Review: Listen UP! - Danny Adlerman & Friends

ListenUp.jpgNew Jersey-based Danny Adlerman is part of the kids' music equivalent of the Rat Pack (or the Brat Pack, or the Frat Pack, depending on your generation) -- along with Kevin Kammeraad and Jim Dague of ScribbleMonster, they seem to be responsible for about 10% of the kids' music released every year, and they all seem to be on each other's albums.

Adlerman's latest contribution to the genre is the recently-released Listen UP!, and while Dague isn't here, Kevin Kammeraad and a whole host of others join in. One benefit of having such a large extended musical family is a sense of familiarity blended with a diverse set of approaches. Although the songs are typically squarely in the rock tradition (the Who-inflected "Veggie Song," for example, or the big guitar-pop of "Crooked"), the musicians also tackle a few less straightforward songs such as the call-and-response game of "Flea Fly." In either case, the band sounds great together, especially on my favorite track, the goofy wordplay of "The Dozsins."

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention Jim Babjak from the Smithereens, who plays on the album and co-wrote 5 of the album's songs. A couple of the tracks -- "In the Future" and "Somewhere I Wonder" sound like they could have fit into a Smithereens album without much rewriting. Lyrically, those songs don't have an obvious "kids' music" stamp too them. Other songs, feature topics like eating pizza ("Too Much Pizza Blues") and the hundredth day of school (the old-timey "Hundred's Day," natch). Overall, the album is nice blend of songs targeted right at the kids and songs less age-specific.

I think the album is most appropriate for kids ages 5 through 9. You can hear samples from the 37-minute album at its CDBaby page. I hope Danny Adlerman keeps hanging out with his friends, because he's got a good thing going on musically. With a gentle sense of humor and playfulness, Listen UP! will be popular with many families looking for an album of kid-appropriate rock-n-roll. Recommended.