America, your long chap-hop drought is finally about to end. Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer will soon grace our savage shores with his refined, banjolele-fueled ditties about big pimpin’ Victorian style. Huzzah!
Sadly, the esteemed Mr. B’s Stateside social calendar currently boasts but two invitations: The CONvergence sci-fi and fantasy convention (whose 2013 theme, fittingly, is “British Invasion”) in Minneapolis on July 4th, and the Antiquarian Music Festival at Steamstock, a steampunk festival in the San Francisco Bay Area, on July 28th. Between those two dates, we can only assume he will be making the arduous trek across our great American wildernesses via horseless carriage, or possibly one of these things. Will he call upon various saloons and public houses along the way and delight them with impromptu chap-hop recitals? The gap-toothed hoi polloi between the Twin Cities and the Golden Gate can but fervently hope.
Mr. B hasn’t released any new tunes of late, so we’ll leave you instead with this adorable Steamstock promotional video, featuring the many highlights and elaborate hats of Steamstock 2012. Please to enjoy.
You Europeans love to look down on us Americans, don’t you? With our guns and TMZ and politicians dumber than a sack of hammers. Well, we’re about to give you a new reason to feel superior to us. For a whole month, we’re sending you our skankiest drag queen, Christeene, to serenade you with songs about weeping pussies, anal sex and tropical abortions. La Cage aux Folles she ain’t, folks.
Cristeene’s first-ever tour east of the Atlantic includes stops at the SONAR Festival and muthafuckin’ Glastonbury. Not even the Rolling Stones are cool enough to play both SONAR and Glasto. Christeene is killin’ it, y’all.
She’s also playing a date in New York, which isn’t part of Europe but may as well be.
June 7 – NYC – Webster Hall Studio
June 12 – LISBON – Musicbox
June 14 – BARCELONA – SONAR Festival
June 21 – MANCHESTER – Islington Mill
June 22 – LONDON – Duckie
June 23 – LONDON – Lecture/Soho Theater
June 24 – LONDON – Vogue Fabrics
June 25 – LONDON – Vogue Fabrics
June 28 – SOMERSET – Glastonbury Festival
June 29 – BERLIN – Haus der Berliner Festspiele
So Europe: Now that we’re giving you Christeene, you can give us Winny Puhh, right? I mean, fair is fair.
I have to start off by thanking the guy who wrote us up on Metafilter last week, a website that apparently has the magical power to make even a half-assed music blog like ours more popular than catbeard photos. So thanks, narain! Hopefully by the time we post this, you and all the other Metafilterlings won’t have lost interest and moved on in search of…well, catbeard photos, probably. That shit is all the rage these days.
The Metafilter crowd suggested a ton of potential new Weird List fodder that Andy and I are still sifting through, but we wanted to jump right on at least one band submitted by all you highly opinionated newcomers. After much debate, we decided to go with symbioid‘s pick of glitch/noise outfit Computer Jesus Refrigerator, because we liked the name and their videos reminded me of when I used to scarf like 10 Pixy Stix all at once and spin around on the front lawn until it looked like the hedges were attacking me sideways. Yeah, I was basically the Gary Busey of my third grade class.
We don’t know a whole hell of a lot about Computer Jesus Refrigerator. They seem to be from Texas, but we’re not sure what part. This WFMU post says they’re from Austin, but their Bandcamp page is tagged San Antonio and their YouTube channel says they’re from Antarctica, which I assume is a joke but could also be an actual town in Texas for all I know. Maybe next to this one.
CJR is mostly the work of one dude named Michael Vasquez, who also goes by the name of KOKOFREAKBEAN. He likes to call his stuff “tonk honky,” which is as good a name for it as any. He plays drums, keyboards and samplers and also does all the project’s artwork, some of which is fucking amazing. He also designs the band’s costumes, which kind of look like his artwork come to life, in a very Caroliner kid’s-coloring-book-on-acid sorta way. Not sure if all CJR shows feature Vasquez on drums and another person on keyboards, but here’s a show from 2009 that does just that. I particularly like the way he yells at the audience in what sounds like a cross between Spanish, Swahili and Sullustese.
As mind-bending as that was, the videos Vasquez makes for CJR’s little 30-to-90-second bursts of glitchcore are even more extreme. Here’s our favorite.
As if all that weren’t enough, KOKOFREAKBEAN also makes disgusting little video shorts for Funny or Die. If you’re at work, don’t click that link. Guess I probably shoulda told you that in advance, huh?
For some bands, reinventing the wheel would be a form of sacrilege akin to watching an old bluesman suddenly bust out into Justin Bieber song. So we’re happy to report that Cryptic, the sixth album from undead funk-rockers Here Come the Mummies, is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a band whose previous albums include such WYSIWYG titles as Single Entendre and Bed, Bath and Behind. There are songs are partying, songs about sex, and songs about how too much partying can lead to sex. It’s a sweeping epic about the human condition, really. Baz Luhrmann should buy the film rights.
