If it's been nine months, then it's time for another CD from the prolific Caspar Babypants (i.e., Chris Ballew, former guitarist/singer for The Presidents of the United States. This year's release is entitled HOT DOG!
Animals of all kinds seem to be on Chris' mind this time around. Looking at the titles alone reveals the thought process: Sugar Ant, Crazy Blue Beetle, This Old Whale, Eleanor The Elegant Elephant, Bunny Brown, The Animal Lunch, Scared Scare Crow, Stompy the Bear, More Moles, and
The former grunge rocker continues to refine his sound. A boy goes to sleep hungry and dreams of "A Thousand Tiny Doughnuts," complete with surf guitar (courtesy of Mark Klebeck of Top Pot Doughnuts). After spilling lemonade, Caspar launches into an ode about a "Sugar Ant" crawling all over the world.
Chris takes the regular activities of the younger set (going to the park, playground, pool) and turns it into the lively anthem, "Summer Baby (Let It Ride)":
When the sun is hot and the bees are in the air
Me and summer baby let it ride
Let it ride
An interesting collaboration would be Chris and Jeff Tweedy, who has demonstrated a sense of humor (look for his performance of the Black Eyed Peas "I've Gotta Feeling" on Youtube). I listen to a Caspar Babypants track like "Boot Got Grounded" and think about Wilco. Of course, that might just be me.
The best childrens music is made by people who still hold close what they love about childhood. Caspar Babypants knows that kids like animals, comfort food, playing, and being silly. They don't want lectures about the Earth and everybody getting along. Yes, you can slip one of those themes past them once in a while. But leave the sledgehammer at home. In a Caspar Babypants world, the toughest message would be summed up by the title of the song, "I Don't Mind."
Artwork for all the CDs is by Kate Endle, local artist (and Mrs. Ballew) who also did the artwork for two book/song combos with her husband. HOT DOG is available April 14 on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and where all fine childrens music is sold.