The Best New Kindie Music
Great new releases for kids
If one artist’s work forms the roots of independent kids’ music (aka “kindie”), that artist is Raffi. His 1976 release Singable Songs for the Very Young featured simple melodies and concepts parents and kids could share, and Raffi raised the visibility of kids’ music away from commercial tie-ins. “Baby Beluga,” “Down by the Bay” and “Bananaphone” are kids’ classics that have taken their place alongside the greats. In recent years, he’s devoted himself to environmental causes, creating a lasting legacy in a catalogue of songs for all generations.
Now, you can trade away those scratchy, old LP’s and enjoy Best of Raffi on a new, remarkable CD collection. His voice is as soothing and sweet as ever, and you’ll be engaged from the first whale sounds of “Baby Beluga” and stick around for an awesome backup horn section. Raffi launched a zillion bearded guys with guitars into kids’ music, and Best of Raffi reminds us why. This all-time best-selling kids’ artist presents a range of musical styles, from calypso beats on “Day O” to piano and clarinet-backed jazzy silliness on (the now cellular) “Bananaphone.” I was so taken with his gentle delivery that I don’t think I appreciated the fun of Raffi’s songs until listening to this collection. It’s infectious, as is the message of environmental goodness inherent in “One Light One Sun.” “Everything Grows” is a collection of simple illustrations of the title that shines with musical complexity. His most recent work is represented with “Owl Singalong” and “Love Bug.”
Raffi is as remarkable in 2017 as he was when your parents first brought home his records in 1977.
Two more terrific releases
Another great “Best of” Collection comes from the West Coast duo Hullabaloo. On Best of Hullabaloo Vol. 2, Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer take an upbeat approach to both silly and serious, with remarkable musical clarity and clever lyrics to illustrate the points. “It’s All Gonna Be O.K.” is the most realistic parent comforting song I’ve ever heard. “Raise a Ruckus” is a danceable take on an old cowboy tune.
My favorite song is “I Wear Pink,” sung from the point of view of a boy with sisters and fashion sense. Major credit for this band’s unique sound goes to Denyes’ countrified vocals, on great display imitating first responder vehicles on “Siren Song.” “I Chew” is about the limited diet of pandas. This collection is goofy fun with a great outlook on a kid’s world.
There is nothing simple about Pointed Man Band’s Between the Waves and the Cardoons. The complexity of this musical masterpiece is evident in the strings opening the CD on “The Waves.” Mastermind Dan Elliott’s skillful handling of multiple instruments is backed beautifully by talented contributors.
Some albums are great collections of individual songs. Some albums are artistic pieces that must be enjoyed in their entirety. Between the Waves and the Cardoons is both.
Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody-award-winning Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.