Apparently this Jeff Richards fellow was once in the cast of Saturday Night Live, but I gotta be honest: I have zero recollection of him on that show. Either he was seriously under-utilized or he got funnier, because there’s no forgetting him in this new video from his dance-pop comedy album, The Shingles 2009-2014.
What happens when you tackle the classical music canon with all the enthusiasm and rank amateurism of a high school garage-punk band? You get Portsmouth Sinfonia, a classical ensemble active in the ’70s that
butchered reinterpreted everything from the William Tell Overture to the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
Originally made up of students from the Portsmouth School of Art, all of whom were either total beginners or trained musicians who had switched instruments, the project was conceived as a kidding-but-not-really experiment by a teacher/composer named Gavin Bryars. Bryars wanted to see if it was possible for novice musicians to play clumsy approximations of familiar classical pieces that would still be recognizable to audiences. Based on this version of Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra,” better known now as the theme music to 2001: A Space Odyssey, I’d say the experiment was a raging success.
Ironically, as members of the Sinfonia gradually got better at their instruments, the public lost interest, and the project disbanded in 1979. They’ve been back in the news this year because this marks the 40th anniversary of their legendary performance at the Royal Albert Hall (yes, they got so popular at one point that they played the Royal Albert Hall—that kinda sticks in your craw, doesn’t it, trained classical musicians?). We found them by way of an article on Cracked.com called “7 Bizarre Music Experiments That Went Shockingly Wrong” that also called out several Weird List bands, including Stalaggh/Gulaggh, Hatebeak and Matmos. I don’t think any of these experiments went “shockingly wrong,” per se—more like their creators set out to do stuff that would make people go, “That’s not right.”
Bonus fun fact: For awhile, Portsmouth Sinfonia counted Brian Eno and minimalist composer Michael Nyman among its members. In the right (or wrong?) context, we are all amateurs.
I was never much of a Star Trek fan. It’s OK; I don’t expect you to believe me. Anyone nerdy enough to start this blog must’ve gone trick-or-treating as Spock at least once, right? But it’s true. I was always more into Battlestar Galactica.
Because I’m not a Star Trek fan, I can’t really tell you which episodes of The Next Generation they cobbled together and digitally altered to make the video below for Friendly Rich’s “Sausage Samba.” But I can tell you this: The results are brilliant. The song’s pretty great, too.
In case you’re not familiar with Friendly Rich: He’s a Canadian comedic singer-songwriter whose biggest claim to fame is composing the music for The Tom Green Show. His band, The Lollipop People, has done shows with fellow weirdos like Amanda Palmer and The Tiger Lillies. “Sausage Samba” is from his latest album, Bountiful, which is due out next month. You can pre-order it from Amazon or via his website.
A big fat sausage cigar goes to reader Eel Namturg for sharing this with us. Thanks, Eel!
A guy who calls himself Professor B. Miller wrote in to tell us about his band, the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra. Confusingly, the band does not feature puppets, an orchestra or Satan. But it does feature a robot lead singer, so we were sold.
“Absurd satire?” asks their online press kit. “Experimental performance art? A glimpse in to our robotic future? A novelty act gone too far? Comedy gold? Yes.”
They’re from San Diego and their latest album is called Experiments with Auto-Croon. It’s 13 tracks and features a toy piano cover of “Werewolves of London,” but we’re more into this video for “Frankenstein’s Laundromat,” which features what I can only assume are members of Here Come the Mummies. After a few sweaty funk-rock shows, those mummy bandages are in serious need of a rinse.
Today’s weirdness comes to us from our pals at Yeah We Know It Sucks and their marathon all-Mark weekend. One of the bits of Internet detritus they salvaged from the Mark pile was this delightful little novelty tune from one Mark Lowry, a Christian comedian from Texas. I know “Christian comedian” sounds an oxymoron, and when you throw in “from Texas” it’s basically its own punchline. But whatever god you may or may not pray to, Mark Lowry is a funny f…ellow. I was going to use another word, but since he’s a nice Christian boy, I’ll save the sailor talk for the next post.
If you liked that, there’s more where it came from on Mark’s 1995 DVD, Remotely Controlled, whose cover proves that by 1995, even white dudes from Texas had shirt collections inspired by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Do you love chocolate? I know I do. But it turns that all this time, I’ve been an amateur chocolate lover. In his new video, Zayde Buti demonstrates how it’s really supposed to be done.
Zayde describes “Sacred Chocolate” as “the newest addition to my ongoing artistic exploration of food issues. As the title suggests, ‘Sacred Chocolate’ explores reverence for food (in this case, cacao) and the ceremonial art of eating.”
So next time you’re scarfing down a Snickers, remember: Eating chocolate should be a goddamn ceremony. Sing that Snickers bar a little song before you devour it. It’s what our ancestors who first harvested the mighty cacao bean would have wanted.
“Sacred Chocolate” is also available on Zayde’s Bandcamp page for a mere $0.99. Which is a penny less than what they charge for a Snickers bar in the vending machine at my office. So it’s a bargain. And listening to it over and over again won’t make you fat. Or will it?
Thank Christ for Google Translator, because otherwise I would have nothing to tell you about this week’s band. They’re a “performance collective” from Germany…and I guess “performance collective” is German for “crazy art freaks making deliberately stupid techno” because that’s what these guys do. They make bad techno and sing over it like a bunch of people pretending to be retarded, as if to say, “Look how retarded this music is!”
