So our last Weird Band Poll™ got a little…contentious, let’s say. In the end, L.A.Drones! won by a pretty wide margin, but not before freaking out and accusing this week’s weird band, Shibboleth, of cheating. To which we say: Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. We’re not high-tech enough to track every last vote. We believe in the honor system.
But however they got all their votes, Shibboleth deserve an “A” for effort and a belated, runner-up shout-out as our Weird Band of the Week. In most months, they would’ve won the poll. Not because our polls are that easy to game…more just because it doesn’t take all that many votes to win one.
So who or what is Shibboleth? Actually, we’re still not sure. We know they’re from Ireland, there seems to be three of them, and one of them is named Jonathan. We know one of them plays a banjo. We know they like to wear masks and weird sunglasses. We know they have a four-song EP called Farewell and they followed that up just a few weeks ago with a new song called “Crooked Frame.” We think the other two guys might be named John and Joshua. And that’s about it, really. Like a lot of good weird bands that haven’t been around long, they’re a bit shrouded in mystery.
Musically, Shibboleth veer between creepy, ambient doom-rock and full-blown, guitar-bashing noise. Throw in that banjo and some backwards vocals and they’re like a Celtic bluegrass version of Sun O))).
Here’s the video for their song, “The Cannibal’s Standpoint”:
And here’s their video response to the Great Weirdest Band Cheating Scandal of 2014, which we’re pretty sure is the first time any band has made a video specifically in response to something that happened on this blog:
After we saw that, how we could not make them Weird Band of the Week?
It’s Labor Day here in America, so to celebrate, we thought we’d play you all something that has the power to actually induce labor. Here’s “Insomnia,” nine minutes of crazy from the Norwegian experimental singer Maja Ratkje. Our thanks to our old pal Miss Hawkline for this one. Miss M, when you post stuff like in the comments section, that’s how we know you really love us.
To hear more of Maja’s unearthly shrieks and sighs, check out her website.
So this morning we got a very polite email from a guy from Florida named Robbie Brantley, asking us to check out his band Human Fluid Rot. “Good day to you all,” the email read in part. “I hope you find my project interesting enough to put on your site.” Who says “Good day to you all” anymore? Even with a name like Human Fluid Rot, we were half expecting a chap-hop project.
Happily, however, it turns out that Robbie’s politeness ends with his emails. Musically, he’s as rude as they come, unleashing the kind of shrieking feedback noise assault that clears rooms and busts eardrums. And occasionally, he creates it while taking a dump. He’s our kind of guy, that Robbie.
Anyway, here’s Robbie’s latest sonic stinkbomb, 45 minutes of static and despair called “Kid Songs.” It’s a great way to start your week!
To find out more about Human Fluid Rot, visit their Facebook page.
When they’re not heading up their experimental noise project, Nautical Almanac, Twig Harper and Carly Ptak (that’s them in the above photo) run Be Free Floating, a Baltimore company that puts people in those sensory deprivation tanks. Which is ironic, because their music—and some might take exception with calling it “music”—is kind of sensory overload. Weird vocals and noises made on homemade synthesizers scud along the surface of a thick stew of arrhythmic percussion and guitar feedback that doesn’t so much overwhelm you as totally disorient you. After listening to a few hours of it, you could probably use some time in a sensory deprivation tank just to decompress.
Reader The ∞ NSA sent us this clip of a half-hour performance by Harper, Ptak and a third guy (possibly Max Eisenberg?) from back in 2005, which seems to be the last time they released any new music. Since then, Harper’s done some solo stuff and Ptak has gotten into photography. And of course, they help people float. Wish they had an L.A. branch, because I just had a long-ass week.
Most of Nautical Almanac’s catalog is pretty obscure, but they do have one album, Rooting for Microbes, available on Amazon.com.
So we kinda blew this one, guys. For the past three years, the weirdest hip-hop band on the planet has been Death Grips. And before we could get around to adding them to the Weird List, they broke up. Oops.
It’s not like they were toiling in obscurity. If anything, I think we were inclined to pay less attention to them because they were getting so much goddamned attention. Nothing that hyped, that embraced by the mainstream—signed to Epic Records, downloaded over 124 million times on BitTorrent, named one of the best albums of 2012 by NP fucking R—could possibly be that weird, right?
Wrong. Death Grips were a defiant, aggro, unheralded mix of rap, punk rock, noise and electronic glitch that almost gets more mind-blowing the longer you listen to it. And for their short lifespan, they churned out material at such a breakneck pace that even now that they’ve broken up, they’ve still promised fans one last double LP later this year, to go with three full-length albums, an EP and a mixtape, all released over the course of about two and a half years.
They were also totally uncompromising in the way they managed their career. Yes, they signed to a major label, but when that major label wouldn’t release their second LP, No Love Deep Web, less than a year after their first one, they leaked it themselves via BitTorrent (hence that record-breaking number of downloads), complete with cover art featuring the album title scrawled across a half-erect penis. Not surprisingly, Epic Records dropped them shortly after that little stunt.
Then came their breakup last week, which they announced via a scribbled note on a dinner napkin, posted on their Facebook page. “we are now at our best,” the noted began, “and so Death Grips is over. we have officially stopped.” This just weeks before they were scheduled to embark on a massive North American tour opening for Nine Inch Nails. Most of the 5,000-plus comments on the breakup note are variations on this one: “WHY?????” But Death Grips clearly felt they never needed to explain anything they did to anyone.
