Family entertainment act Eric Herman and the Puppy Dogs released its new album, Magic Beans Friday. Herman’s ninth album, 13-song record is a presentation that audiences of all ages will enjoy. That is due in part to the diversity in its musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content make for their own interest and will be examined a little later. The sequencing of that overall content rounds out the most important of the album’s elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make Magic Beans a presentation that is certain to “grow” in its appeal with each listen. Yes, that awful pun was intended.
Magic Beans, the latest album from Eric Herman (this time with his fellow musicians, dubbed the puppy dogs), is a fun listening experience for the whole family. Its success comes in part through diversity in its musical arrangements. The arrangements take listeners in a variety of directions from beginning to end. The album’s first three songs, each of which are singles from the record make that clear. ‘Googly Eyes,’ which is both the album’s opener and lead single, is a kindie-pop style arrangement. Its steady, up-tempo approach, vocal harmonies and guitar line make that clear. From there, Herman and his fellow musicians (Ben Macy and Dave Pettey) keep the energy moving fluidly in ‘Merry-Go-Round’ even as they go from kindie pop to a sort of neo-folk approach.
‘Stinker,’ changes things again, this time pulling the energy back. In the case of this song, the gentle use of the accordion and violin alongside the equally subtle vocal delivery gives the song a fitting lullaby style composition. So right here in these three songs, audiences get a clear understanding of the noted diversity, which continues from there.
Herman and company pick the record’s energy back up from there in ‘Really Asleep’ with another kindie-pop style work. The thing here is that the trio presents a song that goes back to the light, funk style sounds of the 70s, as is evidenced through the pairing of the guitar and bongos. Yet again, here is a song that stands well on its own merits, separate from the rest of the album’s other compositions.
One more notable standout in terms of the arrangements is yet another of the album’s singles, ‘Side Scroller,’ which comes late in the album’s run. The use of the keyboards alone is perfection in giving the song a sound and style that would fit perfectly in any old 8-but Nintendo video game. The light, bouncy approach is so fun for audiences of any age. It is just one more example of the diversity in the album’s musical content. When the diversity noted in the songs here is considered with that of the other songs featured in this record, the whole makes clear why the album’s musical arrangements are so important to its appeal. They are just part of what makes the album appealing. The album’s lyrical themes also play into its appeal.
The lyrical themes featured in Magic Beans are important to the album’s appeal because they are just as diverse as the record’s musical arrangements. Staying on the topic of ‘Side Scroller,’ its lyrical content is proof of that importance. The song plays lightly on old video games from back in the day both musically and in terms of its video. Its lyrical theme on the other hand, will relate to listeners of any age. That is because Herman compares life to a side scrolling video game. He notes the challenges that keep coming as the game continues, just as life continues to throw challenges in each “level”/day. This is a unique metaphor that few if any acts out there use or have even used. That in itself makes the theme and its approach unique.
‘My Brother’ takes audiences in yet another direction, showing even more, the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes. In the case of this song’s theme, it tells the story of a young man who keeps getting into all kinds of trouble because he keeps doing what his brother tells him to do. The catch is that in this case, it is the older brother getting in trouble because he is listening to his younger brother. Normally the story happens in the other direction, with the younger brother getting in trouble for listening to his older brother. That in itself makes for its own entertainment value. The fact that the older brother kept getting into trouble even right up to the end (hint, it involves a snowball in a pocket) even though he declares that he will not listen to his brother anymore makes for so much fun. It is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face.
The album’s title track, which comes even later in its run, is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. In the case of this song, Herman uses the beans as a metaphor for an element of life. He goes so far as to note of the beans, “Magic beans made you/Everything you’ve ever done and seen/Came from just a tiny magic bean/And now you’re a magic bean/We are made from magic beans/Their DNA is in our genes/With ups and downs and in-betweens/What do you believe it all means?/For me, it means “Magic beans…Life is all just magic beans/A story/And we write it every minute/Once upon a time/We were in it.” This is really some deep existential thought and is sure to form the foundation of so many discussions among audiences of all ages. Yet again, here is a song whose lyrical content is completely unlike that of its counterparts in the album and that is especially unique in that few if any family music acts would tackle something so deep. When it and the other themes examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s themes, the whole makes clear, the importance of the album’s lyrical content. When that overall lyrical content is paired with the album’s musical arrangements, the overall content makes the album all the more entertaining.
As much as the album’s overall content does to make the album does to make it engaging and entertaining, it is just part of what makes the record appealing. The sequencing of said content works with said content to round out the most important of the album’s elements. The sequencing is important in that it takes into account the diversity in the album’s overall content and uses that to keep things changing and flowing from start to end. From one topic to another, the sequencing ensures that the album’s themes constantly change throughout the album. The energies and styles in the arrangements change just enough from one song to the next, too, again thanks to the sequencing. All things considered, the sequencing of the album’s content results in the album’s general effect being just as positive as its content. To that end, all three elements combine to make the album overall a complete success.
Magic Beans, the latest album from veteran family entertainer Eric Herman and his fellow musicians Ben Macy and Dave Pettey, is another enjoyable offering from the group. Its appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements stand out because of the diversity in their sounds and styles. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are just as diverse as that content and just as interesting in their diversity. The sequencing of said content rounds out the album’s most important elements. That is because of its role in the record’s general effect. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make the album a “magical” new offering from Herman and company.
Magic Beans is available now through Butter-Dog Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Eric Herman and the Puppy Dogs’ latest news at:
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