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We’re not sure how we feel about this Sparks/Franz Ferdinand collaboration

Sparks2014

British music news rag NME broke some eyebrow-raising news last week: For their next studio project, avant-pop duo Sparks are collaborating with Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand. Apparently sessions have been in progress since April 2013 and should be completed by this summer.

If you think this sounds like a trainwreck in the making, you’re not alone. Sparks keyboardist Ron Mael agrees with you. “If there was a train crash between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks,” the mustachioed Mael brother told NME, “this is what the wreckage would sound like.” I’m sure he meant that in a good way, but still, we’re concerned. Not that Franz Ferdinand are the worst of the early ’00s crop of Brit-rock bands; at least Sparks aren’t collaborating with, say, Razorlight. Alex Kapranos and co. are fine, and even occasionally catchy in a Scottish Strokes sort of way. But they’re not exactly weird or innovative or groundbreaking—so for this pairing to be anything more than a curiosity, Ron and Russell Mael are going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Oddly, this isn’t the first time there’s been talk of a Sparks and FF collab. Way back in 2006, there were reports that Franz Ferdinand was working on an entire album of Sparks covers (which never came to fruition, obviously). Turns out Kapranos and his mates really are huge Sparks fans—so who knows? Maybe working with the brothers Mael will bring out a side of FF we haven’t heard before.

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Sparks “Two Hands One Mouth” tour returns

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We’ve really been slacking on catching the uncategorizable duo Sparks on their “Two Hands, One Mouth” tour.  Not only did we skip seeing them at Coachella—a move I don’t regret at all, I might add, because seeing one of your favorite bands at Coachella is like kissing your biggest high school crush through a T-shirt soaked in other people’s sweat—we also totally missed the boat on seeing them perform at the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which is a gorgeous venue and way less sweaty. (We saw Matmos there earlier this year and it was awesome.) Fortunately, Sparks have decided to be kind to us slackers and return to North America this fall for another round of tour dates.

This time, Ron and Russell Mael have redubbed their “Two Hands, One Mouth” tour and are calling it “The Revenge of Two Hands, One Mouth”—on account of that terrible thing you people did to Sparks on the first “Two Hands, One Mouth” tour. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Whatever you want to call it, “Two Hands, One Mouth” is just that: Ron Mael’s two hands on keyboards, and Russell Mael’s mouth on vocals. No band, no computers, no pre-recorded backing tracks. Just one of the weirdest and most eclectic catalogs in pop history, whittled down to its bare essentials. Here’s a taste of the format from that Masonic Lodge show we missed; full tour dates after the clip.

The Revenge of Two Hands One Mouth Tour Dates:

10/23: Atlanta, GA @ The Variety Playhouse
10/25: Asheville, NC @ Mountain Oasis Festival
10/27: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
10/28: New York, NY @ Webster Hall
10/30: Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
11/1: Montreal, QC @ Le National
11/2: Toronto, ON @Lee’s Palace
11/4: Detroit/Pontiac, MI @ Crofoot Ballroom
11/6: Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
11/7: Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
11/8-11/10: Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest
11/11: Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda Theatre

Weirdify Playlist 13: My Freaky Valentine

MyFreakyValentine

Let’s face it: Most love songs suck. If you’re like me, you can’t fire up the Whitney Houston come Valentine’s Day for fear of your lady love punching you in the face (and rightly so, I might add). So what’s a misfit in love to do? Don’t worry, TWBITW is here to help.

These 19 unconventional love songs will help you get your freak on with that special someone—of, if you don’t have a special someone, they’ll make you feel great about being single. Yes, they can do both. They’re just that fucking good.

So fire up your Spotify player, or use the nifty embedded player below, and let’s start the seduction.

Some notes on your listening experience:

1. Leslie Hall, “Power Cuddle.” Our current Weirdo of the Week starts us off with a little heavy petting. Spoiler alert: “Take me to Miami, we can hold handies” is the best lyric in this entire playlist. It’s all downhill from here.

