Here's a roundup of some stuff that's crossed my desk over the past week or two... First off, there's not one but two Kickstarter-like approaches to fund kids music albums. The first is from The LMNOPs, a new project from Missouri musician Zach Reasoner. While I think you know my position re: using the phrase "parents won't hate" as it pertains to kids music (in case you're not -- old and tired), I think the music shows definite promise. An alphabet song and fun video below, or check out "Happy To Be Me" here. Also, Chicago musician Jeanie B is also taking the crowdfunding route via IndieGoGo -- details here.
Hooo boy. Last Christmas/holiday season was busy, but this year just seems off the hook. This'll be the last roundup for 2010, 'cause even I have shipping deadlines. Remember, you can read the previous entries in the holiday roundup: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Reviews Anyway, to the jingles... A new song from Poochamungas, "Santa's Eating Pancakes," is a fun alt-country tune. At least half the proceeds will go to Ignite the Spirit Charities, which is a Chicago-area charity for emergency responders, firefighters, and paramedics. Download it here. The Hipwaders' Kindie Christmas was one of last year's best, er, kindie Christmas CDs. They've posted some video from their holiday concerts, and this rendition of "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year" from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special is quite nice. The Hipwaders - "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year" [YouTube] One half of the geniuses behind John and Mark's Children's Record, Mark Greenberg has had a holiday tradition for many years recording and sharing holiday music, and although I've heard a few of the CDs, it wasn't until Amberly mentioned it today that I knew that there was a website for all of it. Some of it is definitely worth your time, such as "Under Blankets," one of this year's offerings. (Click "Share," then "link to mp3" if you'd like to download...)
Last year saw a veritable sleigh-load of Christmas and holiday albums for families. This year's list of CDs is smaller, but there are a few disks that came out this fall and winter that your family may enjoy... My favorite was A Slugs and Bugs Christmas from Slugs and Bugs, AKA Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson, who were behind Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies. If you are interested in Christmas just from a secular perspective, you can skip the rest of the review, as this disk is definitely geared toward the crowd who attends church on more than just Christmas and Easter. The first song, "Happy Birthday Jesus," makes that clear, as do a number of other songs. (That song also features one of the niftier arrangements I've heard in some time, blending a modern bluegrass song with a kids' chorus taking on "The First Noel.") As you might expect from songwriters who've had some songs featured on VeggieTales videos, it's not entirely serious -- on what other Christmas album are you going to hear a song about roasting mice for eating ("Pass the Ketchup" -- it's not macabre, really)? While the shifting between secular and explicitly Christian feels a little uneven at times, at its best (like on "I Spy" or the amazing "The Camel Song"), the disk deftly mixes popular Christmas culture with its spiritual underpinnings with humor and grace.
This video, the first from Holly Throsby's excellent album See!, is pretty much what I'd expect a live-action video from the album to look like -- cute normal-looking kids, rough around edges, but with stellar production values. And the crafty fishes (it is for "Fish and Mice" after all) look like something that every preschool should be attempting. Holly Throsby - "Fish and Mice" [YouTube]
Given that Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke's Rise and Shine was my second favorite kids music record of 2010, you would expect that I'd treat the news that they'd recorded a couple Christmas tunes for Little Monster Records with great excitement. Even better, the tunes themselves don't disappoint. You will not dance to another Christmas song with more abandon than to "Sing a Song of Christmas Cheer." And their take on "Silent Night" is somehow simultaneously a little punk and a little reverential. Together they're just $1.29...And if you're not sure about it all, for the price of an e-mail, pick up "Silent Night" for free using the link below...
The only thing more amazing to me than the fact that it wasn't enough to have part 1 and part 2 of Christmas music is that I'm already prepping Part 4. Folks, Christmas is less 100 hours away! Anyway, to the music... First off, free music from The Jimmies. There is never a bad time for free music from the Jimmies, but a holiday-themed EP during the, er, holidays? OK, perhaps the cover of "Chanuka, oh Hanukkah..." is a little late, but the rest is A-OK. The cover of "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" is best described as country-lounge-punk, but I most dig their cover of "Sleigh Ride." Anyway, download, wait for it, Mama Said NOG You Out here. Rudy Trubitt, one of the Bay Area's Sippy Cups, has a holiday tune for your listening/downloading pleasure. It's his take on "The First Noel," and "boatload of holiday horns, as he describes it, is right. Very nice. Download or stream it here or below: Rudy Trubitt - The First Noel by rudytrubitt My first comment when I heard that the The Not-Its recorded their version of WHAM's "Last Christmas" without the "romantic" element, was to wonder whether they left out the element where it stunk, too. (Sorry, that song holds about 2 plays worth of interest for me each year, and I think I hit that before we ever reached December.) But, hey, the Not-Its' version is short, tuneful, and funny. Plus, you can download/listen for free here or below. Last Christmas by The Not-Its! Peter Apel is offering a very high energy take on "Jingle Bells," streamed for free or downloaded for the price of an e-mail. He's also got a free Jingle Bells ringtone, which I'm guessing would sound odd in July, but, hey, it takes all kinds. More info here.