The kids' music field was filled with top-notch albums for children and their families in 2010. This short list by no means represents all of the great kids' CDs that have been released this year, it just goes to show that the quality and diversity of kids' music just keeps growing. Here are some prime examples of the best kids' music of 2010.
Great classic rock-inspired music for kids and their families. Inspired as much by Joni Mitchell as Def Leppard on Party Like a Twinkle Star, Charity Kahn and The JAMband offer up a combination of energetic rockers and cosmic lyrics divided into two CDs subtitled "Party: 10 Songs for Rocking Out" and "Twinkle: 10 Songs for Tucking In."
Released December 15, 2009; MusiMatics
As the CD title suggests, Uncle Rock explores "big picture" issues like ecology, our global village, and the disappearance of local businesses via his trademark Americana rockabilly sound, and brings in fellow Upstate New Yorkers Dean Jones (Dog On Fleas) and Elizabeth Mitchell for production and performance help. The mood is kept light with tunes about Bigfoot, shaking off boo boos, and a musical bio of Buddy Holly, and the inclusion of covers of Tom T. Hall's "Sneaky Snake" and Carol Burnett's closing theme song "Thank You and Goodnight."
Released March 2, 2010; Jackpot Music
Ever wonder what it would sound like if Neil Young and Crazy Horse made an album for kids? Well, here it is, in the form of Roy Handy and The Moonshot's (I'm Gonna Be) Your Best Friend. The band is the alter ego of Pennsylvania-based musician Gerry Stanek, whose love of loud, melodic, guitar-driven tunes translates well into his kids' music debut. Gather the little ones 'round, crank it to 11, and air guitar 'till the neighbors complain!
Released April 26, 2010; Bituminous Records
Imagine The Beach Boys and Elvis Costello getting together to write songs about the joys and concerns of your typical third-grader. That's pretty much what you get with Jungle Gym, Roberts' seventh solo album for kids. Loads of harmonies, lots of amusingly insightful lyrics, and wall-to-wall ear-catching tunes: Roberts and his Not Ready for Nap Time Players rule the Jungle Gym!
Released June 8, 2010; Carpet Square Records
The most prolific and, arguably, best kids' band around are back with their sixth album in six years. Don't let the title fool ya, Recess Monkey haven't become devotees of James Brown. This trio of Seattle school teachers present a new batch of songs that are as superpoppy as ever, full of witty and thoughtful scenarios that might actually be on a real elementary school kid's mind.
Released June 15, 2010; Monkey Mama
A Day in the Life, a 24-song rock opera for and about kids, is literally about a day in the life of your average kid, from his wide-eyed waking moments to dreams of trains. Potash himself admits being influenced musically on A Day in the Life by classic folk, country, and rock musicians, including The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, The Who, Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan.
Released November 10, 2009; Happy House Records
4. Elizabeth Mitchell - Sunny Day
Elizabeth Mitchell has certainly earned her place on the Smithsonian Folkways label. Her past collections of reinterpretations of pop songs, ancient folk tunes, and multicultural music mirror the preservation goals of Folkways, and Sunny Day is no exception. On her fourth full-length release of "handmade" family music, Mitchell gets help from Dan Zanes, The Band's Levon Helm, and The Mekons' Jon Langford, among others, as she covers Japanese folk songs, Sun Records hits, and tunes by Chuck Berry and Bill Withers, interspersed with original compositions.
Released October 5, 2010, Smithsonian Folkways
Basically, a collection of the best tunes from Rachap's two Readeez DVDs, but what a collection it is! Michael Rachap's catchy, witty, well-written pop songs guide early readers through full-sentence word recognition on his "edutainment" DVDs. Now, you might think the songs wouldn't stand alone without the support of the DVD's visuals, but the tunes on Songeez play out like some long-lost pop group that once ruled the airwaves.
Released November 10, 2009; Readeez
In complete contrast to his 2007 lullaby album Napper's Delight, Jones' rowdy Rock Paper Scissors nevertheless retains his usual lyrical inventiveness, his fascinating musical oddballery, and his spirit of wide-eyed love of everything around us. Rambunctious, warm, funny, and unique, Napper's Delight features The Felice Brothers, a rough-'round-the-edges Americana band from the Catskills.
Released November 4, 2009; Dean Jones Music
Chris Ballew continues his newfound mastery of the children's music genre with the second Caspar Babypants album in two years, following up his critially acclaimed CD Here I Am!, which topped the list of Best Kids' Music of 2009. Astoundingly prolific and full of ear-catching but deceptively simple compositions, Ballew, formerly of the punky, poppy Presidents of the United States of America, creates original songs that sound timeless and transforms nursery rhymes into his own creations. More Please! is highly recommended for all families, and can be declared the best kids' music album of 2010!
Released December 15, 2009; Aurora Elephant Music