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And The Song Goes
If you’re sure to use soap
Every time that you wash
You’ll always be healthy
The germs will be crushed

I was convinced that my Top 10 kids albums from 2010 was pretty much set, but Brian Vogan has created an album you can’t ignore. Breezy, jangle-pop songs have never sounded so good.

My musical tastes were formed in the early ‘90s Seattle grunge era with Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees and Mother Love Bone/Pearl Jam leading the way. Well, fast forward just under twenty years and what do we have? Seattle leading the way in music I’m listening to – this time it just happens to be children’s music. Recess Monkey, The Not-It’s, Casper Babypants and the artist I’m about to review, Brian Vogan, all hail from Northwest. I’m not sure what’s in the water in Seattle, but I need to visit ASAP.

Vogan’s first album was a stripped down solo record, but this time he brings along “His Good Buddies” for a fuller sounding musical journey.  Sing A Little Song’s great opening track 'How to Fly' gets a boost with additional vocals from Rachel Flotard (Visqueen). '27' is the funkiest song about counting numbers I’ve heard in a long time.  The 1950s era doo-wop and finger-snapping of 'Tow Truck' had me hitting the back button over and over again.

'Wash Your Hands' is a grunged-out rock track. If you have any trouble getting your kids to wash their hands, this song should do the trick. The country-tinged 'Last Thanksgiving' is about an escaped turkey that says: “If I’m the biggest turkey in the entire state, then there’s just no way I’m ending up on a plate.” Clever, without being corny. It is something Brian Vogan excels at.

Other topics on the album are familiar to kids music: space, dinosaurs, dogs, frogs, and crossing the street, but Vogan makes them each his own.

In short, Sing A Little Song is awesome. It has everything you’d want in an album: great harmonies, great song writing, memorable lyrics and stellar production.  All those qualities make this an easy entry into my Top 10 for 2010. It’s just a great record. Don’t believe me? Listen to song samples right here.  If I was wealthy enough to offer a money-back guarantee I would. I can’t see how anyone could not like this record.

Bonus – We were lucky enough to get a copy of the new album for giveaway. Who wants to win it? Leave a comment about what bands formed your musical tastes and we’ll randomly select a winner on Sept 8th.

CD: Sing A Little Song
Artist: Brian Vogan and His Good Buddies
Audience: 3-9 yrs old and their parents
Sounds Like: Marcy Playground, IRS days of R.E.M., Toad The Wet Sprocket
Buy from: http://www.brianvogan.com/store

Track List:
1. How to Fly    
2. 27    
3. Cross the Street    
4. Tow Truck    
5. Sing A Little Song    
6. Wash Your Hands    
7. Last Thanksgiving    
8. Gray Dog
9. One Tiny Little Frog    
10. Space    
11. Dinosaurs

ATSG On The Air

I was asked to be on the radio this past weekend to talk kids music and hopefully you’ll be hearing more of it in the future. Erik Bilstad the Sunday host of Wisconsin’s Weekend Morning News on Newsradio 620 WTMJ noticed that I wouldn’t stop talking about kids music. Intrigued, he was kind enough to offer me an additional outlet to let parents know about some great children's music available to them.

If you missed it, here is how it sounded.

In the coming weeks, I’ll focus on individual artists or albums and talk about them on the show. It won’t be every week because the Packers pre-game for noon kickoffs starts at 9am and shortens the morning show. When I find out when they are going to air, I'll post it on Twitter.

Thanks again to Erik Bilstad for asking me to come on the show.

No musician will ever top Stevie Wonder performing Superstition on Sesame Street. But Sesame Street usually does a pretty good job of bringing in good musicians to perform. Feist from a couple years ago is a perfect example. Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, Paul Simon and countless others have all performed on the show.

Since my daughter is on a hardcore Elmo/Sesame Street lovefest right now, it was hard to ignore this new Sesame Street video featuring Will.I.Am from Black Eyed Peas, so I felt like sharing. It's helping launch the 41st season of Sesame Street premiering next Monday the 27th. Enjoy.

In other random news, I'm trying to convince my wife to dress our daughter up as #13 on this Star Wars related costume list for Halloween. Her initial reaction is unprintable on this family blog.

And The Song Goes
Just give me your hand, some days I hold it
Some days I need help up from the ground
Just give me your hand, this friendship’s golden.
I just like to know you're around.

Kid-Hop? You better believe it. You may have some preconceived ideas about hip hop music for kids. Those should all disappear with one listen of Underground Playground. Lots of children’s music is engaging, relatable and entertaining. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s kid-hop is challenging, empowering and extremely entertaining. The messages in the songs are not dumbed down for the kids. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is a trip back to old school hip hop: positive party jams about real life. These just happen to be from the perspective of a child.

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is family project, often featuring 23 Skidoo’s daughter Saki (aka MC Fireworks) dropping rhymes and his wife Brooke on vocals to sing the hook. Underground Playground brings in a laundry list of guest musicians to play the banjo, horns, vocals, ukulele and turntables, giving each track its own unique vibe.

The album comes out of the gate swinging. ‘Road Trip’ is a bouncy, ska-flavored track about vacations in the car with the family, with lyrics relatable to parents and kids alike: “Us kids are always good, OK I lied, sometimes we yell like ‘dad she’s on my side.’” It reminded me of family trips we used to take with my brothers and sister piled in our station wagon.

