Weird of the Day: Nautical Almanac

Nautical Almanac

When they’re not heading up their experimental noise project, Nautical Almanac, Twig Harper and Carly Ptak (that’s them in the above photo) run Be Free Floating, a Baltimore company that puts people in those sensory deprivation tanks. Which is ironic, because their music—and some might take exception with calling it “music”—is kind of sensory overload. Weird vocals and noises made on homemade synthesizers scud along the surface of a thick stew of arrhythmic percussion and guitar feedback that doesn’t so much overwhelm you as totally disorient you. After listening to a few hours of it, you could probably use some time in a sensory deprivation tank just to decompress.

Reader The ∞ NSA sent us this clip of a half-hour performance by Harper, Ptak and a third guy (possibly Max Eisenberg?) from back in 2005, which seems to be the last time they released any new music. Since then, Harper’s done some solo stuff and Ptak has gotten into photography. And of course, they help people float. Wish they had an L.A. branch, because I just had a long-ass week.

Most of Nautical Almanac’s catalog is pretty obscure, but they do have one album, Rooting for Microbes, available on Amazon.com.

Weird of the Day: Beep!, “Alien Mating Call”

Beep

When he’s not playing bass in tUnE-yArDs, Nate Brenner is one-third of an even weirder band called Beep! They’re just about to release their latest album, Too Physical, and it’s a wonderland/wasteland (wasterland?) of keyboard squiggles, funhouse vocals and mysterious rhythms. Here’s the video for opening track, “Alien Mating Call,” which wants to know if there’s somewhere we can get down. (Answer: Why, yes, there is! At the Hammer Museum right here in L.A., which is hosting a Too Physical release party on Aug. 7th.)

You can pre-order Too Physical from Beep!’s label, Data Garden. It’s due out Aug. 5th.

Tonttu

Tonttu

Did you know that Finland apparently has a huge gnome problem? Not that the gnomes are huge. The gnomes there are tiny, just like they are everywhere else. Finland has a huge problem with tiny gnomes, is what we’re saying. And don’t let those Travelocity commercials fool you. They’re evil little fuckers hellbent on the destruction of all we hold dear.

Fortunately, one band is spreading the truth about gnomes and working day and night to wipe these pointy-hatted little shitbeards off the face of the earth once and for all. They’re called Tonttu and they were the runner-up in our last Weird Band Poll. Why didn’t they win? Fuckin’ gnomes, man. They’re everywhere. They’re even skewing our poll results! Holy shit, that must mean they’re on the Internet now. We’ve got a huge hacker gnome problem. Not that the hacker gnomes are huge…wait, I explained this already, didn’t I?

Anyway, yeah, Tonttu. They’re led by a guy who calls himself the Tonttufindergeneral Hanz-Baal, with the help of another guy who calls himself Großinquisitor Rudolf Von Deer. They call their music “anti-gnomemartialindustrialneofolkmetal.” Most of it is basically just anti-gnome public service announcements delivered in Finnish over music that makes the Schindler’s List soundtrack sound like Katy Perry, although some of it also features maniacal laughter, which I guess is supposed to be what the gnomes sound like when they get together to talk about their plans to murder us all while we sleep. And one track kinda sounds like a Finnish Rammstein, which is pretty cool.

We don’t speak Finnish, but TFG Hanz was nice enough to give us some of the lyrics in English. Here’s a sample:

The most mythical leader of Gnomes, the lump of lard rising up to the sky, the drooling blasphemer Yog-Sothoth
Highest of High Gnomes, in his creepy disguise

The great deception of Christmas flying in the sky,
Dressed in white beard, red jacket
No one should be deceived by that fake beard anymore

Flying in the glow of Fireballs,
Flying from the depths of Mushroom clouds,
Flying in the shadow of deceit,
Taking instead of giving

So yeah, basically, the gnomes are up to some serious Lovecraft shit. We’ve all been deceived. We are victims of a vast gnome conspiracy. Trust no one. Even David fuckin’ Bowie is in on it.

