Talk:Sold My Mind To The Kremlin
A very poor song
The first impression is that it's filler. This could never make an album release one would hope. So where to start? Musically, (Flans probably) is doodling around on a synth which can be fine if the lyrics and vocal melody fine are up to scratch. They are not. When the Giants first began, the majority of songs that saw the light of day would be performed to an audience before recording. The modern songs don't get experience Darwinian testings and the result, sometimes, can be self-indulgent noodlings such as Kremlin. If they performed this ten times in front of an audience, it would soon convince them that it's not up to any kind of release.
Why is it so bad? Lyrically it's a fatter version of Money for Dope which was a kind of popular culture list. It also lacks Dopes riff, energy and fun lyrical randomness (autograph from Julian Cope!). Kremlin tries to be a relativist post-modern pop culture ballad and it fails utterly. Some of the lyrics are just sniggeringly bad for example: I was wearing a Yoda mask; you were talking like Lou Ferrigo...Lets talk about Patti Hearst, Skeletor and Charles Manson; Reagan closed the hospitals for the mentally ill; train stations filled up with the mentally ill. As I've argued before, the band now probably have more autonomy than they've ever had: no major label interference; no producer with a critical voice; no Bill Krauss cynicism and a paid back up band that don't rock the boat. Without these restraints and alternative voices both Johns, but especially Flans, are prone to appalling lapses in taste with songs that are at best weak in-jokes and at their worst are studio noodlings that should never see the light of day. The bands biggest problem to appealing to a wider audience has always been disproving the caricature that they are a nerdy novelty band. When they produce a song like this, that sounds like a bored Weird Al, mocking them, they're doing no one any favours. Especially themselves. However, on the plus side, it's still a lot better than Dogwalker! (Mr Tuck)
- What? You think this is better than Dogwalker? (Why does everybody hate that track? I love it?) This track was pretty painful. --Propman (talk) 06:10, 2 June 2015 (EDT)
- This is the first DAS Direct song that I've actively *disliked*. It's just nothing, it'd be filler on a podcast even. Nice video though. ~SirDarrell
I don't know if it will provide any consolation to Mr. Tuck, but I think TMBG only wrote the chorus and instrumental; I'm pretty sure the lyrics to the verses are by Kimya Dawson, who is in her own right a writer of unusual songs (and sometimes-TMBG-collaborator). Flansburgh said in this interview with AV Club that he was working with Kimya on a song called "Fourth of July" (Question 7, for those interested). I'll put in Flan's quote here:
- I was actually rewriting the chorus part of it. Kimya’s part is this long sort of… I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s sort of this rattly, long-winded verse that has a lot of really interesting, odd imagery in it. And then there’s a chorus that’s sort of set up like a rap song, really. It’s got this colorful set of ideas and then there’s a hooky chorus. And I’m trying to figure out how to make the chorus actually hookier. So I’ve been rewriting that. I actually got up very early to work on that. I’ve got it all cued up. I think it’s actually going to be better.
Some Consolation Many thanks Mosesofthecows. It is a bit of a consolation. I hated to think of Flans writing that folderol. Kimya did well to palm it off to the Giants. It's still atrocious. Where's the quality control? (Mr Tuck)
By the way, do we have confirmation from Flans that this is the song they were working on together? And that she's a co-writer on it, and they're not just planning on recording another version together, or that that wasn't they're original plan? The first question seems obvious, the second too, but we probably should try to get actual confirmation. We were all wrong about the instrumentation on the track, 'Glean', and that seemed like a no-brainer to us at the time.
That sums it up
- I’m singing into a tape recorder
- Trapped in this thing that I can’t get away from
What can you complain about? Aren't we getting a little persnickety? How about they never make any music again and take all of their shit back from their unappreciative critic/fans? Cry with both hands and ears and your mouth full. They're free songs anyway you schmucks, just be appreciative cause chances are you're not making your career writing songs every week.