Then they shoot videos that are even weirder and dumber than the music. In this one, a bunch of white girls strut around trying to look hard while eating candy bars in front of a gas station. In this one, a nerdy guy masturbates slowly and tenderly to a bad painting. In this one, two of the collective’s members, Tutenchamun and Maike Schönfeld, just dance like idiots in various public places.
They seem to release a new video every month or so. In their latest one, released just last week, a girl dances on a chair for four minutes while a fat biker dude flips off the camera and opens his mail. I know that sounds incredibly stupid, and it is, but the video is fucking great. Trying to describe a HGich.T video is like trying to explain to your wife that the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in your life was when your best friend in college spontaneously moonwalked across an entire frathouse basement because he was trying not to puke on his shoes. It was the funniest thing you’ve ever seen but…you just had to see it.
One of the best things about binge-watching HGich.T videos is all the recurring characters you can follow. There’s the obvious star of the show, Tutenchamun, who’s like a German parody of that douchebag from The Prodigy, if said douchebag had forgotten to take off his yellow safety vest after ditching his picking-up-trash-by-the-highway community service stint. There’s Dr. Diamond, who seems to spend a lot of time hanging out in his room and having arguments with his mother. There’s
Pussy Cat Diddel, who wears cat mouse makeup. And of course there’s my personal favorite, Dietrich Kuhlbrodt, aka Opa16, the group’s creepy old man in residence. I have a soft spot for creepy old men, being only a few years away from becoming one myself.
The video they’re most famous for is “Tutenchamun,” sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Goa Goa MPU” (we had this totally backwards, and also failed to realize that Diddel was supposed to be a mouse, until reader Iesus set us straight—thanks, Iesus!). In it, Tutenchamun rides around with Maike on a motorbike with broken shocks and tells a long, increasingly surreal story about getting pulled over by a cop, played by the least cop-like man in all of Germany, Dr. Diamond. Like all HGich.T videos, it’s incredibly stupid and you might not be able to stop watching.
So I think we can all agree that from here on out, anytime anyone tries to tell a long, rambling story about how fucking hard they partied last night, we’re going to say “Ja?” every five seconds in a bored monotone until they stop. Right? Ja?
As great as “Goa Goa MPU” is, the HGich.T clip that’s my favorite so far…and I say “so far” because they have like 60 some odd videos and I never quite got baked enough to watch every single one…is “die letzten titten von betlehem.” This one has everything: Drugs, vandalism, jailbait, wasteful use of toilet paper, an oddly creepy sequence in which a dude terrorizes a girl with a Sharpie. It’s like a German rave meets a scared-straight after-school special meets a Fellini film. Plus the track fucking goes off.
So anyway…next time I go out dancing, I really hope the DJ plays a HGich.T track so I can storm into the ladies’ bathroom and do my best Tutenchamun impersonation. I am so getting laid with that action.
Red Sox and Dunkin’ Donuts fan Zayde Buti is a man of his word. He promised he’d release his latest album, Going, Going, Gone! in December, and damn if he didn’t sneak that thing out on Dec. 31st—probably right before they wheeled out Dick Clark’s corpse so Miley Cyrus could twerk on it or whatever the hell they do now to get people to watch those New Year’s Eve countdown shows. But I digress.
Going, Going, Gone! adopts more of a country/folk vibe than Zayde’s earlier electro/hip-hop stuff, but his songs are still chock full o’ subversive wit, quirky wordplay and random fast food references. But don’t take my word for it—listen to the whole damn thing yourself via this here YouTube embed. It’s Zayde’s belated holiday gift to us all.
Going, Going, Gone! is available now via Bandcamp for the low, low, suggested price of $5—which I believe is less than the price of a Happy Meal. Or a baseball burrito. Do they shoot those into the crowd out of T-shirt cannons at Fenway now? If they don’t, they really should.
Zayte Buti’s tribute to Dustin Pedroia and coconut water should replace “Sweet Caroline” as the thing Red Sox fans sing during the 7th inning stretch
I was born in New England, so I’ve pretty much been a Red Sox fan since before birth. If Mom could’ve shoved a tiny Red Sox cap up her baby chute, I’m sure she would have. So like everyone else in Red Sox Nation, I’ve spent most of the past five days curled in a fetal position around a case of Sam Adams Octoberfest, occasionally yelling out “Boston Strong!” and the lyrics to “Dirty Water.” It’s the traditional way we celebrate a World Series victory, dating all the way back to 2004.
I’m sure many Red Sox tribute songs will be coming out in the days ahead, most of them focusing on facial hair. But none will be weirder than “Dustin Pedroia Hydrates Natural-l-y” for our old pal and former Weird Band Poll champ, Zayde Buti. Take it away, Zayde.
For those of you who weren’t around way back in 2010, when we first discovered Zayde: He used to make cheesy synth R&B anthems about fast food, often dressed up in full-on Wendy’s drag. When we heard he had decided to switch things up and make a folk/country/blues album, I have to admit we were kinda bummed out. But we needn’t have worried. Even strumming an acoustic gee-tar, Zayde’s still a 9.2 on the weirdo scale.
Zayde’s promising a new album called Going, Going, Gone! sometime in December. We’ll keep you posted on its impending release. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go curl up in a fetal position around a case of Vita Coco coconut water. Well, I love that coconut water, oh, Boston you’re my home…