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Zayde Buti bows down to the magic bean in “Sacred Chocolate”

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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?

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Weird Live Review: Lesile and The LYs

Leslie Hall at The Satellite, Los Angeles

I was still a good two blocks away from The Satellite, where I would be attending the camp-pop explosion that is Leslie Hall and her band Leslie & The LYs, when I spotted my first pair of gold spandex booty shorts. It was the first clue that a.) this show was going to be a people-watching bonanza and b.) I had clearly under-dressed for the occasion.

I needn’t have worried about the second part, though. The whole message of Leslie Hall’s goofy, celebratory music is that we’re all fabulous, no matter what size our asses are or what we chose to clad them in when we left the house. Yes, there were shiny and sparkly Leslie fans in abundance inside The Satellite—but some of us were just shiny and sparkly on the inside.

But the outwardly sparkly ones were more fun to photograph

The show began with a knowingly awkward, low-budget video about Leslie and her sidekicks time-traveling into the future on a quest to obtain the Golden Beats. (No, I’m not telling whether or not they succeeded—no spoilers! You’ll just have to go to the show and see for yourself.) Then Leslie emerged, resplendent in gold and macrame, and launched into “Blame the Booty,” the first of several songs about her “lower regions,” as she delicately put it.

Nothing else about Leslie Hall is the least bit delicate, which is what makes her so awesome. She’s a big, loud Midwestern gal, with a personality at least 10 times larger than her dress size. During and between songs, she worked the crowd with banter that would put any stand-up comedian to shame, over-sharing about everything from her flat ass (“If you bring a pillow to a three-hour movie, I feel you”) to her crafting addiction (“When you need to rent one of those storage units and you’re still in your twenties…”).

Her stage set was, as she put it, “Vegas-style production at Midwest prices.” It started out just looking like some stage flats draped in gold fabric. Then her backup singers rotated the whole thing sideways to reveal a bedazzled Leslie visage, which then split in two to reveal her whole band. The effect was pretty delightful considering the whole thing probably fits in one of those little U-Haul trailers.

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The drums weren’t mic’ed and the keyboards weren’t plugged in. Did it matter? Hell no.

Leslie & the LYs are touring in support of Songs in the Key of Gold, a dance remix collection of Leslie’s greatest hits. (Remember how fantastic it was when that used to be a thing? I still have the Billy Idol dance remix collection on cassette somewhere and I stand by that purchase 100%.) This was good news for us because it meant that Les was there to play the hits and play them for maximum danceosity. Although I suspect that’s pretty much what she does on all her tours.

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Getting a wardrobe assist from the LYs. She's like James Brown!

Getting a wardrobe assist from the LYs. She’s like James Brown!

The only real break in the action came when Leslie invited several fans up on stage for a little gem sweater fashion show. The girl who won—who did indeed have a pretty spectacular sweater—was so excited I thought she might start shrieking like a nine-year-old at a One Direction concert. But she managed to hold it together enough to dance along to “Craft Talk,” the best-known of Leslie Hall’s many musical paeans to the art of bedazzling.

This guy didn't win, but the back of his sweater did say, "Shazam, I'm glamorous!" So in a way, he's always winning.

This guy didn’t win, but the back of his sweater did say, “Shazam, I’m glamorous!” So in a way, he’s always winning.

Other highlights:

There was a tribute to Leslie’s cat Shania, “#1 Cat in America,” which was also an excuse for her to have audience members pass up their cell phones to share their cat pictures. (I immediately regretted that I switched wallpapers awhile back and no longer had this to share.) That number also featured a set of giant cardboard cat legs that rose up behind the stage while someone pretending to be Shania squeaked into an offstage microphone: “Hi, Mom! I hid inside your luggage!”

In lieu of a conventional encore (“We don’t have any more songs,” Leslie said apologetically. “Besides, it’s Monday. Don’t you all have lives? Jobs?”), she and the LYs led the crowd in a little impromptu post-show dance party. “This is the dance started it all!” she declared over Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” busting out a move she called “scooping the driveway.”

