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Alphabutt–Kimya Dawson and Friends

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Kimya Dawson became the unlikeliest of chart-toppers after several of her songs were included on the Juno soundtrack, but this silly, scatological concept album about kids and parents isn't inspired by the movie as much as by her own 2-year-old daughter. Alphabutt is a collection of deceptively simple sing-along acoustic ditties for, to, and about Dawson's own kid — and maybe yours too. Front-to-back, it's her most engaging album ever, even if it would undoubtedly be too sweet, too homely, and too messy for a lot of listeners.

With "friends" of all ages joining in to give the record a rambunctious, campfire spirit, Dawson lets songs about hungry tigers, splashing bears, and potty-training triumphs commingle with songs about pregnancy anxiety, schoolyard lessons on egalitarianism, and the ethics of food availability.

Vision of domestic utopia: "A family and four-track Radio Shack microphone/A backyard and a hammock and a paid-off student loan." Words of hard-earned wisdom: "You don't need to be the dog unless you like being the doggie." Inspirational verse: "The first thing on our list of things to do is to wake up right next to you/The second thing that we have planned is to kiss both of your hands." ("Little Monster Babies," "Smoothie," "I Love You Sweet Baby") — CH

Grade: A

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