Monthly Archives: September 2012
Shalom, weirdlings! In honor of Yom Kippur (which started last night, for all you goyim out there), we thought we would finally give a long overdue Weird List shoutout to our favorite Hasidic Jewish rapper. No, not Matisyahu. When have we ever been that obvious? No, the only Hasidic rapper who really deserves Weird Band of the Week honors is Crown Heights, Brooklyn’s finest, DeScribe.
DeScribe was born Shneur Hasofer, into a Hasidic family in, of all places, Sydney, Australia. If you can keep the faith when everyone around you is throwing shrimp on the barbie, you gotta be pretty hardcore. Young Shneur got into music at an early age, but also into trouble, and his family packed him off to Israel to study in a yeshiva (basically, Bible Camp for Jews). He even enlisted in the Israeli army and became a sharp shooter, which officially makes him more of a badass than your favorite gangsta rapper. You don’t spend three years in the Israeli Defense Forces without popping many caps into many asses.
After he left the army, young Shneur became the Jerusalem equivalent of a hood rat, hanging out in Zion Square with the drug dealers and homeless kids. Two things saved him from that life: religion and hip-hop. And he’s been combining them ever since.
It would be crazy enough if all DeScribe did was rap half in Hebrew, half in English, while wearing a tallit (the traditional Jewish prayer shawl) and a yarmulke. But he brings his own burly Brooklyn Hasid swag to the proceedings, as well, grooving to the beat, sporting some seriously fly head gear and even deploying some Auto-Tune. It’s like if T-Pain had a long-lost Australian Orthodox Jewish brother. Hey, that sounds like a
great terrible idea for a sitcom!
So Happy Yom Kippur, y’all. Start planning that Wednesday night break-fast now.
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)
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.
If you still haven’t submitted yourself to the awesome power of the totalitarian pop/industrial band Laibach, this might finally be your chance. Laibach’s U.K. label, Mute Records, is releasing a compilation of some of Laibach’s most distinctive cover songs, in a collection called An Introduction To… Laibach/Reproduction Prohibited. It’s available now in Europe and the U.K. and arrives here Nov. 6th.
Laibach have become justly famous for their many covers, which are by turns haunting and hilarious, thanks to their Wagnerian arrangements and frontman Milan Fras’s sepulchral growl of a voice. An Introduction to… omits many of Laibach’s most notorious covers, like “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” in favor of more mind-blowing oddities like “Bruderschaft,” an original Laibach tune done in the style of Kraftwerk, and “Geburt Einer Nation,” their nationalist spin on Queen’s “One Vision.” Also included: Laibachanized versions of two Beatles songs, Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” and their definitive, epic version of Europe’s “Final Countdown,” which they transform into the mock-operatic techno jam it was always meant to be.
You can watch the trailer for An Introduction to… here, but we’ll leave you with this video to “Final Countdown,” which invites you to become a citizen of NSK, Laibach’s art collective/micronation and self-proclaimed “first global state of the universe.” You used to be able to get an NSK passport online, but they had to stop issuing them because some scam artists in Nigeria were selling them to unsuspecting African nationals looking for ways to emigrate to Europe. And no, even though NSK passports do look convincingly like official travel documents, you can’t actually use them to cross international borders. The awesome power of Laibach is not quite that awesome.
You gotta set the funk free, don’t you? If that’s not a P-Funk lyric, it should be. With that in mind, undead funketeers Here Come the Mummies are making their latest album, Bed, Bath & Behind, free for a limited time (today and tomorrow only) via NoiseTrade. So get downloadin’ and savor the sweet, funky sounds of freedom. And be sure to leave a tip—which I guess technically means the album ain’t free any more, but tipping sounds more fun than paying, doesn’t it? Just imagine you’re sticking a few bucks in the Mummies’ Cowbelts.
In other HCTM news: The Bandaged Boys are gearing up for their latest U.S. tour, and Andy and I plan to be on hand for their L.A. show to shake a leg and give you, dear readers, a full report. Well, Andy will give you a report; I’ll probably be stumbling down Sunset Blvd. looking for a cab and wondering where my pants went. That bastard always ditches me after the 10th Jäger bomb.
I’ll play this post out with a live rendition of “That’s What She Said,” one of the many tasty morsels on that free album you should be downloading already. Enjoy.
