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Books, movies, TV, music, videos, apps, games //Jeff Bogle

Fresh Tunes For The Tween Scene

Posted by: | October 14, 2013

Lorde Photo

Rumour has it that your tween daughter already knows, and still adores, Adele. The Grammy Awards have a way of doing that. And maybe they’re hip to Alabama Shakes, St. Vincent, and HAIM too. High fives all around, pops.

In this post, I’ve got two handfuls (minus the thumbs) of other musical talents just as perfectly suited to soundtrack your girl’s locked-in-bedroom study sessions as they are family road trips together in the minivan. And none of them come with the TMZ minefield of many modern female pop stars, which is nice because while we shouldn’t try to prevent our girls from growing up, we needn’t voluntarily push them from 11 to 21 in the blink of an eye. Ya know?

Hopefully some of the artists/bands that are big hits in my house, with my two girls, will help your girl(s) blossom into young womanhood at a reasonable pace, with artistic flair being the only part that is beyond their years.

OWTK The Bear live with Brandi Carlile in NJ Summer 2013


The humble opinion in our home is that every modern young girl should be listening to Brandi Carlile. While she is far from unknown (having been on tour with Dave Matthews and headlining amphitheater gigs herself with the ginormous Lumineers as HER opening act!), Carlile has always seemed to skirt the edge of mainstream tween girl culture, even when she was releasing albums as a teen herself years ago. This is a shame because her songs are both fiery and tender (see: the anthem “The Story”), and some speak to the differing emotions a tween girl may be feeling at any given moment, with poetry in every verse and emotion in each chorus. My oldest daughter put it best: “Brandi Carlile is AMAZING!”

OWTK Boy Live in Philly Oct 2013



Yes, it’s curious that two young women, one from Switzerland / one from Germany, would start a band and call it BOY (which is impossible to search for online. Just try typing ‘BOY band’ into Google — Good luck with that!) but the music they make together, oh my! Songs on their debut CD Mutual Friends like “Army,” “Oh Boy,” and especially “Little Numbers,” (the video for which has nearly 10 MILLION views!) a 7-digits song that by all rights should have become every bit as ubiquitous in American pop culture as Carly Rea Jepsen’s equally telephone-inspired “Call Me Maybe.” My oldest girl and I have already seen BOY live in Philly twice this year and each time they performed their acoustic electro-pop songs with class and style.



She’s a kiwi, she a teenager, she disses the empty pop of Bieber, Gomez and Swift, she turned down a chance to tour with Katy Perry, she considers herself a feminist, she name checks Yeasayer and Fleetwood Mac as primary influences, and her debut full length album Pure Heroine is writing checks that her voice can cash all day long. Oh, and she’s got the #1 song in America right now in “Royals,” a blistering anti-consumerism song poking holes in the typical trappings of American pop culture materialism. Lorde is a revelation of sparsely intricate electronic pop music and I’m fairly certain you won’t see this pop star twerking anytime soon, but still her’s is music that’s probably better suited for your older tweens/teens than your single digits kiddos. And just so you’re clear, because I’m a terrible speller too: the ‘e’ in the CD title makes it a female hero, not a drug.

Lots of Love Photo

Lots of Love

Jessica Fleischer is the L.A.-based one-woman tour de force behind the retro 60′s girl-group pop sound of Lots of Love. On her debut album From the Start, Fleischer mixes the classiness of old Hollywood with the confident voice of a young woman finding her place in the world, and the result is a dance-pop album with more hooks than your local Bass Pro Shop!

Fleischer’s slow takeover of kid-culture continued last month when Little Luna and The Universe, her first written & illustrated children’s book, was published. The beautifully vintage-style, space-age paperback (the first in a series of Little Luna books) touches on science and love and the discovering of one’s place in the world.


Jess Penner

Another young lady from Los Angeles, another album meant for unabashed dancing on beds! Penner deftly weaves pieces of her sunsplashed carefree Hawaiian childhood into her thoroughly modern acoustic electro-pop songs on 2010′s Growing In The Cold (download the entire album for free from Noise Trade). There is just no way your girls won’t fall in love singing upbeat songs like “Let’s Go” and “Life is Rosy” again and again, and I am pretty sure parents will appreciate how the singer/songwriter articulates her approach to music making and being a female in the 21st century in the Popdose interview I conducted with Penner last year.

Dig her voice but want something more RAWK? Check out Penner’s power trio We Cry Diamonds’ debut album Let’s All Pretend We’re Not Who We Are.

