Talk:The Spine

From This Might Be A Wiki
10-29-03
Hmmm. Let's be realistic here. Beyond this, there's pretty much no telling what's going to be on the next album. Think of all the unreleased stuff they've done. TMBG unltd, Dial-A-Song, TMBG Clock Radio, Their EPs, The McSweeney's disk, The countless covers they've done, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, as well as things like Spin The Dial, and let's not forget the side projects. (Not to mention remixes, acoustic tracks, ect.) The list goes on and on. Some of this stuff (like I'm Your Boyfriend Now) is kind of a stab in the dark. I think there should be some kind of reasonable limit here, otherwise it might get too cluttered. - Mr. Nuclear
29-october-2003
I think one thing to keep in mind is Flans's quote about the next album being a psychedelic rock masterpiece and consider, at least, the two new releases that mention drugs. I also think I read somewhere that They didn't want to pre-release too many tracks from a new album, so my guess is, that we won't get nearly the sneaky-peeks as we did with Mink Car and others. The new album list is probably become more of a grand wish list. --SR
29-october-2003
Before Mink Car I was all psyched for an all new TMBG experience, and I was pretty disappointed that I had already heard 80% of the songs on it. I'm glad they're holding back, but I think there's a few songs that they almost HAVE to put on the new album, like Au Contraire. There's a new song that is so good, they'd be crazy not to put it on. No Plan B is quite short, and I could see where they would hesitate to put it on a CD. I guess there's really no telling what they'll do. I'm sure this album will be much more adult oriented, since they had to write songs for and deal with kids for No. However, just because Mr. Flans said psychedelic rock masterpiece I don't think he necessarily means that it will be centered around drugs. But, who knows what it will be? Not me. Any ideas on WHEN it will be? -Doctor Masonstein
01-november-2003
Thunderbird, The Bloodboat, No Answer, Writings on the Wall, Concrete and Clay (the cover is better than the original), Tumbleweed, Living Doll, What is Everyone Staring At, the older and softer version of You'll Miss Me, The Writings on the Wall, Tiny Doctors, and plenty of other stuff. TMBG has such an enormous number of songs stockpiled, you'd think they could put out a new album every couple weeks :). Given the large amount of new content that They have released lately, through various mediums, I imagine that that this is going to be a new album entirely, with few tracks we've already heard before. In any case, I have high hopes for this album. -Ed
01-november-2003
I'd guess they'll tell us it's coming next summer, but my bet's on later next year. Au Contraire and Wearing A Raincoat seem like really good candidates, but then again you never really know with them there Johns. Thunderbird is a great song, and the uberly obsessed fans seem to really want to hear a studio version of it, but they never do things just for the fans, so it's really just a mystery whether or not it'll end up on an album. My hopes for the next album is that there will be a proper single with a video and EP to go along with it. And some damn good times B-sides. Whatever happens though, I'll probably end up digging it. -Nathew
05-november-2003
I think the only 'Lock' for this album is Au Contraire, but I have the feeling that Wearing A Raincoat might make it there. Renew My Subscription *should* be on the album, but it seems somehow like a tough one to work in an album sequence. Am I Awake will likely come down to royalty issues.. and Thunderbird.. hmmm. I'll take a stab in the dark and say I expect that on an EP, the same as Why Does The Sun Shine was. -Mongoose
09-november-2003
Yeah, it's possible it could wind up on an EP, but do they even make those anymore? The last one they ever released (that I can think of) was S-E-X-X-Y. -Nathew
09-november-2003
Well, there were actually several more EPs after S-E-X-X-Y (check the Albums page for more info), but my guess is that since They can get music so easily to fans now through the mailing list, any song that does not make it to the album will be a "free MP3." By putting out an EP would They lose money? But EPs are cool! -"EPs are cool"
09-november-2003
Well, the only two real EPs out of those in my opinion are Working Undercover For The Man EP and They Might Be Giants In Holidayland, but they're just not the same as, say, Back To Skull or S-E-X-X-Y. The others are basically singles, not EPs. In my opinion, anyway. -Nathew
06-december-2003
If memory serves, there were promo singles of both Man, It's So Loud In Here and Another First Kiss. The former includes the "Man" Remix that's been floating around. I wouldn't hold my breath on a video, simply because making one is a fabulously expensive venture, and it's just money down the drain if none of the stations will air it. As for what'll be on the album, I'd have to agree that all that's been said so far is really just "wish lists"; it's really anybody's guess. I was fortunate enough to have a degree of self-restraint prior to Mink Car, avoiding Unlimited and the like, so virtually the entire album was brand-spankin'-new to me. Unfortunately, I haven't been as frugal this time around, and so I fear that a good deal of what I've heard will turn up. I agree that Wearing A Raincoat is a prime candidate. And Renew My Subscription as well, though I have some nagging feeling that it'll be beefed up come production time. I don't know, while I love that tune, there's just something about it that feels incomplete, like it still has other choruses or bridges to go to. I don't know why I bothered to post. Bored on a snowy Saturday. - Charlie Coniglio
06-december-2003
Hmmm. Actually, if the new album really is called "Stalk Of Wheat" as Flans has indicated, we can be pretty sure that one's on there. But so far that should be all. - Mr. Nuclear
10-february-2004
Anybody want to guess what Indestructible Object's track listing tells us about the new album? Given their track record, I'd expect 0,1, or 2 of those tracks to be on the album too. If any do make it, I'd expect Au Contraire and maybe Memo To Human Resources. Given how long it took James K. Polk to make it to an album, I guess we can't rule out Ant. Looks like rights might not be a limitation on Am I Awake, but I'd be surprised to see a tv theme on the EP and the album.
28-march-2004
I'm pretty sure they said in their last email that two of the tracks would be on the album. I think these two were even named: Au Contraire and Memo To Human Resources. Unfortunately, I went and deleted it so someone wiser, please check you old emails. Wait... i found it! -Doctor Masonstein

