Monthly Archives: January 2012
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.
(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!
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!
(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.
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!
Those hipster bastards at Pitchfork scooped us again. Today, they premiered “I Fink U Freeky,” a new track off the latest album from our favorite South African zef-rap-rave crew, Die Antwoord. “Freeky” is basically Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er’s version of a soccer techno anthem, with lots of Godzilla-sized synths and builds and breakdowns and whatnot. It’s what the Brits (and the South Africans, too?) call a huge choon, I believe. Or a right fokkin teef-grinder, innit?
Die Antwoord’s new album, TEN$ION, drops Feb. 7. Head on over to Pitchfork to hear “Freeky” and watch this space for more Die Antwoord news you can use.
Greetings, weirdlings! Welcome to our second Weirdify playlist, live now on Spotify for your listening delectation. This time around, we got inspired by our Weird Band of the Week, Twink (the Toy Piano Band!), and decided to make a playlist full of songs that evoke childhood in various ways. You’ll hear toy instruments, sampled children’s songs and stories, 8-bit, chiptune and videogame references, and the ravings of a paranoid schizophrenic or two. (What can I say? I had some weird babysitters.)
To hear the full playlist, cruise on over to ShareMyPlaylists.com. Here’s what you’ll get:
1. Twink, “Rocket Pop”
2. The Books, “The Story of Hip Hop”
3. Powerglove, “Inspector Gadget”
4. Gangpol & Mit, “The 1000 People Band (Part 1)”
5. Vegetable Orchestra, “Scoville”
6. Gidropony, “We Are Sex Toys”
7. Quintron & Miss Pussycat, “Swamp Buggy Badass”
8. Wesley Willis, “I Whipped Spiderman’s Ass”
9. Max Tundra, “Will Get Fooled Again”
10. Ponytail, “Flabbermouse”
11. Dead Man’s Bones, “Pa Pa Power”
12. Psapp, “Tricycle”
13. Kid Koala, “Fender Bender”
14. Lemon Jelly, “Nice Weather for Ducks”
If at any point you get bored, feel free to skip to the last track, because it’s truly one of the greatest things you’ll ever hear. Trust us on this one.
Here’s the link again. Enjoy!
Has it really been four years since the Polyphonic Spree last unleashed their joyful noise upon the indie-rock masses? No wonder we’ve been in a bit of a funk since 2008. We thought it was just the economy, but it turns out we’ve been deprived of our recommended dosage of euphoric, quasi-religious orchestral rock.
Well, finally, Tim DeLaughter is bringing the latest incarnation of his chamber-pop cult back on the road. The 2012 edition of the Spree features 21 members and a few new tunes, including the trippy “Bullseye.” There’s a nifty promotional video for the tour up now on the band’s website. Full tour dates below. So far they’re only playing Texas, Oklahoma and the Southeast, but they promise more dates soon. (Come back to LA, guys!)
Polyphonic Spree tour dates
Feb 6 — Tulsa, OK — The Marquee
Feb 7 — Norman, OK — Opolis
Feb 8 — Little Rock, AR — Rev Room
Feb 10 — Atlanta, GA — Centerstage
Feb 11 — Tallahassee, FL — The Moon
Feb 12 — Birmingham, AL — The Bottletree
Feb 13 — New Orleans, LA — House Of Blues
Feb 14 — Houston, TX — Fitzgerald’s
Feb 15 — Austin, TX — La Zona Rosa
Feb 16 — Dallas, TX — Sons of Hermann Hall