Michael and the Rockness Monsters are releasing their third CD, Monster’s Ball, right before Halloween. The title is a misnomer as this is not a spooky album of children’s songs, even if there is are songs about robots and a fish named Dog.
Michael Napolitano earned his musical chops through breeding – his father Tony was a drummer for decades. But Michael went in his own direction, founding the Rockness Music program for children’s music education. He is now celebrating 10 years of making music in various forms for kids with the new CD, which he co-produced with Dean Jones.
Monster’s Ball contains the usual suspects of themes and notions, from “Party Train” to “When I’m Jumpin'” to “Truck Day.” What Michael brings to the table is his authenticity and enthusiasm. Who else would attempt an English-French album closer (“Les Lumières De Paris/Nights In Paris”) outside of Putumayo Music? Animation seems to be a big feature of the Rockness experience, as “Growing Bigger” is a second jumping song, manufactured around the conceit of getting older but ostensively just another occasion to get young concert-goers on their feet and quaking with the beat.
Songs from the Rockness Monsters tend to linger in your subconscious until you’re humming them without realizing it. In that regard, “Woodpecker” follows in the pattern of “Squirrel Fight.” Speaking of a Parisian vibe, “Mona Lisa” explains the body/mind connection between hearing music and engaging our bodies to move, dance, and smile mysteriously.
Monster’s Ball delves into family dynamics as well, with “A Fish Named Dog” telling the tale of a child making the most of the parental edict, “No dogs allowed!” I guess the proximity to Halloween is basically to let children know that the Rockness Monsters are more about treats all year round and keeping the tricks on the down-low. For younger listeners, MONSTER’S BALL is this fall’s first informal cotillion. Come and celebrate with cider, pumpkins, and dancing robots.
Here is the video for the song, “A Fish Named Dog”: