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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hail to the Chief: New Music by Caspar Babypants

Sing Along! by Caspar Babypants

If you don’t already know Chris Ballew by his wonderfully ludicrous nom de song Caspar Babypants, you may remember him as the guy who sang that “Lump” song from the ‘90s. The former Presidents of the United States frontman has revived himself as a refreshingly different and wildly entertaining children’s musician. His latest CD, Sing Along! is high on my recommendation list of literal kid pop.

There are lots of acts out there crafting fantastic rock, folk, bluegrass, and even calypso music for young audiences. But one of the great things about Caspar Babypants is that his songs genuinely sound like children’s songs — he’s got a cover of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” and “Ring Around the Rosie” on this album, for Zanes’s sake! — and yet, they remain unalienating to adults. There’s a happy poppiness to all of Sing Along’s tracks, and many — especially the pumping “Spider John,” the rousing “Long, Long Dream,” and the uber-catchy “Wild, Wild Time” — will make you do just what the album’s title asks of you.

The original Babypants tunes are the highlights of the CD, but I also personally love when Ballew layers his POTUS alt-rock sound onto children’s classic, as he does with a quick-picking, driving guitar riff behind “Pussycat, Pussycat.” And I can’t let this review end without a mention of “Sun Go,” Mr. Babypants’s hauntingly lovely acoustic duet with one of my other favorite kids’ singers, Frances England. It’s the kind of family music that may be squarely aimed at the lower age end, but remains happily appealing to those on the upper end as well.

Best for: Young kids who want their music to sound like it’s intended for them; former Presidents of the United States fans; classic kid-tune revisionists

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