Iwrestledabearonce announce new tour dates

After spending much of the past year opening for bands named after classic American novels (Of Mice and Men, As I Lay Dying…maybe next they could open for The Dangerous Summer?), it’s about time those crazy kids in Iwrestledabearonce finally had some headlining shows of their own. So here they are! It’s the official IWABO “Road to Metal Fest” tour, coming soon to a landlocked city near you:

“Road To Metal Fest” Tour
4/16 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
4/17 – Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theater
4/18 – Knoxville, TN @ Valarium
4/20 – Springfield, VA @ Empire
4/21 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium – New England Metal and Hardcore Festival
4/23 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar
4/24 – Evansville, IN @ Boney Junes
4/25 – Bloomington, IL @ The Castle Theater
4/26 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
4/27 – Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose
4/29 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
4/30 – Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
5/01 – Flagstaff, AZ @ Cinnabar

We’ll play this post out with the video for “You Know That Ain’t Them Dogs’ Real Voices” off IWABO’s latest album, Ruining It for Everybody, available now online and wherever they still sell CDs that don’t suck. Best. Children’s. Party. Ever.

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Dir En Grey

(Photo: angst-im-wald)

What’s up, weirdos? Sorry I’ve been letting Andy hog the site lately with his weak-ass indie pop hipster shit. I promise we will tilt the balance back in favor of punk, noise and metal in the weeks ahead. (Organic veggie instruments, dude? Really? But I digress.)

This week’s band was suggested by a reader named Kurtis, who reminded us that there’s more to Japan than Lady Gaga wannabes wearing headdresses made out of popcorn. Japan has also produced its fair share of pretty extreme and seriously awesome metal over the years, and Dir En Grey is about as extreme and awesome as it gets.

Dir En Grey have been around since the late ’90s and changed both their look and their sound several times over the years (Japanese bands seem to get bored with staying in one genre for too long—see also, ironically, Boredoms). They started out as a “visual kei” band, which basically meant hard rock with lots of elaborate costumes, crazy visuals and music videos that were a mix of anime, goth and cyberpunk. They’ve since toned down their image a bit (hence the biker gang look seen above, circa 2007), but their music has, if anything, gotten weirder. Their latest album, Dum Spiro Spero, kind of sounds like Tool meets My Chemical Romance meets Queensryche meets Napalm Death: alt-metal, screamo, grindcore and prog rock all fighting it out like superheroes in a Japanese action comic, with lead singer Kyo’s crazy vocals (dude can death-growl with the best of them, then unleash an operatic falsetto close to Mike Patton’s) leading the way.

But where Dir En Grey’s weirdness really shines is in their videos, some of which are disturbing enough to make Rob Zombie sleep with the light on. You know how the original Ring was 10 times scarier than pretty much any American horror movie ever? Well, your average Dir En Grey clip makes Marilyn Manson look like Mr. Rogers. Warning: You may need to increase your Xanax dosage after viewing this.


New Frank Zappa doc featuring Captain Beefheart and Wild Man Fischer: “From Straight to Bizarre”

In 1968, Frank Zappa decided to launch his own record labels, Bizarre and Straight, to release not only the music of his band, the Mothers of Invention (and yeah, someday we’ll get around to officially adding them to the Weird A-Z List), but also some of the crazy music he was hearing around L.A. in those heady days of Free Love and plentiful psychedelics: records by TWBITW mainstays like Captain Beefheart and Wild Man Fischer as well as less celebrated but still pretty strange acts like The GTO’s, a band made up entirely of groupies. They also put out records by Alice Cooper, Lenny Bruce and Tim Buckley, among many others.

Now a new film is coming out Feb. 21 that revisits the Bizarre and Straight legacies. From Straight to Bizarre:  Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper and LA’s Lunatic Fringe features archival footage and interviews with former GTO member Pamela Des Barres, Beefheart sideman John French, and some of the other folks involved in Bizarre and Straight’s brief existences (both labels folded in 1973). We haven’t seen it yet, so we can’t whole-heartedly recommend it, but we’re really hoping it’s more interesting than the first minute or so of this trailer (be patient, it does eventually get good):

You can pre-order From Straight to Bizarre on DVD from SeeOfSound.com. No word yet on whether it’ll be available via Netflix or iTunes or any of the other usual sources, but we’re betting it’ll pop up somewhere on basic cable (the Documentary Channel? VH1?) soon enough.

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Watch “A Day With Nick Zammuto” mini-doc

(Photo swiped from BoingBoing.net)

Anticipation really seems to be building for the debut album from Zammuto, the new band/solo project from Nick Zammuto, one-half of sound collage mavericks The Books. Just today, Pitchfork gave a “Best New Track” shout-out to “F U C-3PO,” an almost proggy jam with robot vocals and distortion pedals set to stun. And last week, director Matthew Day debuted a short documentary called “A Day With Nick Zammuto” that shows the musician hard at work on his new music and chilling in his amazing self-built house with his wife and ridiculously cute children. We’ve embedded the YouTube version of the film below, or you can watch the original on Day’s website, Naked Musicians.