"Indestructible Object" is a five song EP including "Am I Awake" which is the featured song from the TLC show "Resident Life." The show includes two tracks of They Might Be Giants' Other Thing- the beautiful Beach Boys cover "Caroline No" and an amazing reworking of the classic b-side "Ant" featuring a freak-off between Mark Pender on trumpet and John Linnell that has to be heard to be believed. Preview tracks "Au Contraire" and "Memo to Human Resources" give a glimpse of the upcoming TMBG album coming this summer.

16-april-2004
TMBG seems to be getting mildly sweary with their song titles now for The Spine. Evidenced by Damn Good Times and Bastard Wants to Hit Me. - FrankEinstein
16-April-2004
I saw a possible track listing here: http://www.tmbgnet.com/newstmbg.html, but it doesn't have Bastard Wants To Hit Me, Spine, or Spines. Also, on tmbgnet.com some time ago, it said that the next album would have a disc with a CD on one side and a DVD on the other (an idea that The Flans cooked up himself). Can anybody confirm or deny this? --My Evil Twin's Twin The track listing you are linking to has fine print at the bottom saying it is speculation. --Veloso The website has just been updated with the current track listing. As far as the 2-sided disc is concerned, no other information has been obtained thus far. It is unkown at this point. --tmbgnet.com
19-April-2004
I like how They seem to be going back to the creepy, dark humour from John Henry and Apollo 18, the latter being my favorite album of all time. It seemed like They were trying to get away from that sort of thing for a while, but with a title like "The Spine", They Might Be be trying to embrace their darker sides again. - Doctor Masonstein
5/4/04
I agree with the Doctor. At a screening of Gigantic where Flans spoke afterwards, I asked if the creation of such songs as Renew My Subscription, Au Contraire, Wearing a Raincoat and the like meant a return to the darker material and he said that "doing kid's music for a few years has its consequences, we're ready to do some fucked up music again." I'm also surprised that Renew and Fun Assassin aren't on the new album either. Hopefully the companion EP?
5/26/04
Considering that the non-US import CDs often have track listings differing from what is available in the US, and that the review linked on the Wiki's home page originates from the UK, I wonder if the track listing might be the import or UK track listing, and the US release might be a little different. - BigJohn
5/26: I'm almost positive it's going to be the same because an American article (can't remember which) cited the album as having 16 tracks. - FrankEinstein
6/16/04
WARNING: MESSAGE FROM A LISTENER OF THE SPINE (no specifics given away, but post-listen thoughts about the album expressed) It's definite - the track listing as indicated is correct. How do I know this? Because my lovely girlfriend works for Sony Music and, through a little wheeling-and-dealing and product exchange, has snagged for me an advance copy of The Spine. Of course, I'll still be buying the release when it comes out (advance CDs have no liner notes or art, just a white sheet with name, tracks and label info). It's difficult for me to give a brief summary about my reaction to it, primarily because I hate to just rave about something with a plethora of exclamation points. But I can tell you with all confidence that this album is monstrously entertaining and equally impressive. Wow. It's remarkably dense stuff, and I think the best way to describe it is that it's somehow simultaneously the closest thing to and the furthest thing from their first album of '86. Myself, I am loving the crap out of this thing, now on my 10th listen in 20 hours. But I have a feeling that many of the newer TMBG fans (i.e., the kids enlisted from the Malcolm in The Middle happy-pop era) may not tune into this one as much. This is certainly something for those of us that have been around with Them a little longer. It's more the think-y, zany-but-horrifying mood of yore, combined with all the lessons learned as composers since then. Despite it's length (just over 1/2 hour), it doesn't feel too short, which was a chief complaint of mine with Factory Showroom. They still do their usual genre-hopping, but it's much more unique with this album for two reasons: 1) the style changes are more moment-to-moment within tracks rather than track-to-track, and 2) the whole thing truly speaks with one voice, easily the most cohesive album of them all. I think that's the primary reason for the length - so it can be enjoyed in one sitting without being too taxing for the listener in terms of time and attention. Flansy is in rare form on this album; he has a few really non-Flans type tracks here that for the first time (for me, at least) are really at the level of stuff Linnell is putting out. And Linnell... I mean, what can you say? The guy's got the gift for melody and chord construction that is truly once-in-a-lifetime. I'd even go as far as to say that Linnell is about 250 years too late from being Mozart. Not since him have I heard anyone that can weave melodies like John Sid - so natural, so sublime, so familiar, that when you hear them for the first time, it's almost as if they were always with you subconsciously, and he released them from the recesses of your mind, just as Michelangelo found David in the stone. Sorry for the babbling. This is a great album. - Charlie Coniglio
6/17/04
Hey Charlie, if you heard the advance copy, could you listen to the stream of 'Experimental Film' on www.cookingvinyl.com and tell me if you think it sounds totally different too? I think it's a different mix, much more piano on the advance version, but I'm not sure, since the audio stream on cookingvinyl.com isn't the best of quality. Also, very obvious is the difference in 'Au Contraire': the flute is completely gone, whereas on cookingvinyl.com, you can hear it for about 1 second at the end of the solo. Maybe the final album is a somewhat different mix than the advance? Also, I'd have to say this is one of the best albums I've ever heard. Especially Linnell's contributions (Experimental Film, Thunderbird, Wearing a Raincoat, Museum of Idiots, BROKE IN TWO!!, to name a few), they remind me a lot of the stuff he did on FS (Spiraling Shape, The Bells Are Ringing, Metal Detector..). Finally, I'll go ahead and disagree with most of the previewers and say that I like the album version of Thunderbird a lot more than the live versions. This IS a great album.
