Despite our crusty, cynical exteriors, we’re really softies here at Weird Band HQ. So when a band loses one of our world-famous Weird Band Polls™ by just a few votes, it breaks our hearts. But not for very long, because we can just go ahead and add them to the Weird List anyway. You didn’t think that poll shit was binding, did you? This ain’t fuckin’ American Idol and I’m way better looking than that douchebag Ryan Seacrest.
So congratulations, H-Beam! You may have come in second to Barbara, but second place with over 500 freakin’ votes is still good enough in our book.
H-Beam are from Nashville, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say they are not gunning for a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. They’re more Dr. Demento than Grand Ole Opry. The brains of the operation seems to be a singer/guitarist/banana aficionado named (duh) Banana Matt. When he’s reeling off guitar-god psych-rock solos, they kinda just sound like another Bonnaroo side stage jam band. But Matt likes to write songs about talking hot dogs and masturbating pandas, and he’s surrounded himself quite the band of misfits: a magician/saxophonist, a dude who gives rides on his giant moustache, a lawyer pig named Bert DerHam, and a manager/hype-man named Mitch Huffman who wears a thrift-store pimp hat and says “Who touched all my shit?” a lot for no apparent reason. Even the masturbating panda shows up occasionally.
Banana Matt and company just released their third album this week: Episode 1: Shorn to Secrecy, a follow-up to the excellently titled Useful Box of Hair. It’s full of wacky skits and Zappa-like jams and it will make you smile. You can download the whole thing name-your-own-price-styley from Noisetrade. There’s an entire song about bacon, so you know that shit’s worth at least a fiver.
Now I will admit: 500 votes aside, half the reason H-Beam is scoring Weird Band of the Week honors is because they got Bert DerHam to make this awesome video giving us a shoutout. But the other half…maybe even the other two-thirds…is the video for “Love Panda.” Enjoy.
You know what automatically makes just about anything cooler? Robots, that’s what. By that measure, Captured! by Robots (no relation, as far as we know, to Panic! at the Disco) is the coolest band on the planet. There’s only one human in this nine-member band, and he’s a whiny douchebag in a gimp mask with fake intestines hanging over his beer gut. Whereas the guitar player, GTRBOT666, is like eight feet tall and plays a double-neck Flying V combination guitar and bass. Because shit, why not? He’s a fucking robot. They can vacuum our carpets and assemble our automobiles. How hard can it be for them to play three-chord hesher bait?
Actually, the robots aren’t really the driving force behind Captured! by Robots. It’s that lone whiny human (but we had you going for a second there, didn’t we?). The joke perpetuated by Jay Vance, aka JBOT, is that he started building robot bandmates because he was sick of his flesh and blood ones…but then the robots rose up and enslaved him, and now they run the band. There’s a cautionary tale in there somewhere, but we’re not sure if it’s “Stick to your human band” or “Skip the robots and taking up DJing.”
Anyway, here’s a clip of C!bR’s live show, which is really the main attraction here. Musically, they’re in no danger of replacing us meat puppets. Although their “Don’t Stop Believin’” cover ain’t half bad. (By the way, high-fives to reader Aaron for suggesting these guys. Hold on to that feeling, Aaron!)
Sad news in the world of weird bands this week: Ween have broken up. At least according to Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman they have; Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo, heartbreakingly, seems to have been totally blindsided by the whole thing. “This is news to me, all I can say for now I guess,” Dean posted on Ween’s Facebook page. Poor guy.
We never got around to adding Ween to the Weird List sooner because, frankly, we’ve always classified them more as “quirky” than out-and-out weird—more left-of-center than, say, They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies, but part of that same continuum of late ’80s/early ’90s bands whose reaction to the bloviated mainstream rock of the era was to genre-hop with cheeky abandon. But we know plenty of our readers are big fans, so when news of Freeman’s breakup announcement hit yesterday, we decided to revisit their gargantuan catalog (extra-gargantuan, if you include all their self-released ’80s material). And you know what? These dudes were pretty weird.
