Monday, October 06, 2008

***me 3***

Here's a perfect example of why reviewing "children's" music is at the same time frustrating and exciting: this here album was recorded specifically for kids, but I guarantee that more grownups than children will dig this CD. So, while me 3's "The Thin King" might not make it to the best-selling rack at your local megablob retail outlet, it's thrilling to see artists like Jason Kleinberg creating such adventurous, intelligent, and downright catchy music for children.

San Francisco-based Kleinberg is heavily involved in that city's music scene, playing and recording with groups like Diego's Umbrella, 86 The Band, Our Lady Of The Highway, Beulah, and The Pine Box Boys. Seems the children of Kleinberg's friends liked his solo CD Must Have Fun so much, he decided to enlist Bernie Jungle and Adam McCauley (also known for his kids' book illustrations) to play on an album for kids, and voila! me 3 was born. Coincidentally, the children's musician most likely to draw artistic comparisons, Mr. David, lives nearby in San Jose.

You can hear hints of Weezer (specifically "Beverly Hills") in the lead-off track "Apple," while the pop brilliance of "Tulip" and its chorus of "Too-woo-woo-woo-woo-lip" guarantee multiple plays. The space-age rock of "Come On" is a little similar to the sound of Tray Batson's Baron Von Rumblebuss project, and the jug band/Kid Rock hybrid "Doug the Mole" tells the story of ... well, a mole ... named Doug.

Kleinberg gets all philosophical and stuff with the sea shanty waltz "Thinking is Fun," the sunny "I Don't Know!" and the quiet ballad "When It All Began," while "Peeling Paint" and "Cows" are just great fun. The title track is a majestic tune that tells the tale of a make-believe ruler, and "Sunlight" conveys through a child's eyes the simple amazement found in the Sun.

What makes this album special is that Kleinberg steers waaay clear of cliched kids' music subjects and dumbed-down lyrics, but he doesn't sing adult love songs or write about the frustrations of being a grownup, either. He has faith in his young listeners that they will "get" these songs about imagination, wonder, humor, beauty, and wordplay. Spin this one for your toddlers, your kids in college, and your grandparents. And sneak a listen yourself.

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