Based in New York City and led by mother of two Audra Tsanos, AudraRox strikes a punk pose -- a leather-jacketed, hair-streaked elementary school student poses on the cover of their debut album I Can Do It By Myself!, released earlier this month. But make no mistake, their music is more pop than punk.
Which is by no means a put-down when the pop is as finely tuned as it is here. One of the stand-out tracks is a 2-minute slice of power-pop goodness called "Tired," which sounds a bit like the Replacements (if the Replacements had three women doing vocals). On the New Wave-styled titled track, Tsanos channels the Missing Persons' Dale Bozzio. The band also runs through other styles -- country ("I Hope My Mama Says YES!"), funky blues ("Where's My Shoes Blues"), disco, etc -- and sounds great doing 'em all. And not only does the band sound great, they all have assorted songwriting credits on the album.
Lyrically, the album tackles typical 6-year-old concerns -- the effects of rough-housing ("All My Toys Are Broken") or begging for a little extra parental indulgence ("I Hope My Mama Says YES!"). The songs are mostly written in the first person, so the young listeners will grasp on easily, but there are enough sly bits to hook the parents. I was particularly amused by how the band turned the plaintive phrase "everybody's havin' more fun than we are" into a whole song that ever so gently chides the child that uses it. And the only thing better than a 7-minute song about procrastination ("I'm gonna button my coat so I don't catch a cold / I'll do it in a minute, but first, I'll sing the chorus" -- how very meta) is a good 7-minute song about procrastination.
Given the lyrical focus, it's targeted right at kids ages 4 through 8. You can hear samples at the CDBaby page for the album.
In its willingness to explore a whole bunch of pop and rock styles, I Can Do It By Myself reminds me -- in a good way -- of Ralph's World albums. It's energetic and lots of fun, speaking to kids without ignoring the parents in the back of the room. Recommended.