19 May 2006

Parent Hacks admin: What are YOU listening to?

I've always got my ear to the ground (to the radio?) for good kid music, whether it's specifically geared toward kids or not. I'd love to know what your family's favorites are. Which artists or albums get you and your kids going?

P. S. As you know, I highlight kid-friendly music I like in the "What we're listening to" sidebar of Parent Hacks. Send me the name of your favorite album or song, or the URL of your iTunes iMix, and, if it pleases my highly-sensitive ear, I'll happily link to it and you. (An iMix is a playlist of songs you create in iTunes and then publish to the iTunes Music Store. Search for "imix" in the iTunes help system for details.)

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They Might Be Giants, "NO!" is one of our favorites, and our children love to dance to Big Bad VooDoo Daddy.

Downtempo stuff like Bonobo and Thievery Corporoation never fail to chill our 16-month old son out when he's tired or upset (in fact, we put the Bonobo CD "Dial 'M' for Monkey" on every night for him to go to sleep to.

He's also a big fan of Talking Heads -- there are a few high-energy songs like "Who Is It?" , "Book I Read", and "Don't Worry About the Government" that are perfect kid's songs: the lyrics are clearly understandable, easy to learn, and express concepts that a kid can wrap their head around (at least on the surface).

Lunch Money's Silly Reflection album ... nice indie music for kids that doesn't make a parent want to rip his/her ears off ...

http://www.emusic.com/album/10858/10858543.html

The Bottle Let Me Down - Songs for the Bumpy Wagon Ride is a compilation from Bloodshot Records. My kids LOVE this CD and so do I. "Don't Wipe Your Face On Your Shirt" and "Senor El Gato" are just two of our favorites.

Our two-year old loves listening to Jack Johnson with us. Yes Jack did the Curious George soundtrack but the albums "In Between Dreams" and "On and On" are the real gems. The songs are very melodic and engaging.

The Amazing Adventures of Kid Astro by Ralph's World is one of my favorites; my son is only 15-months old, so I can't really tell if he likes it or not. I recently discovered that his daycare still uses an album I grew up listening to; hearing it instantly transports me to 1984. You can get it on iTunes as Disney's Children's Favorite Songs Volume 1. Classic tunes sung by singer/songwriter Larry Groce.

Anything in Putumayo's "___ Playground" series: fun music for kids (and adults--though it appeals to kids, it's not "children's music" by any means) from around the world. Lately, our family has been enjoying World Playground (volumes 1 and 2), Carribean Playground, French Playground, and African Playground.

Oh yeah, and Sandra Boynton's "Philadelphia Chickens" is always a big hit (though this really is "children's music").

In our house, They Might Be Giants' Here Come The ABC's is king.

We also love The Backyardigans CD and the Duplex featuring Veda Hille, her kids and friends: http://www.mintrecs.com/duplex.php.

Due to his love of the movie, we also listen to the Iron Giant soundtrack.

My favorites are from your neck of the woods: Captain Bogg & Salty of Portland (http://www.boggandsalty.com).

They are now available on iTunes, and Amazon offers their very dancable track scurvy as a free download. It takes some digging to find it there, so follow the link from my entry here (http://tinyurl.com/khv2x) to enjoy the pirate-ical goodness.

The aforementioned They Might Be Giants are the other great love of my toddler's dance life. :)

I love my Sirius satellite radio. If my little guy is in the car with me, we'll listen to channel 116 'Kidstuff' for fun, happy music or 'Symphony Hall' on channel 80 for some soothing, calming classical music.

Our favorite is Laurie Berkner. We have all 4 of her CD's on rotation!

Follow up TMBG's "No" with "Here Come The ABCs!" (http://www.giantkid.net/) featuring songs like "E eats everything", "The Alphabet of Nations", and "Who Put the Alphabet in Alphabetical Order?". Very kid listenable as well as adults, even over and over (and over). Also, my daughter is in to Dev2.0(http://tinyurl.com/bkat5), the disneyfied version of DEVO with sanitized lyrics and sung by a group of 10-13 year olds musicans and produced by Gerald Casale (of original Devo)

Mamaloo posted: "Due to his love of the movie, we also listen to the Iron Giant soundtrack."

There is a "rock opera" by Pete Tonwshend based on the same book as the movie called "Iron man", it is very good musically and can usually be found used or in the bargain bins.

