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Various Artists

Play

(DeSoto; US: 17 Apr 2007; UK: Available as import)

A new genre is emerging that is as perplexing as it is fascinating: Indie Children’s Music.  Though no forerunning band has yet to stake claim to the genre, many artists are gradually and casually either releasing kid-oriented albums (They Might Be Giants) or contributing to kid-themed indie compilations (like Broken Social Scene & Sufjan Stevens).  So J. Robbins’ own DeSoto Records gets in on the craze here with Play (as well as Robbins himself, who produces four tracks here).  The artists all use it either as an outlet for otherwise-unusual covers. Visqueen does a straightforward take of John Fogerty’s “Centerfield”, The Cassettes does a lo-fi and slightly re-written take of T. Rex’s “Truck On (Truck)”, and the Supersuckers’ do their own take of the classic “Rubber Biscuit”, but it’s impossible to not think of the Blues Brother’s version of it and how nothing will ever compare to it.  Yet for all the other songs, the album works simply because the artists simply sound like they’re having fun: Anna Oxygen emits fine electro-pop with the wannabe dance craze “Born to Shake”, Channels brings in Damon Locks for the amazingly dynamic “Always Check for Holes”, and even Mudhoney get in the game with the unabashedly rocking “I Like to Make Noise and Break Things”.  A few songs don’t make the same cut (Mirah & Tara Jane O’Neill’s “Green Up Time” and Ben Davis & the Jetts’ “Bouncin’ Party” immediately come to mind), but it’s ultimately a fun, diverse, and fascinating LP that actually does provide fun for all ages.

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Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and many more. Evan has been a guest on HuffPost Live, RevotTV's "Revolt Live!", and WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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