The Asylum Street Spankers | Mommy Says No! (Yellow Dog)

cd_asylumFrom beginning to end, the record feels as though it is taking you on a ride where you stop at just about every musical genre available, leaving you dizzy as it lets you off, fumbling to find your footing.

 

 

 

 

 

The Asylum Street Spankers have been described as "a whimsical collision between ragtime, two-step parlor dances, jazz, vaudeville, off-color blues, hip-hop swagger, country and western…." I would have to agree for the most part, although the word I would say is noticeably missing would be "confusing." Their new children's album "Mommy Says No" is a mish-mash of musical styles, tempos, and energies. I find myself torn between really liking it and really disliking it. From beginning to end, the record feels as though it is taking you on a ride where you stop at just about every musical genre available, leaving you dizzy as it lets you off, fumbling to find your footing.

Not knowing their non-children's work, this is my first exposure to the band composed of musicians as equally varied as their music. The band is made up of eight members with names such as "Sick" and "Wammo" who play everything from ukuleles, bells, mandolins, and cellos. They certainly seem to be very talented musicians and songwriters. But should they be making kids' music?

The songs which leave me saying "Yes, by all means" are "Be Like You," "Mommy Says NO!," "Super Frog," and "Don't Turn Out the Light." Songs that totally missed their mark with the kid market include "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "Boogers." A few of the tracks seem to be geared specifically toward adults, either by being too musically overwhelming to capture kids' interest or with slightly risqué or intense lyrics. The genre-hopping got on my nerves after a few listens; jumping from jazz to almost hardcore punk rock and then back to blues was hard for this mom (or anyone) to keep up with.

I know how hard it is to find kids' music that is tolerable to both parent and child. I have never owned a Barney CD nor do I have Radio Disney programmed in my car. I have found some kids' albums I have liked; beyond that, many are just okay. This would fall into that category. It gets an A for effort, but in execution and for targeting a market of very picky listeners (kids), it falls short. Of course, the final test of any kids work is whether or not my kids like it. Just like myself, they were left with a few songs that have been requested over and over and over (you parents know what I'm talking about) and then others which, at the first few bars, are requested to be "skipped."

Maybe next time around the Asylum Street Spankers can have a little more targeted effort with their kids' album. They definitely have a sound that appeals to the kids, but even today's sugar-intoxicated little ones need a somewhat cohesive effort. C+ | Elizabeth Feldman

RIYL: RL Burnside and They Might Be Giants (you figure that one out)

Elizabeth Feldman is a music fan and mom to Toby and Ethan.

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