Author Archives: jakemanson

September Weird Band Poll: Vote for The Artsy Chicks, Can Can Heads, L.A.Drones!, Shibboleth, The Velveteen, or WE

This is our biggest Weird Band Poll™ yet, people! No, it literally is. We usually only have four or five bands and this month we’ve got six. We like to keep you on your toes.

Here’s the dealio (don’t you hate when people say “dealio”?): Voting ends midnight Pacific time on Sunday, Sept. 14. The winner of the poll will be named our Weird Band of the Week starting on Wednesday, Sept. 17. Don’t cheat and vote multiple times, for fuck’s sake. It’s not like there’s some cash prize at stake. Save your cheating for more important shit, like marriage and taxes.

[Sorry, this poll has closed. Check back here Wednesday, when the winner will be revealed. And bookmark this page to partake of future polls. We do a new one every month(ish).]

For more on this month’s bands, read on:

The Artsy Chicks

The Artsy Chicks

There are zero chicks in the Artsy Chicks, so the name is kinda false advertising. But their music is pretty freaky, so we’ll let it slide. They’re a five-piece from Montreal and they do everything from free-form jazz-rock experimentation to finger-poppin’ surf rock. Here’s a link to the weirder of their two albums, Kwoto Zeetrus, and here’s their less weird album, which is more surf-inspired but still has some nice, skronky sax.

Can Can Heads

Can Can Heads

Another crazy quintet with some wailing sax, this time from Finland. Can Can Heads describe themselves as “violent music with a gentle heart.” If that’s a little too vague for you, they also say they’re “heavily influenced by No Wave, Skronk, Free Jazz, Hardcore Punk, all things noisy.” Most of their songs seem to be under two minutes long, except one seven-minute joint called “The Great Depression,” which makes sense, because that actual Great Depression lasted for-fucking-ever, as my granddaddy was fond of pointing out. Here’s a link to their latest album, Butter Life, and here’s something that looks like an agriculture instructional video but is actually a clip for their song “Breakdiscodance.”

L.A.Drones!

L.A.Drones

L.A.Drones are a duo from right here in Los Angeles, which probably explains the exclamation point in their name. Us L.A. folks tend to get very excited about ourselves. Their name is a play on the Spanish word “Ladrones,” which means “thieves,” because much of their music is made up of samples stolen from other songs. Not that my Spanish is that good…pretty much all I know how to say is “Mas cerveza, por favor,” but that’s what L.A.Drones! tell us their name means. Being thieves, they wear masks. They list their influences as “Electro, KrautRock, Dub, Acid, Space, Noise.” Here’s their Facebook page and here’s a live video of them performing the song “Horrible Dreams.”

Shibboleth

Shibboleth

Shibboleth are a trio from Ireland that call their music “experimental dark-ambient,” which sounds about right. Sometimes it almost sounds like doom metal, other times it’s like weird, lo-fi Goth rock with banjos. We don’t know much else about them…they just emailed us with a few links and said, “We think we’re pretty weird.” Agreed, fellas. Here’s their EP Farewell on Bandcamp and here’s a zero-budget but pretty creepy video for their song “The Cannibal’s Standpoint.”

The Velveteen

The Velveteen

The Velveteen are also from right here in Southern California, but up the road a ways in Ventura, which is like a sleepier version of L.A. with less movie stars and more surfers. They’re a four-piece, assuming you count their puppet Fum, which you totally should because he’s the lead singer. They’re named after their guitarist/trumpet-playing rabbit, Baron Von Velveteen, who also plays bass in another weird band called Cirque Noir, and also have a keyboard/melodica player named Professor Z and a drummer named Christopher Coyle, who really needs to step up his game and come up with a wacky alter ego if he’s gonna be part of this band. Oh, and I guess they just added another puppet named Foe, so maybe they’re a five-piece now. They’re pretty new on the scene, having just played their first gig this past May. Here’s a live clip, and here’s their website.

