Monthly Archives: August 2007

Scandal Threatens to Blot Out Previous GRC Triumphs

Tom received a shocking letter from **VS-*P radio today. [Names have partially been starred out to partially protect the guilty.] Really makes you wonder if this whole scandal is just petty revenge from one of the “Best Talk Radio” contenders from the 06-07 year. We at GRC feel that their time would be better spent putting together a better radio show than creating false rumors.

Tombom

Dear Founders and 3/5 members of Gather Round Children,
It has recently come to my attention that a sensitive, internal memo written by Professor Durham was inadvertently released to the public. I have had the chance to review this memo and have shared it with the board of directors and various respected colleagues here at KWVS-**. Needless to say, we are appalled by the manipulative and corrupt aspirations of Gather Round Children’s leadership. For years, we have faithfully trusted our own children’s upbringing to your care and believed that they were receiving the same love, care and affection that we give them daily; to be shown otherwise is truly heartbreaking. Additionally, the exposure of your moral depravity confirms our enlightened suspicions that the very foundation of our society, the family unit, has been poisoned. For this reason, we will reinstate a more controlled K***-LP environment which forbids secular music and worldly influence.

Lastly, we have begun an investigation into the severity of your infractions. I have volunteered to chair the committee and will personally dive into the archives to review each song, rant, and discussion; I do not have time for any deduction, so I will interpret every message at face value. During this investigation, we have suspended your award for the “Best Talk Show for 2007.” Permanent revocation and further discipline will be decided upon at a later time. Your cooperation in this matter is appreciated.

Regretfully,

***** *****
Director, K***-L*
Professor of harmonic literacy, Pepper**** University

P.S. Hey guys! I purchased the “Best of” albums for seasons 1, 2, and 3 a while ago (awesome!), and I was wondering if you could maybe send over a couple of copies of the “Gather Round Children On-air Bloopers” and the new “Best of GRC Improv?” I need to get these and my sister Martha wanted a copy for her kids. Thanks!

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Who Did It?

guitar

I’m not angry. All I want to know is who did it. I’m freezing all paychecks until the person responsible for leaking to Concerned Mom comes forward.

Now. To all the fans. I know you’re really upset. Let me explain. The following letter is not the one I sent:

August 22, 2007

Team,

Kudos to the marketing department for their recent successes in “catching” week-old infants for the GRC Family. As Freud and teletubbies have shown, infancy is a crucial period in a person’s development. This has huge implications in the global marketplace. Did you know that by the age of three months, the average person has already decided which is his or her cola of choice? Three months!

Lets be frank, here: We are running a business. Our constituency expects us to put personal morals and ethics aside and focus on the BOTTOM LINE. For this reason, we are marketing “Baby… Shut Up,” the first single on GRC Record’s highly anticipated improv album, exclusively towards newborn babies.

Some in accounting raised a fair question: How does a song about chastising a romantic partner have anything to do with infants? Well, for starters, it’s never too early to give kids relationship advice. Better that they learn this stuff from us than from Skinemax and the like.

However, on a more literal level, the chorus of the song promotes infant quietude. No doubt you all know the words: “Baby, shut up / you need to learn how to be in a relationship.” In this new context, the words apply to the baby’s relationship to mankind: don’t cry so damn much. As for the verses—Well, to be honest, I don’t listen to the verses in songs, I just talk or write an email or make 5k for our investors and then sing along when the chorus rolls around.

We’ve struck a distribution deal with most of the major hospitals to sell “GRC: The Best of Improv” in maternity wards across the nation! In addition, the doctors themselves will push the album on parents as a “newborn package,” the implication being that you are an awful parent unless you buy the album for your kids.

I guess what I’m saying is: if there was ever a time to buy more stock in GRC, it’s now. We’re taking this thing into the stratosphere.

Gabe Durham
CEO, Gather Round Records

The one I sent around GRC was this:

August 22, 2007

Team,

Kudos to the marketing department for their recent successes.

Lets be frank, here: We are running a business. Our constituency expects us to put “Baby… Shut Up,” the first single on GRC Record’s highly anticipated improv album.

it’s never too early to give relationship advice. Better that they learn this stuff.

However, the song promotes this new context to mankind: I write an email.

We’ve struck a distribution deal across the nation! In addition, you are a parent for your kids.

I guess what I’m saying is: We’re taking this thing into the stratosphere.

Gabe Durham
CEO, Gather Round Records

You see how much they added to my original letter to make us sound like a heartless corporation? If I’ve committed a crime, it’s leaving a few grammar mistakes here and there. Everybody knows GRC exists for the fans. We’re as heartful as they come! Appreciating you support,

Gabe

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Baby… Shut Up

Introducing the first of 16 hit singles from the forthcoming “GRC: The Best of Impov”. Some have contested the single, assuming its prominent track placement and first single status betray spousal motivations. However, we at GRC Records held dozens of focus groups before coming to the decision. It’s what we do. You think we aren’t professional, dissenters? LAY OFF. But for the rest of our fans who only assume the very best about us, enjoy the song.

