Ants, ants, ants. Why, why, why? We’ve all been there. Ants are among the most annoying pests that exist. We can all agree on that. Of course when a band goes by the name Ants Ants Ants, then in that rare case, ants aren’t so bad. The same can be said of the band’s debut album Why Why Why? The 12-song record from the Portland, Oregon-based duo is a record that will appeal to older inde-rock and folk music fans just as much as it will its target younger listeners. That applies primarily to the record’s musical content. The record’s lyrical content will appeal largely to younger listeners. The whole of that musical and lyrical content leaves this record a collection of songs whose wide-ranging appeal makes it an easy favorite for any family. This statement is supported early in the album’s run in the form of ‘Are We There Yet?’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘Why Why Why? Is another way in which that statement is supported. It will be discussed a little bit later. ‘Helicopter Leaves,’ with its retro-indie sound and simple theme, is yet another entry that supports that statement. Each song shows in its own way what makes Why Why Why? an easy start for Ants Ants Ants. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries – including ‘Pinwheel,’ which lifts lightly from Blood Sweat & Tears’ beloved song ‘Spinning Wheel’ – the whole of the album proves to be a record that proves sometimes, just sometimes, ants maybe aren’t such bad things.
Ants Ants Ants’ debut album Why Why Why? is an interesting start for the up-and-coming family entertainment act. That is thanks to musical arrangements that will appeal to a wide range of older listeners and lyrical content that is accessible both to grown-ups and children alike. That is proven early on in the album’s run in the form of the song, ‘Are We There Yet?’ The song’s light, bouncy surf-rock arrangement will have older audiences tapping their toes while younger listeners, at the same time, will happily dance along to the fun, arrangement. The lyrical content, which is sung from a child’s standpoint, focuses on a child’s eagerness to get where the family is headed. Singer Johnny Clay sings here, “Over the river and through the hills/We’re headed to the coast/Round and round the winding road to the place I love the most/But all along the way/All I wanna say is Are we there yet?” Those four words are the bane of every parent’s existence, yet somehow Clay and fellow musician Dave Gulick manage to make those words somehow endearing. That applies even as Clay goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Driving on the longest road/Staring at the clouds/Playing games and singing songs/With the music way up loud/But it seems so long/You know my favorite song is: Are we there yet?” The song’s final verse illustrates even more how hard it is for young children to be patient on any extended trip. That innocence illustrated in these words and fun musical arrangement, in its own odd way, serves to remind adults that children are just excited when it comes to big trips. Considering that reminder (intended or not), it makes this song a valuable addition to Why Why Why? that cannot be ignored. To that end, it is just one of the songs that serves to show why this record will appeal just as much to older audiences as children. It is only one of the songs that shows that reach. The album’s title track is another key entry.
‘Why Why Why?’ is a key addition to Why Why Why? because, as with ‘Are We There Yet?,’ it celebrates, in its own way, the innocence of childhood. Once again sung from a child’s vantage point, this song highlights another question that every parent dislikes, “Why?” From asking why the sun sets and moon shines to why we have bones and more, the song, written this time by Gulick, embraces a child’s awe at the world. As with the previously discussed song, this one seems to serve dually as a reminder for parents that children don’t ask to be annoying, but simply out of their own curiosity and awe. This is hinted in the song’s finale, which states, “Sometimes the answers aren’t so clear/’Cause they go on and on and on.” Every parent wants to have all the answers, and gets flustered when he/she doesn’t have all the answers. Thus the reminder in question is added to the end in order to keep older listeners from losing their cool, once again. When the song’s almost Beatles-esque musical arrangement is added to that light-hearted message, the whole of those elements shows even more why this song is another key addition to Why Why Why?, but most certainly not the last. ‘Helicopter Leaves’ is yet another important addition to the album.
‘Helicopter Leaves’ boasts its own clearly Beatles-influenced arrangement that is certain to appeal to older listeners with its piano-driven sound. That light, upbeat arrangement does plenty to make this song appealing to a wide range of audiences, but is certainly not the only part of the song’s positive. As with the prior songs, this one also serves to celebrate the innocence of childhood, but in its own unique way. This time, the celebration comes in the awe of something as simple as “helicopter leaves.” Who doesn’t remember the joy of watching those leaves spin to the ground like tiny helicopter blades. Commonly known as seeds from the American Sycamore and the Silver Maple, they are the source of so much joy for so many generations of children, including parents who were themselves once parents. Clay celebrates that joy as he writes in the song’s main (and only) verse, “Maple seeds or whirly birds or keys, it doesn’t matter what you call these (spinning jennies)/Spinning through the air/Look up, they’re everywhere/Maybe someday I can fly like helicopter leaves.” Any grown-up that doesn’t smile, remembering his or her own childhood as they hear these lines has completely lost his or her childhood. It is, again, that reminder of the simple things that make life so worth living. That reminder shows clearly why this song is just as important to this album as ‘Why Why Why?’ and ‘Are We There Yet?’ The same can be said of the song’s comparison to the other songs not noted here. Each of those other songs is important in its own right to the whole of Why Why Why? All things considered, Why Why Why? proves to be a record for which audiences of all ages will find themselves saying, “yes, yes, yes.” That being the case, this record deserves consideration for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family albums.
Up-and-coming family entertainment act Ants Ants Ants’ debut album Why Why Why? is a strong start for the Portland, Oregon-based duo. From start to end, the song serves as a reminder of the joys of childhood innocence. This is something that far too many adults have lost sight of as they have gotten older. To that end, having that reminder as the basis of this record makes for more than enough reason to hear each song. The varied musical arrangements presented throughout the record are accessible to grown-ups and children alike. Though, they will likely find more audience in older listeners than children. Even with that in mind, the fact that this record presents such a welcome reminder to parents to not lose their own childhood – and to kids to enjoy every second of theirs – while also musically entertaining listeners of all ages shows its reach. In turn, it shows that it has plenty to offer audiences. Keeping that in mind, the album in whole clearly proves that it deserves consideration as one of the year’s best new family albums. It is available now. More information on Why Why Why? is available online now along with all of Ants Ants Ants’ latest news and more at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.