WE

Photo by Bohdan Cap

Photo by Bohdan Cap

You might call England’s WE a high-concept band. They take famous pop songs and do robotic electro-pop covers on them in which they replace the word “I” with the word “We.” That’s it. That’s literally the only thing they do. According to their website, “WE translate the monstrous, violent, and traumatic, revolutionary process of the abolition of identity into pluralized pop.” If you say so, dudes! Get in on all the pluralized pop action on their SoundCloud page, where you can hear such “We”-ified classics as “WE Want to Hold Your Hand,” “WE Kissed a Girl” and “(WE Will Be Your) Father Figure.”

So there you have it. Remember to cast your vote before midnight Sunday, Sept. 14, and may the weirdest band win.

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Weird of the Day: Paysages Éphémères, “IV”

Paysages Ephemeres

A dude by the name of Dave Tremblay contacted us awhile back looking to swap links with his website, Can This Even Be Called Music. Because we’re flakes, we kinda blew him off…but yesterday, he emailed us again, and this time, there’s not enough flakiness in California (the Flake Capital of America™) for us to ignore his latest project.

As Dave explains it, Paysages Éphémères is an experimental grindcore project created entirely without stringed instruments. That means no guitar, no bass, no violins…just percussion, vocals, electronics and maybe a severed artery or two. He’s released four chapters so far out of a planned 53 and it’s all varying degrees of batshit weird. I hear some influences from other experimental metal artists like Igorrr and Jute Gyte, but Monsieur Tremblay is on his trip here.

Oh, P.S.: When you hear any vocals, that’s Tremblay reciting the Enchiridion of Epictetus, an ancient Greek Stoic text. So it’s educational as well as skull-crushing.

You can hear the rest of the project on Bandcamp. Dave released the first four parts in only a week, so check back often, because he seems to be on some kind of crazy roll with this stuff.

Weird of the Day: Maja Ratkje, “Insomnia”

Photo by heikkituuli.kuvat.fi

Photo by heikkituuli.kuvat.fi

It’s Labor Day here in America, so to celebrate, we thought we’d play you all something that has the power to actually induce labor. Here’s “Insomnia,” nine minutes of crazy from the Norwegian experimental singer Maja Ratkje. Our thanks to our old pal Miss Hawkline for this one. Miss M, when you post stuff like in the comments section, that’s how we know you really love us.

To hear more of Maja’s unearthly shrieks and sighs, check out her website.

Weird of the Day: Tartar Control, “Smoking Crack”

Tartar Control

Hey, so here’s another L.A. band we’ve been meaning to write about for awhile. Tartar Control claim to be God-fearing Mormons from Salt Lake City who try to spread religion through the power of snotty punk rock, but I’m not so sure. I think they might be actual snotty L.A. punk rockers who are just ripping off these guys. Oh, wait, their drummer is a robot? I take it all back then. They must be actual Mormons and their act is totally original! (Mormons love robots. It’s why their Chosen One is Mitt Romney.)

Anyway, Sean, Robert and Robot have a new album coming out in October called We Forgive You. You do? Thanks, Tartar Control! Glad that dead hooker is finally off our conscience.

While we wait for forgiveness, here’s a video for “Smoking Crack” off their first album, Holy Crap! Tartar Control forgives us, but who forgives Tartar Control?

For more Tartar Control, floss regularly and visit the band’s website.

The Flying Luttenbachers

Flying Luttenbachers

Normally, to write about a band as batshit at The Flying Luttenbachers, I’d be drunk by now. Instead, I’m sitting here sipping Glenlivet single malt like a total boss. Why? Because today marks not one, but two major milestones in the history of our stupid little blog.

First: Today’s our five year anniversary! What’d you get us? Nothing? That’s OK. Technically, you all got us something, because today’s other major milestone is this: We just racked up our one millionth page view. How fucking cool is that? OK, if you divide one million by five years, it’s maybe less cool, but still. Considering our booze habits, obscure subject matter and complete lack of self-promotional skills, we’ve done all right.

OK, now that we’re done patting ourselves on the back: The Flying Luttenbachers. We’ve been saving these guys for a special occasion like today, because they are truly one of the strangest, noisiest, craziest bands ever to turn their amps up to 11.

