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

Todd McHatton – Sundays at the Rocket Park CD Review

The Sound: Contemporary indie pop-rock with Harry Nilsson’s “The Puppy Song” & “Spaceman” as the musical template and author William Steig as a lyrical muse.

In the Cafeteria, They Sit With: David Tobocman, The Jellydots

Best Moments: The meaning of “Green Eleven” is a complete mystery to me, yet the Ben Folds Five-meets-Gustafer Yellowgold vibe McHatton achieves on this piano pop gem thrills me.  With it’s beautifully distorted guitar, “Fun & Adventure” presents a wall of sound that, sonically, takes the cake on “Sundays at the Rocket Park”.   Things get a little hairy (and a bit trippy) on “A Flurry of Furry Birdys” [spelling is McHatton’s, not mine], a cool, down tempo ode to a flock of mysterious bearded birds (see McHatton’s drawing below) that will have you singing “A flurry of furry / A flurry of furry birdies” under your breath; of that I am certain.

Bonus Thoughts: It’s only July, but I hereby declare a winner in the best album name category in the 2010 kindie music awards:  “Sundays at the Rocket Park”.  It’s the ‘the’ that makes it so awesome.

"A Flurry of Furry Birdies" by Todd McHatton

Okay, Time to Wrap it Up with a Nice Little Bow: Todd McHatton isn’t a name ever mentioned when discussing the best working songwriters for kids.  I kinda think it should be.  What the California native accomplishes with “Sundays at the Rocket Park” (and previously with his outstanding, free Christmas Songs EP) is rather remarkable; an entire full-length kiddie album easily capable of passing for a dense, moody, very hip indie rock CD – the kind of disc Stereogum or Pitchfork might gush over (okay, probably not those snarky bastards at Pitchfork). After the low-key cuteness of the lead track and the adrenaline rush of the 2nd, there is a richness to this album that may require a few spins to fully ‘get’.  Often, the best things in life don’t seem that way at first blush.

Sometimes, I like to think about what I could be doing while a disc is spinning.  The easy answer for many kid’s albums is ‘dancing/shaking/wiggling’, but the possible actions for “Sundays at the Rocket Park” prove more complicated.  I could see painting a new baby’s nursery or washing your car in the driveway as easily as I could see making S’mores during a family camping trip.  That’s somewhat telling.  Todd McHatton’s new album is better suited for living and listening, than for dancing and laughing; a refreshing change of pace for this growing genre.

There are not an abundance of children’s albums being made for the 7-12 age group, it’s a tough demographic to hone in on musically, but that is exactly where I put the majority of this mature, complex album from Todd McHatton.  “Sundays at the Rocket Park” is much like Steig’s The Amazing Bone and Sylvester & the Magic Pebble; younger kids may very well like ’em, but the older they are, the more kids will appreciate the textures and depth of the work.

This album is available on digitally for $7, but you can buy it for $5 directly from Todd McHatton.  That’s a solid way to part with a fiver.  Head here and download today.

*Todd McHatton’s “Sundays at the Rocket Park” 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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