Monday, July 26, 2010

Compilation Nation

Today I have two compilation CD's up for review. Unless you're brand new to the world of kids' music the names Laurie Berkner and Putumayo should ring a bell (if not make you start singing "Pig on your head" or start dancing the tango). Let's start off with "The First Ever Greatest Hits CD to Hit the Kindie Music Scene."

The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band: It is an encouraging sign when a heavy hitter in the kids' music industry like Laurie Berkner has the fans, the material and the gumption to make a greatest hits album. Over the past 13 years Laurie and her band have been steadily making music and gaining national acclaim for her songs. That's more than enough time for her core audience to "graduate" onto more mature musical selections (High School Musical, Justin Beiber?). That is why this "best of" collection is such a birlliant idea. Reintroduce the up and coming toddlers and preschoolers to music that was recorded before they were born.

I was mildly amused to see this CD billed on Laurie's website as "The First Ever Greatest Hits CD to Hit the Kindie Music Scene." It is kind of like the Kindie myth of the "Kids' musician who FINALLY makes music that both kids and parents enjoy." I think that Raffi and Sesame Street might have planted their flag first (in the early 80's), but for the young families of today I'll give it to her. Fans of Laurie will not be disappointed. All of her classic hits are included ("Bumble Bee (Buzz Buzz)," "Rocketship Run," "Pig on her Head," and my favorite "We are the Dinosaurs")
. Newbies to the Laurie Berkner Band will have all her hits in one easy CD.

Putumayo- Rock & Roll Playground: Whether you are eight months old, or 80, there is something in the Putumayo collection for you. Putumayo's main focus is creating great compilations of world music with a different genre for each CD. They have adult compilations as well as "playground" CD's specifically for the younger crowd.

If you have ever said, "I really love Latin music, but I wouldn't know what CD to buy," there is a Putumayo CD for you. This particular collection gathers some of the biggest names in kids' music these days and puts them together in a rocking collection of fun songs that the whole family will enjoy. Fans of the Bathtub will recognize Dan Zanes, Bill Harley, Roger Day and Rhythm Child. It's a who's who of kids' music stars.

The Mike Brady Wrap-up: The compilation CD is going the way of the dodo in the iPod age. Once an easy way for record labels to profit on music they already own, the compilation CD is a useful way for a listener to be exposed to a lot of new music without buying CD after CD. These days it's easy to buy music a song at a time, but if you're hoping to expand your collection of kids' music these two CD's will fit the bill.
Laurie Berkner has been rocking the Kindie scene for over a decade. Having a greatest hits CD seems like the cherry ontop of her musical sundae. Putumayo has lots of compilations for listeners to enjoy. Rock and Roll Party is close to my heart because it features so many great artists in the kids' scene these days (many that have been featured here). If you're looking to mix things up a bit, and enjoy some great music, give 'em a spin.

Kid's Quote of the Day: "The accent mark goes on the top of the bottom" Henry (age: 5)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tiny Cool

Today's album up for review is Princess Katie and Racer Steve's latest CD, "Tiny Cool." The genre name "Kindie" is getting more traction these days. My dad sent me an article on the local CBS station's website up in Boston using the term. I bring this up because, Princess Katie and Racer Steve might have the "Kid" part down, but there is nothing "Indie" about this album.

They have their personas down, the music is slickly produced, and the artwork for this CD and their website reminds me of a lot of the newer cartoons on Nickelodeon. Is it only a matter of time?

Racer Steve is billed as the "Eddie Van Halen of Kids' Music" I don't hear it personally, but I do feel that fans of the Go-Go's would really get into these two. I was playing the "who does she sound like?" game with Princess Katie's voice and it was my lovely wife who brought up Belinda Carlisle. That's it!

This album runs the gambit musically. There is a decidedly Latin influence on tunes like "Clelia's Party" and "The Rock Bossa." They dip their toe in the funk hot tub a bit in the title track. My favorite part of this album are the horns. They are expertly played and arranged. Two words: Bari Sax! They throw in a skit here and there which I always like.

The Mike Brady Wrap-up: In the article my dad sent to me, they reported that sales of kids' music was up 40% from 2007 to 2008! Just in the blog alone, I have highlighted loads of artists trying to make the scene. In the case of Princess Katie and Racer Steve, here are two folks that are bringing a bit of Hollywood glitz and glamour to a traditionally grass-roots musical genre.

Kid's Quote of the Day:
"I have a lots of mojito bites" ~anonymous (age: 4) quoted from Facebook (thanks Charmaine!)