At the very end of the show, her minions rotated the backdrop again to reveal a toll free phone number. “I do check my messages,” she assured the crowd, before heading backstage to soak her feet and have some pizza: “I need to float these feminine ankles in the old Epsom bath.”

Go ahead, call her!

Go ahead, call her!

The song that maybe best epitomizes the Leslie Hall mojo was her finale: “Shazam I’m Glamorous”: a call-and-response anthem in which Leslie entreats her fans to tell her she’s glamorous—and of course they do, fervently. And every time they do, her face scrunches up with delight and she squeals “Thank you!” with complete sincerity. The positive feedback loop between Leslie Hall and her fans is a beautiful thing to behold. I think we all left the show feeling a bit more glamorous—even those of us who were only sparkly on the inside.

Donny Varper

Donny Varper

Anyone know if Michael Jackson visited Nicaragua sometime in the late ’80s? If he did—and sired an illegitimate child during his stay—that’s one of two possible explanations for the existence of the exotic creature known as Donny Varper. The other possible explanation? That he really is, as he claims, from another galaxy.

We first learned of Nicaragua’s weirdest progeny by way of a great little website called EarBleed.com, which is kinda like our site except that—as you might have surmised from the name EarBleed.com—most of the music they feature is fucking awful. I suppose Donny Varper’s stuff is kinda awful, too—it’s basically just shlocky dance-pop, with lots of stabby synths and cheesy breakdowns and Auto-Tuned vocals—but it’s catchy and filled with random references to UFOs and aliens and Aztec aliens who came to Earth in UFOs and…oh, hell, just watch and listen for yourself.

Brilliant, right? He’s like a Lady Gaga impersonator who dropped acid at a Blasted Mechanism concert and had a vision of Jesus and Quetzalcoatl swooping down in a flaming chariot and abducting him into an episode of Ancient Aliens.

We don’t know much more about Varper, except that he lists his gender as “electronic pop” (which kinda makes sense, actually) and he claims to be from another galaxy but now, according to his Facebook page, lives in Los Angeles. If that last part is true: Donny, hit us up! We’d love to be the first (as far as we can tell) American blog to interview you and help you spread your music of cosmic love to the English-speaking masses.

We’ll leave you with Varper’s catchiest and most batshit creation, a little song and video called “E.T.” that should really, if there is any hope left for humanity, become the next “Gangnam Style.” I look forward to your parody videos, YouTube Nation. Get on it.

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Chimney Crow gets animated for their second music video

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Christmas came early here at Weird Band HQ this weekend, in the form of a brand new video from Chimney Crow, the mysterious electro-pop ensemble with the creepy basement. Previously, the only visual accompaniment for the über-funky “Run for My Life” was some found and highly distorted video of a bunch of B-boys, but now Chimney Crow have created an original stop-motion clip for the track, which features cartoon versions of the Crow crew busting some moves of their own.

By the way, in case you’re not familiar the song’s subject matter: DMT is a very powerful psychedelic substance that we don’t recommend ingesting while watching this video. Or at all, really, unless you’re accompanied by an experienced shaman and maybe an EMT or two.

Leslie Hall is back with new remixes and the greatest tour of 2014. Suck it, Gaga.

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Time to get those gold pants dry-cleaned and spit-shined, weirdos. After way too long of a silence (OK, only since 2011, but we’re impatient), gem-sweater dance-pop queen Leslie Hall is coming back with a brand-new album of remixes and a 2014 tour. Can an album of remixes be brand-new? It can when Leslie’s doing it. She’s a rule breaker like that.

No word yet on the title of Leslie’s remix album, but we can tell you it’s due out this December and features new takes on Leslie & the LY’s classics by “Mash-Up Mad Man” Titus Jones. She’s following up its release with what is sure to be the most bedazzled national tour of early 2014. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry may as well just wave the white flag now.

