This year saw musical offerings from reliably prolific and magnificent artists like Gustafer Yellowgold, Recess Monkey, and Caspar Babypants, as well as the return of stars like Elizabeth Mitchell, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Lunch Money, The Okee Dokee Brothers, and Dog On Fleas. And making the list for the first time is Laura Viers, with her collection of folk songs. Another super year of kids' music, from hip hop to Americana, from folk to pop.
With an all encompassing message of self confidence, imagination, brain power, and reaching one's potential, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's third kid hop album, Make Believers, bobs heads and opens minds. Following up Easy and Underground Playground was no simple task, but Skidoo brought the musical and lyrical goods on Make Believers.
Anyone can record an album of Woody Guthrie songs (and many people have!), but it takes a nimble but earthy musical touch to get it just right and Elizabeth Mitchell really does Woody's songs justice on this one. Little Seed is an all around winner, and is highly recommended for any home, classroom, and library.
As you might guess, three musical minded early childhood educators have no end to their collective imagination, as seen in the eighth kids' music album by Recess Monkey. In Tents explores the wonders and weirdness of the circus via the band's trademark pop sound (think The Beatles, The Kinks, The Raspberries, etc.). So, hurry, hurry! Step right up! Recess Monkey present In Tents!
Morgan Taylor once again wows us with his latest chapter in the Gustafer Yellowgold saga. Gustafer Yellowgold's Year in the Day musically celebrates most of the major holidays in typical Gustafer style, as Taylor utilizes a warm, super melodic background for his deep, witty, and amusing lyrics.
Invisible Friends, Dog On Fleas' sixth family-friendly release, will not disappoint fans of the band's eclectic, entertaining, and intelligent approach to kids' music. From straight up pop, to sand swept sounds of the islands, to early century jazz, Invisible Friends stirs up a storm of sounds that results in a wonderfully cohesive Dog On Fleas album, resulting in one of the best kids' music CDs of 2012.
Caspar Babypants is, if nothing else, the most prolific artist in the kids' music arena. But what puts him so far ahead of the pack is the fact that all five of his albums are of such high quality, even though they all contain upwards of 20 songs and they've all been released within three years of each other. His latest, Hot Dog!, is no exception to his standard of excellence, easily making our list of Best Kids' Music of 2012.
Elizabeth Mitchell has done it once again. The kids' music star's latest masterpiece, Blue Clouds, continues her trend of performing imaginative original tunes, reinterpreting pop songs, and uncovering world music treasures.
The Okee Dokee Brothers tell their story (in an elliptical way) about traveling down the Mississippi River. Can You Canoe? is leagues ahead of anything The Brothers have done before because of Dean Jones' production skills and the band's great songwriting and performances, resulting in a great Americana bluegrass album for the whole family.
Tumble Bee, one of the best collections of folk songs for children and their families you'll ever hear, gleams and shimmers, providing a great example of how one properly performs and produces an album of folk songs. Laura Veirs' Tumble Bee incorporates the sounds of Gillian Welch, Nick Drake, and Will Oldham, the production of Daniel Lanois, and the philosophy of the Seeger family and Smithsonian Folkways in general.
For me, this is the first Lunch Money album that sounds like they were shooting for indie rock radio play. Everything about Spicy Kid, the songwriting, the production, the performances, exceeds anything they've released thus far, and several of the songs could top the college radio charts.