2. Dirty Sanchez, “Give Head & Be Beautiful.” Now that we’ve got the cuddling out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

3. Gonken, “Robot Lovin’.” OK, slow jam time. This one goes out to everyone whose significant other is one screw short.

4. Goldie Lookin’ Chain, “You Knows I Loves You.” Wales’ greatest (only?) hip-hop crew puts on the moves. Eat your heart out, R. Kelly.

5. Die Antwoord, “U Make a Ninja Wanna Fuck.” Believe it or not, this is actually the South African rap-ravers’ romantic side. They even quote Tiffany!

6. Here Come the Mummies, “Bed, Bath & Behind.” In which a bunch of funky mummies do the nasty all over your nice furniture. Don’t think about the cleaning bills, just go with it.

7. Baby Seal Club, “Silly Human Sentiment.” If you’re incapable of expressing love without feeling like an idiot, this is the song for you. Also, you might need therapy. Just sayin’.

8. DEVO, “The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise.” We’re not really sure what’s wrong with Mark Mothersbaugh’s baby, but it doesn’t sound good. But his devotion sounds undying, which makes this about as close to a pure boy/girl love song as DEVO’s ever likely to write.

9. Barnes and Barnes, “Girl of My Dreams.” The “worried young man” of this song might a stalker, but at least he’s a romantic stalker.

10. The Emotron, “Love Song.” Boy meets cigarettes. Boy loses cigarettes. Boy loses his shit. It’s a love story for the ages.

11. Sparks, “Perfume.” If your girlfriend asks why you didn’t get her any perfume for Valentine’s Day, just play her this song instead. Unless you don’t want to spend your life with her. Then things might get awkward.

12. Nous Non Plus, “Acte Manqué/Freudian Slip.” We have no idea what this song is about, but a boy and a girl singing to each other in French always sounds romantic.

13. The Wet Spots, “Labia Limbo.” We got away from songs about sex for awhile there, didn’t we? Unless that French song is all about fucking like bunnies. Anyway, Canada’s favorite kinky lounge act leaves no doubt what we’re talking about.

14. GWAR, “Sexecutioner.” You know what else this playlist needs? Some whip-crack and barnyard animal sound effects. Also, some metal. And genital wart and golden shower references in a ridiculously bad fake European accent. Now we’re ready for sexytime.

15. Anti-Nowhere League, “Woman.” Our old pal Army of Gay Unicorns recommended this track to us, and it is indeed the most romantic hardcore ’80s punk song we’ve ever heard, not to mention a harrowingly accurate depiction of marriage. (Love you, honey!) Also, the lead singer impersonates Animal from the Muppets, which is always a bonus.

16. The Residents, “Perfect Love.” Wise words from the patron saints of Weirdest Band in the World. Remember this song when you’re home alone crying this Thursday.

17. The Tiger Lillies, “My Funny Valentine.” When performed by our favorite Goth-punk cabaret trio with a full orchestra, the inherent twistedness of this old show tune really comes through. Did he really just call his lady love “unphotographable”? That’s some cold shit right there, Rodgers & Hart.

18. Klaus Nomi, “Valentine’s Day.” Shout-out to reader Adela for reminding us about this thematically appropriate (albeit indecipherable) song from the late, great synth-pop counter-tenor’s unfinished masterpiece, Za Bakdaz.

19. Ween, “Sweetheart.” After you’ve finished ravishing your lover and/or lotion collection with the sensual sounds of this playlist, you’ll probably want to lie back in post-coital bliss and crank some smooth, sweet yacht-rock, courtesy of the only band we’ve ever blogged about that’s done anything even remotely resembling a Boz Scaggs record. Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!

Weirdify Playlist 12: Whack Christmas

Whack Christmas

It’s been way too long since we did a new Weirdify playlist, but there’s no better occasion for getting into the back into the swing of things than Christmas. You either love holiday music or you hate it—and if you’re like us, your opinion on the subject probably swings wildly between those two extremes depending on what they’re playing while you’re picking up your Zoloft at CVS. (Please, baby Jesus, no more Mariah Carey.)