Full tour dates after this delightful clip for Jones’ booty-shaking remix of “No Pants Policy.” We are blogging pantsless in its honor. Actually, we blog pantsless most of the time, but you probably could’ve guessed that.

Leslie and the LY’s 2014 tour dates:

1/12 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
2/5 Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
2/6 St Louis, MO – Plush Saint Louis
2/7 Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle
2/8 Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme
2/9 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
2/10 Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot (The Pike Room)
2/11 Columbus, OH – TBA
2/13 Cambridge, MA – Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub
2/14 Providence, RI – AS220
2/15 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory Brooklyn
2/16 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
2/17 Washington, DC – DC9 Nightclub
2/19 Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506
2/20 Charlotte, NC – TBA
2/21 Atlanta, GA – The EARL
2/22 Birmingham, AL – Bottletree Cafe
2/23 Nashville, TN – 12th & Porter
2/24 New Orleans, LA – TBA
2/25 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s Houston
2/26 Dallas, TX – Club Dada
2/27 Austin, TX – Red 7
3/1 Tucson, AZ- club congress
3/2 Las Vegas, NV – TBA
3/3 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
3/4 Los Angeles, CA – The Satellite
3/7 Seattle, WA – The Vera Project
3/8 Portland, OR – Branx Blow Pony
3/10 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
3/12 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive Denver
3/13 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room Lounge
3/14 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club
3/15 Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s
3/21 Iowa City, IA – Blue Moose Tap House

Your Fuzzy Friends have released a free EP. Because they love you.

YFF-Gay-Unicorns

After planting their flag on YouTube with their epic $5 video series, Your Fuzzy Friends, North Carolina’s greatest puppet-based band, are getting in on the “give our music away for free” action with a new EP called Some of My Best Friends Are Gay Unicorns. (Does this mean they’ve been kicking it with fellow weird band Army of Gay Unicorns? If so, we look forward to the drillcore remix of “Don’t Touch My Mustache.”) It’s available now for $0 (or name your price, if you’re feeling magnanimous) via Bandcamp. Check it out.

Banda UÓ

Banda UO

This week’s weird band hails from Brazil, which has been quite the breeding ground for strange new genres of music over the years: tropicália, baile funk, forró, whatever the hell Os Mutantes does. Add to that list something called “tecno brega,” a Brazilian-style spin on “cheesy techno” that takes corny pop melodies—many of them familiar—gives them a glossy electro finish, and sets them to syncopated cumbia, reggaeton and baile funk beats. The combination of influences can get pretty out there, especially when rendered by the campy, day-glo trio called Banda UÓ.

Banda UÓ started in 2010 as a one-off joke to promote a party. Buddies Davi Savvig (the Daryl Hall of the group) and Mateus Carrilho (the John Oates of the group) got together with a singer friend of theirs named Flora Maria to make a quick video of them singing a tecno brega version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” The video was a surprise YouTube hit and when Flora Maria was replaced by Candy Mel (the transsexual Shakira of the group), Banda UÓ was born.

Banda UÓ are probably best-known in Brazil for “Shake De Amor,” an electro-brega remake of Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” with a video that got them on Brazilian MTV (which is clearly way cooler than American MTV) despite the fact that it’s mostly just the three of them dancing like idiots. Actually, pretty much all of Banda UÓ’s videos are just the three of them dancing like idiots, but they do it so well, there’s not much point in upping the production values or the plotlines. “Shake De Amor” seems to have something to do with killing someone in the desert, but who cares? Look at the way Candy Mel swivels those hips!

For their debut album, 2012′s Motel, Banda UÓ worked with fellow funky Brazilians Bonde do Rolê, who helped them produce the set and start delving into original songwriting. The results were a bit more polished but no less weird—and the videos, thank Christ the Redeemer, were still mostly just an excuse to film Davi, Mateus and Candy busting out their unique wardrobes and dance moves (this time in a boxing gym, no less).

