Review: Beehives and Bedheads - Duke Otherwise

Duke Otherwise Beehives and Bedheads album cover

Duke Otherwise Beehives and Bedheads album cover

If you're going to give yourself a stage name of "Duke Otherwise," you'd better not go halfway.  No, I expect the full arch distance of royalty, mixed up with an oddity that recollects Bowie (David) and Burton (Tim).

Thankfully, Duke Otherwise, AKA Noah Reimer, gives each song on his brand new Beehives and Bedheads the full flourish, and then some.  Looking for an album that provides guidance on moving through early childhood life transitions?  Move along, then, because this album kicks off with a song called “Dancing Pig” that answers the question, “What would a Tom Waits song about a prancing porcine sound like?,” and never really gets any less weird from there.  The zippy “What Kind of Hairdo Do You Do?” crams in at least dozen hair-related cultural references ranging from Medusa to Kid and Play.  “Nose and Ears” uses a jazzy clarinet tune to accompany a consideration of the implications of living to the age of one thousand while your nose and ears never stop growing.

I could go on describing odd scenarios out of Shel Silverstein and or perhaps Roald Dahl in gentler moments, or waste many electrons jotting down the nifty wordplay on many tracks.  If it sounds a bit like Zak Morgan, then that may be a case of affinity as Morgan makes appearances on a handful of tracks.  On and on the album careens, winding up with the next-to-last track “Kitty Wampus,” about a bus driver with an exceedingly poor sense of direction and featuring at the end a chorus of kids pleading, “Are we there yet, are we there yet?...”  And, then after all the flights of fancy, the album gently lands with “Whistle Like Bird,” an ode to musician and well-known whistler Andrew Bird (with Morgan doing his best Andrew Bird whistling impersonation).

The album will most tickle the fancies of kids ages 5 through 9.  Clocking in at about 32 minutes in length, the twelve tracks breeze by.

I am all for a broad range of kids music -- straight-ahead celebratory pop, songs that explore emotional depths, and even though I don’t always talk about it, even music that helps literally learn things.  But part of that should also include imagination and skewed viewpoints that take the young listener out of the everyday.  Beehives and Bedheads does that nearly perfectly.  Highly recommended.

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