We love us some Fabulous Downey Brothers. They’re like DEVO for people with really short attention spans. Case in point: Their latest video (last we checked—I tweet slower than these guys make music videos) is just 42 seconds long. It’s for a song called “Do It Again” and it features some of the sickest dance moves we’ve seen in quite some time. And by “sickest” I mean “it really seems like this person might be about to collapse at any moment.”
In other Fabulous D Bros news, they’re playing a gig in Seattle tomorrow night (we can’t make it, but somebody go and yell “Freebird!” for us) and they have some new costumes that look both wildly impractical and totally fucking awesome. I give those outfits five shows before they’re completely trashed, tops. But what a five shows they’ll be.
I don’t know about you, but after all the shit that went down in April, I could use a little happy action in May. So let’s start the month off on a candy-colored electro-punk note, shall we? Meet Räuberhöhle, the happiest band ever to emerge from Berlin. (Sorry, Einstürzende Neubauten.)
Räuberhöhle, which is German for “Robber’s Cave,” is the brainchild of a tattooed, J-pop-obsessed Kirsten Dunst lookalike called Krawalla Chan. Since 1999, Krawalla has been turning out bleepy, hyper-caffeinated electro-pop over which she sing-shouts like a cross between Kathleen Hanna and an army of rioting Japanese schoolgirls. There are elements of punk, disco, electroclash, chiptune and Japanese synth-pop, none of which would be weird in and of itself, but all of which Krawalla combines in some highly quirky and occasionally brilliant ways. Add to that a live show that often features puppets and a guy in a bear suit (named Bärchin) and you got yourself one unique bundle of ausgezeichnet.
Given Krawalla’s candy-raver/My Little Pony cosplay aesthetic and the fact that many of her songs have titles like “Shake Yr Anus” and “My Heart Bleeps Noisy Beeps,” you’d be forgiven for assuming that Räuberhöhle is just a feelgood party band. But she’s also written an anti-Pope song and has another one titled “The Collective Face Of German Volkszorn” which we’re pretty sure is political even though we’re not actually sure what it’s about. It has lots of spoken-word samples of German people sounding angry, so it must be about something.
Mostly, though, Krawalla writes songs about having fun and feeling good about yourself—especially if you’re a girl or, as she charmingly puts it on her website in broken English, “Gays, women, handicapped. These whole fringe groups… I am down with them as long as the personal level is okay.” Take this awesome video for the song “I’m not part of the shit,” which is all about letting your freak flag fly and not being, well, part of the shit.
But perhaps no video better sums up the fearless wackadoodlery of Räuberhöhle than this clip for “Shake Yr Anus,” in which Krawalla and her furry friends torment mall security and (no, really) fart glitter. Many thanks to reader Irrealidad for sharing this with us a few weeks back. It’s the best thing to happen to anuses since…no, that’s a sentence better left unfinished.
And they say our democracy is broken. Tens…nay, dozens!…of you took to our Facebook page over the past month and by a pretty wide margin, you made The Fabulous Downey Brothers the winners of our latest weird band poll. And we gotta say, you people got this one right. These guys are straight outta Crazytown, back when that still meant “You are completely fucking nuts” as opposed to “You are a shitty rap-rock band that sings about butterflies.”
There are two actual Downey Brothers, Sean and Liam, and four honorary ones: Chandra (that’s her losing her shit in the photo above), Alex, Frederick and Myrtice. (Myrtice? Yes, Myrtice.) There may also be one or two additional Downeys from time to time but we’re not sure if they’re part-timers or got fired for not being wacky enough. They’re from Olympia, Washington, which is also where Nirvana got their start, which I only mention because that’s pretty much the only thing I know about Olympia. But whatever Olympia did to Kurt Cobain, it seems to have had the exact opposite effect on The FDB’s. They are the manic to Kurt’s depressive. Although I do believe they’re both big DEVO fans.
We’re not sure how long the Sean, Liam and co. have been doing their thing, but it doesn’t seem to have been for very long. This is the oldest video we could find of theirs on YouTube, and it’s only from 2009. They’ve only released a pair of EPs, but have made a shit-ton of videos, nearly every one weirder than the last. My personal favorite, “Fizz,” is below, but if you like catchy New Wavey punk and dorky dance moves, I also highly recommend “Mush Mouth.” Their live show looks fun, too. Those big blue bug-like headdresses are apparently their signature look, but they’ve also shown up in everything from giant eyeballs to cupcake helmets. Yes, cupcake helmets. Don’t believe me? Check the photo labeled “Royal Lounge” on this page. Delicious, right? Blue frosting is my favorite. Artificial food coloring always makes me trip balls.
