They Might Be Giants 

John Flansburgh and John Linnell, better known as They Might Be Giants, have made a career of writing bite-size, ridiculously catchy tunes, and a quick look through their songbook reveals a playful preoccupation with grade-school subjects: science ("Why Does the Sun Shine?"), American history ("James K. Polk"), art ("Meet James Ensor"), geography (Linnell's solo album State Songs). So it's almost surprising that they've waited nearly 20 years to record a children's album. No! (Idlewild/Rounder) doesn't sound all that different from a regular They Might Be Giants disc, though the lyrics are a little more straightforward: "Clap Your Hands" exhorts us to do just that (as well as stomp our feet and jump in the air) over a tinny Memphis soul groove, and the title track pairs a garage-rock riff with helpful advice like "No is always no / If they say no, it means a thousand times no." As always the two Johns make fine use of their very different voices. Portraying the broom in "I Am Not Your Broom," Flansburgh calls up the spirit of Burl Ives from the Rankin/Bass version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, while Linnell's super-nerd insouciance perfectly complements the funk-rock "John Lee Supertaster": "When he tastes a pear / It's like a hundred pears / (It's like a million pears)." And in keeping with the album's theme, the last three songs are all about going to bed. Friday, August 2, 7:30 PM, Skyline Stage, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; 312-595-7437 or 312-559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Catherine McGann.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Michaelangelo Matos

  • How the USA fell for EDM, chapter one

    How the USA fell for EDM, chapter one

    In these excerpts from his lively and meticulous new book, The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America, longtime Reader contributor Michaelangelo Matos chronicles the three-decade ascent of EDM.
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • How Chicago house got its groove back

    How Chicago house got its groove back

    Chicago house music is the sound of global pop today. In the 90s, though, it was on life support—until a new wave of producers, including Cajmere and DJ Sneak, got the city doing the Percolator.
    • May 3, 2012
  • Mixed messages

    Mixed messages

    Fabric mixes from Craig Richards and Goldie and a DJ-Kicks mix from Motor City Drum Ensemble
    • Aug 11, 2011
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
The Memory Tour 5252 North Broadway
September 10
Performing Arts
A Walk in the Woods Den Theatre
September 30

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories

Follow Us

Sign up for newsletters »

 Early Warnings
 Food & Drink
 Reader Recommends
 Reader Events and Offers
Martin Greenfield Survived The Holocaust, And Now Dresses The U.S. President