Sad about the closure of CBGB's? Have no fear, The Sippy Cups are here with Electric Storyland.
On their first album, 2005's Kids Rock For Peas, the San Francisco-based band took a bunch of '60s and '70s-era tunes (some famous, some less so), tweaked them as necessary to make them kid-friendly, and played them live in front of an appreciative audience of preschoolers, grade-schoolers, and their parents. Making the album and band more than just a one-off joke ("I Wanna Be Elated," get it? Ha!) was the band's energy, enthusiasm, and sense of humor (pitched at both kids and adults). What could have become very old very quickly was given fresh life.
Electric Storyland takes a slightly different approach, eschewing cover songs for a set of 14 original songs. But the album has every bit of the debut's energy, enthusiasm, and humor, with songs that draw inspiration from the '60s and '70s, but are definitely original. Take "Use Your Words," one of very few tracks that have anything remotely resembling a "message," about how articulating feelings rather than simply acting on them is a preferred way of dealing with frustration ("The world will be greater / If you use your words"). It's a fun, uptempo song that has the faintest echoes of, say, Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride." But most songs are content to paint pictures, such as the Jimi Hendrix-esque sounds of "Drinking From the Sky" or what I'm assuming is an early Floyd tribute (as indicated by the "Money"-esque clinking of change at song's start) in "How To Build A Dog." And lest you think the Cups are stuck in the music of 30 years ago, a couple songs (the excellent "Springtime Fantastic" and "Flower Tower") have hints of the Replacements and the Gin Blossoms and guitar power-pop less than 30 years old.
I can't think of too many downsides. The album did feel a bit long at 51 minutes, but that's a minor quibble -- the songs are all pretty good. I'm one of those people who doesn't like skits with my music, but the characters here (familiar to those who've heard the band's first two CDs, plus a new one, "Major Minor") are amusing and their skits brief.
Electric Storyland is a strong step forward for The Sippy Cups -- it's a winning album retaining the spirit of music from 30 years ago or more but giving it its own youthful energy. Instead of bemoaning CBGB's demise, listen to the Sippy Cups. Definitely recommended.