Friday, July 08, 2011

Who's Ready for the Not-Its?

Tag - I'm It!

Kids are natural balls of pure energy. What's the best way to harness energy? Transform it into another state. To help facilitate a positive change, consider the music of Seattle's the Not-Its.

Billed as "America's most rockin' kindie band," the Not-Its strive to be a child's first rock experience. I've forgotten my first rock experience, and so has my wife. But our (older) son's first rock experience was a concert by the Doodlebops. They came home and she said, "He was on his feet the entire time!" I had never been so disappointed at missing a (little) kid event.

But getting back to my point, the Not-Its have been providing "first rock experiences" since 2009. Lead singer Sarah Shannon fronted the Sub-Pop indie band Velocity Girl in the '90s. With two 5-and-under girls at home, Shannon and company know their audience at a primal level: what they believe in and what they enjoy. And also what sounds phony and preachy.

With their third CD, "Tag - You're It," the band continues its efforts to expand the kingdom of kindie music on the West Coast. The best compliment for any kids band is to say, "I would play that for adults." And the Not-Its are a band that adults can truly enjoy with their kids, from the vantage point that only parents can understand. The melodic "Carry Me" at first sounds like a child's simple plea to a parent:

I am as light as a cotton ball.

You'd feel so bad if I were to fall,

Drop from exhaustion or fatigue.

Please just carry me.

But then the (father) parent interjects:

There's no way I'm going to carry you.

Don't you remember when you were two,

I threw my back out and I couldn't move for a whole week.

This walking is working for me.

Rockers include "It's Great To Be a Kid," "Vacation," "Hank Is a Rock Star," and "Gotta Keep On Tryin," which incorporates an obvious message. But the band otherwise tries to couch its sensibilities in more subtle ways. Subtle, as that term relates to the 10-and-under set. But the riffs definitely reminded me of "real" rock songs from my past. "Puppy Dog" starts with the distinctive Kinks lead from "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" before it turns into a dog song. And I can't fault any band from trying to make math skills sound fun, as in "Mathematics."

For the time being, the Jimmies and AudraRox are keeping the East Coast rocking with powerful female lead vocals. And the Not-Its are ably patrolling the Western border with verve and vigor.

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