Review: Baloney Cake - Uncle Moondog

Baloney Cake (2005) is the second album from Uncle Moondog, the animated alter ego of California-based musician Mike McManus. Those of you hoping for the hard edge of another animated band, the Gorillaz, will be disappointed. Moondog is, er, a dog with a bunch of (mostly animal) friends with a vocal style that reminds me most of Wolfman Jack. The album consists of a wide range of children's pop with a particular predilection for beach-related melodies and lyrics ("In Hawaii," "Surfin' School"). Now, I can't say I was super-enthused by the album. Some of that is because I didn't like the Moondog voice, which I realize is a personal choice -- others may think it's cool. Some of that is because I really didn't like "Baloney Cake," which is exactly about what the title says it's about and makes me a wee bit nauseous thinking about it. And one of Moondog's friends has a high-pitched electronic voice that drives me nuts. What's good about the CD? Well, it's produced well, and when it stays away from cheesy kids' music touches (whah, whah, whah, WHAH) the songs have a certain appeal. The melodies are usually appealing. And McManus has a sly sense of humor. For example, in "Baloney Cake" he realizes that it is kind of a disgusting concept, and the song addresses that thought. (As does an aside in "Surfin' School.) And in "The Walrus Waltz," he not only rhymes "waltz" with "small-tz," he notes the silliness of doing so. (I'm also pretty sure that "Elvis" makes an appearance.) There's enough there that I'd like to see McManus give it a go without the Uncle Moondog alter ego -- I'd probably enjoy it more. While I'm not a huge fan of the album, those who like Beach Boys-like melodies or want a coastal-themed album (and can handle people singing in a style different than a "normal" singing voice) may want to give it a shot. It's probably best for kids aged 3 through 6. It's available through his website. (Too bad there's nothing as catchy as the Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc.")