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

Recess Monkey – “Flying!” Kid’s CD Music Review

Photo Credit: Kevin Fry


[warning: the first 276 words of this lengthy review will make it seem as though I do not like this album.  this is not true.  please read through to the end.]

This is not Recess Monkey’s best album.

Thank. Freaking. God.

The Seattle trio’s 6th CD does, however, contain the band’s finest individual song to date.  More on that later.

For this reviewer who gravitates towards hyperbole like a baby to an exposed nipple, “Flying!” being merely a great album is a welcome change of pace from a band who has continued to ride a custom-built space elevator to new heights throughout their impressive kindie career.  “Flying!” is a soaring collection of peppy rockers but the missteps, nah that’s too harsh, let’s call ‘em duds…kidding!…in the gut of the 45+ minute disc leave me unsatisfied. It’s like someone ordered me only a half rack of BBQ ribs.  And yum, ribs.

With swooning gems like “Tiny Telephone” and “One Tiny Light” from previous albums, chief songwriter Drew Holloway usually has me weak in the knees with the softer side of Recess Monkey (or at least with songs with the word ‘tiny’ in the title), but “Toolbox”, a plaintive number I’ve seen others gushing over this summer, falls flatter than the head of a nail.  Maybe this is because I can’t build shit or maybe it’s that our household toolbox is technically property of the Mrs. – I’m only allowed to touch it whilst feather dusting the closet shelves.

I was beside myself with excitement when I heard of a sorta-sequel to “Field Trip’s” classic “Sack Lunch” during an interview I conducted with the band in the Spring.  That that song, “Favorite Book”, fails to even approximate the quirky point-of-view bliss of the personality-rich brown bag has me going all sad face emoticon on you. 🙁

Okay, that’s out of the way.  Important to note, and I say this not to qualify the previous statement in the least: Even the weakest of Recess Monkey songs are still better than 87.5% of other kids musician’s finest efforts.  As lovely as the blooms off this branch of the children’s music tree has gotten, this is still fact.

Another fact, “Bunk Bed” is Recess Monkey’s finest song ever.  Ever.  Hands down.  Solid F-ing gold.  Sure, it’s a pastiche of jukebox rock and maybe my adoration of this doo-wop song has its genesis in my father’s age (73) and his affection for 50’s music.  Those tunes are forever seared into my brain as a super-positive musical memory after all and Recess Monkey tapped into all of that for me with “Bunk Bed”.  But more than that, Holloway once again proves his genius on the topic of sibling relationships.  Thematically speaking, this is Holloway’s Mona Lisa.  Much like he does on “My Brother is a Satellite” (from 2010’s “The Final Funktier”), Holloway conveys the delicate balance between the desire to keep ‘em close and the need to keep ‘em away.  The honesty is refreshing, the tenderness undeniable.

Just as she does on Billy Kelly’s “Pen Pals”, the lovely Molly Ledford (of Lunch Money) serves as kindie’s go to duet-ess lending adorableness to Recess Monkey’s preexisting cuteness – and with a Billy Idol reference to boot!  The resulting adoracuteness on “Invisible Friend” will delight those who have long since lost touch with their former imaginary playmates who once fought side-by-side against “grown-up tyranny”.

If you find your child rifling through the pantry looking for dish towels or rummaging through your necktie collection, it’s likely the fault of “Super Stuffies”, an imaginative play wonderland where stuffed animals embark on grand adventures.  Recess Monkey is no stranger to in-song narration (see most all of 2007’s underrated “Wonderstuff”) but never before have they managed to seamlessly work in references to Mayor Monkey, Edward R. Murrow, and John Vanderslice, along with vocab-zingers smitten, protagonist, and befuddled.  “Super Stuffies” is a triumph of childhood fantasy.

If you’re not yet familiar with Recess Monkey (is this even possible?), “Flying!” is as good an entry point as any of their prior two albums (“Field Trip”, “The Final Funktier”).  Whether you’re covered in band-aids, sticky from a short stack of flapjacks, or calling dibs on the top bunk, you’ll soon see that the trio of Jack Forman, Daron Henry and Drew Holloway are superheroes of the kid’s music scene.

See, I love this album.  And this band.  That’s enough words.  Buy the “Flying!” below.

*OWTK received a copy of “Flying!” for review considerations. The opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased.

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