It starts with an itch. A warmth at the back of your calf, causing your right toe to start moving, leading its four loyal friends to march along. Your left foot, not to be ignored, begins to twist and slide too. You’ll observe your hands start rhythmically slapping on whatever is around you, a steering wheel, a desktop, the asses of co-workers. Then your own ass begins to bob and bounce; you twist slightly at the waist, as your arms flail above your head, two pythons slithering for the sky. Your eyes will close, your head tips back, and you will smile, and laugh to yourself, and maybe grab someone you love or someone you just met, or your unpaid intern, and hold them close. You will dance all night, make out, and get a parking ticket the next morning, ’cause it was street sweeping day.
This can happen anywhere, at any time. But it will only happen with the music of the Little Ones.
The group’s sophomore album The Dawn Sang Along is powered by sun-crisped energy, a warm blast of rock songs that lean toward 1960s international pop, sampling from wherever Pan Am flew: from West African guitar strums to Caribbean beats to Brazilian bossa nova cool. The Southern California band are motion merchants who dish out dance-in-your-underwear jams, upbeat anthems to forget about the troubles of an increasingly annoying world.
You know what they say. When the world gets tough, music goes pop.
“We love pop,” says Brian Reyes, the Little Ones’ bass plucker and backup singer, “the way 60s songs were crafted: there’s a hook, vocal layerings, harmonies.” His older brother Ed sings lead and conjures playful guitar riffs, and together they’re California guys who sing buoyant harmonies like a couple of Filipino Beach Boys. “Catch the Movement” begs for a sing-a-long, as tumbling drums guide along Ian Moreno’s rolling guitar licks and Lee LaDouceur’s keys. “This record has nuance and headphone moments,” says Moreno. “Compared to past recordings, there are more hills and valleys to it, but in the end it’s really just us trying to improve on the fun parts.”
“Shake Your Sign” reverberates and echoes with tightly wound power pop. The polyrhythmic drumming of Kevin Lenhart and subtle textures by multi-instrumentalist Ryan Wilson (both from electro-tinged rock group Division Day) propel this record, giving the album opener “Argonauts” an infectious march behind the “oohs” and “ahs” crooned by the Brothers Reyes. It’s music for credits of a teen adventure film, a heroic end to epic treasure hunts and bicycle-ridden debauchery.
For the band, this album is an adventure of its own, a self-financed effort following their critically-loved 2008 record, Morning Tide. Recorded between day jobs with legend Dave Newton, a storied producer and founding member of the Mighty Lemondrops, The Dawn Sang Along is a celebration of the DIY spirit. “We’re always the underdogs,” Ed says. “We’re not hired guns; we’re all friends and that keeps us dynamic. We’re always having fun!”
The Little Ones have the preternatural power of delivering amnesia, that forgetfulness of the world that happens when a song wraps you up in its rhythms. When you dance and sing along at the top of your lungs. When a moment can extend into infinity. It’s all part of the Little Ones’ plan. As Ed sings in the effervescent “Forro”:
“Let’s make something out of nothing.”
2. Boy On Wheels
3. little souls
5. Catch The Movement
6. Shake Your Sign
8. Art In The Streets
9. Super Bros.
11. Ain’t It Like You & Me