Itty-Bitty Review: Colonel Purple Turtle - Rocknoceros

ColonelPurpleTurtle.jpgWhile DC-area heroes Rocknoceros have the chops to write nothing but hook-filled pop-rock tunes, they've always been interested in taking detours musically -- think back to the meta-song "Trying to Write a Song" from their debut. On Colonel Purple Turtle, their fourth album, the detours become the journey -- few songs here could be recognized as pure pop-rock candy. Which isn't to say there aren't several catchy hooks -- the hilariously cliche-tastic "Early Worm" is a bit of southern alt-country, while the repeating, driving melody of the title track will stick in your head (repeatedly). It's just that the band would rather explore a wide range of genres (sea shanty, babershop quartet, disco, and jazz, to name a few more) or channel, say, Wilco at its mellowest ("Sprouted") or mid-period Beatles ("Echolocation"). The songs tell the stories of the animals of Soggy Bog, where Colonel Purple Turtle lives. Yes, it's a concept album, but for the most part the concept is loose -- the record's mostly a collection of occasionally fanciful character sketches about animals with personalities. (I've not seen the accompanying book, which may or may not provide your kids with additional context behind the songs.) If this all sounds a bit... weird and disjointed, well, it is. I've listened to it several times, and every time I do I'm struck by how odd the overall impression is. It's a fun -- and continually surprising -- album. The 47-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 8. (You can hear samples at your favorite internet retailers, or try YouTube for some live versions.) Colonel Purple Turtle is a big ol' grab-bag of styles and as a result might not be everyone's cup of tea, but Rocknoceros fans should enjoy it (they probably have it already) and I'm pretty sure that everyone will find at least a couple songs that appeal to them. Recommended.

Video: "Early Worm" - Rocknoceros

I don't know, if I found Rocknoceros hiding out in my attic, I might feel a little freaked out -- they seem to be really busy and doing reasonably well, so what are they doing in my house!?! But such crazy situations are the basis for many a video setup, and such it is for "Early Worm," the first video from their new album Colonel Purple Turtle. Also: do not play this language for anyone you know attempting to learn English as the mangling of our already colloquial speech will confuse them even further. Rocknoceros - "Early Worm" [YouTube]

Kindiefest 2010: Rocknoceros

Rocknoceros_KF2.jpgI'm pretty sure that even though the main room at Littlefield for Kindiefest was reasonably full for the Saturday showcase by DC-area band Rocknoceros, it was probably one of the least crowded shows for the band. It typically sells out its weekly shows at Jammin' Java. So even though their set was a bit shortened by some technical difficulties, and they didn't have nearly the number of preschoolers bopping around as they typically do, they put on a good show. I was particularly struck by the economy of motion of the band, particularly Coach Cotton, who was always right on time with the percussive accents. They're, like, the Spoon of kids music. Rocknoceros - "Texas" (Live at Kindiefest 2010) [YouTube]

KidVid Tournament 2010: Rocknoceros vs. Dan Zanes

Day Two of KidVid Tournament 2010 features the Pete Seeger Region. The first matchups pits the top seed, the title track from Rocknoceros' Pink album, against "Pollito Chicken" from Dan Zanes and Friends featuring La Bruja, from Zanes' Nueva York! album. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, but the official results are based on the poll at the bottom of the page. One vote per person, please. Votes due by midnight tonight (Wednesday) East Coast time. And, as always, play nice! Rocknoceros - "Pink" [YouTube] Dan Zanes and Friends featuring La Bruja - "Pollito Chicken" [YouTube]

Video: "Colonel Purple Turtle" (Live) - Rocknoceros

Rocknoceros has been prepping their next album Colonel Purple Turtle, and some of the songs are starting to make their way to a broader set of ears. Gwyneth captured the band at their sold-out Jammin' Java show this weekend, including this track, whose main melodic guitar line and title lyric will enter your brain and pretty much never leave. So watch this at your own risk. Rocknocers - "Colnel Purple Turtle" (Live) [YouTube] One other (previously) live cut recorded by Gwyneth after the jump.

Video: "Can You Tell Time" - Rocknoceros

Making music that's truly for younger kids but has enough musical hooks for the parents is a lot more difficult than countless kids' music press releases make it appear. I've always appreciated Rocknoceros' skills in that regard, and they seem to be negotiating that fine line when it comes to their videos, too. Their latest video from their album Pink!, for "Can You Tell Time" doesn't quite have the scientific overload of a They Might Be Giants video, but it does the job as well as any sub-3-minute video could probably be expected to... Rocknoceros - "Can You Tell Time" [YouTube]