Best New Children's Music 2012 / OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

Alexandra and the Good Batch – Extended Playdate CD Review


The Sound: A mix of musical motifs that strays, but never too far, from it’s catchy, power-pop home.

In the Cafeteria, They Sit With: Suzi Shelton, Joanie Leeds

Best Moments: It’s rare that a kid’s song gets as deep and as personal as “Two Homes”.  It’s a mature, beautiful tune about a not-so-beautiful occurrence: divorce, from the point of view of a kid whose parents “chose to go their separate ways”.  By tapping into some primal kiddie emotions during a delicate life event, Alexandra Geis is taking a bit of a chance on her debut all-ages disc.  It’s a risk worthy of a standing ovation because, after all, childhood isn’t all puppy dogs and popsicles.  “Two Homes” speaks directly to, or on behalf of, about half of all American children – those “caught between two islands in a storm”.  Some parents may not want to have to explain this song; they may not have to.  Many kids 5+ probably already know someone who has been at the center of a separation. The song soars in large part because Geis doesn’t try to say anything close to “it’s okay, everything will be fine” or something equally condescending.  Instead, she wisely explains that “it’s not better / it’s not worse / it just is”, then simply let’s it dangle there.

A totally different kind of separation anxiety is the subject of “(I’M NOT) Shy”.  Sung as an older sibling who serves as a baby’s translator, “(I’M NOT) Shy” tills the landscape of a daycare drop-off scene with stunning accuracy.  Because in the end, we all know it’s us big kids acting like emotionally resilient moms and dads who have the hardest time saying goodbye.

The spacebarallergic “reddotdaddyday” builds upon the divorce theme, this time with a faster beat and an ecstatic tone.  The red dots on the calendar refer to Dad’s visitation days – meaning trips to the zoo, riding lessons and fun dinners.  Even though the situation comes as a result of some sadness, the joy that these days with dad bring is palatable.  Just as in “Two Homes”, Geis has constructed a stellar emotive tune from a kid’s perspective about dicey subject matter.

Bonus Thoughts: The artwork on the CD (the liner notes of which double as a coloring book) and the band’s website is instantly appealing.  With stylish fonts and a spare-no-expense presentation, Alexandra and the good batch have a look that’s on par with their music.

Okay, Time to Wrap it Up with a Nice Little Bow: There’s an inordinate number of musical genres covered on “Extended Playdate” – a dash of UB40-ish reggae (“crankymomma”), 50’s soda fountain girl-group pop (“Cozy McBozey”) and Kylie Minogue-ish dancey electro-pop (“I Said, Mom!”).  Usually such a compilation style of CD from a single artist comes across messy and lacking confidence (or maybe it’s an air of over-confidence…look at us! we can play all types of music!) but Alexandra and the Good Batch make it work.  All genres tackled are done so exquisitely, anchored by Geis’ fantastic voice and her witty, poignant lyrics.

This batch of good songs has an unusually wide audience age range.  With dance numbers, snuggle songs and solid rockin’ out tunes, “Extended Playdate” offers something for everyone in the family.  It’s likely that your kids are not going to want to be separated from their “Extended Playdate” CD for very long.

*Alexandra and the Good Batch’s “Extended Playdate” was provided to OWTK for review. The opinions expressed above are unbiased and true – no arm twisting took place in the review process.

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