New Kids' Music: Some of the Best CDs Were Saved for the End of the Year

Filed under: Music, New In Pop Culture

Some great family music albums have been released throughout 2010, including Frances England's "Mind of My Own," Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's "Underground Playground" and Caspar Babypants' "This is Fun!" But four of my personal favorites squeezed in just at the end of the year, and they're definitely worth checking out.

Lunch Money: "Original Friend"
Nickelodeon's cult favorite show, "Yo Gabba Gabba," gets loads of credit for getting grown-up music acts to perform kids' songs that have a cool indie vibe. But what they really do is get famous musicians to sound like Lunch Money. This ultra-hip trio has put out a slew of great tunes in the past, but they've topped themselves with "Original Friend."

The title track is a smorgasbord of delicious new wave hooks that will have you up and dancing by the second line. "Come Over to My Dollhouse" (featuring guest vocals by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo) is a boy-toy-meets-girl-toy tune chock full of smile-inducing pop culture references. And "I Want to Push Buttons" hits upon a modern childhood urge that, frankly, shouldn't have taken this long for someone to write a song about.

The Baby Grands: "The Baby Grands II"
I was a fan of the Baby Grands from their first CD a couple of years back, but their new disc (they simply number their albums, in the classic rock tradition of bands such as Led Zeppelin and Van Halen) manages to outshine their previous effort. Starting straight from the catchy-cool opening track, "Hey!", the songs are a virtuoso display of alt-rock gusto. These guys shouldn't be surprised if the Barenaked Ladies decide to cover some of their tunes.

In terms of subject matter, there's great stuff about dinosaurs, robots and paper airplanes, but the Baby Grands also have the guts to sing about love in the sweet (but still rockin') "Pounding Heart." This is a flat-out great album.

ScribbleMonster & His Pals: "Look Both Ways"
On this wildly entertaining disc, the chord-crunching guitars of the Muppet-punk outfit are applied to an entire album full of "Sesame Street" covers. But aside from the theme song (which rocks like never before), these are mostly older, more obscure "Sesame" tunes.

There's the jangly counting song "Thirty-Two Cracks in the Sidewalk," the raucous back-and-forth opposites lesson "Loud and Soft" and the high-speed, toe-tapping anthem "Good Morning, Mister Sun." With both human and monster vocals, these covers are not just wonderful re-introductions to under-sung "Sesame" classics, but great grooving songs in their own rights.

Dog on Fleas: "The Bestest of the Best"
If you're in the mood for something different, take Dog on Fleas for a spin. Nobody whips out experimental alt-funk-country-folk-jazzy-swing-pop like this incredibly eclectic group. Heck, they've even got a guy who plays the conch shell.

This disc collects 20 of the most interesting, witty, catchy and fun tracks from the group's five CDs. You get the Squirrel Nut Zippers-esque swing of "The Moon Song," the zingy pseudo-hip-hop of "Worms" (which, as the lyrics say, isn't really about worms), the daddy-o cool of "Dig" and the goofy grandiosity of the ballad "Goodnight Fudge." It's a something-for-everyone album.


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