Monthly Archives: June 2013
Of all the bands on our Weird List, The Residents probably offer the richest vein of subject matter for a documentary. You don’t last 40 years performing in outlandish costumes and releasing tons of music, video and multimedia work without racking up some serious film fodder.
And yet, apart from a short, satirical 1990 film called The Eyes Scream: A History of The Residents, no one has ever really captured the story of one of the weirdest and most mysterious bands of all time in cinematic form. A group of filmmakers from a company called Well Dang! Productions tried just a few years ago, but that project was apparently abandoned, probably due to some combination of lack of funds, the band’s unwillingness to participate, and being called Well Dang! Productions. But now, it looks like The Residents documentary void is finally about to be filled.
The film, called Theory of Obscurity, is being made with The Residents’ full participation, which is a big plus. They just completed shooting the band’s 40th anniversary tour, and claim to have been granted “unprecedented access” to the Residents archives. They’re aiming for a 2014 release, but they’ve already released a preliminary trailer, which you can watch below. You can also watch their ongoing 143-part Vimeo series called “In My Room,” featuring interviews with Randy, the band’s old-man-masked lead singer. In the latest installment, he talks about his wishbone collection.
No self-respecting independent film project doesn’t invite some form of crowdfunding these days, and Theory of Obscurity is no different. So if you want to help the first official Residents documentary see the light of day, follow this link and give generously. Hey, it’s way cheaper than a box set in a refrigerator.
OK, this time it’s true (no, really): Polyphonic Spree album coming in August, not May. Also, tour dates!
Hey, remember how we told you awhile back that The Polyphonic Spree would be releasing their new album, Yes, It’s True, in May? And hey, notice how it’s not May anymore? Well, turns out Spree frontman Tim DeLaughter may have been a little overly optimistic about when he could deliver his chamber-pop army’s next opus. But hey, “overly optimistic” sort of describes DeLaughter’s entire M.O., so we’ll let it slide.
Anyway, the new no-really-we-mean-it-this-time release date for Yes, It’s True is August 6th, so look for a review of it in these virtual pages sometime around that date—or as soon as Jake and I can tear ourselves away from the blissful euphoria of the Spree’s latest superhappyawesometime sound bath.
In other Spree news, the band is on tour as we speak, and we highly recommend checking them out. Revisit our review of their holiday show (complete with lots of shaky Instagram pics) for a sample of positive-vibe onslaught that awaits you at a Spree concert. They might not have Santa Claus with them this time around, but you never know.
The Polyphonic Spree 2013 Tour Dates:
6/28 — Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
6/29 — Kansas City, KS @ Kanrocksas
7/01 — Chicago, IL @ Park West
7/02 — Muskegon, MI @ Coast West Music Festival
7/05 — Philadelphia, PA @ Theater of The Living Arts
7/06 — Washington, DC @ Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
7/08 — Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
7/09 — Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
7/10 — New York, NY @ The Bowery Ballroom
7/26 — Ansan, South Korea @ Ansan Valley Rock Festival in South Korea
7/27 — Byron Bay, Australia @ Splendour In The Grass
8/04 — Dorset, UK @ Camp Bestival
8/09 — Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
8/11 — Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
8/12 — Salt Lake City, UT @ The State Room
8/15 — Seattle, WA @ Neumos
8/16 — Vancouver, BC @ Venue Nightclub
8/17 — Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
8/19 — San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
8/20 — Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory
8/22 — Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey
8/23 — San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
8/26 — Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
8/27 — Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
8/29 — Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
9/07 — Isle of Wight, UK @ Bestival
Sad news from the weird music world this week: Alan Myers, drummer for DEVO during their classic 1976-1985 period, died of brain cancer on Monday at the age of 58. Although DEVO has gone through many drummers over the years—Myers was their third, replacing Jim Mothersbaugh—he’s probably the one you’re thinking of when you picture the band in their signature Energy Dome hats, belting out offbeat New Wave hits like “Whip It” and “Girl U Want.”
