Tag Archives: Frances England

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.


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. 

CD Review: Frances England, “Mind of My Own”

Bright, catchy, and adorable, Frances England’s Mind of My Own is a slow pitch down the middle for grown-up fans of marshmallow-soft pop acts like Rabbit!, Lisa Loeb, Kaiser Cartel, and Mates of State (who pop in for a cameo on the sixth track, “Place in Your Heart”).

Having listened to more than my share of albums by female singers who wear vintage frocks, play quirky instruments, and wish they were Zooey Deschanel or Jenny Lewis, I hear warning sirens when I open a CD and see a woman holding a tiny keyboard and wearing thick glasses and a thrift-store outfit. And honestly, if you have a low tolerance for cute, Mind of My Own may test your limits — but then, you’ve probably had those limits trampled by plenty of kids’ acts, and this album steps around them more cleverly than most. It’s the family music equivalent of a curtsy and a smile: It might be a little much, but it’s too charming to resist.

Aided by kindie producer du jour Tor Hyams, England lays out a musical landscape that’s all sunshine and flowers; even when she’s grumpily protesting parental tyranny on the title track, she sounds more like she’s scrunching her nose than throwing a tantrum, and the names of the other songs — including “Ladybug,” “Cookies and Milk,” “Red Balloon,” “Do You Hear the Birds Singing?” and “Big Heart” — give you a pretty good idea of her overall perspective. And even if you don’t normally go for this sort of thing (or if, like me, you’re suffering from an overdose of the Zooey Effect), you have to admit it plays perfectly to England’s strengths — she’s good at conveying childlike innocence, and she’s got the perfect cotton candy voice for this stuff.

Like cotton candy, Mind of My Own may trigger sugar shock in large doses, but at a breezy 37 minutes and change, it doesn’t overstay its welcome; in fact, a couple of songs clock in under two minutes. Consider it a gateway drug for the Apple ad-approved bands on your iPod and heed England’s call for a living room dance in your underpants.