Children's music these days presents an unusual challenge for musicians. How do you bring your musical sensibilities to a form that has typically been drawn with primary colors — simple melodies and lyrics that, in a way, talk down to kids. The wheels on the bus do indeed go round and round but today's sophisticated children demand more from their music!
Enter the new album by The Not-Its!, KidQuake!, which strikes a balance between the members' alt-rock roots in bands like Velocity Girl and Harvey Danger and toe-tapping kid power-pop. Listening to KidQuake's crunchy guitar, hammering rhythm section, and rapid-fire delivery you can hear how The Not-its! are dumping out the finger paints and are not afraid to get messy.
That's not to say that all the songs are just thrashing out the power chords. My favorite song on the album "Busy" has a bopping horn section, hand claps, and a clean guitar sound that blend smoothly with the driving rhythms. I also love the funny-because-they're-true lyrics: "We gotta go!/Where are the keys?/We gotta go!/Who's got to pee?/We gotta go go go go go!"
Other stand-out tracks for our family include the title track "KidQuake!," the pinball anthem "Full Tilt," the tribute to classroom pets "Tarantula Funeral" (GenX parents will appreciate the "You Can't Always Get What You Want" reference that calls to mind the opening of The Big Chill), and my kids' favorite, the happy celebration of not quite winning, "Participation Trophy."
The music might be something of an acquired taste for younger listeners, but this is not necessarily a bad thing for parents who have to listen to these songs again, and again, and again. Lead singer Sarah Shannon does an excellent job infusing the lyrics with personality and there is a high level of musicianship from this rock-solid band.
The Not-Its! CD Release Party, Saturday, Feb. 9
If you want to get a taste of The Not-Its!' new CD live, don't miss the CD release show at the Seattle Center this weekend:
About the author: John Kubalak is a writer, teacher, volunteer coordinator, raconteur, and scalawag. He does not publish science fiction under the pseudonym Jonathan Black but he does publish a monograph on fatherhood, The Eclectic Dad. He has a son, a daughter, a beautiful wife (and a little dog too!) who are adorable, maddening, zany, and brilliant all at the same time.