Later this month, Hullabaloo will release its latest album I Chew. The album, the band’s twelfth full-length studio recording, will be released Friday, February 26th. It comes almost two years after the release of the band’s most recent release, 2014’s Shy Kid Blues. And needless to say that this latest offering from the San Diego, CA-based trio is yet another impressive collection of songs. That is thanks in large part to the album’s mix of country and bluegrass sounds and its mix of lyrical themes. From the album’s fun, upbeat opener about appreciating what one has in ‘Birthday Fish’ to the socially conscious ‘I Wear Pink’ to semi tribute to the late great Johnny Cash in ‘Flowers on My Shirt’and more, this album impresses from beginning to end. The end result is a sixteen-song, twenty-one minute record that proves to be another early candidate for a spot on this year’s list of top new children’s albums.
Just as with its 2014 album Shy Kid Blues, Hullabaloo’s latest full-length studio recording is any easy, early candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums. That is thanks to the mix of the album’s country/bluegrass sounds, its deeply insightful lyrical themes, and their accessibility for listeners of all ages. That is clear right from the album’s fun, upbeat opener ‘Birthday Fish.’ On the surface it sounds like a silly song as front man Steve Denyes sings from the vantage point of a kid who got a fish instead of a dog for a pet; on his birthday no less. It isn’t just about that, though. On a deeper level, the song teaches an all too important lesson about appreciating what one has. That is clear as Denyes sings, “Well I was a fish hater/But a few days later/I found myself falling in love/Now this fishy little guy/Is the apple of my eye/And I thank my parents/My lucky stars above.” He is saying that just because something might be this or that does not necessarily mean that it is all that. It’s a lesson that can be applied in any number of scenarios both for children and adults alike. The song’s catchy, upbeat rhythms add even more enjoyment to the song making the song in whole a composition that even in its simplicity is truly a deep work. The fact that the song is still made accessible for listeners of all ages makes it even more enjoyable and important to the record’s whole. It all comes together to make the song not just an important addition to I Chew but a great start for the album.
‘Birthday Fish’ is a great start to Hullabaloo’s latest full-length studio recording. That is thanks to the depth of its lyrical theme contrasted by the accessibility of said theme. The upbeat sounds of its musical content adds even more enjoyment to the song. For all of the enjoyment that all of that brings to the song, ‘Birthday Fish’ proves to be just one example of what makes I Chew one of 2016’s top new children’s albums. The socially conscious ‘I Wear Pink’ is another example of what makes this album stand out, too. It’s a very timely addition to I Chew especially considering all of the headlines about gender roles in America, transgender children and sexuality. As Denyes notes in this song, “The first time I sang this song somebody said, “You can’t sing this song for kids, it’ll mess with their heads”/I heard what they said/I just disagree/So I sing this song for the pink kids like me/Well here’s to all the outlaws both little and grown/You might be different but you’re not alone.” What is interesting here is that Denyes sings this song from the vantage point of an adult rather than a child. This direct aim makes the song just as accessible for adults as for children if not more so. It also helps make the song a good starting point on said headlines and related topics. There is even mention here of a girl who played football, bucking that social norm of only boys playing football. So yet again, it becomes even more of a solid starting point for some very deep discussions that both children and adults alike will enjoy. Adults might appreciate it more than children. But some children will appreciate it especially if they grasp the concept. Keeping this in mind, ‘I Wear Pink’ proves in the end to be yet another important addition to I Chew. It is hardly the last remaining example of what makes this album stand out, too. ‘Flowers on My Shirt’ is yet another example of what makes this record stand out.
‘Birthday Fish’ and ‘I Wear Pink’ are both key examples of what makes Hullabaloo’s latest album stand out early on in this year’s field of children’s albums. That is thanks, again, to their mix of fun musical content and deep yet easily accessible lyrical themes within each composition. They are just a couple of examples of what makes this record stand out. The band’s semi-tribute to the late great Johnny Cash in ‘Flowers on My Shirt’ is one more example of how that mix of music and lyrics makes I Chew stand out. On the surface it is a tribute of sorts to the legendary country music superstar. On another level, it is much more than that. It is a lesson that looks aren’t everything. As Denyes sings, “Well everybody called Johnny Cash The Man in Black/Well he wore those dark black clothes for the ones that were left back/Well Johnny’s always been/A hero to me/I just choose/To choose my clothes a little bit differently/I wear flowers on my shirt/To chase your blues away/Some Hibiscus to remind us all it’s gonna be okay/together we can change the world/And I will do my part/With flowers on my shirt/And love inside my heart…With all respect to Mr. Johnny Cash/I humbly assert/That life is just a little bit better/ With flowers on your shirt.” The statement that is seemingly being made here is that old adage about the man making the clothes not the other way around so to speak. The playful, slightly joking address to Cash is hardly meant as a stab at him or his legacy. Denyes clearly notes his respect for Cash and his legacy here. Rather it is meant as part of the argument that a person’s clothes shouldn’t matter whether in music or any other aspect of life. What should matter is what is in a person’s heart. Keeping that in mind, this song becomes even more of an important addition to I Chew. It shows even more why I Chew stands out as an early candidate for any critic’s list of this year’s best new children’s albums.
All three of the songs noted here are excellent examples of what makes I Chew one of 2016’s top new children’s albums. As important as they are to the album’s overall presentation they are hardly the only songs that could be cited as examples of what makes this album stand out so well. The “PSA” ‘Senator John Arthur Clydesdale III’ will leave adults laughing as it pokes fun at the country’s politicians. Adults will laugh just as much as Denyes jokes about the minimal snack offerings on plane rides. If that isn’t enough ‘Waterfront’ shows to be just as much of a joy as it paints a picture of a laid back weekend evening on the waterfront. It could be a riverfront, beachfront, or any other waterfront. Regardless, this laid back piece is one that listeners of all ages will appreciate and enjoy. The two-part a capella/acoustic closer ‘You Are Loved’ is yet one more example of what makes I Chew stand out so brightly. It is a short, simple song. But it says so much in such a small space. It reminds listeners that no matter what they are loved. It is a beautiful piece that parents can use as they put their children to bed each night both for its gentility and its positive message. The band has posted a video of Denyes performing the song on its official Facebook page complete with signs that can be used as teaching tools for parents and educators alike. Whether for this song, any of the others noted here or the pieces more directly noted, it can be said of the album in whole that it is one of 2016’s top new children’s albums thanks to its depth of material and its accessibility despite that depth. It is an album that every family should have in its music collection regardless of familiarity with Hullabaloo and its expansive body of work. It will be available Friday, February 26th and can be ordered online via CD Baby at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hullabaloo11.
Hullabaloo will hit the road in support of I Chew beginning this Friday, February 5th in its hometown of San Diego, CA. The band also has performances planned on March 6th, March 10th, April 4th, and April 30th. Audiences can keep up with all of the latest updates on the band’s tour schedule online now along with all of the band’s latest news, updates on I Chew, news, and more at:
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