The advantage of a 27-minute kids' music CD to a reviewer is the ability to listen to the CD 6 or 7 times in 4 days.
The advantage of Dos Ninos to a listener in general is that you'd probably enjoy listening to the CD 6 or 7 times in 4 days.
The just-released CD is the fourth CD and the first kids and family CD from the Oklahoma-based Sugar Free Allstars, and it's a winner from start to finish. It's a somewhat brief trip, but a blast nonetheless.
The band is a duo, Chris Wiser on keyboards and lead vocals, with Rob "Dr. Rock" Martin on drums and backing vocals. You may not hear a funkier kids' CD this year (at least until, say, Prince releases an album for the kids). Martin's a solid drummer, no doubt about it, but it especially warmed my heart to hear Wiser's Hammond B3 organ throughout the CD. The opening track, "Bathtub Boy," shows off the Allstars' strengths -- somewhat amusing lyrics married to a groove that it's hard not to tap at least one foot to (if not bop your head or do something more complicated). It sounds like something off a long-lost jazz CD from the '60s, that is until the break -- "Lather up / scrub him down / rinse him off" will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
And from there it moves on to such kid-friendly topics as spiders ("He's Okay (the spider song)" ), grandparents ("Poppy and MeeMaw") and a trip to the petting zoo (uh, "Petting Zoo," natch). The melodies and beats really aren't dumbed down in any way -- they've just married kid-appropriate lyrics (and pretty good ones at that) to the songs. In fact, one of the songs ("He's Okay") was originally recorded for their debut CD, and is pretty much unchanged from that version. The penultimate song, "Stinky," is pretty much an instrumental, with Wiser giving a very parental "Stanky!" chorus -- older siblings will probably get a huge kick out of it. And just when you might be getting a bit tired of the organ/drum duo bit, "Buck Up Little Camper" is a silly little Tin Pan Alley knockoff, and it's over.
The songs, lyrically at least, will be of most interest to kids ages 3 through 8, but that's sort of less important than with many other CDs. You can hear long samples at the album's CDBaby page -- and really, you owe yourself to at least give "Bathtub Boy" a spin. (You can also hear four tracks at their Myspace page.) And while maybe it's the hip thing to do to record a kids' CD these day, at least give these guys credit -- they're doing a library tour this summer.
This will be one of those CDs you pull out to show others that kids' music these days isn't just pop or folk. This will be one of those CDs you pull out to get your kids to shake out a little extra energy. And this will be one of those CDs you pull out to put a little grin on a lot of faces. Dos Ninos packs a great deal of fun in less than a half-hour. Definitely recommended.