LOGAN WHITEHURST Wacky...but without the wack. Jessamyn Harris
Logan Whitehurst & the Jr. Science Club

Sat Jan 24

Reed College

The world of kooky novelty/kids music is a spotty thing, riddled with eye-rolling puns, oppressive wackiness, and one-liners that seem to condescend to kids before they entertain them. (And RAFFI.) So, if you feel skeptical about a guy like Logan Whitehurst, a guy who gives songs titles like "Your Brain Fell Out" and "Monkeys are Bad People," in theory, I don't blame you. On Goodbye My 4-Track (Pandacide), Whitehurst raps songs about robot cats and stops the music for Monty Python-style comedy skits. But the zaniness oozing from Logan Whitehurst and the Junior Science Club is matched, ounce for ounce, with incredible inventiveness, interminable hooks and harmonies, layers of spacey sound effects, and production alluding to folks as varied as Snoop Dogg, The Beatles, and Basement Jaxx. In fact, it's twice the pleasure: super musicÉ and you get to learn about plate tectonics!

Whitehurst, with his unexpectedly macabre sense of humor (witness the melancholy music-box jingle about wanting to murder the ice cream man), disproves the fallacies that educational music can't be fun, or that wacky music can't be serious. And Boogie Woogie Wookie, it ain't. On Goodbye, Whitehurst enlists an ensemble of high-pro pals to assist on his dense, poppy tunes. Pedro the Lion's David Bazan? Death Cab for Cutie's Christopher Walla? Whitehurst's Velvet Teen bandmates Judah Nagler and Josh Staples? Tsunami Bomb singer/ Logan's sister Agent M? Practically the only person missing is Condoleezza Rice. And yes, he is assisted by a glowing plastic snowman named Vanilla, in case you were wondering.

But most importantly: what, exactly, do we learn from this record of wonderment and delight? Well, for one: lizards live on land and fish live in water, and were saved from a fire by Pee-Wee Herman. To illustrate this point, a swingy piano rag and vocal trills culminate with Whitehurst sticking his face in a bowl of water, imitating the bubbly coo of singing fishes. On "At the Wig Store," Whitehurst and Agent M duet about workplace insanity: even people who work at wig stores lament time pissed away by fitting bald men for toupees. This will surely be great comfort to all.