Lee Winkelman is a Casual Listener who follows kids music releases way more closely than I do. Here are his picks in this category for the year:
Best Kids Music of 2009
The golden age of kids music continues with another strong year. There is nothing on this list that I wouldn’t be willing to listen to without my kid around
Here are my (and my five year old son Henry’s) 12 favorite kids albums of 2009, listed in order:
1. Duplex - Worser (Mint Records). This record is an indie music delight. It is by a collective of
2. They Might Be Giants - Here Comes Science (Walt Disney Records). This great kids record isn’t much of a departure from TMBG’s adult records. I remember dancing to one of the songs on the record – Why Does the Sun Shine? – at TMBG concerts in the 1990s long before they released a kids record. Be sure and get the version with the
3. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - Easy (Happiness Records). Kid-hop music with a positive message. Luck is the best hip-hop song of the year to prominently feature a banjo.
4. Peter Himmelman - My Trampoline (Minivan Record). Straight ahead, upbeat rock and roll that will appeal to fans of Bruce Springsteen or John Fogherty. Fun to dance to. I love the organ on “Florie Loves Flowers” and the ballad that asks the plaintive question: “Are There Any Kids Named Steve Anymore?”
5. The Macaroons - Let's Go Coconuts! (JDub Records). You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this kids record, but it helps. The lyrics may be a bit puzzling to the goyim (what's a mezuzah? A talis?), but the fun, rocking tunes will appeal to everyone. For those looking for a Jewish religioius experience, please note that the lyrics are silly with very little spiritual content.
6. Ziggy Marley - Family Time (TUFF GONG WORLDWIDE). An easy-going, likeable record. Ziggy sings with members of his family and special guests stars. It is not a hard core reggae record (unless you consider his father’s “Redemption Song” to be hard core reggae). Guests include Willie Nelson, Toots Hibbert, Paul Simon, Elizabeth Mitchell and Laurie Berkner. Produced by Don Was.
7. Renee & Jeremy - C'mon (One Melody Records). They’ve left the gentle lullabies of their first record behind, rocking out on pretty melodies with real drums. It still has a sweet, lo-fi quality to it, like it was recorded in their living room.
8. Dan Zanes - 76 Trombones (Festival Five Records). The dean of contemporary kids music takes on Broadway standards. His loose and ragged style roughs up the songs in an appealing way. A fun album.
9. Los Lobos - Los Lobos Goes Disney (Walt Disney Records). The souped up rhumba of Los Lobos’ Heigh Ho is completely contagious. Los Lobos takes (mostly) familiar Disney songs and puts their own spin on them, making them sound fresh again. I am especially fond of the surf-guitar instrumental Wish Upon A Star/Small World medley.
10. Randy Kaplan - Loquat Rooftop (Yellow Thing Records). An urban folk troubadour sings a mix of originals and well chosen covers (Leadbelly, the Coasters, Hank Williams). He’s a charming story teller with a good sense of humor.
11. Robbert Bobbert - Bubble Machine (Little Monster Records). Robbert Bobbert is the leader of the power-pop band Apples in Stereo. On this kids record, he brings the same infectious energy and catchy melodies to his kids music.
12. Gustafer Yellowgold - Mellow Fever (Apple-Eye Productions/Redeye). Gustafer Yellowgold is the creation and alter-ego of singer-songwriter and graphic artist Morgan Taylor.
12. The Sippy Cups - The Time Machine (Snacker Disc). The
Most (but not all) of the records above can be found at www.pokeypup.com or cdbaby.com. The rest can be found by googling the record company.