The brainchild of drummer/ringleader Weasel Walter, for 17 years they terrorized audiences with a mix of free jazz, skronk, punk, metal, noise-rock, no wave and whatever else whoever was in the studio or onstage with Walter that day cared to unleash. They were like a more aggro Naked City, a jazzier Locust, and a faster Captain Beefheart, all marinated in fuck-you Chicago attitude and imbued with the shredding super-powers of your favorite technical death metal band. Weasel Walter called it “brutal prog.”

Oh, and there’s also an apocalyptic storyline about a cosmic battle between a void, a behemoth, and a giant robot buried beneath the earth who can only emerge after the human race has been eradicated. All told via the liner notes and song titles like “Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth,” because all the music is instrumental.

Here, suck on some right now:

That was from the 1995 album Destroy All Music, featuring the band’s confusingly named original saxophonist Chad Organ, along with Weasel on drums, Dylan Posa on guitar, Jeb Bishop on bass and trombone, and Ken Vandermark on sax and clarinet. And I’m not sure I bothered to tell you all that, because that’s one of about 20 different lineups the band went through and it’s not like I’m going to name them all. I suppose some might call Destroy All Music the Luttenbachers’ most mind-blowing work, but I dunno. A few years later, they released this:

That’s from the 1998 album Gods of Chaos, which featured a power trio version of the Luttenbachers with Chuck Falzone on guitar and Bill Pisarri on bass. Then there’s this:

What you’re hearing there is Weasel Walter jamming good with two bassists: Jonathan Hischke on the high parts, or “air” bass, and Alex Perkolup holding down the low end with his “earth” bass. Who needs those extra strings, anyway?

Towards the end of the Luttenbachers’ 17-year run, Weasel Walter seems like he was getting frustrated with his band’s revolving-door lineup. In the liner notes for the final Luttenbachers album, 2007’s Incarceration by Abstraction, he actually specifically says that he intended to record the album with guitarists Ed Rodriguez and Mick Barr…but they weren’t available, so he did the whole thing by himself.

At the same time he released Incarceration by Abstraction, Walter Weasel announced that the Luttenbachers had “ceased operation.” He’s since moved to New York and now holds down gigs in two bands, Cellular Chaos and Behold…The Arctopus. Both of which are pretty crazy, intense bands…but we still hold out hope that Weasel will reconvene some version of the Luttenbachers one of these days, because their live shows look like they were absolutely insane.

We’ll leave you with our favorite Flying Luttenbachers, which has nothing to do with the rest of the band’s output but is just too damn much fun not to include. This is from an appearance sometime in early ’00s on the Chicago cable access show Chic-a-Go-Go. The song is “De Futura” from that two-bassists 2002 album, Infection and Decline. And, by the way, it’s a cover of the French prog-rock/Zeuhl band Magma. Thanks to reader John for pointing that to us. We never would’ve figured that shit out on our own.

Links:

Weird of the Day: Puig Destroyer, “Mike Trout”

Puig Destroyer

Listen, I love baseball, but it is not the most metal of sports. Football, clearly…the American version, you Eurotrash bastards…football is the most metal sport, following closely by MMA and NASCAR. But that’s all the more reason to love Puig Destroyer. Here’s a bunch of guys who took one stupid pun and a love of the world’s most boring game and created the greatest grindcore band since…well, since Pig Destroyer, the band whose name they’re riffing on.

The other thing they’re riffing on is L.A. Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig, a great young player but hardly the most metal guy in the majors. He’s not even the most metal thing on the Dodgers…that honor still goes to Brian Wilson’s beard, even if the player attached to said beard kinda sucks these days.

So it’s about time Puig Destroyer finally…I mean, they’ve been around for a whole year now…finally recorded a song in tribute to the most metal guy in the majors, the Angels’ Mike Trout. Now this dude’s an absolute beast. Here’s a 489-foot home run he hit earlier this season. Even in the world’s most boring game, he’s fun to watch. And now he has a grindcore anthem worthy of his beastliness.

