Monday, June 29, 2009

***Max's Family Band***

When you first pop Max's Family Band into the CD player, the first thing you think is, "Man, this is like Broadway music for kids!" Well, it's not a coincidence: Gary and Yvette Negbaur have years of musical theater experience as both composers and performers, and they translate their talents into their kids' music debut album Max's Family Band. Inspired by the antics and day-to-day life of their son Max, the Negbaurs composed 15 songs for and about him that all parents can relate to, and some tunes will even get a giggle out of the grownups.

"Gobbledygookster Baby" is full of fun words, "One Sock Octopus" is entertainingly silly (hey, made me laugh!), and when it's "Haircut Time," what better style to sing about it than barbershop quartet? Dig how the swingin' verse of "Grandma Time" jumps to a doo-wop chorus, then try to follow the piano/vocal runs on "Picky," and dance to the hand jive boogie of "Rockin' Zebra."

Check out "The Color Medley," a four-song mini epic that utilizes Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles psychedelia, some Chicago blues, a little New Orleans shuffle, and a taste of hot Salsa to musically describe yellow, blue, green, and red. And on the songs "I'm Glad that You've Discovered M" and "Hello Mr. Diaper Hello" you can practically feel the heat from the footlights! Both songs would make perfect preschool stage productions, complete with tiny dancers and singers.

Max's Family Band is cute, catchy sing-along entertainment for your youngest music lover.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's a shame...

...that a bland product like The Jonas Brothers' Lines, Vines and Trying Times has massive advertising dollars behind it and hits #1 on the Billboard Charts, while a brilliant effort like Cathy Heller's Say Hello to the Sun remains relatively unknown. Both albums are aimed at the pop music-lovin' preteen crowd, but Heller beats the big label machine at their own game, hands down. Get the word out, people: there's awesome music out there for kids!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I've always been kinda cynical. I mean, nothing just blew my mind, ya know? Well, when I watched this live in 1983, It was truly one of the few times in my life that I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Crank up the volume and try to dance along at home.

This is for my friend Brad Breath.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Best Kids' Music of 2009... far! There are *lots* of great kids' CDs out this year, and I've pulled together a few of my favorites that have already hit the record store shelves. You can check out my list of Best Kids' Music of 2009 over at, and then let me know who you think should be included on the year-end list.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nuff Said...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

***Apple Brains***

With the innocent enthusiasm of Jonathan Richman, the eclectic inventiveness of Mr. David, and the general kookiness of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Apple Brains bursts upon the kids' music scene with their debut album Get Fruity!!

L.A.-based Allen Bleyle is the brainy apple behind Apple Brains, and his free-for-all, lo-fi, indie rock style is a refreshing addition to the children's music world. Get Fruity!! is a concept album of sorts, with every track highlighting fruits, vegetables, water, and healthy eating in general. But this isn't a preachy, stick-in-the-mud, instructional album by any means: Peanut Butter and Jelly show up as characters who tell the story of how they met; a little girl carries around a mango like a baby; a little boy weeps at the wonderfulness of tomatoes. Far Out!

Get Fruity!! kicks off with the sunny anthem "Apple x3," which begins as a cheerful ode and ends as a manic scream-along, followed by the awesomely weird story tune "Peanut Butter and Jelly How They Met Song." A wobbly melody line carries "Water the Loveliest Beverage," a tune that's half informational and half tribute, then comes the ridiculously catchy (and informative!) rave-up "Ba-na-nas."

The hyper-enthusiastic sing-along "Lots of Different Colors" describes the many hues of fruits and vegetables, while "The Stone Fruit Salute" celebrates peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots with a waltzing carnival-like sound of pump organs and slide whistles. The indie pop "Growing Like Crazy" features a kazoo/keyboard sound effects solo while describing the things that help us grow, and a laid-back island groove carries the mango-worshiping tune "A Mango is a Precious Egg to be Cherished."

The bilingual "Frutero" describes looking for something good to eat while walking around Los Angeles, while the brilliantly Ween-like "Tomatoes are So Wonderful That They Make Me Want to Cry" is pretty much what the title tells you, a tune that definitely needs to find its way onto The Dr. Demento Show. The entire album features guitar work by Kyle Thomas, highlighted by the goofy acid rock of "Wonder Worm," while the key-shifting "Each and Every," a song about seeds and plants, ends the album with a laugh-out-loud verse courtesy Lucia Turino.

Now, all these songs might seem a little silly, but Bleyle is serious about his enthusiasm for good eating. Check out his gushing blog post about Adam Leith Gollner's book The Fruit Hunters, and find out how it was the inspiration for one of the Apple Brains songs. And Bleyle gets indie cred with the roster of musicians used on Get Fruity!!: members of The Devil Makes Three, Feathers, Pretend You're Happy, and Witch (Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis' side project) help sing and play on the album.

Bottom line: in a perfect world Get Fruity!! would be a massive hit on college radio stations, with its dadaist lyrics, overdriven vocal recording, stick-in-your-head melodies, lo-fi aesthetic, and generally earthy vibe. And I think our similarly musically open-minded little listeners will dig it, as well. One of the best kids' albums of 2009, and definitely one of the most unique!

