Minneapolis band The Bazillions have an ear for power-pop hooks. Or, like, 23 ears, because each album of theirs has more hooks than one ear could possibly handle -- even one of those punks' ears with safety pins all over.
Their third album, the recently-released On the Bright Side, does not stint on the hooks. "Superhero Rock Band," which kicks off the album, is like one of those movie pitches ("They're superheroes from DC and Marvel... but they play in a band!") that is so high-concept that song quality would scarcely seem to matter, but luckily for the power-pop enthusiast in the family, it's got crunchy guitars and a catchy singalong chorus, too. That's followed by "Family Tree," a roots-pop song celebrating, well, family -- along with the album closer "Sons and Daughters," it's the first I've really heard the band try for something more emotional.
Of course, at this point, it wouldn't be a Bazillions album without several educational songs, including the jangly "Use a Contraction," the shimmering "Ed (Been There, Done That)," and their first science-related tune, "Water Cycle." Longtime readers will know my general antipathy towards songs that have such an explicit educational bias unless the melodies and lyrics are really tight, but listen to the chorus for "Favorite Book," which is really just a reading-positive song, and tell me it isn't precisely constructed for maximum earworm.
The 37-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 5 through 10; you can hear three of the tracks from the album here. As with their previous albums, On the Bright Side includes a number of power-pop and jangle-pop melodies that stand up to repeated spins, regardless of whether you need to learn some 2nd grade concept. Whatever educational value they have (and is enhanced by their catchiness) is just a nice bonus. Definitely recommended.
Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.