Thursday, December 16, 2010

Whole Family Entertainment isn't just a trick that only Pixar can pull off

Ten Eleven Reasons why We love “Original Friend” by Lunch Money

It probably comes as no surprise that Bil and I love the kids' band Lunch Money. We have been enjoying their music for well over a year after we discovered their CD "Dizzy," and we have been anticipating the release of their third album for about that long, too. So, here are some of the reasons the Pancake clan highly recommend this CD.

1. It sounds Gorgeous with capital G. I was all ready for their sound to be a glossier-sounding form of cuddle-core, but Tor Hyams’ production instantly had me wondering if I put the Wilco CD in by mistake.

The collaboration results in a tasteful (even luscious) sheen that casts light on the creation, rather than obscuring it by lathering effects and guitars on top like so much corn syrup—the album even boasts some instrumental passages that are reminiscent of some of my favorite late 60’s/early 70’s records, when synthesizers sounded fresh. A lot of what makes the predecessor “Dizzy” so great is that the songs are so energetic and witty, they really didn’t need much adornment, and the lyrics took center stage…and now 2--

Original Friend2. The words are faithfully, still really silly, witty and well-written. With Lunch Money’s already catchy songwriting, it’s a one-two punch. This is where singer/songwriter Molly Ledford stands out in the world of Kid’s Indie Rock (‘Kindie’ Rock)-- her word-smithery is on par with the late director Preston Sturges, who once said “I spritz dialogue like Seltzer water once I know where I'm going.” It doesn’t cost any extra to write memorable lyrics, so why not?

It’s a subtle practice, however, as Molly doesn’t just throw some big words out there to digest—she chooses her words and images thoughtfully, with humor and purpose, then leaves them lying around for you to discover over time, as your familiarity plunges you deeper into their meaning. When you find them, it’s like finding a forgotten Hershey’s Kiss in the cabinet or a dollar in your pants on laundry day.

It’s just a matter of time before you too will find the line “--snacks walk the plank in the vending machine” and smile knowingly.

3. Your kids will want you to play the record at least a hundred times, and it’s not just that you won’t mind, but sometimes you’ll be the instigator. Take it from two parents who know.

4. Like the title suggests, the record is all about friendship. From the goofy things that you did and the funny perceptions you had growing up, to the disagreement that you are ready to forget about since you can’t remember how it started—you’re just ready to get back to being friends. Friendships and fun are the currency of childhood, and this record is a celebration of them.

Original Friend5. One of the highlight songs “Come over to my Dollhouse” has fun with an old taboo…you boys who claim you don’t play with dolls should consider this when thumbing your collective noses at your sister’s My Little Pony or Strawberry shortcake…

GI-Joe? Transformers? He-Man? Spiderman? --All dolls.

Castle Greyskull? CyberTron? Death Star? --Dollhouses. Yep.

Don’t pout, now that we’ve got that out of the way, you and Chewbacca are invited to the barbecue at the Weeble Village. Bring your swimming suit, a light saber, and a side-dish!

6. Whoever had the idea to have other ‘Kindie’ Rock stars show up and lend guest vocals to the record, *that* was a really good move. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, a family-friendly hip hop artist, brings a great rap flow to “Dollhouse” and gives it just the right party vibe it needs.

7. Like with a great Pixar movie, what’s better than being able to share the same entertainment preferences as your kids? My kids like Wilco, and Arcade Fire (sorta), and I like Lunch Money (lotsa). I far prefer that to being at aural odds with most of the doggerel that gets foisted on them in the name of family entertainment.

That’s why the tag “Indie Music for the Whole Family” makes a lot of sense.

8. Lunch Money has a message for kids and parents, between the lines, that refrains in the themes of their records and pretty much everything they do, and it’s this:

“Make your own fun, and it will make all the difference, whether you are a parent or a child.”

9. Contagious smiles. You know how you can hear someone smiling by the change in their voice over the telephone? Whatever it is that makes that sound unique, you can hear it all over the vocals on the record. But then you’d be smiling too, if your chosen profession was this much fun.

Original Friend

10. The artwork! The liner notes!

11. The Title Track to “Original Friend” is free for all to sample, like a yummy donut. You can find it here. Delicious!

Update 6/25:  The whole album can be streamed from Bandcamp!