In case I wasn’t being clear: Yes, all Puig Destroyer songs are about baseball. Other titles include “First to Third,” “Destroyer of Baseballs” and my personal favorite, “Stop Fucking Bunting.” Seriously, guys, just knock it off. Your game’s wimpy enough as it is.

You can hear all of Puig Destroyer’s ball-themed mayhem on their Bandcamp page.

Weird of the Day: Hardcore Anal Hydrogen, “COI”

Hardcore Anal Hydrogen

I know we’ve been doing “Flashback Fridays” around here lately but I don’t care. This video is too fucking good to wait till Monday. Besides, it came out in February, so that counts as a flashback, right? Ah, Feb. 2014. The good old days, before Ferguson and ISIS and Robin Williams and Christ, what a depressing summer this has been.

Anyway, this is yet another French band from Apathia Records, the same lunatics who brought you Pryapisme. Hardcore Anal Hydrogen aren’t quite that out there, especially on this track, which is pretty straight-up post-hardcore with some fun tempo changes and electronic elements. But the video kills me every time. I almost hope the next metal band I see just sends cardboard versions of themselves onstage. It would probably be more entertaining than some shows I’ve been to.

You can find out more about Hardcore Anal Hydrogen on the Apathia Records website.

Weird of the Day: Deathgrind violin with Joey Molinaro

Joey Molinaro

Our buddy Folkicide told us to check out this guy Joey Molinaro who does something called “acoustic grind violin.” Intrigued, we clicked over to one of his YouTube and yep, this dude basically plays grindcore/death metal by himself with a just a violin, foot-stomp percussion and the occasional strangled vocal. The results sound like a cross between a mosh pit and a hootenanny, or maybe something you could call Appalachian folk metal. Check it out.

If, like us, you can’t get enough of this shit, there’s plenty more where that came from on Joey’s Bandcamp page.

Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin

If you heard a loud cheer in the distance on Monday intercut with what sounded like a skipping CD player, you heard the sound of Richard D. James’ fans rejoicing at the news that, for the first time in 13 years, there will be an official new album from Aphex Twin, the production alter ego through which the reclusive, mercurial man from Cornwall released some of the most game-changing electronic music of the ’90s.

True to form, James didn’t make the announcement with a simple press release. Instead, he launched a goddamn blimp with the Aphex Twin logo inside the zero of “2014” over London, then sent fans treasure-hunting into the deep web to uncover the new album’s title and track list. Turns out the new disc will be called Syro; no word yet on a release date. (If you, like us, have no idea how to get to the deep web, some kind soul mirrored the hidden Aphex Twin page here. But you might still need some help deciphering it.)

James has never really done anything conventional over the course of his 20-plus-year career. After first making a name for himself primarily as a producer of ambient music, James helped invent a twitchier, more experimental style of electronica that came to be known as “Intelligent Dance Music” or IDM (a term James himself has disavowed). His many forays into other new sounds and styles also influenced everything from glitch to breakbeat to drill ‘n’ bass. Just in terms of the sheer number of genres he helped shape or invent, he’s arguably the most influential electronic music artist since Kraftwerk.

Towards the end of the ’90s, James’s Aphex Twin releases began to take on a more satirical bent, especially when accompanied by a pair of groundbreaking videos he made with director Chris Cunningham. 1997’s “Come to Daddy” began, by James’s own account, as a death metal piss-take, before evolving into one of the first and most influential glitchcore tracks. Most of you have probably seen it before, but for those of you who haven’t, fair warning: It’s genuinely disturbing.

The creepy Richard James masks are a recurring motif in many Aphex Twin videos, as well as much of his album art (the cover of 1996’s Richard D. James being the most famous). For his second video with Chris Cunningham, 1999’s “Windowlicker,” they took an even more unsettling turn. (Most of you have seen this video, too, but another warning for those who haven’t: the first four minutes feature more N-bombs than Samuel L. Jackson’s entire filmography).