Fortunately, there are approximately five gazillion metric fuck-tons of holiday and Christmas-themed recordings to choose from, and many—most, even—don’t involve Grandmas getting run over by reindeers or old classics getting run over by the melisma of former American Idol contestants.

So with our patron saint, Frank Zappa*, as our guide, we dove into Spotify with all the shopping-cart-filling zeal of a Black Friday shopper at Wal-Mart to bring you our final Spotify mix of 2012: “Whack Christmas.” It’s what we’re dreaming of. Soon, it’s what you’ll be dreaming of, too. Especially when you get to “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey.” That shit is catchy!

Giddy up, giddy up, let’s go! (That’s Christmas-speak for, “Launch your Spotify player.” Or use the embedded player below. Cuz Spotify finally lets you do that now.)

*There’s no Frank Zappa on Spotify and, to the best of our knowledge, he never recorded any Christmas music. But if one of you Frank-ophiles out there cares to correct us, we’ll happily link to whatever Santa-related sonic mayhem he may have concocted.

Some notes on your listening experience:

1. Capital Kings, “Carol of the Bells.” You didn’t think we’d ease you into this mix gently, did you? Fuck no. You’re gonna start with a dubstep version of the most melodramatic Christmas carol of all time. When the bass drop hits, try crushing a carton of eggnog on your forehead. You’re feelin’ it now, bro!

2. Ronnie James Dio, Tommy Iommi, Rudy Sarzo, Simon Wright, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” This is from an album called We Wish You a Metal Xmas…and a Headbanging New Year! Need we say more? R.I.P., Holy Diver. (P.S. There might be another track from this album later in the mix. But you’ll just have to stick around to find out.)

3. Wesley Willis, “Merry Christmas.” I bet Wesley Willis gave great Christmas gifts. Or at least great Christmas head butts. We like this holiday a lot, too, Wesley!

4. Johnny MacRae, “Here Comes Fatty Claus.” You can find this on a delightful collection—sadly, not available on Spotify—called A John Waters Christmas. It kinda does for Christmas what Pink Flamingos did for overweight transvestites.

5. Randall Reed with the Forerunners, “The Peppermint Stick Man.” This unintentionally (we hope) child molestery Xmas original is from another worthy compilation called The American Song-Poem Christmas, a collection of amateur one-off singles recorded by would-be singer-songwriters and (we presume) very, very depressed session musicians. Here’s a tip for all you aspiring writers of children’s songs: Never use the word “erect” in a lyric.

6. Bob Dylan, “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Did you know Dylan released a Christmas album a few years back? It’s true. He also apparently smoked a carton of unfiltered Camels right before the recording sessions.

7. Afroman, “Police Blow My Wad.” This early ’00s novelty rapper took all the royalties from his one and only hit, “Because I Got High,” and blew them on a holiday album called A Colt 45 Christmas. And weed. Probably mostly on weed. This one is set to the tune of “Feliz Navidad”…get it? No? Smoke a bowl first and it’s hilarious. Trust us.

8. Elf-Elf and Dok-Im, “My Christmas Bells (Elf Vocal).” This might be Jake’s favorite rap song ever. Mashed potatoes!

9. The Jingle Punx, “It’s What I Got in My Sack.” Is there any better cure for too much shitty Christmas music than some good old-fashioned snot-punk? Also, he said “sack.” Heh-heh.

10. The Vandals, “I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus.” Next time someone asks you, “Hey, what’d you get me for Christmas?”…just play them this song. Unless you actually got them something. In that case…you know what? Play it anyway. ‘Cuz The Vandals rule.

11. Nerf Herder, “I’ve Got a Boner for Christmas.” Who needs “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” when we’ve got this romantic Yuletide ditty to keep us warm? Did you know “stocking” rhymes with “cock in”? Well, it doesn’t, really, but who cares? Let’s all get laid for Christmas!

12. Edmund Welles, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Think of this as a little post-punk palette cleanser, courtesy of our favorite all-bass clarinet ensemble. Not weird, per se, but gosh-darned purty.

13. Tiny Tim, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Another track from A John Waters Christmas, starring the world’s greatest ukulele-strumming, falsetto-voiced, late-night TV cult hero. This old Christmas chestnut takes on new life when it’s sung by someone who sounds like he’s gargling with angels’ tears.

