Tag Archives: Justin Roberts

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. 

Fids And Kamily 2013

Really, it’s that time of year already? Time flies and here I am in mid-October talking about the years best albums. For this year, the time frame was tweaked and our top 10 list was to include family music released between 11-1-12 and 9-30-13.

I am lucky enough to be included with 26 other judges that make up Fids & Kamily group. Follow the link, read the winners and then come back.

The winners for the 2013 Kids & Family music awards are………

Done looking at the list? Good, now go get some of those albums.


For what it’s worth, here was the ballot I submitted:

1. Justin Roberts – Recess
2. Paul Spring – Home of Song
3. Alastair Moock – Singing our Way Through
4. Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble – I like everything about you (Yes I do)
5. The Not-Its! – KidQuake
6. Moona Luna – Vamos, Let’s Go!
7. Lloyd H. Miller – SS Brookyln
8. Lucky Diaz – Fantastico
9. Lori Henriques – The world is a curious place to live
10. Dan Zanes & Elizabeth Mitchell – Turn, Turn, Turn.

And honestly, I could have filled out this ballot 10 times and arrived to 10 different lists. Leaving Dean Jones off? That hurt. The Verve Pipe once bought me a steak dinner in Omaha. Don’t I owe them a spot on the Top 10?

Stayed tuned in December for my Jan 1- Dec 31st best of 2013 list as there will be some additions to this top 10 list that were released after October 1st. (I’m looking at you Josh & The Jamtones)

CD Review: Justin Roberts – Recess

Artist: Justin Roberts
Audience: Fans of sagaciously written pop/rock music.
Sounds like: Semisonic, for the 3-10 yr old crowd.
Buy from: The man himself, Amazon.com, iTunes, CD Baby
Random Thought: I need to stop doubting Justin Roberts and just sit back & listen.
Tweet Sized Review: Recess rocks. End of story.

I’ve said it in previous reviews and I’ll say it again – Justin Roberts is the Dan Wilson of the Kindie music scene. He can’t write a bad song. Sure, some songs are better than others, but there never is a dud. He makes it seem so effortless, even though its not. His song craft is second to none.

If you had doubts about any lingering effects from Justin Roberts last album – Lullaby – he erases those on the open notes of Recess. The track rocks. Hard. Listen to the evidence:

Nobody, I mean nobody, captures the spirit of childhood better than Justin Roberts. From being in a elevator (‘Otis’), to the grocery store check out line (‘Check Me Out, I’m At The Checkout’), he nails it. Every single time. He connects better to the mindset of child than anyone in Kindie world.

How memorable are the songs from Recess? Profoundly. We attended a Justin Roberts concert in the Wisconsin Dells last summer and he performed ‘My Secret Robot’ at the show. I recorded it on my phone. My then 3 yr old watched it on my phone probably 3-4 times. Then I dropped my phone in my coffee. (Yes, I’m an idiot.) Video lost, song forgotten, right? Nope. Within 10 seconds of hearing ‘My Secret Robot’ on Recess my now 4 yr old screamed “THE ROBOT SONG! WE SAW HIM PLAY THIS!” So yeah, these songs will stick in your kids head.

And in fairness, I can’t give a full review of the entire record, because my daughter won’t let me get to the end of the record. After the songs ends, she commands from the backseat “Again Daddy!” According to iTunes, ‘Recess’ has been played 33 times. The final track ‘Red Bird’ has only been played 4 times.

Take It To The Bridge: To those who pay attention to such things, Roberts’ kills the bridge on practically every song. From the psychedelic bridge on ‘Hopscotch’ to the ragtime breakdown on ‘Every Little Step’  – every one works seamlessly and proves what a master of the song writing craft Mr Roberts is. He’s just a damn fine songwriter.

Lastly, do yourself a favor – Buy directly from Justin 1.For the killer packaging and 2. More $ ends up in his pocket. Which gives him the artistic freedom to give us parents, more great moments with our kids, like the ones on Recess.

Bonus: We have a copy of the album to giveaway. Simply share this post on Facebook or RT this on Twitter and you will be entered to win. We will randomly select a winner on 8/1. Good luck!

1. Recess
2. I’ll Be An Alien
3. Hopscotch
4. Check Me Out, I’m At The Checkout
5. My Secret Robot
6. Looking For Trains
7. Every Little Step
8. We Got Two
9. The Princess Wore Pink
10. Otis
11. School’s Out (Tall Buildings)
12. Red Bird