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Tale of two Johns

They Might Be Giants never really grabbed the commercial spotlight too firmly, but the duo -- John Flansburgh and John Linnell -- found compensation by following some alternative routes. Formed in 1982, the group built a sturdy cult following -- one that it has never lost -- on the alternative and college rock circuits. Clearly, the two Johns were touched; these guys made some freakish music together, as interesting as it was left-of-center.

Flansburgh and Linnell simultaneously pursued television and film soundtrack work. Most recently they reimagined themselves as a sort of uber-hip kid's group whose lovably goofy, but always musical, lessons in geography and the A-B-Cs proved both charming and effective. (I know this first-hand -- my son freaked for this stuff.)

Now, the Giants are back on their indie-rock heels, dropping a new effort in the form of "The Else," and embarking on a nationwide tour, which includes a stop in the Town Ballroom, 681 Main St., at 7 tonight.

Tickets are $23 and can be found at the Town Ballroom box office or through Tickets.com. More information is available through the club, at 852-3900.

-- Jeff Miers

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