My daughter loved Red Hot Chili Peppers (specifically the By the Way album), The Triplets of Belleville soundtrack, and things with a heavy dancy beat. Also, Fred Penner from Canada was a big favorite for a while.

I second the motion on "NO" by TMBG and on THE BOTTLE LET ME DOWN.

Pottery Barn Kids put out several CDs with a great mix of songs. The songs are regular, adult radio songs (mostly oldies, done by the original artists), but put together in these collections they are great for kids. You can find PBK "Let's Play" (random stuff)and PBK "Let's Dance" (a lot of Motown) on eBay right now. Check out the song lists.

We've been loving a couple of newer artists - Parker Bent and Frances England. Also, I just reviewed the new Dan Zanes album, Catch That Train, over on my blog (http://lovelydavis.blogspot.com). Lots of kiddie music recommendations and reviews there.

My kids love Pianosuarus. They are a band that plays exclusively on toy instruments. The album is called "Groovy Neighborhood". Amazon has a couple in stock and there are new/used options there, too. And I just saw that Rounder has made them available on iTunes! woot!

A great fun band.

Pianosaurus at the iTMS:

http://tinyurl.com/ghak7

Our soon-to-be-4-year-old princess likes to listen to anything playing on Noggin (Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner, etc.) along with Hillsong Kids (Australia) and Veggietales.

My passion for music started at a very early age, I have always been interested and attracted to all types of musical instruments. I was 3 years old when I had a a very vivid dream.

I was at home and we had family and guests in the living room, among them there was this hippie guy sitting in a chair and playing his guitar, all the attention was focused towards him, I was very impressed with his music and his presence, I wanted to play his guitar but didn't know how to ask, so, I followed my mom as she took my baby sister to her crib for the afternoon nap, I wanted my mom to ask him to let me play the guitar, I couldn't reach her in time, because as she entered my sister's bedroom, this big faceless black figure wearing a cape came out of the kitchen and took me away covering my mouth, I died in the dream. 34 years later, I still remember it very well, it became clear to me then, that music would always make everything ok, music was my personal superhero. And so, I spent a great deal of my childhood immersed in my Grandpa's old upright piano, I was safe and happy playing around those music notes.

I was 6 years old and my mom was expecting a new baby, we knew it was a boy, we were going to name him Luciano, it was such an excitement, month after month, week after week, all the wait, time seemed to pass so slowly then, I would take out all the little clothes, adoring the little shoes, I remember the softness of grandma's and great grandma's newly knitted blue wool sweaters for the baby, I would push on the empty stroller around the yard all day, anticipating every minute of the arrival of my new baby brother. I already loved him so much. I was real happy.

My mom had a rough pregnancy, she had to spend months in the hospital on bed rest, I just wanted her to come home soon with my new baby brother. So, the day finally came when my sister and I were going to go see my mom and the baby at the hospital. My dad got us in the car and told us that things hadn't gone as planned and they were going to keep the baby and my mom in the hospital a little longer, he lied to us, the baby died 13 hours after he was born due to respiratory failure.

I attended the viewing and the funeral and remember standing outside on a beautiful day, starring at the blue sky and a few full round clouds like the ones we get in Brasil, they never let me see the baby or the coffin, and the sky didn't seem to have any answers for me either.

I could never really get over that loss, time made it better, music made it better and working as a nanny while living in NY and LA in the course of 12 years made it better too.

One day I just started hearing babies in a total different way, among all the tasks involved in baby care and sometimes chaos of their crying and the responsability of providing at all times, safety, comfort, feeding, love. peace and mental engaging, I was moved not by what I heard but by "how" I heard them. I realized that I could write complete songs given the short and sweet melodies their baby talk produce at times.

I'm a musician, I'm a composer and a sound engineer. I decided to create babysinger.com using my musical and technical abilities to preserve a baby's first vocal sounds in art form.

My love for babies has to do with a personal loss and everything I learned from the ones I cared for all these years, babies shouldn't die, they are a source of joy and should live. I found a way to make them live in song, I can make them sing, inspire and keep this love alive.

Eliane Delage
http://tinyurl.com/g9w67

dan zanes! And Trout Fishing In America. But the Noodle Girl's favorite dance music is the Chemical Brothers.

