WE WANNA ROCK: Non-Fiction & Nonsense from the Heartland
Time Out NY Kids (REVIEW):
It's pretty rare these days to find a kids’ performer as imaginative and original as Thaddeus Rex, and rarer still, a musician who weaves educational content into his tunes in a hip way. For his second album, the singer-guitarist (T-Rex for short) widens and expands upon his 2004 debut, "Martian Television Invasian" (the singer left the PBS show "The Friday Zone" in 2003 to focus on performing). His songs are as inventive melodically as they are lyrically -- topics range from anxiety over moving to a new city ("I Don't Want to Go") to a surrealist riff on the library ("Kazooey Decimal") to, well, "You Can Tell a Boy by the Small" and "I Stepped in Dog Doo." The use of mild gross-out humor in a handful of songs shows what a canny writer he is; it also acts as a clever ploy to keep kids interested during the more serious tracks. Plus, his songs expand well past the CD player -- the T-Rex website has an impressive amount of material based around his tunes, as well as tips for kids interested in songwriting.
Thaddeus sings in a slightly quavering voice which, at times, is reminiscent of David Bowie -- flashes of Monty Python, Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein also flit in throughout the album. And a lovely, if incongruous cover of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" serves to make the CD all the more unusual. But make no mistake: While Thaddeus Rex's quirky originality and loopy energy may take some getting used to, it's guaranteed to keep kids from wishing he were extinct.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW):
T-Rex gives a rocking beat and catchy refrain to such universal experiences as being grounded, moving to a new town and visiting the library, ultimately crafting a spirited soundtrack to childhood. This particular trip to the library features the goofy nonsense lyrics "I'm goin' to the library/smellin' of garlic and stinky sox/Do we know Kazooey Decimal, do we, Dewey?" Attentive young listeners will hear a reference to Dave Pilkey's Captain Underpants in one of the songs (a surprise), and in keeping with the gross-out vibe many kids adore, "I Stepped In Dog Doo" and "You Can Tell a Boy by the Smell" are sure to please. The track "Slimy Green & Kind of Funny" is a song adapted from lyrics co-written by a fifth grade girl, a process which has inspired a songwriting contest for kids beginning this month (details at www.thaddeusrex.com). Throughout, inviting, folksy vocals and fine guitar playing raise this entry above many in the genre.
THE ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE:
Recognizing the importance of books, songs, and dreams, Thaddeus Rex passionately endorses the fun of reading and the power of imagination. His musical emphasis is on creating songs to which kids in the early elementary years can relate. ‘WE WANNA ROCK: Non-Fiction & Nonsense from the Heartland’ is a memory album based on Thaddeus’ early years in rural Indiana, focusing on many aspects of a child’s life in the country. The acoustic rock songs on the CD examine subjects as varied as moonlit nights, Grandma’s pond, visits to the library, being “grounded” for misbehaving, and having to move to a new town. Grammy nominee Zak Morgan joins Thaddeus Rex on "You Can Tell a Boy by the Smell,” contributing an assortment of character voices.
‘WE WANNA ROCK’ also includes “Slimy Green & Kind of Funny,” whose lyrics were co-written by fifth-grader Lauren Walton. Now a professional songwriter with royalty checks to prove it, Lauren was the inspiration for the Thaddeus Rex Writing Contest, which Thaddeus describes as “creative writing meets ‘American Idol.’” Beginning in early November 2006, with a kick-off sponsored by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Education Department, Thaddeus Rex’s website will include an area where schoolchildren will be invited to post their poems and stories and vote for their favorites. Each week’s winner will continue to the semi-finalist round, and at the end of the school year voters will choose 10 finalists. A final round of voting will determine the grand prize winner, who will help Thaddeus Rex turn the winning entry into a song for his next CD. As a professional songwriter, the winning child will receive co-writing credit and co-copyright ownership of the song and will earn royalties each time the song is played on the radio, downloaded, or purchased on a CD.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Education Department has created a series of language arts lesson plans for classroom use with ‘WE WANNA ROCK: Non-Fiction & Nonsense from the Heartland.’ Thaddeus Rex’s strong relationship with the orchestra is an outgrowth of his participation in the ISO’s “Arts Everyday” school partnership program, in which he developed workshops to teach curriculum through the arts.
A PBS veteran, who had his own segment on the Emmy-winning children’s show, ‘The Friday Zone,’ Thaddeus Rex’s interests are eclectic. He has a degree in philosophy, black belts in both Tae Kwon Do and Jujitsu, and performs more than 200 live shows each year.
‘WE WANNA ROCK: Non-Fiction & Nonsense from the Heartland’ follows Thaddeus Rex’s 2004 debut recording, ‘Martian Television Invasian,’ winner of the prestigious NAPPA (National Parenting Publications) award, in addition to a Children’s Music Web award for “Best Song.” Publishers Weekly, in a “boxed” review, indicating outstanding quality, enthused, “Rex’s folk-rock flavored vocals and acoustic guitar playing, paired with occasional back-up from child singers, make for a welcoming sound.” L.A. Parent described Thaddeus Rex’s music as “upbeat and participatory,” and Grammy-winning songwriter (“Eye of the Tiger” from ‘Rocky III’) Jim Peterik declared, “T-Rex’s got it! He has catchy hooks and great melodies and lyrics.”
Please visit Thaddeus Rex’s website at www.thaddeusrex.com.