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Polyphonic Spree tour and remix album are coming to happy up your summer

The Polyphonic Spree

No band on the Weird List makes us happier than the Polyphonic Spree. They’re basically Zoloft in band form. So today we have two pieces of happy news to relate: 1.) The Spree are doing a massive summer tour; and 2.) They’re releasing a remix album on Aug. 12th. Called Psychphonic, it’ll feature remixes of every track from the Spree’s latest album, Yes It’s True, done by a bunch of remixers we’ve never heard of but who all have awesome raver names: Miyamigo, Sunglitters, Candy Claws. Keep it PLUR, kids!

You can hear a track from Psychphonic exclusively on Paste.com, and check out the full tracklist and tour dates after this little tour teaser video.

Psychphonic tracklist:

1) Heart Talk (Miyamigo)
2) Raise Your Head (Rachel Boyd)
3) Carefully Try (Little People)
4) Battlefield (K-Conjoy)
5) You’re Golden (Candy Claws)
6) Let Them Be (sTILL cURRENT)
7) Popular By Design (Sunglitters)
8) What Would You Do (Malachai UK’s Scott Hendy)
9) Hold Yourself Up (Miaou)
10) Blurry Up The Lines (DJ Jel)
11) You Don’t Know Me (Set In Sand)

Polyphonic Spree summer 2014 tour:

Wednesday, July 9th – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
Thursday, July 10th-New Orleans, LA – Southport Music Hall
Friday, July 11th-Austin, TX – Central Presbyterian Church
Saturday, July 12th-Dallas, TX – Club Dada
Tuesday, July 15th-Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg HiFi
Wednesday, July 16th-San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Thursday, July 17th-San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew
Friday, July 18th-Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
Saturday, July 19th-Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst Atrium
Sunday, July 20th-North Lake Tahoe, CA – Wanderlust Festival
Monday, July 21st-Seattle, WA – Triple Door
Wednesday, July 23rd-Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
Friday, July 25th-Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
Saturday, July 26th-Denver, CO – Soiled Dove Underground
Friday, August 15th-Oklahoma City, OK – ACM Performance Lab
Saturday, August 16th-St Louis, MO – The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill
Sunday, August 17th-Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
Monday, August 18th-Minneapolis, MN – The Cedar Cultural Center
Tuesday, August 19th-Evanston, IL – SPACE
Thursday, August 21st-Cincinnati, OH – Taft Theatre
Friday, August 22nd-Ferndale, MI – The Magic Bag
Saturday, August 23rd-Cleveland, OH – Music Box Supper Club
Monday, August 25th-Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
Tuesday, August 26th-Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl
Wednesday, August 27th-Philadelphia, PA – Prince Music Theatre
Thursday, August 28th-Washington, DC – Black Cat
Friday, August 29th-Carrboro, NC – The Arts Center
Saturday, August 30th-Atlanta, GA – The Loft at Center Stage

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Weird of the Day: “Wayfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles” collects Dungeons & Dragons-inspired rock from the ’70s

Darkscorch

Some music scenes never quite produced any one band talented enough or weird enough to make it onto our Weird List—but taken collectively, they deserve a shout-out nonetheless. Such a scene was the weird world of ’70s fantasy psych-rock. You wouldn’t think that many bands would’ve been inspired to write heavy rock jams based on their favorite Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons characters. But apparently back around 1975 or so, a lot of kids were rolling 20-sided dice in their basements to the strains of King Crimson and Black Sabbath. So many, in fact, that ace reissue label the Numero Group has managed to put together a compilation featuring 16 such bands.

Numero Group’s collection of D&D stoner rock is called Wayfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles and features such forgotten heroes of the underground as Triton Warrior, Gorgon Medusa and Stonehenge (yes, there is actually a band on this comp called Stonehenge—Spinal Tap, eat your heart out). Individually, none of the tracks is all that, but taken collectively, it’s a pretty incredible snapshot of a very specific moment in suburban rec room culture. Never again before or since have some many American teenagers simultaneously owned copies of The Dungeon Master’s Guide, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Jethro Tull’s Minstrel in the Gallery. (Actually, many of the compilation’s tracks pre-date the advent of Dungeons & Dragons and Jethro Tull’s heyday by several years—so many it’s more accurate to say that Darkscorch Canticles reveals that the roots of ’70s rec room culture and British prog-rock in the music of hippie bands who were reading J.R.R. Tolkien on acid.)

To hear clips and order up a copy of Darkscorch Canticles, visit the Numero Group website. And if you really get obsessed with this stuff, there’s even an accompanying board game. Now here’s some Stonehenge.

