“Don’t Wait/The Nitro” – The Alphabet Rockers, from their Grammy-Nominated CD Rise Shine #Woke. Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shepard have been building their musical way to this brilliant, daring CD over the years, with their honest, strong hip hop for kids. The CD speaks out about equality, activism and the need to give a damn. Look for my interview with them in the New Year.
Tie: “The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow” – SteveNSteven – Steve Burns’ and Steven Drodz’ debut album for kids, Foreverywhere, was one of the first CDs I heard that made me believe Young At Heart could truly please everyone. Maybe it’s that wonderful narrative voice of Steve Burns, which some might remember from Blues Clues, or the musical ear candy that Steven Drodz does so well here, and with his band The Flaming Lips. But this song and album were one of my very favorite listens, and the title track, clocking in at 10 minutes, can make me cry. * “As Long As I Got You” – Justin Roberts, from his Grammy-Nominated CD Lemonade. I love this song, and a lot of songs off Justin’s new CD, and it certainly deserves the nomination. Justin with his gentle James-Taylor-like voice, captures moments of childhood in a simple, beautiful way.
“Trip On A Ship” – Walter Martin, from his CD My Kinda Music. I have great affection for Walter Martin’s very accessible voice and his creative, original tunes that truly are for everyone. Walter can be self-deprecating (“Hey, Matt” with Matt Barringer of The National), and funny and sentimental (“Where’d You Go Uncle Joe?”), but he’s never boring. Check out my interview at Young At Heart – The Interviewspage of wtmd.org
“Skip To My Lou” – Dan Zanes, featuring Chuck D. & Memphis Jelks, off Dan’s new Lead Belly Baby CD. Like most of Dan’s CDs, this new recording is full of special guests, making every one of these Lead Belly songs a joy to listen to. Dan grew up being a Lead Belly fan, and his tribute to the great blues musician reflects Dan’s love and respect for the music. Check out my interview at Young At Heart – The Interviews page of wtmd.org
“Brighter Side” – Gustafer Yellowgold AKA Morgan Taylor, off Morgan’s new Grammy-nominated CD, Brighter Side. Back in 2005, Morgan Taylor had a great idea: he created a sweet fictional character named Gustafer Yellowgold, and set about telling the story of this friendly creature who came to Earth from the sun and is living out an explorer’s life in a slightly psychedelic version of the Minnesota woods. Each album continues Gustafer’s adventures, and this one is another great listen.
“I Like” – Lard Dog & the Band of Shy, off their Dreamers CD. Lard Dog AKA Steven Erdman and his band, get an extra special shout-out for being so innovative, brave and different, and for having a unique vision and taking it to the limit. Big and full of surprises, Lard (“Life’s A Real Dream”) Dog began as an off Broadway theatre production “Life’s A Real Dream.” Think Pee Wee Herman meets the B-52s, with positive messages and multi-genre fun. Look for my interview with Steven in the New Year.
“Different Colors Mean Nothing To Me” – Ladysmith Black Mambazo, off their Grammy-nominated CD Songs Of Peace & Love For Kids & Parents Around the World. Whenever I hear these nine beautiful voices singing together, the world just seems to be a better place. And Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a group every kid should listen to, if only to be reminded of different cultures and hear positive messages. They don’t shy away from talking about equality for women, loving your neighbor, helping the homeless and the need to be colorblind when thinking about race.
“Transportation” – Danny Weinkauf & The Red Pants Band, off the Totally Osome CD. Danny is a pop-music machine who writes catchy songs about most anything that interests him (“Transportation”), or that he cares about (“Put Down That Smartphone”; “I’m A Girl (Step Aside)”). Smart, hooky gems that stick with you. Check out my interview with Danny and his band at Young At Heart – The Interviewspage on wtmd.org
“Paletero Man” – Lucky Diaz & The Family Jam Band, off their Made In LA CD. Chock full of special guests who also love and live in LA, Lucky and his wife Alisha Gaddis have created a CD full of crackling pop tunes about their beloved hometown. Special guests include some of my favorite kindie rockers Andrew & Polly, Mista Cookie Jar and Frances England.
“You Could Be The One” – The Bazillions, off their Rock-N-Roll Yearbook CD. Kristin and Adam Marshall have this great indie rock sensibility that make even songs about adjectives cool (“Wide Open World Of Adjectives”). On their latest CD for kids they also sing about taking turns and being original, asking questions and believing that the only limits to what you want to be in life are the ones you place on yourself. Positive messages with a glorious indie rock sheen. Look for my interview with Kristin and Adam in the New Year.