For the second straight year, I’ve worked with two great kids’ media reviewers, Stefan from Zooglobble.com and Amy from TheLovelyMrsDavis.com, to put together a consensus poll of DJs, reviewers, bloggers, and other people who pay a lot of attention to music for kids. The poll is called the Fids & Kamily Awards, and you can see the results at FidsAndKamily.com, along with reviews by a bunch of different writers.
Below is my ballot for the best family CDs of 2007:
1. Freedom in a Box, The Deedle Deedle Dees — The Brooklyn-based
Deedle Deedle Dees combine a great sense of fun and whimsy with a slightly askew view of history and Americana-tinged rocking out. My kids love it, and so will you. I still listen to this every few days, with or without my kids. TheDeedleDee
2. Mommy Says No!, Asylum Street Spankers — The Austin-based Spankers take their immensely varied musical styles into the world of kids’ music, and don’t follow the rules there any more than they do with their grown-up records. From touching ballads (“Sidekick”) to behind-kicking rawking out (a cover of
Nirvana’s “Sliver”), the CD is another one in regular rotation in the minivan.
3. It’s a Big World, Renee &
Jeremy — As I said in my initial review, this CD is flat-out gorgeous. This duo provides the best lullabies and mellowing-out songs of the year, hands down. Renee
4. Have You Never Been
Yellow?, Gustafer Yellowgold — Gustafer is a small yellow fellow from the sun, and this, the second CD/DVD set to follow his Earthly exploits, is sweetly hilarious and musically rich. The CD stands on its own, but the DVD “moving story book” is what makes the package very nearly perfect. GustaferYellowgold.com
5. Educated Kid, Hipwaders — Need some tight power guitar rock for your little ones? Who doesn’t? The Hipwaders are here for you. The CD could have only the title track and two other tracks (“Art Car” and “Speed of Love”) and it’d still be in my top 10; but lucky for all of us, it’s got even more. Hipwaders.net
6. Have You Ever Seen an Owl?, Terrible Twos — The Terrible Twos are the kids’-music iteration of The New Amsterdams, and their music for families is similar: hook-filled country-tinged rock that you’ll be humming even after the kids are in bed. myspace.com/theterrible
7. Alphabet Songs Vol. III, Steve Weeks — With this, Weeks finished up a trilogy of records with each song themed to a letter of the alphabet, a gimmick that largely serves to showcase his quick wit and songwriting skills. The music is straightforward (but not dull) folk rock along the lines of Barenaked Ladies, remarkably all performed by Weeks himself. SteveWeeksMusic.com
8. Calling All Kids, CandyBand — To put it in SAT test terms: CandyBand: kids’ music, The Clash: grownups’ music. These four moms from Detroit rock, and your neck will be sore from all the headbanging. CandyBand.com
9. Make Your Own Someday, The Jimmies — You know how when you watch The Office, you want to be friends with Jim and Pam? (That does happen to other people, right?) After listening to the Jimmies, you and your kids will want to be friends with Ashley Albert, the lead singer and primary songwriter. She just seems so darn fun and the songs are just so clever and catchy that your whole family will want to be her BFF. Gimme
10. Play, Various Artists — This indie-band-filled compilation avoids the trap of playing down to kids that similar compilations sometimes fall into. With Mudhoney rocking out and The Soccer Team’s handclap-filled “I’ll Never Fear Ghosts Again,” it’s a consistent crowd-pleaser. DeSotoRecords.com
Bill Childs is a law professor in western Massachusetts who still answers “Minnesota!” when asked where he’s from. He and his 8-year-old daughter produce a kids’ music radio show, “Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child,” weekly; check it out at SpareTheRock.com. Contact him at [email protected].