Author Archives: weirdestband
It’s been three years since we heard any new music from tUnE-yArDs, the hard-to-type-but-fun-to-listen-to musical project of Merrill Garbus. After conquering the indie rock world and landing on pretty much every critic’s “Best of 2011″ list, Garbus went to Haiti to study Haitian drumming and dance and hand out some free food and clothing to earthquake victims. Then she came home to make a “wild mess” of a new record called Nikki Nack, which is now scheduled for release on May 6th (May 5th, if you live anywhere except the U.S.) on 4AD Records.
No tracks from Nikki Nack are out yet, but last week, Garbus released a “megamix” of the whole album, which you can check out below. She’s also announced a handful of North American and European tour dates, including an already-sold-out stop here in L.A. that we’re going to try to get into anyway. We’ve actually still never been to a tUnE-yArDs show and we really need to fill the Merrill Garbus-sized void in our lives pronto.
Tour dates after the megamix clip.
May 5th – Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever, Los Angeles, CA
May 7th – Rough Trade, Brooklyn, NY
May 12th – Village Underground, London
May 14th – Berghain, Berlin
May 15th – Nochtspeicher, Hamburg
May 16th – Les Nuits-Cirque Royal, Brussels
May 18th – Bitterzoet, Amsterdam
May 19th – Café de La Danse, Paris
May 23rd – Les Schwab Ampitheater, Bend, OR (w/ The National)
May 23rd – 25th – Sasquatch Festival, George, WA
May 31st – June 1st – Free Press Summerfest, Houston, TX
June 18th – 22nd – NXNE, Massey Hall, Toronto, ON
June 19th – 22nd – Firefly Festival, Dover, DE
July 19th – Pitchfork Festival, Chicago, IL
Do you love chocolate? I know I do. But it turns that all this time, I’ve been an amateur chocolate lover. In his new video, Zayde Buti demonstrates how it’s really supposed to be done.
Zayde describes “Sacred Chocolate” as “the newest addition to my ongoing artistic exploration of food issues. As the title suggests, ‘Sacred Chocolate’ explores reverence for food (in this case, cacao) and the ceremonial art of eating.”
So next time you’re scarfing down a Snickers, remember: Eating chocolate should be a goddamn ceremony. Sing that Snickers bar a little song before you devour it. It’s what our ancestors who first harvested the mighty cacao bean would have wanted.
“Sacred Chocolate” is also available on Zayde’s Bandcamp page for a mere $0.99. Which is a penny less than what they charge for a Snickers bar in the vending machine at my office. So it’s a bargain. And listening to it over and over again won’t make you fat. Or will it?
I was still a good two blocks away from The Satellite, where I would be attending the camp-pop explosion that is Leslie Hall and her band Leslie & The LYs, when I spotted my first pair of gold spandex booty shorts. It was the first clue that a.) this show was going to be a people-watching bonanza and b.) I had clearly under-dressed for the occasion.
I needn’t have worried about the second part, though. The whole message of Leslie Hall’s goofy, celebratory music is that we’re all fabulous, no matter what size our asses are or what we chose to clad them in when we left the house. Yes, there were shiny and sparkly Leslie fans in abundance inside The Satellite—but some of us were just shiny and sparkly on the inside.
The show began with a knowingly awkward, low-budget video about Leslie and her sidekicks time-traveling into the future on a quest to obtain the Golden Beats. (No, I’m not telling whether or not they succeeded—no spoilers! You’ll just have to go to the show and see for yourself.) Then Leslie emerged, resplendent in gold and macrame, and launched into “Blame the Booty,” the first of several songs about her “lower regions,” as she delicately put it.
Nothing else about Leslie Hall is the least bit delicate, which is what makes her so awesome. She’s a big, loud Midwestern gal, with a personality at least 10 times larger than her dress size. During and between songs, she worked the crowd with banter that would put any stand-up comedian to shame, over-sharing about everything from her flat ass (“If you bring a pillow to a three-hour movie, I feel you”) to her crafting addiction (“When you need to rent one of those storage units and you’re still in your twenties…”).
Her stage set was, as she put it, “Vegas-style production at Midwest prices.” It started out just looking like some stage flats draped in gold fabric. Then her backup singers rotated the whole thing sideways to reveal a bedazzled Leslie visage, which then split in two to reveal her whole band. The effect was pretty delightful considering the whole thing probably fits in one of those little U-Haul trailers.
Leslie & the LYs are touring in support of Songs in the Key of Gold, a dance remix collection of Leslie’s greatest hits. (Remember how fantastic it was when that used to be a thing? I still have the Billy Idol dance remix collection on cassette somewhere and I stand by that purchase 100%.) This was good news for us because it meant that Les was there to play the hits and play them for maximum danceosity. Although I suspect that’s pretty much what she does on all her tours.