Watch Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus do their “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” cover at the Billboard Music Awards

Wayne Coyne

Wayne Coyne, contemplating his recent life decisions (Photo by George Salisbury)

Much as we’re loathe to admit it, collaborating with Miley Cyrus was probably a pretty smart career move for Wayne Coyne and his ragtag band of psych-rockers, the Flaming Lips. On their own, the Lips have pretty much a zero percent chance of getting invited to perform on any nationally televised awards show these days—but with Miley in tow, they’re not only invited to the party, they’re given full permission to let their freak flags fly. Their appearance on last night’s Billboard Music Awards (video below) would have been the talk of the Interweb today, had the entire awards show not been upstaged by that stupid Michael Jackson hologram.

Wayne and Miley were decked out in warpaint, feathers and tinsel (including, in Coyne’s case, a tinsel codpiece) to perform their cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which the Lips recently announced is but one track of a forthcoming Sgt. Pepper tribute album called With a Little Help From My Fwends. Shrewdly, they began taking pre-orders for the album last night, even though it’s not due out until October. I wonder how many hyperventilating Miley fans have already pre-ordered their copy, blissfully unaware that most of the record will be old dudes like Coyne and Moby doing weird Beatles songs they never heard of?

With a Little Help From My Fwends is due out Oct. 28th on Warner Bros. Records. A portion of the record’s profits will go towards the Bella Foundation, which helps elderly, low-income and terminally ill pet owners pay their vet bills. So every time we make fun of this project in the months ahead—and my guess is we’ll make fun of it A LOT—a portion of us will feel like assholes for doing so.

In other Lips news: Coyne recently fired the band’s longtime second drummer, Kliph Scurlock, prompting Scurlock to write a long letter to Pitchfork accusing Coyne of, among other things, “endless verbal (with threats of physical) abuse.” (You can read the entire letter here, if you’re so inclined.) While it’s hard to say how many of Scurlock’s accusations are true, it’s definitely true that Coyne chose to respond in the douchiest way possible, by giving a lengthy interview to Rolling Stone in which he repeatedly describes Scurlock—who was with the band for 12 years—as hateful, immature and uncreative. “Anybody that knows him knows what a hateful pathological liar he is,” he says, before adding, moments later, “But I don’t even want to speak about the hate, you know. I don’t have any hate for him.”

Well, we don’t have any hate for you either, Wayne. But I gotta be honest. Between the Rolling Stone interview and that moment at the Billboard Music Awards where you kissed Miley’s feet—we’re a little worried about you. Maybe take a little hiatus after this Beatles album, yeah? You seem like you could use some R&R.

Well Worn Boot’s Wild Wild Fest is coming

Well Worn Boot

I always thought wineries were for pinky-pointing pussies. But I guess I need to rethink my position, because a winery is hosting a weird-ish music festival in Upstate New York this August. It’s called the Wild Wild Fest and it was founded by our flute-playing cowpunk heroes, Well Worn Boot. Do I need to drink Chardonnay to attend? Fuck it, save me a barrel and I’ll be there with both pinkies flappin’ in the breeze.

I must admit…except for WWB, Andy and I hadn’t heard of any of these other bands on the Wild Wild Fest lineup. Well, we’d heard of Bill Ward and for a second there we got all excited…but it’s not the drummer from Black Sabbath. It’s this guy. But hey, I bet he does a mean “Paranoid” cover.

Still, we did a little research and it turns out that WWB are definitely not the only freaks on the bill. Armcannon, for example, do synth-metal covers of videogame music. (Hm, where have we heard that idea before?) Baby Gramps is a crusty old folk singer who has a song called “Scrotum Song.” And then there’s this Jack Topht guy. I don’t even know where to start on that one. Somebody pass the fuckin’ Chardonnay.

Anyhoo, Wild Wild Fest is Aug. 29-30 at Willow Creek Winery in Silver Creek, NY. Come for the Boot, stay for the wine slushies. Did I mention there will be wine slushies? Fuck yeah, there will be wine slushies. I kinda buried the lead there, didn’t I?

For more info, including ticket prices and whatnot, go here. Or watch this nifty little promotional video.

P.S. Please do not confuse Well Worn Boot’s Wild Wild Fest with this other Wild Wild Fest. That one is all shitty metal bands and zero wine slushies. Trust me, you want the one with the guy who sings the “Scrotum Song.”