The hardcore fans don’t really need a tally of all their wackiest moments, but for the punters, let’s include one anyway:
Their early, self-released cassettes, mostly recorded when they were still in their teens and getting baked in the totally adorable Philadelphia exurb of New Hope, PA (I’ve been there and, trust me, it’s like if Martha Stewart designed an entire town), included such immortal titles as Axis: Bold as Boognish and Erica Petersen’s Flaming Crib Death. They recorded everything on four-track and would frequently speed up or slow down the playback to achieve various creepy psychedelic and underwater effects, like on this track.
Their first major-label release, 1992′s Pure Guava, included such track titles as “Reggaejunkiejew,” “Poop Ship Destroyer” and “Touch My Tooter.” Amazingly, it also produced a hit single, “Push th’ Little Daisies.” When their label, Elektra, made them release a radio edit of the song that omitted the word “shit” from the lyrics, they replaced the word with a Prince sample and titled the new version “Push th’ Little Daisies (Shitless Radio Edit – No Shit).”
In 1996, they went to Nashville and made a country album. It was actually pretty good, too.
They followed that up in 1997 with The Mollusk, a nautical-themed concept album that many consider to be their best work—or at least their weirdest. It also inspired at least one great Lego-mation video.
They became one of the first bands to fully embraced digital music formats in 1999, when they released their next album, Craters of the Sac, exclusively on MP3.
They committed fewer acts of weirdness in the ’00s, although they did release their one and only full-on house track, the awesomely ridiculous “Friends.”
Even post-Ween, Dean and Gene have been keeping it weird. Gene’s first solo album under his real name, Aaron Freeman, is made up entirely of Rod McKuen songs. Dean Ween, meanwhile, has mostly gone fishin’—literally. You can charter a fishing trip with him on the Delaware River or off the Jersey Shore through Mickey’s Guide Service.
It’s also worth mentioning that arguably no other band, over the course of the past 20 years, covered more musical terrain. Ween songs range from punk to psychedelic rock to lo-fi bedroom folk to ambient tape loop experiments to country to reggae to bossa nova to funk to sea shanties to Led Zeppelin covers and back to punk again. They could seemingly do anything—and while much of it was done with tongue firmly in cheek, it was all executed with undeniable skill, which may be the single quality their fans love about them the most. Listening to the Ween catalog is like listening to a really good barroom jukebox after a really good bong rip.
We’ll leave you with “Push th’ Little Daisies,” which for me remains Ween’s crowning achievement (and yes, I know, that’s sacrilege to all you hardcore fans, but c’mon—how great is this song?). Also, how freakin’ cute are Dean and Gene in this video? They look like they’re barely old enough to drive.
We look forward to your Coachella 2014 reunion, guys!
Listen, Andy and I are always grateful that anyone bothers to read our crappy little blog, but damn. Sometimes we don’t know about you people.
The votes are in on the latest band from our Submit & Vote page, and despite the fact that their most distinguishing qualities are wearing asshats (not a figure of speech—see photo above) and making fun of the handicapped, the Ass Orbiters have been declared weird by our dubious readership. So, congratulations, Ass Orbiters! You may be tacky and tasteless, but around here, that’s apparently how we like it.
What else can we tell you about this New York band? We’ll let head Orbiter Gary Perkinson sum it up: “We’ve basically made a career out of throwing whatever kind of idiotic crap we can come up against the wall and seeing what sticks. What more could an audience ask for than 45 minutes of cheap laughs and six-minute prog/reggae/waltz songs about diarrhea and putting evangelical Christian ministers in the gas chamber?”
Seriously, what more could you ask for? Mercy, perhaps? You won’t be getting any of that from the Ass Orbiters, buddy. You’re gonna get Ween-like genre-hopping songs with titles like “Tree Rapist” and “I Wanna Pee on That” and you’re gonna like it.
So without further ado, allow us to present what may well be the Ass Orbiters’ defining moment: a little countrified ditty called “Cripples and Drunks at the Roller Derby.” You’re welcome.
Back in 2003, I had one of those horrible, soul-crushing jobs where you sit at a desk all day and chip away at the same boring, tedious, a-monkey-could-do-this-shit tasks knowing that your reward, upon completion of said tasks, will be another giant, teetering stack of the exact same boring, tedious, a-monkey-could-do-this-shit tasks. It was assembly line work, basically, except that instead of a bad back and exposure to carcinogens, I got a fat ass and carpal tunnel syndrome. At least my cubicle had a window. With a view of a Chevron station, but still.