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure your best defense against gnomes is to download one or more of Tonttu’s anti-gnome albums and play them on full blast 24/7. You can buy their two albums, Nekrognomekon and Anti-Gnomen Divisionen 4 (Mastering the fine art of gnome eradication), here and here. Or, if you want start eradicating gnomes for the low price of FREE, email us at weirdestbandintheworld@gmail.com. The first five people to do so will get free download codes from Anti-Gnomen Divisionen 4. That’s how much Tonttu want to protect you from the gnome menace.

We’ll leave you “Pääruoka,” which features that maniacal gnome laughter we mentioned earlier. Sweet dreams! Hope you don’t have one of those stupid little gnome night-lights. You may as well hang a sign on your bedroom door that says, “Kill me now with your tiny, tiny knives and feed me to your tiny, tiny reindeer.”

Links:

Weird of the Day: Polysics, “Mega Over Drive”

Polysics

Reader Aaron calls Polysics the “bastard Japanese offspring of DEVO.” Polysics themselves call their music “technicolor pogo punk.” We just call is awesome. Next party I go to, I plan to dance by flailing my arms around my head like I’m fending off an invisible swarm of bees, just like the girls in this video. Though I won’t look as cute in a Mylar tutu.

For more Polysics, visit their website or browse their entire catalog on Amazon.com. “Mega Over Drive” comes from their most recent album, Action!!!

MC Frontalot is releasing a children’s album

MC Frontalot

It happens to the best of us: We get old, start having babies, rediscover the joys of blanket forts and bedtime stories, and lose our “edge.” Fortunately for MC Frontalot, nerdcore hip-hop was never especially edgy to begin with. So for him to make a children’s album doesn’t sound like a huge stretch.

But wait: He’s not just rapping nursery rhymes. On Question Bedtime, Front reinterprets classic fairy tales with a whole slew of fellow rappers and famous friends, including Kid Koala, MC Chris, Jean Grae, Busdriver and one of the funniest dudes on the planet, comedian Paul F. Tompkins. The album isn’t due out until Aug. 16th, but you can hear a track called “Much Chubbier” right now over at The A.V. Club. Based on the Norwegian folk tale of the “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” it co-stars rapper Open Mike Eagle as the troll. It’s fun stuff, even for us grownup types.

Frontalot has a slew of U.S. tour dates coming up following the release of Question Bedtime. And need I mention that he’ll also be appearing at Comic-Con? With a Star Wars-themed burlesque troupe, no less. Cue the nerd stampede! (Tickets for that show are available, probably not for long, here.)

MC Frontalot 2014 tour:

Aug. 19—Rex Theater—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Aug. 20—Tiger Room at CS3—Fort Wayne, Indiana
Aug. 21—Subterranean—Chicago, Illinois
Aug. 25—TBD—Denver, Colorado
Aug. 26—The Stateroom—Salt Lake City, Utah
Sept. 1—El Corazon—Seattle, Washington
Sept. 2—Dante’s—Portland, Oregon
Sept. 4—Brick & Mortar—San Francisco, California
Sept. 7—TBD—Phoenix, Arizona
Sept. 9—Three Links—Dallas, Texas
Sept. 10—TBD—Austin, Texas
Sept. 11—TBD—Houston, Texas
Sept. 12—Northgate Tavern—Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Sept. 13—Beatnik—New Orleans, Louisiana
Sept. 14—Center Stage—Atlanta, Georgia
Sept. 16—TBD—Charlotte, North Carolina
Sept. 17—King’s Barcade—Raleigh, North Carolina
Sept. 18—TBD—Baltimore, Maryland
Sept. 19—North Star Bar—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sept. 20—TBD—New York, New York

Weird of the Day: Cookie Mongoloid, “C Is for Cookie”

Cookie Mongoloid

Recently a reader named StArSeEd (obviously a big fan of tUnE-yArDs) bombarded our Submit a Band page with about a zillion bands of varying levels of weirdness. And while we wish we cover them all, StarSeed (sorry, I’m not putting all those goddamned caps in your name twice), for today, you’ll have to settle for us sharing Cookie Mongoloid with our readers.

