Late this winter kindie rock band The Not-Its released its latest full-length studio recording Are You Listening? The band’s sixth album, it comes a little more than two years after the release of its fifth album Raise Your Hand (2014). This ten-song record is not only a fun follow-up to that record but also some of the band’s best work to date, too. That is thanks in part to the album’s catchy pop punk sound. That is just part of what makes this record such a success. The album’s wide variety of lyrical themes is just as important to note as its musical foundation. The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation. Each element is equally important in its own right. Altogether they make Are You Listening? a record that will make audiences of all ages want to listen.
The Not-Its’ new album Are You Listening? is a record that will make audiences of all ages want to listen to its ten songs. As a matter of fact after hearing this record it could even leave audiences of all ages wanting to listen to each of the band’s previous offerings, too. The main reason that it proves such an enjoyable record is its musical foundation. The foundation in question is formed by the catchy, pop punk sound that is present throughout the course of the album’s ten songs. In the world of mainstream music pop punk is very much limited to a specific audience in terms of its appeal. But there’s something about the way that the band—Sarah Shannnon (lead vocals), Danny Adamson (rhythm guitar, glockenspiel, vocals), Tom Baisden (lead guitar), Jennie Helman (bass, vocals), and Michael Welke (drums, percussion, synthesizer, vocals)—executes the songs on this album that makes their sound one that will appeal to a much wider spectrum of listeners than that of more mainstream pop punk acts. Maybe it’s in the songs’ instrumentation as with the near Ramones style sound of ‘Kid of the Week.’ It could be in the vocal arrangements, such as in the dual harmony in ‘Done With The Science Fair’ or maybe it’s both elements together such as in ‘Washington D.C.’ Regardless of which aspect applies, it can be said with certainty that from beginning to end, the album’s musical content serves as a solid foundation for The Not-Its’ new album. It is an element that is certain to keep audiences of all ages listening from beginning to end if only for that element. It is just one part of the album that will keep audiences listening. The album’s varied lyrical themes are just as important to the album’s presentation as its musical content.
The catchy, pop punk sound exhibited throughout the course of The Not-Its’ new album is in its own right hugely important to its presentation. That is because the manner in which the band executed each song sets the album’s sound apart from that of so many mainstream pop punk acts. The manner in which the ban executed the album’s song makes it more accessible to a wider audience than say those mainstream pop punk albums that are obviously aimed more at teens and tweens. Even with its importance it is just one part of what makes this record stand out. The wide array of musical themes presented throughout the record’s twenty-nine minute run time is just as important to the album as its musical content. The lyrical themes presented here include the silly (‘Brain Freeze’ and ‘Grandad is a Spy’, the educational (‘Done With The Science Fair’), the motivational (‘Don’t Fear The Dentist’) and even the deep (‘Washington D.C.’). The latter of those songs is among the most important of the album’s varied lyrical themes. The main reason for that is that while educational on the surface, it clearly serves a much deeper purpose than just educating. That is clear as the band sings in the song’s chorus, “D.C./Do you hear me/D.C./Are you listening/D.C./Are you tuned in to me?” In the verse that follows there is mention of contacting representatives, speaking publicly about one’s views (essentially protesting) and basically being active in the political process. This is obviously way over younger listeners’ heads. So one can only imagine that this was aimed largely at older listeners while the song’s first half was aimed more at those younger listeners. Thinking about it, spitting the song in such seemingly blatant style was pretty smart. It ensured that it would be accessible to listeners of all ages. The first half would cite all of the sites that make the nation’s capitol so great while the second half encourages older audiences to get involved in the political process. Such a presentation, when set alongside the rest of the album’s other lyrical themes, makes the greater picture of the album’s lyrical content all the more entertaining for audiences of all ages. When those themes are set alongside the album’s catchy, pop punk sound the two elements come together to show even more clearly why this record stands out. It still is not the last remaining element to consider in examining why the album will keep audiences listening. The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.
The foundation established by the musical and lyrical content of Are You Listening? goes a long way toward keeping audiences of all ages listening to this album. While both elements are unquestionably important in their own right to the album’s presentation, the album’s sequencing cannot be ignored in its presentation. The album’s sequencing is so important to its presentation because it is what keeps the album’s energy moving throughout the course of the album. Older audiences will take greater note of this than younger listeners. But there is a clear, intentionally set sequence here in regards to the album’s energy. The album opens with a bang in ‘Dance With Me.’ ‘Done With The Science Fair’ follows with a gentle opening that eventually leads into a much higher-energy presentation. ‘Washington D.C. is very much the same stylistically speaking. It starts off with a decidedly reserved sound before really launching into the song’s more energetic core. The energy becomes more direct in the album’s next two offerings—‘Grandad Is A Spy’ and ‘Don’t Fear the Dentist.’ One can’t help but wonder if this is a tribute to Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper. Older audiences will get that joke more so than younger listeners. Getting back on track, the band keeps the energy at just the right levels through the remainder of the album right up to the exhibiting more energy at times and then pulling it back just enough at others. The end result is a ten-song set that will keep audiences of all ages listening just as much for its balanced energy as for its musical arrangements and its varied lyrical themes and in turn another candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s albums.
The Not-Its’ new album Are You Listening? is a record that will keep audiences of all ages listening. That is thanks in part to its musical foundation. The album’s catchy, pop punk sound will appeal to a much wider audience in this case than that of most mainstream pop punk acts. The album’s varying lyrical themes will keep audiences of all ages just as engaged. The album’s sequencing brings everything full circle. It keeps the album’s energy just right at all of the right moments. All three elements, when combined together, make The Not-Its’ new album not only an album that will keep audiences of all ages listening but also an album that is another candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s albums. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via The Not-Its’ website at https://squareup.com/store/the-not-its/item/cd-are-you-listening. More information on this and the band’s other albums is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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