Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack

A great soundtrack to what should be a great movie...check out this full review of the Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack.

Oh, and you can stream the entire album over at imeem.com.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Addition to 'Halloween Songs for Kids' List

Here's another album of Halloween songs for kids to add to your collection, and boy, is it a good one. Think Goosebumps, Lemony Snicket, or Alvin Schwartz' Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark series, 'cept in musical form...check it out over at About.com.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Circular Nature of Life

This was cool: recently we had lunch at a pub in the college town where we now live. My friends and I used to play awesome music in the most ridiculous manner imaginable at this very place, and lots of fun was had by all. On this day, my son and I took the stage in front of an imaginary, screaming crowd, and sang "My Bonnie," "You Are My Sunshine," and "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" into a kick drum mic. Rock and Roll.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Video from Rebecca Frezza

Here's a new video from Rebecca Frezza and Big Truck called, appropriately, "Big Truck," in which the band ride around in, yep, a big truck! This cool little rock&roll tune for kids would be perfect for, say, Sesame Street, and appears on the band's new album Rockin', Rollin' and Ridin'.

Rebecca Frezza - "Big Truck"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Morning Jacket Dude Takes on Harrison

Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and lately of Monsters of Folk, recorded a handful of George Harrison covers several years ago, and just got around to releasing them. This sparse, kinda echo-y collection only has six songs on it, and four are from All Things Must Pass, but it's interesting, nonetheless. And hey, it's only $.99! Dig it...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Boo! Cool Halloween Songs for Kids

Sure, lots of performers have a Halloween song or two on their CDs, but I was looking for albums of nothing but spooky, silly tunes for the holiday. After searching around for full albums of Halloween songs for kids, I found a few awesome choices. Check 'em out over at About.com...

Oh, and stay tuned, there are a couple more Halloween CDs that sound great that I'll post veeeery soon...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Free Jazz

Free Jazz from Warren Truitt on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Take this, brother, may it serve you well...

In celebration of this Number 9 Day, check out the Top 10 Beatles Lullaby Albums, as well as the Best Beatles Sing-Alongs from their newly-refurbished catalog.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Since this holiday was originated by America's labor movement in the late 1800's, let's commemorate the date with a review of Ella Jenkins and a Union of Friends Pulling Together. This 1999 Smithsonian Folkways album, nominated for the 2000 GRAMMY Award for Best Musical Album for Children, is one of the best, if not only, true "concept albums" for kids.

Jenkins skillfully weaves songs, spoken word pieces, and call and response tunes about labor unions into an overall theme of togetherness, including songs about family, friends, and our nation. Kids will recognize favorites like "The More We Work Together," "If I Had a Hammer," and "Skip to My Lou," while historically significant songs like "Solidarity Forever," "Which Side Are You On?" and the powerful "Keep Your Hands on the Plow" are great discussion starters for families and schools. And compare this album's version of the Populist song "The Farmer is the Man" with the more rockin' version on Dog On Fleas' Cranberry Sauce Flotilla.

Check out this great collection of historical singalongs, perfect for both the classroom and the living room.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

***Phil Rosenthal***

Phil Rosenthal, along with wife Beth, daughter Naomi, and son Daniel, created a great collection of old-time music, classic folk songs, traditional tunes, songwriter favorites, and Rosenthal originals for his 1995 album, The Green Grass Grew All Around. The project was produced and engineered expertly by Rosenthal, giving the songs a warm and inviting sound, neither overdone nor underdone.

Rosenthal takes care of most of the instrumentation himself, with a little help from his family. Also pitching in musically are Kate O’Brien on violin, Stacey Phillips on dobro, Walter Wakeman on harmonica, and Jeff and Synia McQuillan on percussion and harmony vocals.

On The Green Grass Grew All Around, Rosenthal performs traditional tunes like the story song “Frog Went A-Courtin’,” the call-and-response “What’ll I Do with the Baby-O?” the swaying shanty “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” and the nursery rhyme-like “I Had a Little Nut Tree.” On the original LP, Side 1 came to a rousing end with the cumulative folk favorite “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” and Side 2 finished up with the equally upbeat “Hey Lolly.”

Other highlights include Woody Guthrie’s nonsense song “Jig Along Home,” a simple banjo/vocals version of Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna,” and Lydia Maria Child’s Thanksgiving classic “Over the River and Through the Wood.” Rosenthal also performed several original songs like “Neighbors,” a throwback to the call-to-unity vibe of the ‘70s; the cheerful “Sleepy Eyes,” which encourages the listener to wake up and see what the new day will bring; and the warm and cozy “The Train Song.”

Fans of Dan Zanes, The Dreyer Family Band, or folk songs in general will really dig this easy-to-sing-along-with classic from Phil Rosenthal and Family, originally released on, and still available from, Rosenthal's own American Melody Records label.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Drum Practice

All right, guys. Start off with "Black Dog," then "Rock and Roll," and finish up with "Misty Mountain Hop."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

***Laura Doherty***

Dig this new CD from Laura Doherty, the Early Childhood Music Program Director at Chicago's famed Old Town School of Folk Music. Kids in the City is full of breezy urban folk tunes featuring the Natalie Merchant-like vibe of Doherty's vocals. She had musical help from Scott Besaw on drums, Amalie Smith on upright bass, Rob Newhouse on lead guitar, Susan Marques on banjo, Barb Burlingame on trumpet, Skip Landt on harmonica, and Rick Rankin on percussion and melodica, who also produced, recorded, and mixed Kids in the City.

Doherty's album is a musical tribute of sorts to The Windy City: elevators and escalators, the zoo, public transportation, the farmer’s market, traffic, and hot dog stands all get a shout out on Kids in the City. "I Spy" references Lake Michigan and taxis, "Hot Dog" celebrates sport peppers and celery salt, the a cappella "Wheels in the City" catalogs things that roll around big city sidewalks, and "El Train" is a self-explanatory tune about Chicago's famous clickety clackin' mode of transportation.

Kids in the City is full of the sights and sounds of preschoolers' lives: "I Spy" explores the colors all around us, "Farmer's Market," with its simple vocals and banjo arrangement, has fun with names of fruits and vegetables, while "Rockin' at the Zoo" catalogs the animals you might see and hear there. And check out the wonderful melodies of "Hello Hippopotamus," "I Spy," and "Kitty Cat" (which is vaguely reminiscent of The Chordettes' "Lollipop").

Doherty's album contains a couple of future kids' classics, too. "Uncle Ukulele's Band" has instruments represent members of the family, and sounds as if it could have been featured on The Muppet Show, while the very Ella Jenkins-like “Wheels in the City” is a call-and-response, a cappella tune, with overlapping melodies and vocal lines.

And Kids in the City includes two covers I’ve never heard on a children’s album before: a quiet and tender rendition of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” and a chooglin’ version of Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago."

Laura Doherty's Kids in the City is a great example of modern urban folk. Now I gotta go get a Chicago dog and a chocolate malt.