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Top 12 Best Kids' Music Debuts of 2008

Bands and Performers New to the Children's Music World Make Their Marks

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These artists aren't new to the music business. Heck, several of them have hit the Billboard Top 100 as grownup bands or performers. But they are all new to the kids' music world, and that world is a better place for it. Here are the Top 12 best kids' music debuts of 2008:

1. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - 'Easy'

Courtesy David Hale
The best hip hop album for kids to date. In the ever-growing "kid hop" genre, Asheville, South Carolina's Skidoo shows the competition how it's done by turning in a well-produced, well-written collection of songs that appeals to children without dumbing down the delivery.

2. Sunflow - 'Under the Stars'

Courtesy It's About Music
Dreamy lyrics and melodies to die for make this album the best naptime CD of the year. American Nancy Falkow and Dubliner Fran King's sublime pop songwriting skills will appeal to indie rock-loving grownups, as well.

3. Barenaked Ladies - 'Snack Time!'

Courtesy Desperation Records
Long-time BNL fans and new listeners alike will love this Canadian band's first CD for kids, featuring two dozen songs, skits, and amusing observations. The best thing about the album is that Barenaked Ladies don't leave behind their trademark sense of humor and super catchy pop songs just because it's a children's CD.
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4. Brian Vogan - 'Little Songs'

Courtesy Nicole Brauch
Seattle musician and educator Brian Vogan ventures into the kids' music world with great results. His first album for children is full of tunes fit for classic shows like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood or Sesame Street, but grownups will definitely sneak a listen, as well.

5. Danielle Sansone - 'Two Flowers'

Courtesy Jen Singh
Fourteen self-penned, timeless, quietly rural tunes that are essentially love songs from Atlanta-based Sansone to her two daughters. Perfect for naptime or a contemplative summer afternoon.

6. me 3 - '"The Thin King"'

Courtesy J. Kleinberg's World Famous Record Label
If you think the kids' music world can't have bonifide anthems, then check out "Apple," "Tulip," and "Come On." Jangly pop rock by San Francisco-based musician Jason Kleinberg, about subjects from the mundane ("Peeling Paint") to the cosmically sublime ("I Don't Know!").

7. Kimya Dawson - 'Alphabutt'

Courtesy K Records
One half of the anti-folk group The Moldy Peaches turns in an irreverent, loving, lo-fi, silly, and tender collection of tunes. A perfect aural distillation of the sometimes out-of-control but amazingly wonderful world of babies and toddlers and the grownups who try to keep up with their energy and imaginations.
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8. The Board of Education - 'Central Services Presents...The Board of Education!'

Courtesy This Bodek Music
Seattle powerpop band Central Services moonlights as The Board of Education, resulting in equally poplicious tunes about science-related subjects. Intelligent, catchy, witty songs with great production.

9. Medeski Martin & Wood - 'Let's Go Everywhere'

Courtesy Jim Stoten / Little Monster Records
As with this drums/bass/organ trio's grownup albums, MMW's Let’s Go Everywhere is a largely instrumental CD. But the tunes with lyrics are exceptional winners, especially the title track, "The Train Song," "Pirates Don't Take Baths," and the spoken word song "The Squalb."
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10. Peter Rundquist - 'Bug Feathers'

Courtesy North Redoubt Records
Rundquist has a unique take on the "folk rock" album, as evidenced by following a cover of Syd Barrett's "Effervescing Elephant" with the oldie "Over in the Meadow." Think a more electric and eclectic version of Grisman and Garcia's Not For Kids Only, especially on the shufflin' "Wake Up Mama."

11. Matt Clark - 'Funny Little Fella'

Courtesy Kelli Caldwell
Portland, OR, dad and musician Matt Clark wrote a bunch of songs about the birth of his son and the ensuing year of fatherhood, resulting in an album of witty, touching tunes. Clark's wry humor will appeal to parents in the know.

12. Spanglish Wrangler - 'Spanglish Sing-Along!'

Courtesy Stone Lumber Music
Miami-based musician Will Thomas performs a set of down-home, bluesy, intimate, and bilingual tunes for kids. Thomas' songs are playfully educational, in that Spanish vocabulary practice is slyly included in his original tunes and story songs.
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