- Never been a fan of the "If you don't like it, don't comment" mentality. This is the discussion page, and if people have an opinion about a song, positive or negative, then by all means they should talk about it, because that's interesting. People are posting negative opinions not out of hostility, but honesty. We don't want TMBG to stop making music (an absurd implication), but if someone dislikes a song, there may not be a more appropriate place to say so than right here on this page. I like to see what people think about the new songs, so I certainly don't want them to stop posting their opinions just because someone thinks they're being persnickety. Also, let's not forget that these songs are, in fact, not free for those of us that paid thirty bucks to download them. By no means do I feel like I'm getting burned whenever they release a sub-par song that I decide not to download, but I felt I should point that out. We haven't stopped being appreciative of the band and their service, but I don't see why that should stop us from having a critical point of view —Friendbone (talk) 06:25, 4 June 2015 (EDT)
- An excellent point Friendbone. I also feel that constructive criticism can aid the artist. One of the points I thought well made about the DVD release of Gigantic was the almost total absence of any dissenting voices on the Giants career. I think Bill Krauss sneaked through the idea that they were better as a duo (I agree) and that was it. It amuses me that the party line for the Giants commercial decline post 92 is that they were dropped by Elektra because the women that signed them moved on, and that they couldn't compete in a world of Grunge. Whilst neither of these factors helped there is a reluctance by uber fans and the band themselves to acknowledge if there was more to it than that. To these ears the Giants struggled as much because they lost the ability to write killer hit singles post-Birdhouse (at least until Dr Worm in 2000, by which time it was too late) and that both Apollo 18 and John Henry are weaker efforts than the first three albums. Another valid criticism of the band is that at times the lack of an objective voice has led to occasional self-indulgence. Another discussion that hasn't been had, is whether the band releases too much now - and does releasing substandard material do them any good, or whether it matters or not? I'd argue not, as the band now exists really to three audiences: 1) The core audience, or the front row as Flans calls them, who listen to it all. 2) The fan who liked them back in the day and may catch them when they're in town, but doesn't listen to the new stuff. 3) The kids/parents who like the child-centric stuff. Flans says there are few happy final acts of behind the music and the Giants seem to have it pretty much made doing what they want. I still find it amazing to know where the drive comes from touring so much in your 50s, especially when it's mostly in vans across America. (Mr Tuck)
- I agree with you, to a point. The issue is, as you exactly say, "To these ears". Every TMBG fan is going to complete that paragraph in a completely different way. Personally, I disagree with Bill Krauss, but I understand his point at the time he made that statement, and I understand why people like to reference it. Apollo 18 in my opinion is their greatest album, definitely much better than Flood, but maybe that's how I feel because it was the first one I bought the day it came out, which is a magical and highly subjective thing. Flans, in my opinion, hasn't had as many missteps as people like to think, that argument seemed to really pick up around S-E-X-X-Y, but honestly I think that song is absolutely brilliant. Who knows whose fault was Mr. Xcitement? Etc etc.
- But that's the beauty of having a (one-sided) relationship with an expressive and prolific artist. We're fans, and we enjoy sitting around discussing what we like and what we don't like about one of our favorite groups.
- And, yeah, it's totally amazing that they still can do it, exactly, they are doing well.
- By the way, I really enjoyed reading your post on this (and other pages), and I felt like commenting. I only came here when I realized that I thought I didn't like this song the first time I heard it, but something clicked on the second listen. Not my favorite, but still like it better than 'Mrs. Wheelyke".
- Many thanks! What's your name? Duke likes you to put a signature on ;-) I'm glad you get the point of my posts. I'm only saying what I think, I try and back up with evidence what I'm saying but it's all subjective. I think the point you make about WHEN you buy a record is an emotive one. Stuff from the late 80s early 90s (and indeed 60s stuff that I was encountering for the first time at that age) mean a lot to me because I was young, free and fancy free. These days I probably listen to more music, but my taste has broadened: classical, jazz, and I've got really into the American Song Book, but that frenzied intense relationship with bands has cooled. I still will go and see bands, but not as much and I like to sit down now! Likewise, I don't really get into new bands anymore, I think the last new bands I thought were interesting were The Strokes (who never really bettered the first two albums) and The Libertines (who self-destructed) but they're both 10-15 years olds. Whisper it, but if the Giants play the UK again, I'll be checking out recent playlists and if it's like last time (too much Avatars of They; weak covers and the unholy trinity of Spy; The Guitar and Drink) I may not go...for the first time since the late 80s!
- Interesting that you are so keen on Apollo 18, for me it was the first time I questioned the band, because it seemed that they were struggling a bit. Recycling Which Describes How your feeling showed they hadn't got a lot of material in the tank (and it's a far weaker version than the orginal) but also it was the first album without the killer lead single and too many fillers: Turn Around; Narrow your Eyes ect. If the Giants had produced something as good as Don't Lets Start, Ana Ang or Birdhouse they could have built upon Flood, but they didn't. Fingertips is fun I guess, but it's very much a front row kind of song suite. Every regular music fan I've ever played it to (those that just know the band from Birdhouse) think it's a kind of novelty song and find it to silly. Perhaps my biggest regret about Apollo 18 was the realisation that (commercially at least) it was pretty much over and they'd never break through and have a stream of hits, which I felt they've deserved. (Mr Tuck)
- Yeah, but honestly, 'I Palindrome I' AND 'The Statue Got Me High' *were* killer singles, even if they weren't commercially successful singles. And re-recording 'WDWYF' wasn't recycling, they were mining songs from their demo tape which is natural (see 'They Might Be Giants' on 'Flood', for example). Today too, there's a backlog of songs in progress or released long after their first appearance in demo form, most working bands operate this way. Many people think NYE is one of the first examples of Flans' writing a legitimate TMBG classic!
- I don't know, when I listen to Apollo, then and now, I hear a diverse and inventive album, and not just relative to TMBG. I can listen to it start to finish, any time, and be engaged throughout. Flood is like that too for me, sonically - actually, all the duo albums - but some of the songwriting on Flood I find comparatively weak.
