A few times a year, I pull back and look at just how much new family music is coming across my desk here at Rock Father HQ - not only physical CDs (which still prevail in the kids and family realm), but also digital albums. The pile is never-ending, and that's one of the reasons why I've started the Kindie Scene 6 column - a quick look at six albums that are available for your enjoyment right now. This week, I'm highlighting four recent releases along with two that technically came out last year - all of which are worth your time. It's sort of a "Women Who Rock Edition," so let's take that theme and roll with it. Also, this time around, all six albums are Rock Father-approved!
Loaded with country twang, this Nashville-recorded set was released in the Spring, but with songs like "Apple Tree" and "Back to the Farm," is a great record for the days of apple picking ahead this Fall. Produced by Brad Jones (DOLLY PARTON, MATTHEW SWEET), there's some great songs like the road-cruising "Big Truck," pop-infused "Birthday" and the super-cute "When I'm Five," which really hits home since my oldest daughter, Addie just turned five. Speaking of which, the girls and I have watched quite a few of Bari's "Yoga for Kids" videos on YouTube.
A 10-song set of cheery, folk-tinged pop, LUCKY DAY is a perfect record for quick car trips and afternoon fun - all wrapping up in under thirty minutes. There's a lot of families that will appreciate "Little Soccer Player" (though personally, I know next to nothing about soccer/futbol) and "Summer Day," and hey - look who it is! The always-busy MISTA COOKIE JAR drops in for some rhymes on "Broken Record."
Joanie Leeds makes consistently fun indie rock for kids. Her 2013 album, BANDWAGON (reviewed here), was one of Addie's favorites, and GOOD EGG continues where it left off, another fuzzy dose of foot-stomping rock. "Food Fight" starts the record off right, Leeds' vocals really recalling some of that mid-90s alt-rock sound (think VERUCA SALT or JULIANA HATFIELD). Then there's "Drummer Dan" that throws down an homage to the BEASTIE BOYS while featuring... wait, who's that again? MISTA COOKIE JAR making his second appearance in this column. There's a ska groove on "Shadow," a dash of country in "Stories from the Road," and straight-up punk rock on "Germs" (also the name of a punk band, btw).
This is one of those records that really doesn't need to be labeled as "family," but since that's where it was marketed, I can dig it. Zee Avi's NIGHTLIGHT is one of this year's big surprises, a full album of covers masterfully played and beautifully sung with ukulele and voice taking center stage. Having previously recorded for Jack Johnson's Brushfire Recordings, here Zee reworks tracks by THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, MICHAEL JACKSON, THE MUPPETS, JONI MITCHELL, LOUIS ARMSTRONG and BOBBY McFERRIN. I love this record.
Lori's piano-driven record has been out for more than a year now - a prime example of one of those albums I've been wanting to cover, but one that kept getting missed here on the site despite spending some solid time in the player. "Everlovin' Water" pops up regularly on Sirius XM's Kids Place Live, but it's far from the best song here. The Portland-based teacher works the keys impressively, delivering songs that are comfortingly familiar, yet largely original - even when they find inspiration in the classics. There's a fun jazziness that manages to teach lessons without feeling like school, capturing the ears with just the right amount of theatricality. By the end of the album, there's even a reminder of those three years of French I took some years ago.
Twin sisters Laura and Linda Good started out rocking Chicago's Alt-Pop scene back in the late 90s (with roots here in Lake County), their 2001 album THE UNIVERSE TONIGHT produced by Johnny K (who'd later man the boards for DISTURBED, DROWNING POOL, MEGADETH, and NONPOINT). Keeping the name for which their known but adding "...for kids!" to the end of it, THE TWIGS released their first family-geared record last Fall, a solid collection of mellow indie-pop with a lot of acoustic guitars, some uke and great vocal harmonies thrown in. Addie's picks: the jazzy "Blueberry Jam," and the gentle lullaby, "Pretty Ponies."
Want the scoop on even more family music? Stay tuned for another Kindie Scene 6 column right here on THE ROCK FATHER soon!
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent), has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.