Weird of the Day: Guardian Alien, “See the World Given to a One Love Entity”

Guardian Alien

We are crushing hard on Thrill Jockey Records this week. Yesterday we got turned on to the soothing gamelan sounds of TJ artist OOIOO; today, we’re feeding our inner psychonaut with the cosmic freak-fest that is New York’s Guardian Alien. Led by superhumanoid drummer Greg Fox, these guys lay down some seriously mind-expanding noise. The original version of the song in the video below is 37 minutes long (you can hear most of it in this live video, if you’ve got some time on your hands), but the six-minute version tells you pretty much everything you need to know about their head-trip vibe. It stars a Rastafarian alien (a Rastalien?), for starters.

A tip of the dreadlocks to reader Rembrandt grokking us to Guardian Alien. If you can’t get enough See the World Given to a One Love Entity, you can buy the whole one-song album direct from Thrill Jockey or via Amazon.com.

Well Worn Boot

Well Worn Boot

I know a lot of you foreign types read this blog, so let me explain something. Here in America, we have this thing every year called “March Madness” where suddenly everyone is expected to care about college basketball. It’s a tournament and the team that wins gets to bone every chick at the losing team’s school…at least I assume that’s what happens, because there’s no other explanation for why everyone gets so fucking excited about it.

Anyway, around here we had our own little version of March Madness with our latest Weird Band Poll, and the band that gets to cut down the net (look it up) is a little combo from Upstate New York called Well Worn Boot. I am excited about this because I grew up in that part of the world and these guys represent my favorite part of Upstate, which is the white trash part. They’re from Buffalo but they may as well be from Pigfuck, Arkansas. Except they’re probably a little too weird for that.

Well Worn Boot’s lead singer is a flute-playing hillbilly named The Plainsman. Their guitarist is a horse called Horse. Their bass player is a big baby called Baby Buckingham. Their drummer is a dead guy named Billy Klubb who, for reasons no one can explain, wears a tiny cow-colored top hat. They play music that has been described as “Johnny Cash meets Captain Beefheart,” and yes, it is very nearly as awesome as that sounds. Especially when The Plainsman lets rip with a flute solo. Then they’re like a cowpunk Jethro Tull.

They release comic books with their EPs, which chronicle the adventures of Well Worn Boot like they’re a bunch of drunken Upstate superheroes. The first comic/EP was called Fully Torqued and you can preview it here. The next one comes out next month and will be called Boot in Space. I assume it’ll be set in space but from what I know so far about these guys, it might just be set in Billy Klubb’s basement and guest star a nitrous tank.

Oh and they also have their own festival. It’s called the Wild Wild Fest and it’s happening this year Aug. 29-30 at the Willow Creek Winery in Silver Creek, NY. I’m usually more of a beer and bourbon guy, but I’ll drink whatever that place is pouring.

We’ll leave you with the video from “Drunk on the Highway,” which is pretty typical of the WWB catalog in that it features aliens, drinking and sex. Not necessarily in that order.

Actually, hold up. That one didn’t have enough flute in it. So here’s another one.

Links:

I threw up three times while writing this headline: Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus are collaborating on a Beatles cover

Miley Cyrus and Wayne Coyne

Why, Wayne, why? Are you having a midlife crisis? Are you just trying fuck with us? What is the deal with all the shitty pop collaborations of late? It wasn’t bad enough you did a song with Ke$ha, now you have to team up with Miley fucking Cyrus?

Actually, the very notion of Miley/Flaming Lips collab is so perverse, it just might work. In a way, it already has; the Lips joined Miley onstage at the Tulsa, Oklahoma stop of her current “Bangerz” tour to perform “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” and much as we hate to admit, it didn’t actually suck (video proof below). But they’ve also been up to no good in the studio, and that’s where the story takes a really scary turn: They’re teaming up with one of the guys from MGMT to do a Beatles cover. And not just any Beatles cover: They’re doing “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” I think I speak for all Beatles fans when I say this has all the makings of a sacrilege on par with Katy Perry’s recent butchering of “Yesterday.”

But hell, what do I know? The Lips minus Miley are actually the perfect band to give “Lucy” an appropriately trippy interpretation. So maybe they can tame The Tongue long enough to get a decent vocal take out of her.

Then again, this recent post to Wayne Coyne’s Instagram account, accompanied by the caption, “Miley in the studio vomiting diamonds while singing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds!!”, does not fill us with hopeful anticipation:

Miley-Diamonds

On a brighter note: Here’s that video of adoring Miley Cyrus fans cheering Wayne and Miley’s rendition of “Yoshimi.” Some of them even pelted Wayne with their bras. I believe in midlife crisis terms, that’s known as “Unlocking the Tom Jones Achievement Badge.”