14. British Summer Time Ends, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” As we point out frequently on this blog: The ’80s were a weird decade. This track appears on a random 1987 compilation called Joyeux Noel that features John Zorn and a bunch of other bands we’d never heard of, including these British Summer Time Ends guys. We tried Googling them for like two hours and all we could come up with was this. If anyone knows more about them, share, please! ‘Cause this version of “I Saw Mommy” is pretty great.

15. Lou Monte, “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey.” This 1960 novelty song regularly shows up on “Worst Christmas Songs Ever” lists. Which we think is pretty unfair, actually. When shit like our next song is still in circulation…

16. Bobby Boris Pickett, “Monster’s Holiday.” To be fair, it must have sucked being Bobby Boris Pickett. That dude was doomed to forever rehash his one and only hit. Still, can you imagine if today’s acts released Christmas-themed cash grabs this shameless? Oh, wait, they do. Don’t worry, we won’t taint this mix with any of that Bieber shit. We’ve got a much cooler child pop star…

17. Gayla Peevey, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Little Gayla Peevey was only 10 years old when she recorded this novelty hit in 1953. By 18, she was a Lindsay Lohan-like coke whore running over valets outside Hollywood’s sleaziest nightclubs. Kidding! Actually, she changed her name to Jamie Horton and released a song called “Robot Man.” Beat that, Miley Cyrus.

18. RuPaul, “Santa Baby.” A drag queen singing a seduction song to Jolly Saint Nick? Sure, why the hell not? Much like RuPaul’s Drag Race (seriously, how is that thing on its fifth season?), it wears out its welcome pretty quickly, but hey, that’s what the skip button is for.

19. The Superions, “Crummy Christmas Tree.” So long as we’re in camp mode, let’s throw in a track by B-52’s frontman Fred Schneider’s Xmas-themed side project. If that sad tree from the Charlie Brown Christmas specials could sing…it would sound exactly like Fred Schneider. Who knew?

20. The Avalanches, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” There’s a whole, massive subgenre of surf-rock/beach-themed Christmas music, most of which is, frankly, kinda lame. But this instrumental version of the date-rapiest of holiday standards is kinda groovy, isn’t it?

21. The Klezmonauts, “Joy to the World.” Hey, all you “War on Christmas” conspiracy theorists, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: Most Jews actually love Christmas. Not the Jesusy, away-in-a-manger stuff so much. But Santa, the presents, the tree, the eggnog—they’re totally down. Neil Diamond didn’t record A Cherry Cherry Christmas because his Christian overlords at Columbia Records were holding a gun to his head. We’re sure the same holds true for The Klezmonauts, who recorded an entire album of klezmer-styled holiday standards under the obvious but genius title of Oy to the World. It’s like a delicious Hanukkah latke topped with figgy pudding instead of apple sauce.

22. Family Force 5, “Little Drummer Boy.” We interrupt this mix for a little Christian crunk rock. There’s actually an entire album of this shit, The Family Force 5 Christmas Pageant. But because we love you so much, we’re only gonna share with you this, the shortest track on the record. You’re welcome.

23. Soul Saints Orchestra, “Santa’s Got a Bag of Soul.” Let’s get the horrible sound of crunk rock out of our ears with a little funky ’70s soul, shall we? This is from an outstanding collection of rare-groove Christmas records called In the Christmas Groove. And we really can’t play it without playing the man it’s obviously cribbing from…

24. James Brown, “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto.” This isn’t even really the Godfather of Soul’s weirdest Christmas track…but we’re including it anyway, because it’s awesome.

25. Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, “Jingle Bells.” A reader named Trey suggested we check out Bela Fleck’s Jingle All the Way album. “Not the weirdest but definitely different,” he said. And honestly, we were skeptical—but then we stumbled across this banjo-and-throat-singing version of “Jingle Bells” and we were like, “Holy shit, Trey. You are a master of understatement.”

