Saturday, May 20, 2006

Review: The Hipwaders - The Hipwaders

The Bay Area three-man band The Hipwaders released their second (self-titled) album in 2005. On the 42-minute CD they cover a wide range of musical styles, from the jangle-pop of the album opener "Come Along With Us" to the new wave stylings on "Silly Robot Dance" to the vaguely Nirvana-esque stylings of "Stand Up To The Bully," with many more styles as well ('60s psychedlic pop in particular). Generally, it's a guitar-based pop-rock confection.

With the exception of two songs, all songs were written or co-written by the band. Lyrically, they cover the gamut of elementary-school-aged themes -- cleaning up one's room, bugs, and the sheer wonderfulness of jelly beans, just to name a few. The Hipwaders also have a slight science bent, with songs about earthquakes ("It's An Earthquake!") and volcanoes ("Volcano," natch).

With 18 tracks on the CD there are bound to be some favorites and less-than-favorites. I particularly like the "Rock Lobster" echoes on the driving ode-to-antsiness "Twitchy," the funky new-wave "Silly Robot Dance," and the brief, strutting '80s pop "Kelly the Clown." There are a pair of eerie story songs about a Civil War-era ghost/skeleton/thing ("Mr. Wiggly Jiggly Bones") and werewolves ("Howling at the Moon") which I find to be too long, breaking up the overall poppy flow of the album. But I think that's just personal taste (they're not bad songs) and older kids may find them appealing. (At the very least you can enjoy the Cab Calloway reference on "Bones.")

Given the lyrical themes, I think the album is most appropriate for kids age 5 through 9. You can hear 4 of their songs in their entirety at The Hipwaders' MySpace site. You can buy the album at Amazon, CDBaby, and a few other sites linked through The Hipwaders' main website.

In sum, The Hipwaders is a solid album of kids' pop-rock. In its broad appropriation of pop music stylings, it is very reminiscent of Ralph's World albums. They're not at a Ralph's World level of polish and songcraft yet, but give The Hipwaders time. They may just get there. Recommended.

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