Let me just begin this post by saying: You people are awesome. And by “you people,” I mean not only our regular readers but fans of all the bands in our most recent Weird Band Poll. The response to this latest poll was unprecedented and finally led to a little band from Toronto called Barbara being crowned the winner, narrowly edging out the equally weird H-Beam from Nashville. So congrats, Barbara! And to H-Beam and all their fans: Don’t you worry. We’ve got a consolation prize in store for you guys. We don’t want to spoil the surprise, but we can tell you it’ s not a pony.
So who are these Barbara guys, you ask? They’re a brother duo named Tyler and Raynor Semrick-Palmateer and their music could perhaps best be described as pop music for schizophrenics. There are lots of distorted, layered yet occasionally soulful vocals, head-nodding beats and melodies that might have once been downright catchy before they got stretched like Silly Putty. It’s sort of The Residents meets “Bohemian Rhapsody” meets five episodes of Intervention all playing at the same time. They also appear to be partial to creepy-looking masks, which adds to the air of
Barbara haven’t released a ton of music yet; their one and only EP, Stuck to the Ground, is just three songs plus a handful of kooky little interstitial tracks in which a lady friend of theirs (Barbara herself, perhaps?) asks pertinent questions on behalf of the audience, like “Does anyone know who these people are?” and “Do you have any more songs?” The answer to that last one: Yes, actually. They have a non-EP dance mix of a song called “Fidelio” that, Tyler tell us, is comprised entirely of quotes from Eyes Wide Shut. And they perform a dance-off to it at the end of their sets. Here, watch.
Is it just me, or is the most unsettling thing about that whole performance the fact that one of them is carrying a briefcase?
This week’s weird band was suggested to us by a Facebook fan named João Nox, who we assume is from Portugal, because his name is João and this band Blasted Mechanism seems to be virtually unknown outside of Portugal. Which is a shame, because these guys fly a freak flag that should really be traveling in international waters. I’m not even sure what that means, but I haven’t had much sleep.
Blasted Mechanism have been around since 1996 and have played a lot of major European festivals alongside more famous band they charmingly misspell on their Facebook page: Pearl Jem, Linking Park. They’re a six-piece sorta electro-jam band with lots of dub/reggae and world music influences; one of the dudes plays djembe and didgeridoo, another plays a double-neck combination guitar/cavaquinho, which is a Portuguese cross between a ukulele and a mandolin. Except I think maybe they call it a Bambuleco or a Kalachakra or who fucking knows—a lot of their instruments are custom made so they can call them whatever they feel like.
Although their music sounds like a lot of fun live, what’s really more interesting about Blasted Mechanism are their costumes, which they’ve changed up many times over the years in an apparent attempt to discover the perfect combination of B-movie space alien, Aztec warrior, Mighty Morphin Power Ranger and Burning Man refugee. Here they are having fun with electroluminescent wire:
And here they are in perhaps their crowning achievement, an insane mix of gypsy-punk and peyote-fueled tribal freakout called “Battle of Tribes.”
Good shit, no? So thanks for introducing us to the weirdness of Portugal, João. Now what’s it gonna take for us to convince these guys to do a U.S. tour?
More news recently arrived from Electric Phantom Productions, the home of two of our favorite weirdos, Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin and Chimney Crow. Seems Chimney Crow has just released the first video from their debut album, Chimney Crow Is a Band. And while I’m not gonna go so far as to accuse Chimney Crow mastermind Paul Isgone of being a serial killer, I am gonna say that there is no way I’m ever gonna follow this dude into his basement.
Let’s have a look, shall we?
So: Are you capable of understanding? And if so…can you explain it to us?
We’ll share more details on Chimney Crow Is a Band as soon as we get them. So far, to the best of our knowledge, the album is not yet available. But we’re sure it’ll be seeping up from the depths of Paul Isgone’s basement any day now.
Oh, Anklepants, how we’ve missed you. Recently, our favorite penis-nosed breakcore lunatic stopped by a German TV show called the Network Awesome Show to perform the song “Ilikeyourfaceheadshoesanddick” and give an interview with, randomly, a muppet bat and a robot/crash test dummy. Oh, and some American dude in one of those pointy Asian hats.