- Personally the idea of them not becoming megastars never bothered me. And I really think their commercial peak was in the early to mid 2000s, just in terms of exposure and revenue. I mean; commercials, television, a movie, kids albums, disney - it may not be direct, rock-radio airplay, but it was bigger than anything they had prior. It bothered me a little bit at the time because I felt like if they were going to sell themselves, that's ok I guess, but their 'legit' work was suffering. They figured it out, though.
- Points well made. I wonder if they'll have a Let it Be moment and record an album and so a tour just with the two of them? Probably not! (Mr Tuck)
- I actually wonder that all the time, and kind of dream of it happening one day. I like hearing things that are just the two of them, recordings and live, and I wish they did it more. It's too bad, because even demos with just the two of them are scarcer these days than they've ever been. Out of the twenty-five or so DAS songs, how many were just John & John?
- Maybe that's why I appreciate the aesthetic of 'Kremlin' if nothing else. It's sounds like something Flans put together in his bedroom, even if there's an e-mail lyric collaboration going on. 'Villanelle' too - I don't think anyone else from the band is on that one. 'Impossibly New', 'Thinking Machine' and 'Glean'... They were doing that 'Tres Might Be Giants' thing with the two of them plus Marty, and I think 'Lesbian Bar' is a good example of that, also their Tiny Desk performances and occasional other stuff. Still, I miss the crazy beats that the two Johns come up with.
- Agreed. I think they lost their unorthodoxy when they became a group and whereas they never sounded like anyone else, that uniqueness was blunted with a band. Some of the mid tempo ballads of recent years would never make early releases. Frank Black is a more extreme example. The Pixies sounded very raw and new, but his solo stuff quickly became muso and bland with only flashes of the old fire. McCartney's Wings is another example. (Mr Tuck)
- Tuck, I'm honestly confused as to why "megastardom" seems to be your requirement for a band to be considered successful. TMBG may not be selling out arenas, but they've built up a very solid career with a very devoted fanbase and have been able to sustain that for longer than most bands would ever dream of. Personally, I'm happy to see them at smaller clubs where I can be close to the stage rather than paying $50 to be nowhere near them at one of those arenas, to be able to contact Flans so easily, to be able to really know the other people in fandom, etc. Why do they have to have "a string of hits" to have made it? --Self Called Nowhere (talk) 04:42, 14 June 2015 (EDT)
- (Sigh) Find where I said mega-stardom, please don't exaggerate what I said...
- No I just wished they'd been more commercially successful for a variety of reasons. 1) I think it's a shame more people haven't heard their music, so many great songs. They deserve to be played on the radio, to be in a jukebox in a bar. 2) You might enjoy seeing them in small clubs, but the band's touring budget means that they live on a coach and do a huge amount of travelling. With more success they could have toured in a bit more comfort. Given that Linnell turned 56, I expect the band to pretty much curtail the kind of schedule that we've been used to within the next few years and limit themselves to much smaller scale tours. 3) I have never argued that the band haven't "made it" but by their own admission the career they hoped for in the glow of Flood and Birdhouse didn't work out as they would have wished. Only Flans huge enthusiasm and organisation kept them going in the dark days after bring dropped by Elektra. The Giants always wanted to reach out to a broader audience. I regret that they didn't succeed in that. (Mr Tuck)
- I think the truth of the matter is that there's no way TMBG could've achieved long-lasting mainstream success without losing what makes them unique. They are very weird in many ways and that's what makes them so wonderful, but it's also what makes it hard for a lot of people to get into them. I'd prefer to have them being lesser-known and making the kind of music they have always made than doing something slick and stupid to appeal to a wider audience. --Self Called Nowhere (talk) 03:04, 15 June 2015 (EDT)
I think the tricky thing is balance. We all want them to be our band and making great music. Yet, if it weren't for the early 2000s commercial renaissance, continuing as a band probably wouldn't have been a viable option for them. Anyone remember the late 90s Mercury Lounge shows? Those were great, but that kind of thing is not going to support their families.
I think they're in such a great spot right now. They have income from all the kids and commercial projects. They're playing venues which are slightly smaller than their early 90s heyday, but they're selling them out. They're releasing creative and exciting music. I won't lie- as a diehard, I sort of cringe when I go to a show and they do 'Dr Evil' or something which was essentially a cash-grab. But, whatever, the bottom line is that I'm really happy they're still at it. It's not like they're standing there shilling for D&D at their performances.
Phone Power release
I haven't yet listened to Phone Power, so I'm curious if the version released on the album is still the "unfinished" DASD track or a fuller-fledged version? They've had a lot of time to finish it since June 1, 2015, so... --Freakiosis (talk) 14:30, 8 March 2016 (EST)
- Nope! All of the songs seem to be basically identical to their DAS releases. ~ april 19:18, 8 March 2016 (EST)