In many John Joyce is a great example of the openness of the kindie scene. The Chicago-area firefighter took some harmonica lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music, then guitar lessons, and then, eventually heading up Poochamungas, his kindie rock band. Because Poochamungas is a side project, it's taken the band some time to record and release their second album, but the result, Block Party! , is finally here.
It's a step up from their first album in many ways. The biggest strength of the album is the band's sound, which often has a driving bluesy sound reminiscent of Brady Rymer (kindie-wise) or Bruce Springsteen (erm, not kindie). Songs like "Around the World" and "Till the Sun Goes Down" and bonus track "Imagination Train" -- three of the album's best tracks -- feature that sound. (I also liked the arrangement on "Refrigerator Box.") While Joyce has a genial demeanor that can work well live and on certain tracks, vocals are not his strength and so he wisely shares lead vocals with a number of his bandmates. The song topics aren't much different from a lot of kindie records; the wistfulness of some tracks for bygone days ("Games We Played" and "My Favorite Summer Day"), however, may elude some of the younger listeners while appealing more to the parents.
The 34-minute album is targeted at kids ages 4 through 8. While Block Party isn't without tracks that could appear on just about any kindie album, there are a number of good songs here that I think a number of families will appreciate; the album is recommended especially for families with classic rock bloodlines. Joyce and his band have shown definite growth since their debut 3 years ago -- I'm interested to see where they are 3 years from now.
Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.