Cookie Mongoloid is (or possibly was—they seem to have been inactive since about 2010) a Bay Area bunch of freaks who took the popular description of death metal growls as “Cookie Monster vocals” to its logical conclusion: They got Cookie Monster himself to be their lead singer. Actually, I suspect it’s not Cookie himself but probably his alcoholic brother, Mookie Conster. But since we haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them live for ourselves, it’s hard to say for sure. They call their music “Sesame speed metal” but I think “Muppet goregrind” is catchier, though perhaps less accurate.

Anyway, here’s a video of them performing (what else?) “C Is for Cookie,” complete with flames, motorcycles and a cookie cannon. Looks like fun! If anyone knows whether or not these guys are still together, let us know.

Let’s stick a fork in this World Cup with Donny Varper

Donny Varper

The World Cup is finally over, which means us Americans can stop pretending to care about soccer and the rest of the planet can get back to their lives. I must admit, I watched more of it than usual this year, but except for that one awesome match where Germany stomped Brazil into the turf, I watched most of it out of the corner of my eye while I was doing more interesting things, like scraping Cheeto dust off my couch cushions and trying to turn my vuvuzela into a beer bong. Jesus, world, could you maybe pick a more interesting sport to be obsessed over? Try golf or something. At least in that game, the ball goes into the hole once in awhile.

But yes, the World Cup is a big deal, the one sporting event that unites the whole planet and blah blah blah. So we here at Weird Band HQ would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge it in some way. Fortunately, gay Nicaraguan leprechaun Donny Varper is here to help. Donny wrote a song in honor of the World Cup called “GOL” and as with all transmissions from the Planet Varper, it’s amazing. Can you feel that Cup in your heart, Germany?

So see you in four years, World Cup. I’m sure there will be plenty more Cheeto dust in my couch cushions by then.

Weird Band Night happened, and it was awesome

California Institute of Abnormalarts

Photo by Gruesome Gereg

Well, it only took us five years, but we finally hosted our first-ever Weird Band Night, and it was amazing. Why didn’t we do this sooner? Because we’re control freaks and booking live music is the art of wrangling chaos. So many things are so completely out of your control that all you can really do is line up the bands and the venue and tell everyone you’ve ever met that they need to be there and then sit back and hope for the best.

But despite a setback or two (we forgive you, Haunted Garage), Weird Band Night was a rousing success. OK, the venue could have been a little fuller, and the show could have run a little more on schedule. And Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra’s name could’ve been spelled correctly on the marquee. But no one died and the bands were on fire. Plus the California Institute of Abnormalarts (CIA) might literally be the Weirdest Venue in the World (complete with its own oddities museum containing no fewer than two actual mummies) so we couldn’t have asked for a better place to host it for us. We’re putting this one in the win column!

First up we had the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra from San Diego, playing their first L.A. show. As with all opening bands, they had to contend with the lower energy of a small audience, but they powered through a hilarious set that answered such burning questions as “What’s the most expensive way to feed a zebra?” (answer: Pop Tarts) and “Which species of bird are potentially poisonous?” (answer: all of them).

SPO-CIA-sm

Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

SPO-20, robot frontman of the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

For a one-man/one-robot act, SPO had quite the impressive setup, complete with their own lighting and an audiovisual presentation that included vintage educational videos and lyric subtitles, so you could decipher the Stephen Hawking-like vocals of the band’s frontrobot, SPO-20.

