By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Kid America And The Action Figures
Like Anticon or Fog, Frank J. Sisti Jr. bends hip-hop roots into unlikely shapes. But unlike those contemporaries, the Queens resident--who records under the name Kid America and the Action Figures--doesn't evoke sullen adolescent alienation. Instead, he goes straight for the giddy heart of childhood.
And I mean giddy: The 20 songs on Bandy, his self-released debut album, recall playful sampladelic masterpieces like the Avalanches' Since I Left You, or De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising. The difference is that Bandy's sugar high seems to be literally sugar-fueled: Not only is the fidelity as thick as the last spoonfuls of milk in a bowl of Froot Loops, but the album has been constructed equally from classic funk breakbeats and children's records.
The results are similar to an early-Nineties rave flyer using kiddie iconography: They're innocent on the surface, but underlined with a mischievous--but not sinister--sensibility, which is captured best in the title "Rainbows Are Ludes." That song name is the only time Kid America lets his cover down so broadly, though. Mostly, he just confuses old school with preschool, Saturday-night fever with Saturday-morning cartoons--to highly entertaining effect. "Bandy (Intro)" cuts between sped-up hip-hop brags ("Tape decks pause/Shit in your draws/Comin' to your town like Santa Claus"--followed, naturally, by a child saying simply, "I like Santa") and amusement-park standbys ("Attention, parents: Please do not leave your child unattended while riding the ride. Enjoy the ride, kids"). You can't tell one helium-delirium sample from another.
"Muffinman (Traditional)" cuts up different versions of "Do You Know the Muffin Man" like a toddler Grandmaster Flash rocking a pair of Fisher-Price record players. "Dancin'" is the throw-down party jam the Brady Bunch might have made had eldest brother Greg not been so busy writing songs for his younger sibs' changing voices. (He also never got his hands on a sampler, alas.) Interrupting the sci-fi-futurismo wow-and-fluttering of "Fan Club Theme" is a kid marveling, "That's crazy!" It's hard to disagree.
Bandy is available at www.othermusic.com.