Wednesday, December 10, 2008

***The Board of Education***

Short review: If Klaatu made a kids' album, this is what it would sound like.

Long review: Seattle powerpop band Central Services combine their love of melody and hooks with classroom subjects that might otherwise be yawned at by Fourth Graders, to create the ridiculously catchy, funny, and intelligent CD Central Services Presents: The Board of Education! If you dig Recess Monkey, then you'll like Central Services' alter ego kids' group, The Board of Education. Here's a funny thing about those two bands: BOE are rockers who write songs that teach, and RM are teachers who like to rock. And both bands are from Seattle ... cool!

"Rise and Shine" kicks off the album with "Rock and Roll All Nite"-meets-Elephant 6 pop explosion, then "Beverly the Village Misfit" reels off mind-blowing scientific facts to the tune of Ben Folds Five glam rock. The band gets close to They Might Be Giants territory with "8 is a Number," a big band jumpin' jive tune that observes "when eight takes a nap, that's infinity."

"The Lonely Tomato" wistfully ponders his place in the fruit/vegetable picture, then majestically celebrates his many uses, while "Know Your Inventors" honors patent holders generally and William W. Averill specifically (asphalt pavement) with piano pop. The love-song-in-disguise "Lunchtime (Tin Foil Robots)" uses Free Design-like harmonies to relate a school crush with lines like "Tin foil, it won't protect you from love."

Memphis R&B helps describe the good points of "Your Sensitive Elbow," and the tongue-in-cheek "Ice Ages are Fun!" warns about the results of global warming via crunchy pop music. And the chunky rock and roll of "The Many Uses, and Dangers, of Commas" accompanies a humorous grammar lesson.

The 8mm school film sound effects and wordy lyrics of "Volcanoes and You," combined with its greasy lounge pop groove, make this tune worthy of a classic Ween album, and "Heading Home" brings the album full-circle as the school day ends. The CD closes (kinda) with the astonishingly beautiful "August Lullaby," which completely catches you by surprise based on the rest of the rockin' album. In fact, Pixar would kill for a ballad this good on any of their soundtracks nowadays. Oh, and there's the hidden track "Hiccy Uppy" (I think), a very short Vaudeville song about, um, hiccups!

The Board of Education is an awesome headphone album for upper elementary kids, full of witty wordplay, great production, and reeealy catchy tunes. Parents will definitely like it as much as their kids do, maybe more!


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