I've added a few more links recently there on the right and I wanted to point out a few that focus on other ways to disseminate children's music. Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child is a kids' music radio show broadcast out of Massachusetts but also with a weekly podcast. Bill Childs and his 6-year-old daughter Ella spin a bunch of great kids-related tunes, never failing to begin and end with a They Might Be Giants song. That, frankly, would be enough for me, but I've watched his playlists over the past few months, and they've always been quite cool. Do check 'em out. Pancake Mountatin is a kids' music TV show broadcast in the Washington, DC area. I first stumbled across them last year and their guest list is still pretty amazing. They don't really play kids music -- they bring in "adult" bands and have them play for kids and their minders. Generally the bands play more "adult" music, which I'm not wildly enthused about, at least for the predominant musical selection, but their guest list -- The Arcade Fire, The Go! Team, Metric, Ted Leo, and the like -- is very indie-rock-friendly. Finally, TV For Tots isn't focused on children's music at all -- the sharper ones among you will have figured out that it's focused on children's TV. It can be argued, however, that Noggin is the single biggest factor in the recent boom in kids' music. No Noggin, and I doubt that Laurie Berkner is selling her DVD in every Starbucks in the country. That's why I check this site out.
Please note, this list hasn't been updated since July 19, 2006 and the links herein will take you to the old site. For a more up-to-date listing of music appropriate for particular age, please click on the ages on right-hand bar on the main menu. Thanks If you're new to the children's music game, you might not be sure which albums are right for which kids, be they your own or someone else's. And while there's no accounting for taste (insert name of your most-disliked musical artist here), it is possible to make a reasonable guess of an album's targeted age range. It's more art than science, to be sure -- your 7-year-old might like Laurie Berkner and Raffi; your friend's 2-year-old might think Justin Roberts rocks. But a simple folk song about learning the numbers is going to appeal to a different audience than a rock song about losing one's first tooth. Here, then, is a list of all Zooglobble-reviewed albums organized by the first year I thought the albums would be appropriate to listen to. Please keep in mind that... -- I'm not a child development expert -- I only play one on the Internet. Actually, I don't even play one here. I'm just a parent. I guess that makes me some sort of child development expert, but definitely not one with the relevant letters behind my name. -- I've listed all albums reviewed here at the site -- just because it's on the list doesn't mean I wholly recommend it. That's why I've linked to the reviews. -- The maximum age is in parentheses. I don't recommend giving a child at the upper end of any album's age range that album as they'll probably dismiss it as "baby stuff." But kids who have listened to that CD for a long time may reach that upper end (or will secretly enjoy listening to it if it's being played for a younger sibling). -- I'll try to keep this post current for all subsequent reviews. Check back often! (Last updated: July 19, 2006) For newborns and up --> You Are My Sunshine - Elizabeth Mitchell (6) review -- low-key folk-rock, great covers --> You Are My Flower - Elizabeth Mitchell (5) review -- even slightly more low-key folk-rock, still great covers --> Songs For Wiggleworms - (5) Old Town School of Folk Music review -- simple renditions of classic songs for kids --> Wiggleworms Love You - (6) Old Town School of Folk Music review -- more (mostly) simple renditions of classic songs --> All Through the Night - Mae Robertson (3) review -- lullabies familiar and un- --> Listen, Learn and Grow Lullabies - Various Artists (5) review -- soothing classical melodies --> Lullabies: A Songbook Companion - Various Artists (3) review -- classic (sung) lullabies --> Close Your Eyes - Josephine Cameron (5/NA) review -- not specifically a lullaby album for kids, but works just fine that way Age 1 and up --> Whaddaya Think of That? - Laurie Berkner (6) review -- fun originals and covers --> Singable Songs for the Very Young - Raffi (5) review -- the album that pretty much started the kids' music genre (Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Ella Jenkins notwithstanding) --> More Singable Songs - Raffi (6) review -- the sequel --> Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child - Woody Guthrie (6) review -- folk songs for kids from the prolific folksinger --> Quiet Time - Raffi (5) review -- mellow classics and Raffi originals from entire career Age 2 and up --> Here Come the ABCs - They Might Be Giants (7) review -- TMBG and the ABCs. Fun alterna-pop for every age. --> Ralph's World - Ralph's World (6) review -- Debut album from kids' pop-rocker --> Catch the Moon - Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell (5) review -- folky versions of classics, songs from around the world, and covers --> Buzz Buzz - Laurie Berkner (6) review -- Folk-rock for the preschooler set --> Stomp Yer Feet! - Johnny Bregar (6) review -- a more soulful, slightly funkier version of Raffi (and don't let the Raffi reference scare you) --> Fascinating Creatures - Frances England (7) review -- Very original indie-rock --> Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang - Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang (6) review -- Saturday morning cartoon show-like with fun tunes --> The Hollow Trees - The Hollow Trees (7) review -- folksongs for the family --> Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz - Hayes Greenfield (12) review -- jazz renditions of classic kids' tunes, played in a variety of styles with vocals and instrumental solos --> Kids Rock for Peas! - The Sippy Cups (6) review -- classics and nuggets from the '60s and '70s, tweaked for playschoolers --> Snail Song & Magic Toast - The Sippy Cups (7) review -- two original and two spoken-word remixes reminiscent of '60s psychedelia and '70s power pop --> Lead Belly Sings for Children - Lead Belly (10) review -- collection of kids' songs (folk, blues, work songs) from one of the most important 20th-century musicians --> Folk Playground (Putumayo) - Various Artists (8) review -- not really folk, but a decent mixtape of folk-ish songs --> An Elephant Never Forgets - Owen Duggan (6) review -- Raffi-like in its gentleness and appropriation of a number of musical styles --> The Corner Grocery Store - Raffi (6) review -- Raffi's third album, doesn't really change the formula --> Song and Play Time - Pete Seeger (6) review -- one of many Pete Seeger kids' albums, singing folk favorites --> Kaleidoscope Songs Volumes 1 & 2 - Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band (6) review -- Mostly mellow pop songs about kids' experiences, written for the kids --> Jivin' in the Jungle - Barking Gorillas (6) review -- kids' pop (with a little rock) Age 3 and up --> No! - They Might Be Giants (8) review -- alterna-pop for kids (which sounds a lot like TMBG's "regular" alterna-pop) --> House Party - Dan Zanes (10) review -- mostly uptempo family music and folk songs --> Night Time! - Dan Zanes (8) review -- slightly (but only slightly) down-tempo family music and folk songs --> Rocket Ship Beach - Dan Zanes (7) review -- Zanes' first family music album, with more of a folk song and bluegrass emphasis than previous albums --> Family Dance - Dan Zanes (8) review -- Zanes' second family music and folk song album --> Silly Reflection - Lunch Money (7) review -- indie rock but with a purely preschool point-of-view --> Gustafer Yellowgold's Wide Wild World DVD (8) review -- indie pop with unique animation --> Ablum - Duplex! (8) review -- kids' indie rock with a very loose, adult indie rock feel --> Bottle of Sunshine - Milkshake (7) review -- children's pop-rock (sweeter than many albums reviewed here) --> Songs from the Hebrew Scriptures / Songs from the New Testament - Why Not Sea Monsters? (Justin Roberts/Liam Davis) (10) review -- Retellings of Biblical stories matched with easygoing Roberts melodies and lyrics --> I Am Your New Music Teacher - Parker Bent (6) review -- pop-rock and other styles (EP in length) --> The Amazing Adventures of Kid Astro (10) review -- fifth Ralph's World album with children's pop-rock skews both young (dumptrucks) and old (kissing girls!) --> At the Bottom of the Sea - Ralph's World (8) review -- second Ralph's World album continues in same pop-rock vein as first, just skewed older --> Jazz for Kids - Various Artists (10) review -- vocal jazz renditions of kids favorites and other kid-friendly tunes from Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and more --> Jim Gill Sings Moving Rhymes for Modern Times (7) review -- jazzy melodies (among others) encouraging "music play" --> Plays Well With Others - Uncle Rock (8) review -- Mostly roots-rock originals --> Chocolate Milk - ScribbleMonster and His Pals (8) review -- crack alt-pop and alt-rock melodies with (in parts) cartoony voices --> Curious George Soundtrack - Jack Johnson (7) review -- "Singalongs and Lullabies," indeed -- more laid-back rock --> Children Are the Sunshine - Asheba (7) review -- Caribbean music, some standards, mostly kids' originals --> Baloney Cake - Uncle Moondog (6) review -- mostly California- and