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Halloween Mixtape!

halloweenLeaves rustle and the chill of the autumn breeze tingles your spine. Aliens, superheroes, wild beasts, curious creatures and masked monsters are at every turn – EEK! It’s Halloween! On this magical night of kiddie cosplay, a child’s imagination is king. Our Halloween Mixtape is chock-full of  tunes by musicians who dare your little trick-or-treaters to dream, dress up, be thankful for their treats, share their treasures and of course, dance and sing along like it’s Saturday night, every night. No tricks here, just good jams:

Side A: Boos and Ghouls

  1. UFO – “Did they pull us into space? Or am I just a head-case? Or maybe I’m now part of the alien race?” Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights, from “Bandwagon” 
  2. Superhero You “Doing this, doing that, doing all that we could, using our power for good!” Steve Songs, from “Orangutan Van”
  3. Wild Things – “I love when they do the wild romp in the jungle and the swamp.” Miss Nina, from “Sha Doo Be Doop”
  4. Space Monkey – “If I could hang please from that big piece of cheese, I’d be the first monkey on Mars.” Jambo, from “Hootenanny”
  5. What Do You Wanna Be?“Farmer, doctor, fireman, what do you want to be?” Milkshake, from “Got a Minute?”
  6. Song in the Trees – “There’s a song in my dreams, it’s calling me … it’s singing ‘oooooh.'”  Preschool of Rock, from “Everything Makes a Sound”
  7. Share“Share, you’ll get a turn, too.” Renee & Jeremy from “The Best Foot Forward Series: SHARE!”
  8. Tyrannosaurus “You’re the mightiest beast to ever feast!” Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band, from “I’m So Glad”

Side B: Tricks, Treats and Treasure So Sweet

  1. Tattoo Me“Tattoo me with dragons and skulls that stick right to me.” Recess Monkey, from Deep Sea Diver
  2. Walkin’ The Dog“If you don’t know how to do it, I’ll show you how to walk that dog.” Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble, from “I Like Everything About You (Yes I Do!)”
  3. My Treasure“You’re my treasure, carried you the whole way home to my dresser.” Recess Monkey, from “Desert Island Disc”
  4. Move Like Saturday Night“I can see by the look in your eyes, you’re ready to move like Saturday Ni-i-ight. “ Francis England, from “Blink of an Eye”
  5. Itsy Bitsy Spider“The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out.” Frankie D & Steven Bernstein, from “15 Songs Every Kid Should Know (and Will Love!)
  6. The Colors of the Sky“When nighttime arrives, the white moon shines above.”  Johnette Downing, from “Reading Rocks”
  7. Only Take What You Need“Choose a little, use it a lot and only take what you need.” Earth Mama, from “The Best Foot Forward Series: Gratitude Attitude”
  8. Whatever I Want To Be “Let’s run around and be just what we want!” Young Avenue Kids, from “Whatever I Want To Be”

CDs

Photo 1: http://mrpottersfuntimeblog.blogspot.com; photo 2: Mommy’s Alright.

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Autumn Music Reviews

The Colored Pencil Factory
Astrograss

It’s rootsy and bluegrassy – something revival lovers (e.g. Avett Brothers fans) will enjoy, and for their kids, silly lyrics about playing make believe (“Make it Up”), freaking out (“Freak Out”) and some traditional folk songs like “Shortenin’ Bread.”

The Grand Scream of Things
Andy Z

Hey, if the retailers can start rolling out Christmas stuff, we can get a little jump on enjoying some Halloween fun. Part narrative, part soundtrack, it’s an exciting musical adventure through Andy’s not-so-ordinary Autumn day. “Pumpkin Patch” is more treat than trick – an Oi! ode to everyone’s favorite harvest time tradition.

Raise a Ruckus
Hullabaloo

Although it’s a well-polished, well-intentioned, upbeat, pop-country record that’s certainly head-bob-worthy, there isn’t much ground being broken here.

Love is a Superpower
Ben Rudnick & Friends

This rolls through the eras and genres of music from ’50s rock to disco to reggae with cutesy songs about everything from food with attitude (“Chicken Soup Ballad” – think “Rawhide”) to a ditty about the magical, wonderful invention of the wheel (“Wheels”). 

Bubble Ride
Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys

Rich with a variety of acoustic instruments and soothing vocals, this is a perfect toddler-preschooler album that strikes the silly (“Tickle Monster”) and ballady (“What Am I to Do?”) balance.

Because I Said So
Big Bang Boom

In the world of kiddie rock/kindie, whatever you want to call it, parents like me long for the adult likability and kid-friendliness of bands like Big Bang Boom. They sound like a fun festival band you would feel comfortable seeing with everyone from a newborn to great-grandma. “Hippy Mom” is an adorable tribute to the DIY, flower-donning, free-wheeling and fun-loving mom we all kind of secretly want to be.

