LP encourages kids to get freaky

Photo courtesy K Records

Ashley Goetz

Photo courtesy K Records

Kimya Dawson and Friends ALBUM: Alphabutt LABEL: K Records When âÄúJunoâÄù premiered last year and introduced the mainstream world to Ellen Page, many also became familiar with indie darling Kimya Dawson, who, with frequent collaborator Adam Green, was responsible for giving the film its rollicking musical discordance. Who doesnâÄôt remember the last scene of the movie when Page and Michael Cera sit lovingly strumming a guitar, chirping odd endearments to-and-fro? âÄúAnyone Else But You,âÄù a tune from Dawson and GreenâÄôs band The Moldy Peaches, pinpoints the emotional climax in the teensâÄô baby drama. So itâÄôs no surprise that audiences ate the song up, many even buying the movieâÄôs soundtrack. In an interview, Barbara Walters admitted to Page that she just didnâÄôt understand the popularity of The Moldy Peaches (Mind-blowing! Earth-shattering!), but the rest of the world mostly disagreed. However, such glowing mainstream reverence for Dawson likely hasnâÄôt done much for her indie credibility. No worries âÄî her new album âÄúAlphabutt,âÄù a collection of kids songs about zoo animals and potty training (likely inspired by the birth of her daughter, Panda), will put Dawson back on the side of indie kin everywhere. Especially if they are in preschool. Like much of DawsonâÄôs past solo work, the record is infused with idiosyncratic melodies and zippy hum-alongs. What gives this disc extra edge is the oddly melodic baby moaning and the wails and cries of kids that are mashed with DawsonâÄôs creaky, peculiar voice. These incomprehensible baby words act like a special sauce on an already complicated dish. Longtime Dawson fans know that her music comes with fistfuls of oddity, as seen in lyrics like âÄúthereâÄôs a mountain goat precariously balanced on the frog stuck in my throatâÄù from 2004âÄôs album âÄúHidden Vagenda.âÄù Newcomers to her music may be a bit thrown by this immediate inundation of wackiness. Toddlers, though, will probably respond positively. The first track, âÄúLittle Monster Babies,âÄù invites us sleepy little monsters to come lie down, get comfortable and listen to a few songs. DawsonâÄôs past solo work has been equal parts silly and serious, but this time around she has left her sobering rebukes out of the picture (for the children!), and the listener knows from the get-go that a lullaby is looming. âÄúAlphabutt,âÄù the collectionâÄôs title track, is modeled after traditional alphabet ditties but highlights DawsonâÄôs somewhat less-than-conformist personality. âÄú âÄòFâÄô is for âÄòfart,âÄô âÄòGâÄô is for âÄògorilla fart,âÄô âÄòHâÄô is for âÄòhuge gorilla fart,âÄô âÄù she sings. Her music has always been highly narrative, and itâÄôs refreshing to see that DawsonâÄôs mother status hasnâÄôt watered down her Weird Quotient. What is captured in this disc is a childishness thatâÄôs both humorous and heartening âÄî an example of a fully formed adult who relishes her kid years and recalls them well. Evidence of this is in âÄúLouie,âÄù a tune devoted to a âÄúreally good doggy âĦ PandaâÄôs favorite doggy.âÄù At once catchy and unwieldy, this song, like many on this record, grows on the listener. But there is a fine line, often, between quirky and annoying. And because this collection is aimed directly at the nascent eardrums of children, the latter often rears its deformed head. The brief track âÄúPee-Pee in the PottyâÄù recounts the digestive path of a motherâÄôs milk through a daughterâÄôs body. Possibly taking things too far, the chant ends with a manic hissing, likely the sound of pee-pee entering a potty. This song is funny exactly two and a half times âÄî after that, itâÄôs creepy. But whenever Dawson takes her grim humor too far, itâÄôs easy to laugh at her intentions. Some of the fans she gained from the success of âÄúJunoâÄù may pick up the disc out of curiosity. Many though, especially those likely to turn their head at the first scent of oddity, will find themselves in the same camp as Barbara Walters âÄî confused by what theyâÄôre hearing. One thing seems true, however: If all kids listened to Kimya Dawson the world would likely be a much zanier place.