Sunday, November 19, 2006

***2006 Top Twenty Albums***

If anyone is interested, here are my picks for the top 20 kids' albums of roughly 2006. My criteria were:

1. Would I, as an adult, be willing to listen to this CD over and over?
2. Is this artist presenting anything new?
3. If there are cover songs on the CD, are they performed in a unique way?
4. Does it rock?

And here they are:

Number Twenty : Electric Storyland - The Sippy Cups
Number Nineteen : Every Word I Say is True - Daniel Schorr
Number Eighteen : Plays Well with Others - Uncle Rock
Number Seventeen : World - Teacher and the Rockbots
Number Sixteen : Prelude to Mutiny - Captain Bogg & Salty
Number Fifteen : Josh Levine for Kids - Josh Levine
Number Fourteen : Eat Every Bean and Pea on your Plate - Daddy a Go Go
Number Thirteen : Rockin' in the Forest with Farmer Jason - Farmer Jason
Number Twelve : LMNO Music-Pink - Enzo Garcia
Number Eleven : Best Friends - Ellen and Matt
Number Ten : Stories from Duke Puddintown - Greg Loop
Number Nine : Jim Gill Sings Moving Rhymes for Modern Times - Jim Gill
Number Eight : The Hollow Trees - The Hollow Trees
Number Seven : ACTIVATE! - Joel Caithamer
Number Six : You Are My Little Bird - Elizabeth Mitchell
Number Five : STARBOY Soundtrack - Lee Feldman
Number Four : The Great Adventures of Mr. David - Mr. David
Number Three : Fascinating Creatures - Frances England
Number Two : When I Grow Up - dog on fleas
Number One : "Hey You Kids!" - The Jellydots

Monday, November 13, 2006

***Jason Falkner***

What happens when a new baby comes into your life? Well, you stumble through your work day in a proud, drowsy stupor; you marvel at the awesomeness of your newly-constituted family unit; and you end up not giving a crap about stuff like kids' record reviews. So, after taking three weeks off when our son was born, and in the midst of another three as my wife goes back to work, I have fallen way behind on what's going on in the world of children's music.

An old bandmate recently reminded me of this CD, though, as he and his wife had a baby in September and wondered if I had reviewed, or even heard, the album. Now, as a band we collectively worshipped the Beatles and deeply admired the work of Jason Falkner, a musician I've mentioned a few times in past reviews. The combination of the two couldn't possibly miss, I thought, and I was right. BUT the resulting CD, Bedtime with the Beatles, released on Sony Wonder in 2001, sounded nothing like I had imagined. Falkner is somewhat famous for his "wall-of-sound" production, so I expected jaunty, finger-poppin' Beatles instrumentals. Falkner, however, decided to slow everything down, keep it all relaxed, and turn in a truly inspired lullaby album.

Most songs are pretty faithful to the originals, with material chosen from A Hard Day's Night, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour, the "White Album", and Let It Be. But Falkner uses just the right amount of ambient sounds and personal touches in decorating his lovingly recreated instrumental versions of Beatles classics to make the songs unique. The clavinet runs during "Blackbird" and the small swells of strings at the end of "Michelle" will catch your ear; and at a lullaby's pace, you can really hear the beauty of the melodies in "And I Love Her" and "Here There and Everywhere".

Bedtime with the Beatles has been road tested, as well: my wife and I play the CD every night during our little one's bathtime, and he really digs it. It makes the whole end-of-the-night routine a very soothing experience for everyone (plus, it's hard not to sing along quietly to all the songs). A must have for all new parents (the CD is available in blue and pink), for Beatles fans, and for music lovers in general. Beautiful stuff.