Vocal Trash touring their cans off for the rest of 2012

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(Photo swiped from Vinton Today)

Summer’s almost here, and you know what they means: Time to grab the kids, strap on the feed bag, and head on down to the county fair to ogle the livestock and scarf down anything that can be cooked in a deep frier. It’s also time for America’s No. 1 detritus-based county-fair-circuit entertainment crew, Vocal Trash, to bring their Glee/Stomp/junkyard song-and-dance extravaganza back on the road.

Actually, judging from their website, Vocal Trash never leave the road these days. They’ve got tour dates for all of 2012 currently posted, from January through November, and they’ll be covering pretty much every corner of America, both literally and figuratively: everything from the 20th annual trade show of the U.S. Composting Council in Austin, Texas, to the Schuylkill County Fair in Summit Haven, Pennsylvania, to the Fairmont Opera House in Fairmont, Minnesota. They don’t list any weddings and bar mitzvahs, but we bet they’re available for those, too, if the price is right.

Here are their remaining 2012 dates (so far) for public events; we omitted the private dates because, as awesome as the can-banging, breakdancing, headset-mic-harmonizing spectacle of a fully operational Vocal Trash show can be, we assume you’re probably not interested in crashing any corporate events Up in the Air-style to see them in action. But hey, if you’re gonna be at WASTECON 2012, Aug. 13-14 in Washington, DC, we can confidently predict that they will be one of the conference highlights.

May 18 – Westlake, TX – Westlake MasterWorks Concert
May 19 – Kaufman, TX – Lost Treasure Found Art, Kaufman Heritage Garden
May 24 – Roanoke, TX – Masterworks Series, at Austin Street Plaza
May 26 – Moses Lake, WA – McCosh Park (Free)
May 27 – Moses Lake, WA – McCosh Park (Free)

June 16 – Council Grove, KS – “Washunga Days Celebration 2012” Council Grove High School Auditorium
June 23 – Vinton, IA – “Party In The Park”, Riverside Park
June 29 – Killeen, TX – Hot Summer Nights Concert Series Killeen Community Center

July 4 – Joshua, TX – Joshua July 4th Celebration 2012 Owl Stadium
July 12 – Plano, TX – Summer Fun Thursday’s The Shops at Willow Bend – Grand Court
July 13 – Cuba, MO – Crawford County Fair Hood Park
July 18 – Chautauqua, NY – Chautauqua Amphitheatre
July 27 – 31 – Cobleskill, NY – Sunshine Fair

Aug 4 – Summit Haven, PA – Schuylkill County Fair
Aug 10-12 – Sioux Falls, SD – Sioux Empire Fair
Aug 21-26 – Rhinebeck, NY – Dutchess County Fair

Sept 6-8 – Hebron, CT – Hebron Harvest Fair

Oct 6 – Dallas, TX – Reverchon Park, 5K Run and Walk One Run: Cancer Support Community
Oct 10-14 – Perry, GA – Georgia National Fair

Nov 9 – Lubbock, TX – Young Leader’s Society Fundraiser Louise Hopkins Underwood Center Firehouse Theater
Nov 10 – Fairmont, MN – Fairmont Opera House


Hoity-Toity Techno: Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble Making Their Debut U.S. Appearance at Lincoln Center

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If you happen to be in New York City this August and you like your techno served with a side of pretentiousness, have we got news for you. The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble is bringing their live chamber music/techno fusion to Lincoln Center’s summer “Out of Doors” series. Finally, New Yorkers can listen to techno played live, with no drum machines, while they’re sitting down—just like nature intended.

If you’re not familiar with the BBF Ensemble: They’re a 10-piece band from Berlin who play (mostly) acoustic instruments like harp, cello, tuba and live percussion, but use them to create a blippy sonic palette not unlike minimal techno. If that still leaves you scratching your head, just watch some of the live video at the end of this post and you’ll get the idea. We’re still not sure if it makes the music any more interesting than actual techno, but it should definitely make for a unique concert experience.

The Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors series is free and slightly less hoity-toity than their usual schedule of opera, ballet and classical music, but it will likely still attract a stuffier crowd than, say, the Sahara Tent at Coachella. Also on the bill that night: avant-jazz trio The Bad Plus doing a “re-envisioning” of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. By the way, combining the words “avant-jazz,” “re-envisioning” and “Stravinsky” in the same sentence literally causes NPR subscribers to pass out as if from some kind of high-culture whippit.

The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble play Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Thursday, Aug. 2nd. Did we mention it’s their debut American performance? Well, it is. So feel special, New Yorkers. Like you don’t already.

