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State Songs (album):John Linnell

Artist: John Linnell

Date Released: 1999

Label: Rounder

Produced By: John Linnell


  1. Illinois
  2. The Songs Of The 50 States
  3. West Virginia
  4. South Carolina
  5. Idaho
  6. Montana
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Utah
  9. Arkansas
  10. Iowa
  11. Mississippi
  12. Maine
  13. Oregon
  14. Michigan
  15. New Hampshire
  16. Nevada


After the Hello EP version, I was really excited for this album—and while it is pretty good, I have to say it's a little bit of a let-down. Some of the songs are instrumental, which seems a little like cheating (which is odd, since it's not like the songs that have lyrics are actually about the states, either...), but the biggest problem with this album is the Band Organ. See, it seems that during the recording of this album John Linnell got obsessed with the band organ, the instrument that is basically like a giant music-box, typically used to provide the music in carousels. As a huge fan of weird and random instruments, I can totally and completely relate (even in this case—band organs are neat!) -- unfortunately, one of the limitations of the band organ is that it doesn't have much of a range—there are notes that it simply cannot play, so all compositions for the band organ have to keep that in mind and only use notes the instrument can play. Which is cool -- The Residents used a limited scale on Eskimo too—but there are four songs on here that use the Band Organ (two solo, two with other instrumentation as well), and, well, they kinda sound the same. One band organ song would be awesome. Two, even would be OK—but four is overkill, especially on an album that only has 16 tracks—we're talking a quarter of the album, here. Still, though, the 3/4s of the album that don't have band organ are pretty awesome—a lot of great pop songs similar to some of the stuff he's done in They Might Be Giants. Still, though, if you're looking for another They Might Be Giants album, you might want to keep moving, but, on the other hand, if you've got all the They Might Be Giants albums and are looking for some new material to fill the gap... well, get It's Fun To Steal. But if you've already got that and you want to make sure both Johns get equal love, then totally pick this record up. - Rev. Syung Myung Me

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