6/18/04
Charlie here. (Warning: SPINE Spoilers Ahead. Seriously. Don't read it if you think you'll regret it later.) I'm curious to know more about the advance you have, because I think it's a little different than mine. It's hard to judge the Experimental Film mix, because, like you say, difference in sound quality clouds any accurate assessment. But I can say that the Au Contraire is the same as the cookingvinyl.com version - with that mysterious second-long leftover of the flute solo still there. It's been the most baffling thing about the album for me, to be honest. I guess I don't understand a) why they removed the flute solo, because I was rather fond of it, and b) why they would have left that little chunk in there, because it just smacks of having been a rush-job edit, and J&J seem a little too anal-retentive about this kind of thing to have let something like that slip by unless it was intentional. At first, I thought that perhaps they had a problem with the flautist - like contractually or something - and had to get his stuff off the song in a last-minute ordeal, but that possibility is pretty much ruled out, because the appearance of the flute at the end of the song remains intact. It's just perplexing. As for Thunderbird, man, I love that freakin' song. You know, I have a unique perspective with it, because I was totally unfamiliar with the song prior to this CD. I've known of it, and it's been floating around forever, but I never got a chance to hear a recording. I didn't hear it live either, as I sadly don't attend many live shows (I've been following these guys for a while now, and it seems that every year that goes by, the crowds get younger and younger, making me feel more and more like a chaperone). So The Spine was my first exposure to the track, and I love it. My understanding is that some who've heard it feel it doesn't "rock out" as much as it does live, but one could argue that the rocking out that happens on so much of the rest of this album more than makes up for it. I also agree that this album has some of the best Linnell output to date. Experimental Film is an insanely catchy and well-written track, and I'm drooling with anticipation to see the video done by The Brothers Chaps (since discovering Homestar Runner via this wiki, I've become an absolute Homestar junkie). I'd heard Museum of Idiots before, most notably the live version made public at tmbgnet.com, and I instantly fell in love with that one. But this recording? Man, it is everything I could have hoped it would be and more. Bastard Wants to Hit Me is hilarious in its frankness, and Broke in Two is the greatest song never to come out of the '80s. And, whoa, Stalk of Wheat?! How come no one informed me how stellar that song is? I mean, that's not just a good song, it's a towering achievement in songwriting. And I don't wish to leave out Flans - his output on this album is also his strongest to date. The World Before Later On is a huge track, giving TMBG a voice of which, for as versatile as they are, I honestly believed they were incapable. It's Kickin' In is a excellent progged-up punk track, with some of the most rousing, catchy melodies that punk's ever known. In fact, this track particularly is what's making waiting for the actual release the hardest, because without liner notes in the advance, I'm missing out on what sound to be some of Flans' most interesting lyrics. And I'm disappointed that Memo to Human Resources appeared on Indestructible Object. Because that's just a fantastic track, and I really wish my first exposure to it could have been the role it plays in The Spine rather than elsewhere. I Can't Hide from My Mind is a terrific song - Flans' strongest album closer since Road Movie to Berlin. Plus, it's great to see how this song evolved since we were first exposed to it back during Gigantic. I could keep going, but I won't.
6/18/04
Just wanted to reply to the last couple of posts. I definitely know what you guys are talking about with the flute on the "Au Contraire" RealAudio file, and it's non existent in the album version I'm listening to, don't know what was up with cookingvinyl.com's version and don't know what it means for possible different promos. Both "Experimental Film"'s sound the same. And I'll repeat the notion about going on more, I couldn't gush anymore relevant information that isn't already stated. I'll just say that "Bastard Wants to Hit Me" gets better logarythmically everytime I listen to it.
6/27/04
The Au Contraire version on cooking vinyl in from Indestructable Object
6/28/04
No, it's really not. The indestructable object version has a complete flute solo, whereas the cookingvinyl one only has like 1 second of flute. The advance promo, at least mine, doesn't have any flute during the solo.
7/12/04
I have to say, personally, I like the double guitar solo better than the flute solo. I'm glad we got two versions of the song though. It's just more interesting to hear both Au Contraires. The extra second of the flute leftover after the guitar(s) solo isn't bad, just weird! Also, the "right on"s fade out on Indestructible Object and just keep going until they are cut off on the cookingvinyl.com sample (Both versions are 2 minutes and 26 seconds). I'm guessing that on the album it just segues into the next song, which would be awesome! This would explain why they needed to fade on the EP.
7/12/04
Au Contraire does indeed segue smoothly into Damn Good Times. It's a very nice effect.
7/13/04
Wow. I knew that I'd like this album because I've liked everything that TMBG has ever done, but...I didn't think it would be THIS good. I can't really pick out a single bad song...And the thing that struck me the most immediately was that, for the first time, I think that Flans' tracks are just as good as Linnell's...this is a pretty bold statement, but I think that this may be, track-for-track, their best album. I mean, There are songs from their previous output that I like more than these, but...aside from Apollo 18, I think that the others had that one track that, while good, wasn't quite up to par with the rest of the album. I can't make that statement with this one...I could just go on and on...but...suffice to say, if you like TMBG, you'll love it. If you don't like TMBG, you'll love it. - Stiddy
