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Great Production Lifts Twangy CD

Folky twang forms the base for Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem’s Ranky Tanky CD. Arbo (occasional backup singer for Joan Baez) puts her string band spin on classics like “The Green Grass Grows All Around” and the TV commercial favorite, “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out.”

Daisy Mayhem (the band’s name) splits vocal chores between Arbo and her male bandmates, and everyone seems to be having a great time. This band’s enthusiasm is catchy, but you never get the “homemade” feel that ruins some folkie family music. Outstanding production clarity lifts this album above other similar efforts.

Ranky Tanky puts a unique acoustic spin on songs that don’t fit the traditional perception of folk, such as “Purple People Eater” and “Bushel and a Peck.” Their rousing version of John Gorka’s “Branching Out” (“when I grow up, I’m gonna be a tree…”) injects fun energy into the song that should help make it the environmental anthem it deserves to be. www.raniarbo.com

Jumping, Buddy Holly Style

Uncle Rock’s CD The Big Picture is so musically rich that a quick listen obscures “the big picture” of kid-friendly, real-life advice the album promotes. “Shake It Off” rocks as he vows “I’m gonna shake it off” when things get tough. The intricate rock guitar is brilliant. This is an album dads will want to play loud.

“Let the Bees Be” is a rhythmic lesson in getting friendly (but not too friendly) with nature. The buzz-along chorus is a honey of a touch, backed by infectious percussion. Uncle Rock’s serious side surfaces on the spoken/sung “There Is No Away,” with its mindful message on behalf of nature.

Uncle Rock (aka Robert Burke Warren) echoes Buddy Holly in vocal and guitar style, a resemblance he exploits on “Buddy Holly’s Got the Hiccups.” Uncle Rock is a delightful solo performer, but it’s the full instrumentation backing his vocals that makes The Big Picture jump. www.unclerock.com

Browse Favorite Artists for Free

Finding your kids’ next favorite musicians is easier by “window shopping” through a selection of songs and artists at www.freekidsmusic.com. Meet new artists, rediscover favorites, and forego the awful in one place.

So many musicians are on this site that you’ll quickly find favorites while dismissing others within seconds. The site warns that “you don’t know how long these songs will be here,” so expect constant change. Links to artists’ websites make it easy to purchase full-length CDs directly from the creators of the music.

An A-Z artist index (on the website’s right column) lists contemporary artists alphabetically, putting Danny Adlerman’s gentle “Humpty Dumpty” on a page with the hard-edged punk of The Boogers (“Peanut Butter and Jelly”). The site offers a page with downloads of traditional songs (“Frere Jacques”) as well as contemporary songs and artists. Take advantage of some quiet time to explore freekidsmusic.com.

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.

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