Recess Monkey – Field Trip (2009, Recess Monkey)
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When I was a kid, Seattle was the place with nifty architecture where the SuperSonics and the Seahawks played (no reason to care about the Mariners, as ours was a Yankees household). When a got a little older, it was the place where flannel-clad heroin addicts made sad, loud music that the world went crazy for. These days, folks my age tend to think of coffee and economic summits when they think of Seattle — but for my daughter, and a not-inconsiderable number of her peers, it’s the place Recess Monkey comes from.
The band — made up of teachers Drew Holloway, Jack Forman, and Daron Henry — returns in June with its fifth album, Field Trip, fittingly recorded in the music room of the school where they met (and where two of them still teach). Trip continues the absurd one-record-a-year pace Recess Monkey has maintained since debuting with Welcome to Monkey Town in 2005, a work ethic made even more impressive by the fact that each of these songs is a delicious nugget of kidpop goodness that sounds nothing like the work of a group of insanely prolific part-time moonlighters. The album is, in other words, just the right kind of awesome for little ears — as my wife recently discovered, much to her eventual chagrin, during a three-hour drive in which Field Trip, per my daughter’s repeated requests, played on an endless loop.
Still, even after experiencing drivetime burnout, my wife has to admit this is one of the best records we’ve heard all year; she’s particularly enthusiastic about the clever, poppy “L.I.C.E.” (it stands for “little insects crawling everywhere”) and the cleverly arranged backing vocals on “Sack Lunch” the lilting “Tiny Telephone.” As for me? Well, I wasn’t on that drive, so I’ve got nothing but love for these songs, especially after blasting them all morning and watching my kids dance and sing along. They’re a pleasantly eclectic bunch, with room for everything from the new wave groove of “Hot Chocolate” to the Latin flair of “Ice Pack,” and they’re filled with an infectious sense of fun (example: the velcro solo during “New Shoes”). Whether you’re already a Recess Monkey fan, or just a parent in need of some great new family music, you’ll want to pre-order your copy of Field Trip today.