Itty-Bitty Review: Colonel Purple Turtle - Rocknoceros

ColonelPurpleTurtle.jpgWhile DC-area heroes Rocknoceros have the chops to write nothing but hook-filled pop-rock tunes, they've always been interested in taking detours musically -- think back to the meta-song "Trying to Write a Song" from their debut.

On Colonel Purple Turtle, their fourth album, the detours become the journey -- few songs here could be recognized as pure pop-rock candy. Which isn't to say there aren't several catchy hooks -- the hilariously cliche-tastic "Early Worm" is a bit of southern alt-country, while the repeating, driving melody of the title track will stick in your head (repeatedly). It's just that the band would rather explore a wide range of genres (sea shanty, babershop quartet, disco, and jazz, to name a few more) or channel, say, Wilco at its mellowest ("Sprouted") or mid-period Beatles ("Echolocation"). The songs tell the stories of the animals of Soggy Bog, where Colonel Purple Turtle lives. Yes, it's a concept album, but for the most part the concept is loose -- the record's mostly a collection of occasionally fanciful character sketches about animals with personalities. (I've not seen the accompanying book, which may or may not provide your kids with additional context behind the songs.) If this all sounds a bit... weird and disjointed, well, it is. I've listened to it several times, and every time I do I'm struck by how odd the overall impression is. It's a fun -- and continually surprising -- album.

The 47-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 8. (You can hear samples at your favorite internet retailers, or try YouTube for some live versions.) Colonel Purple Turtle is a big ol' grab-bag of styles and as a result might not be everyone's cup of tea, but Rocknoceros fans should enjoy it (they probably have it already) and I'm pretty sure that everyone will find at least a couple songs that appeal to them. Recommended.