Monday, June 15, 2009

***The Sippy Cups***

Psychedelic rock and roll for kids? Look no further, just jump into The Sippy Cups' Time Machine!

Check out a full review of The Time Machine by The Sippy Cups over at

Saturday, June 13, 2009

***Bob Marley***

Ziggy's kids' album? Tops!! Dad Bob's, with Ziggy in the executive producer's chair? Meh, and here's why...

Full review of Bob Marley's B is for Bob

Thursday, June 11, 2009


So, do you like your Disney Pixar Soundtracks underwater, on the ground, in the air, or in outer space?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

***Tangerine Tambourine***

There aren't many high-profile kids' groups from Alabama, so it's extraspecially exciting when a Bama band bursts onto the children's music scene with such a solid debut CD. Tangerine Tambourine release their self-titled kids' album today on the Science Fair label, and indie rock lovers everywhere will love their mix of powerpop, country rock, and R&B influences.

Jump on over to for a full review of Tangerine Tambourine.

Monday, June 08, 2009

How 'Bout Some Tangerine Tambourine First Thing In The Morning?

Here's the first single from Tangerine Tambourine, Alabama's premiere kids' band. Their self-titled debut CD drops tomorrow, so look for a full album review then.

Tangerine Tambourine - "In the Morning"

Tangerine Animation from Tangerine Tambourine on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

***Spiral Up Kids***

Spiral Up Kids took the jam band ensemble playing of Phish, the nouveau country rock of Son Volt, and the earthy funk of The Band to create their groovy, harmony-filled, kids' music debut Spiral Up Kids.

Georgia Weinmann, Darren Cohen, and Tim Whalen, three Hudson Valley, NY parents, decided to document the lives of their toddlers through song. They got musical help from friends and fellow Hudson Valley musicians Jason Sarubbi on bass and background vocals, Ross Rice on piano and organ, Larry Packer on fiddle and mandolin, and Robin Baker on background vocals, while Darren handled guitar duty and background vocals, with Tim on drums and lead vocals.

Highlights of Spiral Up Kids include the jam band groove of "Friends," the New Orleans shuffle of "Sugar," and the electric bluegrass of "In the Fiddle is a Song," a tune based on Durga Bernhard's picture book (she also designed the CD package). The group really channel the spirit of The Band on the vocal phrasing of "My Kitty and Me," while the sound of late-70s Crosby, Stills & Nash is revived on "Rainy Day Play."

If the H.O.R.D.E. tour was still on the road, Spiral Up Kids would be the most likely children's band to be up on stage. Solid, earthy, fun kids' music debut.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

***Andy Mason***

Andy Mason's sophomore kids' album continues where Everybody Likes Pizza! left off, but with more instruments in the mix. Play It Again! is a solid collection of Americana tunes, slyly instructional songs, ridiculous sing-alongs, and eclectic covers. Everybody Like Pizza! was pretty much a solo acoustic affair, but this time around, Portales, New Mexico's favorite kids' musician utilizes jangly piano, a taste of accordion, twangy guitar, and the occasional standup bass.

Play It Again! kicks off with the honky tonk sing-along "My Cat's Got Fleas!" and the energetic tribute to swashbucklers everywhere, "The Pirate Song." Boogie woogie while you "Wash Your Hands," then follow along with the Simon Says-like "Monkey See, Monkey Do," a tune that sounds like a tinkling piano version of John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A."

Mason lets his southwestern musical influences show on the cantina canciĆ³n "The Toilet Training Dance," the bilingual "Los Colores," and the Spanish-language ballad "A Mi Madre" and counting song "Los Numeros." And the country-flavored, perfect-for-Summer-Reading tune "Everybody Likes to Read" declares that ... well ... everybody likes to read!

What's interesting is Mason's choice of cover tunes: his barroom story-song version of the traditional "Hagdelina Magdelina;" his cajun-spiced version of Trout Fishing In America's great song "My Hair Had a Party Last Night," which fits in perfectly with Mason's Americana sound; his faithful cover of William Hargreaves' "Delaney's Donkey," made popular by Irish singer Val Doonican in the late '60s; and his breezy cover of The Housemartins' "Sheep," from their 1986 album London 0 Hull 4. Mason reworks the lyrics to turn "Sheep" into a song about trying to get to sleep, rather than The Housemartins' original sunny tirade against the easily-led masses.

Play It Again! ends with a live version of the crowd participation summer camp song "Bubble Gum," and the epic lullaby instrumental "Lalabye." And note that two tunes, "Kewsong," a waltzing country & western tune about Mason's daughter, and the aforementioned "A Mi Madre," were originally included on Mason's recently-released grownup album Lost Cowboy, which goes to show that the line between kids' music and grownup music is disappearing.

Andy Mason turns in a fun album of southwestern Americana tunes for the whole family!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

If The Flaming Lips Made a Kids' Album...

Dig this new song by Todd McHatton, "Call Me They."