They Might Be Giants is composed of two friends, John Flansburgh and John Linnell. They are currently accompanied on recordings and tour by the Band of Dans, a band composed of three guys all named Dan.

Beginning with their first show in January 1983, TMBG has grown into something of a geek phenomenon.

Gaining their initial fame from ?Dial-A-Song,? an innovation that was advertised in the Village Voice, you could call and hear their songs as the outgoing message and actually leave a message.

They created this on their answering machine because they were not going to be able to perform for some months after Linnell broke his wrist and Flansburgh had his apartment broken into and all of his things stolen.

This has since grown into both a telephone and internet service, but no longer records incoming messages.

Eventually outgrowing their original label and distributor Bar/None and Restless Records, they signed with Elektra in 1989, releasing the album ?Flood.? This relationship lasted for four albums, ending in 1997.

With their release from Elektra they went back to Restless Records and released their first ?live? album, ?Severe Tire Damage.? After floating a number of singles and sampler tracks over the past few years, we come to their latest release.

?Mink Car,? the new release from TMBG, is an odd mix of styles and topics. Ranging from hip-hop and mock-techno to rock and punk, the album continues their overall style of geek rock.

Unfortunately, the tracks tend to be obscure in their meaning and at times, just bizarre. With no songs really reaching the pure fun value of ?Particle Man,? they end up with oddities like ?Cyclops Rock.?

?Cyclops Rock? is about a guy, who happens to be a Cyclops, who feels betrayed from a relationship.

This mix of simple song ideas and random elements thrown in, which may or may not be metaphorical, describes the formula of essentially every song on ?Mink Car.?

The extent to which this is true surprised me. ?I?ve Got a Fang? is about just that. A guy with a fang who meets his girlfriend?s parents and they don?t react very well.

A similar track is ?She Thinks She?s Edith Head? ? it?s a short song about a woman who thinks she is the famous costume designer from the early days of Hollywood.

Honestly, even the band?s own descriptions of the songs are as stupid as the songs? words themselves. It?s a CD that only a geek could love.

They prove their geekiness and love of words when they manage to make use of the word ?proscenium? in the album?s first track ?Bangs.? TMBG?s usage of ?proscenium? creates a warm spot in my heart for this band.

Considering the average non-geek doesn?t know what a proscenium is, much less how to spell it, they ensconce themselves as being solidly geeky.

Even for the exceeding stupidity of the most of the words and topics of their songs, they have an eerie catchiness to them ? as with ?Bangs? and ?Yeh Yeh? ? that have you singing them if you bother to listen to ?Mink Car? a few times.

While these guys are not great lyricists, what they do with their inane lyrics is truly impressive. They manage to take bizarre lyrics and still put out some pretty good songs.

The music itself is fun and catchy and their versatility between dissimilar styles is impressive.

Unfortunately, this variety of musical styles is also all that really differentiates their songs from one another ? which tend to be little more than silly. But that seems to be John, John and the Band of Dans? goal.

Paris can be reached tparis@campustimes.org.



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