kid's music reviews / OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

Rocknoceros – Pink! CD Review

There’s nothing quite like a kick-butt opening track. Doesn’t matter if we’re discussing kiddie rock or indie rock. When a band puts a rollicking ditty at the top the audience typically reacts favorably. For a kid’s record it’s even more vital, ’cause you want to capture a toddler’s attention right from the get-go and have them up a movin’ without delay. There is no waiting for the fun to start on Rocknoceros’ latest children’s record. “Pink!” the title track jump starts your listening experience with an ode to (many) girls’ favorite color. With a pint-sized backing vocal group, the tune is sure to become a fan favorite, at least with the lil’ ladies.

“The Train Song” pulls into the station next. The album’s 2nd cut shows off Rocknoceros folksiness and lyrical cleverness and it’s refrain includes the disc’s best musical moment. There is certain level of romanticism to the notion of riding the rails and that old-timey feel is summoned by the 1940’s-styled female vocal tracks in the chorus – a section of music I cannot get enough of. I literally “rewind” the disc to hear it over and over again. “The Train Song” is, in a word, brilliant.

PINK! – ROCKNOCEROS from Daniel Brindley on Vimeo.

Rocknoceros, like numerous other children’s acts before them, have written a couple mini-morality plays and included them on Pink! It’s a too common trap for kiddie artists, to craft songs that are sung AT children instead of AS A child, that is to say to adopt a uniquely kid point of view. You’ve probably heard ’em and more than likely you have forgot ’em, with an unmerciful quickness. These instructional songs are often aimed at preschoolers and are specially designed to help our kids learn how important it is to look both ways before crossing the street or remind them to clean up their toy mess at the end of each day – a sort of musical Berenstain Bears, coming off equally as preachy and just as annoying. Fortunately, on Pink! Rocknoceros manage to sound more like “Lincoln”-era They Might Be Giants on their seemingly informational “Put A Hat On”. The song proves it’s mettle not by being an overt life lesson on the importance of head gear, in general, but rather, it stands simply as a quirky song about the value of owning a good hat. Whether a kid will be spurred on to wear a knit hat the next time there is an “icy winter chill that can make you really ill” after listening is secondary really. It’s just an amusing few minutes of music.

“Nappin’ Time” may be the prettiest song of the bunch and also the most Americana-sounding. With a prominent mandolin, the song could pass as an outtake from Levon Helm’s “Dirt Farmer” recording sessions. It’s a sweet tune about the little ones taking a rest while we older ones tend to the lawn and manage the grown up tasks of bill-paying and such.

I’m not sure I fully understand “Don’t Give Up”. Is it supposed to encourage new parents NOT to return their tiny tots under the Safe Haven laws (which would be a kinda funny song to include on a kid’s record) or not to abandon a baby in the womb (a really heavy concept for the kiddie rock world). Either way, it’s a rather catchy number with a tremendous lyrical hook in “you ain’t had the chance to live until you felt the love you didn’t know you had to give”. A fond sentiment that’ll have every quality parent nodding their head in agreement while they tap their foot to the beat, pretending to work those high hat cymbals themselves.

Rocknoceros take the best parts of Rockabilly, Americana, and Rock-n-Roll and make something truly special out of it all. The music pays great homage to their Southern roots, including the endearing, and Sufjan Stevens state-song themed, “Virginia”. It’s a lovely exultation of their home commonwealth.

Rocknoceros, with their winning musical combination of a little goofy, a whole lot of fun and a down-home honesty and friendliness, remind me of a front-porch version of They Might Be Giants. Go buy Rocknorcores’ Pink! without hesitation. But first, preview all the tracks on their CDBaby page here.

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