You can watch both the performance and the interview below. We don’t want to give away every revelation bomb Anklepants drops in the interview, but we will tell you this: We still don’t know why he has a penis on his face. Maybe some mysteries are best left unrevealed.
In other Anklepants news: After hanging out in Berlin for some time, the man behind the penis is returning to Australia. He’s also releasing a new 12-inch single soon on Love Love Records. We’ll be sure to let you good people know when it’s out. Yes, even you fuckers who didn’t pledge money to the face-tar.
Matmos‘ ESP-inspired album The Marriage of True Minds finally arrives this Tuesday (Feb. 19th)—but you can stream the whole thing now, courtesy of the folks at Pitchfork. Thanks, Pitchfork! You just saved us the trouble of writing an album review. Now we can spend our Sunday as the Good Lord intended: drinking wine and watching Downtown Abbey reruns.
Instead of reviewing The Marriage of True Minds, we shall instead be bringing you an in-depth account of the L.A. date of Matmos’ current U.S. tour, which takes place Monday, Feb. 25th at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Yes, in Hollywood, even the cemeteries get turned into entertainment venues eventually. We’re just that shallow and hedonistic.
We’ll leave you with this spooky Marriage of True Minds preview video. Listening to music like this in a cemetery might leave scar us for life, but it’s a chance we’re willing to take.
So it turns out we kinda had a ringer in our last Weird Band of the Week Facebook Poll. At the time we added Ghostigital to the poll, we literally knew almost nothing about them, except that they were from Iceland and had an awesome video called “Hovering Hoover Skates” that appeared to feature an Icelandic ladies roller derby team. Well, it’s since come to our attention that the dude behind Ghostigital is none other than Einar Örn, the even-weirder-than-Björk co-lead singer of that most legendary of Iceland bands, the Sugarcubes. So don’t feel bad for losing our poll, other bands! You were up against weird band royalty.
Einar started Ghostigital as a solo project about a decade ago, although his producer Curver has since become the band’s full-time second member. Their music is heavily electronic and generally features Einar delivering rambling, semi-coherent monologues over pulsing synths and a mishmash of techno, dub and hip-hop beats. “Masses of dark!” goes one typical Ghostigital lyric. “I could slice it up and eat it like a cake.” At least I think it’s a lyric. We pulled that from a live Ghostigital performance for KEXP, and honestly, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether Einar is delivering lyrics or just spewing improvised rants off the top of his head. And yes, I mean that as a compliment.
Not surprisingly, Ghostigital was briefly hooked up with Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings, which released their second album, In Cod We Trust, in 2006. Einar then apparently took a break from music to start dabbling in politics; he even got himself elected to Reykjavík City Council in 2010, an office he still occupies. He’s a member of the Best Party, which sounds almost as wacky as Ghostigital’s music. Among the planks in their campaign platform: free towels at all public swimming pools and a polar bear at the Reykjavik Zoo. And, y’know, ending political corruption and improving living conditions for the poor and lots of other important stuff less “wacky” political parties all over the world seem only too happy to ignore. But…a polar bear! Even the New York Times couldn’t get over that part.
Last November, Ghostigital finally returned with a third album, Division of Culture & Tourism, releasted on Einar’s own Bad Taste label. You can hear the whole thing on Soundcloud. It’s pretty dope. It’s got cameos from David Byrne and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and there’s a Dougie reference in the very first song, which is called “Don’t Push Me,” on which Einar hoots and hollers and makes it abundantly clear that it would be a really, really bad idea to push him. He’s like Mark E. Smith, Andy Kaufman and Eminem all rolled into one cantankerous former punk rocker who’s been deprived of sunlight for the past six months.
We can’t decide which of these two Ghostigital videos is weirder, so we’ll include both of them. First up, from In Cod We Trust, we give you “Northern Lights.”
Next up: “Hovering Hoover Skates.” You didn’t think we’d tell you about a video full of roller derby girls and not show it to you, did you? We wouldn’t play you like that.
So congrats on winning our latest Facebook poll, Ghostigital! Although we’re pretty sure that in your list of lifetime accomplishments, this probably doesn’t even break the top 10,000.
