It feels like this summer flew past in the blink of an eye, and now my kids are back in school. Like many parents, I find myself both wishing the summer were longer and grateful that school is back in session.
Don’t get me wrong, summers are fantastic. The weather is usually cooperative, and there’s a lazy feeling to the day as schedules are thrown out the window. Which usually means my laptop sits and collects dust for a couple of months.
Now that I have a few hours of my day back to myself, I’m grateful to be able to sit and write about recently released albums, as well some about to drop. So, let’s get schooled in some new family music, shall we?
First up, Ralph’s World released Ralph’s World Rocks and Reads July 11th. This collection of Ralph’s favorite songs based on his children’s books is chock full of infectious songs.
Ralph’s songs are just the right length for young attention spans, and they get to the point quickly. Not only that, but they exude joy. I think it’s physically impossible to be in a bad moon while listening to Ralph’s World, especially with upbeat songs like “Happy Lemons” and “Follow the Leader and Dance” with it’s funky Latin groove.
I was so happy to see that “We Are Ants” was included in this collection, as its catchy chorus makes this track one of my kids’ favorites of Ralph’s. My favorite, however, is the waltz “Sawdust and Spangles” with it’s rolling melody that envelopes you in to a circus journey.
Ralph’s World’s Ralph’s World Rocks and Reads is available on iTunes.
Jazzy Ash, the self-proclaimed first New Orleans Jazz Band made especially for kids, released Bon Voyage July 28th. As a New Orleans native, this music hits me in a spot that can only be cured by Zydeco music, gumbo and beignets.
Jazzy Ash (a.k.a. Ashli Christoval) has a degree in early childhood development, and it shows. Most of the music on this album is interactive, providing prompts for kids to get up and move (“Leap Frog”), and would be great to get kids moving in a classroom setting.
The album is full of surprises at every turn, including the slinky, sneaky groove of “Hide and Seek.” Jazzy Ash’s strong, sultry vocals feel in the same family as Zooey Deschanel – inviting and comforting in its soulfulness. This is especially apparent in the song “Buddy,” which shows the full range and depth of Jazzy Ash’s vocals.
If you want to get a little taste of this treat of an album, be sure to check out their video for “Heebie Jeebies”:
I have to admit, Renee and Friends’ album Simpatico (released August 28th and produced by Rich Jacques) is one of those albums I won’t be saving just for when my kids are in the car. The beautiful, tender voice of singer-songwriter Renee Stahl exudes love and warmth on this album, perfect for children and adults alike.
Renee’s music sucks you in with her alluring voice and lush composition and instrumentation. While presented as a children’s album, it might resonate with parents the most. The lyrics hit me in my mother-core, tapping in to those bittersweet moments we experience as we watch our children face new experiences, tough times and triumphs.
Included on this album is a veritable Who’s Who of guest artists (who are real-life friends of Stahl and Jacques and makes me wonder “How can I become friends with them, too?). Caspar Babypants makes an appearance on the track “I Am Not Afraid,” “Are We There Yet” features spoken word by the beguiling Colin Hay, and Molly Shannon sings “Happiness” from the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The amazing Maya Rudolf appears on the cover of Prince’s “Starfish and Coffee,” and with that track, my mind was blown.
As a life-long Toad the Wet Sprocket fan, I was so excited to hear Glen Phillips’ voice on the sweet “You Were Meant To Be.” It’s a tender song that could be played for your child during a time of challenge, but if you’re looking for that song that makes everyone cry at high school graduation, this is it. I couldn’t listen to this gorgeous song without tearing up. Me! The Ice Queen!
Lisa Loeb sings with Stahl on “Gather Round,” and these two voices go together as perfectly as Nutella and croissants. Their lovely harmonies remind me of The Story, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they collaborate more in the future.
The Latin-influenced sounds of Hot Peas ‘N Butter will release their 7th studio album, Put Our Heads Together, on September 25th. It’s an album rich in an eclectic mix of rhythms and instrumentation, promoting themes of cooperation and harmony, especially with the tracks “No Bullies” and “Put Our Heads Together.”
Dan Zanes lends his distinctly expressive voice to the opening bilingual track “Amistad.” “Seasons” sounds like a street party with its festive beat and samba-esque percussion.
The bicycle-centered tune“Fresh Spokes,” featuring Susan Lapidus, appears in three different versions on the album: an acoustic track, a dance remix, and the original track, which has a bit of a pop/club music vibe. The party continues on “Graduation Day” with a similar electro beat, making the album fun to dance to.
Put Our Heads Together by Hot Peas ‘N Butter will be available September 25th on Amazon.
José-Luis Orozco has been welcomed in to the Smithsonian Folkways family with his album ¡Come Bien! Eat Right!, which will be released September 18.
The short sing-along style songs are easy for kids to follow and potentially pick up a few phrases in a new language. If your child is a fan of the Music Together classroom material, they’ll love this CD, especially songs like “Leche” and the call and response tunes of “Chocolate” and “Ensalada fresca/Fresh Salad”
The lively “Rotana/Snack” is my favorite tune on the album and is great for dancing! And I love that this album sneaks in basic language building skills for Spanish with counting numbers (“La gallina de Juanito/Juanito’s Chicken”), animal names and sounds, and movement instruction (“El baile de las legumbres/The Legumes Dance”)
Here’s hoping for a fantastic school year!
Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!