Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Review: Rock Your Socks Off - Charity and the JAMband

There must be a scientific study out there verifying what a lot of parents already know through personal experience -- your child's endurance when it comes to dancing outpaces yours. Sure, you go to the gym three times a week, but your kid, he's Lance Armstrong with the stereo on.

If this sounds at all familiar to you, then the third release from the Bay Area-based Charity and the JAMband, Rock Your Socks Off (2006), will come as a welcome relief to your legs, because it's filled with enough boogie-friendly music to tucker out even the most energetic of kids.

The album is filled with kid-friendly and self-empowering themes mixed with a (I wouldn't say it if weren't true) jam-band attitude and style. On the album's best songs, singer-songwriter Charity Kahn encourages kids to move to the music with a soulful voice and wordplay both direct and abstract. On the infectious "Happy Fluffy," lyrics such as "You're gonna jump around / Jump jump around / Jump around / Jump up and down" are matched to a bouncy melodic line that does its best to encourage actual jumping. Meanwhile, on the closest thing to an actual jam on the album, the leadoff track "Travellin'" includes a whole mess of bluesy nonsense wordplay ("car jam jeep jam double-decker bus jam / bug jam beetle jam chuckwagon van jam").

Musically, the 6-person JAMband itself has a great sound together, but with enough looseness to not feel too structured. Although it's mostly soulful and funky, the music takes some detours (the amusing "Towel Tango," for example). Some of the tracks are really motion oriented and may not sound all that appealing while stuck in traffic driving to soccer practice (I'm thinking here of "We Need Mud" and "Cake"). And two tracks just before the end ("Wish" and "Peace Dream") bring the dance party to an abrupt halt. After more than 30 minutes of dancing and movement, it's probably necessary, but these two tracks are really slow and lyrically serious and feel out-of-step with the rest of the album.

Lyrically, the album is probably most appropriate for kids age 4 through 8, although any kid stable enough to boogie will probably enjoy the rhythms and music here. You can listen to samples of the album at the CDBaby website for the album as well as watch a video for "Cake" at the Indie Food Channel.

The Grateful Dead and Phish have each gone their separate ways. But with Rock Your Socks Off, you could actually rediscover a little bit of the jam-band magic (even after you need to take a break collapsed on the living room floor from exhaustion). Recommended.

1 comment:

deb in sf said...

Charity lives in our neighborhood and our kids went to a little family daycare together. My littles have been listening to her music since forever. It's fun when you really wanna dance! Glad you like it, too.

We are lucky here in SF to have some GREAT kids' music to see live all the time.

Deb in SF