Six years ago Liz DeRoche (a.k.a. The Singing Lizard) launched her professional music career in the nation’s capital. In the years since then she has kept herself quite busy, founding a record label–AlphaBeat Records–performing both solo and with other acts–The Pushovers (since 2009) Cane and The Sticks (since 2011), and Tom Goss (since 2013). She has also recorded with Gross on his latest record, 2014’s Wait. She also toured with Goss in support of his new LP. As if all of that isn’t enough, her efforts garnered her the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Young Artist Grants (2010 and 2011) as well as the #1 spot in Nickelodeon Parents’ Pick Awards “Party Entertainer” category. And since 2009 she has worked with Girls Rock, a non-profit for girls to help them develop self confidence, build community, and make music. One can only wonder considering all that the now San Francisco Bay area-based children’s entertainer has done and is doing, how does she do it all? The answer is anybody’s guess. But somehow she has. And somehow she continues to do so as is evidenced in her upcoming album Club Called Awesome. The thirteen-song record is a testament to DeRoche’s drive and love for her craft. That is thanks in large part to its musical content. Comparisons to the likes of Regina Spektor and Daft Punk are (in this critic’s view) incorrect in regards to the album’s musical content. It sounds more akin to R&B from the 80s and early 90s That’s just one aspect of this thirty-seven minute record that makes it so interesting. Its varied lyrical themes are just as notable as its musical content. Last but hardly least of note in this album is its companion booklet. That will be discussed later. Each element is in its own right an important part of the album’s whole. Altogether all three elements make Club Called Awesome an album that the entire family will truly enjoy.
Liz DeRoche’s new children’s album Club Called Awesome is one of the most standout recordings to be turned out so far this year in the children’s music world. It is an album that the entire family truly will enjoy from beginning to end. That is thanks in large part to the album’s throwback musical content. DeRoche’s sound has been likened over the years to the likes of Regina Spektor and Daft Punk. But in the case of this album DeRoche’s sound is anything but. Instead she has presented here a sound that is (in the ears of this critic) more of a throwback to the R&B sound of the 80s and early 90s. It comes complete with synthesizers, and other standard R&B elements that made the sound what it was in that era. It’s a sound that is very rare both in today’s mainstream R&B realm and even in the realm of children’s music. There are poppy songs out there. There are even more uptempo rock style compositions out there. Heck, there are even rap/hip-hop albums for children. But the sound presented in this record is seemingly rare in the world of children’s music. To that extent it makes the album stand out against its counterparts both past and present. What’s more, being a sound that will be familiar to so many older audiences, it is just as accessible for said listeners, too. It all feels entirely natural, too. Keeping all of this in mind the album’s musical content proves in itself to be a highly important element in the album’s overall presentation. It is of course not the only important part of the album’s presentation. The album’s varied lyrical themes are just as important to the album as its vintage musical sound.
The vintage R&B sound that populates the body of Liz DeRoche’s new album is in itself a hugely important part of the album’s overall presentation. However it is not the only key element in the album’s presentation. The varied lyrical themes that are presented throughout the course of the album’s thirteen tracks. In regards to those themes, audiences will especially appreciate the message of self-confidence despite the country’s gender roles and mores in ‘Be Yourself.’ Hers is not the first song to ever buck America’s established gender roles in her music. But she does present the message in her own original fashion. The result is a song that when coupled with its musical content becomes the album’s lead anchor. ‘Peace Sign’ closes out the album. And while it is the album’s closer its message of peace is just as important to note as the messages presented in any of the album’s other songs. It isn’t one of those preachy songs that one might expect. Rather it is just a song about making a peace sign with one’s hands. She sings here, “Let me see your hand/Raise it high in the sky/Make a peace sign/Point around the middle/Fly/Peace sign altogether/Enjoying one another/Show me your peace sign.” It’s pretty basic content since that is all she sings throughout the course of the (once again) throwback style song. The thing is that even with these being the song’s only lyrics they become surprisingly infectious thanks to them being coupled with the song’s musical content. Being so infectious the message presented will get stuck in listeners’ heads and in turn perhaps grow and stay there throughout the years. For all of the heavy and serious themes tackled in the album’s lyrical content, they are not the only themes that are presented here. There is some more light-hearted fare in ‘Beat Bot The Robot.’ While the robot does play a part in the song, its part in the song is minimal at best. That is because in the song’s story DeRoche’s characters don’t meet the robot until they are well on their way in their trip through the cosmos. The robot is a fun companion for the subjects to have, too. But it is really the journey that is central to the song. And young listeners will enjoy going on that journey with DeRoche’s subjects. The song’s musical content set against that fun journey makes the journey just as fun for grown-ups with its own original throwback sound. The combination of the two elements together makes the song just one more example of the importance of this album’s lyrical content. It is hardly the last example, too. Each of the ten remaining songs exemplify in their own way what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to the album’s presentation. Together with the album’s musical content both elements come together to show why this album is a wonderful collection of songs not just for children but for grown-ups, too. Of course they still are not the only important elements to note in the overall picture of the album’s presentation. The album’s companion booklet is just as important as its musical and lyrical content.
The musical and lyrical content that is presented throughout Liz DeRoche’s new children’s album is unquestionably important in its overall presentation. They work together to make the album one that adults will enjoy just as much as their younger counterparts. They aren’t the album’s only important elements, though. The album’s companion booklet is just as important to the album’s presentation as its primary content. It is presented in a comic book fashion complete with separate panels. Those that pay close attention with note that each of the 4-panel pages directly connects to each of the album’s thirteen songs. They tell their own very short stories. But they also present lyrics from each of the album’s songs throughout. It’s a fun and wholly original way to get young listeners interested in said content and in turn get those same listeners even more engaged in the album. DeRoche is to be applauded for using this avenue to connect to her younger audiences. It is ingenious. It solidly bridges the album’s primary content to this, its secondary content, resulting in the end in an album that the whole family truly will enjoy from beginning to end.
Club Called Awesome is a rare album in the realm of children’s music. That is because it can be said with full certainty that it is one of those very rare offerings that the whole family truly can and will enjoy together. Parents will enjoy the album’s throwback to the 80s and early 90s in its musical presentation. It varied lyrical themes play their own pivotal part in the album’s enjoyment. They range from the serious (E.g. ‘Peace Sign’ and ‘Be Yourself’) to the much more easygoing (E.g. ‘Beat Bot The Robot,’ ‘Club Called Awesome,’ ‘My Balloon’) throughout. The album’s companion booklet presents an original and solid bridge between the album’s primary content and its secondary (the booklet). It is a presentation in itself that is just as certain to engage and entertain younger listeners. It is the finishing touch to an album that the whole family truly will enjoy from beginning to end and in turn will agree is one of the best of this year’s crop of children’s musical offerings so far. It will be available Friday, March 25th. While audiences wait for it to drop they can enjoy the video for another of the album’s songs, ‘Show Me Your Happy.’ The video sets DeRoche’s song against the backdrop of an animated video in which a young child shows what seems to be a group of abominable snowmen (and women) how to be happy. The video’s animation style is wholly original and will impress audiences just as much as the song, which gets audiences to show others their own happy. The video is streaming online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R4ufdFzIvk&feature=youtu.be. More information on the video is available online along with all of DeRoche’s latest news and more at:
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