Artist: Dog on Fleas
Album: Buy One Get One Flea
Age Range: 4 through 9
Description: Saying that "band X sounds like band Y" is easy shorthand for music reviewers, but there is no easy shorthand for New York's Dog on Fleas. Their sound is sui generis, a mixture of jazz, vaudeville, and breezy pop that has no analog on the kids music scene. (It doesn't have many analogues in music, period.) On their eighth album, the band emphasizes the jazzier elements of their nature in songs like album opener "Hinterlands" and "It's a Ruse" and "Pardon My Pajamas" (side note: how has that song title not been turned into a kids song before now?). The band is sometimes too weird for its own good -- while I dug the brief kazoo-accented takes on a couple orchestral classics by the "Backyard Dorkestra," songs like "Dry Beans" and the jokey "High School Reunion" were almost too weird (and that's saying something for a Fleas album). I mean, when Dean Jones can toss off beautiful and uplifting pop songs like "Thinking Good Thoughts" and merge the sweet and silly on "If I Were You I'd Give Me a Kiss," it spoils the listener for anything else.
You can stream several songs from the 33-minute album here. I'm not sure if this is the quintessential Fleas album (I still have a great deal of fondness for When I Get Little, and their "hits" collection The Bestest of the Best is a fine introduction to their wild and eclectic career), but Buy One Get One Flea will still make your family smile and dance, which is reason enough. Recommended.