This year, they released their most seizure-inducing video yet. The track, “Gringo,” was produced by the über-trendy Diplo, but don’t hold that against it—it really is an amazing mix of tecno brega, baile funk and full-on glitchcore freakout.

So are Banda UÓ the weirdest band we’ve ever added to the Weird List? Not really. But they are definitely among the funnest.

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Dick4Dick

Dick4Dick

If memory serves me…and between advancing middle age and too much Jagermeister, it doesn’t serve me all that well…we’ve never added a band from Poland to The Weird List before. Well, this week, that’s finally gonna change. Meet Dick4Dick, the band you should in no way confuse with the gay porn site of the same name. By the way, this probably goes without saying, but if you’re at work, you probably shouldn’t click that link. Unless you work at a gay porn site, in which case…are they hiring?

Dick4Dick were introduced to us by a reader from Poland named U.Do. I thought everyone there was named stuff like Zbygnyrw and Wyrzcrskntz and other random combinations of consonants, but what do I know? Anyway, U.Do describes Dick4Dick like this:  “Known mainly for their performances – stage used to explode during their fetish, glam rocky and extremely funny shows. Most of their songs somehow paraphrases the old hits with a dirty twist.” Intrigued, we checked out the video U.Do sent our way and it was love at first stolen Sabbath hook:

Did you watch all the way to the 1:18 mark? If not, what is wrong with you? Go back and play the whole thing. We’ll wait.

Awesome, right? Why do they suddenly start singing about Chicago ghettos? Who knows? Like all the best weird music, it makes absolutely no sense and totally works, all at the same time. We were hooked.

With a little more digging, we learned that…well, actually, we learned almost nothing, because very little has been written about this band in English. Here’s what we do know: They’ve been around since 2004 and released four albums. At one time, they had five guys, but now they seem to be down to four: Baron Baye, M.Bunio.S, Goodboy Khris, and Great Adaggio. They haven’t released any new music since 2010, but M.Bunio.S and Goodboy Khris have a new electro-disco side project called Dickie Dreams Soundsystem that released some new music via SoundCloud about a year ago.

But details, shmetails. The main attraction here is D4D’s music videos, which are generally just as mind-blowing as “Drink My Kefir,” even when the music skews more towards not-so-mind-blowing ’80s-style power-pop. There’s more than a little Spinal Tap in these guys, or maybe Die Antwoord if Die Antwoord was more into Cheap Trick and Headbangers Ball than The Prodigy and Atlanta hip-hop. Check out the serious wind-machine rock-god posturing in this clip:

They’ve got loads more videos on YouTube, some just as weird, some just kinda odd in that “I guess they think this shit is cool in Poland” sort of way, like this one where the band plays slithery electro-pop in black hoodies in a park while the lead singer menacingly sips a glass of whiskey, and then a bunch of people collapse in crosswalks all over the city for no reason. (Actually that one has an fucking excellent ending, but I’m not gonna give it away here.)

But we’ll leave you with the clip that, based on everything we’ve seen so far, sums up Dick4Dick’s rock-star/goofball swag the best. It’s called “I know, you need my rocknroll” and after you watch it, you will also find yourself needing a really good pair of sweat-resistant wristbands.

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Räuberhöhle

Krawalla and Barchin of Rauberhohle

I don’t know about you, but after all the shit that went down in April, I could use a little happy action in May. So let’s start the month off on a candy-colored electro-punk note, shall we? Meet Räuberhöhle, the happiest band ever to emerge from Berlin. (Sorry, Einstürzende Neubauten.)

