Meet Recess Monkey!
Three Seattle elementary school teachers, Drew Holloway on guitar, Jack Forman on bass and keyboards, Daron Henry on drums, have been making kids' music together as Recess Monkey since 2004. They released their first children's CD in 2005, Welcome to Recess Monkey Town, followed by Aminal House in 2006, Wonderstuff in 2007, and Tabby Road in 2008.
The Beatles comparisons abound, from song structures to harmonies to catchy choruses, but I see Recess Monkey as a kids' music version of Rush, as well. Think about it: a trio of rockers in a self-contained band, issuing concept albums like the sprawling double CD Wonderstuff or the beginning-to-end collection of animal-related pop gems on Aminal House. Plus, Matt Hawk's sparse cover art for Field Trip closely mirrors Rush's Hold Your Fire. But I digress..
The Music of 'Field Trip'
Apparently, working with kids for so many years has helped Recess Monkey musically mirror their students' thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams, and sense of humor. The songs on Field Trip aren't condescending or pandering, they're spot-on observations of a kid's life through a kid's eyes. These 15 school-related ditties make Field Trip Recess Monkey's third concept album, after 2007's Wonderstuff and 2006's Aminal House, with songs about sack lunches, visits to the school nurse, new sneakers, and class trips.
"Fort" kicks off Field Trip with a powerpop ode to one of childhood's favorite pastimes, and what kid wouldn't want to go on a class trip to a "Marshmallow Farm," via a jangly Jellyfish-like tune. "Sack Lunch" details the ubiquitous brown bag's point of view, while "Knocktopus" features Jack Forman's supermelodic McCartney-like bass playing, a velcro solo, and knock-knock jokes galore.
The upbeat "Haven't Got a Pet Yet" mourns a petless existence, while "New Shoes" extols the joy of brand new kicks. On one end of the thermometer, Recess Monkey channel The Jam on "Hot Chocolate," an angular tune that could be an indie rock hit on college radio; while at the other end of the temperature scale, the very silly "Ice Pack" declares "ice packs are cool, so get them while they're hot."
The tender, super catchy "Tiny Telephone" reassures that "no wires, or spires, or towers to power, no satellite dish can carry a wish between me and you" because "there's always a line from your heart to mine". Then to a subject every teacher and elementary kid knows all too well, "L.I.C.E." or "Little Insects Crawling Everywhere," a bongo-powered coffee house sing-along that says, Lice? Hey, no big deal.
The band channel Elvis Costello on "The Teens," a tune that equates miscounting with the confusing weirdness that is teenagerhood. The brushed-snare drum jazz intro of "Secret Agent Watch" gives way to a rockin' outro as the cherished watch arrives in the mail, and "Bubble Factory" describes a field trip that turns into a Willy Wonka-like adventure, via a disco-fied R&B romp. "Centipede Pirate" utilizes 8-bit keyboard sounds to decorate a shanty about a seafaring insect, while the album ends with "Firefly Lullaby," a pretty tune that would fit right in on a Wings album.
Another kids' music masterpiece, Recess Monkey's Field Trip will cause uncontrollable sing-alongs, elicit knowing snickers from grownups, and inspire knock-knock jokesters around the world. Take a Field Trip with Recess Monkey, where you'll discover some of the best kids' music of 2009.
Released June 9, 2009; Monkey Mama
- "Marshmallow Farm"
- "Sack Lunch"
- "Haven't Got a Pet Yet"
- "New Shoes"
- "Hot Chocolate"
- "Ice Pack"
- "Tiny Telephone"
- "The Teens"
- "Secret Agent Watch"
- "Bubble Factory"
- "Centipede Pirate"
- "Firefly Lullaby"