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Weird Band of the Week: Mr. Vast

Mr. Vast

So as usual, we got something wrong when we first wrote about this week’s weird artiste, the inimitable Mr. Vast. We said he’s from Germany. But that’s not quite right. He is apparently based, at the moment, in Germany. But he’s British. His accent should have tipped us off, but we were probably day-drinking again. Anyway, our apologies to the entire nation of Great Britain for not properly crediting you with bestowing Mr. Vast upon the world.

Mr. Vast is the alter ego of one Henry Sargeant, an actor, musician and performance artist whose previous musical project was (or maybe still is—they’re still releasing music and Sargeant might still be involved) a jokey crew called Wevie Stonder. He relocated to Germany in 2005 and took a break from Art to become a Dad. (Not that those two occupations are mutually exclusive, but the hours are pretty brutal in both.) He returned to music in 2012 as a solo artist called Mr. Vast, making what I shall tentatively describe as tongue-in-cheek New Wave electro-glam-pop until somebody comes up with something catchier to describe his bizarre but surprisingly infectious tunes.

At his best, Mr. Vast reminds us a little of our current favorite Australian weirdo, Kirin J Callinan. Like Callinan, there’s something highly theatrical and fully formed about Mr. Vast, like he’s already a rock star and the world just hasn’t discovered him yet. Also like Callinan, he’s capable of being both unabashedly pop and slightly avant-garde, often in the same song, and doing both in a way that feels both fully committed and slightly tongue-in-cheek. Take, for example, “Teflon Country,” which might be a country-fried psych-rock parody, or it might be actual country-fried psych-rock, albeit one with a junkyard dog impersonation in the middle of it:

That’s from Mr. Vast’s one and only album, by the way, a brilliant, 14-track opus called Grievous Bodily Charm that we pretty much can’t stop listening to. It’s got sci-fi Afro-pop workouts (“Process of Illumination”), fuzz-toned heavy rock freakouts (“Henry the 8th”), Groove Armada-style downtempo makeout music (“Elemental,” which contains the high-five-worthy lyric, “The sangria made me angrier”). You can listen to the whole thing on SoundCloud and decide for yourselves if it’s a masterpiece. We’re leaning towards yes, but it might be the sangria talking.

We’ll leave you with a few videos, because that’s how we do it. First up: An extended experiment in toast physics called “Buttercide.” For the record, this is one of Mr. Vast’s weirder tracks, so if you can’t hang with it, don’t give up on him yet.

Next: The far funkier “Ease & Speed,” which we maintain is best described as Gary Numan meets Professor Elemental (I think last time we said Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer, but hey, po-tay-to, po-tah-to).

And finally, here’s a glimpse of Mr. Vast live and in concert. Well, it’s not so much a glimpse as a bit fat fucking eyeful. Not since David Byrne has oversized costumery looked so sexy.

Links:

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Weird of the Day: Kid606, “Mr. Wobble’s Nightmare”

Kid606

We now present a public service announcement from Kid606 and his buddy, Mr. Wobble. Remember, parents, don’t let your kids go to those crazy underground rave parties. Those things are dangerous!

Kid606 is electronic producer Miguel De Pedro, originally from Venezuela but now based right here in L.A. You can hear more of his tracks on his SoundCloud page.

Chimney Crow’s new video makes me really not want to hang out with this Teddybear dude

Chimney Crow

Our pals Chimney Crow just released the fourth video from their album Chimney Crow Is a Band. It’s for the song “Teddybear and His Bullet” and it features a lightbulb microphone and some cool Christmas lights with crows in them, because you know, Chimney Crow. But I think my biggest takeaway from this video is that this guy Teddybear sounds like a real asshole. Walking around with a bullet all the time, always mooching off his friends. The dude even doesn’t like music anymore. What kind of tool doesn’t like music? What the fuck is wrong with this guy?

I guess there’s one good thing about Teddybear: He inspired this song, which is pretty groovy in a disco-night-at-the-goth-club kinda way. Nice work, Chimney Crow. But damn, find yourselves some better friends.

Weird of the Day: Beep!, “Alien Mating Call”

Beep

When he’s not playing bass in tUnE-yArDs, Nate Brenner is one-third of an even weirder band called Beep! They’re just about to release their latest album, Too Physical, and it’s a wonderland/wasteland (wasterland?) of keyboard squiggles, funhouse vocals and mysterious rhythms. Here’s the video for opening track, “Alien Mating Call,” which wants to know if there’s somewhere we can get down. (Answer: Why, yes, there is! At the Hammer Museum right here in L.A., which is hosting a Too Physical release party on Aug. 7th.)

You can pre-order Too Physical from Beep!’s label, Data Garden. It’s due out Aug. 5th.

Tonttu

Tonttu

Did you know that Finland apparently has a huge gnome problem? Not that the gnomes are huge. The gnomes there are tiny, just like they are everywhere else. Finland has a huge problem with tiny gnomes, is what we’re saying. And don’t let those Travelocity commercials fool you. They’re evil little fuckers hellbent on the destruction of all we hold dear.

Fortunately, one band is spreading the truth about gnomes and working day and night to wipe these pointy-hatted little shitbeards off the face of the earth once and for all. They’re called Tonttu and they were the runner-up in our last Weird Band Poll. Why didn’t they win? Fuckin’ gnomes, man. They’re everywhere. They’re even skewing our poll results! Holy shit, that must mean they’re on the Internet now. We’ve got a huge hacker gnome problem. Not that the hacker gnomes are huge…wait, I explained this already, didn’t I?