26. Alice Cooper, Billy Sheehan, John 5, Vinny Appice, “Santa Claus (Claws) Is Coming to Town.” OK, fine, we’ll throw in another track from We Wish You a Metal Xmas. Even though you’ve all been very naughty. We’ve got a list, too, y’know.

27. Psychostick, “Jingle Bell Metal.” You didn’t think we’d get through this whole mix without throwing in at least one metalcore freakout, did you? You know us better than that.

28. Insane Clown Posse, “Red Christmas.” Or an ICP song. There’s also gotta be an ICP song. Whether you like it or not. And we know that secretly, you kinda like it. It’s okay, we do, too. “I’m dreaming of a dead Christmas…”

29. Doctor Octoroc, “Have Yourself a Little Final Fantasy.” From the album 8-Bit Jesus. ‘Nuff said.

30. DEVO, “Merry Something to You.” When a Yuletide comes along, you must whip it. We spent about an hour throwing DEVO puns around and that was the best we could come up with. Sorry.

31. Heather Noel, “Santa Came on a Nuclear Missile.” We went back to the The American Song-Poem Christmas well for this bizarre little Cold War-era artifact. Ah, those were the days.

32. William Hung, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Among the many reasons American Idol sucks worse than ever these days, there’s this: That show has never produced another would-be contestant as delightfully terrible as William James Hung Hing Cheong. If it was nothing but tone-deaf wannabes with humorous foreign accents, we’d watch that shit all the time.

33. Eban Schletter, “Carol of the Bells.” When he’s not composing music for shows like Spongebob Squarepants, Eban Schletter records bizarre concept albums like Cosmic Christmas, which has something to do with a satellite that brings the spirit of Christmas to alien civilizations, but is mostly just an excuse for him to do theremin-and-analog-synth covers of old holiday warhorses like “Carol of the Bells.” Cosmic, man!

34. Angry Snowmans, “Drinkin’ Rum & Egg Nog.” A reader named David really wanted us to feature these guys. So here you go, David! Just remember to drink responsibly: After your fifth rum & eggnog, switch to brandy & eggnog.

35. MDC, “Black Christmas.” A little holiday nihilism, courtesy of the Bay Area punk band known alternately as Millions of Dead Cops or Multi-Death Corporation. On second thought, David, go ahead and drink yourself into oblivion. Damn, we’re all depressed now. But hey, I bet I know what would cheer us up…

36. Jingle Cats, “White Christmas.” Nope, that really didn’t help at all. Let’s try something else…

37. Sparks, “Thank God It’s Not Christmas.” Ah, much better. This is the venerable art-pop duo Sparks in full ’70s glam-rock mode. We’re not even sure what it really has to do with Christmas, but it’s just a great song.

38. The Polyphonic Spree, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Tim DeLaughter’s orchestral rock ensemble in full-on psych-rock mode, from their new Christmas collection, Holidaydream. If more Christmas carols were this creepy and minor-key, the holiday music at the mall might actually be bearable.

39. The Flaming Lips, “A Change at Christmas (Say It Isn’t So).” This isn’t really the Lips at their weirdest. But it’s certainly Wayne Coyne at his most awkwardly sincere. You’re not just a dreamer, Wayne. We believe it can all change! Even here at Weird Band HQ, we’re not above a little peace-on-earth sentimentality. In fact, after all the shitty Top 40 versions of “Frosty the Snowman” have faded, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

40. Barnes & Barnes, “I Had Sex With Santa.” Well, that and a few cheap laughs. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Dammit, why does Europe gets all the Sparks fun?

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Imagine our excitement when we heard the elusive duo of Ron and Russell Mael, aka Sparks, were doing a month-long tour! Now imagine our disappointment when we learned that said tour won’t come any closer to our little corner of Mother Earth than Dublin, Ireland. Damn you, Sparks! Why must you torment us so?

All is not lost, however. We’re assured they’ll visit the U.S. and Japan in 2013. In the meantime, we’ll just have to settle for a maddeningly brief taste (YouTube clip after the jump) of a new sexytime track called “Two Hands, One Mouth,” which also happens to be the name of their new tour. “Two hands, one mouth,” go the lyrics. “That’s all I need to satisfy you.” Promises, promises, boys!