7/14/04
Has anyone else noticed that they seem to have packed this album with references to their earlier work? "Thunderbird" and "Experimental Film" seem to be borrowing little melodic riffs from "James K. Polk" and "Purple Toupee," respectively, and I don't think I need to explicate where "Stalk of Wheat" comes from... And I have a bit of a fondness for the two "Spine" tracks; they're those patent-pending Giants/Flansburgh WTF Moments (R) that you have on almost every album, a la "Minimum Wage" or "Spider" - they're really quick, and when they're done you just sit there for a second or two, blink, and go "What in the hell was THAT??"
I LOVE the Spider/The Day/Toddler Hiway/Window/I Am A Grocery Bag/Anqui/Dollar For Dollar/Fingertips/Minimum Wage/Spine(s)/Mr. Klaw/etc. tracks! They kind of remind me of Guided By Voices in not only their length, but in the fact that they have insanely catchy little melodic hooks that a lot of groups could've just expanded to fill a 3-minute pop song...and they also kinda remind me of Of Montreal in their sort of I-Should-Of-Thought-Of-That!-ness...actually, TMBG remind me of Of Montreal quite a bit in general...but yeah, these kind of songs are one of the best things about Them! If they released an album consisting only of these minute-or-less gems, it'd probably become my favorite! ^__^ - Stiddy
7-16-04
I bought the album at about 7:00 p.m. on release day and also Indestructible Object at the same time, and only now I am finally getting chances to speak my thoughts. It's still brand new, so these aren't my final thoughts about this album, but I do have a few thoughts. I watched Experimental Film on h*r.com before I bought it, and I thought it was pretty cool, and then I listened to it from The Spine, and I thought it was cool thinking to myself, "That thing was on Homestar Runner!" (The last few seconds of this song is really enjoyable listened through headphones.) Then I listened to Spine, and the words didn't hit me after I listened to the whole thing, and then it instantly became one of my favorite songs on the album. Being the kind of person who really enjoys weirdness, Wearing A Raincoat became another of my favorites. Thunderbird was very good, my first time listening to it all the way through. I don't really enjoy sweariness, so Bastard Wants To Hit Me and Damn Good Times are my least favorite songs. (I hope no offense to those of you who really like them.) I'd heard Museum Of Idiots from dialasong.com, so I recognized that. I'd heard Au Contraire at a concert when TMBG came to town last summer, so I recognized that too. I really like the orangutan lines from Broke In Two. Stalk Of Wheat?!? That is a crazy song. (By crazy I don't mean bad.) And finally, I Can't Hide From My Mind. I first liked liked this song back when I watched it on Gigantic, so it has small portion of my heart.
Also, I have a mystery I need solved. When you look at the The Spine CD, on the opposite side as the "The Spine" decoration, right above the hole of the CD there is a tiny Universal Studios logo (at least on mine). Does anyone know why? --My Evil Twin's Twin
Has anyone actually thought to interpret the album as a whole? Considering the similarities in many of the tracks, don't you think there may be some kind of storyline through the songs in the album? After some thought piecing sections together, it seems it's about this guy who spends so much time working on and thinking about ("Spine") his pet project (an Experimental Film), that his girlfriend leaves him ("Memo"). There's a bit of arguing and pleading ("Raincoat" and Prevenge), but she still leaves, leading him to drink (Thunderbird). Then some friend comes around, but since the singer's drunk, he beats that guy up ("Bastard"). After that, he realizes what happened ("The World"). He tries one last time to plead for his old girlfriend back in "Museum", but since that fails, he enacts his 'Prevenge' - finding another girlfriend.("Kickin'"). But, he uses her mainly to flaunt at his old girlfriend. (Spines through Damn Good Times). She realizes this and dumps him(Broke In Two). After that he has no clue what to do ("Stalk") and wanders around, dateless ("Hide"). Some songs are more of a stretch, but once you start thinking about it, it makes lots of sense. -- Kfarnstein
RE: No Actually that doesn't make any sense, but okay, whatever.
You think "The Spine" might be a concept piece? I don't know, maybe. The weird album title kind of suggests it. But I definitely see a theme in several of the songs. Kind of like how "Lincoln" had approximately 14,000 romantically depressing songs, "The Spine" seems to have sort of a "Ignorance is bliss" thing going on. For example, "Experimental Film," the speaker knows nothing about what the film's going to be, they just know it's going to be great. "Museum of Idiots" is a perfect example, every bit of the speaker's life is collapsing around him ("They built this whole neighborhood out of wood...I guess I'll still be around when they burn, burn it down"), but he's an "Idiot" and doesn't realize how miserable his life is. -- Buttertownmayor
07-19-04
Has anyone considered splitting this page into a "Speculation" section from before the album's release, and a "Discussion" or "Reviews" section from after its release? Actually I don't know whether this site generally does reviews, but I think it should: I came here mainly to find quick mini-reviews of the album by TMBG devotees.
For my own impressions, I'm very happy with the album, and can't stop listening to it. Give it an A grade overall. I'll now skip to my one big gripe that I have to voice somewhere. :) First, Thunderbird... I loved and love this song, and it could have been done better justice here. I don't mind the lyrical change at all, but I think that the music needed more bass or oomph or something. It could have been really powerful if it had sounded more like Destination Moon, Sensurround, or even Doctor Worm. I'm not a musical artist so I don't know just what I would have added (more bass guitar?), but I do know what I like, and I like the live versions better. But I can get over this, even this version of the song is growing on me.

