Tag Archives: Caspar Babypants

Fids & Kamily 2016 & Best of the Decade

For those of you new to family music, Fids & Kamily is a yearly poll that compiles the lists of the year’s favorite kids and family music. Music bloggers, radio hosts, etc. They keep letting me vote, so I keep voting. And a couple weeks ago they released the results.

Before we take a look at 2016, let’s take a look back at the last 10 years.

2006-2015-fids-and-kamily

Here is how the committee vetted out.

Here’s a look at my “Best of the Decade” ballot:

1. Dan Zanes and Friends – Catch That Train!
2. Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band – A Potluck
3. Justin Roberts – Jungle Gym
4. The Pop Ups – Radio Jungle
5. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Can You Canoe?
6. Gustafer Yellowgold – Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock
7. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Underground Playground
8. Frances England – Mind of My Own
9. Caspar Babypants – Sing Along!
10. They Might Be Giants – Here Come the 123s
11. The Deedle Deedle Dees – Strange Dees, Indeed
12. Josh and the Jamtones – Rocksteady
13. Lori Henriques – The World Is a Curious Place To Live
14. Dan Zanes and Friends – Little Nut Tree
15. Justin Roberts – Lullaby
16. Recess Monkey – The Final Funktier
17. The Not-Its – Raise Your Hand
18. Various Artists – Science Fair
19. Medeski, Martin & Wood – Let’s Go Everywhere
20. Ozomatli – Ozomatli Presents OzoKidz

And now for 2016. Here’s how the panel of judges voted.

Here is my 2016 Fids & Family ballot:

1. Frances England – Explorer of the World
2. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album
3. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Infinity Plus One
4. Sonia De Los Santos – Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island
5. Dean Jones – In My Dreams
6. The Not-Its! – Are You Listening?
7. Moona Luna – Panorama
8. Sugar Free Allstars – Sugar Free Allstars
9. The Deedle Deedle Dees – Sing-A-Long History Vol. 2: The Rocket Went Up!
10. Mista Cookie Jar – Music Is Everywhere

If you haven’t already, please take a listen to some of these wonderful records and support independent music for families. 

Album Review: Caspar Babypants, “Hot Dog!”

He’s one of our family’s favorite musicians — and the current champion of my four-year-old son’s CD player, where he recently dethroned Dean Jones as the nighttime artist of choice — but I’ve reached the point where I approach every new Caspar Babypants album with a near-equal mix of anticipation and dread. Anticipation because I know I’m going to love whatever Caspar comes up with, but dread because I also know I’m going to have to write about it — and after three superlative-laden posts about the Babypants oeuvre, I’m rapidly reaching the point where I’m running out of fresh compliments to bestow.

Well. Here’s what I can tell you about the latest Caspar Babypants collection, Hot Dog! — if you hadn’t already guessed, everyone in my family loves it, especially my son, who’s particularly partial to the track “Stompy the Bear”:

Stompy’s great, but I think my favorite of the new album’s 19(!) tracks is probably the beautiful “All That I Have Got,” which blends the signature Babypants whimsy with a lovely, lilting melody and lyrics bearing a deceptively powerful message about where we find our happiness:

For my daughter, the album highlight is “A Thousand Tiny Donuts,” which sent her into peals of hysterical giggles before she’d even heard the song. Fortunately, the song didn’t disappoint — it’s darn catchy:

These are just a few of the many highlights from the album, which finds Caspar (a.k.a. Chris Ballew) adding a few new colors to his sonic palette while hewing close to everything that’s made his previous kindie forays so wonderful. These are sweet, bite-sized songs, silly but not gratuitously so, with solidly crafted melodies that will burrow their way straight into the happy part of your brain. They glow with joy and kindness. Who else would sing about feeling bad for a glove lying alone in the street? Only an artist finely attuned into the best parts of the childlike spirit.

There are a lot of artists making kids’ music right now, and many of them — like Chris/Caspar — made their way to the genre after building a career recording the grown-up stuff. A number of these folks are really quite good, but if I had to pick just one artist that I think has really found his calling in kindie, I’d pick Caspar Babypants. These really sound like the songs he was born to play, and I’d recommend them to any family without reservation. I can’t wait to hear what’s next. Sort of.

Book Reviews: “Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight” and “My Woodland Wish”

If your kids love Caspar Babypants‘ music as much as mine do, you’re doubtless already familiar with the work of his wife, artist Kate Endle. Not only has she been responsible for each Caspar Babypants album cover, she’s also a busy Etsy shopkeeper and thriving illustrator of children’s books like Trout Are Made of Trees and Bella and the Bunny.

Now, Kate and Caspar are expanding their partnership, and the first fruits of their labor are here: Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight, a beautiful, simply written bedtime story, and My Woodland Wish, the tale of a girl who wishes she could play with the animals in the woods around her house. Both books come with a URL where you can download an mp3 to go with the story.

Both books are fairly similar, in that they focus on the outdoors, feature stories built from easy-to-understand rhymes, and include plenty of lovely Endle artwork. The main difference between the two is that Rabbit in the Sunlight is a board book, and the shorter of the two — it’s the kind of thing you’ll pull out before bed for your favorite toddler — while My Woodland Wish offers more of a full-fledged narrative.

Their differences are less meaningful than their similarities, however — both books capture the peaceful, gentle spirit of Caspar Babypants’ music, and feature some of Endle’s loveliest work. I took the books out on a Sunday morning when my kids were running wild, and they calmed right down, eagerly identifying animals on the pages and absorbing the soothing rhythm of the stories.

Both books have been beautifully assembled by Sasquatch Press, particularly Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight, which was printed with a really pleasant-looking matte finish on the boards. They’re affordably priced — you can own them both for less than $25 through Amazon — and they come with some wonderful free music. Don’t miss the chance to help support a pair of talented independent artists (and give your family a couple of great gifts in the process).