Author Archives: weirdestband

Read my interview with MC Frontalot…on this other site

MC Frontalot

MC Frontalot‘s new album Question Bedtime arrived this week, with its twisted folk tales and hilarious sketches in which Front babysits unruly comedians. (“I’ll go to bed on one condition: Make me a Baked Alaska,” Paul F. Tompkins pleads.) It’s good stuff, but also a major departure for the nerdcore rapper, whose usual subject matter consists of videogames, sci-fi and the occasional stoop sale. We wanted to find out more about why he chose make what is, in essence, a children’s album.

While we sometimes do interviews on this blog, it’s more lucrative if we can convince some other website to pay us to do it. In this case, that website was The Daily Dot, a tech and pop culture site heavy on geek-friendly content. Front’s right in their wheelhouse, so they agreed, perhaps not knowing that we’d spend most of our interview talking about Idries Shah’s World Tales: The Extraordinary Coincidence of Stories Told in All Times, in All Places.

Anyway, to read the interview, go here. And to pick up a copy of Question Bedtime, go here. Just remember that if you play it for your kids, they’ll probably start asking you for Baked Alaska.

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Weird of the Day: Darth Vegas, “Nano Nano”

Darth Vegas

Today’s weirdness comes to us all the way from Australia (and a suggestion by reader Roman). Darth Vegas might best be described as vaudeville metal. Their music ping-pongs between bone-crushing drop-D chords, sing-song circus-tent music, finger-poppin’ jazz, frenetic ska and sunny surf-rock, usually every three seconds or so. They get compared to Mr. Bungle a lot—like, pretty much in every YouTube comment—and they definitely wear their Mike Patton Fan Club badges on their sleeves. But they bring enough of their own cleverless and technical chops to the party that their stuff stands on its own.

Here’s the first track off their self-titled 2003 album. If you don’t like it, wait a few seconds.

For more Darth Vegas, visit their website, or check out their catalog on Amazon.

Negativland’s new album “It’s All Your Head” questions the existence of God and comes packaged in an actual Bible. That won’t piss anyone off.

Negativland

When last we heard from our favorite sound collage culture jammers Negativland, they were honoring the spirit of the late Casey Kasem by re-releasing their banned single “U2″ that featured Kasem’s familiar, woolly voice unleashing a profanity-laced tirade. While that was certainly a worthy endeavor, we’re happy to report that their next project promises to be a bit more substantial. On Oct. 28th, they’ll be releasing It’s All in Your Head, their first album of new material in six years. And this time, they’re tackling their heaviest topic yet: why people believe in God.

But wait, because this is Negativland, the fun doesn’t stop there. The CD release of It’s All in Your Head will be packaged inside actual copies of the Holy Bible. The trailer video even promises a limited run of copies packaged inside the Qur’an. So basically, It’s All in Your Head is guaranteed to piss off both the Christian conservative crowd and the Islamic fundamentalist set. It’s equal opportunity blasphemy!

To be fair, nothing in the trailer or press release suggests that Negativland are actually doing anything especially blasphemous. They’re simply using religious texts as found-art objects, and questioning the existence of, and our belief in, a single, all-powerful deity—which is not the same thing as denying the existence of said deity, a finer point that’s often lost on the zealots. Which is why we’re predicting this will probably be Negativland’s most-discussed release since their 1995 book/CD project Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2, which they put out in response to the Casey Kasem/U2 dustup.

Anyway, It’s All in Your Head promises, according to a press release, to combine “found music, found sound, found dialogue, guest personalities and original electronic noises into a compelling and thoughtful musical essay that looks at monotheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, neuroscience, suicide bombers, 9/11, colas, war, shaved chimps, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs.” Portions of the record were made in front of a blindfolded studio audience. Other portions were probably just taped off Christian right-wing radio. Which parts are which? We bet you can figure it out. You’re a smart bunch.

Here’s the video trailer. Enjoy! Oh and if you happen to be in Portland on Aug. 29th or Seattle on Aug. 31st, you can catch Negativland’s new show, “Content!”, at the Crystal Ballroom and Bumbershoot, respectively.

Weird of the Day: Lauren Bousfield, “Cracknight”

Lauren Bousfield

Some artists are just too weird for any one genre to contain. After getting pigeonholed in the breakcore and chiptune scenes while working under the name Nero’s Day at Disneyland, Sacramento-based producer Lauren Bousfield dropped that moniker and began making even stranger music under his own name. As great as Nero’s Day was—and some of it was pretty flippin’ fantastic—Bousfield’s first solo album, Avalon Vales, is even better, because it refuses to stay in one place, skipping across genres like a rock across a pond. It still owes a debt to more experimental breakcore producers like Venetian Snares, but it’s on its own trip. No wonder one of his genre tags on Bandcamp is just “____.”

You can stream the whole towering, beautiful mess that is Avalon Vales on Bandcamp. Meanwhile, for a little taste, check out this video for the aptly named “Cracknight,” and remember, if you ever have Bousfield over for dinner, don’t let him anywhere near the electrical tape.

Zammuto’s new album, “Anchor,” now streaming on NPR’s First Listen

Zammuto

Photo from zammutosound.com

Anchor, the second album from Zammuto, comes out next Tuesday, Sept. 2nd. But you can hear the whole thing streaming now via NPR’s First Listen series. It’s like your traveling into the future! But with fewer contrived plot twists.

