Classical Recordings Take Top Honors As 2015’s Top New Children’s Albums

The mainstream and independent music industry have both generated their fair share of impressive records in 2015. This includes both full-length albums and EPs. Of course for all of the success that both realms have shown one would be remiss to ignore the realm of music for the whole family. That realm has seen the release of a number of impressive records, too. Recess Monkey returned again this year with yet another fun new album. And children’s classical label Maestro Classics released a pair of interesting releases, too. New entries from Jazzy Ash, Josh and the Jamtones, and Alex & The Kaleidoscope among others have proven to be just as impressive. Those acts’ albums are all on this year’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums along with five more that have once again gotten honorable mention. Without any further ado here is the Phil’s Picks Best New Children’s Albums.

2015 TOP NEW CHILDREN’S ALBUMS

1. MAESTRO CLASSICS — THE NUTCRACKER
2. MAESTRO CLASSICS — MERRY PRANKS OF MASTER TILL
3. RECESS MONKEY — HOT AIR
4. JOSH AND THE JAMTONES — ROCKSTEADY
5. ROCK ‘N RAINBOW — LET’S BOOGIE
6. CATHY FINK & MARCY MARXER — DANCIN’ IN THE KITCHEN: SONGS FOR ALL FAMILIES

7. ALASTAIR MOOK AND FRIENDS — ALL KINDS OF YOU AND ME
8. JAZZY ASH — BON VOYAGE
9. THE BAZILLIONS — ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
10. FUTURE HITS — TODAY IS FOREVER
11. THE POP UPS — GREAT PRETENDERS CLUB
12. ROCKNOCEROS — PLYMOUTH ROCKERS
13. ALEX & THE KALEIDOSCOPE — GET ON BOARD
14. LUCKY DIAZ AND THE FAMILY JAM BAND — ADELANTE
15. MIL’S TRILS — NOW THAT WE’RE FRIENDS

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Rocknoceros’ New LP Is One Of The Year’s Most Interesting Holiday Albums

Courtesy:  Rockno Records

Courtesy: Rockno Records

Late this summer indie rock trio Rocknoceros (rock-NOS-er-us) released its latest full-length studio recording Plymouth Rockers. The fifth full-length studio effort from the Vienna, Virginia-based band, it took listeners of all ages on a journey across America and offers up a little history lesson of sorts along the way, too. It didn’t take the trio long to follow it up. Late last month the band released another new collection of songs in its new holiday recording Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros. The nine-track record is one of the most interesting musical holiday offerings to be released in quite some time. This applies not just within the world of children’s music but across the span of the musical universe, too. That is mainly because of its overall makeup. Instead of just being another album front loaded with Christmas tunes, the band opted instead to take listeners on a musical trip through the holidays. That will be discussed at more length later. The actual musical makeup of the featured songs is just as important to the new album. Last but hardly least of note is the lyrical content of the album’s songs. Each element plays its own important part to the whole of this record. Collectively, they make it a collection of songs that every family should have in its music library this and every holiday season.

Rocknoceros’ new holiday compilation Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros is one of the most interesting musical holiday offerings to be released in quite some time. This applies not just within the world of children’s music but across the span of the musical universe, too. That is mainly because of its overall makeup. Instead of just being another album front loaded with Christmas tunes, the band opted instead to take listeners on a musical trip through the holidays. As listeners will note the album opens with a Halloween-centered composition titled fittingly titled ‘Halloween Masquerade.’ Its musical content will be discussed a little later on. From there, the band moves on to Thanksgiving in ‘This Thanksgiving’ and then on to Hanukkah in the traditional ‘The Dreidel Song.’ There are three Christmas song so to speak later in the album’s run in the form of ‘Wenceslas,’ ‘Up On The Rooftop,’ and ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ The thing is that despite its title ‘Wenceslas’ is not the band’s take on ‘Good King Wenceslas.’ That will be discussed when the songs’ lyrical content is covered. But again, it actually isn’t the ‘Good King Wenceslas’ that listeners know. The whole thing is rounded out with the band’s own interesting take on ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ So from the unofficial start of the holiday season (Halloween) to the season’s end, Rocknoceros has done something here that few if any acts across the musical universe have done with their annual holiday offerings. It has actually opted to go through the holidays instead of just stick to just one holiday. It is a surprisingly welcome change of pace considering this and just one reason that listeners will find the album in whole so enjoyable. The songs’ musical makeup is just as important to the album’s enjoyment as the songs themselves.