surf-rock with (unseen) animated friends Age 4 and up --> All Wound Up! - Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer w/ Brave Combo (8) review -- energetic dance music for the whole family --> Green Gorilla, Monster & Me - Ralph's World (9) review -- 6th Ralph's World collection of children's pop-rock and his best --> Yellow Bus - Justin Roberts (9) review -- Roberts' 2nd album of children's alterna- and acoustic rock --> Way Out - Justin Roberts (8) review -- Roberts' 4th album of children's rock --> If You Ever See An Owl - The Terrible Twos (10) review -- alt-country/indie-acoustic-rock for kids by The New Amsterdams' alter egos --> Every Day is a Birthday - Brady Rymer (9) review -- family-friendly (musically and lyrically) roots rock --> Make Some Noise - The Quiet Ones (9) review -- TMBG-like absurd kids' rock --> Accidentally (on purpose) - Keith Munslow (9) review -- children's pop with broad array of musical styles and story-driven lyrics, sharply played --> Turn It Up Mommy! - The RTTs (8) review -- straight-ahead rock and blues-rock for kids --> Giddyup! - Buck Howdy (10) review -- cowboy music for kids --> Tall and Small - Rebecca Frezza (8) review -- snappy children's pop --> Rock Your Socks Off (8) review -- jam-band rock that encourages lots of movement --> Songs For Kids Like Us - Robbie Schaefer (8) review -- occasionally silly children's pop and bluegrass --> Little Red Wagon (8) review -- gentle folk songs, for kids and more --> Paws Claws Scales and Tales - Monty Harper (9) review -- library-focused kids' pop-rock --> Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD - Monty Harper (9) review -- more straight-ahead pop-rock than Harper's studio albums, plus a live band --> Beethoven's Wig 3 - Richard Perlmutter (9) review -- new lyrics set to (very) old classical tunes --> Dog Train - Sandra Boynton (8) review -- more rocking than Chickens, with lots of guest stars --> Philadelphia Chickens - Sandra Boynton (8) review -- more like a Broadway show with amusing lyrics (and drawings) --> Happy Lemons - Ralph's World (8) review -- Ralph's World's 3rd album of kids' pop-rock --> The Pet Project - Campfire Kev and Mary Lafleur (9) review -- A whole bunch pet/animal-themed children's pop (and a little country and rock) --> Songs I Heard - Harry Connick, Jr. (10) review -- Jazzy renditions of movie and Broadway tunes --> Linus & Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi - George Winston (10) review -- Mostly faithful solo piano renditions of Vince Guaraldi's jazz works from Peanuts specials and more Age 5 and up --> Catch That Train! - Dan Zanes and Friends (10) review -- Zanes' fifth (and best) family-friendly album continues his multi-stylistic approach with lots of guests --> Meltdown! - Justin Roberts (10) review -- Roberts' fifth (and best) album of kids' alt-rock and acoustic pop --> Alphabet Songs, Vol. II (Ivan Idea) - Steve Weeks (9) review -- Alphabet-themed CD with sly lyrics and roots/jam musical underpinnings --> We Shall Overcome (The Seeger Session) - Bruce Springsteen (N/A) review -- Not really a kids' CD. But listen to it with 'em anyway. --> Pegleg Tango - Captain Bogg & Salty (9) review -- pirate-themed rock and pop with a theatrical (and humorous) flair --> Eat Every Bean and Pea on Your Plate - Daddy A Go Go (10) review -- Straight-ahead rock and lots of jokes --> The Hipwaders - The Hipwaders (9) review -- Kids' alt-pop with reminders of the '60s and the '80s --> Monkey Business - Eric Herman and the Invisible Band (8) review -- Herman's second album of children's pop --> The Kid in the Mirror - Eric Herman and the Invisible Band (8) review -- Debut album of children's pop Age 6 and up --> Snow Day - Eric Herman and the Invisible Band (10) review -- Third album of children's pop
Lunch Money is a band based in South Carolina. They play lo-fi children's rock and the songs of theirs I've heard create moments of ear-to-ear grins. So do other things, I suppose, but most of those are the result of family joy and not necessarily from children's music. Their song "Tricycle" creates a lot of grins for me. It's a very simple song, musically -- guitar, drums, and a surfeit of handclaps. It matches an eminently hummable tune with words that have meaning to both the 3-year-old and their 33-year-old parents. "This tricycle was my brother’s tricycle / and that’s why it has this dent in the fender." It's a goofy little song, but it's sooooo much fun. Listen to three songs off their first album Silly Reflection here. For another song with handclaps from a band with an occasionally lo-fi aesthetic, listen to the Shins' "Kissing the Lipless" here. (Hat tip to Bill from Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child for the Lunch Money advocacy.)