All in all, a tremendous album IMO. -IQpierce

07-20-04
Long Review Of "The Spine"
So I learn that the new TMBG album, "The Spine", is only around 36 minutes long, and that a "companion EP" would be released on the same day, with this CD clocking in at 12 minutes. Now, the thought that instantly entered my head was "Why can't they just release a 48-minute album and throw the fans a musical bone?" But if I could go back in time, I would tell my past self to wash that inane notion from his head, and slap the ungrateful bastard in the face.
Because not only is The Spine the best TMBG album since Apollo 18, but it is also perhaps their most cohesive and solid work to date. John Henry actually suffered because of its length, and because of some songs sounding like prototypes to much more fleshed out ideas ("Unrelated Thing" and "Dirt Bike"). And while that album contained some top-notch songwriting ("The End Of The Tour", "Out Of Jail"), it remains TMBG's least accessible album. Which is not to say I don't like it...as a matter of fact, it's my 3rd favorite TMBG album (Yes, I AM a big enough geek to actually keep a list...). Factory Showroom, on the other hand, didn't so much suffer from a lack of material, but a lack of continuity. It sounded more like a TMBGUnlimited (Which didn't exactly EXIST yet, but still) compilation than an actual album. Add to that the fact that it had only 13 songs, precluding such great songs as "SenSurround", "On The Drag", and "Certain People I Could Name", and you had an album that (at the time) severely divided the camps of TMBG fanatics. Over time, though, it seems to have finally gotten the praise it deserves. Long Tall Weekend had an even bigger case of the Compilation Blues. Mink Car, though, seems to be TMBG's Combat Rock, Their Dirty, or Their Mark Of The Mole. See, there are two types of TMBG fans...those who LOVE Mink Car, and those who honestly DESPISE it...unfortunately, there seems to be more of the latter in this world. Maybe it was becuase of the multiple producers. Maybe it was because of the fact that most of the songs had already been heard before. Maybe it was the fact that most of these songs had been changed quite a bit from their demo forms (The transformation of "Man, It's So Loud In Here" from a Factory Showroom-style rocker into a full-blown dance song, and of "Another First Kiss" from a new wave ballad into an acoustic-pop-over-hip-hop-beat song that even I have to admit was overproduced). Whatever it was, it probably remains Their most unpopular album, and unfairly so. No! will also always divide fans just because of the simple fact that it's a children's album. But...come on now...I can't be the ONLY one who cried when I first heard Sleepwalkers...right...?
So, back to the now. Whatever type of TMBG fan you are, there IS something for you here on one of the Spinal records. The Johns have gone into new territory, and have created moods and styles that I didn't think even They were capable of...I know it's not very interesting to read a review that just continually fawns over a band, but...there really isn't too much to complain about here. The overall mood of The Spine is one of introspection. Helped along by psychedelic overtones ("Wearing A Raincoat", "I Can't Hide From My Mind"), the record explores themes of depression ("Memo To Human Resources"), paranoia ("Bastard Wants To Hit Me"), addiction ("Thunderbird"), and disappointment ("The World Before Later On"), among others. The music, however, is very upbeat and cheery, reminding one of of TMBG's earlier albums, and is a prime display for Their trademark "Funny But Sad" technique. The production is reminiscent of Flood, and it is indeed also produced by Pat Dillett, and by now Pat's really figured out how to work with these guys. The instrumentation, aside from the standard guitar/bass/drums set-up, also includes what seems (at least to me) like a real revival of Linnell's keyboards...maybe it's just me. But I really enjoyed them, especially on "It's Kickin' In". And the new backing band (well, okay, it's just a new drummer) works really well with Them. Dan Miller, in particular, is just astonishing, not only in his technical skill, but in the way he can have his creative juices jell so well with The Johns. This is especially evident in the coda (?) of "Damn Good Times". Also, I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the Other Thing brass band backing Them up on "Museum Of Idiots". Both backing bands are exceptionally skilled, and really help add to the sound of the album. So, now that I've gone over the general tone of The Spine, how about a track-by-track overview? Sure, why not!
1. Experimental Film - A great opener track in the vein of songs like "Bangs" and "Everything Right Is Wrong Again". Some have accused this song of being generic and "Linnell-By-The-Numbers", but it only appears that way for the first couple of listens. Soon, lots of little intricate details reveal themselves, such as the descending guitar lines in the verses, little vocal fills every now and then, the feel good instrumental break, and that great cheesy synth at the end. Lyrically, some have said that it just stays in the same place for three minutes, but honestly: Isn't it enough that Linnell has found a way to insert the phrase "Experimental Film" into a memorable hook and have it WORK? Plus, it's got some great imagery and allusions to actual experimental films ("The color of infinity", etc.). Should it be a single? Personally, I can't think of any other song on The Spine that'd make a better leadoff single. Plus, it's got a great H*R video made for it, so how can you NOT like it?