Anyway, yeah, Tonttu. They’re led by a guy who calls himself the Tonttufindergeneral Hanz-Baal, with the help of another guy who calls himself Großinquisitor Rudolf Von Deer. They call their music “anti-gnomemartialindustrialneofolkmetal.” Most of it is basically just anti-gnome public service announcements delivered in Finnish over music that makes the Schindler’s List soundtrack sound like Katy Perry, although some of it also features maniacal laughter, which I guess is supposed to be what the gnomes sound like when they get together to talk about their plans to murder us all while we sleep. And one track kinda sounds like a Finnish Rammstein, which is pretty cool.

We don’t speak Finnish, but TFG Hanz was nice enough to give us some of the lyrics in English. Here’s a sample:

The most mythical leader of Gnomes, the lump of lard rising up to the sky, the drooling blasphemer Yog-Sothoth
Highest of High Gnomes, in his creepy disguise

The great deception of Christmas flying in the sky,
Dressed in white beard, red jacket
No one should be deceived by that fake beard anymore

Flying in the glow of Fireballs,
Flying from the depths of Mushroom clouds,
Flying in the shadow of deceit,
Taking instead of giving

So yeah, basically, the gnomes are up to some serious Lovecraft shit. We’ve all been deceived. We are victims of a vast gnome conspiracy. Trust no one. Even David fuckin’ Bowie is in on it.

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure your best defense against gnomes is to download one or more of Tonttu’s anti-gnome albums and play them on full blast 24/7. You can buy their two albums, Nekrognomekon and Anti-Gnomen Divisionen 4 (Mastering the fine art of gnome eradication), here and here. Or, if you want start eradicating gnomes for the low price of FREE, email us at weirdestbandintheworld@gmail.com. The first five people to do so will get free download codes from Anti-Gnomen Divisionen 4. That’s how much Tonttu want to protect you from the gnome menace.

We’ll leave you “Pääruoka,” which features that maniacal gnome laughter we mentioned earlier. Sweet dreams! Hope you don’t have one of those stupid little gnome night-lights. You may as well hang a sign on your bedroom door that says, “Kill me now with your tiny, tiny knives and feed me to your tiny, tiny reindeer.”

Links:

Weird of the Day: Anton Maiden, “Can I Play With Madness”

Anton Maiden

Gnome-hating Finns and Weird Band Poll runners-up Tonttu wrote to us this morning and shared a link to an amazing, computerized cover of Iron Maiden’s “Can I Play With Madness,” created back in 1999 by a Swedish teenager named Anton Gustafsson, who called himself Anton Maiden.

Sadly, for Anton, the answer to the question “Can I Play With Madness” was apparently “Yes”: He committed suicide at the age of 23. But he left behind a huge and awesome collection of MIDI/chiptune Iron Maiden covers that continue to piss off purists and inspire nerdy headbangers to this day. If programmed synths can shred, then Anton Maiden’s are the shredmasters against which all others must be judged.

You can check out more of Anton’s stuff on his website (which is in Swedish, but you’ll figure it out).

Weird of the Day: Spoek Mathambo, “Control”

Spoek Mathambo

Since our last bit of weirdness from South Africa was an Apartheid-era piece of Euro-pop nonsense called “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance),” we figured we’d balance the books this week with something more contemporary and more representative of South Africa’s melting-pot mix of black and white musical influences. Spoek Mathambo is a rapper/producer from Johannesburg who calls his mix of hip-hop, electro and Afrobeat rhythms “township tech.” Here, he covers Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control” and turns it into a throbbing techno assault, made all the more ominous by the stark imagery of this video.

You can check out more of Spoek Mathambo’s stuff on Amazon.com or his YouTube channel.

Weird of the Day: Jeff Richards, “Muscle Bitch”

Jeff Richards

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.

To find out more about Richards and his music, read this. And to get The Shingles (for free!), visit his website.

Weird of the Day: Munter S. Thomson, “Rubber Stampy”

Munter S. Thomson

I’m still spending way too much of my time at the bottom of the breakcore rabbit hole these days, but man is there some crazy shit down there. Here’s my latest find: Munter S. Thomson, the breakcore/”cockrockdisco” (his term) alter ego of an Australian producer who normally goes by the name of Nam Shub of Enki.

Mr. Shub himself seems to not be a big fan of Munter’s output: The notes for the Munter S. Thomson album Waste read: “Wasted a year on this. Here are the fruits of thinking this music was a good idea—it quite frankly wasn’t.” We beg to differ. Waste sounds like ’80s electro-funk and booty bass run through a paper shredder and then tossed like confetti and leaky glowsticks over a party for meth-addled robots. And if that doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, you’ve come to the wrong blog.

You can hear the rest of Waste in all its trashy glory on Bandcamp.

Weird of the Day: Doprah’s kawaii J-pop homage, “Stranger People”

Doprah

At its most extreme, the kawaii style of Japanese dance-pop can get pretty bizarre; just look at our favorite purveyor of the genre, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. But what happens when non-Japanese pop artists try to put their own spin on it? In the case of New Zealand duo Doprah, the results are even more bizarre.

Doprah, made up of singer Indira Force and multi-instrumentalist Steven Marr, have released a new Kyary-inspired video for their dreamy track “Stranger People,” and it’s gorgeous, funny and ultimately kinda disturbing. In it, Force gets dolled up in full kawaii drag inside a literal dollhouse—a giant human hand occasionally intervenes to make a few minor adjustments to her herky-jerky dance moves, or pat her on the head when she strikes a particularly adorable pose. But it all slowly goes from adorable to horrifying, or possibly adorifying. Watch.

“Stranger People” is from Doprah’s self-titled debut EP, which is spooky and pretty and really, really good. They’ve got a Portishead-meets-the-xx vibe that’s already getting them a ton of attention. You can get the EP on Bandcamp or Amazon.

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