Monthly Archives: May 2012

Ween

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Sad news in the world of weird bands this week: Ween have broken up. At least according to Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman they have; Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo, heartbreakingly, seems to have been totally blindsided by the whole thing. “This is news to me, all I can say for now I guess,” Dean posted on Ween’s Facebook page. Poor guy.

We never got around to adding Ween to the Weird List sooner because, frankly, we’ve always classified them more as “quirky” than out-and-out weird—more left-of-center than, say, They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies, but part of that same continuum of late ’80s/early ’90s bands whose reaction to the bloviated mainstream rock of the era was to genre-hop with cheeky abandon. But we know plenty of our readers are big fans, so when news of Freeman’s breakup announcement hit yesterday, we decided to revisit their gargantuan catalog (extra-gargantuan, if you include all their self-released ’80s material). And you know what? These dudes were pretty weird.

The hardcore fans don’t really need a tally of all their wackiest moments, but for the punters, let’s include one anyway:

Their early, self-released cassettes, mostly recorded when they were still in their teens and getting baked in the totally adorable Philadelphia exurb of New Hope, PA (I’ve been there and, trust me, it’s like if Martha Stewart designed an entire town), included such immortal titles as Axis: Bold as Boognish and Erica Petersen’s Flaming Crib Death. They recorded everything on four-track and would frequently speed up or slow down the playback to achieve various creepy psychedelic and underwater effects, like on this track.

Their first major-label release, 1992′s Pure Guava, included such track titles as “Reggaejunkiejew,” “Poop Ship Destroyer” and “Touch My Tooter.” Amazingly, it also produced a hit single, “Push th’ Little Daisies.” When their label, Elektra, made them release a radio edit of the song that omitted the word “shit” from the lyrics, they replaced the word with a Prince sample and titled the new version “Push th’ Little Daisies (Shitless Radio Edit – No Shit).”

In 1996, they went to Nashville and made a country album. It was actually pretty good, too.

They followed that up in 1997 with The Mollusk, a nautical-themed concept album that many consider to be their best work—or at least their weirdest. It also inspired at least one great Lego-mation video.

They became one of the first bands to fully embraced digital music formats in 1999, when they released their next album, Craters of the Sac, exclusively on MP3.

They committed fewer acts of weirdness in the ’00s, although they did release their one and only full-on house track, the awesomely ridiculous “Friends.”

Even post-Ween, Dean and Gene have been keeping it weird. Gene’s first solo album under his real name, Aaron Freeman, is made up entirely of Rod McKuen songs. Dean Ween, meanwhile, has mostly gone fishin’—literally. You can charter a fishing trip with him on the Delaware River or off the Jersey Shore through Mickey’s Guide Service.

It’s also worth mentioning that arguably no other band, over the course of the past 20 years, covered more musical terrain. Ween songs range from punk to psychedelic rock to lo-fi bedroom folk to ambient tape loop experiments to country to reggae to bossa nova to funk to sea shanties to Led Zeppelin covers and back to punk again. They could seemingly do anything—and while much of it was done with tongue firmly in cheek, it was all executed with undeniable skill, which may be the single quality their fans love about them the most. Listening to the Ween catalog is like listening to a really good barroom jukebox after a really good bong rip.

We’ll leave you with “Push th’ Little Daisies,” which for me remains Ween’s crowning achievement (and yes, I know, that’s sacrilege to all you hardcore fans, but c’mon—how great is this song?). Also, how freakin’ cute are Dean and Gene in this video? They look like they’re barely old enough to drive.

We look forward to your Coachella 2014 reunion, guys!

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Thunder Up! Flaming Lips remake “Race for the Prize” as an NBA fight song

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We’re a little worried about Wayne Coyne. The man hasn’t started drinking tiger blood yet as far as we know, but lately he’s been pulling publicity-whore stunts at such a breakneck clip, we’re seriously considering changing the name of this site to Weirdest Thing Flaming Lips Did Today in the World.

So here’s the latest headline-grabbing curveball from Coyne and co., who in just the past year have 1.) released a 24-hour song encased in an actual human skull; 2.) collaborated with Ke$ha; 3.) tweeted naked photos of Erykah Badu; and 4.) pressed the actual blood of their collaborators into 10 copies of the limited-edition vinyl release Heady Fwends, which they then sold for $2,500 apiece. Compared to all that, this sound relatively tame: They’ve recorded a theme song for the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, who as I write this are duking it out in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Finals with the heavily favored San Antonio Spurs.