Sparks “Two Hands, One Mouth” tour dates:

October 04 – Vilnius, Lithuania (Forum Palace)
October 05 – Ventspils, Latvia ( Jūras Vārti Arts Centre)
October 07 – Helsinki, Finland (Tavastia Klubi)
October 08 – Oslo, Norway (Parkteatret)
October 09 – Stockholm, Sweden (Södra Teatern)
October 10 – Stockholm, Sweden (Södra Teatern)
October 12 – Malmö, Sweden (Moriska Paviljongen)
October 13 – Berlin, Germany (Postbahnhof)
October 14 – Hamburg, Germany (Gruenspan)
October 16 – Frankfurt, Germany (Batschkapp)
October 17 – Bochum, Germany (Zeche)
October 19 – Gent, Belgium (Vooruit)
October 21 – Edinburgh, Scotland (HMV Picture House)
October 22 – Manchester, England (HMV Ritz)
October 23 – Birmingham, England (HMV Institute)
October 25 – Brighton, England (Brighton Dome)
October 26 – London, England (Barbican Centre)
October 29 – Dublin, Ireland (Button Factory)

Weirdify Playlist 9: Summer Freaks

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It’s been too long since we posted a new Weirdify playlist, don’t you think? Let’s make up for lost time with an extra long mix for your first of what will hopefully be many backyard summer shindigs. Fire up the grill and dig in, kids. Memorial Day is just around the corner.

1. Signmark feat. Osmo Ikonen, “Speakerbox.” We’ll kick things off with our favorite feel-good jam from the world’s only (as far as we know) deaf Finnish rapper, Signmark. No, this song isn’t actually the least bit weird, but you don’t want to start your guests off with Caroliner, for Christ’s sake. Let the poor people ease into it.

2. Here Come the Mummies, “Freak Flag.” OK, now we’re getting at least slightly weird, courtesy of Tennessee’s most decomposed funk band. We’ll have a Mothership connection in 3, 2, 1…

3. Parliament, “Rumpofsteelskin.” If all you really know about George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic is “Give Up the Funk,” you’re probably wondering why we included them on the Weird List in the first place. This song should help clear that up.

4. That 1 Guy, “Funk Bean.” Nearly as funky as a fully operational Mothership, Mike Silverman’s Magic Pipe can summon Primus fans from miles around like a giant dog whistle. Even to non-Primus fans, it’s pretty groovy. (Also, apologies to That 1 Guy for jacking the cover art to his album Packs a Wallop! for this playlist. Don’t wallop us with your Magic Pipe, K?)

5. Fol Chen, “Cable TV.” Because nothing says summer like a song about watching Pay-Per-View in a fleabag motel. Or does that say “meth deal”? Either way, it’s got a beat and you can bop to it without spilling your margarita.

6. Hank3, “Six Pack of Beer.” After much deliberation, we decided to spare you and your BBQ guests the mighty racket that is Hank3’s cattlecore (that’s cattle auctioneers set to speed metal, y’all) in favor of this pickin’ and grinnin’ ode to the beverage of choice at BBQs everywhere.

7. Bob Log III, “Shake a Little, Wiggle It and Jiggle It Too.” The other great “III” on our Weird List, Bob Log III dresses up like a down-on-his-luck Evel Knievel and plays gutbucket slide-guitar blues, preferably while a willing young lass perches on his knee. And yes, he’s our hero.

8. tUnE-yArDs, “My Country.” This song from Merrill Garbus and her oddball, lo-fi jam band is perfect for Fourth of July parties. Sort of.

9. Dolchnakov Brigade, “Dating in Space.” It’s about time in the party for a little jam for the ladies, don’t you think? This DEVO-esque electro-pop freakout from our favorite pseudo-Russian Brooklyn band is just the ticket for getting the girls moving, at least in a confused, slightly epileptic way. (Can you be only “slightly” epileptic? You can when Dolchnakov Brigade is playing.)