You can listen to extended clips from all 12 of Cryptic‘s tracks right now on the revamped HCTM website, which has a slick new look and all sorts of interactive features (the fan photos from past shows are especially nifty). And speaking of interactive…here’s a live video of them performing the Cryptic track “Everything But” that was made using the French website Evergig.com, which splices together fan-shot videos into a seamless concert clip. Pretty high-tech for a bunch of dudes who’ve been dead for five thousand years.
Big news from Electric Phantom, the record label home to Chimney Crow and Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin. It arrived on our Facebook page earlier this week in the form of a video press conference hosted by Electric Phantom spokeswoman Melody McGinn and attended by the dying remnants of the music press. Let’s watch, shall we?
Very melodramatic, no? Next time we have a big announcement, we’re totally hiring Melody and her gang of ghouls to make it for us.
So now that you know the big news (you did watch the video, right? if not: Spoiler alert!), head over to electric-phantom.com and check out all the new goodies. Happy shopping.
It’s been a year or three since we last heard from Malaikat dan Singa, the Tuvan throat-singing trance-punk project of Old Time Relijun lead singer Arrington de Dionyso. But just the other day, we got an email from Arrington himself, alerting us to the arrival of a brand-new Malaikat dan Singa album and music video. Thanks, Arrington! It’s because of proactive artists like you that we get to sit on our asses looking at Passed Out Juggalos all day instead of trawling the Interwebs for, y’know, music news and stuff.
Anyway, the album is called Open the Crown and it’s out now on the ever awesome K Records. Based on what we’ve heard of it, we’re happy to report that Arrington is full freakout mode, complete with throat singing, bass clarinet and ranting and raving in his preferred rock ‘n’ roll language, Indonesian—although he now mostly belts out in English. The other new wrinkle here, besides the semi-intelligible English lyrics, is a growing interest in the hip-skankin’ beats, loose-limbed basslines and tape echo of Jamaican dub and reggae—an interest that becomes a full-blown homage in the first Open the Crown song to be released in video form, “I Create in the Broken System.” You might think there’s no connection between throat singing and rude boy toasting, but there’s something in Arrington’s growling delivery that’s totally Tibet by way of Trench Town. Also, there are cheetahs and lions.
You can preview more tracks from Open the Crown and I dunno, maybe buy the damn thing for just $6.99 on the K Records website. Think of it as doing your small part to stick it to The Broken System.
Way back in 2009, when we were still a little ankle-biter of a blog, we wrote a post about a French band called Magma that spawned (the band, not the post) an entire genre of hyper-bizarre prog-rock/space-jazz/freak-fusion called Zeuhl. “Next time you hear a bunch of French dudes chanting nonsense lyrics over music that sounds sort of like Pat Metheny on acid,” we wrote, with that casual air of snark that only comes from having no idea what the fuck you’re talking about, “you’re probably listening to a Zeuhl band.”
Well, it’s taken us four years, but we’ve finally a.) admitted that, to this very day, we often have no idea what the fuck we’re talking about and b.) gotten around to writing about another Zeuhl band. Except this bunch is neither French nor, entirely, dudes. They’re from Japan and they’re a coed ensemble by the name of Koenjihyakkei, which translates to something like “The Hundred Sights of Koenji.” Koenji is a neighborhood in Tokyo, but does it really have a hundred sights? Beats me. Like I said, we often have no idea what the fuck we’re talking about.
Here’s what little we do know: Koenjihyakkei (also sometimes transliterated as “Koenji Hyakkei”) was started in the early ’90s by a drummer named Tatsuya Yoshida, whose previous band, Ruins, did a pretty fair approximation of Magma’s original Zeuhl insanity rendered down to just a bass/drums duo. Having apparently exhausted that format, Yoshida expanded his list of collaborators with Koenjihyakkei, adding a rotating cast of musicians to an increasingly epic and noisy take on Magma-esque jazz-prog mayhem. The band’s most recent lineup, seen in the above photo, features a lady who just goes by AH on vocals, Keiko Komori on reeds, Kengo Sakamoto on bass and Taku Yabuki on keys.
We also know that, sadly, the band appears to have been pretty inactive since about 2010 or so. Yoshida has been more focused on various new incarnations of Ruins: Ruins Alone, which is just him with a drum kit and electronics, and Sax Ruins, which is him with (you’ll never guess) a sax player. He’s also got a guitar/bass/drums power trio called Korekyojinn and a growing online photo archive called Stones of the World. Not pictures of international Rolling Stones cover bands—though that would indeed be awesome—but just pictures of interesting rock formations, made by both humans and nature. Worth a look, especially if you’re into stony things. Did I just make a really lame pot joke? Why, yes, yes I did. Thanks for noticing.