For the Gun-Toting Squid In Us All

tmbg

 

 

The Else by They Might Be Giants

There’s a gem buried in the otherwise lackluster second half of The Else. “Withered Hope” is a piece of slick, irresistible sample-heavy funk featuring blazing Ricky Martin horns, harmonies, and unpredictable chord changes. Best of all, it’s got that TMBG trademark wit. The song begins with Sad Sack, an intentionally unspecific man—all we know is that he is “a sad bag”—who is in love with Withered Hope, a gal who doesn’t like him. When he confesses his feelings for Withered Hope, she tells him of her “soul mate in another state”. But, alas, the soul mate is in love with a crook, the crook is in love with a motorbike, and the motorbike is (somehow) in love with Sad Sack, thus completing the absurd cycle. Finally, Withered Hope’s hope withers enough that she pursues Sad Sack in desperation and, as the horn jams over that fuzzy funk, the song ends in just under three minutes. The lack of any morsel of character detail in work’s to the song’s advantage, suggesting that this isn’t a story about two people but instead an outbreak of romantic settle-for-lessism.

Ultimately, it’s a lyrical and musical lack of detail that keeps The Else from measuring up to TMBG’s better albums. “Take Out the Trash,” for instance, reveals its meaning by the second line—the trash is a jerk some girl should dump—and not really elaborated on but instead restated a few different ways over a throw-away melody. In a Paste interview about the difference between kids and adults’ responses to music, John Linnell said, “Kids are more literal. I’m not sure that they understand that “Take Out the Trash” is about your no-good boyfriend. A kid could listen to it as ‘Girl, why don’t you take out the garbage? It’s starting to smell in the kitchen.” I just wonder if Linnell isn’t giving kids enough credit.

For the producers the Dust Brothers, the album is less Odelay and more Guero: A few sonically inventive tracks, but otherwise pretty standard rock fare. “The Shadow Government” and especially “Feign Amnesia” are peppy and grating. “Contrecoup” is boring. “Climbing the Walls” and “The Cap’m” are enjoyable but offer few surprises. The Johns’ attempt to make a record that’s fun for the whole family turned it into one of the their most uneven albums in a career full of them.

Yet when TMBG turns it on for “Withered Hope” and the album’s killer opener, “I’m Impressed,” the results are thrilling and uncharacteristically stylish. The drum machine, crunchy guitar, compressed vocals on “Impressed” come together to create something eerie that rocks.

All of The Else’s strongest tracks have this in common: they don’t put carefully-enunciated vocals at the front of the mix. This wise restraint does shows up again on “Upside Down Frown,” an economical portrait of a couple’s miscommunications with over a quick, distant beat. “Careful What You Pack,” too, features a tense verse with odd noises and a big, sweeping chorus that could be snuck between “Coffee and TV” and “End of a Century” if not for the Yankee vocals.

I also recommend “With the Dark,” interesting for its many wild mood swings and claymation music video featuring the Johns as spies battling a giant squid, gun-toting squid not unlike the giant squid that fights the whale on the cover of Apollo 18.

The reason that the band appealed to kids even before TMBG began to market to them is that kids can listen to music like this for longer. They like enunciation, bright pop hooks, jokes/metaphors they can instantly recognize. Or at least I did at age eleven, when I couldn’t get enough of They Might Be Giants. They were a stepping stone in the development of my musical tastes, much like Smashing Pumpkins or the Presidents of the United States of America. But I return to these bands mostly searching for continuity between the things I liked in 6th grade and the things I like now. I’m reminded, listening to The Else’s better tracks, that when I pull out my Flood tape purely for nostalgia, I may not be giving They Might Be Giants their due.

GRC’s Newest Fan: Asher Harrison Lemdiggity

– The Lemley Family has grown to four. Congrats to Mattox 2.0 for a successful, though tardy, birth!

– Worth checking out: Mike Young’s NOÖ Journal

– Worth checking out: the MySpace of Northampton’s own Rusty Belle – don’t miss “Hellion’s Song”

– Worth checking out: the MySpace of Francie Jones

New Album: “Gather Round, Children: The Best of Improv”

alexfarisdaveMichaeleye candyMatt HjkloorTombomguitardarnell

Oh man oh man oh man. The new collection is currently in post-production. The marketing department is working on cover art. Soon, my babies, soon. Featuring all your favorite improv songs from the GRC radio show and special guests Jessica Kloor, Alex Moore, Matt Highfield, Liz Durham, Christopher Faris and Dave Staples.

Here is a sneak preview of the epic 79-minute set list:

Gather Round Children: The Best of Improv

1. Baby… Shut Up
2. Where Did the Light Go?
3. Just A Little Thing
4. Little While Longer
5.Mother Russia
6. And You’ll Like It
7. Count Your Sins
8. Take My Money
9. Seduction Song
10. They Have No Shoes
11. Cliffhanger/Pick A Number
12. Dancing To and Fro
13. Nothing
14. We Won (No One Else Won)
15. Just A Little Thing (reprise)
16. Get On Board the GRC Train