(Kick Out the) Summer Kid Jams

Mommy’s Alright’s summer jamz record collection …


(1) “In Tents,” Recess Monkey – Sideshows, freaks, geeks, animals, magicians and fortunetellers … come one, come all – the circus is in town!


(2) “Someone Else’s Shoes” from the Best Foot Forward Series/Recess Music – Ah, empathy. Kindness. Respect. They’re not always easy concepts for kids, but they’re all encouraged in these 15 tracks.


(3) “Backseat Driver,” The Cat’s Pajamas – “Juice box jams and car seat choreography.” Yep, that about sums it up. Great storytelling and funky grooves are great for road trips or just a jaunt to the playground.


(4) “Picasso, That’s Who! And So Can You!” Hope Harris – Each track spotlights a different artist from Bearden to O’Keeffe – exploring his or her style through lyrics and music.


(5) “World of Wonder,” Alison Faith Levy – It’s preschool pop with originals and a few classics for good measure (“Itsy Bitsy Spider”).


(6) “Sing Loud! Music for Families,” Melissa Green – These are upbeat ditties the entire family can appreciate with some fun covers like “Free to Be … You and Me” and a quintessential summer jam, “We Got The Beat” (featuring Brooke Shields – Iknowright?!).


(7) KinderAngst – These bratty bubblegum, pop-punk songs perfectly capture the sound of kids being kids. Frenemy jam “Let’s Play” has L7 written all over it. And holy smokes, Debbie Harry’s “Do It Yourself” is a sweet little ska tune. This will be in heavy rotation!

(Opening photo: still from Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom)

Sound It Out: Spring Music Reviews

Mo Phillips, “Monster Suit” – If an album is on a label called “Hey! Bacon!! Records,” it’s gotta be good, right? Right! “The Worst Party Ever Thrown” is a jangly ’60s groove that’ll have your tot doing the monkey. An ironic party favorite? Indeed. “Hot Lava” is a country ditty with fiddles and twangy vocals. “Rollerskate Banana Peels” is alt rock with girl-guy vocals … you see where this is going? With so many genres covered here, there is something for everyone. Consider it a picky kid’s delight. www.mophillips.com

La Bella Stella, “Celebrate Earth Music Series” – This is the perfect soundtrack for your Earth Day celebration on April 22nd – and every day! “La Bella Stella” is all about Earth’s relationship to space in 15 catchy tracks. Music that is educational, enjoyable and engaging is what most children’s musicians aim for and this album really nails it. I think I even learned a few things! My favorites are the upbeat “Galaxy Song,” a sweet little lullaby “Safe at Home” and the quirky “Pluto.”
www.recessmusic.com

 
The Good Ms. Padgett Sings “The Little Red Hen & Other Stories” – Gather ’round, it’s story time! Oh, how I adore The Good Ms. Padgett’s storytelling (aka Anna Padgett). From the I-can-do-it-by-myself tale of “The Little Red Hen” to a singsongy rendition of “Goldilocks,” the four classic tales told here keep kids eager to hear what happens next. www.thegoodmspadgett.com

 

 

London Philharmonic Orchestra, “The Soldier’s Tale” (Maestro Classics) – You have your kid pop, your kindie, your rock lullabies, and for the well-rounded young music enthusiast, you can’t forget classical. With an engaging morality play featuring a solider and his violin, “The Soldier’s Tale” features both a narrative and the captivating instrumentals of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat.” www.maestroclassics.com

 

Sukey Molloy, “I Am Happy!” – This album is fun for the little ones with listener participation (“I Put My Scarf On My Head”), exceptional sound effects (“Riding on a Ferry”) and learning numbers and languages (“Counting Song”). With Molloy’s signature gentle, upbeat vocals, it’s the perfect album for the preschool set. www.sukeymolloy.com

 

 

Orange Sherbet, “Delicious” – Probably not a great idea to review this album at lunchtime (*grrrrrowl*). All about four seasons of fresh, local foods and fun preparations, “Delicious” has all of the tasty ingredients of a kids’ new favorite. Need some meal inspiration using seasonal produce? Look no further than the four seasons food raps (tracks 2, 5, 9 and 13). OK, I need to address my hunger issues now. www.orangesherbet.org

 

Gustafer Yellowgold, “Year in the Day” – My son Ollie is a fan of “yellow guys” – from “The Simpsons” to Gustafer Yellowgold, his cartoon buddy from the creative mind of musician/illustrator Morgan Taylor. He was so excited about Gustafer’s new DVD/CD “Year in the Day.” In his latest effort, Gustafer takes us through 11 months of holidays and celebrations from New Years’s Day (“New is the New Old”) to Groundhog Day (“A Shadow”) to Halloween (“Werewolves Rock”). Once again, Taylor succeeds in everything he tries to achieve with Gustafer: creates whimsical, inspiring illustrations set to melodic mellow, yet exciting rock music tied together with a common theme that kids can relate to, all of which parents enjoy, too (not just tolerate). www.gustafer-store.net

Rockin’ Gift Guide Part 4: Favorite Kids Music from 2011

We reviewed a bunch of children’s albums this year – here’s what we liked the best and think would be music to the ears of the little ones on your list. (Plus a song/vid we couldn’t get enough of in 2011.)

