I always enjoy it when an artist moves beyond their typical musical stylings and tries something new. That is exactly what Steve Pullara & His Cool Beans Band did recently with the video for their latest single, “Alien Babies From Outer Space.” This fun, quirky, electronica-filled tune is brought to life with retro-fueled imagery that recalls the early days of science fiction films. Children will love bopping around to the beat while watching the escapades of the adorably portrayed alien babies who are “coming to take us away!”
“I’m an a cappella fella with an a cappella family,” declares Steve Pullara on the opening track from his latest album, An A Cappella Family. Over the course of ten light, uplifting songs, Steve and his talented “family,” a group of musicians who recorded the entire album from a distance during the pandemic, entertain listeners with clever lyrics and jaunty melodies. The songs cover a wide range of topics including having gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe, the fun of slurping while eating, and the trials of losing your car in the parking lot. Also included are songs about a family’s adopted dog Bowzer and adopted cat Whiskers, a great tune about the fact that almost everything in life arrives at the store via truck, and a cool song about friends that proudly declares, “Big or small, short or tall, my friends come in all shapes and sizes.” While the majority of the album is very up tempo, things do slow down a bit with songs like “Midnight on the Moon” and “Ti Amo Lullaby.”
When listening to well-executed a cappella you don’t notice the absence of instrumental accompaniment, and that is certainly the case here. The lyrics are showcased by perfectly harmonizing vocals that weave together on each song to tell an engaging story. With most songs falling in the 2:30-3:00 minute range, the tracks on An A Cappella Family would make fun additions to dance breaks during storytimes and music programs. Get in the swing of things with the video for the first track, “All Cooped Up,” below.
Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s first ever Children’s Music Roundup!! Throughout the past year I thought a lot about doing a “10 Best” list, but the music for children this year was so diverse and so dynamic, there was no way I could limit my choices. What I decided to do instead was to make a list of my favorite albums of the year, then break the list up by categories. (If I reviewed an album here, I’ve included the link.) So, without further ado, here is the 2018 Children’s Music Roundup!
Most Amazing Album Covers:
Come for the covers, stay for the fantastic music!
Be Mindful, Be Kind:
Music to guide our everyday lives.
Every Voice performed by Kira Willey
Dog on the Floor performed by Raffi
Oh, to be Little:
Perfect tunes for the preschool crowd.
Sounds of Summer:
Winter may soon be upon many of us, but these albums are good anytime of the year.
Camp Andyland performed by Andy Z
Fireflies performed by Mister G
Who knew science could be so fun?
Giants of Science performed by The Pop Ups
Kidz STEM Songs performed by Dan Crow and Friends
Zoom a Little Zoom: A Ride Through Science performed by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer
Life Through a Special Set of Eyes:
Meet Jamey, his cat and his new puppy as they partake in the joys of summer.
Kitty Cat Under My Wheelchair performed by Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band
For Fans of the “Who Was/ Who Is” Series:
What better group of people to learn about than Nobel Laureates?
Legion of Peace performed by Lori Henriques Quintet featuring Joey Alexander
Where in the World…:
Music inspired by cultures from around the world.
Everything’s groovy in this collection.
All the Sounds performed by Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats
We Only Have One Earth:
Celebrate all the creatures, great and small, on this planet we call home.
Back to the Land performed by Hot Peas ‘N Butter
Why Why Why? performed by Ants Ants Ants
Who can resist a bilingual playground?
Happy Land is Tierra Feliz performed by Mi Amigo Hamlet
There are many moms on this list, but the moms below can’t be categorized!
Music for a Cause:
Hold Tight, Shine Bright performed by 25+ children’s artists
This album was created to help keep families together. All proceeds go to RAICES Texas.
And finally –
Just Because They’re Awesome:
Building Blocks performed by Tim Kubart
Family Photo Album performed by Recess Monkey
Hand in Hand performed by Suzi Shelton
Did your favorites make the list?? Let me know in the comments below.
The first time I listen to a new album (I generally listen to each album at least 3 times), I like to go in “blind.” I don’t read the liner notes or any of the accompanying PR. I just listen. This was true of the first time that I listened to Backyards & Home Fronts. With barely a glance at the packaging, I popped the CD in, pressed play and bopped along while I sorted the mail and straightened the kitchen. At the end, I thought, that was nice. Kids will like the song about using your imagination while drawing on the car window with your finger. They’ll be able to relate to the song about playing with a refrigerator box. Many of them will understand the song about the child who is growing older along with a pet.
Then, I read the liner notes and visited Steve Pullara’s website and realized I had it all wrong. So, I listened to the album again. And again. And again. While it is true that the album has universal themes that children can relate to, at the heart of this album lies a beautiful tribute to the children whose moms and dads are in the military and are away from home on deployment. This is an album filled with songs about missed birthdays, wishes and dreams, letters and care packages, and grandmas and grandpas who step in to help fill the void. While the subject matter may pull at the heart strings, the songs are all upbeat and joyous, employing a little bit of country and a little bit of old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll to convey its message.
Many of the songs on this album could be used in lessons or programs about different types of families. This is a welcome addition to all music collections, but is a must have for those libraries and classrooms that serve families in the military. Check out the video below for the joyful final track of the album, “Guess Who’s Coming Home.”
*make sure to have a tissue handy