So congrats on being our Weird Band of the Week, Brothers! And sorry we missed you when you played SoCal last month. Come back soon? We promise to show up this time.
P.S. Actual voting sucks, right? We have to decide whether to ban gay fracking or partial-birth marijuana or genetically modified Indian casinos or whatever. Don’t we have elected representatives who are supposed to take care of this shit? (Sorry, that was a very California rant. All of you who live in states and countries that aren’t quite so obsessed with direct democracy, move on…)
Fortunately, there’s an easier alternative. Just go vote for a future Weird Band of the Week in our latest poll. Better yet, submit a weird band for consideration on our aptly named Submit a Band page. Now that is some direct democracy.
We kinda lost track of our old pal The Emotron for awhile there, but lately the man known to his daddyTron as Kyle Knight has been posting up a storm on Facebook. We keep checking to see if there’s any, y’know, Emotron news we can share with y’all, but really, all of his posts kinda read like the work of someone on a killer combination of Red Bull and shrooms—you know, the kind of high where they’re just talking non-stop and at a certain point you give up trying to figure out what’s real and what’s hallucinatory bullshit and just enjoy the ranting and raving for its own sake.
So: Did The Tron really take a massive shit onstage in North Carolina last week? Is he really selling jewelry for infants? Did he really perform a gig with Cowboy Troy in his dad’s backyard? Fuck if we know, but whether any of it happened or not isn’t the point. The Emotron’s Facebook posts are their own reward. Behold:
I’m kinda bored tonight. I think I will go around town & find some baby’s ears to pierce. any mother who lets me pierce their baby’s ears starting tonight & any other night in the future=will get a free pair of Emotron earrings! I’ve also got some nose rings for your baby & shit!
I never thanked The Kickstand, Treasure Fest, and the fans of Charlotte NC for coming out to see me take the biggest shit ive ever taken. It took me nearly my whole set to shit out 4 days worth of shit.
cowboy troy is coming over to my dad’s house tomorrow. come over Tuesday about 7-9pm. turn into that neighborhood off the Locust Grove Hwy. my dad isn’t gonna do his old style tron performance, but he will bring out some of that dmt he shared with Capt’n Beefheart at The ATL pop fest of 1970.
Why was it such a big deal that Chipper Jones hooked up with a Hooters waitress back in the day? I say hell yeah! Hit that…..it’s all pink on the inside & shit.
I could go on, but really, just follow the fucking dude on Facebook and enjoy the ride.
Emotron, we heart you, man. You are the box of chocolates to our Forrest Gump. When are you coming back to LA? This time, we’re not gonna miss your show, dammit.
Today’s weird band was brought to our attention by a reader called Hola-Ebola, who is rapidly emerging as our new MVR (Most Valuable Reader). Hola-Ebola (“H to the Ezzo” to his friends) also turned us on to Dirty Sanchez. Truly, H-E, you are a veritable geyser of weirdness.
This band is called Gidropony, which is apparently Russian for “hydroponic”–or so says the one English-language article was could find on this band. That article also notes that the band hails from the small industrial city of Saransk, about 400 miles east of Moscow, in what is apparently the Russian equivalent of the Rust Belt. And there’s definitely something uniquely Russian about Gidropony’s mishmash sound, which mixes the crazy videogame synths of chiptune with elements of punk, electro and drum ‘n’ bass in what sounds like some bored Russian kids’ vague, thirdhand idea of what hipsters in Brooklyn must be listening to. They’re like the aural equivalent of cheap knockoff Levi’s, or that fake version of Donkey Kong you downloaded off BitTorrent that bombs your PC with Russian porn pop-ups.
Gidropony, who appear to be made up of a guy-girl duo plus some additional live musicians, call their sound “discoviolence” (also name of one of their records, which you can actually buy on Amazon) or sometimes just “trash.” Occasionally it’s downright catchy, other times it sounds like someone having a Nintendo-induced seizure. And when they make videos for their songs, they really delve into the pop-culture scrap heap, as they do on this fairly mind-blowing clip. Warning: it gets dirty. And we’re not just saying that to get you to watch to the end.