This week’s band comes to us from a reader named Alex Thermostellar Duddy (Thermduddy, to his bros) and from the dark, twisted heart of the early ’80s. Back then, much of Italy was getting its hairy-chested groove on to the synth-heavy sounds of Italo-disco, a whole weird genre unto itself that might have been the missing link between Kraftwerk and Detroit techno. Or it might just have been what happens when a bunch of Italian dudes with cheap synthesizers and a Giorgio Moroder jones try to make dance music after an all-night cocaine and Chianti bender. And I know it doesn’t sound like I mean that as a compliment, but I do. Italo-disco rules. It just rules in a trashy, gold-chain, uniquely Italian way.
One of the Italo-disco scene’s less heralded producers, a guy named Stefano Pulga, originally conceived Pink Project as a one-off—a slightly tongue-in-cheek disco rework of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” and Alan Parsons Project’s “Mammagamma.” It was a mashup decades before that term even existed—except that, given the more primitive quality of samplers back in the day (and the looser laws governing cover songs, as opposed to wholesale sampling), it was easier for Pulga to just get together with some of his Italo-disco buddies and a hired children’s choir and record the whole thing themselves. Released under the title “Disco Project,” it was probably never meant to be more than a curiosity piece, while Pulga turned his attention back to his solo stuff and his other, semi-successful group, Kano, who were churning out fairly awful Italo-disco hits like this.
But then something unexpected happened: “Disco Project,” at least in Italy, became a hit. The track’s popularity in 1982 reached such heights that Pink Project began getting invitations to appear on American Bandstand-style Italian TV shows—which was sort of a problem, because as a band, Pink Project didn’t really exist. Pulga solved this rather ingeniously by hiring some performers (one of whom may or may not have been Pulga himself) to show up disguised in black hooded monk’s robes and mime playing the song. Combined in this clip with a fresh-faced children’s choir, the effect is both disturbing and totally ridiculous.
Flush with the success of “Disco Project,” Pulga decided to put out a sequel of sorts: another mashup, this time of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and The Greg Kihn Band’s “Jeopardy,” released under the title “B-Project.” As far as we’ve been able to find out, it was never a hit, but it’s even more fantastic than the Floyd/Parsons medley. And when Pink Project got invited to appear on another TV show, Pulga one-upped himself by…well, just watch and you’ll see.
Pink Project’s recorded output also consisted several other mashups, including a Police/Vangelis hybrid we quite like, a collision of Trio’s “Da Da Da” and Falco’s “Der Kommissar” called (obviously) “Der Da Da Da,” and a “Rockit”/”Superstition” mash that, sadly, is nowhere as awesome as that combo sounds. They also released a few original tracks, although the less said about them, the better.
All of Pink Project’s singles and their two albums, Domino and Split, are out of print, and there’s not much more info about the project on the web, at least in English. Even Stefano Pulga’s official website only mentions the group in passing (and in Italian, so we’re not sure what he says about it, except that it was “un prodotto nuovo”). But all of their stuff is widely available on YouTube and collector’s websites like Discogs, as well as a few of those naughty Torrent sites, if that’s your thing.
So what do you think? Italo-disco ’80s mashups—superior to hipster ’00s mashups? We say yes. Especially when delivered by guys dressed up like a low-budget cross between Xanadu and Lord of the Rings.
“What you’re about to hear,” said the middle one of the three guys onstage dressed in matching gray plaid shirts, “is 100 percent feedback. Okay, maybe 90 percent.”
This was not what I expected out of Negativland, the band/art collective responsible for inventing the term “culture jamming” and notorious for getting nearly sued out of existence by U2. I was hoping for a multimedia extravaganza featuring mockingly sampled TV commercials, pop tunes and maybe a chopped ‘n’ screwed RNC stump speech or two. At least a little self-mutilation, perhaps. But a solid hour of feedback? Not what I had in mind.
The feedback was coming courtesy of a curious little homemade instrument called the Booper, a simple oscillator/FX box invented by arguably Negativland’s weirdest member, David “The Weatherman” Wills. (You can watch The Weatherman’s highly idiosyncratic “How to Use the Booper” tutorial here.) With four or five of these Booper gadgets fired up at once, the three members of Negativland onstage this past Thursday at the Echoplex here in L.A. unleashed a slow-motion tidal wave of noise that was actually a lot less horrible than I thought it would be. In fact, by the end of the performance, I was rather enthralled.
