Itty-Bitty Review: Tag, You're It! - The Not-Its!

TagYoureIt.jpgI've always thought of punk music as being pretty anti-authoritarian, which is why I've been surprised to see a lot of kids punk bands be, well, not anti-authoritarian in their music. I suppose it's not that surprising -- how could you sell your music to the very authoritarians (the parents) you're singing against? But I wonder how many parents see the punk outfits and hear the crunchy guitars and think, "not for my family." Pity.

The Seattle band The Not-Its! have always been on the "pop" end of the pop-punk spectrum. Rather than take a full-on punk approach, they sneak themselves into homes and audiences with snazzy color-coordinated tutus and ties and cartoon-friendly album covers. This summer they released their third album Tag, You're It! filled with songs about such dangerous topics as freeze tag ("Freeze Tag"), favorite subjects in school ("Mathematics"), and playing air guitar ("I Love Food"). I'm beginning to suspect that the Kindiependent bands have access to some eternal fountain of hooks that they parcel out to themselves, because this album's filled with catchy choruses and nifty melodic lines. (Lead singer Sarah Shannon's voice and the tight musical backup don't hurt in delivering the hooks.)

If there's a downside to the album, it's that it plays it too safe at points -- saying "Gotta Keep on Tryin'" is a lot better than most songs that tackle the topic of perserverance, for example, isn't saying much. I tended to prefer the slightly off-kilter tracks: the parent-child argument of "Carry Me," for example, will ring a bell with many parents who've gone, well, anywhere, ever with their kids. (And "Puppy Dog" nicks the bassline from Blondie's "Heart of Glass" to call out a poorly trained canine.)

The 31-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 8. You can hear some of the tracks from the album at the band's music page. Tag, You're It! is a short, sharp blast of pop-punk goodness through and through. Safe enough for the kiddoes and the grandparents, regardless of whether they're into Joey Ramone or Vic Damone. Recommended.