(Photo by Austin Young)
Today’s band was suggested by a reader called Hola-Ebola…and no, they have nothing to do with the Jackass-like British TV series Dirty Sanchez, although those guys are pretty great. This Dirty Sanchez is an electroclash band from Los Angeles. What is electroclash, you ask? Well, I’m no expert, but as far as I can tell, it seems to be an intentionally cheesy/campy style of dance music with lots of songs about cocaine and gay sex and Hollywood. I think Lady Gaga probably ripped off half her act from the electroclash scene.
Anyways, there are loads of weird electroclash acts out there, like Fischerspooner, Peaches, Chicks on Speed and Princess Superstar. But Dirty Sanchez stand out for a couple reasons. First, many of their songs are just flat-out, hilariously bizarre, as you can tell from just the song titles alone: “Fucking on the Dancefloor,” “Really Rich Italian Satanists,” “Tranny Sex,” “We Hate Youth and Beauty.” Second, they seem to be one of the few (only?) electroclash bands to feature a full-on tranvestite as one of their lead singers. His/her name is Jackie Beat and even though I feel kinda gay for saying this, she rules. In their early videos, she’s like a cross between Dee Snider and Cher. Now she looks more like a cross between Eddie Izzard and that fat chick from The Gossip, but she’s still pretty fabulous. (Did I just use the word “fabulous” to describe a drag queen? Wow, now I really feel gay.)
Dirty Sanchez seem to have been inactive since 2008–that’s the last time their website news was updated (back then, they said they were working on a new album, their second one, but it doesn’t seem like it’s ever come out) and also the year they released a new single, “Give Head and Be Beautiful.” Here’s the video for it, which for our money is the most awesomely weird thing they’ve ever done. Next time I go out dancing, I’m totally gonna picture everyone with their heads off.
(Update: It seems like Jackie Beat is now based in New York and might be more focused on her cabaret act and her solo career–although it also seems like she forgot to pay her domain name bill, so it’s hard for us to confirm this. Still, this parody video posted in late 2009 does feature fellow Dirty Sanchezian Mario Diaz, so there’s still hope we may hear more from Dirty Sanchez yet.)
Who says our democracy is broken? Once again, our readers have spoken! And by spoken, I mean clicked little buttons on our Submit and Vote page. And what they have told us is this: Dolchnakov Brigade are a really weird fucking band.
How weird, you ask? Well, they didn’t receive a single “Not weird” vote, which in the entire history of TWBITW has never…oh wait, sorry it’s actually happened before four other times. Still, not too shabby.
Beyond that, what can we tell you about these guys? Honestly, not much. The “About Us” page of their website is just a random list of shit like “crawling creatures” and “Bruce Lee” and “Rush Limbaugh in a coma.” Which is kind of an awesome way to describe your band, but not very helpful to us bloggers. We want easy answers, Dolchnakov Brigade! Why do you deny us the simple pleasures our short attention spans demand?
But with a little digging, here’s what else we’ve found out: They seem Russian but they’re actually from Brooklyn. (Okay, we didn’t actually have to dig for that one…they emailed and told us.) Their music is basically lo-fi, campy synth-pop. We’re pretty sure the main guy is named Clark Silkmer, but he might also be a dude named Shlomi Lavie who, randomly, is also the drummer for Marcy Playground. (Yes, they’re still around; we were surprised, too.) The other band members seem to consist of two backup dancer/singers, a keyboard player, and a rubber rat named RAT! who produces their beats on an MPC pad. They have a Tumblr. The organizing principal behind the band is summed up by the word “Palevish” which we thought was Russian but we think now might just be made up. The band’s official website describes it like this:
“Palevish! (pronounced Pal-Eh-Veesh) is the concept of taking a seemingly random and meaningless idea and repetitively executing it with full conviction like it was a matter of life and death. Then, at some point, it becomes a matter of life and death.”
I can get behind that. Kinda sounds like the organizing principal behind this whole blog, actually.
And who knows? Maybe that’s all you really need to know about Dolchnakov Brigade. Or maybe they’ll reveal more about themselves when they feel the world is ready.
Their live show still seems to be a bit of a work in progress, but they have made a few low-budg videos that are pretty creepy/hilarious. Here’s the one for their catchiest tune, “Onion Is the Underdog.” Respect!
I gotta be honest: I’m not sure how I feel about starting our second year of Weirdest Band in the World with this guy. But you, our cracked-out readers, have spoken, and the votes are in: after a ridiculously long tenure on our “Submit and Vote” page (we kept hoping the “no” votes would pile up, but no such luck), this Gonken character has been declared weird. And yeah, I guess he is. At least he gets points for trying.
