The Nields (Rock All Day, Rock All Night) L-U-C-K-Y - Opus Ditty And The Hoedown Gang (Let's Go Fishing) ABC's - Ralph Covert (Ralph's World) Apples & Bananas - Susie Tallman, Peter Maslen, Mark O'Connor (Children's Songs, A Collection of Childhood Favorites) Consonants - The Terrible Twos (Jerzy The Giant) Z Y X - They Might Be Giants (Here Come The ABCs) B.A.T.H - We Are The Not Its (We Are The Not Its) ABC - Ziggy Marley (Family Time) Due to internet radio broadcast restrictions, songs are broadcast randomly and displayed her in (iTunes-based) alphabetical order.
A couple years ago, I was particularly charmed by Songs for Sleepy Beings, an album of lullabies put together by Gretchen Eichberger-Kudlack and Half Moon, a band she recruited for the occasion. It's been awhile since I've heard from Eichberger-Kudlack, and since the Sleepy Beings website seemed to have lapsed, I worried that perhaps this would be a one-time deal. Thankfully, that's not the case, as I found out after getting in touch with her. For the moment, she's focusing on other things -- she's got a new website for the Northwest Michigan Folklife Center and she's directing two theatrical dance productions, among other things. But her kids music days aren't permanently behind her -- she notes that she plans to do another album for the "3-7 [year old] set, incorporating the voices of my now four year old daughter and her friend." For now, enjoy this very rewritten cover of "Goodnight Irene" (which makes Raffi's version sound totally faithful to the Leadbelly/Pete Seeger versions). It's sweet and features Eichberger-Kudlack's wonderfully clear voice. Gretchen Eichberger-Kudlack - "Goodnight Irene" [YouTube]
Ralph's World has done a lot of traveling, going from small label (Mini Fresh, an offshoot of Chicago's Minty Fresh) to big label (Disney) back to small label (Bar/None, who failed to come up with a cutesy kid-division name for Ralph). So perhaps it's not so surprising that his new album All Around Ralph's World takes the word "world" from Ralph Covert's band name seriously, producing a loosely travel-themed album. But "loosely" is the key adverb, because it's not a concept album. It's just an album that has a number of songs that happen to be about travel. I prefer to think of the album as another collection of solid pop-rock songs for the big wheel set (see "Easy Ryders," which also works in a gratuitous Beatles reference) from an artist who's already turned out such songs by the suitcase. There aren't many clunkers (such as "All Around the World," where Covert sings about learning stories from around the world rather than singing those stories), but they're more than outweighed by the nuggets, such as the poppy "All About Bob," the funny "Black Hole Boy" (who loses everything, including, eventually, words to his song), and the sweet "Blue Airplane." And although the album drags a bit around the 2/3rds-point, the last four tracks, starting with "The Funniest Joke in the World" on through the album closer "I'm Not Tired," are excellent. The album's most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 8. You can listen to the album at Ralph's website (just click on the "Playlist" in the upper right-hand corner). I found Covert's last album, The Rhyming Circus, a little underwhelming compared to his previous body of work -- not bad by any means, but not memorable either. All Around Ralph's World is a return to form for one of the best songwriters in the kids music genre. As you're picking out music for your family's summer road trip (or even planning it), All Around Ralph's World would be a fine addition to the playlist. Definitely recommended. I was provided a copy of the disk for possible review.
I can now associate 3 goose-bump moments with "Falling Slowly" from the move Once. The first two I mentioned here -- hearing it for the first time when I saw the movie 2 1/2 years ago, and seeing it win Best Song at the Oscars a couple years ago. The third? Well, it's courtesy of Strict Joy, the latest album from The Swell Season, the duo of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. It's a fine album (recommended for all those who dug the Once soundtrack), and some versions of the album come packaged with a live CD and DVD recorded for a show in Milwaukee in May 2008. The live album is excellent, too, and features, of course, a take of "Falling Slowly." Featuring an 8th grade school choir. On DVD (and to a lesser extent on the CD), the audio is too heavily weighted toward the band, which means the full effect of the choir is muted. Thankfully, low-grade video that isn't miked into the soundboard captures it a lot better. Yay, YouTube! The Swell Season - "Falling Slowly" (Live, featuring the Whitefish Bay 8th Grade Choir) [YouTube] Seriously, this one little gesture may do as much to nurture a lifelong interest in the arts in those kids as hundreds of hours of music classes. (Recognizing, of course, that they wouldn't have had the opportunity to do this without, collectively, hundreds of hours of music classes.) After the jump, they cover a Pixies song. One of my favorites, and one I would not have been expecting to feature on Zooglobble. (Warning: possibly a dubious choice to cover with an 8th grade choir.)
As noted before, the Twin Cities' Okee Dokee Brothers have a new album coming out in early August -- Take It Outside -- and so they're starting to road-test the material, most recently at this weekend's Bunny Clogs concert. Adam Levy helps 'em out here on a soulful, organ-drenched track called "What We Got." And by "organ-drenched," I don't mean there were Hammond B-3's falling from the sky. 'Cause that would probably hurt. This, though, is nice. The Okee Dokee Brothers - "What We Got" (Live) [YouTube]