SUZI SHELTON - SMILE IN MY HEART
I've mentioned the latest album from Brooklyn's SUZI SHELTON a couple of times here on the site, but if our recent road trip taught us anything, it's that the album has certainly resonated with my girls. In fact, we sat in a diner out in Hummelstown, PA a couple of weeks ago listening to Addie breaking out lines from Suzi's recent single, "Cinnamon Bear."
Speaking of the bear, Suzi recently sent one of the little guys our way (see the Instagram to the left), but that's just a bonus. There's a lot for kids to dig here, with songs like "Go, Fire Truck, Go" and "Tomboy in a Princess Dress" scoring big.
THE OKEE DOKEE BROTHERS - THROUGH THE WOODS: AN APPALACHIAN ADVENTURE ALBUM
As we crossed The Appalachian Trail a few times in our own journey this month (albeit, by car), I couldn't help but think of the month-long trek that GRAMMY-winner Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander embarked on last year to inspire their recent Dean Jones-produced collection. Beautifully-packaged as a CD/DVD combo in a gatefold digipak complete with proper liner notes and booklet, THROUGH THE WOODS is a country-tinged slice of Americana - filled with adventure, and fueled by wonder and exploration. Don't be surprised to see this one popping up on year-end "Best Of" lists this year.
ERIC HERMAN - PARTY ANIMAL
If a party record for kids sounds appealing, ERIC HERMAN delivers as-advertised. His vocal style is reminiscent of the Barenaked Ladies, ad he offers up short bursts of rockin' fun with a wink and a nudge to the grownups in the crowd. Prime example: His K-Tel style commercial for the new record...
DJANGO JONES - D IS FOR DJANGO
I've been sitting on this one for awhile, even starting a formal review and pulling back from it. My friend, John Joyce asked me about it around the time he penned his own review of the record, and his thoughts were pretty accurate. D IS FOR DJANGO has some ok songs, but it's just killed by narration (the same thing that hurt the Lucky Diaz LISHY LOU album, to a much lesser extent). The problem is that the narration is poorly done with voices that just aren't appealing. While I'm all for a great concept record, in 2014 the "radio play" doesn't work well for little ones. I found the record annoying, and my kids just didn't care. As the video below presents, they look like they're just trying too damn hard to be "kid-friendly" and it backfires. They look silly, and the $5 production doesn't help. Pass.
BRADY RYMER AND THE LITTLE BAND THAT COULD - JUST SAY HI!
Brady is a seasoned performer that's been making music for kids and grownups alike for a very long time. Previously featured as one of my fellow "Rock Fathers" in my #RockFathersDay feature this year (read his story here), Rymer's latest album is essentially an 11-song collection of feel-good music for families. There's a lot of nods to the past here, and the overall sound owes a lot to good, old-fashioned rock and roll.
RIFF ROCKIT - LUZ VERDE VAMOS!
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of RIFF ROCKIT's theatricality and penchant for arena rock anthems for the Kindie set. Here, we find Riff reaching a new audience with his first Spanish-language album, a collection of ten tracks reworked from his English-language works. It's a fitting bridge between his 2012 debut (reviewed here), and his latest album, IF I COULD FLY (out July 29, 2014). His sound is unlike anyone else operating in the family music space, and proceeds from his records benefit blood cancer research.