I love it when Fids and Kamily judging time rolls around, given me an excuse to block out all else and listed to the giant stack of awesome kids’ and family CDs I’ve let accumulate. Being a judge for Fids and Kamily is no easy task. There are so many talented people doing great work, but the music that rises to the top for me are the artist doing something a little bit different than the rest. I also weight heavily those who create songs that get stuck in my head with me happy to have them there.
<drumroll>The top 15 albums of 2012 are…</drumroll>
1. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Can You Canoe?
2. Various Artists – Science Fair
3. Recess Monkey – In Tents
4. Lunch Money – Spicy Kid
5. Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower – Blue Clouds
6. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Make Believers
7. Randy Kaplan – Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie
8. Dog on Fleas – Invisible Friends
9. Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band – A Potluck
10. Ozomatli – Ozomatli Presents OzoKidz
11. The Pop Ups – Radio Jungle
12. Gustafer Yellowgold – Gustafer Yellowgold’s Year in the Day
13. Elena Moon Park – Rabbit Days and Dumplings
14. Sugar Free Allstars – All on a Sunday Afternoon
15. Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower – Little Seed
As judges, we were asked to provide our list of the 10 best titles, and as with last year and the year before, I’m happy to reveal my top 10 list because, yes, I should have written in-depth posts about how great these albums are. Please accept my blurbs and go check them out.
1. Various Artists – Science Fair – I love this album, chocked to the gills with songs performed by girls and women all about science. Seriously. It’s awesome. You can check out my GeekMom review of it.With our ballots we were asked to name our five favorite songs of the year, and my top two come from this album, “Goldilocks Zone” by Frances England and “To Be a Fossil” by Lunch Money. This album is how I realized I’d been missing out on Lunch Money, which brings me to…
2. Lunch Money – Spicy Kid – Lunch Money is the closest to the kind of grownup music I like, alternarock songs with great beats and gorgeous lady vocals. I put on this one just to make myself happy.
3. Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band – A Potluck – This is happy-making music with some refreshing instrumentation that’s got roots in a few different decades and countries. The track “Lines and Dots” is my favorite — a super nerdy math song.
4. Recess Monkey – In Tents – I know, I know, a new Recess Monkey album came along and I. Didn’t. Even. Tell. You. About. It. And yet we’ve filled Ozzie’s early morning YouTube fests with the lemonade and popcorn and dancing bears of this new circus themed album. Let me make it up to you. Here’s a video of Recess Monkey’s live circus collaboration with Seattle’s Teatro ZinZanni.
5. Gustafer Yellowgold – Gustafer Yellowgold’s Year in the Day – And a new Gustafer Yellowgold album, too?! It’s true. Our friend from the sun is back, with songs thematically linked to the different times of the year. This album is packed with all of the lovely melodies you’ve come to expect, with a bonus “Pancake Smackdown”.
6. Big Bang Boom – Because I Said So (an honorable mention on the Fid’s and Kamily list) – This southern rock album is full of moments that bring to mind other rock from the region, notably early REM. I kept expecting Mike Mills to start belting out some harmonies.
7. Grenadilla – Can’t Wait – This group of six women pack the album with great rhythms and gorgeous vocals. (Can you see a theme that I’m a sucker for great female vocalists? It’s true.) Their music is inspired by kwela, a South African music style, lending an irresistible world beat.
8. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Make Believers – Kindie’s favorite rapper is back, with an album sophisticated enough to please adult ears but fun enough to get kids rapping along. The song “Brainstorm” is particularly awesome. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo makes me happy just by exisiting, rounding out rock, pop, and folk-centric kids’ music with a much-needed does of hip hop.
9. Elena Moon Park – Rabbit Days and Dumplings – Speaking of albums that add new genres…Rabbit Days and Dumplings features folk and kids’ songs from East Asia. You may not know any of the languages represented here, but you’ll love listening to it anyway. I guarantee it’s unlike anything else your kids are listening to.
10. Astrograss – The Colored Pencil Factory – I know a couple of my fellow bloggers will be outraged by my omission of The Okee Dokee Brothers. It’s a good album, and I certainly don’t begrudge it its number one spot, I just saved my banjo-filled slot in my countdown for the faster-paced Astrograss.
All of the albums are worth checking out. See what tickles the fancies of you and your kids. Oh, and don’t forget you can find all of these and more in the music section of my handy new Media Macaroni store.