(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What's cool - They Might Be Giants, Erase

Not yet available on wax cylinders

In my mental map of musical genres, They Might Be Giants is almost alone in the category of "alternative steampunk". That is to say, their music has a kind of temporal dissonance that is hard to pin down to a real era, they are unselfconsciously nerd-core, and ultimately, they take their amusement extremely seriously. John Linnel and John Flansburgh struck a nerve for two big reasons: their quirky songs offer a delightful novelty and they manage to convey a sincerity that touches their audiences.

Starting back in the early '80s, they shared a wild mix of unreleased music through their Dial-A-Song service, which got its start as a bizarre way to promote the band. The service migrated to the web at dialasong.com back in 2000 and the original number was disconnected in 2006 or so. The idea of making a long distance call to get a random bit of music was strange enough when it started, but now seems completely quaint. But after years of relying on more normal online channels to connect with their fans, TMBG has resurrected the Dial-A-Song service, promising a new song a week for all of 2015. Drop by the website to listen, or you can call (844) 387-6962 for the classic, lo fi experience. This has already garnered new attention for the band, but it's just the kind of oddball move that fits in with their aesthetic.

The inaugural song is "Erase", which has that classic TMBG sound. It's a solid alt-rocker, with off-beat guitar stabs that contrast against the solid driving beat. They deliver the dark lyrical theme with bravado, happily contemplating a world where the unpleasant past can be casually erased, "When your heartbreak overrides the very thing you cannot face." Of course, it's the inevitable collateral damage that underlies that comforting thought.

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