In between monkey tasks–and since I’m not a monkey, there grew to be a great deal of time between monkey tasks–I whiled away the hours in all sorts of stupid ways. This was before Facebook and YouTube, remember, so even with access to the Interweb, my cubicle-bound office-mates and I had to make due with some pretty primitive entertainment options. We created lots of fake Friendster accounts. This one girl Sarah got me totally hooked on a ridiculous videogame called Snood. We anticipated the arrival of Friday happy hour with lots of rockin’ out to “Peanut Butter Jelly Time.” It was a simpler, more innocent era.
Somewhere, in the midst of all this, someone turned me onto this amazing, totally stupid little Flash animation featuring a squirrel and a song in which a guy with a chipmunk voice basically just screamed “Weeeee!” a lot. In my somewhat dehumanized state, I thought this was pretty much the greatest thing I had ever seen. That squirrel and that “Weeeee!” song helped me through some dark days.
Eventually, I got another, less soul-crushing job and I put those dark days behind me. Or so I thought.
A few days ago, a reader named Steve R. wrote in and suggested we feature a band called Threebrain. And damn if it isn’t the same crazy bastards who did that “Weeeee!” song. Turns out they did a whole crap-ton of cheesy little animation videos in the pre-YouTube early ’00s and most of them are still viewable on this site. Ain’t the web a wonderful place? Nostalgia is but a mouse-click away.
So thanks, Steve, for bringing back a fond memory I had inadvertently buried in my mad dash to mind-erase most of my miserable 2003 existence. Turns out it wasn’t so bad after all. I even miss Friendster, kind of. At least they didn’t try to data-mine our entire browser history like those fuckers at Facebook.
I wish I could tell you more about Threebrain, but honestly, the amount of info out there is surprisingly limited, considering that back in 2003, that “Weeeeee!” video was more ubiquitous than the dancing hamsters. Allegedly it was the work of a duo from Morristown, New Jersey. They put out two albums, Weeeeee! – Albert Christmas Squirrel and Fetus Trackstar, in 2001 and 2003, respectively. They’re both still available on iTunes, actually. The music is sort of like if the Violent Femmes tried to make a children’s album–but a children’s album with song titles like “Hot Dogs Are Shit” and “Buttbadger 123.” And if the only thing they had to record their work on was a crappy laptop mic. And they sped up their vocals to make themselves sound like chipmunks. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.
More recently, Threebrain appears to be the work of just one guy: this guy, in fact. That video was uploaded just three weeks ago and yes, it really is just seven minutes of that guy noodling around on his banjo and singing in weird voices. The rest of his YouTube channel has other videos that are more in the “Weeeee!” tradition of lo-fi animation accompanied by silly songs, as well as a bunch of videos of something called Toilet of Wisdom, which appears to be some kind of three-man comedy show. He promises on YouTube, and also on Threebrain’s (former?) online home, GonadsandStrife.com (“where funny lives!”), to make “a new cartoon every damn day,” but as far as I could tell, he’s only made about three in last year or so. But hey, that’s cool–we promise ourselves to update this site two or three times a week, and you can see how that’s working out. Sometimes great art takes time–and so do 15-second slide whistle cartoons.
So hopefully Threebrain will get his mojo back soon and spawn another Internet viral sensation. Or maybe the days of primitive Flash animation videos are past and we’ve all moved on to cat videos with comedic voiceover dialogue. Either way, here’s a blast from the past, starring Albert Christmas Squirrel. Trust me, you’re totally gonna watch it and be all like, “Weeeee!”
- Threebrain official site (currently just a static page promising “new site coming soon”)
- Gonads and Strife! (onetime online home of Threebrain; appears to have been inactive since April 2010)
- Toilet of Wisdom (a collection of quotes from bathroom walls; may or may not be related to Threebrain-affiliated comedy troupe of the same name)
- Threebrain on MySpace
- Threebrain’s YouTube channel
- Threebrain on Facebook
- Threebrain at Albino Blacksheep (classic Flash videos)
- Threebrain on Newgrounds (more recent videos)