Räuberhöhle, which is German for “Robber’s Cave,” is the brainchild of a tattooed, J-pop-obsessed Kirsten Dunst lookalike called Krawalla Chan. Since 1999, Krawalla has been turning out bleepy, hyper-caffeinated electro-pop over which she sing-shouts like a cross between Kathleen Hanna and an army of rioting Japanese schoolgirls. There are elements of punk, disco,  electroclash, chiptune and Japanese synth-pop, none of which would be weird in and of itself, but all of which Krawalla combines in some highly quirky and occasionally brilliant ways. Add to that a live show that often features puppets and a guy in a bear suit (named Bärchin) and you got yourself one unique bundle of ausgezeichnet.

Given Krawalla’s candy-raver/My Little Pony cosplay aesthetic and the fact that many of her songs have titles like “Shake Yr Anus” and “My Heart Bleeps Noisy Beeps,” you’d be forgiven for assuming that Räuberhöhle is just a feelgood party band. But she’s also written an anti-Pope song and has another one titled “The Collective Face Of German Volkszorn” which we’re pretty sure is political even though we’re not actually sure what it’s about. It has lots of spoken-word samples of German people sounding angry, so it must be about something.

Mostly, though, Krawalla writes songs about having fun and feeling good about yourself—especially if you’re a girl or, as she charmingly puts it on her website in broken English, “Gays, women, handicapped. These whole fringe groups… I am down with them as long as the personal level is okay.” Take this awesome video for the song “I’m not part of the shit,” which is all about letting your freak flag fly and not being, well, part of the shit.

But perhaps no video better sums up the fearless wackadoodlery of Räuberhöhle than this clip for “Shake Yr Anus,” in which Krawalla and her furry friends torment mall security and (no, really) fart glitter. Many thanks to reader Irrealidad for sharing this with us a few weeks back. It’s the best thing to happen to anuses since…no, that’s a sentence better left unfinished.

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Leslie Hall (Leslie and the LY’s)

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I’m not gonna lie: When Jake and I first started this blog, it was a full-on sausage party. For about the first year or so, I think pretty much the only female presence on the entire site was Miss Pussycat. But chicks like weirdin’ it up as much the boys do, and we’re finally taking baby steps towards some semblance of equal gender time with recent Weirdos of the Week like Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin and Miss Von Trapp. Sorry it took us awhile, ladies.

We’re continuing our female-friendly trend this week with the long-overdue addition of Iowa’s craziest product this side of the hot beef sundae: Leslie Hall, the queen of bejeweled sweaters, gold spandex jumpsuits, high-STER-ical dance videos and geeky electro/hip-hop party jams as sleek and stylin’ as the aforementioned gold spandex jumpsuits.

Hall became a minor Internet celebrity not, at first, with her music, but with her sweater collection: an online “Gem Sweater Museum” that went viral back around the time people started saying things like “go viral.” In an NPR interview, she later claimed that the music began as a side project to pay off her bandwidth overage charges: “I’ll put out a hip-hop album, sell CDs, get rich and famous, and this bill will go away.” Her first album, released in 2005, was called Gold Pants because, according to another interview, “65% of the comments on my [Gem Sweater Museum website] were about my gold pants.”

Amazingly, working with just GarageBand and, as far as we’ve been able to learn, no real musical training (she actually has a fine art background), Hall has since pumped out five albums’ worth of cheeky, increasingly polished dance pop, over which she raps and/or sings about dancing, her sweaters, crafting, her pants, dancing, and how awesome she is. And, one time, killing zombies. But mostly about dancing.

With her chunky glasses and chunkier physique, Hall is like the anti-Katy Perry—a shiny gold beacon of the uncool-as-cool, a reminder to us all that no matter what you look like, all it takes to be fabulous is the right attitude and maybe a good dance move or two. And a gem-covered sweater never hurts, either.

P.S. A big ol’ sloppy thank-you to reader Susan Molnar for recently introducing us to the wonders of Leslie Hall, which we had somehow managed to miss previously. Clearly, we need to get out more. Or maybe we need to get out less—and spend more time on YouTube.

P.P.S. Banner photo of Leslie and her white tiger sidekicks by Kai Chan, lifted from this article.

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