2. Spine - YES!! These kinds of songs are, to me, the essence of TMBG. The little "Mi-i-i-i-ind/Spi-i-i-i-ine" hook COULD have just had an entire song built around it, but part of TMBG's brilliance is Their ability to not wear out a hook and just let it hold its own as its own entity. Admittingly it's kind of a strange song to be a title track, but I still love it, and I'm glad that They're still doing stuff like this.
3. Memo To Human Resources - The track that seemingly every reviewer calls "The Mature Song", and it is mature, but saying that would slight the rest of the album. Of course, it's the same exact mix as the Indestructible Object EP version, but it's still a great song. Some really great harmonizing between the John's here, and it has the effect to really calm my nerves. For some reason, the place this song has on the new album has made me like it quite a bit more than I had previously. One of the tracks that lead some to beleive that this is some sort of concept album/rock opera, and I have this to say about that: EVERY album where a songwriter writes about his life for the past couple of years is going to come out sounding like there's some sort of storyline hidden in the songs, and that's because there IS! The rock opera is about the lives of John Flansburgh and John Linnell, and Their music has always been representative of that.
4. Wearing A Raincoat - One of the songs that was available as a demo from TMBG.com, and I have to say that the song is vastly improved, even if little was changed. The most overtly psychedelic song on the album, both musically, vocally and lyrically. The way the song is sung it sounds as if Linnell is just making up these lyrics as all of the strange events he depicts take place in his mind. And I think that's a good thing! And there's also the oft-mentioned backwords-"Rain"-lead guitar, which fits just PERFECTLY with the song. The only gripe I have, and it's a small one, is with some of Linnell's vocals. I'm not sure how I would really describe it, but he keeps doing these vocal accents that I don't really like too much...and normally I really enjoy Linnell's voice, but...that THING he keeps doing...but it's a small complaint, and I still like the song...and I guess it wouldn't stand out as much if it weren't for the strange vocals.
5. Prevenge - If the sticker on The Spine that read "Featuring Prevenge, Experimental Film, and Damn Good Times" means that those are the next two singles, than I think I might be a bit disappointed. I like Prevenge, but I don't think that it would make too good of a single. Especially with that lo-fi part in the middle. It just seems a bit too...slow, maybe? I don't know, maybe if it were just a bit bouncier and just a tiny bit faster. But, I do have to concede that the song has a GREAT guitar tone...yes, I am a sucker for a good guitar tone...so, all in all, I think it's pretty good, but not single worthy.
6. Thunderbird - THE anticipated track, and now for some reason the seemingly most hated track. I have no idea why...some people say it doesn't rock out enough...well, I have to disagree. Besides, Linnell's vocals are the real draw for this song. Wonderful lyrics and an all around wonderful performance, from everyone. I don't know about you, but my expectations were certaintly met. I do kind of miss the "Melt a man" lyric, but that's not enough to take away from what I think should be the third single...the second one's coming up soon -__-.
7. Bastard Wants To Hurt Me - Well, I have to admit, even I didn't like the pitch-correction thingy at first. It almost sounded TOO much like Cher...but a couple of listens have remedied it. Not quite as dance-a-rific as "Man, It's So Loud In Here", but nevertheless, it's got enough of a beat to actually be played on dance radio, but...somehow I doubt that'll happen. Oh, and some people are making a big deal about the "sweariness" of this album, but really...it doesn't detract from the experience AT ALL. I just hope this isn't a true story for Linnell, because I know he's a person who values his own personal space, but I'd still like to meet him after the show in Tucson...I guess I'll be fine as long as I don't start waving at him while I look kinda mad! ^_^
8. The World Before Later On - Now THIS is something very different. This is a style of music I didn't think that They would do very well, but...now I'm convinced They can truly play in any musical style devided. The lyrics are very interesting, and bring up a good, albeit depressing, point: We're well past the year 2000, yet this is nothing like The Jetsons, a show set in the year 2000 with hovercraft and jetpacks galore...I really don't know what to make of this song...it's just SOOO different from the rest of the album, yet it sort of fits perfectly...I mean, I really like it, but I'm not sure why...They NEED to keep doing stuff like this.
9. Museum Of Idiots - When I first heard the original live version, I didn't think much of it...I'm not sure how I could have done that...I great use of TMBG's Other Thing, as I can't really see how they could do this song without them. A very bombastic and grand song, yet a very quiet and calm vocal from Linnell, which gives it a great sort of effect. I'm so glad that They just use The Other Thing from time to time, such as on the IO EP or on here, because, while I love those songs, I don't think I could stomach an entire album like this.
