Jazzy Ash, the Mighty Mighty Pants, & Lucky Diaz | ClefNotes

Reviews of 16 albums for children
Born in the Deep Woods. Performed by Red Yarn. CD. 43 min. Red Yarn Productions. 2017. $12. K-Gr 5–On the final album of his “Deep Woods Trilogy,” Portland, OR–based musician Andy Furgeson weaves his original tunes with traditional ones. His rockabilly arrangements of traditional songs “Old Mother Goose,” “Mr. Gamble,” “Leatherwing Bat,” “Old Black Dog,” and “Crawdad” find new life and energy when enhanced with a Red Yarn twist. Furgeson demonstrates how clever he can be by writing the lyrics of “Deep Woods Revisited” as a collection of alliterative phrases, all in alphabetical order. He brings listeners from melancholy to joy in “Born Again,” celebrates new life in “Little Baby Born Today,” and announces that new baby to the world in an original composition, “Mockingbird.” VERDICT Great for families taking a road trip into the deep woods.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton Brooklyn Baby! Performed by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights. CD. 43 min. Limbostar. 2017. $15. K-Gr 5–While the album as a whole is a love letter to Leeds’s beloved Brooklyn, the majority of the songs can be enjoyed by listeners all across the country. From the opening line of the first track, “Ferry Nice,” the lyrics will get in your head and have you singing along. Mixed in with the songs that celebrate great things about Brooklyn are tunes about topics such as children gaining their independence in “By Myself,” all the amazing things you can learn in your “Library Book,” and eating food that is good for you in “Apples in My Apples.” Leeds has a lot of fun with the lyrics on songs such as the punk-infused “Rainbow Bagels from Outer Space,” the hilarious “Hipster in the Making (Remix),” and the Yiddish-filled “Shayne Punim.” Her softer side comes out on the beautiful song of acceptance, “Love Is Love” as well as her cover of Lou Reed’s “Sunday Morning.” VERDICT Backed by the Nightlights, Leeds creates a delightful album about a place she loves that families—wherever they may be—will want to listen to again and again.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL Bubbles. Performed by The Salamanders. CD. 38 min. Salamanders Music. 2017. $12. PreS-Gr 3–Positive-thinking, Montana-based quartet The Salamanders are back with the follow-up to their 2015 self-titled debut album. This time around, the group (Matthew Nord, Cowboy Andy, Russ Gay, and Antonio Alvarez) once again offer up an album of songs that are enjoyable and empowering for children. Cowboy Andy is responsible for the clever lyrics and original melodies in this collection that is billed as rock ‘n’ roll, but often has hints at other genres like the touch of Cajun in “Poppy” and the smooth jazz trumpet in “The Cat.” Grown-ups will appreciate the messages of tracks like “Let’s Sing a Song” which celebrates the fact that even though we may look different, “We all like snacks and cuddles, we all like playing games/We all like to be hugged and loved, tucked in our bed at night” and the title track, “Bubbles,” which is a gentle song that explains that many things in life are temporary…like bubbles. The Salamanders create a careful balance between important lessons and a whole lot of playful fun. “Golly G. Gus” is a great tune to sing along to, while silliness abounds on a pirate ship at Christmastime in “Pirate Santa” and in the cautionary tale about a brush with fame in “Matt Damon Magnetized Me.” VERDICT Families will have a great time discovering this collection of entertaining songs with a message.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL Foreverywhere. Performed by SteveNsteven. CD. 50 min. Virtual Label Group. 2017. $15. PreS-Gr 3–Recording their first album together, Steve Burns (of Blue’s Clues fame) and Steven Drozd (of The Flaming Lips) dish out a concept story/album about a unicorn that falls in love with a guitar-playing princess, joins her band, loses her, and finally finds her again. Divided into three “acts,” the first song, “The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow” (an electronic space rock tune), sets the story, smoothly sliding into “Mimic Octopus” (a buzzing electronic fusion song), “A Fact Is a Gift You Give Your Brain” (a tune whose accompaniment at times sounds like a video arcade game), “OK Toilet Bowl” (a tune about toilet training), and “Space Rock Rock.” Act 2 begins with “The Lonely Unicorn Is Never Giving Up!” (a snare-drum-driven story-song), followed by playful banter and “If You’re Ginormous and You Know It” (a piggy-back song), “I Won’t Let You Change Who I Am” (a ballad featuring guitar, flute, and vocals), “The Happy Then Sad Then Triumphant Spider” (a reworked “Itsy Bitsy Spider”), and “I’m Up” (a ballad-turned-head-banging song about waking up). The album closes with “Foreverywhere” (a ballad about the unicorn’s search for Princess Rainbow). VERDICT Well-arranged, this playful offering is an intriguing, well-done concept that will probably find a niche audience.