Monday, July 21, 2008

***The Terrible Twos***

Anyone familiar with The Terrible Twos' 2007 debut If You Ever See an Owl ... , or, for that matter, The New Amsterdam's body of work, will immediately recognize the breezy, laid-back, and ridiculously catchy sound of the Twos' sophomore kids' album, Jerzy the Giant. If it's possible, Giant is even better than Owl, and for several reasons: this time 'round, Matt Pryor and crew make the pop songs poppier, the quirky tunes quirkier, and the singalongs even more singalongier.

Yer not gonna find many better pop tunes than "Old Man Miller," "Big Baby J," "Olly Olly Oxen Free," the title tune, and "Playground," no matter what genre you're listening to. And it's to the Twos' credit that they saved these great songs for their kids' album, rather than developing the tunes for an Amsterdams release.

Dig the wonderfully oddball songs "Great Big Poop" and "Consonants," the former being essentially a drum solo accompanied by the chant "great big poop, tiny, tiny poop;" the latter a shuffle celebrating the sometimes overlooked non-vowels in the alphabet. Remember "A Rake, A Broom, A Mop, A Shovel" from If You Ever See an Owl... ? That song and "Consonants" put the Twos on par with They Might Be Giants in the "it's so simple, but no one thought of it yet" quirky tunes for kids category (see TMBG's "I Am Not Your Broom").

Get to bouncing around the room with "Jump Jump Jump," a perfect tune for live concert audience participation. And check out Pryor's endearing tributes to his own kids: the superpop tunes "Big Baby J" and "Jerzy the Giant," the harmony-heavy "Elliott Oooh," and the self-explanatory "Lily Names Everything Sandy." Then chill to the sweet ballads "Say Say Anything," where a dad assures his kid he can find comfort confiding in a parent; "Amelia Minor," with lyrics written around the names of the chords used in the song; and the beautiful closing lullaby "Whispering the Melody."

It's interesting to see the differences in leader Matt Pryor's tunes and drummer Bill Belzer's two songs, "Archibald McCallister" and "Playground." Belzer uses a much more linear writing style, where Pryor's lyrics concentrate on feelings and kids' internal thought processes. But much like the Beatles' later albums, when George Harrison contributed a couple of songs, they fit right in with the sound while remaining distinctly Harrisonesque. Belzer's tunes compliment Giant as a whole while keeping their individual personalities.

Another must-have from The Terrible Twos! Buy Jerzy the Giant for your baby, toddler, preschooler, elementary student, middle schooler, teenager, college student, post-grad, young professional, parent, grandparent, and great grandparent. They'll love ya for it!

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