“Every superhero needs an anthem…” is how Tim & the Space Cadets’ amazing album Anthems for Adventures (Magenta Label Group) kicks off, and then we’re all in for a rollicking ride through these 13 incredibly fun and entertaining songs. The theme of adventure plays well throughout, including songs such as “Blast Off” and “The Anthem, Pt. II” which is all about using your imagination and engaging in creative play. There is an adorable video for the song “Superhero” (), showcasing the delightful energy and humor of this Brooklyn-based band which truly makes music that kids AND their parents can and WILL enjoy.
There is great musicianship and lots of smart, subtle humor throughout this CD. I laughed out loud the first time I heard both "Superhero" and “2nd Grade Show,” in which the singer has a strong, supporting role in this school production… as a tree! My family’s favorite song on the album is “Blackout,” since we tend to lose power for extended periods of time at our house (for a week after Hurricane Irene and TWO weeks after Hurricane Sandy). The song has a great, catchy beat, but quick and fun lyrics about when “everything was dark, but everyone could see it was a lights-out, blackout party in my town.”
Anthems for Adventures reminds me a lot of Recess Monkey’s Flying, a 2011 release that remains my favorite kids’ album that I’ve reviewed for this column so far. Recess Monkey has recently followed up that stellar collection with Deep Sea Diver, which will be released June 18th on the band's eponymous record label. Deep Sea Diver remains true to Recess Monkey’s irresistible formula – mixing a wide range of musical styles with intelligence and humor (and great art direction… take a look at their web site) into a family-friendly musical package. The members of this Seattle trio have taken everything I loved about their superhero-themed Flying and set it in an underwater adventure that is part Jules Verne and part Spongebob Squarepants.
There are songs for everyone on Deep Sea Diver… “Compass Rose” is a tribute to a cartography-loving sister, “Shrimp” is a funky, Primus-like tune about being diminutive in stature, but not in attitude, and “Deep End” expresses the fears and doubts of taking that big leap into the pool. I highly recommend swimming along with Recess Monkey’s Deep Sea Diver, but do yourself (and your kids) a favor and also check out their album Flying if you haven’t already. (By the way, Recess Monkey has a free concert coming up on Tuesday, July 16th at 10:30am in NYC's Madison Square Park.)
Another kids’ music star paying tribute to superheroes is the well-known and beloved SteveSongs from PBS Kids. Orangutan Van (SteveSongs, Inc.) is his eighth album, and features the tune “Superhero You.” Other songs on the album include “Recess Rocks” and the very funny “A is for Silly” and “Song Without a Rhyme.” In addition to listening to his CDs, kids can see Mr. Steve weekday mornings on their local PBS stations.
Just in time for Father’s Day is “My Daddy Is a Superhero” from Channing Banks. This mom of two, an American ex-pat living in Italy, recently released an album for little kids called Rock My ABCs (self-released). Inspired by her children, this international pop/dance singer and composer set out to create a collection of songs to both entertain and educate little ones. Her very charming video for “My Daddy Is a Superhero” is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0W4g6tExM0
Happy Father’s Day to all the superhero dads out there!
Jennifer Niederhoffer is the founder of Impress Media, an independent lifestyle & entertainment public relations and editorial services firm. You can follow her on twitter @impressmedia or @themommysreview.