Here’s the BBF crew in action in Vienna. Enjoy.

Watch Insane Clown Posse’s 19-minute infomercial for their new album, “The Mighty Death Pop”

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OK, so you probably just read that headline and thought, “Dude, I couldn’t even make it through a 19-minute infomercial for Girls Gone Wild. How much Juggalo jackassery can I possibly take?” But before you totally blow off the awesomeness that is The Mighty Death Pop and its bomb-ass, Braveheart-length infomercial, check out these actual quotes from the video:

“…Dropping cluster bombs of flavor…”

“You like to take chances with your life? That’s good, because he like to pop deaths.”

“Version one has a red background, so we will call it Red Pop.”

“64 minutes of non-stop hoe flows!”

“…Special guests that will melt your brain until it seeps out of your ears…”

“It’s interesting as fuck.”

Now tell me you don’t wanna watch this shit. No, don’t tell me, cuz I don’t wanna hear it. Just watch, dammit! (Resist the urge to watch it stoned, though. Cuz then it really does have the power to stop time completely.)

So, to recap: ICP’s The Mighty Death Pop comes out Aug. 14th in three different versions. Also, the FBI now officially considers Juggalos to be a criminal gang. And white announcer dudes should never be forced to say “Efil4zaggin.” I think that about sums it up, actually. Maybe you didn’t need to watch the whole thing after all. My bad.


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When Queens of the Stone Age named their third album Songs for the Deaf, we’re pretty sure they were just kidding. But Signmark is dead serious. Yes, Virginia, this is hip-hop for deaf people, created by a deaf rapper named Marko Vuoriheimo. And he’s from Finland, no less. We thought it was all just metal bands and this guy up there.

Marko was born deaf to two deaf parents, but he discovered hip-hop from watching MTV and decided he wanted in on the action. Predictably, everyone told him he was crazy, but Marko persevered. He began translating popular hip-hop songs into sign language and sort of half-dancing, half-signing them out at clubs. (Like most—all?—deaf people, Marko can feel beats and heavy bass, so he could recognize songs with a distinctive bass pattern.) That led to writing his own lyrics and eventually creating his own music with the help of various producers and a rapper named Brandon Bauer, who raps in both Finnish and English on Signmark’s two albums.

Yes, Signmark has released two albums: a self-titled joint in 2006 that’s mostly in Finnish and a 2010 sophomore set in English called Breaking the Rules. The self-titled effort was apparently mostly a labor of love, but Breaking the Rules was actually released through Warner Music, making Vuoriheimo the first deaf recording artist signed to an international record deal.

Now you’re probably asking: How can a guy who can’t hear, sing or even speak get a record deal? Well, the answer is that both albums were actually released as CD/DVD packages, with videos accompanying each song, so you can see Marko signing them out. I admit, I was skeptical myself at first, but watching Marko do his thing does definitely add an extra dimension to the music. And the songs, by turns defiant and inspirational, all tell his story, even if he’s not the one actually speaking the words out loud.

Signmark is a big deal in the international deaf community and a very big deal in Finland, where he even narrowly missed representing his nation in the annual Eurovision Song Contest in 2009. (He lost out to this. Way to blow it, Finland.) But he seems to remain a well-kept secret just about everywhere else. Let’s help change that right now, shall we?

P.S. The white dude with the John Legend pipes is named Osmo Ikonen and yeah, he’s from Finland, too. Who knew Finnish people could be so funky?

P.P.S. This post was updated after it was first published to remove some jokes and references that might have been offensive to the deaf community. But sorry, Finland — the snide comments at your expense stay in.


Weirdify Playlist 8: Covers for Kooks

[Note: The above image was, er, borrowed from Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine’s excellent greatest-hits compilation of loungified rap and rock classics, Sunny Side of the Moon. If you’re not familiar with Richard’s stuff, you should go to www.richardcheese.com right now and check it out. Especially because if you do, there’s still a chance he won’t take us to court and/or steal our wives for using his album art without permission. Thanks.]

Nothing announces your weirdness to the world better than a really demented version of a familiar song. It’s like saying, “You know how this song sounded in its original form? We’re the total opposite of that. Or we might just be YouTube whores hoping to score a few extra views with our medley of Lady Gaga songs played on bassoons.* Either way, are we wacky or what?”

Here, then, is a brief Spotify playlist of some of our favorite weird cover songs, from bands that rank high on the Weird List, bands that probably should be on the Weird List, and a few bands that are by no stretch of the imagination weird, but cool enough to include, anyway (you’re welcome, Ben Folds). Obviously, this list only scratches the surface of the vast universe of weird covers, and we’ll probably revisit it at some point. Probably with less Led Zeppelin. Although we make no promises on that.