We here at Weird Band HQ have been counting down the days until the Feb. 19th release of The Marriage of True Minds, the ESP-inspired album from avant-electronica duo Matmos. Now we’ll also be counting down the days until we get to see them perform here in L.A. at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Will they read the minds of the dead? With these dudes, anything is possible.
Stick around after the tour dates for a taste of Matmos’ current live incarnation, which features live guitar and drums and, fittingly, a cover of the Buzzcocks’ “E.S.P.” Also: ducks. I bet if you could read their minds, they be saying, “More worms, please!”
Matmos tour dates:
Mon. Feb. 11 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge *
Tue. Feb. 12 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
Wed. Feb. 13 – Montreal, QC @ Il Motore *
Thu. Feb. 14 – Toronto, ON @ TBA *
Fri. Feb. 15 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle *
Sat. Feb. 16 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center *%
Tue. Feb. 19 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir ^
Wed. Feb. 20 – Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s ^
Thu. Feb. 21 – Vancouver, BC @ Media Club *
Sun. Feb. 24 – San Francisco, CA @ Public Works *
Mon. Feb. 25 – Los Angeles, CA @ Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery *
Thu. Feb. 28 – Austin, TX @ The ND
Sat. Mar. 2 – Louisville, KY @ ZBar
Wed. Mar. 6 – Baltimore, MD @ TBA
* w/ Horse Lords
% w/ Josef Van Wissem
^ w/ Mouse on Mars
We got introduced to this week’s weird band by Ms. Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin. Like Petunia herself, they remain something of a mystery. They’re called Chimney Crow. They’re from Michigan. Their leader calls himself Paulisgone. They wear fox-as-done-by-a-third-grader masks. They have a song about DMT. There might be three of them, or it might all be the work of Paulisgone and some carefully posed mannequins. And one former member might have killed himself in some kind of weird sex ritual. And that’s about all we know.
Well, that’s not quite true. We also know that their music is dark, electronic and generally quite groovy. They’ve recorded some stuff with a lady vocalist named Sarah Kristina, who also appears all over their Facebook photos, draped over various Chimney Crow members and sashaying around a basement in a little red dress. The other members of Chimney Crow are Ben Daschle and Buck Anders. Buck replaced the dead guy, Alan Bain. Here’s a song the band was in the midst of recording when they found out Ben had offed himself. Naturally, they finished the song. You know, out of respect for the dead and all.
Chimney Crow have uploaded all kinds of wacky videos to their YouTube page and a shit-ton of songs to Soundcloud. Here’s one called “Aliens are just gnomes for our paradigm part 14 (section 8)” that we’ve been jamming to (if you can’t see the Soundcloud player, click here):
They also recorded a very timely song called “The Flu.” I feel sicker just listening to it.
But my favorite thing they’ve done so far has to be this video for the track “17 Guns,” which features someone even more batshit than Petunia and Chimney Crow: an artist from Arizona named Diana Campanella who has uploaded approximately five zillion YouTube videos of herself “freestyle dancing” in her gallery. Usually she dances to stuff like Michael Jackson and Taylor Dane, but somehow she hooked up with Chimney Crow and did a little interpretive boogie to a song of theirs called “17 Guns.” Ain’t the Internet grand?
Delhi 2 Dublin, our favorite Canadian Celtic dub bhangra band, is back with a new album, Turn Up the Stereo. It won’t get its official U.S. release until next February, but in the meantime, you can download the title track for free. Cuz Canadians are nice like that.
On “Turn Up the Stereo,” as usual, the Vancouver-based quintet sounds like a giant jam session between Michael Franti, Fatboy Slim, Asian Dub Foundation and the cast of Riverdance. We likee. Especially when their
awesome and now-blonde violinist Kytami new violinist Sara Fitzpatrick lets fly with the fiddlin’ about two and a half minutes in. It’s like the Devil took a wrong turn and went down to Goa instead of Georgia.
If you live in Canada, you can already score yourself a copy of Turn Up the Stereo on iTunes. If you don’t live in Canada, you’re hosed until Feb. 19, 2013.