The only real break in the action came when Leslie invited several fans up on stage for a little gem sweater fashion show. The girl who won—who did indeed have a pretty spectacular sweater—was so excited I thought she might start shrieking like a nine-year-old at a One Direction concert. But she managed to hold it together enough to dance along to “Craft Talk,” the best-known of Leslie Hall’s many musical paeans to the art of bedazzling.
There was a tribute to Leslie’s cat Shania, “#1 Cat in America,” which was also an excuse for her to have audience members pass up their cell phones to share their cat pictures. (I immediately regretted that I switched wallpapers awhile back and no longer had this to share.) That number also featured a set of giant cardboard cat legs that rose up behind the stage while someone pretending to be Shania squeaked into an offstage microphone: “Hi, Mom! I hid inside your luggage!”
In lieu of a conventional encore (“We don’t have any more songs,” Leslie said apologetically. “Besides, it’s Monday. Don’t you all have lives? Jobs?”), she and the LYs led the crowd in a little impromptu post-show dance party. “This is the dance started it all!” she declared over Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” busting out a move she called “scooping the driveway.”
At the very end of the show, her minions rotated the backdrop again to reveal a toll free phone number. “I do check my messages,” she assured the crowd, before heading backstage to soak her feet and have some pizza: “I need to float these feminine ankles in the old Epsom bath.”
The song that maybe best epitomizes the Leslie Hall mojo was her finale: “Shazam I’m Glamorous”: a call-and-response anthem in which Leslie entreats her fans to tell her she’s glamorous—and of course they do, fervently. And every time they do, her face scrunches up with delight and she squeals “Thank you!” with complete sincerity. The positive feedback loop between Leslie Hall and her fans is a beautiful thing to behold. I think we all left the show feeling a bit more glamorous—even those of us who were only sparkly on the inside.
God bless Die Antwoord. If those crazy South Africans hadn’t pointed the way with their over-the-top rap-rave anthems and even more over-the-top music videos, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have the Polish “Slavschool” hip-hop of Donatan and we definitely wouldn’t have the Russian rap-rave anthems of Little Big, who are basically Die Antwoord after too much vodka.
On one level, Little Big resembles Die Antwoord so much that they almost seem derivative. Their music is glitchy and uptempo; their videos are grotesque, absurb and occasionally shocking; their lead singer is a skinny tattooed dude who used to be a hip-hop-loving performance artist. (Die Antwoord’s Ninja, aka Waddy Jones, got his start doing more high-brow, satirical with projects like Max Normal; Little Big’s Ilya Prusikin honed his mic skills doing raps dressed up as Josef Stalin.) Even Little Big’s two midget members, Olympia Ivleva and Anna Kast, are reminiscent of Leon Botha, the late Die Antwoord collaborator with progeria syndrome—although that’s probably a totally unfair comparison because for all I know, Kast and Ivleva are integral singers/songwriters/producers in Little Big who just happen to be little people.
And yet, for all the obvious indebtedness to Die Antwoord—and, I suspect, to the videos of Donatan—there’s something about Little Big that is thrillingly original, too. Their hyper-kinetic videos are especially addictive, recasting the stereotypical images of Russian culture—the folk dancers, the vodka, the tracksuit-clad hooligans, the drab, Cold War-era military uniforms, even a balaclava nod to Pussy Riot—as the ghetto-fabulous trappings of a non-stop dance party. And even though their music is almost entirely electronic, there’s a manic, gypsy-punk energy to it. They’re like a raver version of Gogol Bordello, especially on their most popular track, “Everyday I’m Drinking”:
And if you thought that was a wild ride, get a load of “Life in da Trash,” in which a junkyard doubling as a zombie prison camp turns into an apocalyptic dance party and, judging from some heavy-handed title cards, a metaphor for modern life. Prusikin told Vice UK that he’s also a big fan of Cannibal Corpse, which makes total sense after you watch this.
Little Big have an album coming out later this month—their first, I believe. They have a pair of album release shows coming up in St. Petersburg and Moscow and just released a new video earlier today to promote them. It’s called “With Russia From Love” and it gives me oddly amorous feelings towards goats. And makes me want to dance like a Cossack on meth.
P.S. Huge thanks to reader Vass for introducing us to these guys. You made our week, Vass!
[Most Sundays, we give a little hype to a fellow blog, website or other source for all things related to weird music and the people who love it. Check the tag "Sunday Shout-Out" for other recommendations.]
I think it’s probably fair to say that without Japan, our blog would not be half as entertaining. From metal to pop to experimental noise, the Japanese have an uncanny knack for taking virtually any genre of music and turning the weirdness factor up to 11. But music, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. All of Japanese culture is—to us Westerners, at least—pretty bizarre. And one of the most entertaining ways to consume it is via WTF Japan Seriously.
