It’s the depths of winter, and my inclination is to curl up on the sofa and moan piteously until spring. But that’s not good for us, nor for our kids, so this month, some brand new music that will get you — and them — up and dancing.
Lunch Money — Dizzy
I love Columbia, S. C.’s Lunch Money, and so does my entire family. They’re one of our two or three favorite kids’ bands. Their first record, 2004’s Silly Reflection, is a small masterpiece of clever pop, melodic and playful with a light touch, with a clear and expressive singer in Molly Ledford. I’ve been waiting, not very patiently, for their new record, and it doesn’t disappoint. Highlights include the not-quite-manic title track and the witty "Tiny Dinosaurs," about the many chicken-sized dinosaurs that might, if you meet them, "bite your knees." "It Only Takes One Night to Make a Balloon Your Friend" is a great example of Ledford’s ability to see things that kids notice, singing, over a sweet mandolin base, about how it just takes one night for a helium-filled balloon to come down to be friends. The expanded instrumentation makes for a little more breadth of sounds without any muddling. LunchMoneyMusic.com
Bunny Clogs — More! More! More!
Adam Levy of Twin Cities’ veteran band the Honeydogs put together this quirky and utterly delightful record with help from some of his band mates plus various other Minneapolis folks (including John Munson of Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare). Channeling alternately Prince, Dylan, T. Rex, and, as the press materials suggest, Shel Silverstein, it’s smart without ever forgetting to be crazy catchy. Myspace.com/bunnyclogs
Robbert Bobbert — Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine
Robbert Bobbert (Robert Schneider of the incredible indie-rock band Apples in Stereo) has been talking about releasing a kids’ record for over two years now, originally planning to release it on the now-gone V2 records. Many of the songs are, like Apples in Stereo’s, filled with sunny harmonies, clever guitar/keyboard interplay, and a unique combination of modern sounds and ’60s rock vibes. It doesn’t all work perfectly — there are some Chipmunks-esque vocals that grate pretty fast — but what does work is terrific. LittleMonsterRecords.com
Captain Bogg & Salty — Emphatical Piratical
Captain Bogg & Salty, out of the Pacific Northwest, have always been a little befuddling to me: an entirely pirate-themed rock band for kids. It always amazes me that such a thing can succeed. But succeed it does, and for good reason: Their video for "Pieces of Eight" from an earlier CD is one of the best videos ever made for a kids’ band (find it on YouTube right now if you haven’t seen it), and they’re very funny and skilled lyricists and musicians. This record, featuring more driving-but-not-grating rock, shows off their abilities, especially as humorists (some of the members have sketch comedy and theater backgrounds), but doesn’t let up on the music side either. Their humor hits the sweet spot for elementary-age kids just about perfectly, and there’s plenty to amuse adults too. EatALime.com
Bill Childs is a law professor in western Massachusetts. He and his 8-year-old daughter produce a kids’ music radio show, "Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child," weekly; check it out at www.sparetherock.com. Contact him at [email protected] and tell him other artists he should know about.