10. DEVO, “Beautiful World.” Name-checking DEVO reminds us—every good party mix needs a little DEVO, don’t you think? Also, is it DEVO or Devo? Discuss.

11. Yip-Yip, “Slime Shuns Sun Shine.” Quick, say that song title ten times really fast. Now quick, try dancing to it. Which is harder? Discuss.

12. Waylander, “Re-Born to the Fight.” We’ve neglected the headbangers at your little backyard shindig for far too long. A little Celtic metal should satiate their desire for something more rockin’, while giving your other guests a chance to do a little jig and/or whiskey shots. Everybody wins.

13. The Misfits, “Teenagers From Mars.” You might think the punk band most closely associated with Halloween is not a very appropriate choice for a summer-themed party mix. And you’d be right. But fuck it, we’re throwing them in there anyway. Have another beer and roll with it.

14. The Flaming Lips, “Fryin’ Up.” Not the weirdest song the Lips ever did by a long shot, but it’s got a good party-rock vibe and that lyric about “blowin’ everything off on Monday,” which seems appropriate. Plus, the title is a reference to fryin’ burgers, right? Right?

15. The Upper Crust, “Eureka – I’ve Found Love.” We continue the rock portion of this mix with a tender love song from our current Weird Band of the Week, the Boston-based AC/DC-meets-Marie-Antoinette awesomeness that is The Upper Crust. Bibo ergo sum! Look it up, motherfuckers.

16. Bang Camaro, “Pleasure (Pleasure).” Boston’s other great novelty rock act (seriously, it’s like no one there can just headbang without irony), Bang Camaro achieve that multi-tracked ’80s hair-metal vocal sound with a ten-plus member “dude choir.” They have also clearly studied Pyromania to an unhealthy degree. OK, that’s enough rock for one party, don’t you think? Moving on…

17. Fool’s Gold, “Surprise Hotel.” This Afro-Hebrew-jam-pop band was one of the first acts we ever blogged about. In hindsight, they actually don’t seem all that weird compared to most of the bands on the Weird List, but damn if songs like this one don’t shout “summer!” like a happy parent shouting “mazel tov!” at their daughter’s wedding.

18. MaxNormal.TV, “HipnWidIt.” We’ve never featured our current No. 1 Weirdest Band on a Weirdify playlist before, and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to, considering Waddy Jones and co. pretty much scrapped this whole band when they reinvented themselves as Die Antwoord. But amazingly enough, Spotify does have some Max Normal tracks, including this shameless “Blue Monday” rip. But hey, even a secondhand version of the familiar New Order synth riff should get your more well-lubricated guests shaking a leg or two.

19. Dirty Sanchez, “Really Rich Italian Satanists.” Let’s keep the dance party vibe going with a little high-camp electroclash. Nothing says “party” like a bunch of drag queens channeling an Italian Satanic murder cult, am I right? Now pass the Campari, bitch.

20. Sir Ivan, “Hare Krishna.” We interrupt this party for a hands-in-the-air hippie moment from our favorite Raver Billionaire. Everyone loving one another? Good, let’s move on…

21. Sparks, “Now That I Own the BBC.” We really don’t mention often enough how freakin’ awesome Sparks are. This is from their Pet Shop Boys on Acid phase, as I like to call it. Enjoy.

22. The Superions, “Who Threw That Ham at Me.” We introduced this band from Fred Schneider of the B-52’s as a strictly Christmas-themed group, but they do summer-themed songs, too. And then they do this song about canned-meat tossing. You might want to make sure all the meat at your BBQ is in a secure place before this comes on.

23. The Wet Spots, “Do You Take It…?” (Dr. Feelin’s O.R. Dance Remix). By this point in the party, you’re probably wondering which of your guests like to get freaky. Here’s a hint: The ones who won’t look you in the eye while this track is playing? Not freaky.

24. Mojo Nixon, “I Ain’t Gonna Piss in No Jar.” OK, so by now, if you’re a party host worth your margarita salt, most of your guests are too drunk to dance. But too drunk to sing along to a Mojo Nixon song? We’re pretty sure that’s not physiologically possible.