The songs that are featured in Rocknoceros’ new musical holiday compilation are in themselves plenty of reason for audiences to hear the record. As important as they are to the album’s overall presentation they are only a fraction of what makes it such an interesting collection. The songs’ musical makeup is another important part of the record’s presentation that makes it such a surprise among this year’s crop of new musical holiday offerings. The band’s take on ‘Auld Lang Syne (Enjoy Yourself)’ is exemplifies this. While the traditional tune is there the band has also included a bit of a reggae-infused sound in the main body of the song to make things more interesting. The same can be said of the band’s take of ‘Up On The Rooftop.’ On another note, the band’s take on ‘The Dreidel Song’ is just as interesting thanks to its almost “beachy” sound. Interestingly enough, the drum line that runs throughout the song is very similar that of the pattern used in Bow Wow Wow’s ‘I Want Candy.’ From there, the song’s original tune is there. It has just been updated a little with that bouncy organ-driven sound that really gives it a (again) beachy, oldies-infused sound. And as if that isn’t enough for fans, the album’s Halloween-themed opener lifts stylistically from Bobby Pickett’s famed Halloween hit ‘Monster Mash.’ Of course the link between the two tunes is minute at best. But it is obvious that there was at least some influence from Pickett’s hit song in this song’s musical content. The use of Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’ within the song is a nice touch, too. These are just some of the ways in which the musical content presented in Rocknoceros’ new musical holiday offering make it such a surprisingly interesting effort from the band. They are not the only examples that could be cited either. The poppy, waltz-time of the original ‘This Thanksgiving’ could just as easily be cited in explaining the importance of the album’s musical content, too. Whether for any of the songs noted here, those not noted or all nine songs, the musical content presented throughout the record couples with the songs themselves to add even more enjoyment to the compilation. And while both elements are equally important to the whole of Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros they still are not all to note of the record. The lyrical content presented within the songs plays its own important part in the record’s presentation, too.

Both the songs that are featured in Rocknoceros’ new musical holiday offering and their musical content are both equally important to the record’s overall presentation in their own way. The songs make the album stand out quite well from all of the other holiday offerings that clutter up store shelves each year being that they are not just Christmas songs. The musical content presented within the songs makes the songs even more enjoyable for listeners. That’s because it gives the songs their own new, interesting twist. As important as both elements prove to be to the whole of this recording, the album’s lyrical content is just as important as the songs and their musical content. The album’s opener is a good starting point in this argument. Just as the song shows influence from ‘Monster Mash’ in its musical content so does it do the same in its lyrical content. There is playful mention of blood and gore and a black cat being fed under a full blue moon by the creature from the black lagoon. It’s just a fun, Halloween song both musically and lyrically that is perfect for anybody’s Halloween party. ‘Wenceslas’ is another interesting piece to cite in noting the importance of the album’s lyrical content. The band has replaced the standard lyrics for ‘Good King Wenceslas’ here with a song about a seemingly homeless man that the subject and his friends see sitting outside alone the night after Christmas. The subject and his friends invite the man indoors and share what they have with him. It is a nice story that interestingly enough works quite well with the song’s more familiar musical content. The band’s take on ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is one more example of how the album’s lyrical content makes the album stand out. The band completely switches things around here substituting most of the original lyrics with verses about making the most of life. The guys sing here, “Enjoy yourself/It’s later than you think/Enjoy yourself/When you’re still in the pink/The years go by/As quickly as a wink/Enjoy yourself/Enjoy yourself/It’s later than you think.” The song proceeds with the coach singing, “You don’t go out to parties and…you don’t have time for foolish things like moonlight and romance/You only want your dollar bills tied neatly in a stack/But when you kiss your dollar bills/They do not kiss you back.” He’s telling listeners to make certain of their priorities and to just make the most of life. It’s an interesting new take on the song especially being that it is set against the song’s original lyrics. The coupling of the old and new actually makes the song work. And when it is all set against the song’s laid back, reggae-infused musical content, the song in whole becomes a great way to close out the album just as much as it is another great example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. Together with the album’s other lyrical content, the content in whole shows even more why Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros is such a standout musical holiday offering. That taken into consideration with the album’s musical content and its songs in whole, Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros shows in the end to be a holiday album that will make the holidays—from Halloween right up to New Year’s Eve and day—fun for the whole family.

Rocknoceros’ new musical holiday offering Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros is one of the most surprising holiday records to be released in quite some time. That is mainly because of the songs that make up the body of the record. They aren’t just Christmas tunes. Rather they cover every one of the holidays from Halloween right to New Year’s Eve. The musical content contained within each of the songs and the companion lyrical content therein also stands out throughout the recording. All things considered, Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros proves in whole to be a record that every family should have in its music library every holiday season. It is available now and can be ordered direct via Rocknoceros’ online store at http://rocknoceros.com/shop. Rocknoceros will be live at the Smithsonian Discovery Theater December 17th – 18th in support of its new holiday album. It will perform a series of holiday shows over the two-day stand at the theater. From there, it will head back home for a pair of hometown shows on December 19th. More information on the band’s tour, its new album and more is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.rocknoceros.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rocknoceros

 

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Plymouth Rockers Is An Entertaining Musical Introduction To America’s History And Geography

Courtesy:  Rockno Records

Courtesy: Rockno Records

Kindie-rock band Rocknoceros has created quite the interesting record in its latest full-length studio effort Plymouth Rockers. The fifteen track, thirty-seven-minute album is a creative, original way to introduce young listeners to the joy of learning American history and geography. By taking a handful of states and introducing them along with some interesting tidbits about each, the Virginia-based band has found a way to show young listeners that history and geography isn’t just a bunch of names and dates. Rather, the band shows that both subjects can actually be pretty fun and interesting. From sea to shining sea, the band presents some of the most interesting facts that even some adults might not have known. Along the way, the band even pays tribute to some great American anthems in one track. Whether for that patriotic medley, the equally interesting, albeit short, lesson about the Mississippi River, the fittingly country/bluegrass lesson about Texas or any other lesson presented here, Rocknoceros has presented with its new album a work that is deservedly one of this year’s best new children’s albums. What’s more, being that only about twelve states are featured in this record, it deserves a sequel or two so that the whole country can be covered. If that should happen, those records, too would likely be on the list of the year’s best new children’s records.

