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Long Tall Weekend

music reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Long Tall Weekend

Artist: They Might Be Giants
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: 1999

Review by LarryG
2½ stars out of 4

They Might be Giants have evolved from two guys playing all the instruments on goofy but smart songs to still fun but slightly more mature guys who now play with professional musicians in a fairly standard band format. Their last studio release, 1996's Factory Showroom included New York City, a sweet, unironic love song to a woman and city and James K. Polk, a fun but thoughtful tribute to a great, underappreciated president. The sound was a little more restrained than previous TMBG work. Since then, before putting out their next CD, the band has cleaned house, releasing box sets, and live and greatest hits albums. Long Tall Weekend is basically a collection of songs that didn't make earlier records. It's only available if you download it from(and pay) If you're not a big fan, Long Tall Weekend is probably not worth the effort. If you are, there are lots of fun things. The percentage of good songs is as high as on most TMBG records. If you've seen TMBG a few times in concert, you'll probably recognize a number of the songs on Long Tall Weekend. They Got Lost is an engagingly cool John Linnell song about the band driving around, unable to find a radio station for an interview. It gives the sense that it would be fun to hang out with the guys. Older is a slight Linnell song that states the obvious (you're older than you've ever been and now you're even older) in a cute way until John Flansburgh gives the song a slightly menacing edge, screaming like a crazy man, "time is marching on."

Most of the songs on Long Tall Weekend have the fairly low budget feel of They Might Be Giants' early work. The songs on Long Tall Weekend sound like they weren't quite good or colorful enough to originally make albums but they have a modest charm and deserve to be discovered by their fans. Most are fairly uncomplicated, enjoyable if not hilarious and almost always show the Johns' love of music and a mischievous sense of humor. Token Back to Brooklyn is a short march, apparently about kids who lose their token and worry that they'll never get home. The Johns have fun on Counterfeit Faker, a fairly authentic sounding hillbilly country song with Linnell playing fiddle and banjo. They do a surprisingly straight, simple version of Lesley Gore's Maybe I Know. Linnell and Flansburgh have established distinctive personalities through their songs. Flansburgh is the loud mouth smart ass who loves the spotlight while Linnell comes across as quieter and shy. They both are able to mix smart and silly. Flansburgh has a gift for an interesting image. Flansburgh sings She Think She's Edith Head about a former classmate who's taken on an affected persona as a "cultural figure we don't know a lot about." Operators Are Standing By is a funny song about what the operators referred to in the commercials do while they're standing by, including, "talking about their portrayal on TV" and wishing they could go home. The music, basically just Linnell's bouncy organ, is charmingly cheesy. Flansburgh continues the affinity for lounge music he showed on John Henry's Extra Savoir Faire on Reprehensible. The music, with lush horns and Linnell's clarinet solo, is uncongruously smooth as Flansburgh sings of his sleep being haunted by a feeling of responsibility for the sins of mankind. The song has a happy typically flippant ending with Flansburgh waking up, totally untroubled by his memories, singing I'm on top and nothing can make me stop. Similarly, Flansburgh sings of bloody heads while perky horns create a retro feel on Lullaby to Nightmares. Linnell's Dark and Metric has a whimsical tone as Linnell recites a nonsequitor list of things that don't apply until he amiably sings, "just because you're floating doesn't mean you haven't drowned."

The songs are generally fairly straight forward but Long Tall Weekend ends with a couple of interesting, weird songs. On Earth My Nina is strangely compelling. It's just Linnell's a capella voice, distorted in weird ways. The Edison Museum is about a closed and, they say, haunted museum. It has an appropriately spooky organ as well as deep, dramatic vocals by a guest vocalist, a disk jockey from a New Jersey station. In all, Long Tall Weekend is a fairly insubstantial but almost always enjoyable group of songs from a couple of always inventive and likeable performers.



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