So what happens now? The band’s most famous member, freak-of-nature drummer Zach Hill, will probably go back to any number of his other projects, the foremost of which is his experimental math-rock band Hella. Producer/keyboardist Andy “Flatlander” Morin will probably make a synth-pop album. Tattooed frontman MC Ride can probably do anything he damn well pleases now, although it’s hard to imagine him ever coming out with anything that matches Death Grips’ intensity.
For those (probably few) of you who still haven’t experienced Death Grips in all their craziness, we’ll leave you with a couple of videos. The first features one of the glitchier moments on their debut mixtape, Ex Military:
Now here’s “No Love” from No Love Deep Web, which captures their balls-out live show. Kinda sucks that these guys may very well never perform together again, doesn’t it?
Finally, we must end this post with a shout-out to the many readers who tried to convince us to pay attention to Death Grips sooner: Patrick S., KrazyTrilla, Matt S., Frostoriuss and Steffon R. You guys totally called it. Death Grips is dead, long live Death Grips.
Our favorite penis-nosed provocateur Anklepants has been having a busy month. Just a few weeks after knocking the entire Internet on its ass with his bonkers Boiler Room set, he’s unleashing a brand-new project this weekend: Clock_yangé (or possibly Clocké_yangé—the spelling seems to vary), a collaboration with a mysterious, tin-foil-faced guitar player called Ratbag. “Clocké_yangé is the übergründé Convict cloud chamber encapsulating Reecard Farché (Anklepants) and RATBAG,” declares the duo’s Facebook page, continuing in the grand Anklepants tradition of sticking accents and umlauts all over the place while making as little sense as possible.
Earlier today, Clock_yangé released what we believe is their first online music, a little two-minute SoundCloud preview of their live set. You can check it out below, but be warned: You may want to listen with someone you’re not ashamed to cower behind. Shit’s kinda scary. Right, Mom? (I cowered behind my mom.)
Rumor has it this unholy duo will unleash their aural onslaught upon an unsuspecting Berlin populace this Saturday. Half the city is gonna wish they left that wall up. (Too soon?)
We’ll leave you with one final fleeting glimpse of Ratbag and his amazing animatronic inverted cross hat. I hope they made extras, because they really need to give one of those things to every member of Mayhem.
Negativland just issued the best Casey Kasem tribute: a remixable version of their banned classic, “U2″
Anyone of my generation was probably pretty sad to hear about the passing of legendary radio personality (and voice of Shaggy) Casey Kasem this past weekend. Kasem, who hosted the weekly show “American Top 40″ for approximately a million years, will be remembered for many things, including something I’m sure he and his family would rather forget: a profanity-laced outtake directed at U2, who were apparently new on the charts at the time, because Kasem dismisses the famously Irish band with the now-immortal line, “These guys are from England and who gives a shit?”
The rant achieved immortality when it was picked up by the pioneering culture-jamming band Negativland and used on a 1991 EP called (0bviously) U2. Because it sampled U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” without permission, U2 became the subject of a protracted lawsuit (obviously) and was eventually taken out of circulation, but it’s lived on in bootleg form (and, in more recent years, on YouTube) ever since. It’s a kind of cautionary tale, really, about the perils of launching into a profanity-laced tirade anywhere in the vicinity of recording equipment—one that politicians, actors and TV personalities continue to ignore to this day.
Now, to commemorate Kasem’s passing, Negativland have announced that they’re reissuing “U2,” complete with Kasem’s “Who gives a shit?” rant, as a free download. But not just any free download—they’re releasing the multi-track masters, so fans and fellow musicians can remix, re-edit and reinterpret “U2″ however they see fit. You can grab the full download (all 278 MB of it) here. Anyone who produces a new version of the track is encouraged to post it on Negativland’s official website or Facebook page.
Negativland first announced this project on Monday, so the interwebs have already swung into action. We haven’t had a chance to listen to all the remixes yet, but so far this one is our favorite:
Rest in peace, Casey.
We found this week’s weird band right in our own backyard. One of their videos was even partially shot in the parking lot of the 99¢ Only Store right down the street from Jake’s house. Actually, we found them in our inbox from a reader named William, because we don’t get out much. Which might be just as well, because Foot Village is not the kind of band you’d want to bump into in the dark parking lot of a 99¢ Only Store.
Foot Village is a self-described “drum-n-shout assembly” that makes insanely intense music almost entirely out of percussion and vocals. We’ve covered a lot of other drum-heavy bands on TWBITW over the years—starting with the granddaddies of them all, Boredoms and Crash Worship—but what Foot Village does with this limited palette is pretty special. Sometimes their songs are like invocations of dark, primal forces, and sometimes they’re like a schoolyard beatdown after a drug deal gone bad. In fact, one of their heaviest gut-punch numbers is actually called “This Song Is a Drug Deal,” and it has a video that’s like a William Burroughs short story set at a Coachella after-party.
Foot Village’s music would be intense enough on its own, but they have a knack for making equally intense videos, even when they don’t rely on gobs of black paint to make their point. Here’s the aforementioned 99¢ Only Store video, a disturbingly fresh spin on child abduction set to a thunderous war whoop of a song called “New Jersey.”
And finally, here’s a glimpse of their balls-out live show, filmed at L.A. noise-rock mecca The Smell.