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July 1, 2010

New Music: The Final Funktier

It seems nearly every one of the top kids’-music artists either has a new album out or is on tour these days; I find myself struggling to keep up with my posts about them. (I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised; this is, after all, what they do, right?)

Seattle’s Recess Monkey, a band I wrote briefly about a while back in regard to the Kindiependent concert they were part of in June; also released their latest album, The Final Funktier, last month. This, mind you, is a band I’ve long placed among the very best in the genre, but somehow they keep raising the bar. The sixth album (just since 2005!) from this prolific group of former elementary-school teachers, as you can tell from the cover, is centered around a loose space theme. The songs are as catchy and fun as ever, from the funk of “Moon Boots” to the synth-y modern new wave of “Sunglasses.” Even skit songs—the downfall of many a kids’ CD—like “Space Elevator Music” are amusing enough to have parents chuckling rather than rolling their eyes.

But it’s the musicianship of this trio that continues to blow me away, album after album. The tracks—reflecting hints of influences as far-flung as Jamiroquai, Weezer, Elvis Costello, and Big Audio Dynamite, among many others—are an absolute pleasure to listen to for children and adults alike: Kids won’t resist the upbeat tempos and appealingly sung melodies, while their parents will be impressed by the tightly played and rhythmically complex grooves. In short, Recess Monkey is a band that will keep both your children and you coming back for more. Happily, they seem ever-ready to provide it.

The band’s also touring the new album at present—among the stops is Kidzapalooza, the children’s-music part of the Lollapalooza concert, in Chicago, on August 6 and 8. Along with regulars of the circuit like Dan Zanes, there are some surprising acts on the kids’ stage: organizer and former Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros frontman Perry Farrell and JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys. (Believe it or not, that’s Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders!) Recess Monkey, though, has earned their status as a headliner right with them all.

[Cover image courtesy of Recess Monkey; photograph by Kevin Fry.]

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