Boston based children’s band, Josh & The Jamtones describes itself on its Facebook page as being an “exciting and hilarious interactive dance party kids’ band geared towards 2 – 10-year olds and parents of all ages.” This could not have been a more proper description for the band, fronted by songwriter Josh Shriber. Simply put, this band’s music is fun for the whole family. The band’s new album, Bear Hunt more than lives up to the reputation of being exciting and hilarious from start to finish. Listeners of all ages will enjoy and appreciate both the songs and the skits performed by Shriber and band mate Patrick Hanlin. The whole presentation is one that easily makes its case for being one of the year’s best children’s albums.
Bear Hunt takes its name from the classic children’s song by the same name. It’s not the “Bear Hunt” that most parents remember. Shriber and company take the classic “song” and turn it on its ear thanks to its skits. There are only four skits across the album. The album’s other ten tracks are music tracks. Even numbering only four, the skits included in Bear Hunt will have both children and parents alike laughing hysterically. This is especially the case in the first of the skits. Shriber’s character makes a call to a hotel to reserve a room for himself and his friend for their bear hunting trip. The “woman” that answers sounds like Howard Walowitz’s mother from CBS’ Big Bang Theory. That is to say, “she” sounds like Howard’s mother, only older and without the yelling. Any parent that watches Big Bang Theory will get that reference. What it is that makes this personality style so fun to impersonate and just as funny is anyone’s guess. But the back and forth between this Josh’s character and the receptionist makes for so many laughs. It is something that must be heard to be fully appreciated and enjoyed.
The opening skit in the Bear Hunt story is a laugh riot. Parents will especially enjoy this moment. The fun doesn’t end there. Josh and his friend have to make their way through the Death Valley Cornfield of Doom and the Lightning Lake of 1,000 Sea Monsters in order to finally reach their goal. The banter between the pair makes for its own share of laughs. For instance, there is a funny bit about one of the guys hugging a giant purple bear. Parents and kids will both laugh at this moment both for their own reasons. Children will enjoy it simply because of its absurdity. Parents will enjoy this moment because they will know that adults do in fact over-embellish their accomplishments on a near daily basis. This is just a reflection of that behavior. The absurdity of Patrick trying to cover up that he didn’t really hug a giant bear, but a teddy bear only makes it that much funnier. Again, there’s a certain amount of realism here.
The end result of the pair’s bear hunt is just as hilarious as the previous trio of skits that built up the punch line that is the final scene. That punch line won’t be revealed here since this album won’t hit stores until this Fall. But suffice it to say, it will again have both parents and children alike laughing. They do meet a bear. But it’s what happens when they meet the bear that will have listeners laughing just as uproariously as they did in the story’s first segment. The whole thing is so hilarious, that it would be interesting to see Josh & The Jamtones make a full video feature on the story to accompany it. It absolutely begs for a full video. Even without a video, it’s still an entertaining group of skits that kids will enjoy with every listen.
The skits included in Bear Hunt are a joy to listen to. As enjoyable as they are, they’re only part of what makes up Bear Hunt. There is also plenty of music that will have young listeners dancing. It boasts a fun mix of ska and reggae set right next to a touch of bluegrass, believe it or not. One generally would not associate ska and reggae with bluegrass. But somehow Shriber and company have made it work. They have made it work quite well at that. The energy laden ‘Everybody Dance!’ is one of the most enjoyable of songs on this album. It’s a catchy tune that boasts influences the likes of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones among others. And what parent wouldn’t look back on their own childhood in hearing ‘Snow Day’ without smiling? Snow days were the best. And that nostalgia is echoed clearly through this song. Seeing their own children dance and sing along with this song will no doubt put a smile on parents’ faces as they will bring back those happy memories. And of course, who doesn’t love pirates? Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has proven that everybody does. So what better fit in this fun collection of songs than a pirate song in the aptly titled, ‘Pirate’s Life?’ These songs are just a tiny portion of what parents and children can expect from Bear Hunt. There are no motivational songs or anything like that here. It’s just a fun record with poppy tunes that the whole family will enjoy with every listen. And there’s not one thing wrong with that. Bear Hunt will be available October 1st. The band will hit the road this fall for a tour in support of its new album beginning with a pair of performances at the Life is Good Festival in Canton, MA on Sunday and Monday September 21st and 22nd. More information on the band’s tour and its upcoming album are available on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/joshandthejamtones and its official website, http://joshandthejamtones.com.
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