Imagine for a moment, a world in which Ace Frehley's Spaceman alter-ego spawned a guitar-slinging son with a whimsical penchant for taking a safari on a big wheel while singing about the alphabet. Now imagine this space-suited young man being joined by a talking guitar and embarking on a career as a children's entertainer, breaking out kid-friendly power ballads and arena anthems for the toddler set. Intrigued? Welcome to the world of RIFF ROCKIT.
Released this January by Doogie Doodles Productions, RIFF ROCKIT's self-titled debut album (available on iTunes) is the first piece of a transmedia puzzle that's set to include a live-action DVD to complement the already-launched interactive website that features games, coloring pages, etc. Serving up a dozen very slickly-produced tracks with sing-a-long ready lyrics set against a power metal backdrop, there's a lot to like.
The music itself is an interesting throwback to an era in-between the glam metal of the 80's and the inevitable coming of early-90's grunge. From that same era comes the voice of Rockit's trusty guitar sidekick, Happy Go Lectric - with SLAUGHTER's Mark Slaughter providing the pipes. It's an interesting choice to go with a style that could be viewed as "dated," but it totally works here. The foot-stomping thunder of Rock With Me opens the album in a manner sure to get even the most "terrible twos" to lighten up and fall in line. What Was That? is the perfect song for something my daughter often says - "What's that sound?" - as Riff describes the vast sonic jungle of his neighborhood. Sandbox rocks, as does Alphabet Rock (which kicks in with drums that recall the opening of the fictional WONDERS' That Thing You Do!), but the highlight of the album has to be Big Wheel, which has been enjoyed repeatedly here at The Rock Father™ HQ.
I'd be lying if I didn't point out that there's a slight cheese factor here and there, but that's not a knock to the project or the album overall. I'm not a fan of the "chicken-esque" melody of Pearly Whites, and I would've made a few different choices in costuming, but that's just me being critical - something I've been working to tone down coming out of my last gig, where nitpicking was expected. Any little gripes are eliminated by watching my little one rock out to songs like Music in Your Mouth, while little nuances like the QUEEN-esque piano in Nightlight bring a smile to my face.
RIFF ROCKIT is the alter-ego of EVAN MICHAEL, a cancer survivor who holds a songwriting degree from Boston's Berklee College of Music. He's using his personal experiences to inspire a new generation of rockers, and the Riff Rockit project supports numerous organizations that do good for kids. That's certainly something that The Rock Father™ can get behind.
The Rock Father™ Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
FTC Disclosure: A Copy of the Riff Rockit CD was provided to The Rock Father for the purpose of this review.
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters - a newborn and a three-year-old - James Zahn is The Rock Father™.
Recent 2012 projects for James have included direction and editing on music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, and others.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Kik Axe Music, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more.
Learn more here.