Monthly Archives: February 2011
Mixing music styles is a tricky business. Do it well, and you can inspire entire new genres, i.e. Celtic punk (thank you, Pogues), ska-punk (nice one, Specials), and rap-metal (we forgive you, Rage Against the Machine). Do it badly, and you can sound like an unholy train wreck. Do it badly with world music, and…well, usually the results wind up sounding like something that plays in the background while you shop for dream-catchers and bath salts.
To their credit, no one would ever mistake Delhi 2 Dublin for New Age gift shop background music. That being said, we still can’t decide if they’re actually good or not. Let’s put it this way: They get an “A” for effort, and an “A+” for originality. It would be wacky enough if they just fused traditional Celtic music with Bhangra, a style of folk music from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. But no! These crazy kids—who are from Vancouver, of all places—decided to throw a little hip-hop, rock, reggae, dub and electronica into the mix, too. The results sound sort of the “Lord of the Dance” soundtrack as performed by Asian Dub Foundation and remixed by Fatboy Slim. Did that last sentence make any sense to you at all? Then we may have just found you your new favorite band!
Believe it or not, Delhi 2 Dublin actually isn’t the first band to do this sort of Celtic-flavored, pan-global hodge-podge. Afro Celt Sound System, among others, having been doing something similiar since at least the mid-’90s. But Dehli 2 Dublin earns a spot on our Weird List because there’s something about the way they approach their music that’s equal parts dorky and awesome. The video below, for example, is just crying out for an SNL Digital Short, don’t you think? And we mean that in a good way. They’re like the T-Pain of world music fusion.
Today’s weirdo was suggested to us by a fellow named Bunche, who has a nifty little blog called The Vault of Buncheness that we highly recommend checking out. He mostly seems to write about movies and comic books (and was apparently once on the staff at Marvel Comics—we’re not worthy!), but he’s also a connoisseur of weird music, and suggested we get better acquainted with a dude called The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, whom he calls a “phantom genius who unfairly hovers deep in the outskirts of musical limbo while other far less trailblazing country stylists such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Sr. have gained immortality.” Holy crap, Bunche! Calm down already. You convinced us.
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy—or “The Ledge,” as he likes to call himself—is the stage name of one Norman Carl Odam, an early rockabilly performer from Lubbock, Texas whose greatest (well, okay, only) claim to fame was a 1968 novelty hit called “Paralyzed.” Clocking in at roughly two and a half minutes, the song is basically just one long proto-psychobilly freakout, with The Ledge wailing and yodeling incoherently over one frantically strummed chord and some frenzied drumming (played, oddly enough, by T-Bone “I somehow survived this to go on and produce the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack” Burnett), punctuated by what we’ll call, for lack of a better term, a bugle solo. (“Bugle rape” might be more accurate.) It makes the Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” sound like a Puccini aria by comparison.
By his own account, The Ledge cooked up “Paralyzed” because he wanted to write “a wild song that would captivate everybody.” Improbably enough, it worked. The song got Odam a recording contract with Mercury Records, landed him on Laugh-In (which was a very big deal in 1968), and even attracted the attention of a young British singer named David Bowie, who later created a character named Ziggy Stardust as a nod to The Ledge. This part sounds made-up, we know, but it’s really true. There’s a widely circulated photo of Bowie and The Ledge together from around 2002, when Bowie covered another Odam song, “I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship,” for his Heathen album. They’re buds.
Unfortunately for The Ledge, he would never be able to repeat the success of “Paralyzed.” But that sure as hell hasn’t stopped him from trying. Odam continues to record and perform to this day—mostly, it seems, for people who are just interested in making fun of him, but he soldiers in with the cheerful demeanor of someone who’s either batshit crazy or has achieved some Zen-like level of enlightenment the rest of us poor suckers can’t even conceive of. It’s probably a bit of both.
We’ll leave you with one of The Legendary Stardust Cowboy’s most famous clips. This is from a performance of “Paralyzed” that was done for an Australian variety show called Hey Hey It’s Saturday. The image quality is atrocious but fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), the sound is pretty top-notch. If The Ledge were actually forming words, you could almost make out what he was yelling.
They may not have democracy in Egypt, but here at Wierdest Band in the World, we’re getting democratic all over this bitch. Yes, you readers (all 11 of you…thanks y’all!) cast your votes and once again, a band on our Submit & Vote page has been elected to a spot on the hallowed Weird List. That’s three straight Submit ‘n Vote candidates who have made the cut. You guys aren’t getting soft, are you?
But this time, we gotta hand it to you…Hi God People are indeed the real shiz when it comes to weirdness. We’re not even sure how to describe them exactly. Experimental noise ensemble? Hippie tribal performance art? Modern dance troupe that’s done too much acid? We’re stumped.
What we can tell you is that Hi God People are from Melbourne, Australia, and that the two main guys involved are named Greg Wadley and Julian Williams. Wadley teaches computer science at the University of Melbourne, specializing in the study of virtual worlds, and plays in a buncha bands, including one called New Waver that does satirical songs like this reworking of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” Williams is a musician and playwright who also has a solo album out called Liquidambar that might actually be even weirder than Hi God People. His label says it reflects “influences from the Beach Boys to John Cage” and judging from what we just heard on his MySpace page, that’s about right.
Other Hi God People people include Dion Nania, who also plays in a band called Panel of Judges, and Dylan Martorell, who makes “improvised electro acoustic music and sound installation” with a group called Snawklor. Then there’s a bunch of folks on the band’s label website who are just listed by first name: Sophie, Jason, Marcus, Nathan (the other half of Snawklor, possibly), etc. It’s just one big happy family of freaks, really.
Oh and one last note: They apparently “borrowed” their name from an old Christian group who released a few children’s singalong albums back in the 60’s or 70’s. We thought they might be making this part up, but we did a little digging and uncovered a few of the original Hi God songs, most of which seemed to have been written by a dude named Carey Landry. Who probably spins in his grave everytime Hi God People does one of their arty hippie freakout shows. To which we say: Amen. (Oh wait, actually, he might not be dead yet. Sorry, Carey! You probably just get really bad stomach cramps every time Hi God People does one of their arty hippie freakout shows.)
Hi God People have done a few wacky music videos, but really, their live shows are where the serious craziness ensues. The clip below was supposedly broadcast on an ABC TV “experimental music series,” although when the fuck ABC ever had an experimental music series, even in Australia, we can’t really imagine. Maybe Desperate Housewives never really took off down there.