Ellis Paul's The Dragonfly Races Makes NPR TOP 10!
WXPN, November 26, 2008 - This has been one of the best years for kids' music in recent memory, including many new releases from artists with feet firmly in both kid-friendly and adult-oriented worlds (Lisa Loeb, Medeski Martin & Wood). Old favorites (Trout Fishing in America, Gunnar Madsen) went in new directions, while emerging artists (Randy Kaplan, Ham & Burger) gave a glimpse of the future of a genre as diverse and unpredictable as kids themselves.
1.Trout Fishing in AmericaArtist: Trout Fishing in America
Album: Big Round World
Song: Alarm Clock Rings
My favorite band collaborated with classroom kids to create a variety of themes and genres, including forays into multicultural education that never lose the humor and balance at the heart of this duo. "The Alarm Clock Rings" veers from space-pop to heavy metal and back.
2.Lisa LoebArtist: Lisa Loeb
Album: Camp Lisa
Song: Disappointing Pancake
A summer-camp theme album, Camp Lisa celebrates friendship ("Best Friend") and camp rituals, like the litany of packing chores that forms "Going Away." "Disappointing Pancake" earns its syrup with the line, "The crowd yelled, 'Batter, batter' / He felt right at home."
3.Justin RobertsArtist: Justin Roberts
Album: Pop Fly
Song: From Scratch
The title cut's saga of dandelion dreams interrupted by a softball hurtling through the sky sets the tone for this chronicle of real-life kid experiences. "From Scratch" celebrates Grandma's magical powers in the kitchen.
4.Gunnar MadsenArtist: Gunnar Madsen
Album: I'm Growing
Song: Always on the Bottom
In a gentle offering that never gets babyish, Gunnar Madsen honors classical music with "Mozart's at the Window (40th Symphony)." Along the way, he makes underachieving appealing in "Always on the Bottom."
5.Scribblemonster & His PalsArtist: Scribblemonster & His Pals
Album: Songs with No Character
A chronicle of parent/child life, Songs With No Character lets a mainstream sound mask its anarchic core. "I'm a Utility Pole (The World's Worst Dance Song)" opens listeners to the wonders of the telephone pole, while "Sleep" is an anti-lullaby insomnia rocker.
6.Randy KaplanArtist: Randy Kaplan
Album: Loquat Rooftop
Song: Loquat Rooftop
Singer/storyteller Randy Kaplan crafts a brassy, old-timey collection with subjects from "The Fire Engine" ("It's big, it's red / It's metal with water") to laundry camp ("Clothes Dryer"). "The Ladybug Without Spots" showcases Kaplan's bluesy storytelling.
7.Ham & BurgerArtist: Ham & Burger
Album: Pharm Phresh
Song: Jungle Jim
Crafting inventive, high-energy hip-hop with infectious humor, Ham & Burger is the duo of a pig and a cow. (Guess which is which?) "Alphabet" functions as a joyous teaching tool for toddlers, while "Jungle Jim" addresses lying -- or is it imagination?
8.Sandra BoyntonArtist: Sandra Boynton
Album: Blue Moo Album: Let's Go Everywhere
Song: Gorilla Song
This mini-musical pays homage to early-'60s rock. Real icons like Brian Wilson, B.B. King and Neil Sedaka perform original Boynton & Ford songs, each appropriate to the time frame and bursting with humor. Sha Na Na even turns up to get kid-silly in "Gorilla Song."
9. Ellis PaulArtist: Ellis Paul
Album: Dragonfly Races
Song: Because It's There
Folksinger Ellis Paul's intimate style mixes complex guitar riffs with simple themes. "Million Chameleon March" is about the power to change, and "Because It's There" celebrates possibilities that lead to the moon and under the sea
10.Medeski, Martin & WoodArtist: Medeski, Martin & Wood
Song: Where's the Music
The instrumental trio Medeski Martin & Wood adds a toy piano to a collection that sparks imaginative listening without lyrics. Kids' voices jump in occasionally to remind listeners of the target audience, asking, "Where's the Music?"
Album: Let's Go Everywhere