A parent's strategy for listening to music with their children usually falls into two categories: finding the right time to introduce them to stuff you like (Is it too early for Beggars Banquet?) and finding any way to avoid the gratingly repetitive crap they tend to pick up from pop culture (Exhibit A: the Frozen soundtrack). Very rarely do parent and child fall into favor with an artist that naturally caters to both of their tastes. The Whizpops, however, have nestled their way into that sweet spot, helping to make the ambitious Missoula band one of the most popular draws in the local music scene. (Well, at least before 8 p.m.)
The Whizpops' third and most polished effort yet, Sea Blue Sea, will be a welcome addition to minivans across the valley. Like their first two albums, this one showcases whip-smart educational lyrics and adroit musicianship. The underwater theme offers plenty of descriptive opportunity, like when a manatee is said to look "like a cow with no legs." And the song styles veer from full-on disco to lilting ukulele ballad to indie rock. It's a credit to Keaton Wilson (keys), Casey Schaefer (guitar), Steve Kalling (upright bass), Daniel Kiely (drums) and Kevin Cashman (guitar), as well as special guests like Grace Decker (fiddle) and Matt Cornette (banjo), that each track fits seamlessly despite crisscrossing so many different genres.
But if there's a breakout star on Sea Blue Sea, it's Margi Cates. The sextet's lone woman demonstrates some serious pipes whether she's lead vocals or providing backup, and delivers some of the album's best moments. There's no other way to say it: Anyone who makes zooplankton sound sultry deserves major props.
The Whizpops plays a CD release show at the Wilma Fri., April 18, at 6 PM as part of the International Wildlife Film Festival. $5 adults. Kids free.