After listening to hundreds of kids and family CDs over the past years, I've developed some resistance to the charms of a cutesy album title. A classic album title twisted into a kiddie pun does not a good album make.
So I was well prepared to remain unmoved by Dark Side of the Moon Bounce, the recently-released second album by the Virginia-based band Rocknoceros.
That resistance lasted about, oh, three, four songs, tops.
The album is a giddy collection of preschooler-accessible topics set to catchy melodies with a handful of space-related songs thrown in. Although there are no noticeable Pink Floyd references here, the three-member band has a healthy appreciation for music from the '60s and '70s, with calypso ("No Bananas on the Boat"), zippy '20s songs ("Brush Your Teeth"), and Beck ("Gravity") thrown in for good measure. One of the best tracks, "Apollo," tells the story of Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon, accompanied by a very uptempo British Invasion-sounding tune. "Pluto" succinctly describes that ex-planet's fall from planetary grace ("But poor Pluto lacks the girth") along with a sad but sweet melody.
In their marriage of smart lyrics, sly humor, and primarily but not exclusively rock-pop melodies, Rocknoceros reminded me most of another trio all the way across the country, Recess Monkey. While Recess Monkey tends to a slightly older audience, Rocknoceros is more preschooler-focused and, as a result, more apt to "teach" via song. ("Wee Go Potty" is a great song about recognizing the need to go to the bathroom. But it's a song 8-year-olds probably don't need to hear.) Another good comparison, at least when it comes to the rock side of their songs, is Ernie & Neal.
Given the topics, the 42-minute album is probably most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7, though the most direct space-related songs here would be fine for slightly older kids, too. You can listen to a few songs at Rocknoceros' music page or samples from the whole album at its CD Baby page.
Dark Side of the Moon Bounce is a fine collection of kids' music, with several outstanding tracks. This is kids' music expertly done, with good humor and respect for interests of preschoolers and young grade schoolers. It more than earns its album title pun. Definitely recommended.