‘Secret Handshake’ is a piano driven track that will have you headbobbing along.  A ukulele has never sounded funkier than it does on the track ‘Hula Hoop Soup.’ ‘Speak The Truth’ features Gift of Gab from Blackalicous and is about what happens when you lie instead being honest. Not your traditional kids’ music topic, which makes Underground Playground such a breath of fresh air.

I’ll be honest, the video for '13 O’Clock' kind of haunts me like Pink Elephants on Parade from Dumbo. Not scary? Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s video for the song 'Chase the Rain'

Also check out videos of songs from their previous album: Gotta be Me and Family Tree, which is awesome simply for the line dropped by his daughter “my style is kinda preschool

The closing track, 'Never Stop Asking' is aimed directly at parents: 'Hey kid you're my favorite child to play with, lets make this playground into a spaceship and grab mom then blast into outer space and stay there until the year runs out of days. keep teaching and I'll try to learn your lessons alright, just know I'm a proud pappa for the rest of my life." I love that last line.

Still not convinced? Listen to a couple more songs on their Sprockster page. The album is geared towards older kids, roughly between the ages of 5-10. At nearly 60 minutes, it is longer than your average kids CD and the album would be fine a couple tracks shorter. I highly suggest giving this album a chance. I think you'll be surprised by your reaction, along with how your kid reacts.

As always, we’ve got a copy to give away. Just leave comment below about your favorite old School Hip Hop artist.

: Underground Playground
Artist: Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Audience: 5-10 yrs old and their parents
Sounds Like: A mix between Boogie Down Productions and Biz Markie.
Buy from: http://www.secretagent23skidoo.com/

1. Road Trip
2. Mind Over Matter
3. Secret Handshake
4. Opposite Day
5. Speak The Truth (Featuring Gift Of Gab)   
6. Once Upon A Rhyme
7. Sticks And Stones
8. Wildlife
9. Ride The Butterflies   
10. Chase The Rain
11. Sky Music
12. Bored Is A Bad Word
13. The Whalephant
14. Hula Hoop Soup
15. 13 O'Clock
16. Never Stop Asking   

Alright, so I'm woefully behind on reviews. Those are coming soon, I promise. Reviews of The Ditty Bops, Casper Babypants, Matt Clark, Buckwheat Zydeco, Frances England and some cool American Sign Language DVDs. But I need to play catch up on some items that deserve to be mentioned.

First off, yesterday the Laurie Berkner Band released its new DVD, called "Let's Hear It For The Laurie Berkner Band." It has 16 dance-along music videos that you've seen on Nick Jr. and Noggin. Check out the track listing and pick up a copy here. It's roughly 44 minutes long, which should be just long enough to keep the kids entertained on a drive across town. Outside of the nearly three-minute commercial at the beginning for Nick Jr., I really liked the DVD. My 17 month old can't get enough of Lauruie Berkner.

Here's the video for "Victor Vito"

What else is new? The awesome Flannery Brothers have a new CD coming out and they released a video for their song "Pirate or Parrot."  A full review of their new album is coming next week.

Great music for a great cause - Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti is another must have. It is a 'who's who' compilation album of kids music, with the proceeds benefiting the Haitian People’s Support Project and their long-standing work to help the people of Haiti. Please, give it a spin.

As an Omaha native, one of my favorite bands from my hometown is The Faint. They're appearing on the new season of Yo Gabba Gabba. Check out a rough version of their song Teach Me Teacher.

This Sunday morning I'll be back on Newsradio 620 WTMJ to talk about kids music. I just haven't decided which album to talk about.

Lastly, for some reason our blog software doesn't allow me to have a 'blogroll' in the right hand column. So here's a brief list of my favorite childrens bloggers who are million times better than I am.

Out With The Kids
Gooney Bird Kids
Spare The Rock, Spoil The Child

There is no hiding that one of my favorite childrens artist is Justin Roberts.(see my review from June) His latest album includes this Halloween gem, 'Trick or Treat'. Enjoy.

Trick or Treat SINGLE by JustinRoberts

Here are the lyrics to follow along with

Trick or Treat

C’mon mom the clock says 4
And I’m ready to hit every door
On this block in this town in this city
Watch out cause it might not be pretty

And I don’t know if this bag is big enough
To carry all this delicious stuff
Last year the bag was heavy as bricks
My baby brother ate too much of it and he got sick

Everyone’s outside, bags are open wide
Cause we’re ready to trick or trick or trick or trick or
Falling leaves will soar, we’ll go door to door
Cause we’re ready to trick or trick or trick or trick or

My brother can’t see at all with his new mask on
He’s just weaving through the neighbor’s lawn
I’m up the stairs so I ring the bell
What’s on the other side nobody can tell

My mother’s watching us from the front sidewalk
My brother’s nervous so he can hardly talk
But I’m just a ghost in an old bed sheet
When the door opens I yell trick or trick or trick or trick or

The sky is getting halfway dark
My bag’s up to the halfway mark
Hurry up there’s treasures on display
Pumpkins will light the way

I ’ve got so much candy in this bag it’s gonna last until November or December
January, February, March or April (April)
January, February, March or May or June or maybe April (April)

When I get home I pour it all on the table
Rearrange it by the color or label
My brother stands on the chair cause he’s shorter
Put every piece in alphabetical order

Suzy’s dad’s a dentist and he makes her trade her candy in for fruit
But there ain’t no substitute