We’re cranking it now and loving it. As good as the first Zammuto album was, it definitely felt like former Books collage artist Nick Zammuto was still trying to figure out what he wanted to sound like working in a more conventional rock band format. Anchor is more sonically consistent—and, at first blush, less weird, although most of these songs still percolate with interesting little electronic filigrees, quirky rhythms and unexpected lyrical turns—even on a song like “Henry Lee,” which is based on a traditional folk ballad but features the startling image, “Now the crabs crawl out of your skull.”

We’ll leave you with this video for one of Anchor‘s more uptempo tracks, the sorta-New Wave-ish “Io,” which also features tons of action shots of the massive trebuchet (sort of a cross between a slingshot and a catapult) Nick and his buddies built on the Zammuto farm in Vermont. I’ve heard of album “launch parties” but this is ridiculous! Am I right, people?

Weird of the Day: Cyriak, “Malfunction”

Cyriak

The creator of today’s weirdness is primarily an animator, but he also writes nifty little electro-bleep music loops for his original videos, including the mind-bending clip below. He’s also created videos for artists like Bloc Party, Flying Lotus and Bonobo. He does most of his animations using Photoshop and After Effects, which is kind of amazing considering how clever and highly detailed they can get.

If you have a few hours to kill, go and get lost on his website. But we’re not kidding about the “few hours” part. His clips are highly addictive.

Here’s Miss Von Trapp’s new album, “Grave Folk”

Miss Von Trapp, "Grave Folk"

Here’s something worth tearing yourself away from The Simpsons marathon for: a new album from the mistress of morbid cello ditties, Miss Von Trapp. Grave Folk features songs about vampires, death, drowning babies, taxidermied rabbits, and kitty cats—because everyone loves kitty cats!

You can hear Grave Folk in all its 10-track glory on Bandcamp—and if you like what you hear, the whole thing can be yours for the low, low price of five quid. Here’s our favorite song, “A Mother’s Lament,” a public service reminder to always take the skinniest children out of the bath tub before pulling the plug, lest they be sucked to a watery grave.

Enjoy! Now we’re back to The Simpsons marathon…”Treehouse of Horror VIII” should be on any minute.

Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin wakes up the “House Plants” in her new video

Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin

The sixth video from Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin‘s Residents-channeling opus Fish Drive Edsels is a pretty literal interpretation of the song “House Plants.” Fortunately, MacPumpkin’s lyrics are so random that even a literal interpretation leads to some bizarre imagery.

There are plants with eyeballs for fruit and hungry, gaping mouths. (Feed me, Seymour!) There’s an angry frozen octopus and lots of hourglasses, because the song mentions something about “undermation of the hourglass,” whatever that means. Above all, there’s lots of Petunia singing into a megaphone and hanging out in her attic with her house plants, whom she tries to wake up, but never too soon—never too soon.

MacPumpkin is working her way through Fish Drive Edsels one track at a time, creating surreal videos for each of her cracked-calliope tunes. Next up is a song called “Autumn Leaves”—hey, just in time for autumn! I predict this one will feature lots of dead leaves and maybe a jack-o-lantern or two.

Weird of the Day: Afrika Bambaataa, “Renegades of Funk”

Afrika Bambaataa

I’m in the Bay Area today interviewing DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist about their upcoming Renegades of Rhythm tour, for which they’ll be playing all vinyl culled from hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa’s 40,000-plus record collection. So I thought it would be a good day to give Bambaataa a little shout-out here on TWBITW. After all, he was in many ways a pretty weird dude.

This 1983 video for “Renegades of Funk” is a nice reminder that, compared to most of the crap on the radio today, early hip-hop could get downright avant-garde. Aside from the Sun Ra/George Clinton Afro-futurist costumes worn by Bambaataa and his Soulsonic Force crew, the track itself is a forward-thinking mix of squiggly synths, stuttering drum machines and Bootsy-style bass. It also name-checks practically every major funk and hip-hop innovator, civil rights activist, and the original gangsta, Sitting Bull. Class is in session!

My DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist interview won’t run here; it’s one of them there paying gigs for another outlet. But we’ll probably link out to it from our Facebook page or something.

Here’s another track from MC Frontalot’s forthcoming children’s album, “Question Bedtime”

MC Frontalot

Photo by Sabelo Narasimhan

Nerdcore hip-hop heartthrob MC Frontalot (c’mon, you know those chunky glasses make your panties drop) has given us all another little taste of Question Bedtime, his not-really-a-children’s-album-exactly LP, which is due out Aug. 26th (we said Aug. 16th earlier, but we were trippin’). “Start Over” tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood—or rather, it tells the story of how we’re always changing up the story of Little Red Riding Hood, much to the consternation of small children who tend to get very, very attached to whichever version they’re most familiar with. It’s a meta-fairy tale, y’all! Remember, even when he’s rapping to children, Front is still nerdcore to the, um, core.

At the moment, you can only hear the track via USA Today’s Pop Candy blog, so take a deep breath and head over there to listen. Don’t worry, it’s way better than that time USA Today tried to make sense of Babymetal. There’s a really good Q&A with Front and everything.

And speaking of Q&As: Stay tuned for an interview I myself recently did with MC Frontalot. It’ll run on another site I freelance for called The Daily Dot but we’ll link to it from here. (Am I mad cuz USA Today scooped me? Nah. I got all sorts of exclusive material out of him. USA Today didn’t even touch on that one time he got really into bookbinding.)

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