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton HomeEarth. Performed by Wendy and DB. CD. 39 min. Planet Wendy Publishing. 2017. $15. K-Gr 3–Parent’s Choice and NAPPA award–winners Wendy Morgan and Darryl Boggs present 13 original songs in a variety of musical styles, including rock, R&B, folk, and dance music. A children’s chorus greatly enhances these musical offerings. Backup musicians give great performances on bass, piano, percussion, guitar, violins, drums, harmonica, and saxophone. In “HomeEarth,” no matter where one travels in the solar system and universe, Earth will always be home. Building wells for fresh, clean water is the subject of “Water Song.” People enjoy watching “Olly the Orca” play in the ocean, acknowledging that orcas are large dolphins rather than whales. “I Like Bees” is a celebration of those helpful insects. This “Girl Superhero” helps clean up the planet. “Hopscotch” will have listeners hopping and jumping. “We Bop” teaches listeners some dance steps. The remaining tunes include “Plant a Seed,” “Buzzin’ Bee Be Happy,” “Bugs That Give Hugs,” “It Takes All Kinds of Trucks,” “Miracle,” and “People Are People.” VERDICT Fun and lively songs that will have listeners hopping and bopping.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library Julie Frost Kids. Performed by Julie Frost. CD. 41 min. Julie Frost Kids. 2017. $15.99. K-Gr 4–Frost’s lovely, light, clear vocals do justice to these 12 bouncy, energetic tunes. Various musical styles are used, including rock, R&B, jazz, and pop. The backup musicians give excellent performances on piano, guitar, bass, drums, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Different artists and musical styles, such as pop, boy bands, R&B, and Beyoncé, are celebrated in “Rhythm and Blues.” Hopefully, “Homework” will inspire children to tackle their homework daily. An energetic dance song, “Pump It Up” suggests that smiling, saying hello, saying your name, and shaking hands will help you make friends. A healthy diet is the subject of “Lean Green Eating Machine.” More songs include "I'm Julie Frost," "Colors in My Crayon Box," "How Lucky I Am," "We Get One," "My Words," "Choose Happy," "My Beautiful World," and "Dare to Dream." VERDICT A positive and lively album that will energize its listeners.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library redstarJunie B. Jones the Musical Cast Album. Performed by various performers. CD. 30 min. Theatreworks/USA. 2017. $20. PreS–Gr 4–Songwriting team Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler created this musical, with input from author Barbara Park, which is based on four of her “June B. Jones” books. Performed by professional actors, singers, and musicians, this excellent production features a variety of musical styles including 60s rock, pop, gospel, Motown, 1920s-style Broadway tune, and marching band. The musical begins with Junie B receiving a journal in which to record her “Top Secret Personal Beeswax.” During the story, Junie loses one friend in “Lucille, Camille, Chenille,” and makes a new one (Herb) in “You Can Be My Friend.” Her teacher also realizes that “You Need Glasses,” and when she gets her new glasses, Junie rejoices “Now I See.” Junie also loves “Show and Tell,” and her new “Lunch Box.” All the students love “Gladys Gutzman, Queen of Snacks.” Other tunes include “Time to Make a Drawing,” “Kickball Tournament,” “Sheldon Potts’ Halftime Show,” “When Life Gives You Lemons,” and “Writing Down the Story of My Life.” VERDICT Junie B. Jones fans will welcome this soundtrack with open arms.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library redstarKinder Lullaby. Performed by Brian and Terri Kinder. CD. 32 min. Kindersongs. 2016. $12. PreS-K–The Kinders harmonize beautifully on 12 original songs. As is appropriate for a lullaby album, all the songs feature slow, gentle music in folk, pop, and country western musical styles, with excellent performances on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and percussion. The song lyrics assure babies of love, peace, parents’ presence, and sweet dreams. “Cows Go Moo” also features yodeling. A parent would rather “Stay Here With You” than find leprechaun gold, be a Hollywood star, or visit the queen. “Sleepyland” is performed in a minor key. The other song titles include “Little Baby Bunny,” “Sunshine Kisses,” “The Little Birdies,” “My Whole World Smiles,” “Sleepytime Song,” “Everything’s All Right, “Wishes Are Free (I Saw a Star),” “Baby, Baby Please Don’t Cry,” and “Goodnight.” VERDICT These lovely tunes will probably lull most babies to sleep before the end of the album.