I have a problem with RECESS. No, not the music contained on the new album from Chicago’s JUSTIN ROBERTS, but with use of the word “recess.” It just might be the most-overused word in the Kindie Rock realm right now… so much so that it’s fast-approaching the same level of annoyance that I have for the word “amazing.” RECESS is not only the title of Roberts’ new album (and a song on the album), but then we have the band RECESS MONKEY… a company called RECESS MUSIC… the opening track on MR STEVE’s recent STEVESONGS album was “Recess Rocks,” you get the idea. And that’s not counting the mainstream music world, where MUSE has a song called “Recess,” and then in the hip-hop realm, MISTAH F.A.B. has THE RECESS. Yep, “recess” has officially joined songs with “stinky” and variations on “Five Little Monkeys” (I’ve heard 666 of those this year alone) as something that really grinds my gears like Peter Griffin. Recess is over. So how about that new Justin Roberts album?
Justin Roberts and his Not Ready for Naptime Players get a lot of props, and for good reason. First off, they’re from Chicago, which means automatic bonus points here at Rock Father HQ [Note: Here in Illinois (and the Chicago area in particular), association is very important and can help you achieve special accommodation], but more importantly, there’s great songs in their sonic arsenal.
On RECESS, Roberts and the gang break out songs about Robots, Aliens, a Princess, and the Grocery Store – all things that I’m very familiar with, so it hits home. Having been compared to a lot of different artists over the years, the one that always strikes me is FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE. Not only is there a striking vocal similarity, but Roberts and ‘Wayne both share a multi-layered song structure that owes much of it’s sound to 1960s pop melody and harmony.
Of the dozen songs presented here on RECESS, the one that’s a hit here right now is “Hopscotch,” and the reason is simple: My little almost-four-year-old, Addie, just started playing hopscotch this summer. A rockin’ tune for a classic game (that also appears on the cover).
2013 has been a great year for Kids and Family Music thus far, and it will be no surprise to see JUSTIN ROBERTS’ RECESS appearing on many year-end “Best of” lists in a few months.
The Rock Father Rating: 4/5 Stars
FTC Disclosure: This album was provided to The Rock Father for the purpose of review consideration. All opinions are that of James Zahn with input from his children. Albums provided to media outlets for the purpose of review? No Way! Hasn’t it been like that for the entire 50+ year history of the recorded music industry? Sure has, but now the government wants disclosure on these things, so here I am. Why are you actually reading this? Go do something else.