Saturday, June 21, 2008

***Recess Monkey***

Wanna know just how far-reaching the Beatles' influence still is? How their catchy, timeless, fun, powerful songs continue to weave their way into the fabric of pop culture? This here kids' band built a replica of the Sgt. Pepper cover for their second album, used the White Album's sprawling double disc format for their third, and for their fourth, Tabby Road, well, 'nuff said.

But the comparisons go deeper than cover art and album titles. Recess Monkey's Tabby Road is wall-to-wall sensational pop songwriting by Jack Forman, Daron Henry, and Andrew Holloway, arguably the most prolific kiddie rockers in the arena. The tunes are spiced up with 12-string guitar, a very Moog-y keyboard, and all-over-the-place bass playing, a nod to McCartney's low-end inventiveness on the Beatles' mid- to late-career albums. Listen for hints of Weezer, Klaatu, OK Go, Todd Rundgren, Jellyfish, XTC, and Jeff Barry's poppiest pop tunes. Oh, and the Beatles. The songs? Well, they're about friends, pets, teeth, bikes, and monsters, lots of monsters (more about that later).

Several songs, like "Birthday Bite", "Pedal Power", "Dr. Wiggle", and "Under My Bed", are perfectly designed for live audience participation. You could pair "KC in the Clouds" with Paul McCartney's "Little Lamb Dragonfly", with its similar subject matter (loss of a pet), and similar sound to Wings' output from that era. "Messy Nessie" would go well with Alice Flaherty and Scott Magoon's 2007 picture book The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster: A Tale of Picky Eating.

"Dr. Wiggle" and "Under My Bed" would fit perfectly on Jellyfish's Spilt Milk, while guest guitarist Rob Hampton's solo in "Robin (Sugar Goblin)" is highly reminiscent of George Harrison's angular Rubber Soul/Revolver six string work. And "Kitty Sister", well, in a perfect world this tune would be one of those songs that stays at #1 all summer (if Andy Partridge isn't jealous, he should be!).

Back to the monsters ... side two of Tabby Road seems to be Recess Monkey's homage to Abbey Road's second side, as an overarching monster theme is tied together with short songs that crossfade and abut into and against each other. Monsters: You've got the under-the-bed variety, a pro-veggie creature, a Yeti, a sugar-loving goblin, a Loch Ness monster, a mummy, a dragon, a wolfman, and a truck (monster, of course).

If you're a lover of indie rock, if you dig powerpop, if the Beatles never leave your CD player, if you admire a spirit of inventiveness in your music, Tabby Road is a must-buy. Now, should we start looking for "Jack Is Dead" clues?

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