Friday, June 13, 2014

Who Likes The Not-Its? Raise Your Hand!

It's tough to grow up and give up the tropes of childhood – sandboxes, imaginary friends, seeing things from a different perspective, height-wise and otherwise. But wait a minute! What if you could grow up and still have a kid-friendly perspective? Well, then you would be in The Not-Its, the kids' power-punk group from Seattle.

The kindie universe is jam-packed with musicians whose press kits include phrases such as "Formerly with the Beatles and now a data analyst..." or "After touring the world with Guns 'N Roses, she now teaches zumba to seniors." While not as grandiose, the Not-Its roster features lead singer Sarah Shannon (from Velocity Girl, now the proprietor of Rockaboo music and movement), guitarist Danny Adamson (ex-punker turned realtor), guitarist Tom Baisden (special needs elementary school teacher), bassist Jennie Helman (HR professional), and drummer Michael Welke (from Harvey Danger, currently working with a design firm).

Kindie rock has countless acts who show up, sans amplification, and still faithfully replicate the songs from their CDs. Not so for The Not-Its. With their full throttle rock sensibilities, it's hard to imagine a stripped-down set of their tunes (unless they've got that planned for a very special live album). Their fifth CD, RAISE YOUR HAND, further entrenches their standing as the gatekeepers to "real" rock. I can't see the natural progression from, say, Laurie Berkner to Alanis Morrissette. But I can draw a clear line from The Not-Its to Fall Out Boy or Weezer.

The Not-Its bring back fond memories of their former East Coast contemporaries, the Jimmies. However, that group was more of a concept based around lead singer and song writer Ashley Albert. As Ashley moved on to new projects, the Jimmies have taken a lengthy sabbatical. in the meantime, The Not-Its are ably filling the void. The band delivers their take on same-sex couples with "Love Is Love," tackles education in "Nose in a Book," and everyday accidents on "When I Fell (The Scab Song)." The former punkers even take the time to mourn the past in the nostalgic "Hey 80s":

Neon tutus twirling so pretty in pink
Lucky Star was playing at the roller skating rink
I can't solve this Rubik's Cube
Who am I gonna call? The Ghostbusters are breakdancing 
While playing Donkey Kong.

"The Waiting List" recites a litany of kids' frustrations at not getting to do something immediately. Classroom participation provided RAISE YOUR HAND's title track. Since we're dealing with a three-year-old who is terrified of the barber, our sympathies were with the band on "Haircut." In all, the CD contains 15 smartly compacted rock songs. Not lessons. Not messages (although they're there). The Not-Its are performing for kids, not teaching them. Raise your own darn kids. And while you're at it, take the time to RAISE YOUR HAND.

RAISE YOUR HAND is available on Tuesday, July 15 from The Not-Its' website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the band's song, "Rock Paper Scissors":

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