There's not much secret to the appeal of Seattle's Not-Its -- take standard kid-friendly subjects like kindergarten friends, boo-boos, and fanciful trips to outer space, mix in crunchy alternative rock, and add a dash of visual style. Voila! The band had the formula down pretty much right out of the gate on their debut and on their follow-up Time Out To Rock they don't tinker with it much.
There are hooks galore for the kids and parents to latch onto -- "Welcome To Our School" features a killer guitar riff, bouncy drums, sweet harmonies, and life lessons. It's a template the band duplicates through most of the album. It's proof, perhaps, that it's not so much the message of average kids music that drives parents bonkers as much as it is the often-poor delivery. I mean, being friendly to the new kid at school is at its heart obvious and a little preachy. But it's a song that stands up to repeated listening, which is more than can be said of a lot of other songs imparting life lessons. See also, for example, "Say It Loudly," which says as clearly (and loudly) as possible that people should speak up against bullies, or the mellow alt-rock of "Change My Luck." That last track is one of the album's last 3 songs, in which the band dials the rock back a bit, but for the most part this is an uptempo, bop-your-head-and-toes disk. As always, lead singer Sarah Shannon's clear and direct voice is a big asset to the band, not only on the rock tunes (the missing Heart kids song "Green Light, Go!") but also the gentler ones such as album closer "Hollow Tree."
Kids ages 4 through 8 are most likely to appreciate the songs here. You can listen to a number of songs from the album here. (And I'd just like to say that I appreciate the high quality packaging, which makes it easy and appealing to give the album to others.
While there's nothing particularly revolutionary about the Not-Its formula, they're still among the first that have successfully applied the '90s alt-rock musical template to kids music without going over the heads of the kids who are their primary audience. They rock, and that's enough for us. Definitely recommended.
Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the album for possible review and also premiered one of the album tracks here on the website.