Great Day for Milkshake: part 1 – making music with a shorter perspective
Indie pop, remenisent of Counting Crows, channeling The Ramones while performing a zydeco gig…
Alright, that’s a little confusing but Baltimore based Milkshake is an unabashedly hard to define band. Changing genres a much as lead singer Lisa Mathews changes her trademark tutus, Milkshake has no problem flitting between the above styles and making it all sound cohesive. The songs are well written, the production on their albums is polished but still retains that “garage” edge, the musicianship is top notch and the performances are full of life.
Why haven’t you heard of them, dear reader? Well perhaps you’re not really their demographic, unless you’re in the 2-10 year old crowd. After all, Milkshake does all of the above while making music directed at young children.
If you have children or grandchildren in that age range, as I do, then you may have seen their music videos between shows on cable networks Nick Jr. or Noggin. They are frequently featured on Jack’s Big Music Show, a music-focused children’s show from Jim Henson’s production company.
Milkshake first came to my attention through a dear friend, who is a photographer for artists such as Prince, Chaka Khan and Stanley Clarke. He has had the opportunity to work next to some of the living legends of the music industry, so when he started touting a kid’s indie rock band from his hometown, I was all ears. “They just make really good records that happen to be for kids,” he told me.
But on Milkshake’s latest effort, Great Day, it’s something more. Lisa Mathews and her band mates have a knack for going a little deeper than some of their contemporaries. While there a plenty of novelty songs and tunes about dancing and having fun, they also tackle weightier subjects such as keeping your cool and staying positive in the face of bruised knees and bullies in the aptly titled “Happy Place,” cleaning up a mess you made before moving onto the next thing on the punk-adelic “You Did It!” or appreciating age on the rootsy, banjo driven “When I’m Old.”
There is a lot of thought in these songs. It’s not formula, it’s real life. Mathews is a mother herself, who used to live in the same building as The Ramones in Greenwich Village. She recalls, “I was on the sixth floor, but I could hear The Ramones rehearsing in the basement… I was always writing songs by myself or with a collaborator.” Now making her home near Baltimore, Maryland she is equally if not more inspired. “I was given the biggest, wildest, most complex subject there is: childhood and the relationship between parent and child. I get probably five song ideas a day, but being a mom, I don’t have time to write them all down.”
The band’s website www.milkshakemusic.com features fun and insightful bios that really pull you into the band’s world, citing influences as diverse as punk and rockabilly and hobbies from “eating pop corn while watching re-runs of the Muppet Show” (a favorite past time of mine as well) to “enjoying good wine, smelly cheese and putting the mechanic’s children through college.” Milkshake is making music that they enjoy, with the intention of children and parents having a shared experience. So feel free to pack away any records with big purple dinosaurs or other such unbearable fluff. Music is meant to be shared and when you listen with a child you are always sure to…
Live Well & Listen Closely,
Sunday November 29, 2009 2:00 PM
Milkshake Band at TCAN – The Center for Arts in Natick 14 Summer Street, Natick, MA
Great Day for Milkshake: part 2 – a conversation with Lisa Mathews coming shortly.
read more articles by music writer J. Hayes at: http://www.examiner.com/x-4161-New-American-Music-Examiner
and become a fan on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/J-Hayes-music-writer/161850300225