Artist: Ratboy Jr.
Album: Hamster Pants
Age Range: 4 through 7
Description: Different kids musicians have different strengths -- for some it's intricately-crafted musical productions, and for others it's an energetic live show. For the Hudson Valley duo of Timmy Sutton and Matty Senzatimore, their strength is their loopy attitude, which thoroughly permeates their music. How thoroughly? Well, on this, their third album, the song "Sponges" features a chorus -- an incredibly catchy one -- with the lines "Even Billy Ocean / Uses sponges from the ocean." This is a line that really makes very little sense in the context of the song but is so goofy that it will likely delight listeners of all ages.
Their affinity for improv is heard in other songs like "Littlest Giant" and "Marian the Barbarian Librarian," which are synth-assisted raps that sound off-the-cuff and overloaded lyrically. While I suspect those songs amuse in concert (try not to shout "Plate Tectonics" along to "Poofy"), on record I think the band shines the most when they polish their ideas into irresistible crunchy pop nuggets, like "Dancing Room." The band also does the occasional tender song well ("Sleep Like One..." and album closer "Try").
The band brings in guest musicians (including co-producer Dean Jones) here to round out their sound on the 41-minute album. The goofiness might be too much for the surliest and serious amongst you, but most folks young or old who've ever taken a liking to "Weird Al" Yankovic, They Might Be Giants, and Barenaked Ladies will find much of the music appealing. Recommended.
Note: I was provided a copy of the album for possible review.