Music from Peter Himmelman's 'My Green Kite'
Quick tip for making a "good" kids album ... play who you are. That is, don't try to become what you think the public perceives a "children's musician" should sound like, just perform your music as you normally would. Play it, and they will come. So ... here's a guy whose style incorporates a little bit o' Costello, a little Springsteen, some Winwood, kinda Jersey Shore summertime bar bandish, a sprinkling of Memphis R&B, with harmonies and chord changes McCartney wouldn't say no to: c'mon, people, let's fly a kite! Specifically, Peter Himmelman's My Green Kite, the fourth kids' album from this L.A.-based musician and arranger.
The album kicks off with what would be a great concert opener: handclaps leading into a roaring intro, followed by three opportunities for group singalong: you can yell the song's title "Feet!", join in the call and response "I love my feet!", and enthusiastically sing "School's out!", and that's all in the first song!! Then comes the title track's awesome chorus; and later the question, would "Another Bite of Hay" really make me a happier person?
More Music from Peter Himmelman's 'My Green Kite'
Other songs let us know that Mom's a great cook and Dad isn't as nerdy or boring as his accounting job would make him seem. Three must-hears are "A Dozen Roses", a folky rhyme set to rowdy rock and roll; the NuWave psychedelia of "Have You Ever Really Looked At an Egg?"; and Himmelman's deft and sarcastic beat poet rap "Nothin' to Say", whose horny funk backing music could have been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest.
This is one busy dude who, thankfully, takes the time to turn in another high-quality kids' collection. He could be running on autopilot by now, having released 10 adult albums, six CDs of unreleased tracks, and a compilation of his work with his original band, Sussman Lawrence. But somehow Himmelman gets better with each release, which is good news for kiddierock lovers everywhere. One of the secrets of his success is that Himmelman is Himmelman - he plays who he is, and the superlative results shine through. Make sure to visit the official Peter Himmelman website and explore this artist's rich and deep musical legacy.
Released 2007; Rounder Records
Music from 'Down at the Sea Hotel'
A must-have for dreamers and those who rock them to sleep! The latest from Canadian publishing house The Secret Mountain is one of the best lullabye/naptime CDs you'll ever hear, and for several reasons: The performances, songwriting, and production on Down at the Sea Hotel are worthy of any grownup album...no shortcuts were taken here just because it's a kids' CD.
A gaggle of stellar singers and musicians from Minnesota's roots rock label Red House Records convened to record quiet songs written by the likes of Nanci Griffith, Tom Waits, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Neil Young, Billy Joel, Goffin & King, Bruce Cockburn, Jesse Winchester, Don Henley, and Steve Earle. The whole project gets its warm, rich, deep sound from producer Paul Campagne, who makes sure each voice and instrument get their own space.
More Music from 'Down at the Sea Hotel'
There are two ways to enjoy this collection of tunes for beddiebye-time: As a picture book/CD package, illustrated by Mireille Levert's amusingly fantastical paintings, and featuring Greg Brown's "Down at the Sea Hotel"; or as a digipac CD. Throw this one in the stereo on a drowsy afternoon, or read the picture book with your little one as the title song plays in the background. High quality on all fronts!
If you're not familiar with The Secret Mountain and the musical packages they produce, make sure to visit The Secret Mountain website and browse around. Especially recommended are projects like Songs from the Baobab: African Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes; the French party song collection Let the Good Times Rouler!; and their Dream Songs Night Songs series, all of which come as book and CD packages.
Released 2007; The Secret Mountain