Review in Brief: Up the Wooden Hills EP - Saint Etienne

TalesFromTurnpikeHouse.jpgBritish dance/electronica band Saint Etienne released their album Tales from Turnpike House in 2005. Although Turnpike House was definitely an album for the adults, some English copies of the album also included a six-song EP called Up the Wooden Hills that was definitely for the kids.

The basic question here is whether a 16-minute six-song EP is worth the $20 or more it'll cost you to import the album, especially an album that was essentially released as a teaser or preview of a full-length album whose release has been rumored almost since the EP's release.

It's a tough call, which isn't to say it's not a good EP. Three uptempo songs -- "You Can Count on Me" (numbers, natch), "Let's Build a Zoo" (animals and alliteration), and the electronica blues of "Excitation" (nonsense) -- are great kids' tracks. The other three tracks are a mixed bag -- "Barnyard Brouhaha" is a silly electronic trifle that gets tiring before the end of its sub-minute runtime. "Bedfordshire" is a down-tempo piece with spoken-word interlude that's pleasant enough but depends on the listener really giving their attention to the piece for 4 minutes; "Night Owl" is a nice lullaby with a string quartet.

The album is probably best for kids ages 3 through 7. You can find the album on major Internet retailers such as Amazon, though they don't have sound clips.

In the end, I'd probably come down on the side of not recommending this except to all the most diehard (or affluent) of kids music families and aficianados -- $25 is a lot to spend for 3 or 4 pretty good songs. Still, based on what's on the Up the Wooden Hills EP, if and when the full-length ever does get released, it'll be well-worth the preorder.