OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

OWTK NCAA Kid’s Music Tournament – Thaddeus Rex vs. Gunnar Madsen

Today we have our first contest from the American in Paris Region. The 3 vs. 4 is expected to be a close contest (much like an 8 vs. 9 basketball game). This matchup features two of the more “indie rock” kid’s records, one drawing on the literary rock of Mountain Goats and the Decemberists while the other recalls the Talking Heads.

(3) Thaddeus Rex “Shakin’ in Chicago”
Maybe it’s the heavy focus on literacy, but
Thaddeus Rex may be the most “indie” sounding kid’s act going right now. I hear the best of The Decemberists, The Mountain Goats and a dash of Alec Ounsworth’s (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) vocals throughout his inventive, high energy album “Shakin’ in Chicago”. This comes as a rather substantial surprise considering the presentation (ie: the cover art) is incredibly corny (keep in mind the Joe McDermott record “Everyone Plays Air Guitar” had a similar hurdle to overcome, but did so remarkably). “Shakin’ in Chicago” (available 4/1/2008) continues Thaddeus’ noble mission of encouraging kids to read, write and be creative. He is the sponsor of a very unique online kid’s poetry contest, the winner of which is awarded the chance to co-write a song for a future Thaddeus Rex album. The youngsters who have won in the past receive songwriting credit (and royalties…how cool is that!). “Shakin’ in Chicago” features a trio of famous guest artists in the form of Pinetop Perkins, Koko Taylor and Alan Gershwin (as, that Gershwin family). They all lend their consider talent to this polished and fun children’s record. Through is website, liner notes and songs is becomes quite clear that Thaddeus values the role that books and the arts play in the development of our kids into smart, interesting people. I happen to share that passion and belief with him and I’m very grateful for his presence in the kiddie rock world.

Thaddeus is always touring and is coming to Philly next month (w/ Alan Gershwin). Look for pictures and a review of the show right here on OWTK.

Because “Shakin’ in Chicago” isn’t out for ten more days I don’t have any music to share from it, but you can listen to the title track of his last disc “We Wanna Rock” here.


(4) Gunnar Madsen “I’m Growing”

Modern day Renaissance man Gunnar Madsen is back with another album full of quirky, offbeat tunes spanning a variety of musical styles. “I’m Growing” is unlike any other kid’s release…for example, have you ever heard a song in three quarters time about a man with an uncontrollable urge to waltz? Never, right? It is whacky collection of songs that are goofy & clever but not always completely enjoyable to listen to. The record does not flow well enough for the Bear or the Mrs. tastes. I like the songs in chunks but have not once been able to listen to “I’m Growing” from start to finish – it just doesn’t feel like a unified piece of work which is surprising considering Madsen talent for scoring films and video games. The one thing I did expect here is a complete work but “I’m Growing”, while fun in spots, does not feature enough musical depth (despite some interesting time signatures) to be considered consistently intriguing and not nearly enough hooks to be thought of as fun for kids. Overall, this one disappoints.

Judge for yourself, click here to sample each song from “I’m Growing”!

Vote for either Thaddeus or Gunnar by midnight ET on Wednesday 3/26. Your comments will help decide the winner. Everyone that leaves a comment during the Tournament will have a chance to win the Final Four CDs. Comment on as many “games” as you wish, including the Harmonica Pocket vs. Dixieland Jazz for Children CD and the Brady Rymer vs. Stardust Lullaby Collection, and increase your odds on winning. Thanks!

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