kid's music reviews

Ellen and Matt "Best Friends"

What a sweet record. Ushering in fond memories of listening to the Carpenters with my mum when I was a wee lad, Ellen and Matt tap into a warm, honest, truly delightful and unmistakeably indie-rock groove on this ten song offering. “Best Friends” was self-released by the L.A. couple in 2006 and recorded while Ellen had twin babies in her belly. She considers those yet-to-be-born kiddies the couple’s muse during the songwriting process.

What sets this disc apart from, say, 80% of the children’s music available today, is the instant connection it makes with toddlers as well as adults. There is nothing off-putting about “Best Friends” – meaning a parent with a decent musical sensibility will not find themselves cringing at a cheaply manipulated lyrical phrase. The musical arrangements are classic in nature and while the lyrical content is clearly written with little ones in mind, the songs have a universal appeal.

It is a beautiful thing, like with Elizabeth Mitchell and her collaborator/husband, that an artistic couple is able to produce fine such results and make sweet music together. “Best Friends” has a DIY charm to it, from the decidedly low-tech cover art to the home recording sounds. Ellen and Matt have not made a perfect album, but that’s okay. “Best Friends” accomplishes a task far more important than perfection for they have made a record that is capable of building a generational bridge between parents in their 30’s and 40’s and their children by relying heavily on the sounds and textures of a certain musical time and place and blending that with a modern indie pop flavor.

“Best Friends” is an album worthy of your attention. Whether it is the bouncy, 70’s punk rock vibe captured on “Bounce” and “Juicebox Rock” or the Karen Carpenter-esque, piano driven ballads like “Fly Away” and the fantastic title track, you and your family will benefit by adding Ellen and Matt’s debut release to your collection. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today.

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