It seems like kids music is the new "side project" for an increasing number of musicians. What better way to deflate expectations and clear out a little creative room than by deciding to create music for the elementary school set? I don't mean that negatively at all -- in fact, it's that "anything goes" approach that helps to make the genre vibrant.
It's in that spirit that I'm calling Bunny Clogs, the kids music project from the Honeydogs' Adam Levy, a "side project" in the best sense. Now, Levy already has a side project -- the I-never-thought-I'd-be-typing-this-name-in-this-blog band "Hookers $ Blow" -- but Bunny Clogs' first album More! More! More! has been 5 years in the making, recorded with Levy's two daughters and a host of guests (and featuring some pretty cool album art from his son). So it reflects a fair amount of thought and craft.
At its best, the album recalls the family-friendly community-celebrating vibe of Dan Zanes, such as on the midtempo "Midtown Greenway," which extols riding a bike through town and features Semisonic's John Munson on bass. "Song For Powderhorn" celebrates another part of Minneapolis (and benefits the local V.O.I.C.E. Music Saves Lives program doing work in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood). There are a lot of songs about food, with very little in the way of lessons (though there are some snuck in there). Sometimes the album is plain silly -- "Velveeta Girl and Squatsy" is a bunch of (danceable) nonsense while "3 Dogs and a Pancake" is a bunch of (not-entirely-danceable) nonsense. And sometimes the album marries the old (Woody Guthrie's "Car Car") into a new, strutting hand-clappable classic -- "Are We There Yet?," the best song on the album.
Not every track is perfect -- I can't say that I ever need to hear the drum machine-aided "Butter" more than once a year at the most -- but Levy's use of a whole bunch of different styles and instrumentation (check out the middle eastern touches on "Pharaoh Pharouk's Phyrst Phood Phyramid") makes even less compelling songs more fun to listen than most kids songs.
The album is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 10. You can hear tracks at Bunny Clogs' Myspace page, or also pick it up at eMusic or Lala.
More! More! More! is clearly a labor of love for Adam Levy. It wasn't recorded to cash in on the kids music scene, it was created for the fun of it. Families who listen to the album with the same sense of joy that went into making it will get a kick out of this. Definitely recommended.