Friday Favorite: “Be Alive!” Johnny & Jason’s latest kids album

(Disclosure: I received a promotional copy of this album for review)


Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a place for traditional nursery rhymes and groups like The Wiggles. But to sustain my sanity with two young boys, I need albums easier on my ears. Fortunately, Portland-based kindie-rock duo Johnny & Jason exists.

Musician dads Johnny Keener and Jason Greene have been performing together for several years. Their first album “Go, go..go,go,go” earned well-deserved attention and provided a great alternative to annoying kids albums. Willamette Week recognized the duo as “Best Kid’s Rock” group in 2011. In an interview, Keener said “There’s a place in the world for music everybody can dig.” I couldn’t agree more.

Their new album “Be Alive!” is another welcome gift for families with young children. This playful upbeat indie rock collection offers respite from the grating music (snooze-ick) we tend to associate with the toddler/preschool crowd, replacing it with a lively and satisfying menu for little (and big) ears.

There are 9 original songs with a strong indie rock flavor just waiting to be danced to. Lyrics celebrate kids’ experiences and milestones- whether it’s playing at the park, finally reaching a bookshelf, or making big messes. The first track “Up Up Up” is energetic, feet-stomping, hand-clapping fun. That energy sustains through the entire album. From the carefree, rhythmic organ accompaniment in “Let’s Play” to the dreamy, laid back tune “Lollipop Trees” there isn’t a single song you’ll want to skip past. One cover song, Bob Dylan’s Walkin’ Down the Line” is a pleasing bonus in this fantastic set of compositions.

I highly recommend adding this album to your personal collection. If you’re local, don’t miss their CD release show TOMORROW (Sat, Dec.7) at Mississippi Studios. They’ll be performing along with another wonderful musician, Mo Phillips.