Prior to the announcement of Syro, the last proper Aphex Twin album was 2001’s Drukqs, a double album that alternated between pretty ambient works performed mostly on a computer-controlled piano and glitchier tracks featuring lots of intricate drum programming and melodic synths. He followed that up in 2003 with a remix compilation with the brilliantly cynical title 26 Mixes for Cash, and a 2005 collection of 42 acid house tracks released under the name Analord (he loves aliases; AFX, Polygon Window, GAK and Bradley Strider are among his others). Then, for the most part, he fell silent.

In the decade since, James has surfaced occasionally, at one point even claiming that he had six completed albums’ worth of Aphex Twin material. He’s rumored to be behind an anonymous glitch group called The Tuss, which released some music on James’s Rephlex label in 2007, but he’s never copped to it. He’s definitely behind an odd release earlier this year under the name Caustic Window—odd because the album, a relatively restrained foray into ambient techno and tech-house, was never really meant to be released. Recorded in 1994 but scrapped after just a test pressing, only a few vinyl copies of Caustic Window ever found their way into circulation, occasionally trading hands for thousands of dollars. Finally, some enterprising fans raised the necessary money to buy a copy and release it digitally (with James’s blessing) via a Kickstarter campaign this past June.

But all this activity aside, Syro is still the first official release of new Aphex Twin material in over a decade, which makes it a Very Big Deal in electronic music circles.

One other interesting thing to note about Richard James is that he’s really into hiding images inside his music—literally. At the end of track two of the Windowlicker EP, “Equation” (or as it’s officially titled, “ΔMi−1 = −αΣn=1NDi[n][Σj∈C[i]Fji[n − 1] +Fexti[n−1]]“), he conceals his trademark creepy grinning visage inside the last few seconds of the track’s spectrogram (which you can see here). And on the 2001 EP 2 Remixes by AFX, what sounds like a bunch of piercing, test-signal high frequencies is actually an SSTV transmission, which can be decoded with the appropriate software into what we’re told is an image of James sitting on a couch, along with some text listing all the software used to make the EP (although we couldn’t find this image online anywhere).

While we’re all anxiously awaiting the arrival of Syro, we’ll leave you with another of Aphex Twin’s greatest weird videos, from a 1995 EP called Donkey Rhubarb. Chris Cunningham did not direct this one, so it’s not quite as artful as “Windowlicker” and “Come to Daddy,” but the Teletubbie-like creatures cavorting around with James’s illustrated face (from the cover of his 1995 album I Care Because You Do) are pretty entertaining. Apparently he brought them out on tour for awhile and used them to mess with the audience before shows. He’s a prankster, that Richard D. James.

In fact, come to think of it, we probably shouldn’t believe he’s releasing a new Aphex Twin album until the day it actually arrives. There’s a good chance he could just be punking us. Or it’ll arrive, but it’ll be in binary code, or embedded in a microchip that can only be played via Apple IIc. Or maybe he’ll drop the only copies out of a blimp. Who knows?

Or, knowing Mr. James and his perverse sense of humor, maybe he’ll pull the ultimate prank on his audiophile fans and only release it via iTunes.

Links:

As promised, GWAR gave Oderus Urungus a proper Viking funeral

Oderus Viking funeral

Another GWAR-B-Q has come and gone and while I’m sure all the bands rocked the fuck out and all, most of the talk has rightly been about Dave Brockie/Oderus and the fact that his GWAR bandmates really did, as promised, give the man a full-on Viking funeral. They put Oderus…or at least the latex monster suit formerly inhabited by Oderus…on a boat, sent it drifting out into the middle of a lake, and set it on fire with a fucking flaming arrow. Best funeral since Hunter S. Thompson? I would say so.

The whole funeral is up on YouTube. Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe delivered an excellent eulogy, and there’s some cool stuff with a girl dressed up like a Valkyrie waving a flaming sword around, but the whole thing is 52 minutes long and we know you people have short attention spans. So here’s the flaming arrow money shot:

Rest in peace, Oderus. Or better yet, rest in chaos and mayhem, because that was always more your scene.

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