Tera Melos

Tera Melos

This week’s band is usually described as “math rock,” a style Jake and I have bagged on in the past, partially out of sheer ignorance (back in 2010, we tagged Little Women as a math rock band…um, no), partially because, let’s face it, there are a lot of crappy math rock bands out there. Start-stop tempos and unconventional time signatures, in and of themselves, don’t make guitar-based music interesting, or even all that weird—but our inbox overflows with such dreck on an almost daily basis. So to all you struggling young math rock bands out there, we say: Study the catalog of Tera Melos, and then get back to us. If you can make music half as challenging and (here’s the important part) fucking fun as these guys, we and all the other jaded hipster music blogs might actually start paying attention to you.

Guitarist Nick Reinhart and bassist Nathan Latona started Tera Melos in Sacramento, California in 2004. Initially they were an instrumental quartet, with guitarist Jeff Worms and drummer Vince Rogers, although Worms quit pretty soon after the band started. Their debut album was an untitled collection of eight untitled songs, just labeled “Melody 1,” “Melody 2″ and so on—which was a bit ironic, given that most of the tracks were not so much melodies as kaleidoscopic explosions of processed guitar churning over insanely intricate drum patterns and basslines.

The band’s second full-length album, 2010’s Patagonian Rats, marked a major leap forward. Reinhart had occasionally contributed vocals in the past, but now he was a full-fledged lead singer, and new drummer John Clardy was every bit as technically precise as Vince Rogers but could lay down the occasional in-the-pocket groove. Now Tera Melos sounded like something new: a flashy, complex math-rock band with a fondness for melody and atmosphere, sort of halfway between two of their tourmates, Dillinger Escape Plan and Minus the Bear.

It was also around this time that Reinhart emerged as a bona fide math rock guitar god, with a unique way of using pedal boards to extract maximum sonic impact from his instrument. If you can stomach the host of this video and his relentless ass-kissing, some of the tricks Reinhart demonstrates are pretty impressive. This live in-studio performance gives an even better idea of his guitar/pedal wizardry:

But at the end of the day, it’s not Tera Melos’ math rock chops (or even their refreshing sense of humor about the genre, as seen in the banner art at the top of our site this week) that earn them Weird Band of the Week honors. What really puts them over the top are their music videos, which are nearly always amazing. Here’s “The Skin Surf” from Patagonian Rats, in which they engage in a bit of crustacean osculation while dressed up like the world’s lamest Weezer cover band:

And here’s “Weird Circles” from their latest album, last year’s X’ed Out. Who’s hungry for some Yum cereal?

But their crowning video achievement to date has to be “Bite,” also from X’ed Out, in which music and visuals merge into some kind of overlapping Battles/Primus/Kyary Pamyu Pamyu hallucination. By the way: It’s worth noting that all of these videos were directed by the same guy, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker named Behn Fannin who is clearly some kind of dark, twisted genius.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t once again thank the reader who turned us on to Tera Melos, matp662. I bet matp1 thru matp661 put together are still less cool than you, sir!

Update: Right when we make Tera Melos our Weird Band of the Week, they drop yet another crazy video! Please to enjoy their fresh-pressed latest, “Sunburn”:

Links:

Weird of the Day: Soul Coughing, “Bus to Beelzebub”

Soul Coughing

I know we’re not exactly digging deep with our latest Weird of the Day, but fuck it. Sometimes, when you’re having a tough week, you just need to crank a little Soul Coughing.

For all two of you readers who aren’t already familiar: Soul Coughing was a ’90s band from New York made up of singer/songwriter/latter-day beat poet Mike Doughty, vintage-jazz-and-cartoon-obsessed sampler player Mark de Gli Antoni, and the jazz-trained, hip-hop-inspired rhythm section of Sebastian Steinberg on upright bass and Yuval Gabay on drums. They met in New York’s downtown underground jazz scene in the early ’90s and managed to put out three brilliant albums of self-described “deep slacker jazz” before their conflicting musical tastes and personalities (and addictions) drove them apart in 2000.

There aren’t many bands I say this about, but if you don’t like Soul Coughing, we probably can’t be friends. Their music just ticks all the boxes for me: It’s silly but whip-smart, geeky but undeniably funky, weird but never far from a shamelessly pop sensibility (after turning solo, Doughty would cover Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” with absolutely zero irony), full of lyrical non sequiturs and slyly manipulated samples of familiar songs by the Andrews Sisters, Howlin’ Wolf and Carl Stalling.

“Bus to Beelzebub,” off their mind-bending 1994 debut Ruby Vroom, is too dumb (lyrically speaking) to be the band’s best song, but it’s certainly among their weirdest, what with its Raymond Scott “cartoon assembly line” sample and Doughty chanting “Quadrilateral I was, now I warp like a smile” and “Yellow No. 5″ over de Gli Antoni’s razor-blade organ samples and Steinberg’s relentlessly marching bass. It’s really too bad these guys all hate each other now, because in their heyday, they were a force.

Rudely Interrupted’s new EP “I Am Alive” now available for pre-order

Rudely Interrupted

Well, what have we here? Looks like Australia’s differently abled power-popsters Rudely Interrupted have slimmed down to a quartet in preparation for the release of their latest EP, I Am Alive. It’s out Sept. 19th, but available for pre-order now via iTunes. And it features a song called “Ran Over a Lizard,” so you know it’s gonna rule.

Rudely Interrupted have been racking up the frequent flyer miles of late, playing a “carnival of the mind” called Twenty Wonder here in Los Angeles (sorry we missed you, guys) and performing with an orchestra in Italy. They don’t have any other shows booked at the moment but you can bet that Sam Beke’s sparkly cape will be gracing some stages Down Under again soon enough.

Now here’s a sneak peak at their latest animated music video, for I Am Alive‘s title track. If you pre-order the album via iTunes, you’ll get the full video included with the EP.

Weird of the Day: ZX Electric, “Altered States”

ZX Electric

A gentleman by the name of John Wedge dropped a band from Liverpool called ZX Electric into our inbox over the weekend, and we’re definitely intrigued by their lo-fi, retro sound and especially the strangled, haunted voice of their lead singer, Ben Mawdsley. They have two albums up on Bandcamp called Obsolete (posted May 2013) and Fixed Unknown (posted January 2014). At first, because of the music’s sparse, no wave vibe and squiggly, analog synths, we thought they might be reissues—especially when we found one of the band’s YouTube videos and it was tagged “rare post punk obscure 1981.” But we’re pretty sure they’re contemporary.

Here’s a track from Fixed Unknown, “Altered States.” To quote Julian Cope, who’s a fan: “Kiddies, this artist deploys enormous emptiness as part of his major musical arsenal, occasionally tearing at the heartstrings with hoary chord sequences and anguished vocals so appallingly pained that, veritably, it maketh me want to rend my own garments.” What he said!

You can hear more of ZX Electric’s desolate ditties on Bandcamp.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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