The song itself is a remake of the old Lips song “Race for the Prize,” rewritten with a schoolyard-like “Thunder up!” chant and lyrics that were apparently crowd-sourced from Twitter and include the immortal line, “Thunder came thundering,” which might be the best lyric in rock history since America’s “The heat was hot.” And wait! If the Thunder can defeat the Spurs and advance to the NBA Finals, there’s a good chance they’ll be facing…wait for it…the Miami Heat! The Heat will be Hot and the Thunder will come Thundering. It will be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Koan face-off of epic proportions.

Anyway, here’s the Lips’ basketball fight song, “Thunder Up: Racing for the Prize,” which is just so gosh-darned adorable that I can’t really imagine NBA fans embracing it. Then again, “Super Bowl Shuffle” happened. So who knows? And hey, maybe a little sunny psychedelic rock is just what Thunder fans need. After all, you probably have to be high to think they have a prayer against the Spurs. (He shoots! He scores! Sorry, OKC fans, couldn’t pass that one up.) [Update: OK, OKC fans. You were right, I was wrong. Can we still be friends?]

Mission Man is hitting the road (and Kickstarter)

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Brace yourselves, Chicagoans: Mission Man is coming your way, and he is gonna blow your freakin’ minds. Even in the city that gave the world Common, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, they might not be ready for hip-hop this far off the grid.

For those of you new to these parts: Mission Man is Gary Milholland, a mild-mannered pizza delivery guy from Oxford, Ohio who onstage transforms himself into a rhyme-dropping ball of WTF. Even though his stuff is technically hip-hop, he probably has less in common with Kanye and Common than he does with another legendary Windy City denizen: Wesley Willis. Except The Mish isn’t black or schizophrenic and, as far as we know, is not prone to head-butting his fans. So on second thought, scratch the Wesley Willis comparison. Let’s just call him a true original and leave it at that.

In addition to his big Chi-town gig (tix available here), Mission Man is also playing multiple shows all over his home state all summer long. If you happen to be in the Buckeye State, catch him if you can. He’s by far the wackiest thing that place has produced since DEVO.

May 30    Mickey Finn’s Pub    Toledo, OH
Jun 08    Blind Bob’s    Dayton, OH
Jun 14    ELBO ROOM    Chicago, IL
Jun 23    Relay for Life    Oxford, OH
Jun 30    Symposium    Lakewood, OH
Jul 01    Scarlet and Grey Cafe    Columbus, OH
Aug 10    Greenwich Tavern    Cincinnati, OH

In other Mission Man news: You have just 13 days left to back his Kickstarter campaign, which will fund the release of his 11th studio album, M” (yes, with one quotation mark—even his titles are outside the box). Pony up, people! He’s only asking for $700, for Christ’s sake. As a pizza guy in a college town, he probably makes that much during finals week.

Dispatches from Tronland: The Emotron’s Facebook posts are works of art & shit

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Photo by Erik Kirk

We kinda lost track of our old pal The Emotron for awhile there, but lately the man known to his daddyTron as Kyle Knight has been posting up a storm on Facebook. We keep checking to see if there’s any, y’know, Emotron news we can share with y’all, but really, all of his posts kinda read like the work of someone on a killer combination of Red Bull and shrooms—you know, the kind of high where they’re just talking non-stop and at a certain point you give up trying to figure out what’s real and what’s hallucinatory bullshit and just enjoy the ranting and raving for its own sake.

So: Did The Tron really take a massive shit onstage in North Carolina last week? Is he really selling jewelry for infants? Did he really perform a gig with Cowboy Troy in his dad’s backyard? Fuck if we know, but whether any of it happened or not isn’t the point. The Emotron’s Facebook posts are their own reward. Behold:

I’m kinda bored tonight. I think I will go around town & find some baby’s ears to pierce. any mother who lets me pierce their baby’s ears starting tonight & any other night in the future=will get a free pair of Emotron earrings! I’ve also got some nose rings for your baby & shit!

I never thanked The Kickstand, Treasure Fest, and the fans of Charlotte NC for coming out to see me take the biggest shit ive ever taken. It took me nearly my whole set to shit out 4 days worth of shit.

cowboy troy is coming over to my dad’s house tomorrow. come over Tuesday about 7-9pm. turn into that neighborhood off the Locust Grove Hwy. my dad isn’t gonna do his old style tron performance, but he will bring out some of that dmt he shared with Capt’n Beefheart at The ATL pop fest of 1970.

Why was it such a big deal that Chipper Jones hooked up with a Hooters waitress back in the day? I say hell yeah! Hit that…..it’s all pink on the inside & shit.

I could go on, but really, just follow the fucking dude on Facebook and enjoy the ride.

Emotron, we heart you, man. You are the box of chocolates to our Forrest Gump. When are you coming back to LA? This time, we’re not gonna miss your show, dammit.

