I agree with Art Brut: no more songs about sex and drugs and rock `n’ roll. It’s boooring. Really, the late night come on and the addiction tale are all fine and good, but I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I like hearing a lighter side to counter the seedier side of things. Heeding this call, more and more artists are popping up with releases geared (kind of) toward children. They Might Be Giants had their own kids album, the silly No! And Kim Coletta, head of deSoto Records, has reportedly put together a set of kid songs by indie rockers. Then, of course, there’s Alice, Tom Waits’ album of children’s songs for adults, and vice versa. For sheer youthful glee and musical vision, however, the album to look to is See You on the Moon, a collection of little tykes’ songs by notable indie acts.
Those who don’t typically veer far from their sex and drugs may find it baffling that their favorite artists would make a children’s album, but one must also take into account that they once were children, and some of them have children of their own. The important thing, however, is that it’s really just a lot of fun.
The album starts off with a giggle, a whole lot of them actually, with Low’s Alan Sparhawk, playing a mighty silly live ditty called “Be Nice to People With Lice,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Hearing Sparhawk take an uncharacteristically goofy turn is endearing, as are the spurts of laughter from the crowd. Not every track is quite as nutty, though most of them are quite joyful.
Sufjan Stevens names the animals in the manger in “The Friendly Beasts,” as lovely a track as could be expected from the troubadour. Great Lake Swimmers actually make the sounds of said animals on the title track, one of the catchiest of the bunch. Junior Boys take the lullaby route with the spacey “Max.” And Broken Social Scene have already stirred up some chatter with their dreamy, slow cover of “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
The second half of the record doesn’t bear as much weight in star power, though there are some highlights regardless. FemBots create a Man Man-like chanting atmosphere with the monster tale, “Under the Bed.” Mark Kozelek’s entry, “Leo and Luna,” is one of the least kid-song sounding tracks here, but is pretty nonetheless. And Kid Koala and Lederhosen Lucil’s “Fruit Belt” is practically a Sesame Street outtake with all of its counting, catchy chanting and retro-sounding groove.
See You On the Moon is far more accessible than an indie rock kids album might initially seem. The key is to not look at it so much as an indie rock album for kids, but rather a children’s album for indie rockers. But, hell, should the hipster couple one day decide to start a family, this would be a good one to keep around.
Various Artists – Saturday Morning
They Might Be Giants – No!
Various Artists – Dimension Mix
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.