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library Little Miss Ann and Amy D. Keep On. Performed by Little Miss Ann and Amy D. CD. 28 min. Jeepney Records. 2017. $11.99. PreS-Gr 3–Chicago-based musicians Little Miss Ann and Amy D. used Kickstarter to raise funds to record their first album together. They choose to keep it unplugged, using instruments like ukulele, acoustic guitar, violin, and string bass to keep this album light and breezy. Little Miss Ann and Amy D harmonize (with producer Dean Jones often turning the duo into a trio) on ten light, happy tunes, both original and traditional. The opening song, “Ube,” a cheerful song about the purple yam, sets the tone for the recording. The klezmer-inspired clarinet adds texture and richness to the Calypso song “Hill and Gully Rider.” Other highlights include “The Senses Song” (an original song by Amy), Al Dubin and Joe Burke’s standard “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” and the original “L.O.V.E.” (with three-part harmonies). Both women have sweet, uncomplicated voices that are pleasant to listen to and blend well. VERDICT This disc is sure to add a little sunshine to your day.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton redstarMade in LA. Performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. CD. 36 min. Rainy Days Dimes Music. 2017. $15. PreS-Gr 3–Made in LA, the newest album from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, is a joyous celebration of all that is Los Angeles. A captivating picture of L.A. is portrayed through songs such as the airy “Silver Lake Stairs,” the ethereal “Echo Park,” and the kindie rock “Fiesta De La Brea.” The title track includes uplifting lyrics such as, “Hey-ey we are made in LA. We come from different places but come together as one” and mentions the people, places, and things that make L.A. what it is today. Also included is “Paletero Man,” a catchy tune about the Mexican ice cream man selling frozen treats from his push cart, a scene that many children will be familiar with. In addition to all of the love for L.A., there is plenty of general fun to be had. “L+A” is a singalong song that tells the story of the first and 12th letters of the alphabet pairing up, while “Jelly,” a collaboration between Lucky and Mista Cookie Jar, will have you chanting along with lyrics like, “I got the peanut butter, so don’t be jelly, jelly.” VERDICT No matter where you live, this album will be in high demand from every member of the family!–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL My House. Performed by Terry A La Berry. CD. 29 min. A LaBerry Music. 2017. $11.97. PreS-Gr 3–Terry Hall (aka Terry A La Berry) focuses on inclusion on his sixth CD for children and families. Hall sings lead and plays instruments on all nine original tunes. He is joined by The Battersby Duo on the opening song, “My House,” (a song of welcome to all) and a dozen other musicians and vocalists on the other songs. Highlights include “Mermaids and Unicorns” (a ballad about believing in yourself), “There’s a Fly” (a country-inspired story-song featuring pedal steel guitar about finding a fly in your soup), “Take a Hike” (an up-tempo number advocating exercise) and “Eat and Brush Your Teeth” (a jazzy ditty encouraging oral hygiene after meals). He closes with “Play the Drums,” a lively tune with lots of percussion and drumming. VERDICT Great for the entire family to listen to while riding in the car.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton redstarMy Mom Is Batman! Performed by The Mighty Magic Pants. CD. 52 min. Family Fridge Music. 2017. $12.97. K-Gr 5–Due to former member Jacob Wright’s untimely death, Ben VandeVere has joined Mike Mennard and Tori Hudgins to recharge this Lincoln, NE–based kindie band. Hold onto your hats, as this dynamic trio offer 18 original tunes, each focusing on a superhero or a potential hero in a “tryout,” an occasional pirate, or a scientist, drama queen, etc. Song lyrics are thoughtful, funny, and full of positive vibes. Music is high octane and full of nonstop energy, rolling straight from one tune into the next. Be sure to listen closely to the title song for riffs from the soundtrack of the 1960’s TV show, Batman. Other highlights include “Buccaneer on Broadway” (full of Broadway bravado), “Every Superhero’s Scared of Something” (very empowering and reassuring that it’s OK to be afraid), and “Invent Something” (a “visit” with a scientist). A bonus track on the disc sure to please fans is “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” (the theme from Pokemon). Perfect to use in programming about superheroes, this will be enjoyed by the whole family. VERDICT A super time will be had listening to this album.