Rockonceros’ new album Plymouth Rockers is one of the most original and creative records to be released so far this year. Technically speaking, it has not yet been officially released. It is actually currently scheduled to be released Saturday, July 4th. That aside, it is still a great piece whether used in the classroom or living room. Its mix of American history and geography lessons set against a variety of musical backgrounds makes both subjects fun and interesting. One example of how the band achieves this goal comes in the form of its patriotic medley ‘God Bless America.’ The song mixes together elements of the beloved song ‘God Bless America’ with the National Anthem and even pieces of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and the Declaration of Independence for a composition that adults and children alike will enjoy. The band doesn’t just repeat the noted patriotic elements verbatim. Rather it mixes them together and even gives them a little update without dishonoring any of them. This means that adults that might have forgotten some of their American history lessons will be just as entertained as their younger counterparts all while getting a refresher course. Younger audiences on the other hand will be both entertained and educated possibly for the first time. It’s just one way that Rocknoceros proves its new album a joy for audiences of all ages. It is hardly the only way in which the band proves the album’s enjoyment, too. There is an equally interesting, albeit short, lesson on the Mississippi River that will interest and entertain audiences of all ages, too.

‘God Bless America’ is a wonderful example of what makes Rocknoceros’ new album Plymouth Rockers such an enjoyable collection of songs for grown-ups and children alike. It’s just one example of what makes this record so enjoyable, too. The band’s lesson on the MIssissippi River is another prime example of what makes this record so fun for listeners of all ages. It’s rather interesting to note that a song about such a long river is also this album’s shortest composition. It clocks in at a total run time of one minute and forty-four seconds. Yet through that short course of time, the band clearly gets its message across all while entertaining audiences. Listeners of all ages will love the song’s sea shanty backing (say that five times fast). No doubt its infectious rhythm will have listeners happily singing along as if they were on a ship travelling down the Mississippi. The addition of the song’s informational side will interest listeners just as much. Even this critic will admit having never known that the Mississippi is 2,300 miles long from end to end. The note about the weather on the river not always being the greatest is just as interesting. And the reference to Huckleberry Finn will put a smile on the face of anyone familiar with author Mark Twain’s book about Huck and his friend Tom Sawyer. The band includes much more about the river, lyrically speaking. And again as short as the song runs, it is truly impressive how much information the band gets across and clearly at that. The delivery will keep listeners’ engaged from start to finish. Younger listeners will be so entertained by it all that again they won’t even know that they are being educated. That is a tribute to the band’s continued attention to detail. Such attention to detail shows why even as short as the song is, it is still another wonderful example of what makes this record another of 2015’s best new children’s albums.

Both the patriotic medley ‘God Bless America’ and the band’s infectious yet short lesson about the Mississippi River are both wonderful examples of what makes Plymouth Rockers enjoyable for audiences of all ages. With its fittingly country/rockabilly musical backing and playful lyrical lesson about the Lone Star State, ‘Texas’ shows itself to be another great addition to Plymouth Rockers. The song celebrates Texas’ rich history, its state flower, its capital, and especially its legendary barbecue that will “hit you in the solarplexis” as the band sings. There’s even a reference to the hit primetime soap opera Dallas along with a subtle mention of JFK’s assassination in Dallas along with much more. Being that it tops off at only two minutes and twelve seconds, it’s impressive that the band was once again able to cram in so much information all while entertaining audiences. Even with the band’s rapid fire delivery, it isn’t so fast that audiences are lost along the way. Because audiences aren’t lost, hopefully at least some listeners will be moved to take that starting point and run with it, using it as motivation to learn even more about what is one of the country’s richest states historically speaking. Such motivation shows precisely why ‘Texas’ is another prime example of what makes Plymouth Rockers enjoyable for audiences of all ages. It is not the last example of what makes Plymouth Rockers enjoyable, either. From lessons about Florida and Louisiana, to some of the country’s most notable Midwestern states and more, Plymouth Rockers proves in so many ways that it is one of this year’s best new children’s records. And audiences will hear that for themselves when this record is released on America’s birthday this year.

Plymouth Rockers will be released Saturday, July 4th. Fans can check out some of the album’s new material next month when the band performs a live hometown show in Vienna, Virginia on June 26th. Tickets for that show are available now and can be purchased online at http://jamminjava.com/event/826593-rocknoceros-happy-family-hour-vienna/. More tour dates and all of the band’s latest news can be found online now at:

Website: http://www.rocknoceros.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rocknoceros

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.