Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kids Bop That Won’t Make You Puke

The other day I was listening to the local NPR station and they were interviewing a girl (Adora Svitak) who was putting on an independently organized TED ( event focusing on youth and the contributions youth can make in the world called TEDxRedmond ( This reminded me of a discussion I had the other day with the parents of one of Calvin’s friends. They’re artsy types and the Dad is in a band here in Seattle. We were talking about the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players ( ) who they knew peripherally before the family relocated to New York City. This lead me to their daughter, Rachel Trachtenberg, who started playing drums for the show when she was six. I was thinking that she’s older now and wondering if she’s a youth that’s out there making a difference.

She is.

In addition to playing with her family band and taking NYC mayor Bloomberg to task on a variety of subjects, she has a side project called “Supercute” ( with her two BFFs; June Lei and Julia Cumming. As I write this they’re on tour in Europe opening for a friend’s band. All three play ukuleles and sing but they can also play keyboards, drums, guitar, and bass when the need arises. They fit into an odd mix of categories, kind of a bubblegum, lo-fi, anti-folk. Their song “Not to Write About Boys” ( ) shows every aspect of this mix to good effect.

Making a cameo in the video is the singer guitarist, Jack Skuller. He’s another New York teen trying to make a splash in the music world. He’s quite a bit more clean cut and the video for his song “Love is a Drum” ( shows he knows how to rock the rock-a-billy and can play the guitar very well. Supercute returns the favor and makes a cameo in Jack’s video along with the third band of youth making interesting music I’ll talk about here.

Care Bears on Fire ( are three teen girls playing the hardest and punkest music of the group. The name is enough to draw attention to these youth but they play well enough to keep listening. Of the three groups, this is the one that appears to have the most mainstream support. I wouldn’t surprise me at all if they end up making it “big” within the next year or two. The videos for “Everybody Else” ( and “Barbie Eat a Sandwich” ( ) show the raw talent of these girls. In addition to a catchy song, the paint-by-numbers setup for “Everybody Else” makes a straightforward performance video that much more enjoyable to watch.

So check all of these bands out and you’ll see music made by youth and for youth. With lo-fi anti-folk, rockabilly and punk-pop there should be something for everyone and immunize your family from the bane of kidz bop (