We hear a good bit of children’s music here at GeekDad, and we’ve made it our mission to filter out the crap so you don’t have to. Let’s face it – you don’t want to listen to Raffi, and the truth is neither do we. This is why when a solid kid’s album comes across the (wholly virtual) GeekDad desk, we feel the need to share.
Such is the case with The Bazillions, the brainchild of Twin Cities parents/musicians Adam and Kristin Marshall. These educators first began by writing songs for their students, and then the idea morphed into a proper project all its own. Combining the songwriting acumen gleaned from a decade spent in their ongoing indie pop band The Humbugs and a keen ear for music that appeals to kids without alienating adults, the Rock-n-Roll Recess album was born.
From the earliest strains of opening track “Good Morning,” the unpretentious pop-rock of The Bazillions generally forgoes the requisite edutainment angle in favor of primarily uplifting sing-alongs about childhood experiences. Standouts include the whimsical “Super Sonic Rocket Bike,” the oddly poignant “Tommy Got in Trouble” and an almost humorously soulful ode to “Mac-n-Cheese.” Still, the band manages to channel a genuine sweetness in closers “Lookout Man” and “Goodbye.”
Though at times the song structure can become predictable – delicate openings that swell to schoolhouse rockers – The Bazillions do manage to mix things up a bit. Furthermore, it’s really hard to fault a team of children’s musicians who purposefully sidestep easy artistic outs like musical heavy-handedness or face-saving irony. Instead The Bazillions come through as a sincere indie outfit that just happens to write songs for kids.
It’s worth noting that the album-proper only contains 10 tracks with a pair of bonus instrumentals tacked on for good measure. That makes it a bit short even for a kid’s album, but with the obvious care given to the instrumentation, pitch-perfect harmonies and incredibly competent production, it’s more than a fair shake.
Rock-n-Roll Recess is exactly what a children’s music album should be. It doesn’t preach or demean, and it never goes for the low-hanging fruit. If you’d rather share with your kids well-written, beautifully recorded songs about prepositions, careers and imagination that the traditional fare of animals, ABCs and “The Wheels on the Bus,” then The Bazillions are just the band for you.
WIRED: intelligently written, skillfully performed, expertly produced
TIRED: a bit on the short side, your kid will likely ask for his own supersonic rocket bike
Review materials provided by: The Bazillions