Mike Park


As the punks and hipsters of the world have gotten older, there's been a huge market for music aimed at the children of said punks and hipsters. It makes sense as we try to prematurely make our kids cool while at the same time insisting that the music written and recorded for them is something we can enjoy as well.

I haven't fallen too far into this trap as the parent of a four-year-old boy, preferring to just play what I would listen to normally and see what strikes his fancy (thus far he's responded best to old bluegrass and the first Marshall Crenshaw LP). So, I had to figure out how he would react to a bona fide kids album.

Smile was created by former Skankin' Pickle singer/saxophonist and current Asian Man Records owner Mike Park. As you might expect, there's an emphasis on punchy ska-punk. Tempos are kept jaunty and danceable, the lyrics are straightforward and a little goofy, tackling such topics as Mike's favorite fruit (“Apples Are My Favorite”), stopping at the stoplight (“When The Light Turns Red You Stop”) and turning off the lights when you leave a room (“Turn Off The Lights”).

Not surprisingly, he fell right into the swing of the pace and mood of the album. One song in—"Wiggly Wiggly Worm"—and he was doing his vaguely manic, elbows-out dance with a grin on his face. "This is fun!" he exclaimed with much glee. "1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...Drums" and "Little Green Frog" had him equally buoyant and booty shaking.

But which song struck the deepest chord? For my backseat driver of a boy ("Slow down!" is a familiar refrain on our crosstown trips), this album is all about "When The Light Turns Red You Stop." To date, we've listened to it about a thousand times, with him jumping to attention and requesting it when he sees iTunes opening up on my laptop. And it is has replaced his usual fearful shouts of "Stop! Stop! Stop!" whenever he spies a light turning red. For that alone, Mike Park deserves all the praise and support I can provide.

Asian Man http://www.asianmanrecords.com

"When The Light Turns Red You Stop"