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Animal Crackers (Audio Version)

Wee Hairy Beasties

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Album Review

No one has ever accused the Mekons of being an especially "family friendly" ensemble, but two longtime members of the Leftist Punk Band That Refuses To Die — guitarist and singer Jon Langford and vocalist Sally Timms — have decided to take a stab at the children's music market, and the result is an unexpected delight. As the Wee Hairy Beasties, Langford and Timms team up with alt country chanteuse Kelly Hogan and the rollicking acoustic trio Devil in a Woodpile, and on Animal Crackers they've cooked up 14 tunes lively enough to please even the most fidgety youngster, and which are also witty, swinging and guaranteed to make the grown-ups in the room tap their toes. Most of the numbers deal with curious critters of one kind or another — ants with attitude, dancing turtles, flies feasting on breakfast cereal and ducks with a taste for trad jazz — and the wordplay is silly enough to make children giggle, but smart enough to still appeal to the more mature listener (especially the parade of clichés on "Animal Crackers," the Muddy Waters lift on "I'm an A.N.T." and the playfully ethereal "Toenail Moon"), though some parents may find themselves at a loss to explain the convoluted story of "Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel." All the musicians on board brought their A Game for these sessions, with Devil in a Woodpile picking up a storm (especially Joel Paterson on guitar and lap steel) and Timms and Hogan making the most of their frankly wonderful voices; even veteran troublemaker Langford proves to be a charming and gregarious frontman in this context. With Animal Crackers, the Wee Hairy Beasties threaten to turn your kids into the youngest alt country/roots music fans on the block, and chances are good you won't mind one bit — you might even join them.

Biography

Genre: Children's Music

Years Active: '00s

Chicago-based children's act Wee Hairy Beasties consist of Mekons members Jon Langford (billed as "Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel") and Sally Timms ("Monkey Double Dippey"), singer/songwriter Kelly Hogan ("Marjorie the Singing Bee"), and the acoustic blues trio Devil in a Woodpile (Rick "Cookin'" Sherry, Joel Paterson, and Tom Ray). According to legend (aka, their press release), they showed up for their first gig at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago under the impression that they would be playing for the...
Full Bio
Animal Crackers (Audio Version), Wee Hairy Beasties
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Contemporaries