Since 2010, WTF Japan Seriously has been chronicling the “WTFery” of the Land of the Rising Sun in all its glory—everything from TV commercials to game shows to whatever the hell this is. They offer it all with virtually no commentary, because really, no commentary is required—I mean, when you’ve just seen Tommy Lee Jones shooting lasers out of his eyes to sell coffee in a can, what more is there to add?
If memory serves, we first encountered Kyary Pamyu Pamyu when a reader sent us a link to one of her videos on WTF Japan Seriously. And I’ll never forget the day I was surfing their site instead of doing yard work when I stumbled upon this priceless video artifact. For that alone, I feel forever indebted to the folks behind this treasure trove of Japanese pop culture ephemera (Japhemera?)
More tour dates and free music from Here Come the Mummies, the hardest-working undead band in show biz
I guess when you’re undead, you must not need much sleep, because every time we turn around, 4,000-year-old funksters Here Come the Mummies are announcing a new tour and/or releasing new music. Slow down, guys! It’s not like you’re ever going to get too old to keep doing this, right? Stop and smell the flowers once in awhile. Assuming you can smell anything over the musty reek of those 4,000-year-old bandages.
To maintain their status as the hardest-working undead band in show biz, HCTM will be releasing a series of free EPs this year, starting with A La Mode, which they just posted in downloadable form on SoundCloud a few days ago. Here’s one of our favorite A La Mode tracks, a jazzy jam called “Limo Ride.”
They’re also touring their asses off (literally—I hear their asses have been known to actually fall off, along with various other body parts) throughout 2014. Here are the dates they’ve announced so far; more to come, I’m sure.
Here Come the Mummies 2014 tour dates:
3/1 The Fillmore – Detroit, MI
3/7 Culture Room – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
3/8 FunkFest – Punta Gorda, FL
3/14 Bluebird Nightclub – Bloomington, IN
3/15 Zorah Shrine – Terre Haute, IN
4/11 Mercury Ballroom – Louisville, KY
4/12 The Vogue – Indianapolis, IN
4/16 Varsity Theatre – Minneapolis, MN
4/17 Diamond Jo Casino – Dubuque, IA
4/18 Victory Theatre – Evansville, IN
5/2 Engel Stadium – Chattanooga, TN
6/19 State Theatre – Falls Church, VA
6/20 Maryland Live Casino – Hanover, MD
6/21 Mohegan Sun Wolf Den – Uncasville, CT
7/4 Haynes Apperson Festival – Kokomo, IN
7/5 4H Fair – South Bend, IN
8/1 Wisconsin State Fair – West Allis, WI
8/2 Wisconsin State Fair – West Allis, WI
8/8 Piere’s – Fort Wayne, IN
8/9 Riverside Park – Watertown, WI
9/19 Arcada Theatre – St. Charles, IL
Yeah, you read that headline right. We’re calling this one early. No one for the rest of 2014 will release a hip-hop track more fearless than “Hip-Hop Was to Blame After All,” the first video from chap-hop superstar Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer‘s latest wax cylinder, Can’t Stop, Shan’t Stop. You may not entirely agree with Mr. B’s irony-drenched but still scathing indictment of mainstream hip-hop—especially coming as it does from a white, banjolele-playing Englishman—but you gotta at least admit he’s right about one thing: it’s pretty whack that DJ Kool Herc almost went broke paying his medical bills. (And yes, I just used “whack” in a sentence. Stick around and I might also describe Mr. B’s music as “stupid fresh.”)
- Professor Elemental vs. Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer
- Bless us, one and all! Miss Von Trapp has a visit from Professor Elemental.
- Renowned hip-hop magazine GQ calls Insane Clown Posse the worst rappers of all time. All time!
- Someone answered our prayers and added English subtitles to Donatan’s “Nie lubimy robić”
Anyone who reads this blog probably knows this by now, but we lost another member of DEVO this week. Bob Casale, one of the band’s founding members, died Monday of heart failure at the age of 61. His death comes less than a year after former DEVO drummer Alan Myers died of cancer. Yeah, it’s been a rough couple of years for DEVO and their fans.
Casale played guitar and keyboards and was known as “Bob2″ because guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh was “Bob1.” Here’s what his brother, DEVO co-founder Gerald Casale, said about Bob2 on the band’s website:
As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning.
He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got.
He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again.
His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.
Added DEVO frontman Mark Mothersbaugh:
We are shocked and saddened by Bob Casale’s passing. He not only was integral in DEVO’s sound, he worked over twenty years at Mutato, collaborating with me on sixty or seventy films and television shows, not to mention countless commercials and many video games.
Bob was instrumental in creating the sound of projects as varied as Rugrats and Wes Anderson’s films. He was a great friend. I will miss him greatly.
