Monthly Archives: November 2011

Vocal Trash

What do you get when you cross Stomp, Rockapella, and the kind of highly enthusiastic but somewhat amateurish cover bands you see at B-list state fairs in places like Iowa and Delaware? You get Vocal Trash, a band that combines a cappella, found-object percussion, tap dancing, trumpet solos and, oh, let’s just throw a little break-dancing in there, shall we? I mean, why the hell not?

Vocal Trash was started about 10 years by a guy from West Texas named Steve Linder, who judging from the amount of eyeliner he wears probably did not fit in with the other kids in the Lone Star State. The group was originally pretty much just a cross between show choir and banging on trash cans—”Glee with a kick!” as the press materials proclaim. There was something goofy and white-trash but undeniably awesome about them, especially when they unleashed their junkyard swag on the confused but obviously entranced masses on the state and county fair circuit:

More recently, the band has slicked up its stage show by adding more instruments, choreographed dance moves and a very Stomp-like stage set—all of which can seen in this somewhat depressing promotional video. Apparently they do lots of corporate events and theme parks and such these days, which explains the snazzier production values and the inclusion of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” in their set list.

And hey, we get it—they’ve been doing this for 10 years, and at a certain point, if the quirky junkyard show band shtick isn’t landing you those major corporate gigs, you lose the fat dude with the biker mustache and bring in the break-dancers. But we still shed a tear for the demise of the rag-tag group in this no-budget video, which looks like it was shot in haste before they were chased off by the scrapyard Rottweilers:

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Rammstein

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Like a lot of Americans, I never heard of Rammstein until they were all over the news as one of the favorite bands of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, a.k.a. the kids who shot up Columbine High School in 1999. A yearbook photo even surfaced of Harris wearing a Rammstein T-shirt. Apparently, this German industrial band was the Embodiment of Pure Evil and had somehow influenced (along with Marilyn Manson and KMFDM) these impressionable Colorado kids to join the “Trenchcoat Mafia” and go on one of the most horrific shooting sprees in U.S. history. At least that was what the hyperbolic, ham-brained, frothing-at-the-mouth morons who pass for mainstream media in this country would have had you believe. (Sorry, Rest of the World. We’re not all as idiotic as Fox News, I swear.)

Since then, I’ve come to learn that while yes, Rammstein can be a little dark, they aren’t in the habit of encouraging their fans to go on shooting rampages. They’re pretty much just your average metal/industrial band, except they sing everything in German—which, to a certain conservative strain of Middle America, automatically makes everything they do terrifying. Not because they’re German, per se—in Middle America, all foreign languages are terrifying. We Americans aren’t so good with the whole foreign language thing. It’s why when we travel abroad, we yell at your waiters in slow, over-enunciated English.

I’ve also come to learn that, actually, there’s nothing “average” about Rammstein’s version of brutal, Teutonic hard rock. Their music and their stage shows tend to be bigger, louder and more bombastic than pretty much all of their peers, in Germany (where the term “Neue Deutsche Härte”—”New German Hardness”—was coined to describe bands like Rammstein and Oomph!) and elsewhere. The word “Wagnerian” gets used to describe them a lot. Their shows feature over-the-top props like giant, foam-shooting penises and pyro—lots of pyro. Lead singer Till Lindemann is actually a certified pyrotechnician, which must come in handy when the band does stuff like this.

But the coolest thing about Rammstein—and the thing that really earns them an entry here on TWBITW—is that they’re funny. This sometimes seems to get lost in translation, for obvious reasons—but then again, can anyone really watch their “Amerika” video and not get the joke? Judging from the YouTube comments, apparently the answer is “yes.” Oh, my fellow Americans. Y’all need to lighten up.

