Review: Hey You Kids! - The Jellydots

HeyYouKids.jpgThis band will change your life.

Not to get all Natalie Portman on you, but like the Shins, the Austin-based band The Jellydots might just change a few families' lives, or at least their opinions on what kids' music can be.

I pick the Shins as a reference point deliberately because it was their skewed pop I kept thinking of while I listened to the Jellydots' first nationally-distributed CD, Hey You Kids!. The simple pop of the title track, a melding of delicate guitar work and percussion work sounds like the spare pop on the Shins' Oh Inverted World! CD while "I'm Not Ugly (You're Not Either)" has a propulsive melody and beat that sounds like "Fighting in a Sack" off Chutes Too Narrow.

Not all of the tracks have such a Shins vibe. The opening track "Bicycle" is a great power-pop tune that the Shins (or a hundred power-pop bands) would love to have written, while "Lake Rules" has a reggae beat and accompaniment reminiscent of Elvis Costello's "Watching The Detectives."

Lyrically the CD speaks straight to kids. The lyrics deal with subjects like bicycles, choosing to be positive, and self-esteem. I particularly appreciated the lyrics on "Quite Naturally" ("Yesterday I saw an ad on my TV screen / And all the people on the screen / Looked so happy to me / It seemed like they were living in a special fantasy / Where money, fun, and happiness all grow on plastic trees.") Over an entire album these messages of uplift might become repetitive were it not for the fact that they're wrapped in such sweet bonbons of melody. Parents aren't entirely ignored -- the best song on the disk is tucked near the end, the slow and beautiful "Captain Sleep," a nearly perfectly-constructed song which kids might be OK with but will resonate with the parents.

The 41-minute album will be especially appreciated by kids ages 4 through 9, but the melodies will be enjoyed by those much older, too. You can hear samples of all the tracks at the album's CDBaby page or hear a few cuts at the band's Myspace page. The album will very soon be released in a physical format, but if you can't wait, you can order it now from iTunes.

Essentially a "Greatest Hits" collection of songs from albums previously only released in Austin, Hey You Kids! is a fine showcase for Doug Snyder's abundant songwriting skills and voice and the adept musicianship of the trio. If you have any affinity for power-pop and indie-pop, you need to check out this album. It's too good to let Austin have all the fun. It may not change your life, but it's definitely recommended.