The Top Family CDs of 2011


I am thrilled with the quality of this year’s releases in family music. There’s barely a smidgeon of difference among the titles in my Top 10. Close your eyes & point to any of them and you’ll find something wonderful.  My #1 tops the list because Trout is my favorite band. They always make me happy.

1. Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important, Trout Fishing in America (book, CD). Imaginative multi-layered songs, brilliant music.

In "16 or 17 Hours of Sleep" on Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important, Trout Fishing in America goes Ramones in a punk rock headbopper about the sleeping habits of cats…and many humans.

2. The Golden State, The Hipwaders. Surf and hard rock masterfully crafted with appeal to older kids.

3. Strange Dees, Indeed, The Deedle Deedle Dees. Great non-traditional history lessons.

On this stripped-down version of  “Cool Papa Bell,” Lloyd teaches the song in the call-and-response method he used with his own kids. This is a great way to learn about historical characters not found in textbooks..

4. Tag, You’re It!, The Not-Its. Fizzy fun pop rock.

5. What a Zoo!, Joanie Leeds & the Nightlights. Animal-themed rock & roll.

"Happy as a Clam” from What a Zoo! is a musical metaphor lesson, illustrating common linguistic animal references.

6. The Family Garden, Billy Kelly. Blends humor and kid-friendly wonder.

That Old American Flag” from The Family Garden is a modern spin on a multi-generational experience: Bill Kelly’s memory of raising the flag with his Dad.

7. Big Bully, various artists. Anti-bullying songs that comfort and empower.

"I’m Sorry,” performed by Susan Salidor on Big Bully, is a great all-purpose apology song (“I’m sorry I did that thing that I did.”).

8. Tumble Bee, Laura Veirs. Traditional folk crisply produced.

This “making of” video illustrates the process that brought old folk songs into the 21st century through the voice of an indie artist.

9. Flying, Recess Monkey. Their usual musical range and clever lyrics.

The filmstrip for Flying's title track serves as great advice to “maximize your family’s enjoyment when embarking on modern jet travel.”

10. Love Me for Who I Am, Brady Rymer. Celebrates differences without badgering or preaching.

When Brady Rymer sings, “Please don’t try to fix me, love me for who I am,” he delivers a message everyone can understand in this celebration of the differences among us.

Honorable mention:  Sing to Your Baby, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer (book, CD); Little Nut Tree, Dan Zanes & Friends; Practically Ridiculous, The Jimmies.

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.


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