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They Might Be Giants - Venue Songs CD/DVD Review

by Rob Nipe

Alright! You caught me. I'm a sucker for concept albums. Good. Bad. It doesn't matter. It just shows that the band has put some thought into the product they are putting out. Beyond cover art. Beyond song order. Beyond whether or not to include lyrics (Note to bands: If you have a mush mouth, include the lyrics, otherwise, don't get all pissy when people ask you what your songs mean. I'm looking in your direction Mr. Lee Roth. What are you too good real words? I've watched "Better Off Dead" 800 times now and I'm no closer to understanding what the hell those hamburgers are singing!) They Might Be Giants have challenged themselves here with this concept album. The basic idea being that they have set out to create a new song to debut in each of the thirty venues on a tour. While this material may not be new to some (the CD was released in 2004), some of the material has been rerecorded and a DVD has been added to tie together a story for the set.

The DVD opens with a deranged millionaire (played by John Hodgman, best known recently as the IBM guy to the dork from Ed's Mac guy commercials) explaining that he has challenged They Might Be Giants to create a unique song for each venue that they play and debut it at the club. There end up being about fifteen different videos and-on the CD-about 46 songs total. And…well…it is interesting.

The main problem I have with this set is the fact that the songs are short. Understandably so as there are FORTY SIX SONGS on the CD! I am just such a selfish bastard though that I want more They Might Be Giants goodness per song. There are only eight songs here that meet or exceed the two minute mark. I want to sink my teeth into these songs but they are only appetizers. Think chicken satay on a stick. They are good but they don't make a meal. Overall, I would say the DVD makes it interesting enough to look into but I don't think many will find it altogether that satisfying.

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