Koenjihyakkei’s music is difficult to describe, even for us. Is it Magma by way of Naked City? Boredoms by way of Shibushirazu Orchestra? Japanese show tunes as performed by “something so far off Broadway it’s on the moon”? (We didn’t come up with that last one, but it kinda sounds like something we would’ve written in 2009.) Whatever it is, it’s more overtly jazz-based than Magma or Ruins, but still prone to going off on the sort of crazy tangents that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Mike Patton side project.
We’ll leave you with two videos that should give you a sense of Koenjihyakkei’s full range of musical lunacy. The first is taken from their 2010 DVD Live at Koenji High and really showcases them (especially vocalist AH) as a sort of a jazz quintet from Mars. The oddly jaunty gang vocals at 2:50 are my favorite part. Also the part where she growls like a demon over some serious ’70s-style prog-rock synth runs. I’m not telling you where to find that part; you’ll just have to listen to the whole goddamned thing yourself.
Next: We would be remiss if we didn’t include the track that MVR (Most Valuable Reader) Stuart Johnson sent our way to introduce us to the awesomeness that is Koenjihyakkei. Thanks, Stuart! For a band that owes much of its existence to a single other band (i.e. Magma), Koenjihyakkei are about as original as it gets.
Poll time again, kids. Ready to get all democratic up in this bitch? I know your voting button fingers are quivering in anticipation.
We’ve got five very different bands this month, so be sure to read more about them below before making your selection. Or fuck it, just vote for the name you like best. It’s not like we can stop you. (P.S. Not trying to bias our readers or anything, but if you don’t think Leprechaun Catering is the best name, there might be something wrong with you.)
[Sorry, folks, the poll has now closed. Check back here Wednesday, when the winner will be revealed.]
Read on to learn more about this month’s bands:
Carl are a self-described avant-garde, improvisational trio from Austin, Texas. We particularly like this line from their Facebook “About” page: “We like to practice illusion and intimidation through our sound, and promote the exploration of all emotions embedded within the music, by obscuring reality and confusing the senses as well as bathing them in dense stimulation.” Consider us densely stimulated, fellas! You can check out their EP It’s Mom Upside Down via Bandcamp.
This Australian band’s lineup includes Mr. Bungle drummer Danny Heifetz, and they’ve also worked with members of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and The Melvins, which might make them the ringers of this month’s poll. Some Taiwanese magazine described their sound as “a soundtrack to a Kaiju video game nightmare,” which sounds pretty awesome. You can check out their latest album, Death to the Babyboomers, on Bandcamp.
A reader named Freeman turned us on to this experimental Baltimore duo, so they’re being added to this poll without their knowledge and potentially against their will. So be nice to them, OK? Their label, Ehse Records, says they sound like this: “Imagine if H.R. Pufnstuf and Witchiepoo were at a rave and both fully disembodied in a bottomless k-hole, and were then told that they had to arrange a dance version of Jesus Christ Superstar to be performed by an orchestra consisting of Duane Eddy, Ikue Mori, John Entwistle, Tina Weymouth, Lux Interior, Henry Kissinger, Victor Hugo, Gene Krupa, Eraserhead, Gary Coleman, Stewart Copeland, Clarence Clemons, Jimmy Nolan, Tony Blair, John Belushi, Jimmy Guiffre, Keith Emerson, and Animal from The Muppet Show.” Now you really wanna be nice to them, don’t you? Go to the Ehse Records website and listen to the track called “poulet, poulet-poulet, poulet! 1″ for a taste.
A reader named Patrick is a huge fan of this moody, psychedelic French band, so we’re also adding them to this month’s poll against their will. We’re running amok, people! Pretty much everything about them is in French, but apparently they were just formed in 2012 and they’re influenced by acid rock and Krautrock and “le drone et le psychédélique.” Here’s their Soundcloud page and here’s a video that’s like Schoolhouse Rock on acid.
SpazmO! (yes, with an exclamation point and a capital “O”…just to annoy you) is the electro-noise-punk solo project of a dude from Milwaukee named Evan DeBauche, who also runs his own record label and has something like seven others bands. As you might expect from such a relentless multitasker, the music of SpazmO! sounds like it was recorded by someone who was simultaneously shotgunning Five Hour Energy, cleaning out the garage, doing step aerobics and playing Mortal Kombat with his dick. Here’s his Soundcloud.
So there you have it. We’ll close voting at 11:59 p.m. (give or take a minute) on Friday, May 24th. So cast your vote ASAFP and may the weirdest band win!