10. It's Kickin' In - I think this song may have become my favorite Spinal cut (That doesn't sound too good...)! Flans conjures up the spirit of (The living) Elvis Costello for FANTASTIC effect. There needs to be more new wave songs these days! Linnell's keyboards especially give the song an Attractions feel. This would be a GREAT live song, and a GREAT second single!!! Maybe it's a bit too short, but this is the type of song the world needs right now. I song thats not afraid to be both smart AND fun!...I can't listen to this song without picturing the band in place of Elvis and the Attractions in the Radio Radio video!!
11. Spines - At first I didn't like it quite as much as Linnell's counterpart, but now I really like the way it just cuts in there after the rush of "It's Kickin In". So, the same goes for this track as what I said for "Spine", except replace "Spi-i-i-i-ine" with "Spiii-iii-iiines"...
12. Au Contraire - Hmm...aside from Prevenge, I think this may be my least favorite track on here. Yeah, it's fun, and the new dual-guitar-solo is quite nice, but I just am not the biggest fan of the lyrics here. It's just hard for me to return to on it's own. But in the context of the album, I think it works. What really annoys me is that most critics have resorted to saying "Ironically, the two best tracks on The Spine were previously on Indestructible Object". I couldn't disagree more. Those journalist are just lazy. Oh, and about the "error"...the little flute fill sounds so intentional it's funny.
13. Damn Good Times - Quite different from the Indestructible Object version...The guitar tone is certaintly better, if maybe just a BIT too harsh for this type of song. Whearas the demo was more of a ska-ish type thing, this version is rockier and maybe even a little new wave-ier. And I'm really glad that They let Dan unleash his Guitarmageddon on the second half of the song, even if it does add a minute to the song. And a good candidate for a third or fourth single, if there is one, along with Thunderbird.
14. Broke In Two - Now, this one really surprised me, because I hadn't heard ANYTHING AT ALL about it before I had gotten the album. The new wave evidence is also evident here, and when John Linnell does new wave, you just have to listen. I might be crazy, but to me this song sounds kind of like a cheerier but just as sad "I've Got A Match". You know...I might retract my statement about Thunderbird, and say that this would make a better single. Actually, I will! The little chord change at the end of the "what you said" pre-chorus line really just tugs at my heartstrings...actually, listening to this now, I REALLY want this to be a single...For some reason, I would have great pleasure in seeing John lipsynching to this song...actually, if They play it live if Tucson, then that'll be enough. You hear that Linnell? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE play this one in Tucson!!
15. Stalk Of Wheat - Well...what can I say about this song? I at first didn't like the "moose" and "bunny" rhymes, because I thought that they were too "Weird Al" or something, but now I think they contrast well with the "Jerk who's a joke" line, and it makes those lyrics even more biting. But I don't think it's quite as great as some people seem to think, and I can't believe that some people think that this would've been a good ender...THAT would've really annoyed me...but it sounds great in the spot it's in here.
16. I Can't Hide From My Mind - And what a song this has become since it's Dial-A-Song days! It's quite a bit more filled out than the demo, as well as slower, calmer, and more heady. A great ending track! Although I think it fades out too quick to really give me any closure, but that's a good thing in a way because it just makes me want to listen to it again!
So, there you go. The album is WELL worth the money. As a matter of fact, if you don't have it already, but are reading this, then you need to STOP reading this, and get it RIGHT NOW. Yes, it IS that good! Ignore AMG, The Onion, and Pitchfork: This is a 5-star album from a 5-star band. Oh, and if you were confused earlier, here's my proposed order of singles:
1. Experimental Film (Well, I've got no choice there)
2. It's Kickin In
3. Broke In Two
4. Either Thunderbird or Damn Good Times
Oh, right, I was going to review The Spine Surfs Alone EP too...well, I'll take a break, then post that review in the EP's section later. I hope you found this an interesting read at the least, and a reason to buy the album at most...regardless, what do you think? - Stiddy
07-28-04
I absolutely LOVE this album. A lot better than "Mink Car," and actually slightly better than both "Factory Showroom" and "John Henry." Even if I love those two albums.
It reminds me a lot of "Apollo 18" -- the two Fingertips-like Spine bits, the ingenious song sequence (unlike most TMBG albums, the songs get stronger as the album goes along), and a lot of the songs sound like they'd belong on "Apollo 18." I could see Thunderbird, Museum of Idiots and Stalk of Wheat on there the most. I'm pretty sure it's just me who thinks this, though.
Anyway -- incredibly refreshing and surprising. I can't wait till the next one (in 2006, maybe?). Many thanks to the Johns. - Spectre316