We love Captain Bogg, too. But I have also indoctrinated my little scallywags with the love of all things Springsteen. You can take the mama out of Jersey, but...

The Terrible Twos!

They are the "kid friendly" songs recorded by the group also known as The New Amsterdams. Their CD has been selling at New Ams shows all Spring, but won't be released by a label until September for some reason.

You can download two tracks from the album here:

http://theterribletwos.net/index2.html

My boys (2 and 6) love SKA: The Toasters, The Specials, English Beat. Also The GoGos, Stray Cats and Parliament.

I made a couple of mix tapes (and, more modernly, iPod playlists) of mostly adult-targeted music that have been my 4 year-old's preferred listening for more than two years. And mostly we don't get too tired of it. Sources are from all over, but some great compilations I took from include:

Odetta: The Vanguard Years
Man, has she got some pipes. Sings some standard folk and gospel tunes that everyone should be exposed to (including a moving rendition of "Battle Hymn of the Republic").

Folkways: A Vision Shared
Various artists (Bob Dylan, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Springsteen, etc.) doing Woody Guthrie songs. Again, some required Americana...I mean, ya gotta know "This Land Is Your Land," right?

Stay Awake
Various artists (Sinead O'Connor, David Byrne, Sun Ra, etc.) doing songs from Walt Disney movies. Some are a little dark, like Tom Waits singing, "Heigh-ho, it's off to work we go," but mostly fun.

Cool Runnings soundtrack
Peppy and cheery reggae from a very sunny movie, plus a couple of tracks of overwrought movie background music. Various artists (Diana King, Jimmy Cliff, The Wailing Souls, etc.).

The Bobs: Cover the Songs of...
A virtuosic a capella group does covers from the last 40 years...from "Bird on a Wire" to "Disco Inferno," they do it all.

Trout Fishing in America: Big Trouble
This one is an overtly kids album, but stands up to repeated listening. A rock/folk duo and quite clever.

Not music, but fabulous for car listening, is Eric Idle reading his book "The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat."

Thanks, everybody for all the good suggestions!

I have to put in a good word for Justin Roberts (justinroberts.org) -- catchy, funny pop songs with kid themes. A very fun live show as well. My 4 year old son is crazy about him.

My 4 1/2-year-old daughter's favorites are TMBG, hands down. Recently she's been grooving to Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang. She still sings songs from her two "Wiggleworms" collections. You can check out my site (http://zooglobble.blogspot.com) for a whole mess of kids' music reviews (including many of the artists listed above, with more on the way).

Anything by the Thunderlords - heavy metal for kids, with kid lyrics. "I Like Dirt" and "Ice Cream Headache" are available on download.com!

I don't think I saw this mentioned above, but Lisa Loeb put out a children's CD that has quickly become on of my favs and I don't have kids yet.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0001DMVM6/

Great site, btw.

We like the For the Kids comp in our house, Dan Zanes, TMBGs (the LMNOP song is the best), and Elizabeth Mitchell.

We also just expose her to everything we listen to. She hears everything from Sufjan Stevens to Sigor Ros to Tenacious D (I think we're going to have to retire that one soon).

Don't forget Pete Seeger's Concert for Children

We like lots of the kid's stuff mentioned above. We also like a local San Francisco guy named Enzo Garcia. His records are available from cdbaby and at his website http://www.enzogarcia.com

lots of great folk songs on Breakfast with Enzo done in his own adaptations. His pink LMNO Music CD is AWESOME!, but I don't think it's on CD baby yet. You can probably get a copy by emailing him direct. Or it should be up pretty soon. All the LMNO Music CDs have classic folk songs, original songs. Guest musicians like Ralph Carney....

Check out Rebecca Frezza and Big Truck. All original kids music that's got a great vibe. Best things about it: no canned synthesized instruments, different musical styles, Frezza's smooth voice, even adults can listen to it over and over again.
And if you can see them live in concert, you're in for a fantatic show! They rock!
www.bigtruckmusic.com

I personally don't like folk music which is what most kids' music is. So we like to listen to "The Big Bang!" Rockosaurus Rex. They're a hard rock or heavy metal band that plays songs like This Old Man and Six Little Ducks. They totally rock! I'm talking distorted guitars and big drum beats. Awesome stuff! I found them from a review on babble.com by Ayun Halliday. Their website is http://www.rockosaurusrex.com

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