(*Sadly, The Breaking Winds’ Lady Gaga medley is not available on Spotify and thus, not on this playlist. We’re not made of magic, people!)

1. Laibach, “Sympathy for the Devil.” Taking a familiar song from the classic rock canon and declaiming it like some pretentious dorkwad at a poetry slam is the oldest trick in the weird-cover-tune book (I was tempted to include William Shatner’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” arguably the definitive example, but I’m pretty you’ve all heard it). But something about Laibach’s gravelly, Teutonic spin on the Rolling Stones’ old pseudo-Satanic jam makes it sound like the most original idea in the world.

2. Ben Folds, “Bitches Ain’t Shit.” Another well-worn cover trick is the painfully white version of a familiar hip-hop/R&B song (see also: The Gourds’ “Gin and Juice,” Jonathan Coulton’s “Baby Got Back,” etc.). In this case, Ben Folds’ version of Snoop and Dr. Dre’s misogynistic anthem stands out for me, mostly because it finds an unexpected core of heartache and melancholy underneath all the posturing. It’s the softer side of gangsta rap.

3. Hurra Torpedo, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Norway’s favorite kitchen appliance rockers give Bonnie Tyler’s ridiculous ’80s power ballad the beating it so richly deserves.

4. Tragedy, “More Than a Woman.” Tragedy do one thing, and they do it well: Hair metal covers of Bee Gees songs. Any questions? Moving on…

5. Metalachi, “Immigrant Song.” Another high-concept cover band, Metalachi do mariachi versions of metal songs. Most of it works better than you might expect—but even when it doesn’t quite work, as on this hilarious Hindenburg of a Led Zeppelin cover, the results are still pretty fantastic.

6. Nouvelle Vague, “God Save the Queen.” If you’ve ever heard one of your favorite ’80s songs transformed into a lilting bossa nova ballad, you’ve heard Nouvelle Vague, a French/English cover band whose versions of  Gen X oldies like “Melt With You” and “Dancing With Myself” have been licensed to death. Their catalog tends to be a little too hipster-wedding-soundtrack for our purposes, but this pretty acoustic Sex Pistols cover is just left-field enough to make Johnny Rotten hurl in his grave. Which, in a way, makes it possibly the most punk-rock Sex Pistols cover of all time.

7. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, “Fire and Rain.” The flipside to the pretty Sex Pistols cover is, of course, a punk-rock cover of a James Taylor song. Me First, a “supergroup” side project featuring members of NOFX, Foo Fighters and the Swingin’ Utters, have run the unexpected-punk-cover concept so far into the ground that they’re now covering Japanese bands, but something about a rockin’ “Fire and Rain” still makes us giggle like Beavis and Butt-Head.

8. Edmund Welles, “Big Bottom.” Yes, this is a Spinal Tap cover played entirely on bass clarinets. And yes, it goes to 11.

9. The Bad Plus, “Barracuda.” We should hasten to point out that The Bad Plus, a power-jazz trio from Minnesota, have done killer instrumental versions of several familiar pop and classic rock tunes. This track, however, is not one of them. Have you lost the singer yet, guys? You have? The jazz gods be praised.

10. Richard Cheese, “Baby Got Back.” With all due respect to Jonathan Coulton’s delightful version of this same Sir Mix-a-Lot classic, we highly prefer Richard Cheese’s lounge lizard take (also, the cover of his best-of album, The Sunny Side of the Moon, was too good not steal for our playlist artwork). And in case you’re noticing a theme between this and “Big Bottom”: Yes, we do like big butts and we cannot lie.

11. Señor Coconut, “Smoke on the Water.” This dude has worked his cha-cha magic on everything from Kraftwerk to Prince. But since we decided to take this playlist in more of a classic-rock direction, nothing says “geriatric DJs spinning classic-rock steez” more than a little Deep Purple.

12. The Moog Cookbook, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” Van Halen played on vintage synths! OK, Van Halen themselves did this on 1984, but there’s still something pretty unsettling about hearing a programmed robot voice intoning, “If you want it, got to plead for it, baby.”

13. Dread Zeppelin, “Whole Lotta Love.” Possibly the most high-concept tribute band of all time (and yes, we have dropped the ball by not adding them to the Weird List yet), Dread Zeppelin play reggae versions of Led Zeppelin songs, as sung by an Elvis impersonator. Mercy.