I’ve been sitting here for a while now trying to explain to you how over 45 minutes of improvised feedback could be “enthralling” and so far, I’ve come up with bupkis. We even had a brief power outage that forced me to rewrite this entire post and still, I got nothin’. All I can tell you is that the Negativland guys were very clever about tweaking their Boopers (and yes, I know that sounds masturbatory—and it probably should) just enough to keep all those drones, shrieks, rumbles and roars from getting completely monotonous. It was noise, yes, but it was purposeful noise—or at least they were able to make it seem that way. I’m pretty sure they snuck in a few drum machine beats and loops, too, although I can’t say for sure because my vantage point was too far from the stage. In a nice gesture towards Negativland’s borderline-geriatric fan base, the usually standing-room-only Echoplex put in about 20 rows of folding chairs, but I was standing towards the back. Which is okay, actually, because my borderline-geriatric ears couldn’t have handled all that feedback at closer range.
Apparently this all-Booper show was a kickoff of sorts for a gallery show here in L.A. featuring the art of Negativland. Called “Our Favorite Things,” the show runs through Sept. 30th at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery. We’ll try to check it out before it closes and report back to you on that, as well.
Oh, and to all of you who tweeted and Facebooked responses to our “What requests should we yell out?” query—thanks, but it really wasn’t that kind of show. I think even during the encore, if I had yelled out “Christianity Is Stupid,” I would have at best elicited an extra squawk of Booper-induced feedback.
Even as fans mourn the demise of sound collage pop duo The Books, they seem to have taken a real shine to Zammuto, the new band/solo project from former Bookster Nick Zammuto. The band’s self-titled debut album has earned high marks from everyone from Pitchfork to Paste, and they’ve been on the road for most of 2012, most recently opening for instrumental rockers Explosions in the Sky. Now they’ve got a whole slew of new fall tour dates, including their first headlining shows and a stint opening for Gotye. Yes, that Gotye, the dude behind the ginormous hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Are the Top 40 masses ready for bent prog-rock epics like “F U C-3PO“? Guess we’ll find out.
To give fans a taste of their live set, they’ve also released a free five-song live EP, recorded in Athens, Georgia during their tour with Explosions. You can preview it after the complete tour dates below, or go to Soundcloud to grab the free download.
09-05 Charlottesville, VA – The Southern
09-06 Richmond, VA – The Camel
09-07 Raleigh, NC – Hopscotch Music Festival
09-08 Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle
09-09 Knoxville, TN – Pilot Light
09-10 Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09-11 Tallahassee, FL – Club Downunder
09-12 Birmingham, AL – The Bottletree
09-14 Kansas City, MO – Richard Berkley Riverfront Park *
09-15 Bloomington, IN – The Bishop
09-16 Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion *
09-17 Columbus, OH – LC Pavilion *
09-18 Detroit, MI – Fox Theatre *
09-19 Hamilton, Ontario – Casbah Lounge
09-20 Toronto, Ontario – Molson Amphitheatre *
09-21 Montreal, Quebec – Jacques Cartier Pier *
09-22 Burlington, VT – Signal Kitchen
09-26 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
09-27 Brooklyn, NY – Williamsburg Park *
09-28 Boston, MA – Museum of Fine Arts
09-29 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
10-01 Nashville, TN – The Basement
10-02 Little Rock, AR – Stickyz Rock’n’Roll Chicken Shack
10-03 Denton, TX – Dan’s Silverleaf
10-04 Austin, TX – The Mohawk
10-05 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
10-06 Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
10-08 St Louis, MO – Luminary Center for the Arts
10-09 Chicago, IL – Schubas
10-10 Cincinnati, OH – MOTR Pub
10-11 Pittsburgh, PA – Andy Warhol Museum
10-12 Ithaca, NY – The Haunt
10-13 Northampton, MA – Iron Horse
10-29 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
10-30 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
11-01 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
11-02 Santa Cruz, CA – The Crepe Place
11-03 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
11-05 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
11-06 Seattle, WA – Barboza
11-07 Vancouver, British Columbia – The Biltmore Cabaret
11-10 Minneapolis, MN – Walker Art Center !
* with Gotye
! with Eluvium