Monday, January 04, 2010

***Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem***

This here's what gives credence to the fact that music for kids and their families is a force to be reckoned with: kids' bands are now playing tunes by other kids' bands. Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem cover not one but two family favorites on their latest CD, Billy Jonas' "Bear to the Left" from his 2002 album What Kind of Cat Are You?!, and the title track from Renee & Jeremy's 2007 album It's a Big World. But I digress...let's take a listen at Ranky Tanky.

Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem have been making "new roots music" together for a decade, with three previous CDs of fiddle-driven, harmony-filled tunes under their belt. The Middletown, CT-based quartet are adept at their frontporch, old time, loose-jointed but tightly-played style, no matter what song they attempt, and that's what makes Ranky Tanky work. Most of the album consists of covers, including "Tennessee Wig Walk," made famous by Bonnie Lou (Mary Joe Kath), also covered by Dan Zanes on House Party; "Kee-mo, Ky-mo," found on June Christy's "kids' album" The Cool School; New Folk artist John Gorka's "Branching Out;" Malvina Reynolds' "Morningtown Ride," one of The Seekers biggets hits; and "Bushel and a Peck" from the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls.

But despite the wide range of sources, all the songs sound like daisy mayhem tunes. Lots and lots of kids' musicians and bands attempt a "stylistic showcase" of sorts, especially on debut albums. Rather than attempt a rockabilly style here and a folk style there, followed by the obligatory reggae misstep, Rani Arbo and band maintain their own unique, cohesive sound, even on covers of well-known tunes like Cat Steven's "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out", The Meters' "They All Ask'd For You", Sheb Wooley's "Purple People Eater", and Tom Petty's "Wildflowers."

Great organic Americana music for the whole family. Let's hope we hear more from Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem in the future.