by Cortney Harding & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & F & lt;/span & or a long time, the conventional wisdom about parenting was that, for all the positives, there were certain negatives that had to be dealt with. Sure, you had someone to make you proud and take care of you in your old age, but you also had to deal with afternoons at Chuck E. Cheese, trading art flicks for awful CGI tales about rebellious barnyard animals, and listening to terrible music. As soon as you brought the kid home from the hospital, it was goodbye rock, hello Raffi. In the past few years, however, a small circle of musicians have been able to cross the great age divide and do something that was previously thought to be impossible: They create music that parents and kids alike could appreciate.
& r & "My music is for listening to while you make breakfast, not for the clubs," says Alan Singley, the cracked genius behind Alan Singley and Pants Machine. Singley moved to his current home base of Portland a few years ago and quickly started a band with some friends, who became the Pants Machine. "I was writing diary-like songs about unrequited love and relationships for a long time, but I stopped because I wanted to write music for other people," he says. "I realized that life is positive, and I started to write songs that were for lovers, not haters."
& r & Singley's catalog of posi-pop includes plenty of songs about one of his first loves, bicycling. "I haven't owned a car since January of 2003," he says. "I've never driven in Portland, and I tailor my lifestyle around not having a car. I love that the Ditty Bops are touring the United States by bike, and I thought about doing that on the current tour, but ended up wanting to cover more ground."
& r & The record Singley and Pants are currently touring in support of is appropriately entitled Lovingkindness. Released earlier this summer, the record recalls the Kinks and the Violent Femmes. It has more hooks than a bait shop and enough cheer to make you throw out the Prozac and replace it with copies of the album. "I Dunno Where To Start" is easily one of the best party songs of the year; it's so great that Singley even manages to get away with a Thin Lizzy reference. Other parts of the record tackle more adult themes, like the tale of abuse on "Underneath," but Singley delivers the sobering lyrics in such an upbeat, energetic way that it takes multiple listens to catch the dark content.
& r & Lovingkindness certainly passed muster with me, but I decided to put the album to the ultimate test: playing it for a hip, late-twentysomething friend and her young son. My friend nodded along with the grooving stand-up bass, provided by Pants Machinist Gus Elg, while her son danced around the room and sang along in a charmingly off-key voice. In the end, they both delivered a rousing thumbs-up, and the album has been in heavy rotation at their apartment ever since. Alan Singley has made a record that can satisfy not only the adult version of multiple listens (heavy rotation on the iPod) but also the kid version of multiple listens ("Mom, I want to hear it again!"). And that's no small feat.
& r &
Alan Singley at the Nuart Theater, 516 S. Main St., Moscow, Idaho, on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 pm. Tickets: $3. He's also playing Empyrean on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 7 pm. Cost TBA. Call Nuart at (208) 882-0459 or Empyrean at 456-3676.