The Salamanders are back with the follow-up to their 2015 self-titled debut album, The Salamanders. This positive-thinking, Missoula-based quartet (Matthew Nord, Cowboy Andy, Russ Gay, and Antonio Alvarez) use their veritable skills as performers to once again offer up an album of songs that are enjoyable and empowering. Cowboy Andy, who wears two hats in the group, is responsible for the clever lyrics and original melodies in this collection that is billed as rock ‘n’ roll, but often has hints at other genres like the touch of Cajun in “Poppy” and the smooth jazz trumpet in “The Cat.” Parents will appreciate the messages of tracks like “Let’s Sing a Song” which celebrates everyone’s sameness and talks about the fact that even though we may look different, “We all like snacks and cuddles, we all like playing games/We all like to be hugged and loved, tucked in our bed at night.” The title track, “Bubbles,” is a soft, gentle song that addresses the issue of not everything in life lasting forever, that many things are temporary…like bubbles. While there are important lessons to be learned on this album, there is also plenty of fun to be had. The song “Golly G. Gus” is a great tune to sing along to, while silliness abounds on a pirate ship at Christmastime in “Pirate Santa” and in the cautionary tale about a brush with fame in “Matt Damon Magnetized Me.” Share this one with the families at your library who are looking for something new.
Boston-based Wayne Potash may not be new to the children’s music game (his first album came out in 1989), but his music still sounds fresh and fun. His newest album, Rock & Roll Party, features a combination of original tunes as well as covers of songs such as George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” and John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom,” but with updated, kid-friendly lyrics. Children will relate to the variety of subjects covered in this album, including everything from having a sweet tooth, to the adventure of going to a baseball game, to a train heading down the track. Several very special creatures are featured in their own songs as well, including, “Boris the Spider,” “Clawzy the Sea Monster,” and “Willy the Woolly Mammoth.” Preschoolers will love dancing to the rock and roll beat while younger grade schoolers will enjoy the clever, catchy lyrics which tell a different story in each song. There’s a little something for everyone on this album from “Bobcats” which adeptly combines both the animal and the construction vehicle into one song as well as “I’m a Little Princess,” (performed by Hannah Lizotte) about a little girl getting ready for her princess party. The majority of the album has an energetic, upbeat vibe and would be fun to use in programs where a dance break is needed. With a rock and roll sound and choruses you can’t get out of your head, parents will quickly find themselves singing along, even when there aren’t any kids in the car. The adorable, eye-catching cover art makes this a rock & roll party that patrons are going to want to go to. A great addition to library collections.
Novelties performed by Recess Monkey
Target Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 4
Recess Monkey is back! The trio from Seattle, whose sound is often compared to that of the Beatles, returns with Novelties, an album filled with 14 brand new, original songs. With their quirky style and fun sense of image building, Drew Holloway, Jack Forman, and Korum Bischoff, draw listeners into fun songs about things like the mustaches of the world being set free, a wind up robot, a love struck unicorn who has just caught sight of a Narwhal, and a “Sweaty Yeti” who was seen running in the forest. Mixed-in with the silliness are topics that children can easily relate to such as the simple joy of a piggyback and creating a band by playing music on pots and pans. Their unique blend of rock and pop styles from across the decades gives their clever lyrics a liveliness that is impossible to resist. Kids will enjoy the song “Show and Tell” whose chorus asks, “Hey now what will you bring/You can choose anything” and finds the students bringing bigger and splashier things to school as the week goes on, while in “Snowball,” when a boy’s older brother nails him with a snowball during the winter, the younger sibling hides it in the freezer and warns, “When summer comes along I’ve saved a little something for you.” It may take more than one time listening to the album to get the full gist of the lyrics, but when the children do, their eyes will light up with the full understanding of the songs. Recess Monkey does provide all of the lyrics to their songs on their website in case you want to read along while you take a listen. They also have their own YouTube channel where you can watch videos of some of their older music as well as videos for some of their new songs like the ode to that most delicious deep fried treat in “Time to Make the Donuts.” While this album wouldn’t work well in a storytime or classroom setting, it is perfect for family listening.