25. Naked & Shameless, “And Then the Drugs Ran Out.” At all of Jake’s parties, this song is basically last call.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s mix. And remember: Always recycle your empties. Unless someone peed in them.

Sparks help Gemma Ray sing Sparks

When U.K. songstress Gemma Ray decided to cover a couple of tunes by one of her favorite weird bands (and ours), Sparks, she got a little more than she bargained for. The Sparks boys were so taken with her torchy vocals on two of their songs, “How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall” and “Eaten by the Monster of Love,” they decided to “Sparks-ify” them by adding their own quirky arrangements and production touches. Call it Sparks remixing Gemma Ray covering Sparks. Or something like that. Actually don’t overthink it, just head over to The Quietus, where you can stream both tracks.

Ray also shot a silly but rather awesome video for “How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall,” which recently premiered on NME.com. We must confess to not knowing much about Gemma Ray, but she sure is prettier than Sparks’ Mael brothers (sorry, guys).

The “Gemma Ray Sings Sparks With Sparks” single comes out Feb. 21st on Bronze Rat Records. You can pre-order the 7″ vinyl here.

As for Sparks? They’re still tinkering with their Ingmar Bergman musical. Those crazy kids!

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Sparks

Some bands, when you first encounter them, might seem a bit quirky, but they don’t strike you as especially weird. Then you find out they’ve been at this for 40 years—and during that time, they’ve gone from everything to glam-rock to disco to New Wave to chamber-pop to (no joke) Swedish radio musicals. Oh, and one of the guys favors creepy Hitler/John Waters mustaches.

Sparks was started in 1968—1968!—by a pair of brothers from L.A. named Ron and Russell Mael. Originally calling themselves Halfnelson, they signed to Todd Rundgren’s Bearsville record label, changed their name to Sparks, and put out a couple of albums of eccentric but unremarkable, Pink Floyd-influenced psychedelic rock. Their first big break came after they parted ways with Bearsville, relocated to London, and got involved in the glam-rock scene. Their two 1974 albums, Kimono My House and Propaganda, were big hits in the U.K., even landing the band on Top of the Pops. Their music from this era was sort of a weird mix of Roxy Music, T. Rex and bubblegum pop, and seemed to anticipate the rise of New Wave.

By the time the rest of the rock world had caught up to Sparks, the Mael brothers had moved on, teaming up with disco/electronica pioneer Giorgio Moroder for their synth-heavy 1979 album, No. 1 in Heaven. The band continued to explore various synth-pop and New Wave styles for the next decade, scoring their first U.S. hit in 1983 with “Cool Places,” a song they recorded with one of their biggest American fans, Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s.

After a late ’80s/early ’90s hiatus, the band resurfaced in 1994 with Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins. Although not a commercial success—except, for some reason, in Germany—it was one of the most well-reviewed albums of Sparks’ career and was instrumental in establishing the Mael brothers as icons of campy, outsidery pop music. Ron, the principal lyricist, was writing increasingly eccentric and sometimes flat-out goofy songs like “(When I Kiss You) I Hear Charlie Parker Playing” and “Now That I Own the BBC”—both of which kind of sound like send-ups of the Pet Shop Boys, except that the Pet Shop Boys actually stole most of their ideas from Sparks in the first place.

Since then, Sparks have released an album of alternate versions of their own songs (called, appropriately, Plagiarism, and featuring cameos from Mike Patton, Erasure and Jimmy Sommerville), an experimental symphonic album called Lil’ Beethoven, a satirical concept album about modern romance called Hello Young Lovers, and this year, a radio musical commissioned by Swedish National Radio called The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman. Clearly, these guys will try pretty much anything. In 2008, they even performed all 21 of their albums on consecutive nights in London (Ingmar Bergman was album #22).

Taken individually, any one Sparks song—or even any single album—isn’t that weird. With this band, it’s more of a cumulative effect thing. Still, much of the material on 2006’s outstanding Hello Young Lovers stands as some of the weirdest stuff they’ve ever recorded—and how many bands can claim to be out-weirding themselves 38 years into their career? To quote the song featured in the video below, “Screw the past!”

Links:

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