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TMBG addendum

Guest Post by Dave Danglis

The Spine companion EP, The Spine Surfs Alone, arrived this week. It's an enjoyable listen, as expected, and a tad confusing as well. As in, why did They decide to release these additional tunes separately? Except for the last track, "Canada Haunts Me," everything here is strong enough to warrant inclusion on the official full-length release, and may have made that CD even better. The Surfs tracks are admittedly quirky, but then, that's what one would expect from this band. There's nothing here that's really any quirkier than typical TMBG material. Did They feel like these songs just wouldn't fit into The Spine's track order? Was there not enough room on that CD? Did They decide this would be a good marketing move? Hmmm...

Regardless, The Spine Surfs Alone is a worthy addition to the overall catalog. I've been enjoying it immensely this week. Don't be afraid to get a copy, but you might want to wait a little while -- mine came with a cheapie single square laser-printed insert card (and no tray). The card has a note on the back: "Due to popular demand, the fancy cover to this CD is still at the printer. If you want the fancy cover, send your name and address to..."

More confusion!!

Fluid Polyphonic Fiery Giants

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.