01.30.07 MC Sippy Cup Speaks
A confession, in three parts.
Firstly, I am a nearly-40 dad who spends much of his time worrying about mortgage rates, school admission procedures and acid reflux. I mainline NPR. I enjoy the occasional showtune. I am, in short, deeply boring.
Part two is more mortifying: I am a former New Wave kid who spent an inordinate amount of my youth scrounging through record shops for 12” remixes by synth-dependent Britpop bands – and not just the cool ones (favorite song in senior year? “Doot Doot” by Freur.) My teen years were marked by all-ages clubs and finger-in-lightsocket hairstyles and podium dancing. I am not proud.
The third part of my confession is where it gets weird: even though I am a deathly dull adult who should know better, I still spend an inordinate amount of time loitering in the used section of record shops, going to shows and trading mix CDs with friends. Having kids has only intensified my pop geekdom – in fact, one of the happiest and most unexpected discoveries becoming a dad was the entry it gave me into whole new genres of music that I’d been too snobbish to pay any attention before. Now I make mix CDs to pass out as party favors at my kids’ birthday parties (under the nom-de-mix MC Sippy Cup), lurk on kid music websites (most notably Amy Davis’ fantastic blog) and write the occasional missive on the booming state of kidmusic.
So in the interest of staying abreast with what the Kids are Listening To These Days, here are four discs that have been getting heavy minivan rotation of late:
Gabby La-La’s “Be Careful What You Wish For.” My favorite kid CD at the moment isn’t really a kids CD, tho I can’t imagine why Gabby La-La isn’t being counted among the big new stars on the kidmusic scene (she kicks Laurie Berkner’s bland behind). Gabby is a hippie-damaged pixie from the Bay Area whose musical exoticism – she plays the sitar, ukulele, toy piano and Theremin – have landed her session gigs with Snoop Dogg and Macy Gray. Her debut disc was produced by Primus frontman Les Claypool, but it’s not the punky freakfolk you might expect – it’s bright and dynamic and embedded with the wonder and wit of childhood. She sings about backpacks and elves and fleas with the sort of wholehearted abandon that makes you forget age norms altogether… She’s the freaky aunt who your kids won’t leave alone.
James Kochalka’s “Our Most Beloved.” I first heard Kochalka on the first indispensable Greasy Kids Stuff compilation – his “Hockey Monkey” is truly one of the funnest kid rock songs ever and should, if there were any justice in the mediasphere, be a mammoth kidsong/mainstream crossover hit. Can’t you hear it on “Idol”? I finally splurged on the recent Rykodisc greatest hits disc, which includes a lot more loud, raucous, oddly sweet songs about monkeys and robots and wookies and the like. Great stuff for punk rock tots.
Milkshake’s “Play.” I was sent the Baltimore band’s latest by guitarist Miles Anderson, who responded to my Fids and Kamily essay about how so much new kids music sounds like warmed-over adult rock. Milkshake, in contrast, is meant to be “happy music for happy kids.” Indeed it is – the disc is unapologetically peppy, a colorful parade of glossy high-production pop in the tradition of the Archies and the Partridge Family. Kids dig it and parents can’t get it out of their heads.
The Brothers Comstock’s “What Do You Want?” This was another out-of-the-blue freebie from a band beloved by scraggly tots but too often slagged by cooler-than-thou reviewers. Billing themselves as a cross between Cheech & Chong and the Wiggles, the Brothers are a rough but tuneful ramshackle duo that writes songs about the glories of basketball and staying up late and watching DVDs. Interesting side note: brothers also invented a very cool rejuvenile machine known as the Margarator (perfect for mixing up slushies for kids and margaritas for the parents).
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