Under Review: Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies

This might not surprise you, but kids really aren’t my thing.  Sure, I can spend some time with my younger relatives, but I have a lack of patience with children that’s based on a number of things.  One of those issues is with how culture is marketed to kids.  Children’s music, in particular, has been the subject of much anguish to me, not because I’ve witnessed how bad it can be, but how good it can be in the right hands.  Working as the sound guy at the Kids Corner stage at WXPN’s summer festival, I’ve met with plenty of artists who make kid- and family-friendly music that is miles away from the synthetic placebo that is the Kidz Bop franchise.  Unfortunately, the importance of getting quality music to kids has been shirked in favor of easily marketable prefab sensations.  Luckily, American Laundromat Records, the gang behind a number of pretty dashing tribute compilations (most recently Just Like Heaven, a tribute to The Cure), has recruited some of indie pop’s more delicate personalities to create Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies, a collection of downtempo interpretations of timeless songs both old and new.  While the album focuses on songs that might already be appropriate for kids, such as “Pure Imagination” and “Moon River,” the versions found here are also tailored to children from families who are particularly enthusiastic about music.  Because of this, the collection can be enjoyed by listeners of all ages.  The collection takes its name from The Smiths’ “Asleep,” which Stars perform for the lead track.  Stars, along with Dean & Britta and Tanya Donelly are the biggest names on the album, which should give you the idea that this venture is more about the music than about celebrity selling power.

Still, some of the lesser known groups give impressive showings, like The Real Tuesday Weld’s take on “Little Boxes,” though I’d imagine that kids would sooner appreciate the frequent use of “ticky-tacky” than the song’s anti-conformist message.  One of my favorite songs on Sing Me To Sleep comes from Canadian duo Dala, whose rendition of “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” is adorably and heartwarmingly sweet.  Some of the songs fall into a slightly clichéd stereotype of ‘indie’ music, but The Leisure Society’s take on “Inchworm” and yet another version of “Rainbow Connection” (this time from Trespassers William) aren’t so unforgiveable given the compilation’s theme.  Early pressings tack on a bunch of bonus tracks, some of which easily outshine songs on the proper release.  Say Hi turn the Violent Femmes’ “Kiss Off” into even more of a fragile declaration, and The Coctails contribute a freakin’ Erik Satie composition (“Gymnopedie No. 1”) to a kids’ album!  Some of these tracks definitely aim a winking eye to older listeners, such as Telekinesis’ version of “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” (yes, the ELO song) and O+S’ cover of Chris Bell’s “You And Your Sister.”  This compilation, in addition to supporting a great charity (the Valerie Fund, which helps children with cancer and blood disorders), serves as a fine introduction to music for youngsters.  Even if these versions don’t stick with them once they start raiding your record collection for the originals, Sing Me To Sleep will surely instill a love for music into even the most fickle little ears.

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~ by E. on May 10, 2010.

3 Responses to “Under Review: Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies”

  1. I’m sure it’s no “Stay Awake”, but I’m intrigued purely based on your review (even though my youngest child is almost 23).

  2. Great review! I own this and it is amazing. I bought it for my wife (we’re expecting our first), and we’ve been playing it around the clock. It’s a really oustanding compilation. Some favorites include “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”, “Have You Forgotten”, “Moon River”, and “Rainbow Connection”.

  3. You should probably buy two copies. One for your kids and one for yourself….hey it’s for charity so why not?

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