Review: Mommie - Mommie's Dearest

MommiesDearest.jpgLittle Boy Blue is very much in a "big machine" phase. Books about trucks, asking when the recycle truck is going to be here, he's generally nuts about vehicles in a way his big sister Miss Mary Mack never was. This means we also get subjected to some less-than-completely enjoyable soundtracks accompanying the big machine videos on loan from the library.

Folks, I have but one simple request -- that Mommie's Dearest, the debut album from the North Carolina band Mommie, be used to score all such future videos. Of the ten songs here, seven of them deal with large vehicles. (If only I'd had this when putting together this list.)

All of that would be but a minor side note were it not for two other points of interest. First, the band Mommie is brainchild of Doug MacMillan, lead singer for the Southern power-pop group the Connells, a band which was part of an inescapable background soundtrack to my college days. I still have a couple of their excellent late-80s/early-90s disks and this review should be read with that grain of salt in mind. Second, the songs here were all written by MacMilllan and his son Charlie, who was probably 3 or 4 at the time of writing the songs.

So essentially this is sort of a Connells album (yay!) with lyrics by a 4-year-old (hmmmm...), a combination which usually works surprisingly well. The lyrics aren't too complex -- a lot of the songs aren't much more than a (very hummable) single line repeated and elaborated upon. "Dumptruck" is a fine pop tune with a hint of jangle, "Mama's Pajamas" is even janglier, and "Cherrypicker" features MacMillan singing the title word over a soaring chorus. Even at a spare two minutes per track, some of the songs could use lyrics, and there's little lyrically to keep the adults paying attention -- there's little of the humor suggested by the album title. ("Towtruck," however, features a classic line -- "Tow truck, tow truck, tow truck / towed my car / Tow truck, tow truck, tow truck / Took my last 85 dollars" -- that reminds me of Wilco's "Passenger Side" every time I hear it.)

The album's a bit short of 23 minutes long and would probably be of most interest to kids ages 3 through 6. You can listen to samples at the album's CD Baby page or some full tracks at Mommie's myspace page.

The album was actually recorded more than 5 years ago. MacMillan says that he "dropped the ball" but now with some new folks interested in resurrecting the band (and a scene far more forgiving and interested in kids music) he's doing some more writing. Based on the results in Mommie's Dearest, that's very cool news. Due to the primarily machine-focused subject matter, the album might not be everyone's exact cup of tea, but even kids and families into princesses, math, dinosaurs, or soccer will find at least a couple songs worth spinning regularly. Recommended.