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton Rock & Roll Party. Performed by Wayne Potash. CD.  50 min. Happy House Records. 2017. $14.99. K-Gr 5–Bostonian Wayne Potash belts out these 16 tunes in several varieties of rock & roll including hard rock, rockabilly, 50s rock, and 60s rock, complete with wailing guitars. There is also a bluegrass tune for good measure. The backup musicians give excellent performances on guitar, saxophone, drums, organ, keyboards, banjo, percussion, upright bass, and piano. Four of the songs cover the tunes of popular rock bands, but with Potash’s own lyrics: Aerosmith’s “Train Kept A Rollin’,” The Who’s “Boris the Spider” (with a children’s chorus), The Destroyer’s “Bad to the Bone,” and John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” Potash likes “Bobcats,” both the animal and the machine. He has a hankering for candy in “Sweet Tooth.” If you don’t have anything nice to say, then “Don’t Say Anything.” Guest vocalist Hannah Lizotte sings “I’m a Little Princess” about the variety of occupations a princess can have. The remaining songs include “At the Baseball Game,” “Haunted House Party,” “Clawzy the Sea Monster,” “Olympic Games,” “Willy the Woolly Mammoth,” “Roadrunner,” “Daddy is a Rock and Roll Star,” and “Shy Shark.” VERDICT These energetic, foot-tapping, booty-wagging tunes will have young listeners moving and grooving.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library RSVP. Performed by Stacey Peasley. CD. 34 min. Stacey Peasley. 2016. $11.99. PreS-Gr 3–Boston-based Stacey Peasley invites listeners to her birthday party in the title song (a happy celebration of self). She explores 11 other things that appeal to boys and girls, including a “Rocketship” (a jamming song about blasting into space), “Shoes” (a bouncy song about locating misplaced shoes), “Hand Me Downs” (a bluesy ballad about wearing passed-down clothes), “Allergies” (a techno-pop lament about what happens when playing outside), “Pick a Pumpkin” (an upbeat review of Peasley’s favorite season—autumn) and “One and One Makes Two” (a country-style number about playing with a friend). Never overproduced, Peasley’s band is tight with just the right balance, harmonies, and embellishments, such as the horns and sax on "Step Outside the Box." VERDICT Fans of Laurie Berkner are sure to enjoy Peasley’s family-friendly pop songs.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton redstarSwing Set. Performed by Jazzy Ash. CD. 34 min. Leaping Lizards Music. 2017. $13. PreS-Gr 3–Swing Set is the follow-up to Jazzy Ash’s delightful album, Bon Voyage (2015). Following years of research into traditional African American songs and rhymes, Jazzy Ash settled upon the 14 tunes gathered here. Each track on Swing Set is at least 90 years old and has been newly arranged for today’s children. This collection includes the folk songs “Li’l Liza Jane,” and “Hambone,” updated versions of “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” and “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the lullaby “All the Pretty Little Horses,” and the traditional spiritual “Down By the Riverside.” Interspersed with the songs are traditional playground songs such as “Miss Mary Mack,” “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,” and “Head and Shoulders, Baby.” The New Orleans jazz sound really shines on “Sister Kate,“ “Everybody Loves My Baby,” and “Ballin’ the Jack,” while listeners are treated to a bit of Louisiana French Creole on the fantastic “Eh La Bas.” Backed by a stellar group of musicians, Jazzy Ash’s full, rich voice is the perfect accompaniment for this unique collection of songs. A children’s chorus is added to many of the tracks, which only increases the depth of the music. VERDICT An entertaining, yet extremely important musical history lesson. A must have for all collections.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL Welcome by Miss Carole. Performed by Carole Stephens. CD. 48 min. Macaroni Soup. 2016. $15. PreS-K–Miss Carole leads a group of children as they sing some of the music on this collection of 30 songs. The disc includes some standard classics, some piggy-back songs, and some original tunes by Stephens or other composers. Most songs encourage an activity or engagement. Highlights include “Pass the Pumpkin,” “Oh Pumpkin Man,” “One Little Bunny Hopping on the Floor!” “Up and Down,” “JAWS,” “Around and Around and STOP,” and “We’re Going for a Walk.” A variety of musical styles, tempos, and instruments make this an interesting and useful tool in an early-childhood classroom to get young children up and moving. VERDICT A good choice for a fresh musical addition; use alongside music by Ella Jenkins.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton

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