Wee Hairy Beasties, Animal Crackers

Karen Schoemer

By Karen Schoemer

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Jon Langford and company’s excellent children’s record.

Every parent knows the tipping point between good and bad behavior: the darling angel at the table morphs into a spaghetti-smearing monster, the "independent thinker" transforms into a tantrum-hurling terror. Wee Hairy Beasties, Jon Langford's id-combo, stomps all over that fine line with big, muddy feet. Manic, anarchic and goosing the gods of good taste, Animal Crackers draws on country, blues and pre-war swing to concoct songs that mostly serve no higher purpose than silliness. "I'm an A.N.T." spoofs Muddy Waters '"I'm a Man"; "Glow Worm" speeds up girl-singer harmonies courtesy of Sally Timms and Kelly Hogan into a surrealistic take on the Andrews Sisters. "Ragtime Duck" is kazoo mayhem. "I've got a newt called Tiny," Langford crows in one 15-second masterpiece. "I call him Tiny because he's my newt." Timms's "Toenail Moon" would qualify as a pretty lullaby if the title image weren't vaguely disgusting. Isn't winding up kids something to be avoided, rather than encouraged? Langford's troupe takes rock & roll's edict of bugging parents to a new, literal level.