Thursday, July 29, 2010

Phineas and Ferb soundtrack

Shiny, commercial-sounding music from the cartoon (which, again, I have never seen). There's very little on here that wouldn't fit in on your local Top 40 radio station - it's mostly pop/rock with the occasional genre influence like the reggaeton beat and dancehall vocals in "Backyard beach", or "Perry the Platypus" which sounds a little like Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man". The songs are all very competently put together and performed, but there's not much in the way of originality or real personality on here.

There's the occasional highlight, like "My goody two shoes brother" that sounds like it's from a crazy musical, "Chains on me" which I'm surprised Tom Waits hasn't sued them over, and the following hilarious lines in "Little brothers":

Even when you break my toys, you will always be my little brothers
Because you're younger, we're related, and you're boys

Isabelle and Heather like the livelier tunes well enough (all those girls want to do is dance), but it's really just too commercial for my taste.

Buy it now on Amazon

Monday, July 26, 2010

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: Music from the Movie and More...

The opening track on this is a disastrous cover of the Spongebob theme from Avril Lavigne, which very near put me off entirely. Fortunately it didn't, as the rest of the CD is (mostly) really good - good tunes from Wilco, Ween and Motorhead, and The Flaming Lips' fantastic "Spongebob and Patrick confront the psychic wall of energy" which is almost worth the price of admission on its own. Not quite as good overall as "Spongebob's greatest hits", but still worth your while.

Very soon I'm going to get some Spongebob CDs for the shop, but for now you can content yourself with the other kids film / tv music that I do have in stock or buy it on Amazon

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time out to rock - The Not-Its

The Not-Its are a Seattle-based band playing guitar-based kids rock music. Their singer was formerly in a band signed to Sub-Pop, and lots of other blogs love them ...

There's some good stuff on this, like the call-and-response and Pavement-y guitar melody of "Accidentally", the "la la la"s in "Change my Luck" and the horn section in "Cheetah the buffalo", but ... well, the band has a tendency to drag the beat, so everything sounds like it's slowing dooooown, and the singer's pitching tends to be a bit off (or sounds it to me, maybe it the backing vocals that are off?). Some bands can get away with this kind of thing (Pavement! White Stripes!) but, sorry The Not-Its, you can't. This puts me off to the extent that I can't really tell you whether the songs are actually good or not.

It's a shame, cos the one Not-Its song I know from the previous album has a cool chorus:

Buy it now on Amazon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Class of 3000

Music from the animated series "Class of 3000", which I have never seen. The music was written by André 3000 of Outkast (with K. Kendrick, don't know who he his) - it's funky and hip-hop-y and, well, Outkast-y with traces of Parliament. And jazzy without being boring. And adventurous and creative, wow, and fun. Man, this is fantastic, some of these songs could easily be hits of the magnitude of "Hey Ya". Haven't tried it on the kids yet, but it's going straight onto my grown-up playlist.

Buy it now on Amazon

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Charlie Hope - World of Dreams

Charlie Hope's lullaby album - quiet arrangements, beautiful melodies, and Ms. Hope's gorgeous voice. The lyrics occasionally stray into saccharine territory - "You are loved and I'll watch you grow/I believe in you and everything you do" ... someone's going to cringe at that when he/she is a teenager - but given the genre and the fact that these are very well-written songs we'll forgive that.

I haven't used this to try and send anyone to sleep, as Heather finally seems to be past that stage, but it sounds like it'd be effective - "Rain Song" would fit right in on "On a starry night" which was on rotation at night in our house this time last year. If anyone reading this has tried it let me know and I'll report your findings here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack

Some real children's classics on this, the soundtrack from the 1971 movie (all sung, incidentally, by the cast), like "Candy Man" and "Pure Imagination". There's also the slightly sinister Oompa-Loompa songs, instrumental pieces including the music from the bizarre/scary boat ride on the chocolate river and lots more. It's a real musical treasure trove, with little snippets of dialogue from the movie reminding me how amazing Gene Wilder was as Willy Wonka - so wistful and unhinged but basically kind.

Isabelle, although she has now forgotten the obsession she had with Wonka when she was 2, has really taken to it, asking me incessantly about the different children in the story, and about what's happening in the story as the music progresses. Recommended.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spongebob's Greatest Hits

I love Spongebob, and the way his optimism and belief in his fellow sea-dwelling creature are never dented. I also love (most of) this CD. The words are a delight, like Plankton's verse in "F.U.N. song":

F is for fire that burns down the whole town

Haha! And then Spongebob get him to try being nice, and he likes it :)

It's not breaking any new musical ground, I suppose, but it has its moments - like the detuned backing vocals in the "Goofy Goober Song", and the Zappa-esque guitar solo in "Goofy Goober Rock", and the Beach Boys-ish "Best day ever". Hmmm, maybe there's more to this than I thought ... anyway, this made Isabelle and Heather dance at the dinner table, and it puts a big grin on my face.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mozart's Magnificent Voyage - Classical Kids

Another from classical kids in their story-with-classical-soundtrack format. Mozart is up against the deadline for finishing "The Magic Flute" because he's worried about his son Karl who's away in school. The 3 dream children from the opera are afraid of having their parts dropped, and want to talk to Karl to get him to convince his Dad to keep them in. Conveniently, the magic flying boat from the show activates itself and takes them to visit Karl, and then travels back and forward in time to give them a whistle stop tour of Mozart senior's life, ultimately resulting in a deeper understanding between father and son.

The music's good, of course (though I have to admit I'm not the world's biggest Mozart enthusiast) but the story is kinda preposterous - just a daft framing device for imparting facts about Mozart's like. Haven't tried it on Isabelle yet, but I didn't like it very much.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Peter and the Wolf - Prokofiev, narrated By Dame Edna Everage

If you've got one children's classical music record in your house, it's probably "Peter and the Wolf". If you don't, you should buy this one toot sweet. It's a great performance and Dame Edna does a cracking job of the narration - and in case you don't know the music, that's great too, melodic and very accessible with a cool story about a young boy outsmarting everyone.

Click here to listen to and hopefully buy it on