Somewhere between a rabid sequencer and the background music to Nick Jr.'s Blue's Clues lies the domain of Little Cat, an alternately soothing and driving mix of Nintendo themes, video game blips, and New Age trance arcs. The Little Cat in question is Sonoma County's Devon Rumrill, who has such a heavy penchant for lo-fi that he records on a VCR. While undeniably an electronic project (read: not live, no vocals), Little Cat contains enough endearing kinks--comic-book sound effects, fuzzed-out snippets of samples, and a subversive sense of melody--that what emerges is textured and distinctive, providing the listener with offbeat nooks and crannies to latch onto. The result is surprisingly sweet, the sort of digitized innocence you'd expect from someone claiming video game music as one of his biggest influences.
Little Cat may call to mind an equally serene but more upbeat Seefeel or a Scatter-Shot Theory minus the brooding. The CD's 20 tracks hold tasty nuggets of traditional songwriting--"2nd Grade (Hi-5)" even has synthy echoes of early Cure. Little Cat is charming and refreshing but never dull. (This CD, tough to find in stores, is available from the Pandacide website at www.pandacide.com.)
Proud of You
Cindy Cohen and Peter Penhallow
Good Morning Sun, Goodnight Moon
The North Bay hasn't nurtured many prominent children's music performers over the years, Marin County singer-songwriter Tim Cain being one notable exception. Two new and impressive recordings indicate that situation may be changing. Proud of You by Cindy Cohen and Peter Penhallow offers 16 festive tracks (including five holiday songs) aimed mostly at younger tykes. The CD features several original compositions and is an outgrowth of Music Makers in Mill Valley (www.music-makers.org), a program for children ages 18 months to six years that explores music through song, movement, finger plays, puppets, and games. Easy on the ears and easy on the eyes; acclaimed Marin children's author and artist Karen Barbour contributed the fanciful cover art.
For older children, Petaluma singer-songwriter James K returns with his second self-produced CD of original songs appealing to elementary- and middle-school-aged kids. And, like his 1998 debut A Giggle Can Wiggle Its Way through a Wall, James K shows an easy command of musical styles, from Cajun to country, blues to show tunes. On this outing, he's joined by a small children's choir and a host of local musicians. These very listenable songs are filled with empowering messages of self-esteem and love, but James K knows how to keep it fun, whether he's stalking the wild asparagus or riding the range. For information, visit www.jamesk.com.
Long a local favorite--he's been playing local bars and clubs for years--Eric Lindell has a fair legion of fans awaiting his next release. He may have deserted Sonoma County for New Orleans, New York, and beyond, but it's all for the best: Lindell's latest self-titled release is a rollicking rock revival. The sound is distinctly New Orleans blues rock, an avalanche of sound dripping with horns and sax and shored up by Lindell's scratchy, hoarse voice. Backup vocals from Delisha Adams and Raychell Richard tie up the sonic package with a bright, soulful bow while Lindell's band keeps the rhythm going strong and tight.
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From the May 16-22, 2002 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.