Ernie & Neal: Rhythm To Rock Any House
by Kathy O’Connell
Good stuff abounds in music for families this month, with a special emphasis on goofy new sweet treats.
The house on the cover of Ernie & Neal’s Rock The House is, of course, the White House, where New Jersey fav-orites Ernie and Neal are regulars at the annual Eas-ter Egg Roll. Just like the White House belongs to all of us, this new CD has something for ev-eryone, espe-cially boys, who can be hard to please.
“This Whole Band” opens the album with a rocking introduction to the musicians of its title. With just enough of the melody of “This Old Man” to set a familiar tone, Neal Petti’s guitar and Ernie Jewell’s voice combine to make the tune their own. The band’s brass section comes through beautifully, as always.
“My Cat” was created in a classroom setting, with suggestions from youngsters. It’s a successful collaboration, a rhythmic tribute to a favorite feline. “Pluto” mourns the transition from planet to big rock. “Hooligan” is a self-revelation that any young troublemaker will appreciate.
Rock The House delivers its title’s promise by keeping rhythm at its forefront. As with all Ernie and Neal productions, there is a varied combination of musical styles within the rhyth-mic umbrella. Find the complete Ernie and Neal catalog at www.ernieandneal.com
Rocker Moms Bring It
Girls can rock just as hard as boys as the Candy Band proves on their latest CD, Calling All Kids. This punk rock moms’ collection of mostly original tunes starts strong and keeps up the volume to the end.
“It’s Your Birthday” gives special recognition to the day that isn’t “like any other day” with a Bangles-meets-the-Clash feel. In fact, the cover of Calling All Kids pays homage to the Clash’s classic “London Calling.” Bandmate “Skittles” (each member has a candy nickname) gets silly with “Octopus on My Head,” combining a child’s early morning discovery of the title with wonderfully terrible jokes.
My personal favorite is a punk rock “Down By the Bay” that would make Raffi proud …or blush. Find this wonderful collection of rocker moms at www.candyband.com
Teaches and Entertains
The Note to Parents on the back of The Uncle Brothers’ new Monkey’s Uncle CD claims the CD includes “character education traits” such as “optimism, persistence, responsibility, conflict resolution,” so I expected to be hit over the head with relevance. Often, such claims are a giveaway that the album is going to be awful.
But The Uncle Brothers deliver on their claims in this delightfully diverse CD. “Power of Words” uses an upbeat Barenaked Ladies-like sound to make the title’s point. “Jugglin’ All This Jazz” reflects on the full social plate most kids carry. “Do You Like to Dance” uses rock to celebrate each family member’s joyful love of movement, even though “Mom’s really old.” Their words, not mine.
Monkey’s Uncle teaches as it entertains. The CD has high quality production and a humorous ap-proach to some serious subjects. You can find this outstanding teaching tool at www.unclebrothers.com.
Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody-award-winning Kids Corner, airing weekdays, 7-8pm, on WXPN 88.5 FM.