August 17, 2010
Most of the makers of kids' music I've written about here have been fairly established artists, with a proven track record of excellent CDs: Justin Roberts, Recess Monkey, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (more on him soon, by the way). This is not a bad thing by any means; it's great to have so many musicians and songwriters coming out with music for children that you know in advance will be of high quality.
But, as with any genre of music, it's always a special thrill to discover a great album from an artist who's new to you, one you can add to the personal canon. That's how I'd describe the debut release from the Bazillions, Rock-n-Roll Recess. The Minneapolis band's subject matter is standard kids'-universe stuff that children will glom onto easily—macaroni and cheese, friendship, messy rooms—but songwriters Adam and Kristin Marshall know how to create hooks that are irresistible to kids and parents alike. (I'm finding myself pleasantly addicted to the one from "Super Sonic Rocket Bike" these days.) The music is sunny, jangly, and remarkably catchy, and parents who were fans of bands like R.E.M. in their youth will feel very much at home when it's playing.
The Bazillions have also come up with something I haven't seen before on a kids' CD: They've included versions of two of their most appealing songs without the vocal tracks, so children—and, sure, parents too—can sing to the music by themselves, karaoke-style. (With these songs, they'll want to, believe me.) At first I cynically thought this was just a pad-the-CD gimmick, but now they have me wondering why more kids' bands don't do it.
So add the Bazillions to the list: I'll be looking forward eagerly to their next release, and the one after that, and....
[Cover image courtesy of the Bazillions.]