14. Tiny Tim, “I Love Rock and Roll.” At the height of his popularity, Tiny Tim turned his quivering falsetto loose on any number of popular songs, from “On the Good Ship Lollipop” to “I Got You, Babe.” And while his falsetto is indeed a marvel, it sounds downright quaint compared to the Tom Jones-like bray he unleashed on Chameleon, an overlooked 1980 oddity that features this amazing version of the song made famous by Joan Jett. Honestly, you don’t have to listen to the whole thing, unless you really want to hear what it sounds like when an aging eccentric bludgeons a song to death as though it’s solely responsible for the decline of his career.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s mix.

Weird Live Review: Trippple Nippples

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[Apr. 22 update: We’ve got more photos from the show courtesy of our pal Brad Cooper. Thanks, Brad!]

Time for another first here at TWBITW: our first-ever concert review! Gee, that only took us three years. Stick around, who knows what we’ll do in another three years. (Learn to take better photos? We can dare to dream.)

Last night, Jake and I and a couple of buddies with a fondness for spazzy J-pop trekked out to Santa Monica and the Central SAPC (Social and Pleasure Club—fancy!) to behold the insanity that is Trippple Nippples. For those of you who don’t regularly follow this blog (we forgive you), The Trippps are a female trio from Japan who we originally described as “hyper-caffeinated electro-pop”—although after last night’s show, I feel like we made need to revise that description a little. They’ve got more punk energy than we gave them credit for.

We arrived not really knowing what to expect, having only seen a few photos and grainy videos of past Trippp Nippp performances. But what little we saw looked pretty off the chain, as the kids may or may not still say. Would they come out clad in their Baileys-squirting cow costumes? Their noodle helmets? Their highly disturbing black latex body paint? The possibilities seemed endless.

When they finally took the stage, about an hour behind schedule, the three Trippps (I can’t call them Nippps because that sounds racist), along with their three-piece backing band, were clad in eye-catching but comparatively tame white jumpsuits covered with black cartoon shapes (including, most prominently, penises) and pseudo-tribal patterns—very Die Antwoord-esque, in a way. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed that they didn’t opt for something more outrageous; then again, getting a cow costume through customs has to be a bitch.

For their first several songs, it seemed like I had gotten Trippple Nippples all wrong. Although their music did feature lots of electronics (the guitar-bass-drums backing band sometimes seemed, honestly, like it was mainly for show), the tempos and overall vibe were much more punk/thrash than I was prepared for. A pretty frenetic mosh pit even broke out, although it was one of those annoying hipster mosh pits where the look on everyone’s face said, “I may be shoving you as I pogo around like an idiot, but I’m doing it ironically.”

The Trippps’ set got more interesting as it went along—and I’m not just saying that because two of the three Nippplettes stripped to the waist, revealing that all they were wearing under those jumpsuits was body paint and strategically placed duct tape. The music got a little less spazzy, more dancey and melodic. By the time they finished with their most hyper-caffeinated song, “LSD” (definitely my new favorite pro-drug anthem), they had revealed themselves to be more accessible and way more versatile than I was expecting. Although “LSD” would still probably give most American pop music consumers a seizure.

Anyway, here are some more crappy iPhone photos from last night’s show, made slightly less crappy by the miracle of Instagram, along with some non-crappy iPhone photos from our buddy Brad Cooper. And although we didn’t get any video of the Central SAPC show, some budding documentarian was kind enough to post a clip from their show in San Diego the previous night. Oh, and more Trippp Nippp tour dates after the jump, too.

Trippple Nippples remaining West Coast and UK/European tour dates:

April 25- The New Parish – Oakland,CA
April 26 – Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA
April 27 – W2 Media Cafe – Vancouver – Canada
April 28 – TBA- Portland – Oregon
April 30 – Someday Lounge – Portland – Oregon
May 7 – The Macbeth – London – UK
May 10 – The Great Escape – Brighton – UK
May 11- TBA – Brighton – UK
May 12- Walk The Line Festival – The Hague – Holland
May 21- Panic Room – Paris – France
May 26- TBA – Paris – France

Richard There’s first album: no instruments, but just as weird as his other stuff

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More news from the Land of There, population: one. Our old pal Richard There, he of the vaguely unsettling comic strips and even more unsettling lo-fi bedroom pop songs, has just made his very first album, Future Come Back to Me, available to the public for the first time. “I made in 2008 and just showed to some few friends,” he writes. “It´s a very simple album, every song is a cappella, no instruments used to record the album but it´s something that I still like very much.”

The album is available now on Bandcamp; you can stream the whole thing for free or buy it as a name-your-price download. If that’s too big a commitment, you should at least watch this delightful (and unsettling) little animated video Richard made for the track, “If You Call Me.” We think it’s his version of a love song, but it could also be a playground argument. It works on many levels.