The last few weeks have seen a flood of great psychedelic power pop releases. Speaking of “Flood” the new They Might Be Giants CD may not be as good as that classic release from the east coast duo, but it’s a good one. First of all, I have to admit that TMBG are one of my favorites, and I like most of the stuff they do. The new full album is called The Spine and while I don’t think it’s as good as Mink Car or Flood, it’s very good. Lyrically it finds the two John’s in extreme clever mode, and features some of their best word play yet. They always border on the novelty, which brings us to my favorite track, “Bastard Wants to Hit Me.” It’s laugh out loud funny, while maintaining a clever theme and great music. Other highlights include “Museum of Idiots,” “Experimental Film” and “I Can’t Hide From My Mind.” Musically it’s what we’ve come to expect from TMBG…quirky and alternative with hooks and lots of odd instrumentation. The packaging design is interesting. I think some will like it; others (like the label marketing department) will be annoyed by the legibility of the band name and title. I like it. But I’ll leave further design analysis to the blog’s resident pro design guru David G Danglis.
Next up is a surprise gem from The Fiery Furnaces. Their first CD had one or two good songs, so I wasn’t expecting a lot from the new one called Blueberryboat. But I listened to samples of all the tracks on iTunes and was really intrigued. I was even more surprised when I found it in a store, so I bought it and now I'm very glad I did. This is one of the most creative CD’s I’ve heard in a long time. It’s hard to describe, but think Flaming Lips and Grandaddy. The best two tracks are “My Dog Was Lost But Now He’s Found” and the 9-minute track, “Blueberryboat.” Don’t let that track time deter you. This is a brilliant piece of music with quirky synth’s, guitar, piano and effected vocals. There are so many twists and it’s so interesting, it’s over before you know it and leaves you wanting more.
Speaking of Piano driven power pop, the amazing Fluid Ounces have a new one called The Whole Shebang. It’s not quite as good as In The New Old Fashioned Way but I do like it better than their first, and it continues in the same Ben Folds meets Self vein. Speaking of Self, Matt produces and plays on a track, and mixed the record. It’s not an easy one to find, you have to order it from their label site here: Vacant Cage Records
Another huge surprise is the new one from The Polyphonic Spree. I was not a fan of their first release, which had the one good song “Follow The Day,” that with the help of Volkswagen, basically put them on the map. That first one was basically just a thrown together demo, and this new one exposes that in a big way. This is the Flaming Lips doing the Beach Boys. I can’t think of a better description. The production is great with good songs, neither of which were evident on the first release. I suggest you skeptics give this group another chance.