Review: Whales Can't Whistle - Bunny Clogs


Can More! More! More!, Bunny Clogs' debut album, really be more than six years old?  Wow.  That album was all over the map, stylistically, but it was filled with joy and community-mindedness, as if Dan Zanes had been cloned as a Minneapolis funk-and-drum-machine-favoriting rocker.

But here we are in 2015, and I can take Adam Levy's kid-friendly side project off my "one hit wonder" list, and not just because technically they have a second album, Whales Can't Whistle, but because it's pretty darn good, too.  Unlike the first album, this one has a theme, animals in the world around us.  (Levy's daughter  But rather than tackle familiar animals, Levy takes as his subjects less familiar animals like nudibranches, capybaras, echidnas, and a Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish with a curious sense of humor.  Also, the "Chipantula" -- half chipmunk, half spider -- though I'm pretty sure that one's made up.  Some of the songs are more scientifically based, but more often the animals are the jumping off point for character sketches.  (Here's Levy's liner notes description of "Blimpsoz the Sea Pig": "A crazy echinoderm with a vaguely Ukrainian accent describing a traumatic childhood with a happy ending.)

I gravitated towards the poppier songs, like "Beetle Mania," with a vaguely '60s sound, an ear-wormy chorus, and fun shout-outs to the other Beatlemania.  One of the "Amelia's Pizza" has a funky piano line and a story worth of Randy Newman but with a happier ending (kid protagonist considers but rejects offer from large multinational corporation to sell and modify her pizzas.)  "Echidna Print" features a couple verses from C. Manesterio and funky samples from BK-One.

The album is most appropriate for kids ages 6 through 11.  You can stream the entire 47-minute album here.  If I had to choose just Bunny Clogs album to introduce someone to the band, I'd probably pick their debut.  But it'd be a tough call.  Fans of the first album will find much of the same (but different) on Whales Can't Whistle.  And I'm pretty sure you won't hear another album celebrating the fauna of the world this distinctive this year.  Definitely recommended.

Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.