What if you could take your favorite adult music and distill it for children? That's when John Cullimore decided to do after hearing his kids rock out to Weezer. He liked the band's style, he liked their sound, he just didn't want to be a rip-off. That's when Cullimore decided to incorporate his family (wife Yvonne and kids Aletheia, Aderyn, Chasah, and Story) as a family band and take it from there.
Thus was born Chibi (small) Kodama (magical beings) and their second new children's music CD, WE'RE NOT GOING CRAZY. It's a dozen chunky alt-rock tunes filtered though a child's perspective. You get the positive affirmation message "Who You Are" with sci-fi keyboards and guitar fills. But you also get the comically strident "I'm Always Right," which declares:
They are all wrong and I am always right.
And I merely do not want to have this big of a fight.
I'm leaving this conversation right now.
I don't care when and I don't care how.
You all need to agree with me.
There are bands that sing about children and musicians who sing songs that tell children's stories. As well as children's musicians who are storytellers. Chibi Kodama actively solicits song ideas through their web page to make its music as child-accessible as possible. Cullimore has achieved his goal – Chibi Kodama is potentially the most democratic of all children's music acts. Sometimes a kid just wants to be alone as in the opening track, "In My Room." Other times, they deal with conflicted emotions ("Real Friends Fight" and "Not Always Fine"). In the end, a family comes together even when the adults have real-world responsibilities and things have to be "That Way."
Chibi Kodama is a deceptively simple concept, however I get the idea that Cullimore wants all input, positive and negative. When you always hear what you want, you learn to tune out what the exceptions that you don't want to hear. There's enough originality here to ease his conscience about being a "rip-off." If anything, I would advise that children's music is best in small doses – the tracks on WE'RE NOT GOING CRAZY are regimented at around 3:30-4:30 minutes apiece. My younger son tends to space out at the three minute mark of virtually any song, regardless of artist. And that means the "graveyard of never-again-played CDs" for scores of musical acts I've reviewed over the years. Not every concept requires three verses, a chorus, and a bridge or solo. We get it – now we want to make sure the kids get it as well, which is what everyone wants. I love Weezer too. It would be cool for Chibi Kodama to sit side-by-side on the "recently played" shelf of the CD library.
WE'RE NOT GOING CRAZY is available from Chibi Kodama's website, Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.
Here is the band's new home-animated video for their song, "20 More Dollars":