Flaming Lips reveal their punk roots on previously unreleased 1983 demo

FlamingLips1983

If you left any Flaming Lips fans off your Christmas list, there’s still time to get them a cool stocking stuffer: a blue seven-inch vinyl release of the band’s second demo from way back in 1983, when they were just another scruffy post-punk college-rock band with a shouty lead singer (Wayne Coyne’s brother Mark, who left the group in 1985). The untitled four-song demo was originally recorded on cassette tape and has never been previously released to the public. Only 2,000 copies of the blue vinyl were released, all on Dec. 24th to independent record stores. Our friends over at The Future Heart have diligently assembled a list, via Twitter, of which stores still had copies left as of yesterday. There are also apparently still some copies of the Lips’ first EP floating around green vinyl, as well.

Wanna listen before you buy? Of course you do. It’s an on-demand world. So here, feast your ears on what the press release aptly describes as the Lips’ early “primitive shambolic drug-damaged punk-pop.” These first two tracks are called “The Flaming Lips Theme Song 1983″ and “The Future Is Gone”:

And here’s “Underground Pharmacist” and “Real Fast Words.” Dig that walking bassline from Michael Ivins.

Butthole Surfers

Butthole Surfers

You know that long hiatus we just took? It gave Jake and me some much-needed time to do a little soul searching. I reconnected with my inner child, Jake reconnected with his inner hippie, and we both reconnected with our punk-rock roots. Okay, Jake reconnected with his punk-rock roots; I broke out my old Pink Floyd records. But somehow, both of those things led us back to another classic weird band we’ve neglected for far too long: the Butthole Surfers.

From about 1985 to 1989, the Butthole Surfers had one of the craziest live shows of any band on the planet. Their lead singer, the eternally manic Gibby Haynes, wore dresses and played squealing saxophone riffs and shouted lyrics into a megaphone. Next to him stood an upside-down cymbal filled with lighter fluid; he would set it—and often, his hand—on fire. Guitarist Paul Leary writhed around the stage like a man possessed. Two identical-looking drummers played standing up, sometimes in perfect unison and sometimes it utter cacophony. Kathleen Lynch, the band’s infamous “naked dancer,” struck spastic poses in time to a strobe light, covered in lurid body paint. Behind the band, overlapping 16-millmeter films layered disturbing and incongruous images atop one another, like a graphic penis reconstruction medical video and, according to one account, “people with Down’s syndrome dancing in top hats and tails.” The whole thing was designed to freak the shit out of the audience, and it usually worked. Here, for example, is drummer Teresa Taylor, aka Teresa Nervosa, describing the Surfers’ shows circa 1985 (from this excellent oral history of the band):

Gibby in those days would take condoms filled with colored dye and put those in his pants so that at some point they would burst and it would look very bloody. He would change clothes onstage during the set a lot.  Then he went and bought the first vocal effect and that was a big deal. We had strobe lights, $10 strobe lights, and then we bought a 16-millimeter projector, because we started to make more money. Everything was invested back into the band, so we could have a better show, better sound. Later we got another projector and showed two 16-millimeter films overlapping. The full-on shows would make people puke and scream and run out, that kind of thing. It was what we’d always wanted.

Happily, a ton of video from this era exists on YouTube—much of it lifted from Blind Eye Sees All, a concert film the band shot in Detroit in 1985, but plenty of clips from later years, as well (which is a good thing, because Lynch didn’t add her naked dancing to the band’s spectacle until 1986). Less happily, the quality of most of these videos is shitty, and even under the best of circumstances, an ’80s B-hole Surfers show was almost impossible to film. This is one of the better clips we could find and you still really can’t see anything until 40 second into it:

I’ve somehow neglected to mention the music up to this point, which is stupid because the music was generally every bit as crazy as the stage show. Early on, the Surfers were part of the punk scene, and their live performances definitely owed a debt to the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys. But in the studio, they were on their own trip from day one. Here, for example, is a track off their first full-length album, 1984’s Psychic… Powerless… Another Man’s Sac, which owes as much to The Residents or Captain Beefheart as it does to hardcore punk:

Back in ’84, Gibby Haynes achieved his distorted, menacing vocals mostly just by singing by through a megaphone or a toilet paper roll, but over the years he added various electronic effects, until he finally had an entire rack of processors that came be known as “Gibbytronix.” You can’t actually see Gibby in this 1991 video, but you can hear Gibbytronix in full effect:

Over the course of the ’90s, the Surfers devolved into a tamer, “alternative rock” incarnation of their former selves. Kurt Cobain name-checked them as an influence (he and Courtney Love met at a Butthole Surfers show), which helped the band land a major-label deal at Capitol Records in 1992. They even got John Paul fucking Jones (yes, the Led Zeppelin guy) to produce their first record for Capitol, the intriguingly titled but disappointingly polished Independent Worm Saloon. By the time they scored their biggest hit, 1996’s “Pepper,” they were starting to sound kinda like Weezer. But hey, if aging psychedelic noise punks can’t cash out in America, what hope is there for the rest of us? And to their credit, they still play the old weird shit to this day, albeit as a stripped-down four piece with fewer visual effects and naked dancers.