Fortunately, for the irony-challenged among us, Rammstein just released a new video to promote Made In Germany 1995-2011, their first greatest-hits album. (Yes, they have hits. They’ve sold over 15 million records worldwide, in fact. So color us clueless for having never heard of them prior to Columbine.) It’s for a new song called “Mein Land,” it was directed by Jonas Åkerlund (whose other credits include Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” and the Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up”) and it’s awesome. It’s a German industrial beach party! (Stay with it till the 3:33 mark; that’s when it takes a real turn for the, uh, Härte.)

You might also like: Laibach, Author & Punisher, Einsturzende Neubauten

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The Ass Orbiters

Listen, Andy and I are always grateful that anyone bothers to read our crappy little blog, but damn. Sometimes we don’t know about you people.

The votes are in on the latest band from our Submit & Vote page, and despite the fact that their most distinguishing qualities are wearing asshats (not a figure of speech—see photo above) and making fun of the handicapped, the Ass Orbiters have been declared weird by our dubious readership. So, congratulations, Ass Orbiters! You may be tacky and tasteless, but around here, that’s apparently how we like it.

What else can we tell you about this New York band? We’ll let head Orbiter Gary Perkinson sum it up: “We’ve basically made a career out of throwing whatever kind of idiotic crap we can come up against the wall and seeing what sticks. What more could an audience ask for than 45 minutes of cheap laughs and six-minute prog/reggae/waltz songs about diarrhea and putting evangelical Christian ministers in the gas chamber?”

Seriously, what more could you ask for? Mercy, perhaps? You won’t be getting any of that from the Ass Orbiters, buddy. You’re gonna get Ween-like genre-hopping songs with titles like “Tree Rapist” and “I Wanna Pee on That” and you’re gonna like it.

So without further ado, allow us to present what may well be the Ass Orbiters’ defining moment: a little countrified ditty called “Cripples and Drunks at the Roller Derby.” You’re welcome.

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Sunn O)))

Today’s weird band was suggested by a reader named Jordan. Sup, Jordan? Glad you’re digging the site.

The band is called Sunn O))) (that’s a capital letter O, not a zero, in case you were wondering) and they’re a drone metal band made up of two dudes from Seattle, Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, plus various guest vocalists and other collaborators. What is drone metal, you ask? Well, imagine heavy metal stripped off all beats and slowed down until it sounds like the world’s slowest demon army coming to either bludgeon you into paste or slowly bore you to death. It’s not for everyone, is what we’re saying. But Sunn O)))’s version has its pluses.

For one thing, there’s the band live act, which involves volume and smoke machines cranked up to 11 and band members lurking about the stage in long black robes like a bunch of malevolent metal druids. And since playing drone metal doesn’t really require much in the way of technical shredding, there’s also a lot of guitars-and-fists-up pose-striking. Sometimes, it looks like they’re barely playing their guitars at all–they just hit one chord and then stand there looking all “Kneel before your Lord and Master” while those enormous Marshall stacks do all the work. There’s something very Spinal Tap about it, even though the music is so abstract it’s almost not even music anymore–it’s just a bunch of bowel-loosening tones.

In general, Sunn O))) is not a band for people with short attention spans. Music that moves this slowly takes awhile to get where it’s going–a lot of Sunn O))) tracks are over 20 minutes long. A lot of fans and critics seemed to think their last album, Monoliths and Dimensions, was downright accessible by Sunn O))) standards–and the shortest track on that set is nine minutes long and called “Big Church (Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért).” So you won’t be hearing them at the mall anytime soon.

Sunn O))) live shows are by all accounts pretty bizarre affairs, but they don’t render real well in video form–YouTube can’t capture the sheer visceral punch of all that noise, and your average FlipCam is screwed when the smoke machines get cranking. So instead, we’ll leave you with a track called “My Wall,” which features some spoken-word ranting from professional weirdo/occultist Julian Cope. Apparently that’s druidic poetry he’s reciting. Again, very Spinal Tap. Stonehenge!

(P.S. Random bonus factoid about Sun O))): They’ve performed with Madonna. No, we’re not making this up.)

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