Is Danny Weinkauf the kindie equivalent of Dave Grohl? Bear with me here... Grohl graduated from Nirvana (which wasn't really a choice, given the circumstances) and created the Foo Fighters, a band which will go into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its own merits. But Dave had so many musical synapses firing that he had to disperse all those thoughts into ancillary bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Probot, and Them Crooked Vultures.
Danny Weinkauf, on the other hand, is mostly known as the bassist for They Might Be Giants. Heard of them? They're celebrating their fourth decade and Danny has been there since 1998 (Wikipedia has a pretty cool band timeline). He also played with Fountains of Wayne and has hundreds of tracks to his credit. More immediately, he has a thriving "side business" as the lead in the Red Pants Band with Steve Plesnarski and Tina Kenny Jones, producing three CDs. The latest, TOTALLY OSOME! is out there, I mean, really out there, right now.
TOTALLY OSOME contains 14 songs (and two snippets) that demonstrate Danny's versatility and inventive songwriting. The earworm singalong fave, "Sunshine Sunny Sun Sunshine Day" kicks off the collection, with the verses contradicting the chorus of what is allegedly a happy family day at the beach:
We wake up super early, dad's cranky as can be.
The drive takes us forever, I really have to pee.
My mom makes us wear sunblock, I hate the way it smells.
My foot's already bleeding, I cut it on some shells.
Music has become more of a singles-based business and Danny utilized this methodology to release "Sunshine" as well as three other tracks, the female empowerment anthem "I'm A Girl (Step Aside)," "It's Your Birthday," and a power-pop ode of SiriusXM Kids Place Live host Mindy Thomas, "Superpowered Mindy." Danny has done these dedicated numbers before. I used his tribute to songwriter Ben Folds, "The Ballad of Ben," as part of my son's bar mitzvah video a few years ago.
Danny's engaging experimentation is on display with two takes on "Put Down That Smartphone" – a straight-ahead charging rocker and a tongue-in-cheek 80s themed "modern" version. "Ray Scott Thanks A Lot" is a doodle in the style of the man known for scoring Looney Tunes. One of my favorites, "The Bah Bah Song," deconstructs the process of getting together, playing instruments, and deciding exactly what a song is going to be about. Many tracks feature the sparkling vocals of Tina Kenny Jones (wife Michelle and kids Kai and Lena also make appearances). Kai is showcased on "A Song About Anything," and could carry the family business forward for another generation.
if you want a CD that you can crank up and make passerbys wonder, "What are they making their kids listen to?" then this is a TOTALLY OSOME! recommendation for you. The kids won't mind rocking out and you don't have to worry about subliminal messaging or hidden product advertising. Best of all, they might be giant Weinkauf fans.
TOTALLY OSOME! is available from Danny Weinkauf's website, Bandcamp, iTunes, CDBABY, and Amazon.
Here is the video for "Eyes in the Back of Her Head":