TMBG Countdown #16: Cloisonne

April 15, 2015 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (0) 558

First release: Join Us, 2011

(This is an ongoing countdown that will be updated through April. Click here for the full list.)

Four words: John Linnell, bass clarinet.

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TMBG Countdown #17: Hotel Detective Suite

April 14, 2015 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (0) 592

Releases:
They Might Be Giants (The Pink Album), 1986
Back to Skull (EP), 1994
Podcast 5A, 2006

(This is an ongoing countdown that will be updated through April. Click here for the full list.)

OK, I’m definitely cheating a bit on this one, but I am firm in my conviction that these three songs are best taken as a single, duodecennially-revisited, work. The three are dramatically different in style and approach, but together form a sort of tryptic, representing the band’s career thus far.

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TMBG Countdown #18: Withered Hope

April 13, 2015 Pop Culture Comments (0) 611

First release: The Else, 2007

(This is an ongoing countdown that will be updated through April. Click here for the full list.)

TMBG’s 2007 album The Else was a bit unusual for the band, due in large part to their collaboration with the Dust Brothers. The record gets mixed reviews from TMBG fans–partly, no doubt, because it is their first album to feature no accordion. I am overall a fan of The Else, and actually think it might be one of their more consistent and interesting albums–and “Withered Hope” is one of my favorite cuts.

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TMBG Countdown #19: I Should Be Allowed to Think

April 12, 2015 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (0) 621

First release: John Henry, 1994

(This is an ongoing countdown that will be updated through April. Click here for the full list.)

As we move into the teens in our countdown, we reach the first entry from my favorite TMBG album, John Henry. The album was the band’s first with a full band in place of a drum machine [Get it? John Henry??] and some fans hate it the way Bob Dylan fans sneer at his electric guitar. While I don’t have strong feelings about Dylan, however, I will fight to the death over John Henry–while the band may later have struggled to find their sound with a band, on this record they were exploring new possibilities with wildly creative arrangements.

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TMBG Countdown #20: Older

April 11, 2015 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (0) 614

First Release: Long Tall Weekend (1999)

(This is an ongoing countdown that will be updated through April. Click here for the full list.)

Older is anthemic. I can’t think of another TMBG song with as many studio variations. There’s the original, from the ambitious experiment in e-music Long Tall Weekend; the live version, played at nearly every show with an agonizing long pause (see the video below, in which the band brought that version to Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 2001); the slightly slower and odder-sounding version (my personal favorite) released on  Mink Car in 2001; and the acoustic puppet version in the video atop this post, released as a Friday Night Family Podcast in 2008.

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