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  • 3 months later...

I'm pretty excited to pick this up after work. Thanks to my middle school algebra teacher, I got into the band circa Apollo 18. They were my favorite band for a good while (I was even in a TMBG cover band in high school, and we covered the Johns' cover of Cub's "New York City" for a talent show). I kind of lost interest around the time of Mink Car, though I've slowly been collecting the few recent albums I've missed and trying to get into them. (It's been difficult with The Spine, honestly.)

The new album has gotten some good buzz, though, and a few friends have said that it points a bit back to the two-dudes-and-a-drummer-machine era.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I saw TMBG in concert last night. They were absolutely fantastic. I was surprised that I was definitely at the younger end of the age spectrum for the audience (big time). They really did a nice job of covering songs from their entire career (though they didn't play anything from John Henry or Mink Car), and even played "Fingertips" in its entirety. Some of the songs from the past few albums that I didn't really pay attention to really worked in a live setting, so I'm anxious to listen to The Else and The Spine again to unpack them a bit.

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I've seen them three times live. They always put on a better show than I expect. And I learned to expect a lot. I wish you could have seen the John Henry tour. It was awesome.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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  • 2 years later...

Philip Sandifer, of the always-delightful TARDIS Erudatorium, has co-authored a new book on TMBG's Flood. Here's the Amazon link. Here's an author Q&A:

 

What do you want to explore about They Might Be Giants that you feel hasn’t been adequately covered elsewhere in music criticism or academic writing?
PS: Ooh, ooh, let me jump on this one first as the person who doesn’t read much music criticism or academic writing on music, and who is thus barely qualified to answer it. For me, what’s really interesting is the nature of late 1980 and early 1990s culture. The 1980s can feel like the last decade that we’re really good at getting a drop on—it’s really easy to do something that you listen to or look at and go “OK, yeah, that’s totally 80s.” But you can’t do that with the 1990s in quite the same way, and maybe that’s just where the line is on the steady encroachment of nostalgia, but even in the 1990s the 1980s felt easily encapsulated, whereas here we are nearly a quarter century from Flood and the decade still feels oddly unfathomable. That transition seems to me to parallel the weird way in which They Might Be Giants appealed to a huge audience of, say, computer geeks, without obviously being computer geeks themselves.

AR: The other thing we do that others haven’t done much, amazingly, is take They Might Be Giants seriously. What do they tell us about individualism? History? Childhood? Technology? How did such a kid-friendly band come out of the same scene–at least initially–that produced Lydia Lunch? Why is their music great for dancing, but terrible for seduction? What’s with all those key changes in “Birdhouse In Your Soul”? I’d seen approximately zero of these topics discussed meaningfully in writing before we set out to write this book, and so we’ve tackled them.

 

 

Here's Sandifer talking about attending a concert at the age of fifteen.

 

Full confession: I don't think I've ever heard a TMBG song. Like, ever. [i take it back--I've heard "Istanbul"] But I really love Sandifer's work, so I might have to check this book out.

Edited by NBooth
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I'm sometimes puzzled by how so many people lump TMBG into the "kid-friendly" camp. Is it really just because of the few children's albums they did later in their career? Or because of their brief Tiny Toons cameos in the '90s? Probably. The rest of their huge, long-spanning discography gets into some mature, surreal places, though. That's one of the many reasons I love them.

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Or because of their brief Tiny Toons cameos in the '90s?

 

"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" and "Particle Man" are literally the only TMBG songs I can name. And I didn't even know about the band until years after I watched the Tiny Toons music videos.

 

 

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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NBooth wrote:

: Full confession: I don't think I've ever heard a TMBG song. Like, ever. [i take it back--I've heard "Istanbul"]

And that one's a cover! (The composer of that song, which first came out 60 years ago, also wrote 'South of the Border', 'We're Gonna Hang Out The Washing On The Siegfried Line' and one of the earliest versions of 'Hokey Pokey' -- or 'Cokey Cokey', as it was originally known.)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The book has launched, and I got my hands on it in spite of not knowing TMBG (I did pick up Flood). Meanwhile, here's Sandifer on the essential TMBG video vault.

 

Central to our take on Flood is what we call the aesthetic of flooding–an aesthetic of unrelenting excess. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the promotional video for Flood itself, in which they claim, with poker-straight faces, that their album is better than other people’s because it has nineteen songs on it, whereas most other albums have ten or fewer.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

FWIW, I've posted a response to the Reed/Sandifer book at Goodreads. Short version: I liked it. I'm curious to see what actual TMBG fans say about it, though. (At the very least, this book prompted me to get my hands on Flood and Nanobots. And I discovered that my year-old nephew apparently finds TMBG soothing, so that's a double win quite apart from the positive qualities of the book itself).

Edited by NBooth
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  • 2 years later...

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