Here’s the deal: No single thing Johnny Gonken has ever attempted in his now fairly long career is either especially weird or especially good. But when you add it all up, there’s a sort of dogged determination to it all that’s kind of amazing. I mean, you name it, this Gonken dude has done it. Nerdcore-inspired electro-punk-rap opuses with titles like Robot vs. Zombie? Check. Catchy synth-punk, complete with low-budget video featuring random hot chick? Got it covered. Fake Lost-style government training videos? All over it. A Halloween record? Fuck yeah. Acoustic, Flight of the Conchords-style novelty tunes? Hey, how hard can it be? A commercial jingle for the Shake Weight? Sure, why fucking not?
Through it all, Gonken has endured obscurity, negative reviews and judging from the clip below, awkwardly small crowds for most of his shows. But he perseveres, writing songs with titles like “The Butterfly Reject” and “Hate Is For People With Hearts” and clearly, on some level, reveling in his outsider, misunderstood-artist status. Success would probably ruin this guy.
So you know what? We just convinced ourselves. Gonken, you are one weird fucking dude. Keep doing what you’re doing, and fuck the haters. Including us. (And we hope that guy in the robot costume is well-paid. Or at least gets lots of free trips to Taco Bell.)
Well, kids, it’s happened again–for the second time ever, a band posted on our Submit/Vote page has been voted onto The Weird List by you, our shiftless, dope-smoking readers. So give it up for Tumbleweave, people! They join Richard There as the only democratically elected members of The Weird List.
Tumbleweave is a drums/synths duo from Florida and they’re pretty new at this whole band thing. When they first wrote to us, they admitted they’d only been at it for about two months. Well, they’ve now been at it for a whole three months, and we’re happy to report that all that extra practice time has done nothing to make their music any less spazzy or unpolished. They still basically sound like somebody stuffed a few angry kittens, some old Sega Genesis consoles, and one of the guys from Yip-Yip into a sack and set it on fire. So as you might imagine, they’re a bit of an acquired taste.
We were positive that we were gonna be trend-setters and be the first blog to write about these guys, but no–this fucker called Buddha Khan totally beat us to it. Khaaaaannnnnn!!!!! (That was us channelling William Shatner, btw. In case you weren’t sure.)
Still, we’re pretty sure we’re the first blog to embed this YouTube video of a recent Tumbleweave gig. So we’ve got that going for us at least.
(Photo by Dianna Augustine)
When was the last time you found something really, truly offensive? If your answer included the words “Lady Gaga,” fuck off and go read some nice CCM blog. Girl-on-girl kissing and re-enacting Tarantino movies with Beyonce is so inoffensive in this day and age, they got a friggin’ sandwich spread to sponsor the video. Okay, how about that M.I.A. video? Meh. Too obvious to be offensive. Plus that super-gorey ending was actually kinda cool in a Gears of War kinda way.
My point is, it takes a lot to offend us these days. As a culture, we’ve been pretty thoroughly desensitized. Which is why when someone recently turned us on to this guy who calls himself The Emotron, we were blown away. I mean, this guy works overtime to be in-your-face, hide-the-children offensive. It’s like if GG Allin and that yams-up-the-ass lady who got an NEA grant had a love child, then raised it on Atom and His Package, Jackass reruns and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Musically, The Emotron (real name: Jason Kyle Knight) is basically just a one-man punk band whose weapon of choice is a cheesy ’80s synthesizer. But the music is kinda secondary to the whole Emotron experience—although several of his songs, especially “Michael Jackson’s Dead”, are undeniably awesome. No, where The Big E really brings it is at his live shows, which typically feature some or all of the following: tying rubber bands around his head to mash his face into various greusome configurations; nudity; vomiting (real and/or simulated); lighting his dick on fire; and stuffing objects into a flesh-colored leotard to make himself look like a disfigured circus freak. He also usually cusses a lot, covers himself and the audience is various mysterious powders and fluids, and sometimes does all this shit dressed up like a Texas trucker. Oh, and he drinks alot. Okay, we’ll say it: we have a huge man-crush on this guy.
Emotron’s live show has definitely been a work in progress, and a lot of the older clips on YouTube don’t really do him justice. We originally posted one that showed his signature lighting-his-crotch-on-fire move, but it’s since been taken down, so here’s a clip from an even more recent show, which is a full-blown multimedia extravaganza. Or at least a good simulation of a guy freaking out in the display window of a used electronics store.