Sure, your tween may just want an iTunes gift card, by for younger kids, fill their stockings with music! Here are a bunch of our favorites for your enjoyment.
Blink of an Eye – Frances England
This may well be my favorite album of the year. It feels like the music hugs you when you listen to it. Frances England has a soft, indie rock style that lets you be mellow with the kids while still being checked in and engaged with the music. Two tracks are particularly lovely, “Tell Me It All” and “Bicycle Build for 2″, and I encourage you to go right now and listen to them on Frances England’s website.
Recess – Justin Roberts
Justin Roberts has this way of creating songs for kids that seem like they were plucked right from the id of his listeners. Recess, like Robert’s other albums, is chocked with singalong songs about secret robots, the shock of a princess wearing pink, the search for trains, and the tough classroom wait for recess. Your kids will rock out to this one.
Desert Island Disc – Recess Monkey
Not to be confused with Recess is our family’s favorite band, Recess Monkey, and their latest album is their best release since Field Trip. Wait… it might be their best album yet. It feels like a little vacation, with island instrumentation that comes across as a breath of fresh air. As usual, their lyrics encourage listeners to imagine the fantastical.
Kindie greats Morgan Taylor (Gustafer Yellowgold) and Todd McHatton joined forces for this rock adventure that’s even better than the sum of its talented parts. The music is sophisticated but accessible, and the songs hang together beautifully as an album. Remember albums? You’ll really want to sit down and listen to the whole thing each time.
We’re a Club in the Woods – Bears and Lions
I first encountered Bears and Lions at last year’s Kindiefest and remember thinking that this is what it would be like if The Lonely Island made kids’ music. When you’re in the company of these two goofball animals, you can’t help but be drawn in by their infectious sense of humor in their songs and performances. This is a club that you’ll want to join.
Champions of the Universe – Ratboy Jr.
Want your kids to enjoy punk rock but aren’t quite ready to throw them into the deep end of the pool? Why not start them with Ratboy Jr. instead? In possibly the most ringing endorsement I can give a CD, I’ll tell you that we got a lot of mileage out of this album in our summer road trip with the kids.
Pleased to Meet You – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
For further punk rock priming, this time of the British variety, look no further than Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke. I have an impulse to put on the old Doc Martens when I listed to this one, and for the kids, the songs are hilarious.
KidQuake! – The Not-Its
We had the pleasure of seeing The Not-Its live for the first time this year, and what a treat. I’ve never seen a band do a better job of getting kids out of seats. In between shows, you can rock out to their latest album, Kidquake. The songs are totally relatable… just ask Olive about the little brother in “Temper Tantrum.”
¡fantastico! – Lucky Diaz
You don’t have to speak Spanish to enjoy this all-Spanish album from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, worthy recipients of the Latin Grammy award for Best Children’s Album. One of our favorite Lucky Diaz songs is “Say What?” and its Spanish counterpart “¿que Dices?” is equally awesome.
First Songs – Danny Lion
The Danny of Danny Lion in Dan Flannery of Flannery Brothers fame, and he’s also a trained preschool teacher which is apparent in these First Songs. You almost feel like he’s down on the floor with the little ones when you listen to it. Our preschool is going to get a copy of this one.
I Like Everything About You – Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble
Some of the instruments on this album are gongi bells, nose flute, tin cans, bamboo, chopsticks, toys, and the human body. There might be some more traditional instruments thrown in as well. Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble has taken songs from around the world and imbued them with a lush African influence. You’ll want to make this the soundtrack to your day. Here’s a group I’d love to see live.
When the World Was New – Dean Jones
This solo album from Dog on Fleas frontman Dean Jones takes a look at our strange human condition. The title track asks, “When the world was new what did people do?” and the rest of the album takes a look at what humans have done since then. Why, we’ve made friends, developed a prehensile grip, and done all kinds of other absurd things. This is a strange, wonderful ride.
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