Saturday, March 22, 2008

***Mr. Leebot***

Wanna try something different? Mr. Leebot combines the minimalist weirdness of Bruce Haack and The Residents with the quirky pop sensibilities of DEVO and They Might Be Giants to create his debut kids' album Activate!, quite possibly the best New Wave CD for children on the market!

Now, Mr. Leebot's style didn't just spontaneously burst into being. Austin, TX, resident Lee Davila has stirred the musical pot with several spoons: Check out Davila's other projects, including the now-defunct The Grown-Ups, and especially his totally awesome current grownup band Manager's Choice. You can hear Davila's Ska and New Wave influences run throughout all his musical endeavours, including his kids' CD.

The party begins with the latest dance craze "Ants in the Pants", followed by Mr. Leebot's somber theme song, um, "Mr. Leebot". "Brock Brock Chicky" sounds slight at first listen, but it's really about the universal possibilities of communication, despite our differences. And everyone's proud of the day they became a "Bathtub Superstar" and could bathe themselves without Mom or Dad's help.

Then there's "C'mon Sun"'s manic call to play, while children strive for proper behavior in the potential hit single and DEVO homage "Good Bot" (oughta be #1 with a bullet on XM Kids!). The Country & Western rave up "Hot Diggity" is Mr. Leebot's version of "Walkin' On Sunshine", followed by another DEVO-style ditty, "Timeout Time", about trying to stay out of trouble (the coda-in-round is pretty cool!).

The spare (vocals & twangy electric guitar only) "I Want a Car" could be an unearthed outtake from Buddy Holly's catalog, while Mr. Leebot ventures into Ween territory with the droogy reggae of "Dig Up the Roots", which initially seems to be about trees and flowers but is actually about family ties.

The album closes with DEVO tribute number three, "Power Up!" (Davila really has the Mothersbaugh vocal style down pat!); then "Fastest Horse", a Riders in the Sky-like ode to being best buds; and finally "Come On Along", a for-sure Nickelodeon or Noggin program intro.

When it comes down to it, though, these songs are about the kinds of things that are a big part of kids' lives: Imagination, dancing, manners, family, being understood, and just feeling good. His sound might not be for everybody, but the kids who dig it will be rabid fans, for sure.

Y'now, if "Square Pegs" ever gets remade as the next retro sitcom (a la "That 70's Show"), Mr. Leebot should provide the soundtrack. I wouldn't be surprised if you heard his stuff on a Dunkin' Donuts commercial or as a kids' TV theme song. Listen for more good things from this guy in the future.


hpsmith said...

I have Mr. Leebot's CD and didn't realize the stories behind the songs. I will listen to it more carefully next time! What a great idea - to create fun music that kids want to listen to that has a positive message!!

Yea for Mr. Leebot!!

~ Holly (mother of 2)

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