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

Best New Music: Todd McHatton Presents Marvy Monstone’s Mysterious Fun Time Dream Band

Todd McHatton Presents Marvy Monstone’s Mysterious Fun Time Dream Band

Being in a bubble is a cozy thing; insular, warm, immune from judgement.  Inside there is the world, all of it, and there is nothing else to envision.  Reality extends only to the edges of how far we wish, or are able, to stretch our arms.  It isn’t until the bubble pops, voluntarily or accidentally or by a combination of the two, and we are forced to stumble out into the hazy light of day, and find ourselves surrounded by the ideas, opinions, and agendas of others that we realize just how we once lived.  We may go back inside one day, but our bubble will certainly have changed; bigger probably, oddly shaped maybe, and most certainly filled with more people who love us, more memories, and grand visions of the wide wonderful world we’d discovered, and collected pieces of, while on our adventurous and unexpected journey. And, naturally, we will have changed a bit too. For the better, probably (save for those returning from a rumspringa.)

Todd McHatton and his family, behind the gravitational pull of a hit radio song, bravely entered a new world this year and the result is, in short, an uber-talented dude who quickly came to understand the fuzzy purple opportunity that lay at his feet.  McHatton, a devotee of Henson, Nilsson, and the other architects of childhood, has taken his first steps on the pixie dust pathway paved by his heroes, and is embracing the heady responsibility that comes part and parcel with possessing the artistic capacity to leave indelible marks on a new generation of children and their families.

Todd and Marvy performing live on Kids Place Live

And so with this new found *fame* and with a door ajar, McHatton has decided to turn his Marvy the Monster (or is he a bunny?) character from “I Think I’m A Bunny” into a full blown thing. An album, this album that I will eventually discuss a little bit here, to start with, but potentially so much more down the line. The sky is, literally, the limit. In speaking with McHatton recently, at his live debut on the airwaves of Sirius XM Kids Place Live, I discovered that Marvy, and his fluffy pals Finch and Larry, aren’t new, even though we are all just getting to know them now.  These are puppets and voices and stories that Todd McHatton has developed over the last decade and a half to entertain his children; the brilliant, heading-off-to-college-already 16-year-old, Cooper (who is OWTK’s West Coast Gaming Correspondent), and his adorably zany 7-year-old crooner, Hazel. You know her, you love her.

It was with great trepidation that the McHatton family decided to share these personal moments and experiences that first occurred years ago in their Ojai, CA home, with all of us. That was their bubble, this is now their world.  And all around is magic.

McHattons; Todd & Hazel

Todd McHatton Presents Marvy Monstone’s Mysterious Fun Time Dream Band, a nightmare title for print media types with space considerations, contains what is, quit possibly, the truest lyric in any song ever — a twelve word microcosm for the whole of the 35 minute album:

“I’m having so much fun / Me too / Being with you’s the best” — from “Alright Already”

To listen to Todd (as himself, and in channeling his characters) and Hazel sing together is to peer into heaven (define that as you wish.)  There’s is a love so ironclad, so beautiful to hear loud & clear on record and to witness in person, as the lucky Rumpus Room studio audience did in Washington D.C. earlier this month.  This was no more obvious than when Todd was visibly verklempt performing “Rainbows Surround You“, aka “Hazel’s Song”, on stage alone / sans puppets.  THAT was an emotional moment for everyone.  The McHattons are having an impossible amount of fun together these days and their cackles of joy literally and figuratively jump off of the CD.  And that fun is contagious, like lice, only, you know, not as icky, and with no special medicated shampoo needed.

Just as they did charming the diapers off of your kiddos with “I Think I’m A Bunny”, and subsequently inspiring waves of fan videos on YouTube, these 15 cheery new songs, especially the clear Bunny-follow-up “The Plan With The Bear And The Crystal”, will melt your heart and make you laugh out loud together — and that is the key word here: together.  Each song has oodles of soul, rare for puppets, if you get my meaning, and also a connective tissue that binds them to us through the speakers in our minivans and iPod docking stations. Here’s the thing (“what thing?” — sorry, you too will always add that empathic call-and-response question after listening to this album), you and your kids will fall in love, even more in love, with Hazel and Marvy and Todd and the rest of the gang, and start to develop a meaningful long-term friendship with them, much like what you now have with Grover, Kermit, Elmo, and the like.

Also on this CD, it must be pointed out to other dyed-in-the-wool indie rock folks like me, amidst the bright pop music and puppet voices, are fuzzy, discordant guitar riffs like those heard on “Dana Wears Dresses” and “These Random Fields” from the “Bunny” album.  The best example of this is, no surprise, my favorite new cut, “Ooh Shiny.”  (Listen to that one for free on the September episode of the OWTK podcast.)

Todd McHatton Presents Marvy Monstone’s Mysterious Fun Time Dream Band is a must own, obviously, for every single family who had or still has a crush on “I Think I’m A Bunny.”  If you have no idea what that song is, but do love your kids, childhood, Sesame Street, daydreaming, nostalgia, Muppets, puppets, laughing, psychedelic pop music, baking cookies, and/or refuse to stop believing there is true magic in the world, well, you too should spend the $8 to download this album right now.

Regarding bubbles: they exist to protect but are meant to be busted open. They simply must be popped someday. It’s how things work, but it could be hella scary and you may not think you’re ready. Here’s the thing though: you are ready, because you are strong, smart, and beautiful inside and out. Allow the world to see and enjoy who you are and what you can do.  The McHattons, a reserved and close-knit bunch did, and through Marvy Monstone’s Mysterious Fun Time Dream Band, we can all reap the benefits of that brave step.

*OWTK received a copy of Todd McHatton Presents Marvy Monstone’s Mysterious Fun Time Dream Band for review consideration, and Cooper McHatton writes for OWTK.  Still, the opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always.

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