2-15-05

My Evil Twin's Twin, I solved the Universal Studios mystery. I searched "The Spine" on universalmusic.com and found one result: The Spine. --Trogga 14:21, 15 Feb 2005 (EST)

10-06-06

Reading this page is a hoot, but I'm wondering if anyone has changed their opinions on The Spine since it was released. I loved it at first but now, even though I still enjoy it, I think the album was a bit rushed. I kind of wish they got someone else to produce it other than Pat Dillett. All the songs seem to have as much polish as a crapped out free mp3 from their website. It just annoys me a little. Plus Linnell seems to have phoned this album in a little bit. I'd say he might be losing his talent, but the fact that I'm All You Can Think About exists negates that argument.
Personally, I thought The Spine was a big disappointment when I first listened to it. But after giving it a few plays through (whilst mowing the lawn) it's since become one of my all-time favorites. --Salt-Man Z 04:59, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Let's just hope the Dust Bros. give this next album some much needed polish, and lets hope the rest of the album sounds just as good as the Dust Bros. tracks. I always get thrown through a loop when listening to Mink Car. Hovering Sombrero, Hopeless Bleak Dispare, Finished with Lies, and Working Undercover all sound like they should be on a different album than the rest.

Instant Home Remix Version[edit | edit source]

So I know everyone else is done talking about The Spine, but I have to share a groovy thing I stumbled on. I use these excellent old headphones from back in the day with 1/4" plugs and to get them to work with the 1/8" jacks in the soundcard I need to use an adapter-- specifically, an utter piece of crap from the 99 cent store. Anyway, this thing is rather temperamental, so if it's not held in the absolute perfect position it either won't do both stereo channels, won't play anything at all, or-- does the kool karaoke kancelling thing where everything panned dead to the center disappears and only the sides remain. And it's fabulicious. I, quite frankly, was getting tired of The Spine and gave it a few months off the playlist. But this thing puts some life back into it. See, I'm more into tasteless music where the "kewl" parts stick out like sharp sticks (Pink Album TMBG, XTC, PDQ Bach). And The Spine was just a touch too slick in the first six tracks (even the weird tracks are slick but they're weird enough that it doesn't matter). So if you can do the karaoke cancelling effect, try it at least once, even if you liked the Spine as it is. --HearingAid

If I'm thinking of the same thing you are, you can do it with the headphones that came with the iPod nano. You kinda wiggle the jack out a bit and the vocals go a tad fuzzy and the music is more prominent. It's only really good with a few songs (Puppet Head sounds really funky if you do this right). I've actually used it to figure out the guitar/piano/etc. parts. And seriously, it's not just for The Spine. A lot of their music has great background stuff you'll never really get to hear. I wouldn't call it karaoke canceling, just a background-music study (if you will). [/offtopic] --Lemita 02:01, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

The effect you're talking about is called "Out Of Phase Stereo" (OOPS)- read about it here. People use it to make instrumental remixes, for example The Beatles are a popular target. --Oddjob 04:35, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Cover art different in the UK?[edit | edit source]

Just checking this, as I wanted to know. In the UK, the cover lettering on The Spine runs from the inner CD cover to the outer CD cover (so only 3/4s of the cover lettering is on the actual front cover. Is that the case on the US version too, as all the pictures I've seen have all the lettering on the actual cover. --MooseBlaster 10:14, 14 Oct 2005 (EDT)

No, it's that way on the State-side version. — User:ACupOfCoffee@ 15:23, 10 Nov 2005 (CST)

Has an image been uploaded? All the images listed in "collectors" show all words. -- DidgeGuy (आ ज) 22:57, 13 June 2010

Order of singles[edit | edit source]

So, anybody know what order the singles were OFFICIALLY released in? I know the H*R video came out the same day that the album did, but that Prevenge is the first single. Confused? You bet I am. (Dates would be great, but I'm not going to hold my breath for them.) — User:ACupOfCoffee@ 15:32, 10 Nov 2005 (CST)

Hm? Anybody? — User:ACupOfCoffee@ 18:12, 19 Jan 2006 (EST)
good thing you didn't hold your breath. -Nosaj56 18:31, 19 Jan 2006 (EST)

I feel like this album is very 90s-ish. I find that Mink Car and The Else are more stylistically similar than, say, Mink Car and The Spine, or The Else and The Spine. Maybe because some of the tracks are actually from a while back? (Thunderbird, I Can't Hide From My Mind) --Lemita 02:17, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Melissa Jun[edit | edit source]

This probably would fit better on some other talk page, but I don't care! Melissa Jun's artistic role in this album was confusingly vague and ungrammatical on The Spine page, so I went ahead and said that she designed it. On her website, she calls herself a graphic designer by trade. On her resume, it states that she was picked up in 2004 by TMBG as a "freelance designer." She "designed packages for The Spine CD, Here Come the ABCs! CD/DVD, The Else CD, The Else vinyl, and Here Come the 123s! CD/DVD," and it appears that she will remain as a freelance designer for Them indefinitely. I bring this up because a) I am making sure calling her a designer for The Spine is correct, and b) she might deserve a page on TMBW. ~ magbatz 22:07, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

The Spine 2.0?[edit | edit source]

Does anyone have the tracklist for this boot? I've heard that it's just all the Spine songs in a flowing order, which sounds cooler. Tedadore

If anyone said that about it, it was just the playlist's creator, Rich E. Green. -CapitalQtalk ♪ 23:50, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Ouch. ~ magbatz 20:59, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Promo / Advance CD's[edit | edit source]

By my count, there are four actual promo discs on our page, but our release details only list 3. What am i missing here? --Duke33 20:02, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

"Another CD promo" --$¥Šтəмд†↓к є┌╓☼╔ (talk) 20:16, 27 November 2010 (UTC)
That's what i was thinking. I guess we could put this on the release details as a separate release. -- DidgeGuy (आ ज) 19:21, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

Experimental Film[edit | edit source]

What if the all the songs in the album after Experimental Film ARE his experimental film?