Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
It's Fun to Steal
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Merriam Webster defines kitsch as "sentimental, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts," but there's a certain sincerity and refreshing absence of hypocrisy in the current, decidedly kitschy "lounge music" rev... more »
Listen to Samples
Merriam Webster defines kitsch as "sentimental, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts," but there's a certain sincerity and refreshing absence of hypocrisy in the current, decidedly kitschy "lounge music" revival that at least partially explains the genre's appeal to a modern audience. Mono Puff's John Flansburgh, formerly one half of mid-'80s geek-rock band They Might Be Giants, seems willing to embrace the theory, anyway, as his band gleefully tears into the material on It's Fun to Steal with a goofy, unaffected eclecticism. The absurdity is rampant, with songs about dashikis and bomb making, funk jams that rhyme "New York City" with "extra crispy," or a monotone voice saying "this song is called creepy" in a song called "Creepy," just for redundancy's sake. Mono Puff succeed in taking Webster's "pretension" out of the kitsch equation, and grab onto a silly vibe that may just continue the revitalized popularity of piano bars and questionable clothing decisions into the third millennium. --Matthew Cooke
Similarly Requested CDs
Mono Puff: Half of TMBG, half the talent.
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although Mono Puff's latest, "It's Fun To Steal" has its definite high points, it will probably be enjoyed only by die-hard They Might Be Giants fans. The songs that do best on this album are the ones that do not have only good music, but good lyrics--for more often than less, the music fails. Songs that will probably be enjoyed by just about any They Might Be Giants fan, die-hard or not, are those which sound most similar to songs made by They Might Be Giants, whom John Flansburgh is a member. The main failing is that the album does not have the cleverness nor structure that a They Might Be Giants album would have. John Flansburgh's talents are better showcased on those albums, not Mono Puff's."
Play it Loud!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This extremely cohesive album is something that should be cranked up in the car on a hot summer day. As refreshing as air conditioning, this album seamlessly blends the older music with great new tunes. Flansburgh has outdone himself. It gets better everytime I listen to it.Really."
Flansy raises his glass in a toast to the '70s...
Gena Chereck | Nebraska, USA | 06/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At least, that's how I interpret the decidedly provocative cover image. Pale and pudgy, bespectacled and baby-faced, They Might Be Giants' versatile singer-guitarist John Flansburgh doesn't fit anyone's typical "rock star" image; yet that cover seems a cute parody of 1970s rock-idol decadence (what's with those two unlit cigars, anyway?), and the music within is basically a tribute to popular musical styles of the '70s. It's Fun To Steal (1998), the second CD by Flansy's side band Mono Puff (which also consists of bassist Hal Cragin and drummer Steve Calhoon), vastly improves upon their 1996 debut Unsupervised. The numerous guest musicians cohere much better here than on that album, and the results are just as consistent as -- if not more so than -- anything Flansburgh has done with TMBG. (It also feels less like his "solo noodlings," and a lot more like a full-band effort.)The songs are generally less smart-alecky and more musically ambitious than his usual TMBG work. He happily indulges in his funk/dance/R&B influences, which he doesn't really get to do with fellow 'Giant John Linnell (except on occasional tracks like 1992's "The Guitar" and 1996's "S-E-X-X-Y," as well as "Clap Your Hands" and "John Lee Supertaster" from 2002's NO!). The upbeat funk number "Creepy," based on a couple of true stories (one of which happened to Flans), kicks off the disc with the ear-grabbing opening line, "Town drunk's angry daughter and all her hospital friends are coming downstate to meet us." "It's Fun to Steal" is a wonderful slice of New Orleans soul; despite the amoral title, which actually refers to the stealing and breaking of hearts, it's a moralistic song in which Flansburgh subtly condemns a cheating "ladies' man" ("It's fun to steal, it's fun to fool around, but only once will I warn you this way ... you'll find out there's a price to be paid"). "Mr. Hughes Says" is a funky, upbeat love song/list song inspired by Langston Hughes' poem "Motto" ("Live and learn ... dig and be dug in return"). "Imaginary Friends" is a slow-funk jam about the comfort found in isolation. "I Just Found Out What Everybody Knows," a synth-heavy slow-funk jam sung by Flansy in a deep, ominous rumble, is an unusual break-up song with neat, short-story-like details ("When she tore me in half, my neighbors would smile / 'Cause that's all the fun they'd had in a while"). The disco track "Extra Krispy," with Sister Puff (aka Robin "Goldie" Goldwasser, whom Flansburgh married in 1996) on lead vocals, is a kooky valentine to New York City; and though she's no Donna Summer, she does a fine job. Like her husband, Robin has a sweet voice that makes up for in sheer versatility what it lacks in distinctiveness and power. The hilarious "Dashiki Lover," another disco number and combination love/list song, features both Flansy and Goldie on vocals; evoking the days of Andy Warhol's Factory, it name-drops everyone from Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper to "Rosemary's baby" and "my first-grade teacher." "Taste the Bass," written by Cragin, is a nice Quiet-Storm R&B instrumental. (The tuneless and plain-silly "Dedicated" hits the only bum note.)Of course, the band delves into other styles besides funk, disco, and soul. "Backstabbing Liar," based on a composite of true stories, is a frothy punk-pop number that would have done the Clash and the Ramones proud. "Poison Flowers," about a mad bomber looking for a mate ("Who's going to build my death ray?"), is a New Wave-y track that sonically recalls David Bowie's classic "Heroes." The country-rock rave-up "Hillbilly Drummer Girl," written by Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows and the Minus 5, deals with the fun and the tedium of life on the road. "Pretty Fly," an a-capella cover of a creepy folk ballad from the 1955 film Night Of The Hunter, features only Goldwasser's layered vocals; okay, so she's no Joan Baez, but she's not bad, either. "Night Security," a lovely pop ballad which Flansburgh wrote (drawing on his early experience as a parking-lot attendant) but doesn't appear on, is made even classier by guest Barry Carl's resonant bass vocal. Flansburgh not only reveals himself to be a talented multi-instrumentalist here (in addition to guitar, he also plays piano, organ, synthesizers, mellotron, drum samples, and "programming"): He and his band and the various guest performers tackle this material with so much skill, enthusiasm, and affection, that the results sound truly fresh rather than dated or musty; and at its best, It's Fun To Steal recalls the boldly eclectic pop of the Talking Heads and Blondie. Cheers, Flansy."