Jacksonville’s Chuck Nash and Atlanta’s Ben Rowell, collectively known as The Baby Grands, describe their style as “indie music for the whole family,” and I can’t help but agree. Though their simply titled 2010 release The Baby Grands II has a certain Zeppelin-esque ring to its moniker, the band’s sound is an almost universally appealing brand of melodic pop-rock. Channeling the titanic musical hooks of Cheap Trick and Big Star, the pleasant humor of They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies and just a delicate hint of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ southern charm, II is a great big album that will easily appeal to little ears.
Written remotely via iChat brainstorming sessions, The Baby Grands II opens with the rousing “Hey!,” which partners with closing track “Goodbye” to give the album a proper, playful feel throughout. And like the best kindie rock, TBG manage to split the difference between educational anthems and feel-good bangers along the way.
“Where Are You From?” is a proper primer to the subjects of geography and multiculturalism, while the unlikely “Palindrome Express” is a country-fried shuffle about a trucker on his way to South Carolina’s own delightfully named Wassamassaw. Still, while edutainment jams are the bread and butter of children’s music, The Baby Grands are at their best when they are delivering uplifting tracks about imagination (“Dinosaur,” “Robot“) and childhood memories (“Brain Freeze,” “Paper Airplane.”)
On an album of such incomparable quality — so much so that I often find myself queuing it up on road trips even before my kids can request it — stand-out tracks are tough to measure, but a pair invariably stick out in my mind. The key-heavy “Upside Down” is a pop masterpiece with a sing-along chorus that will please the entire family, and it’s only outdone by the pitch-perfect harmonies of “Pounding Heart,” a song about the power of love both romantic and familial.
The Baby Grands II is available from both Amazon MP3 and iTunes, and physical discs can be purchased directly from the band’s official web site. Weighing it at only 10 tracks in length, it may seem a bit on the short side, but its stellar production value, clever songwriting and irresistible pop sensibility will make it an indispensable addition to your kid-friendly collection.
Review materials provided by: Backspace Records