Feb 27 2022

Album Review: They Might Be Giants – Flood (#MWE)

The Johns were always oddballs. Out of all the bands my older cousin Joe introduced to me in my most formative years, They Might Be Giants was the weirdest. But unlike another bizarre group in his CD collection, Primus, TMBG weren’t dark or sinister, but rather playful, quirky, slightly nerdy… ok, they were very nerdy. And the Brooklyn duo, consisting of Johns Linnel and Flansburgh, were also kid-friendly, which led to placement on Tiny Toon Adventures, and, eventually, children’s albums from TMBG themselves.

Flood is, by a long shot, their most successful and recognized album, though the jury’s out on whether it’s their best. They Might Be Giants albums are a bit of a mess. A fun mess, sure, and always an adventurous, diverse listen, but a mess nevertheless. Flood is no different, featuring dalliances with country and Western music, polka, and and oldies-era rock’n’roll.

There’s plenty of quirky arrangement here, as well. Lead single “Birdhouse In Your Soul” has a trumpet solo, and, thanks to the marvel of MIDI sequencing, injects a rather off-kilter key change. The song is told from the perspective of a night light, which, yeah, sounds about right. They Might Be Giants are perhaps best known for their novel, strange lyrics and imagery, which never quite enter the realm of straight-up comedy or satire.

“Lucky Ball and Chain” is a fairly straightforward heartbreak song, though the Western pastiche renders it a bit too tongue-in-cheek. The duo’s cover of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” is likely their best known song, and for good reason; it’s an unbelievably fun baroque pop rendition held together by violin and a good sense of humor in vocal delivery. “Dead” follows, a strangely beautiful and sentimental piano tune about being reincarnated as a bag of groceries.

Only on a TMBG song can clever political commentary, accordion, drum machines, and sudden shifts in genre all combine for a completely enjoyable track, as on “Your Racist Friend.” Fan favorite “Particle Man,” meanwhile, is guided along by an oom-pah cadence and an abstract tale of a group of men (all with peculiar descriptors) who are fighting with each other. “Twisting” borrows a lot from an old school rock’n’roll template, enough that, were it not so… uh, They Might Be Giants-y, it might have been destined for PA systems at baseball games.

Once they get into the swing of things, the duo begins repeating themselves, rendering Flood with a good chunk of filler. The biggest and best moments on the album are the songs we all remember, and the rest come off as a bit corny. This was They Might Be Giants’ first time in a proper recording studio, so the story goes, and the sessions were utilized for a bit of studio experimentation with sampling and vocal effects. Near the middle section of the album, this focus produces some flat-out melodic duds, like the disaster “Hearing Aid” and the eyeroll-inducing interlude “Minimum Wage.” When the Johns focus on building innovating left-field pop melody, as on “Letterbox” and “Whistling In the Dark,” the album truly shines.

Even though it’s their most commercially successful album, Flood has many moments that could have been left on the cutting room floor. At times, the songs feel too undercooked, and at other times downright off-putting. This has been a typical flaw for many They Might Be Giants releases, however, and when the duo gets going here, they deliver some of their career-defining material.

Score: 6/10

Jul 30 2011

Culture Greyhound Podcast 7/30/11

Every Saturday, I post a 15-20 minute podcast featuring some tracks I’ve been jamming the previous week, as well as some commentary and random musings from yours truly. Enjoy!


Starsmith – Lesson One
Mikal Cronin – Apathy
Gauntlet Hair – Top Bunk
The Morning Benders – Last Nite (Strokes cover)
They Might Be Giants – You Don’t Like Me

Apr 26 2011

Happy They Might Be Giants Awareness Day!

Today is They Might Be Giants Awareness Day! If you don’t know who They Might Be Giants are, a couple of things:

1) They are one of the most aweseomest bands on the planet.
2) Where have you been, dude? They’ve been around since, like, the early ’80s!

So anyway, get educated! Stream the new Join Us EP over at Spinner, and peep the videos below. And if you know about TMBG, spread the word! Today’s the day!
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Aug 10 2010

A Blog Post For My Sis

Today my sis is coming to visit me! I love my sis. More than my fleeting indie cred. So this post is for her.  These are a few of her favorite videos.

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Aug 2 2010

My Ten Favorite Music Videos With Animation

The title says it all; Paste did a similar list a few weeks ago, but I wanted to give my .02, so enjoy these classics.


Honorable Mention: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

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May 13 2010

Five Unusual, Yet Effective, Love Songs

May 3 2010

120 Minutes Ruled

This weekend I visited my family in my hometown of Gruver, Texas, a small town with a Dairy Queen, a gas station, my high school alma mater, and many cows.  So needless to say, I was bored out of my mind.  Luckily my parents have satellite television.  I stumbled onto VH1 Classic, always a treat while at home, and caught some old school videos, concerts, interviews, and one pretty awesome special on Steely Dan’s Aja album.

But the best thing on VH1 Classic, by far, is their two-hour 3AM homage to the old MTV staple 120 Minutes.  In the block, they play old alt videos from (mostly) the 80’s, though an occasional 90’s video crept up in the playlist.  After the jump is a sampling of pretty excellent retro videos I saw while suffering from sleep deprivation and waiting for the next Skinemax movie to come on.

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