SLV Cheerleader


During the day, Sandra Lilia Velásquez, is the front woman of kindie music’s Moona Luna, but at night she performs with her popular Latin groove outfit Pistolera and now also as the electrifying 80′s synth-inspired solo act known simply as SLV. Her new single “Cheerleader,” the follow-up to her Meshell Ndegeocell produced EP Dig Deeper, and the stark b&w video that accompanies it, is a grade A piece of inspirational retro pop that will bring to mind the new wave of Berlin (not the city) with the modern style of Robyn. Download the song for free here — ’cause your tween girls are gonna love getting this ear worm stuck in their heads for weeks!


Frances England

Kindie rock’s most charming solo artist included a pair of darling simple percussion and electronica ditties on her newest family album Bink of an Eye. My girls go crazy for both “Moves Like a Saturday Night” and “Bicycle Built For Two,” the latter of which is a sweet BFF duet with Lunch Money’s Molly Ledford. Sure, some of her more tender songs might fall flat unless your older kids, like my 9 1/2-year-old, have the ability and desire to process a pulling-on-heartstrings-nostalgia for the fragments of childhood already in their rearview mirror.

England has also just released her first ever grown-up album, the elegant Paths We’ve Worn, making her one of the few to start in the children’s genre and then branch out to adult music.

Rachel Loshak by DB Leonard

Rachel Loshak

If your girl digs herself some of the sophistication of a Norah Jones ballad or the high drama of a Tori Amos, they might find that Rachel Loshak (who sang with Norah Jones during her breakout performance at the 2003 Grammys Awards) is more their cup of tea. Loshak’s new album SO BRIGHT, her first in nearly a decade and featuring England (above) and production work by Grammy Award winner Dean Jones, is graceful and stunning, as evidenced by the perfect lyric in the CD’s first single “Apple Tree,” a line so devastating beautiful that every single tween girl will nod knowingly: “When I was small I thought by now I’d be me.”



Simply put, songs about young love like “Levi Blues” and growing up with limitless possibilities like “Best Day” (links will take you to the videos for each song) make the world a better place to live. These two harmonizing Canadians have been enchanting audiences young and old on the continent for several years now. My girls and I have been dedicated fans since seeing them charismatically take over the 2009 Newport Folk Festival, after which I interviewed them and wrote this long feature about how Dala is a breath of fresh air for the tween music scene they weren’t exactly associating themselves with at the time!


What about you? What grown-up acts do you like to listen to with your older kids?

  • Stacey Peasley

    Thanks for this, Jeff! I really look forward to checking out some of these artists I haven’t heard of yet!

    • Jeff Bogle

      Very welcome, Stacey! Hope you find something you enjoy from this list! Come back and let me know, k?

  • Brian K

    Thanks, good stuff here! Coming from the kindie angle, I’m certainly a big fan of Frances England, I know Rachel Loshak from collaborating with Chris Ballew and I know Dala from a cover they did of “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” on a compilation album — but the others are new to me and I gotta check ‘em out!

    • Jeff Bogle

      Hey Brian, I LOVE that Dala cover! Yeah, it was on a sweet kid’s sleepytime covers album. If you get a chance to check some of these out, please do come back and let me know what you liked/didn’t like. Happy Listening & Exploring!

  • Debbie

    Sounds like a great list to explore. With my stepson, Barenaked Ladies was our band that bridged the gap between kiddie music and trashy music. He has since moved on to a variety of bands that I’ve never heard of and couldn’t tolerate because of the screaming. But that’s part of being 18, I guess.

    • Jeff Bogle

      Haha, yep Debbie I think boys have to go through a screamy phase! ;) I certainly did with a lot of the NYC Hardcore I was briefly into.

  • Joe_Beckman1

    Great stuff Jeff!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeff Bogle

      Thanks, Joe! Glad you liked the story. Hope you find some new music you love!

  • John Eden

    Excellent. Shared on my (themostinterestingkids) tumblr.

    • Jeff Bogle

      Rad, John! Thanks so much for spreading the word!

  • Rachel Loshak

    Thank you so much Jeff for including me in this inspiring group!!!!!

    • Jeff Bogle

      You are very welcome, Rachel! Who knew you’d be a hit with the tween crowd! ;)

  • SLV

    Thank you so much for including me on this list Jeff!

    • Jeff Bogle

      Thank YOU for making brilliant, positive, and beautiful music dads and moms can (and should) share with their kids!!

  • Jenna

    Don’t forget Mindy Gledhill! She’s an amazing girl who won’t let worldly things interfere with her career. She’s so kind and inspirational. All of her songs are very uplifting.

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