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Thing a Week One

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Album Review

Quitting his nine-to-five job, techie Jonathan Coulton returned to an older love: music. Picking up on a bit of self-discipline, he began writing a quirky new song each week (hence the album title), with the first album a culmination of compositions from the fall. Coulton is clearly in the camp of geek rock or geek folk, but there's quite a bit under the surface of this album. A guitar-heavy anthem looped with samples of George W. Bush could be a political statement, but seems to take most of its pleasure from repeating the word "duty" ("doody" makes it funnier, of course). "Shop Vac" uses an upbeat bit of jangle pop to mask the lyrical content of a soul-crushing existence in suburbia. A folk rendition of "Baby Got Back" got Coulton much of his early play as a novelty act, but he treats the song as more than a novelty, giving it a bit of musical respect as he works choral harmonies into the structure — it's here that his composing and arranging abilities really come into their own. Influences range widely — angry Ben Folds-style pop mixes with banjos and accordions in "Someone Is Crazy," but the highly catchy "Brand New Sucker" has strong elements of some classic Peter Gabriel motives. Even a sea shanty makes an appearance before the album completes, just before the Justin Timberlake-meets-Blondie dance groove. The album presents itself as something of a novelty act, with quirk-heavy content about housewares and lobsters. However, the underlying themes are more existential, and can hit deeper at the core of the listener, as Coulton wraps up packages of loneliness, anguish, and love into sweeter musical packages often not outwardly matching their contents. There's more than one level at play here, and all the levels have their own enjoyment.

Customer Reviews

The Best New Singer-Songwriter of 2006

I discovered this amazing collection a few months ago and have remained in awe of what this guy has accomplished - without the support of record company promotion, snazzy marketing or radio play. JoCo is a terrific songwriter, musician, arranger/producer and vocalist. He is also hard to fit into a niche. Is he a brilliant vocalist who can "channel" (or subvert) multiple pop styles, ranging from the Beach Boys (he does an uncanny Mike Love vocal on "Stroller Town" - available on another collection) to power pop rock and Don Folgerberg-esque acoustic ballads? Is he a social commentator who uses politics, family dysfunction and B-movie cliches to make his point? The answer to these queries is totally up to you. Here's beautifully crafted, incredibly catchy tunes and intelligent, perceptive lyrics which are funny and evocative. JoCo's internet-based success makes me feel good about the future of American pop music. Cream, indeed, rises to the top.

This Guy Right Here.

Wow, Jonny Boy is one talented son of a gun. I wish I had his major skills, but unfortunately I don't yet. I think I will eventually for one brief moment, and then I will surpass his skills. Don't be shooed away by some of his earlier songs that may not sound as good as his later work. This guy, man. This guy. Plus, if you like They Might Be Giants then you maybe could like this guy right here. You know?

Accept No Subtitute

I've already purchased this album, but I bought it again to re-inforce my appreciation for Coulton's brilliant and properly-licensed cover.


Born: December 1, 1970 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

When They Might Be Giants were first starting out they experimented with an answering machine service named Dial-a-Song, by means of which listeners could call them in Brooklyn and listen to a random taped song. The service was popular enough that it broke down frequently, but not before it helped them get signed to an indie label, Bar/None. Jonathan Coulton, standing on the shoulders of the Giants both musically and spiritually, found fame by the 21st century equivalent of Dial-a-Song through "Thing...
Full Bio
Thing a Week One, Jonathan Coulton
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music
  • Released: Aug 30, 2006

Customer Ratings