Wednesday, May 10, 2006

***Saint Etienne***

One of the main points of this blog is to introduce kids and parents to different types of music suitable for children. That doesn’t mean anyone has to completely cut out all ultra mega conglomeration mainstream music, but at the very least balance it with unique, out of the ordinary styles. Having said that, here’s a little CD that is different, certainly, but nevertheless very enjoyable. There seems to be a growing trend among “Popular Music” artists to make kids’ music as a side project, and British group Saint Etienne have created an EP of songs for children as part of their newest album, Tales from Turnpike House. Up the Wooden Hills contains six songs designed for kids, the title apparently taken from the Small Faces’ song, “Up the Wooden Hills to Bedfordshire”.

The EP opener, “You Can Count on Me”, counts from one to ten in English, French, and Spanish, and sounds a little like Stereolab retooled for the dancefloor, or maybe a chilled out Madonna track. At 59 seconds, “Barnyard Brouhaha”, a sort of electronic “Turkey In the Straw”, seems ready made for use as an instrumental intro to a kids’ show. The rollicking “Let’s Build a Zoo”, with its neo-“Swinging England” music and list of alliterations like “Charlie chose a chimpanzee”, “Rachel rode a rhino”, and “Peter picked a penguin”, is sure to be a hit with your Toddler Time dancers.

After the nonsense lyrics and electro-rockabilly blues of “Excitation”, “Bedfordshire” begins with a father convincing his small son to turn off the TV for a while and take an imaginary trip to the wooden hills of Bedfordshire, their journey represented by a wordless soundtrack akin to a Brian Wilson Smile-era soundscape. Finally, a chamber orchestra and the soothing voice of lead singer Sarah Cracknell bring the day to a close with “Night Owl”.

As far as I can tell, Up the Wooden Hills is only available in combination with Tales from Turnpike House, and as a limited edition, at that. But rumor is Saint Etienne are working on a full-fledged children’s music project for future release, so this EP may become part of that at some point. But until then, get Tales and Wooden Hills, enjoy both, and encourage Saint Etienne to make more great music for kids!


glowbug.113 said...

Great song, I was looking for this song and all I remembered was the word "Bedfordshire", and your blog came up. Good work!

I love Saint Etienne they are so talented.

The best part of the song is the yawn that the kid lets out as the song is ending.

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