There is something about good music and the open road that brings families closer together. Is it the fun of singing along to your favorite tunes? Or making up the lyrics to a complicated song? Or associating music with a fond memory of the trip? Maybe all of the above!
During my recent roadtrip to Hershey, I had the opportunity to review a number of kid-friendly CDs to add to our music library. Listening to the albums not only made the three-hour car ride more enjoyable, but now every time I hear "Helmet" by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights I will forever remember how much fun our family had at Hersheypark.
Here are my favorites. Hope you enjoy them too!
Recess Monkey Deep Sea Diver (released June 18, 2013) I have always been a sucker for word play so as soon I saw this band's name, I was a fan. True to its album title, this ocean-themed recording set submerges you into Recess Monkey's zany world of catchy rhythms, clever lyrics, and general musical silliness. Our favorites include the infectious "Tambourine Submarine," "The Seven C's," (get it?!) and "Choral Reef" (not a typo). Appropriate for ages 2 to 8. Total run time: 42 minutes. Available at recessmonkey.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, theAVCafe.com, bigkids.com, iTunes, bandcamp.com, and Barnes and Noble.
Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights Bandwagon (released June 25, 2013) Chicks rock. And so does New York-based Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights. Joanie Leed's voice takes me back to my alternative rock days (think The Breeders and Juliana Hatfield), yet she effortlessly mixes genres infusing blues, country rock, and even funk into her songs. With songs like "Are We There Yet?", "I Love New York", and "UFO", Bandwagon makes for the perfect road trip CD that the adults wouldn't mind listening to. My favorite surprise is the song "Nutritious" - Joanie Leed's ode to healthy eating using the tune of Stevie Wonder's classic song "Superstition". My son's favorite? "Helmet" - because it referenced Lightning McQueen (Disney Cars fans - you know what I'm talking about!) Appropriate for ages 2 to 9. Total run time: 42 minutes. Available at www.joanieleeds.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, iTunes and at specialty toy and bookstores. Also check out Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights on August 8 at Summer on the Hudson Concert Series in NYC.
Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble I Like Everything About You (Yes I Do!) (release date July 9, 2013) Add some international flavor to your music library with this family-friendly album from Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble. The group reminds me of the West African dance and ensemble groups I used to enjoy watching while I was a student at Wesleyan University. The songs "Rara", "Walkin' The Dog" and "CooCoo" were composed using a variety of non-traditional instruments like chopsticks, bamboo spoons and a tin can, which my 1 year old could appreciate, and my 4 year old loved the rhythm of the seko drums in "Yamawele". My favorite was the call and response song "Little Liza Jane". This album beckons you to move your body to the music - a great pick-me-up when you're stuck in the car for a couple of hours. Appropriate for all ages. Total run time: 42 minutes. Available at www.crosspulse.com, and cdbaby.com.
Bossy Frog Productions' 15 Songs Every Kid Should Know (and Will Love!) (release date August 6, 2013) When I first saw this CD, I thought "Oh, great. Another album of overplayed children's songs." But after listening to the first two songs, I was converted. Produced by award-winning children's musician and certified music therapist Jeffrey Friedberg, 15 Songs Every Kid Should Know (and Will Love!) features the collaboration of over 40 musicians from genres as diverse as Cajun, bluegrass, jazz, rock, Cuban, African, soul, and funk. I loved how classic children's songs like "Shoo Fly", "Wheels On The Bus", "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Hush Little Baby" are given new life and personality with harmonicas, trumpets, and African drums so that both my 1 year old and 4 year old can each appreciate the music in their own way. Appropriate for ages 2 to 8. Total run time: 41 minutes. Available at BossyFrog.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes. Also don't miss Bossy Frog's 15 Songs Every Kid Should Know (and Will Love!) CD Release party in Nyack on August 2. When you pre-register for the event, you get a discount when you purchase the CD.
Disclosure: Macaroni Kid was provided complimentary CDs to review for this article. All opinions expressed in this article are solely the author's.