I know we’re usually a bunch of snarky snarkheads on this blog, but not this week. Our hearts go out to everyone in the DEVO family.
Let’s play this post our with some live DEVO circa 1979. It really sucks that two of the five guys in this clip are no longer with us.
I gotta be honest: I have no frame of reference for reviewing a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concert. I had never been to a J-pop show before, unless you count Trippple Nippples, which I don’t. Where the Trippp Nippps are clearly trying to be a little edgier and more “arty,” KPP is gleefully, blissfully, unironically out to sweep her audience away under a raging torrent of cuteness. It was quite possibly the most ridiculous show I have ever been to, and definitely one of the happiest. If you walk out of a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concert wearing a frowny face, you need to adjust your meds.
So is KPP fairly typical of a J-pop show? I have no idea. All I know is not since the ’90s heyday of candy raving have my eyeballs been bombarded with such a colorful display. Oh, and the music was pretty good, too. Even though it was all just a pre-recorded backing track, including most (all?) of the vocals. You don’t go to a KPP show because you want to hear an extended version of the piano solo on “Mottai Night Land.”
There was a set that looked like the bedroom of a giant toddler. There were Oompa-Loompa-like backup dancers. There was a dancing rabbit and a dancing bear. There was an inexplicably bizarre video interlude, to cover for one of Kyary’s many costume changes, that featured her playing poker with a bunch of scary-looking Americans and posing next to a motor scooter like a kawaii James Dean. There were not, sadly, any of the dancing fuzz-monsters from the “Invader Invader” video, but they did throw in that song’s dope-ass dubstep breakdown—and in case you’re wondering, yes, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is still totally adorable, even when dancing to dubstep. Her adorableness defies all logic and the basic laws of the space-time continuum. All the kitten videos on YouTube contain less cumulative adorableness than a single KPP dance move. I can’t explain it, but it is so.
The crowd was almost as much fun as the show, full of elaborately costumed J-pop fans of all ages, races and even styles—there were more than a few goth/steampunk dolls in attendance, sprinkled amidst the expected packs of girls in frilly pink princess dresses. I tried to snap a few pics but when you’re a middle-aged guy at a J-pop show, you have to be careful about who you point your camera at. Fortunately, others with more balls and better cameras were there, too.
My arms are still tired from doing the “Fashion Monster” dance, so I’m going to stop typing now and just leave you with a couple more photos. As you can see, we got there late and our seats weren’t the best. I did try to capture the energy of the crowd in that one shot, though. Yeah, people were really into it.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been binge-watching the Olympics all week and wondering why I wasted my youth on comic books and video games. Fierce competition pushes people to pinnacles of achievement that are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Can it have the same effect on weird bands? Probably not, but it’s still fun to pit them against each other and see who can ascend to the winner’s podium.
You people know the drill by now: Voting ends Sunday, Feb. 23rd at midnight and we’ll announce the winner on Feb. 26th. Got your judge’s hat on? Here we go…
[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:
Astro Al is a duo from
Boston outer space named Paul Angelosanto and Debbie Nash. “Imagine if William Shatner replaced Jim Morrison in the Doors” is how they describe themselves, which is such a great image that I kinda wanna run out right now, buy a Shatner mask and start a cover band called The Crystal Shat. Here’s their website and here’s a video that’s more Deliverance than Doors, but still pretty weird.
Ebola Ape is a DJ from
Poland the Congolese jungle who claims to be the world’s first gorilla turned music producer. What kind of music are gorillas into, you ask? I would’ve guessed Kool & the Gang, too, but it turns out it’s more of a cross between glitchy downtempo, witch house and something I guess the kids these days are calling chillstep. Here’s his website and here’s his SoundCloud page.
Gout Pony is a band from Ipswich, England who don’t claim to be from anywhere else. They call their jazzy/lo-fi/folk/stream-of-consciousness music “trampcore” and list The Residents, Cardiacs and a.P.A.t.T. among their influences. Here’s a link to their album, A Family Gouting, and here’s their Facebook page.
Iris Von Gul
Iris Von Gul is an electro/industrial/math-rock band from Bordeaux, France. They were formed last year by Sam Barbier and Denis Dedieu, formerly of the electro-punk band Decay. Now a quartet, they’ve put out one EP called, appropriately enough, Decay Is Dead, which includes a nifty cover of Marilyn Manson’s “Dead to the World.” Here’s a video of them performing their song “We Are Vicious” in the studio, and here’s their SoundCloud page.
Potworow is a young woman from Poland who makes sparse ambient music, short films and self-portrait photographs, all of which are both lovely and more than a little ominous. Here’s her blog, and here’s her YouTube channel, where we recommend starting with “Longing Blue” or one of her little films like “Gone” or “Dinosaurs.”
So there you have it. Remember to cast your vote before midnight Sunday, Feb. 23rd, and may the weirdest band win.