They Might Be Giants, "Venue Songs"

They Might Be Giants wrote and recorded a brand new song for each stop on their 2004 tour and this DVD/CD combo documents the results. After nearly two decades of TMBG records, videos, tours, antics and other work, Venue Songs is exactly what any fan of the band might expect: a collection of often funny and clever tunes and images.

Idlewild Recordings

By now, They Might Be Giants are probably out of brash new directions in which to take their creative exercises. Most of the material on the Venue Songs CD sounds like it could be an outtake from almost any TMBG disc since Flood, and for a band that created their own niche in a market that wasn't exactly asking for a guitar/accordion duo, that's just fine. The Giants have squeezed out a children's album, a handful of tours, and the theme music to some of television's most watched shows in the last few years so if there's one thing that they have proved it's that while they may not stray too far from the comfortable path, they are certainly capable of iterating their formula for success with staggering fertility.

The DVD portion of Venue Songs sets some of the 2 minute, site-specific jams to visuals, usually in the form of simple animated narratives. Sometimes the videos work to tell the tales that the songs seem to be about, other times not. There's a kind of 'yeah, that will do' air to some of the pieces which works okay in keeping with the spirit of the songs that were written nightly to commemorate different venues, but a few of the clips use really inventive animation or clever ways to work around a budget that make them that much more endearing.

The most interesting part of the Venue Songs experience for me was just realizing that TMBG are the rare kind of act that can crank out a song a day like an improv comedy troupe and have most of them work. There's a lot to love with Venue Songs. To sweeten the deal, there are a couple of bonus videos for other TMBG songs including one from the Homestar Runner crew. I haven't followed the Giants' career all that closely for a long time now, but it's great when they release something like this that works as a stiff dose of their unique madness.