They Might Be Giants – Podcast Highlights Review


Link: They Might Be Giants

The Inside Pulse:

They Might Be Giants are the biggest punk band in the world. The Giants have mastered the art of lowering expectations to the point where you have to be glad for every ounce of joy or insight or anything you get from their music. They never have to apologize for anything, and they’ve made a decades-long career at it.

First it was the Dial a Song recording that you could, and still can get for free just by calling them up (e-mail me for the number). Then came the brat art rock of “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Ana Ng.” Then the kids music. Kids don’t have expectations. They like stuff or they don’t. Next, the theme songs. The parents out there have them to thank for the Higglytown Heroes theme. Everyone else gets the bratty theme from Malcolm in the Middle.

Last year there was the “Venue Songs” DVD and CD release. The songs were mostly on the spot compositions for each venue on a tour — an artsy fartsy way to say “hello, Cleveland” (and if only Cleveland was a stop on that tour).

Now we have the Podcasts. So far, the band is either playing for built in audiences (kids, concert attendees that will cheer if you mention the name of the venue) or offering up think pieces where they don’t belong (high school nerd tunes and television themes). The Podcasts take it full circle by mass distributing the free stuff they used to serve up one phone call at a time with the Dial a Song line. There isn’t even a cover for the CD (the above image is from the back cover). If it were any more down played, they would have refused to send us copy for fear of us liking it and telling people it’s good.

Positives:
– It’s good. They aren’t all winners, but there are charmers and interesting bits and goofy ideas that don’t offend. They all carry the Giants’ trademark knowing, gleeful indifference. Some of the songs are album worthy tracks that have simply ended up where they give the free stuff away.
– The band’s history of giving away free music (Dial a Song, the Podcasts) is a noble experiment that deserves note and latitude. If you don’t like something, skip it. No harm, no foul.
– They Might Be Giants songs are always interesting, even if it’s only for the time it takes to play them once.

Negatives:
– Two of the Podcasts (hint: “Turtle Songs of North America” and “Hotel Detective In the Future Commentary” are not ironic track titles) are interesting/amusing on first listen but are wasted space thereafter.
– These aren’t exactly the party songs of the summer. If you listen to the songs often enough to start to know the words, they are already past stale.
– Goofy nihilism is not for everyone.

Cross-breed:
They Might Be Giants with time on their hands

Reason to buy:
There is none. Go to the site above and listen to whatever they post, or better yet, sign up for their newsletter and get free stuff sent to you on a regular basis. Or go to the Dial a Song website. Or…

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