SPO at the CIA

Photo by Gruesome Gereg

Next up: The Rhythm Coffin, the ghoulish cavalry who swooped in and saved the day when Haunted Garage were forced to cancel on short notice. Their set was a big horror-punk/surf/rockabilly singalong with lots of great audience interaction, especially when they tossed what felt like about 300 styrofoam dummy heads into the crowd. This was ostensibly only for one song, “The Headless Head Bop,” but once the heads were unleashed, you pretty much had to keep your own head on a swivel for the rest of their set, lest you get beaned from behind by an overeager Coffin fan.

The Rhythm Coffin

Rhythm Coffin lead ghoul Gruesome Gereg (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

Eerie Emma

Rhythm Coffin “Ghoulie Girl” Eerie Emma (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

The Rhythm Coffin

Scary Carrie, Gruesome Gereg and GhoulHectic Clownie (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

Last but certainly not least: The Radioactive Chicken Heads. What can I say about these guys? Every single song was a show unto itself. They broke out so many props and costumes and extra performers that, had I not met lead singer Carrot Topp in street clothes before the show, I might have started wondering if Dave Brockie faked his death and was now playing in a chicken-themed punk band from Orange Country. Their show was GWAR-like in its mind-boggling parade of wacky characters and costumes.

Carrot Top, Radioactive Chicken Heads

Carrot Topp of Radioactive Chicken Heads (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

Radioactive Chicken Heads

Chicken Heads (left to right): El Pollo Diablo, Sgt. Psyclopps, Carrot Topp, Cheri Tomato, Bird Brain

I'm not really sure what this thing was. It almost ate Carrot Topp, but he managed to escape.

I’m not really sure what this thing was. It almost ate Carrot Topp, but he managed to escape.

Radioactive Chicken Heads

Double Carrot Topps! For the song “I Looked Into the Mirror.”

Radioactive Chicken Heads

Carrot Topp, Bird Brain and drummer Puke Boy

Carrot Topp and Badd Bunny

Carrot Topp does battle with the Badd Bunny, one of many adversaries who, for some reason, manage to get into every Radioactive Chicken Heads show

Radioactive Chicken Heads

This adorable little girl got onstage to help introduce the song “I Eat Kids.” Don’t worry, she’s fine. (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

Punky Rooster and El Pollo Diablo (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

Punky Rooster and El Pollo Diablo (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

Thanks again to all the bands, Carl and everyone at the CIA, and most of all, all the friends and fans who came out to support the show. I hope you had half as much fun as we did.

Weird of the Day: Anton Maiden, “Can I Play With Madness”

Anton Maiden

Gnome-hating Finns and Weird Band Poll runners-up Tonttu wrote to us this morning and shared a link to an amazing, computerized cover of Iron Maiden’s “Can I Play With Madness,” created back in 1999 by a Swedish teenager named Anton Gustafsson, who called himself Anton Maiden.

Sadly, for Anton, the answer to the question “Can I Play With Madness” was apparently “Yes”: He committed suicide at the age of 23. But he left behind a huge and awesome collection of MIDI/chiptune Iron Maiden covers that continue to piss off purists and inspire nerdy headbangers to this day. If programmed synths can shred, then Anton Maiden’s are the shredmasters against which all others must be judged.

You can check out more of Anton’s stuff on his website (which is in Swedish, but you’ll figure it out).

Weird of the Day: Spoek Mathambo, “Control”

Spoek Mathambo

Since our last bit of weirdness from South Africa was an Apartheid-era piece of Euro-pop nonsense called “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance),” we figured we’d balance the books this week with something more contemporary and more representative of South Africa’s melting-pot mix of black and white musical influences. Spoek Mathambo is a rapper/producer from Johannesburg who calls his mix of hip-hop, electro and Afrobeat rhythms “township tech.” Here, he covers Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control” and turns it into a throbbing techno assault, made all the more ominous by the stark imagery of this video.

You can check out more of Spoek Mathambo’s stuff on Amazon.com or his YouTube channel.

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