Then get yourself over to Amazon.com's Music Easter Store page, where you can find a stream of Catch That Train!, Dan Zanes' new album, scheduled to be released May 16, 2006. (Windows Media Player required to play, though samples are available for all the tracks in other formats.) Having listened to the stream, I can say that anybody who's liked Dan Zanes' prior 4 children's music albums will like this one. It's just as good and with further listening may prove to be his best. Early favorite tracks include "Let's Shake," "Loch Lomond" (with Natalie Merchant), and "I Don't Want Your Millions Mister." (Considering Zanes' affiliation with Starbucks and Disney and fears that he'd "sell out," there may be other reasons for selecting that last track.) I would've ordered the CD sound unheard, but I pre-ordered it today. Anyway, go now.
Brady Rymer's 2006 release Every Day Is A Birthday is his fourth CD of children's music. Accompanied by what might just be the best-sounding band in children's music, Rymer delivers a solid batch of songs that will engage both kids and adults. Brady Rymer was a member of the '90s roots-rock band From Good Homes. On Birthday, he's firmly placed in the AAA (adult album alternative) format, with hints of alt-country, cajun, and Motown thrown in for good measure. Fans of the Wallflowers, Counting Crows, and the Jayhawks will probably enjoy the musical textures here. I also heard not a little bit of Paul Westerberg in the album, both in the melodies and the voice, if not the desperation. Indeed, Rymer has a thoroughly positive outlook on childhood. Songs like "Look In Your Pocket" and "Diggin' Up a Dinosaur" talk about the power of childhood imagination, while the amusing "Dilly Dally Daisy" and "Keep Up With You" celebrates childhood energy ("Mama needs a hot bath every evening / Loofah sponges, essential oils... / If she's ever gonna keep up with you!"). Some listeners may find some of the slower and quieter songs (such as "Side By Side") a bit too earnest, but that's more an issue of taste -- your "tolerance for mushy," as it were. I personally preferred it when Rymer let the band loose, as in the opening track "Rock 'N' Roll Mother Goose," the cajun-styled Guthrie classic "Little Sacka Sugar," or the rollicking "Mama Don't Allow." (I also could've sworn I heard a bit of a sneer in "Instead of Watching My TV" as if Rymer was telling the child in question to do something instead of watching his TV. But maybe I'm reading too much into that.) A couple other notes: The album comes with a collection of snippets from the songs to challenge the listener to identify which song which snippet came from. This was harder than I anticipated. Must pay closer attention! It also comes with karaoke versions of three album tracks. This is such a cool idea that I can't believe it hasn't been done before (that I'm aware of). This is really great. In the end, if you're looking for something more "adult-sounding" than some of the children's pop/rock that's out there, this CD is for you. (My wife, who definitely fits that category, really likes the CD.) It's best for ages 4 to 9. Recommended. Available at the usual online suspects.
We cover the waterfront here at Zooglobble, news-wise. There is no expiration date for news here -- a week old, a year old -- if I haven't seen it before, I'm willing to pass it on. I'm especially happy with these two bits of information, because they involve bands/artists in which women play major roles. My wife is happy, too -- upon hearing recently that we'd soon be getting a female-fronted CD -- she said, "About time!" (Or words to that effect.) Guess our female children's artists' section needs beefing up. Aaaaanyway, the first bit of news comes from PBS Kids, which announces its Earth Day broadcast plans, including:
"the world premiere of three Earth Day-themed music videos from Milkshake, the award-winning kids' rock band fronted by Lisa Mathews and Mikel Gehl that has captured the ears – and the hearts - of kids and parents alike. The music videos, which focus on taking care of the Earth and keeping it clean, were written exclusively for PBS KIDS Share the Earth Day."Now, aside from the scary fact that Lisa and Mikel are apparently collecting body parts from people (capturing ears and hearts, folks -- wasn't "Silence of the Lambs" set in the Baltimore area?... hmmm....), this does sound kinda cool. Or, at least, I think this could be right in Milkshake's wheelhouse. Check out "Woo-Woo," off Bottle of Sunshine -- I realize that Milkshake's music definitely tends toward the heartfelt, but isn't that exactly the type of thing you'd expect to hear on Earth Day? The second bit of news comes from an old article recently posted (and written) by John Mitchell about an Elizabeth Mitchell concert in June 2005. The whole article is a nice piece on Mitchell (Elizabeth, not John), but I'm particularly interested in the information below (emphasis added):
"Mitchell went on to release two more CDs, one with Lisa Loeb, and is now working on another one. She has begun writing songs specifically for children, but remains committed to unearthing lost musical treasures."Well, given how little her website had been updated recently, I'm not surprised she's (in theory) working on another album. (They Might Be Giants and Dan Zanes are also not paying their webmasters enough to keep their websites hopping with new stuff.) Here's hoping the album comes out in 2006.