New video from DJ Nu-Mark features no toys, but kick-ass beats

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When we first added ex-Jurassic 5 member DJ Nu-Mark to the Weird List almost a year ago, it was mainly because of his “toy” DJ sets, in which he wires up various noise-making children’s gadgets to his mixer and goes nuts like a hip-hop Willy Wonka. You won’t really see any of that in the video for his latest single, “Tonight”—but you will see a very cool portable/toy record player called a Columbia GP-3 and some nifty animation, including an Asteroids cameo. Oh and the tune is pretty dope, too.

Peep the video below; the song itself will be on Nu-Mark’s debut solo album, Broken Sunlight, due out this summer. You can also apparently buy the track as part of a single package on Nu’s website, but you may have to squint to make sure you’re getting the right one. Either I need new glasses or that dude’s online store needs better labeling.

The Radioactive Chicken Heads

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Because you demanded it (no, really, one of you guys did), we decided to bring back polls to Weirdest Band in the World. Actually, we brought them back to our Facebook page, but close enough. And thanks to your tireless clicking, we have a new Weird Band of the Week: The Radioactive Chicken Heads. Pat yourselves on the back, people. I think you actually got this one right.

The Radioactive Chicken Heads are apparently from right here in Los Angeles (who knew?) and are a costumed punk band made up mostly of, well, radioactive chickens. They also have a lead singer who’s a carrot and a guitar player who’s a tomato. There’s an elaborate band mythology on the bio section of their website that kinda explains the whole thing, but we’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that farmers and a giant, rampaging bunny are also involved.

Musically, the RCHs have a lot in common with other jokey punk bands like the Dead Milkmen and the Aquabats. They also sometimes seem like a children’s band, but other times not so much. Unless you’re the kind of parent who doesn’t mind explaining to the children who Ron Jeremy is. Yeah, that’s him slinging pizza in the video below.

P.S. Thanks to reader Chris Garcia for suggesting we add these guys to The Weird List.

P.P.S. Did we mention we now have polls on our Facebook page? It’s true. Go vote in the latest one, won’t you? (You’ll have to like us first, though. Don’t worry, we’re pretty low-maintenance.)

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New music from Rudely Interrupted: “So Tired”

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It’s been awhile since we checked in with Australia’s leading “differently abled” power-pop band, Rudely Interrupted. So what have the lads been up to since June 2010? Well, they’ve apparently released their debut album, Tragedy of the Commons, available on iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere around the Interwebs. They’ve played North America, Singapore, New Zealand and various other places hither and yon. They’ve lost their only female member, “human metronome” Connie Kirkpatrick, who we can only assume has a solo album and/or an all-girl band with disabilities in the works. And bassist Sam Beke has acquired a really bitchin’ cape. So they’ve been keeping busy.

Most recently, they’re apparently putting the finishing touches on a new EP called Mystery Girl, due out later this year. A few weeks ago they released the first single from it, which we’ll attempt to embed below. It’s called “So Tired” and it’s a catchy little number that lead singer Rory Burnside describes as “cynical and not meant to be serious.” They can’t all be public service announcements, people.

Watch Insane Clown Posse’s Hatchet Attacks festival live on Ustream

Insane Clown Posse + Pay-Per-View? Genius! Why hasn’t anyone thought of this sooner? If there’s one thing Juggalos love more than road-tripping to the middle of fucking nowhere to see their heroes live, it’s getting baked and sitting in front of their computers watching videos. Everybody wins.

Anyway, yeah, for those of y’all that can’t make it to Farmington, New Mexico on May 26th for ICP’s big Hatchet Attacks festival, you now have the option of watching the whole thing at home on Ustream for a mere $19.99. That’s only like $2.50 per act, or about one-tenth of a penny for every time you hear a “Woop! Woop!” At those prices, you practically can’t afford not to order the pay-per-view stream.

Check out the 10-minute infomercial (with ICP, there’s always a long-winded infomercial) for more information. And by the way, in case you’re curious, this is where Farmington, New Mexico is. Did you think I was kidding about it being the middle of fucking nowhere? I’m amazed they can actually transmit video from there.

Weirdify Playlist 9: Summer Freaks

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It’s been too long since we posted a new Weirdify playlist, don’t you think? Let’s make up for lost time with an extra long mix for your first of what will hopefully be many backyard summer shindigs. Fire up the grill and dig in, kids. Memorial Day is just around the corner.