I’ve really only scratched the surface of all that was weird about the Butthole Surfers; if I wanted to, I could go on all night. In their early days, they changed the band name for every show: Ashtray Babyheads, the Right to Eat Fred Astaire’s Asshole, the Dick Gas Five. Their classic 1988 album Hairway to Steven was released with cartoons for each song in place of titles. Fans later deciphered the song titles based on live set lists; the song represented by a rabbit dancing on top of a dead fish turned out to be called “Julio Iglesias.”

But instead of cataloging their every bit of chicanery, I’ll just leave you with a short 1988 film called Bar-B-Que Movie, which starred all six then-members of the band (Gibby, Leary, bassist Jeff Pinkus, drummers King Coffey and Teresa Nervosa, and dancer Kathleen Lynch) and was directed by, of all people, Alex Winter, the actor best known as the not-Keanu guy from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s a spoof of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and…well, just fucking watch it, OK? You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll never look at your cast-iron frying pan the same way again. There’s a full-on recreation of the Surfers’ stage show about seven minutes in. Enjoy.

Links:

BB BlackDog

We had our own little British Invasion here at Weird Band HQ last week. Not only did steampunk Brits BB BlackDog win our latest Weird Band Poll, another English act named Ben & Amy finished a strong 3rd. The lone American act in the poll, Fartbarf, finished dead last. What is wrong with you people? Do you hate farting, barfing and America? Sometimes I don’t recognize this country anymore.

But anyway, yes, BB BlackDog crushed the competition fair and square, so they earn Weird Band of the Week honors. And they are indeed a pretty fucking weird band, though not for the obvious reasons. I mean, if they were just another WWI-fighter-pilot-goggles-wearing steampunk act, we would pass them by with a resounding “meh.” There’s entire fucking conventions of bands like that now. But here’s what’s awesome about BB BlackDog: The visuals don’t match the music. At all. It’s like if Slipknot came out onstage and starting singing One Direction songs. Except way less sucky than that.

So yeah, when you first look at BB BlackDog, you probably assume they’re going to break into a John Philip Sousa march, or maybe a little ragtime, or they might get really crazy and bust out the chap-hop. Wrong! BB BlackDog play good old-fashioned bluesy psychedelic/stoner rock. And they do it in full steampunk regalia, with belly dancers and shit.

Here are some other interesting factoids about BB Black Dog. They’ve been doing this since 2007. They’ve written 76 original songs. They don’t have a guitar player…lead singer Dale Rowles plays “lead bass,” John Ferguson Mike Bower plays rhythm bass, and Axel Boldt plays the drums as hard as anyone can without the pink boa flying off his black leather cowboy hat. They list Black Sabbath, Prince, Pink Floyd and death metal among their influences. They have an album called No One that you can buy from (duh) Steampunk Records…or from Amazon.com if you prefer to pay in U.S. scrilla. One of their members is German. Oh and they seem to occasionally feature a fourth member who dresses up like their namesake “Black Dog”…although honestly, he looks more like some kind of steampunk gimp who just escaped from an H.P. Lovecraft-themed sex dungeon. Which actually makes sense, because they have a song called “Gimp.”

If you clicked that last link, you saw that as recently as 2009, BB BlackDog was pretty much just another scruffy stoner-rock bar band…albeit one with a vaguely old-timey burlesque dancer. Apparently, they’re recent converts to the whole steampunk thing. I guess you could argue that this makes them steampunk carpet-baggers or something, except I’m pretty sure there needs to be a carpet worth bagging for that to make any sense. It’s not like everyone’s riding the steampunk gravy train to major label deals and Bud Light endorsements. The likelier explanation is just that they stumbled across the steampunk scene and went, “Hey, this is fucking cool! Let’s join in!” Just because they didn’t swap out the basses for banjoleles doesn’t mean they’re not totally into it.

BB BlackDog have a ton of live videos on YouTube, and many of them are definitely worth checking out. But it was this video for the track “What You Need” that I’m pretty sure scored them a win in our Weird Band Poll. What’s more steampunk than a motorized shopping cart? Lots, but who cares? Motorized shopping carts are awesome.

Links:

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