Reviewed by Gregory Keer
When they become parents, my children will have a few music acts they will remember fondly enough to share with their own kids on whatever super-space-age record player they will have in the future. But there is one particular group I imagine they will pull out first because it seems to fit so perfectly in the future – as well as the present and past, for that matter. This group will be Recess Monkey. While other solo acts write terrific songs and numerous ensembles have catchy sounds, Recess Monkey captures the attention of my sons because of their ever-surprising mix of music, storytelling, and gymnastic imagination.
On their seventh release (one for each year since they debuted with 2005’s Welcome to Recess Monkey Town), this band of elementary schoolteachers-turned kindie rock stars has crafted an album that is as playful as it is mind-expanding for kids. Flying! continues the group’s penchant for themed-recordings as it runs, leaps, and lifts heavy weight off the ordinary family CD with its songs about blending real-life with flights of superhero fancy. Produced by Tor Hyams, who maintains his reputation as the Willy Wonka of family music, the disc is pop rock suitable for grown-ups – but better.
The title track goes “Flying!” with its bouncy beat into the blue skies of heroic thoughts (assisted by the band’s trademark “radio reports”), a Latin vamp drives “Covered in Band-Aids” about an intrepid little sister, and crunchy rock guitar propels the “Bravest Kid in the World’s” message about the courage of making values-based choices. Things get funky with, of all subjects, a tune called “Grandmom’s House” and the sound goes ‘50s doo-wop on “Bunk Bed.”
The Seattle-based trio of Jack Forman, Daron Henry, and Drew Hollway have made an album of swift intelligence and powerful fun, illustrating that Recess Monkey has reached music superhero status.
www.recessmonkey.com – $14.99 (CD) – Ages 3-8