1. Signmark feat. Osmo Ikonen, “Speakerbox.” We’ll kick things off with our favorite feel-good jam from the world’s only (as far as we know) deaf Finnish rapper, Signmark. No, this song isn’t actually the least bit weird, but you don’t want to start your guests off with Caroliner, for Christ’s sake. Let the poor people ease into it.

2. Here Come the Mummies, “Freak Flag.” OK, now we’re getting at least slightly weird, courtesy of Tennessee’s most decomposed funk band. We’ll have a Mothership connection in 3, 2, 1…

3. Parliament, “Rumpofsteelskin.” If all you really know about George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic is “Give Up the Funk,” you’re probably wondering why we included them on the Weird List in the first place. This song should help clear that up.

4. That 1 Guy, “Funk Bean.” Nearly as funky as a fully operational Mothership, Mike Silverman’s Magic Pipe can summon Primus fans from miles around like a giant dog whistle. Even to non-Primus fans, it’s pretty groovy. (Also, apologies to That 1 Guy for jacking the cover art to his album Packs a Wallop! for this playlist. Don’t wallop us with your Magic Pipe, K?)

5. Fol Chen, “Cable TV.” Because nothing says summer like a song about watching Pay-Per-View in a fleabag motel. Or does that say “meth deal”? Either way, it’s got a beat and you can bop to it without spilling your margarita.

6. Hank3, “Six Pack of Beer.” After much deliberation, we decided to spare you and your BBQ guests the mighty racket that is Hank3′s cattlecore (that’s cattle auctioneers set to speed metal, y’all) in favor of this pickin’ and grinnin’ ode to the beverage of choice at BBQs everywhere.

7. Bob Log III, “Shake a Little, Wiggle It and Jiggle It Too.” The other great “III” on our Weird List, Bob Log III dresses up like a down-on-his-luck Evel Knievel and plays gutbucket slide-guitar blues, preferably while a willing young lass perches on his knee. And yes, he’s our hero.

8. tUnE-yArDs, “My Country.” This song from Merrill Garbus and her oddball, lo-fi jam band is perfect for Fourth of July parties. Sort of.

9. Dolchnakov Brigade, “Dating in Space.” It’s about time in the party for a little jam for the ladies, don’t you think? This DEVO-esque electro-pop freakout from our favorite pseudo-Russian Brooklyn band is just the ticket for getting the girls moving, at least in a confused, slightly epileptic way. (Can you be only “slightly” epileptic? You can when Dolchnakov Brigade is playing.)

10. DEVO, “Beautiful World.” Name-checking DEVO reminds us—every good party mix needs a little DEVO, don’t you think? Also, is it DEVO or Devo? Discuss.

11. Yip-Yip, “Slime Shuns Sun Shine.” Quick, say that song title ten times really fast. Now quick, try dancing to it. Which is harder? Discuss.

12. Waylander, “Re-Born to the Fight.” We’ve neglected the headbangers at your little backyard shindig for far too long. A little Celtic metal should satiate their desire for something more rockin’, while giving your other guests a chance to do a little jig and/or whiskey shots. Everybody wins.

13. The Misfits, “Teenagers From Mars.” You might think the punk band most closely associated with Halloween is not a very appropriate choice for a summer-themed party mix. And you’d be right. But fuck it, we’re throwing them in there anyway. Have another beer and roll with it.

14. The Flaming Lips, “Fryin’ Up.” Not the weirdest song the Lips ever did by a long shot, but it’s got a good party-rock vibe and that lyric about “blowin’ everything off on Monday,” which seems appropriate. Plus, the title is a reference to fryin’ burgers, right? Right?

15. The Upper Crust, “Eureka – I’ve Found Love.” We continue the rock portion of this mix with a tender love song from our current Weird Band of the Week, the Boston-based AC/DC-meets-Marie-Antoinette awesomeness that is The Upper Crust. Bibo ergo sum! Look it up, motherfuckers.

16. Bang Camaro, “Pleasure (Pleasure).” Boston’s other great novelty rock act (seriously, it’s like no one there can just headbang without irony), Bang Camaro achieve that multi-tracked ’80s hair-metal vocal sound with a ten-plus member “dude choir.” They have also clearly studied Pyromania to an unhealthy degree. OK, that’s enough rock for one party, don’t you think? Moving on…

17. Fool’s Gold, “Surprise Hotel.” This Afro-Hebrew-jam-pop band was one of the first acts we ever blogged about. In hindsight, they actually don’t seem all that weird compared to most of the bands on the Weird List, but damn if songs like this one don’t shout “summer!” like a happy parent shouting “mazel tov!” at their daughter’s wedding.

18. MaxNormal.TV, “HipnWidIt.” We’ve never featured our current No. 1 Weirdest Band on a Weirdify playlist before, and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to, considering Waddy Jones and co. pretty much scrapped this whole band when they reinvented themselves as Die Antwoord. But amazingly enough, Spotify does have some Max Normal tracks, including this shameless “Blue Monday” rip. But hey, even a secondhand version of the familiar New Order synth riff should get your more well-lubricated guests shaking a leg or two.

19. Dirty Sanchez, “Really Rich Italian Satanists.” Let’s keep the dance party vibe going with a little high-camp electroclash. Nothing says “party” like a bunch of drag queens channeling an Italian Satanic murder cult, am I right? Now pass the Campari, bitch.

20. Sir Ivan, “Hare Krishna.” We interrupt this party for a hands-in-the-air hippie moment from our favorite Raver Billionaire. Everyone loving one another? Good, let’s move on…

21. Sparks, “Now That I Own the BBC.” We really don’t mention often enough how freakin’ awesome Sparks are. This is from their Pet Shop Boys on Acid phase, as I like to call it. Enjoy.

22. The Superions, “Who Threw That Ham at Me.” We introduced this band from Fred Schneider of the B-52′s as a strictly Christmas-themed group, but they do summer-themed songs, too. And then they do this song about canned-meat tossing. You might want to make sure all the meat at your BBQ is in a secure place before this comes on.

23. The Wet Spots, “Do You Take It…?” (Dr. Feelin’s O.R. Dance Remix). By this point in the party, you’re probably wondering which of your guests like to get freaky. Here’s a hint: The ones who won’t look you in the eye while this track is playing? Not freaky.

24. Mojo Nixon, “I Ain’t Gonna Piss in No Jar.” OK, so by now, if you’re a party host worth your margarita salt, most of your guests are too drunk to dance. But too drunk to sing along to a Mojo Nixon song? We’re pretty sure that’s not physiologically possible.

25. Naked & Shameless, “And Then the Drugs Ran Out.” At all of Jake’s parties, this song is basically last call.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s mix. And remember: Always recycle your empties. Unless someone peed in them.

The Upper Crust

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Photo by Jay Elliott

Finally, a rock band for the one percent! The Upper Crust are an AC/DC-loving band from Boston who perform their swaggering cock-rock (or “rocque and roll,” as they like to call it) dressed in the powdered wigs, buckled shoes and ruffled finery of 18th century French aristocrats. They stay rigorously in character throughout, sneering at the “foul congregation” of their plebeian fans and raising their pinkie fingers between songs in a foppish variation of the classic devil horns gesture. It’s the Ancien Régime by way of Aerosmith, Bon Scott in breeches. And like a lot of our favorite super-gimmicky bands, it’s a great example of a silly, one-note idea run so far into the ground it’s struck a gusher of some sticky black substance resembling genius.

The main madman behind The Upper Crust is Nat Freedberg, aka Lord Bendover, who’s been toiling away in various semi-obscure (and completely obscure) Boston bands since the ’80s. (This article gives some good background.) He started The Upper Crust in 1995 with a lineup that’s undergone surprisingly few changes since: A third guitarist, Lord Rockingham, dropped out fairly early, and they swapped out bassists at some point, but second singer/guitarist the Duc D’Istortion (“a student of the manly art of fisticuffs,” according to his official bio) and drummer Jackie Kickassis (an “effervescent personage” with a fondness for “the verses of the ancient homosexual poets”) have been with the group since day one. Most non-joke bands would kill for that kind of continuity.

The Upper Crust have released three original studio LPs, a live album, and a “greatest hits” collection, Cream of the Crust. The track titles alone are worth the price of admission: “Once More Into the Breeches,” “We’re Finished With Finishing School,” “Come Hither Fair Youth,” a live DVD called Horse & Buggery. As far as we can tell, they haven’t done much since releasing their last album, Revenge for Imagined Slights, in 2009. The only event listed on their official website (by their faithful manservant, Bumbles) is a benefit concert that happened back in April. “It is not sheer greed that drives them as usual,” Bumbles writes, in a commoner’s fumbling attempt to mimic the arch wit of his lordships. Oh, I bet you tasted the lash for that impertinent remark, Bumbles!

We would be remiss not to include a huzzah here for Rico Gagliano, co-host of public radio show/podcast The Dinner Party, who introduced us to The Upper Crust when I was a guest on his show back in February. (What do you mean you missed it? For shame. Lucky for you there’s an Internet now for archiving such things.)

Here’s the fuzzy but still pretty awesome video for one of The Upper Crust’s signature tunes, “Let the Eat Rock,” originally released circa 1995. Keep an eye out for the coal-fired guitar amp. These dudes were steam punks before steam punk even existed.

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