They Might Be Giants: Long Tall Weekend

They Might Be Giants: Long Tall Weekend

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They Might Be Giants

Album: Long Tall Weekend
Label: MP3 Only
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They Might Be Giants

Album: Long Tall Weekend
Label: MP3 Only

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Emerging MP3 digital-audio technology has already done wonders for acts whose hands have been tied by ill-fitting major-label deals. Web-savvy bands with sizable followings but little mainstream success—such as Public Enemy, Cowboy Junkies, and They Might Be Giants—have already grabbed the opportunity to reach their audience by marketing their recordings over the Internet, without giving the bulk of the profits to large corporations or tailoring their work to play well in boardrooms. This new system has been celebrated by artists and fans, and rightfully so: Controversial recordings can be released intact, without suppression or meddling from lawyers and Wal-Mart, and artists can make music free of demands from executives who value hits over artistic vision. But there are also nagging, little-discussed disadvantages, from the fact that countless music fans don't own computers (let alone MP3 technology) to the inconsistency of the releases themselves. They Might Be Giants' MP3-only Long Tall Weekend has a format that makes sense—the group's fan base is loyal and likely to be familiar with the technology—but the music itself sounds like an afterthought. From the commencement of "Drinkin'," the disposable instrumental that opens the record, it's clear that you're not getting "A" material. Dominated by quirky throwaways ("Rat Patrol"), lackluster odds and ends (the 50-second "Token Back To Brooklyn"), and studio versions of songs the band frequently plays live ("They Got Lost," "(She Thinks She's) Edith Head"), Long Tall Weekend is 34 minutes of filler, most of which would have been better suited to B-sides. Of course, the great thing about MP3 technology is that it's both cheap (or free) and, for now, suitable mostly for patient diehards. With stakes this low and fans this dedicated, does the underwhelming quality of the songs even matter? With TMBG recording themes for movies (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) and TV shows (this fall's Malcolm In The Middle), and working on side projects and a slick studio album with The Butcher Brothers, Long Tall Weekend should be viewed only as the sweeping-out-the-vaults, for-fans-only enterprise it is. (www.tmbg.com)

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