Drive away those winter blues with some new family music!

2014’s winter may seem endless in many parts of the country, but the good news is there is so much bright and shiny family music to add some spark to those dark days. The music we’ve had come across our desk fit the bill for a wide variety of tastes. Think of these reviews like those visual quizzes you take—match up your mood to these vastly different albums.

buyonegetonefleaIn the mood for flying a kite in the park, on a blue sky, puffy cloud day?

“Buy One Get One Flea” by Dog on Fleas is for you.

This latest offering by Dean Jones is a light, silly, kazoo filled fun fest. Plenty of word fun (gotta love a songwriter that introduces kids to words like ruse, blasé, and blather). Jones has a friendly, expressive voice that draws you in and pleases parents and kids equally. Highlights on the album include “Herring’s Head”—a traditional rhyming song, wildly revised, and “Thinking Good Thoughts” a wonderful tune about taking charge of your thoughts, a great lesson for little ones and parents too.  A favorite of my 6 year old niece was “Pardon my Pajamas” featuring a trombone led jazz group that slinks along—a great song to play once you get back from the park in your mind. Visit dogonfleas.com for more info.

talesfromIn the mood for a dark, strobe lit club where drinks are served in mosh proof sippy cups?

“Tales from the Monstrosity Scrolls” by Rainbow Beast & The Rock Band Land Rockers is for you.

This wild album takes “kindie” rock to a new technicolor, head banging surreal land. The sound is like the Violent Femmes, Imagine Dragons and The Kinks melded with a 3rd grade class, traveled back to the late 60’s and made an album. Highlights on this album include the quieter “The Little Big Easy” an imaginative tune about being a giant among small people, and the fun “Ice Girl.” The songwriting is in a unique space, in that it gets progressively darker as the album goes along. If your kids like the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales or Lemony Snickett, then the writing might be a good fit, though it’s definitely not for all temperaments. I have to admit this album did not test well in the car setting with my teens and 6 year old niece. Too much sound in a small space, but for those of you with that playroom you are itching to turn into the newest psychedelic club on the block, put it on and turn it up.
Visit rockbandland.org/rainbow-beast/ for more info.

CatDoormancover1-500x500In the mood for strawberry picking at your local P-Patch?

Cat Doorman’s “Songbook” is for you.

At first I was thinking that this would be the perfect soundtrack if I was in the mood for a coffee shop with a free form craft table and all you can eat cupcakes—somewhere I’d like to go now, please. But the more I listened to this album, it hit me that it has a more of a sunny day, growing good stuff vibe. Musician Julianna Bright is Cat Doorman, and from start to finish her fresh and winning voice carries this album, chocked full of goodness, imagination, glue and glitter and everything you hope a magical childhood could be. The paired down, but joyful and rhythmic arrangements include guitar, ukulele, horns and strings, and make you feel like the sun is shining even on the gloomiest day. It’s hard to pick a standout on the album because the whole album is outstanding, but “Peaceful” has great lessons about thankfulness, and “All the Birds” is a  knock it out the park homage to loved ones. Visit catdoorman.com for more info.

mrpalendromeIn the mood for the circus?

“Smiley Face Sticker” by Mr. Palindrome is for you.

This album is a wacky, oompa romp route to expanding your child’s vocabulary and bouncing abilities. Familiar sounding tunes and beats have been retooled for learning, rhyming that goes down easy. A standout on the album includes “ALOVE ALLITERATION” a catchy tune about, of course, alliteration—not new territory in kids songs, but the way Mr. Palindrome (aka Natan Kuchar) delivers it is funny and charming. Also notable is “What word rhymes with one?”—an unaccompanied Kutchar waxes about rhyming the word “one”—it might drive parents crazy, but kids will love it. Visit mrpalindrome.com for more info.

lloydhmillerIn the mood for a road trip?

Lloyd H. Miller’s “S.S. Brooklyn” is for you.

Americana oozes out of this honest, light and soulful compilation by Lloyd H. Miller—it’s an acoustic concert of recognizable songs like “Them Bones” and “This Little Light of Mine” and new soon to be favorites like “Do the Tub-Tub-Tubman” a song about emulating famous folks (like Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr.) when you find yourself in a tough spot—perfect for your car sing-a-longs. The variety of tunes are just perfect for daydreaming out the window, or belting out to melt away the hours. Visit lloydhmiller.com for more info.

Enjoy! Jenna

Our tiny disclaimer: Mommy on a Shoestring occasionally receives new family music to review – we are never paid for our time, and all opinions are ours alone. We just love great music and hope to pass along those artists that light up our lives!

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