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Join Us

4.4 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

2011 album from the veteran Alt-Rock duo. Recorded over nine months in New York City with producer Patrick Dillett, Join Us is a truly remarkable album. From inspired electronic excursions to blazing mind-crushers featuring their legendary barn-storming live band...They Might Be Giants is back. From the opening chime of "Can't Keep Johnny Down" to the climactic blast of "You Don't Like Me" this is TMBG at their finest. Combining a knack for infectious melodies with a quirky, bizarre sense of humor and a vaguely avant-garde aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk underground, They Might Be Giants became one of the most unlikely alternative success stories of the late '80s and early '90s.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 19, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • ASIN: B00518HATA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,596 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: MP3 Music
What's the best way to judge a They Might Be Giants album? I've been a big fan of theirs basically my entire life, I've seen them live seven times, I own virtually every piece of music they've ever released. But to read most of the reviews of Join Us by some of the other hardcore fans, you'd think this album (like the last one and the one before that) was the second coming of Christ. To uncritically gush over a TMBG album does nobody any good, so I won't be doing that. Conversely, you've got hardcore fans that say TMBG sold out before the clock struck 1990 and nothing they've done since then has been any good at all. I'd like to think I don't take the band so seriously. So I'll just try and be honest with "Join Us". That seems like the best route to me.

I'll briefly preface the review by saying that I haven't liked much of TMBG's output in the last ten years. "Mink Car" was kind of a mess and "The Spine" was really bland. "The Else" was better, but very lopsided. The band's style had gravitated to straight rock in the 2000's, and in the process they lost that fun experimental essence that had made them so unique in the eighties and nineties. On the other hand, "No!" was excellent, and "Here Comes Science" was refreshing in its zaniness, so I had some hope that "Join Us" would be an improvement.

The short answer is that yes, it certainly is an improvement. Even a glance at the track listing gives the first indication that this album has more in common with "Lincoln" than "The Spine", as most of its 18 tracks are less than three minutes long. And like their earlier efforts, each song feels like a nice vignette, with a wide spectrum of styles and themes being visited throughout the course of the album.
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I anxiously waited for this album since they first announced they were releasing another adult album, and I must say this was worth the wait. From "Can't Keep Johnny Down" to "You Don't Like Me" there is not a track on this album that I would skip over. My personal favorite at the moment is probably "When Will You Die" which is a rather humorous song in its own way. One of the other amazing songs is "Canajoharie" which is a straight forward rocker. "Spoiler Alert", "Never Knew Love", and "Cloisonné" are also fantastic songs. The weakest track is probably "Dog Walker" though it does have it does have a couple of nice lines.

Though it is an amazing album, I don't think this is the album that someone who has never listened to TMBG should start on. Instead they should start with "Flood" or possibly "Lincoln" and if they like those they might want to work their way up to this album.
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...a new They Might Be Giants album! 18 new tracks!

Uh-oh. Judging by a few of the earlier reviews, not everyone's joining the Track 7 spirit of Celebration.

I'm just happy to be hearing a new grown-up album from TMBG. Is it their best ever? Maybe not. Does it do enough to earn 5-stars? Maybe not. But why quibble. Let's call it 4.5 and round it up.

How do I explain the differing reviewer reactions? Here's something I wrote in an earlier review (for The Fountain) that might apply here:

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Middle-aged musicians who still make records have come to expect a certain reaction from cranky middle-aged music critics. It goes something like this:

"(NAME OF BAND) was so much better back in (YEAR), when they released their influential album (TITLE GOES HERE). But that was (NUMBER) years ago, and listening to their new album, it's hard not to feel sorry that they sound SO DIFFERENT/EXACTLY THE SAME. I just wish they HAD/HADN'T changed and that they weren't SIMPLY GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS/TRYING SO HARD TO CREATE A NEW SOUND. It's simply impossible for me to listen to this album without thinking of their old songs which affected me differently because I was so young and IMPRESSIONABLE/HIGH/TRYING TO ACT SO MUCH COOLER THAN I ACTUALLY FELT."
---

Should you Join Us? Will you agree that They Can't Keep Two Alternative Rocking Johnnies Down? That's up to you. After all, as TMBG sing on Celebration: "The after-party has been moved to your house."
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And with an opening like "Can't Keep Johnny Down," how can you not get hooked? The problem with this album is there are very few spectacularly memorable songs as a part of TMBG's lineup... with the exception of track 1, which is, as I already said, "Can't Keep Johnny Down." Yet, this album is not lacking in catchy material. I really do enjoy "Old Pine Box," "Cloissonne," "Celebration," and the ornery lyrics of "When Will You Die?" "The Lady and the Tiger" has a rap appeal to it and is also very catchy. Overall, no regrets with the purchase of this album. I also like the album art and the CD skin.
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I'm likely one of the few people who both enjoys They Might be Giants and thinks the current state of the music industry is fantastic (if you know where to look, at least.)

I felt like there's no way that, after two years of regular releases of solid albums by various new artists (and a complete hook out of nowhere in Elvis Costello's National Ransom) that this album would be any good. I simply didn't need more fantastic music. I had plenty, not to mention that not being alive yet in the 1960s gives me plenty of backlog to go through.

This is the best album release I've had the pleasure to witness throughout my entire life. I feel like a They Might be Giants ex Machina has been performed on the industry, totally unnecessarily. I'm not a diehard fan of the band, but, like many musicians, I was greatly inspired by their earlier albums. John Henry and Flood will forever remain on my top 20 albums of all time, and with good reason; they're both inventive and goofy experimental rock that manages to stay catchy. That's incredibly difficult to do.

Then Join Us happens. I remained skeptical and attempted not to board the hype train, but this album lives up to John Henrey and absolutely shatters every other recent effort They Might be Giants has made.

After three listens, I still can't put the album down. I spefically took the long way to work today so I could listen to it in its entirety. Any they might be giants fan, or, hell, anyone with an open ear for experimental or alternative rock needs to pick this one up. And at its current price of four bucks, you'd be insane not to.
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