Zammuto will be making their live debut on Feb. 3 at Mass Moca in North Adams, Massachusetts. If anyone goes, give us a report!

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Flaming Lips at Noise Pop 20: The Soft Bulletin front to back

Good news, all you weirdo Frisco dwellers (and yes, we know you hate it when people say “Frisco”–that’s why we keep doing it): There are still some badges left for the 20th annual Noise Pop Festival that will get you into Bimbo’s 365 Club on Feb. 21st to see the Flaming Lips perform their 1999 classic album The Soft Bulletin in its entirety. And while not quite as weird as a 24-hour song encased in a human skull, The Soft Bulletin is an undisputed psych-rock masterpiece that should make for a pretty fascinating live listening experience. Even those stingy bastards at Pitchfork gave it a perfect 10.0 rating.

For those of you not familiar with Noise Pop: It’s sort of San Francisco’s version of the much more crowded and over-commercialized South by Southwest, a festival that’s spread out into venues all over the city instead of some dusty park with overpriced food vendors. Now in its 20th year, the 2012 edition of Noise Pop also features TWBITW favorites Die Antwoord along with such less weird but undeniably awesome acts as Sleigh Bells, Built to Spill, Atlas Sound, Matthew Dear and Archers of Loaf. Last we checked, $200 badges are still available that will get you into the entire festival, including the Lips. The whole thing lasts Feb. 21-26. If you decide to skip the Lips, the whole thing will only set you back $150–but why would you want to do that?

Jake and I will most likely not be there, sadly, because we’re broke as fuck. Unless we can convince them to let us in free and “report” on the whole thing. Isn’t that what all the other music blogs do?

We’ll play this post out with “Waitin’ for a Superman,” one of our favorite Soft Bulletin tracks. It’s gettin’ heavy!

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New music video from Ponytail’s Dustin Wong: “Diagonally Talking Echoes”

(Photo by Valerie Paulsgrove)

Last year we got the sad news that Baltimore noise-popsters Ponytail, one of the first bands we ever blogged about, were calling it quits. But there’s a silver lining to this cloud: We now get to hear more of the crazy-intricate guitar experiments of Ponytail’s former axman, Dustin Wong.

Wong released his first solo album, Infinite Love, in 2010; he’s back this year with Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, out Feb. 21st on Thrill Jockey Records. The whole album was built around various guitar effects pedals, all layering, looping, distorting and pitch-shifting Wong’s colorful riffs into all sorts of kaleidoscopic patterns. “I see all these pedals as a kind of textile factory,” Wong says. “The sheets and colors are determined, then the patterns are laid on top, one layer after another until it becomes a fabric mille feuille.” We’re pretty sure that’s French for “trippy-ass shit.”

You can check out the track “Diagonally Talking Echoes” and its appropriately psychedelic video on Vimeo. Maybe it’ll make you miss Ponytail a little bit less. If not, we’re sure there’s a Noise Pop Festival reunion in their future at some point.

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The Vegetable Orchestra

Doing this blog really is a gift that keeps on giving. You’d think by our third year of operation, bands like Austria’s Vegetable Orchestra would be old hat to us. But truth be told, we only just recently discovered that these guys existed. Apparently, we’re not very good at our jobs.

The Vegetable Orchestra (also known as the First Viennese Vegetable Orchestra, or Das erste Wiener Gemüseorchester in their native tongue) was founded in 1998 by a group of college students who were interested in exploring the acoustic properties of, well, vegetables. Initially they created vegetable-based instruments that closely resembled their wood and metal counterparts: drums made of pumpkins and celery roots, flutes made of carrots, a “cucumberphone” made from a hollowed-out cucumber with a bell pepper at one end and a carrot doubling as a reed at the other. Since then, their instruments have gotten increasingly bizarre, often with the aid of electronics; how the hell the “leek violin” works, to give just one example, we have no idea.

When performing live, the VO buys fresh, organic produce that day and assembles it into instruments just hours before showtime. At the end of each performance, they use the vegetables to make soup, which they then serve to the audience. Fresh veggies in a warm broth of Austrian saliva–yummers!

The Vegetable Orchestra have released three albums over the course of their 14-year existence. Their latest, Onionoise, is a mix of techno, tribal, ambient, industrial and avant-garde sounds that would be pretty darned weird even if it wasn’t being mostly produced on produce.

Here’s a 2007 promotional video of the Orchestra in action. Apparently they had to disable comments on YouTube because some people were attacking them for wasting perfectly good vegetables in the face of world hunger. To which we say: Come to a Vegetable Orchestra show and have some soup, you darned crankypantses!


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