Bring On The Meltdown!
By Matthew Baldwin
Raising a child, like any noble endeavor, requires sacrifice. In the name of parenthood you’ll be called up to get up at all hours of the night, tighten your purse strings, forego weekend carousing at your local alehouse, and resist the urge to shout cathartic four-letter words when your laptop crashes.
But everyone has to draw the line somewhere. In our household that line goes right through the CD player. We in Seattle pride ourselves on our devotion to independent music, and my wife and I resolved, even before our son was born, that no albums by Giggles McGoofalot and the Sillysnickers Band (or whoever currently sits atop the Toddler Top 40) would ever cross our threshold.
Thank goodness, then, for Justin Roberts. His newest release, “Meltdown!” only reaffirms what he demonstrated in his previous four CDs: that the appeal of truly good music spans the generations, regardless of whether it’s labeled as “children’s.”
Roberts fronted a small alt-folk band out of Minneapolis in a previous life, and the influence is unmistakable in “Meltdown!” The album also showcases the astonishing breadth of Robert’s talent. One song sounds as if James Taylor is singing lead vocals for They Might Be Giants; another brings to mind Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” When my wife entered the room in the middle of “Sand Castles” and asked if it was a new single from Death Cab For Cutie, I knew we had a winner.
So it was time to send this one to the CEO for final approval. I queued up the CD while my 24-month son stood nearby, waiting to render judgement. For the first half of the opening song, “I Chalk,” he simply stared at the stereo, rapt with attention. Then, as Roberts segued into the chorus, he began a stompy little dance, as if auditioning to become a contestant on “American Clogger.” He alternated between intense concentration and merry jigging for the length of the album, and, the moment it ended, shouted “more music!”
If “Meltdown!” has a downside, it’s that the songs are catchy enough to get lodged in your skull for a week. But even that cloud has a silver lining. If one of my coworkers catches me humming “Our Imaginary Rhino” in the elevator and asks me what it is, I can smile knowingly and say “Oh, just an obscure rock song — I’m sure you’ve never heard of it.” My indie cred remains totally intact.
“Meltdown!” will be released on March 21st. For more information about Justin Roberts, his music and tour schedule, visit www.justinroberts.org.
Click here to pre-order “Meltdown!”
Matthew Baldwin’s musings about parenting, board games, and lots of other funny, uhhh… interesting things can be found at www.defectiveyeti.com.Published March 15, 2006. Last updated September 17, 2018.