Various Artists - Purple Toupee: They Might Be Giants Tribute (Cover Artwork)

Various Artists

Purple Toupee: They Might Be Giants Tribute (2021)


Disclosure: this compilation was organized by Punknews' Greg Simpson. Greg did not edit or see this review before publication.

Young 12-year-old Garrett Kiefer is now starting 6th grade in Pine Village, Indiana. A small town with a population of 200, and an unfortunate story of a family with a lot on their plate. Kiefer’s mother is a two-time cancer survivor, breast cancer followed by thyroid cancer during her pregnancy with Garrett and his twin sister Khloe. Their father passed away in a snowmobiling accident when the children were six, leaving the mother to quit her job as the children processed the unthinkable.

This is where some friendly people decided to step in and raise some money for the family, and Purple Toupee, a collection of They Might Be Giants covers was green lit to give it a boost.

The 36 covers, (well 34 TMBG covers, Mono Puff’s “Poison Flowers,” from a Flansburgh side project, and Noah Daniel’s “Whirlpool,” a Meat Puppets song later covered by TMBG,) are welcomingly all over the place, both in sonic quality, musical style, and destination in They Might Be Giants’ mighty 22 studio album discography.

The compilation openers speak for themselves, The Doubleclicks’ lo-fi mix of strings, hi-hats, and quirky vocals in “Birdhouse In Your Soul,” the synth buzz a-la B-52’s of Outdoor Velour’s “Call Your Mom,” and Mustard Plug’s ska standard of “Number Three Fix” couldn’t be farther apart stylistically, aside from the obvious origins. There is ska, punk, indie, synth, singer/songwriter, and beyond available for your ears, and I think they chose just the right band to cover and invite such variation.

Big names (aside from Punknews’ own Greg Simpson,) also include Atom & His Package, Franz Nicolay, and Goop Woop, but the long-winded tribute remains cohesive, and is a fun, fun, listen. Purple Toupee is a great representative of They Might Be Giants’ 39-year legacy, and a reminder that songwriting has no rules or boundaries, as long as you’re having a blast.