Friday, July 16, 2010

Not-Its Not Coasting on West Coast

Seattle Funsters Challenge Eastern (Kids) Rock Girls

Girl power. No, I'm not reminiscing about the Spice Girls. I'm talking about the modern-day kindie rock battle that's brewing between the East Coast (Audrarox and the Jimmies) and the West Coast (The Not-Its).

With this month's release of their second CD, "Time Out To Rock," the Not-Its make a case for the Northwest. Boasting confident vocals from former indie pop singer Sarah Shannon (from Velocity Girl), the 11 tracks cover child-centric topics such as relocation (Welcome to Our School), fears (Only Kids Can See), and frustration (Accidentally).

The band remains "on message" throughout their power-pop set. Mainly, that kids are people, too. And that even the smallest among us sometimes need help dealing with the simplest of issues. As in "Accidentally," where the protagonist copes with everyday mistakes:

I sat down in a chair next to my friend Claire,
When she jumped in the air.
Something happened accidentally.
She started to cry. When I asked her why, she looked me right in the eye.
It happened accidentally.
She looked down at her shoe, it was covered with glue.
Oh no what did I do?
Could this have happened accidentally?
It's my fault after all.

The Not-Its' goal is to provide young children with their first "real live rock show" experience. We had taken Ben to see Dan Zanes and the Wiggles. I passed on the Doodlebops due to exorbitant ticket prices. When my wife returned home, she was glazed over. "He went nuts," she explained. "There was no real story - it was just a concert and he wouldn't sit down for the entire show!"

We had seen abbreviated sets from Audrarox and the Jimmies at Kindiefest, but Ben's first real "rock" concert may have been the Jimmies at Symphony Space. But the gauntlet has definitely been thrown thousands of miles from West to East. The Not-Its make a strong case for being one of the best family-friendly rock acts on either coast.

If anything, "Time Out To Rock" skews a little young for Ben (now 9). A song like "Green Light, Go!" channels the band Garbage (for kids), but he's past the need for another song about lights changing color. But three- to seven-year-olds will groove on the guitars and drum beats.

From our perspective, though, there can never be enough songs like "Welcome to Our School," about helping a child get comfortable in a new setting. Until last year, this was Ben's situation for three years in a row. He should now be able to take the lead and welcome new children into his school. And there's nothing wrong with a song to reinforce that attitude.

The Jimmies are working on new material. Audrarox just released their second CD (which we haven't heard yet). We're dedicated East Coasters. But the Not-Its rock a siren song that's hard to ignore, all the way from Seattle.
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