“A Life of Song” by Ella Jenkins: She's a children's folk music institution. Whether you're familiar or listening to Jenkins for the first time, you will no doubt learn something about our history and be moved to sing and dance along.

“Gustafer Yellowgold's Infinity Sock” by Morgan Taylor (CD/DVD): Ollie loves it. I love it. I sing along when I'm putting on my makeup in the morning. What can I say? This odd little yellow man, his whimsical cast of friends and their silly and catchy songs are the jam.

Lucky Day” by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band: Children's music is always better when you're enjoying it as a family, and the fact that this folk-pop record is a family affair makes it that much more relatable.


“Beethoven’s Wig” by Richard Perlmutter: We're not huge classical music people, but Luddy never sounded so much fun thanks to Perlmutter's twist on the legendary composer and pianist!

This is good time rock'n'roll plain and simple, channeling T. Rex, The Stones, Skynyrd, The Cramps – garage, surf, country, pop rock. It's all here!

 


 

 

 

 

 

“The Other F Word”: Fatherhood is hardcore! (and a little emo)

“The Other F Word” – a new documentary from writer/director Andrea Blaugrund Nevins – offers a rare glimpse into the values, lifestyle and grit of the punk patriarchy from the tour bus to ballet practice.

Coming of age in the loud, fast, fuck-everything fringe, Nevins captures largely middle-aged punks today – graying and feeling their oats – getting real about life on the road while playing their biggest gig to date: fatherhood. “It’s tough to be a punk rock hero and still be an authority figure to my kids,” laments Pennywise frontman Jimmy Lindberg, who the film follows during an excruciatingly long world tour and sporadic, albeit moving, moments at home with his girls.

Honest, humorous and poignant, Lindberg – alongside peers Fat Mike (NOFX), Lars Frederiksen (Rancid), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Duane Peters (U.S. Bombs) and others – discusses not only the irony of being an authoritarian on the home front and punk prophet on stage, but the challenge to put food on the table as a career musician in a business that’s turning on its head. “I don’t think anyone of us, when we started punk rock, looked at [it] as a career decision with a long-term career path and pension plan,” admits Brett Gurewitz (Epitaph Records, Bad Religion).

Although the film addresses challenges any working-class parent can related to, it also reveals the painfully hilarious trappings exclusive to punk parenthood: Frederiksen questions his choice, pre-fatherhood, to get a forehead tattoo; Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus pokes fun of himself for buying clean versions of his albums for his kids; and Fat Mike, with his loud ensemble, draws attention from passersby while walking his daughter to school.

Righting their parents’ wrongs is a common thread among the dads – more than punk, even. Flea, who grew up in a violent, alcoholic home, gets choked up more than once discussing his outlook on parenthood – how it snapped him out of his party-hard lifestyle. We meet his good-natured teen daughter who clearly adores him. “My kids gave me life … they gave me a reason,” he says, verging on tears.

Everclear’s Art Alexakis croons “The Wheels on the Bus” on a car trip with his baby daughter. Also hailing from a poor, broken home, Alexakis, soft-spoken and sober, says he’s driven to embody the type of dad to his children that he longed for growing up.

Suit and tie or studded belt, you’d be challenged to find more committed parents than the dads of “The Other F Word.”

Watch the trailer:

Sound it Out: 140-Character Reviews!

Inspired by twittering critic (twitic?) Chris Weingarten of @1000TimesYes, I’m catching up on my children’s music reviews for the 140-character generation over at Twitter (@mommysalright) – can I get a RP?!

Richard Perlmutter/Beethoven’s Wig: Lotta lo-di-da! Luddy gets a playful lyrical makeover. www.beethovenswig.com

Wild Child/Celebrate Earth Series: Tree-hugger rhymes w/sounds of the African jungle. www.recessmusic.com

Ted Jacobs/Back to the Garden: EZ listening for kids (not a bad thing) based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems. http://t.co/oob2hwp1

In The Nick of Time/Making Silly Faces: Nick channels his favorite childhood music memories w/a sense of humor. http://tinyurl.com/3gk4736

Rocknoceros: Colonel Purple Turtle: Tongue-twisting narrator introduces lovable animal friends and life lessons. www.rocknoceros.com

Ben Rudnick & Friends: Live in Lexington: Jimmy Buffet-esque for kids/parents. Multi-ethnic, genre-hopping good time. www.benrudnick.com

Toddler Favorites/The Movie: Classic songs in DVD format to encourage singing along, learning and dancing. www.musicforlittlepeople.com

Recess Music/URSOME1: How we’re alike, how we’re diff., soothing, upbeat, fun, positive messages for little humans. www.recessmusic.com


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