They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is the name of a movie directed by Sydney Pollack which received nine Oscar nominations in 1969. Jane Fonda, aerobicised her way to one of those phat nominations for her role as Gloria Beatty, a no-nonsense, down-on-her-luck woman who enters a dance marathon in hopes of winning $750. Taking place during the Great Depression, the movie is a stark, sad tale of suffering through life with nothing on your side.
I doubt the eight Canadian boys who have named their band after this movie take the feelings within it very seriously. This 8-piece group of imaginative types struggle to bring pop music to the edge of creativity and even come close to pushing it over into the far outer limits.
What makes them more unique than Punky Brewster is the use of their horn arrangements on top of their certifiable pop sounds. Like a group of oddballs in a circus sideshow, TSH,DT? creep around confidently while they strut their stuff under the Big Top of your iPod.
With their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, TSH,DT? make quirky pop music similar to the most odd Elephant 6 bands from the mid 90s, spun through an insane-insomniac's waking dream. It's the lo-fi version of a modern day soundtrack to Monty Python's Flying Circus.
There are extreme ups and downs to each and every song on Pick Up Sticks - ten tracks and five million different paths for your ears to follow. Each listen will bring out something new to focus on. From the opener "One Last Final Push" with its' crashing drums, jangly guitars and pulsing horns. It never gives you time to breathe. "The Guest" slows things down for a spell, but it's not long until the Olivia Tremor Control-esque horns drone on, causing Scooby-Doo type spirals to roll over your eyes. The effects are low budget, but it's almost better that way.
The ride starts in a weird place and gets more and more bizarre as it goes on. These musical madmen would win a depression-era dance marathon and probably continue going after all the other contestants have dropped dead.