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

Todd McHatton – “Galactic Champions of Joy” Kid’s CD Review


I sloppily made out with “Sundays at the Rocket Park”, McHatton’s last album, during a torrid affair in 2010 but I want to elope in the middle of the night in Vegas with “Galactic Champions of Joy”.

I’m filled with that level of poor-decision-making passion and sugar-rush excitement because this album is a flat out wonder.  This is, in part, because “Galactic Champions of Joy” was made inside a vacuum (not literally, of course); without regard for what is hip, without a thought of what kids might like to hear or should hear, and without a care in the world about what anyone else in the kid’s music world is doing or what anyone in the rest of the world might think of these songs.  Only the liberation that comes with such an isolated process could produce a batch of blissed-out songs so thick, strange, and swirling yet insanely melodic and as infectious as a fictional disease from a big budget sci-fi movie – but without the paranoia or SWAT team intervention.  Still, pretty damn mind-blowing.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: McHatton may be the one kindie artist that a hipster site like Pitchfork or Stereogum would take to, because there isn’t much on the surface that would identify his music as kid-oriented.  It’s silly, yes, but more random and odd than anything else.  And musically speaking, the songs on “Galactic Champions of Joy” unabashedly wear their master’s Harry Nilsson/Beatles/impeccably crafted psychedelic pop influences on their sleeves while ranging from a carrousel-worthy orchestral piano waltz (“Smiling’s My Favorite”) to the locked-in guitar groove of “Future On The Road”, a song that 3/5ths of the way in shapeshifts into a mystical metaphorical meditation on life and rear view mirrors.

Such sudden detours are a theme in McHatton’s music.  He’s an excitable child sitting down to a pile of new trinkets; only staying intently focused for so long before being lured away by the other fantastical toys that await.  “Hauling Stars”, a soaring rocketship of a tune, descends with a miniature flurry of flutes into more blissful confusion in it’s final 25 seconds as the narrator hits the wall at the end of playtime but states with a spaced-out delirium that “I know I should be lying down / but I’m really diggin’ this record right now”.

With a pounding ode to a fiercely independent little girl’s wardrobe changes (“Dana Wears Dresses”), a curious tale of floating above your yard in a bubble (“Don’t Stop It Won’t Pop”), and a song that may or may not be about the marital status question on an online form ( “These Random Fields”), Todd McHatton’s “Galactic Champions of Joy” will reset your expectations for what kid’s music can sound like.

It looks beautiful. It sounds beautiful. It is beautiful. And so are you.  Spend the $8 and bliss out to “Joy”.

*OWTK received a copy of “Galactic Champions of Joy” for review consideration and, in the interest of full disclosure, Todd’s teenage son Cooper will soon be writing for OWTK.  The opinions above are honest and unbiased. No arm-twisting took place in the review process.

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