We’re late to this wake: A zillion other publications have already published obits and tributes, of which the one from the LA Times’ Randall Roberts is probably our favorite. Current DEVO drummer Josh Freese also summed up Myers’ career quite neatly in a single tweet: “1 of my all time favs. An underrated/brilliant drummer. Such an honor playing his parts w/Devo. Godspeed Human Metronome.”
Myers left DEVO in 1985 after the release of the heavily programmed Shout, saying the band’s increasing use of Fairlights and electronic drums left him feeling uninspired. In the years that followed, he was a regular presence around the L.A. music scene, particularly with Skyline Electric, the band he founded with his wife Christine in 2005. They were actually scheduled to play a show in Chinatown this Friday, but presumably that show has been canceled.
We’ll leave you with a classic DEVO live performance from 1980: “Uncontrollable Urge.” People like to call Alan Myers the “Human Metronome,” but no mere metronome could have rocked this hard through this track’s stop-start rhythms. His precise, propulsive drum patterns were as much a part of the band’s sound as Mark Mothersbaugh’s yelping vocals. When DEVO finally get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—and let’s be optimistic and assume they will be—there should be an empty seat at the table in remembrance of Alan Myers.
One of our favorite new readers, Josh Gold, introduced us to this week’s band with the immortal words, “I think you’d enjoy them though I don’t get too much enjoyment from them.” You know us so well, Josh. What to others is aural diarrhea, to us is a melodious eargasm. Well, in the case of Baboon Torture Division, “eargasm” might be overstating it a bit. “Long, satisfying sound dump” is probably more accurate.
BTD is a duo from Vancouver made up of one guitar/singer/synth player/Ronald McDonald commemorative plate collector named Steve Biloba and one bass-playing, gas-mask-wearing humanoid called Pocketron XP. They’re also occasionally joined onstage and in videos by Ronald McDonald himself (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), Ronald Reagan (sometimes even two Ronald Reagans) and a guy in a cartoon bear suit who looks like he wandered in from a really creepy children’s party.
They’ve released 10 albums, although many of their “albums” are really just long-form jokes: a 44- minute send-up of ’80s hip-hop and electro called The Breakdance Sesh, an album of cheesy dance pop called Background Music for a Party, and not one, but two pseudo-8-bit albums called Digital Masturbation and Digital Masturbation 2. (Sample track titles: “Fuck Pizza Hut,” “Bowser Is Too Easy to Kill,” and perhaps their greatest achievement, a tender one-minute glitch ballad called “The Last Thing You’d Want to Hear If You Were Jacking Off Your Father While He Watched the Sylvester Stallone Wrist Wrestling Movie.” OK, maybe just the title is their greatest achievement.)
BTD’s twisted sense of humor is perhaps best captured in their two finest video offerings. First up, “Ice Cream Truck Music,” which is literally just five solid minutes wind-up monkeys dancing in front of my college acid dealer’s screen saver. Don’t worry, the music changes more often than the visuals. Way more often, actually.
Next: The kind of amazing “Sexy Times,” a disco/industrial jam that’s actually got a great groove, along with some of the cheesiest office romance lyrics of all time and backup dancers that look like they escaped from Mummenschanz. “I was prepping demos for the 12 o’clock meeting/You were wearing slacks and your nails were green”—finally, a love song us cubicle dwellers can relate to.
So thanks, reader Josh! And yeah, you’re right, we should totally add Sun Ra to the Weird List. One of these days.
ESP-loving electronic duo Matmos are still out promoting their latest album, The Marriage of True Minds, which they created with the help of volunteers in a psychic powers experiment. We’ve covered this one quite a bit, so we’re all out of psychic jokes, but we can tell you they’ll be performing in Chicago this coming Thursday as part of the Loops and Variations concert series, and later this summer they’ll be at the Hopscotch Festival in North Carolina. We don’t know these things because we’re psychic or anything; we just got the press release. (See? Told you we were fresh out of psychic jokes.)
To keep the True Minds train a-rollin’, Matmos have just released another video from the trippy set. Directed by Matmos’ own M.C. Schmidt, the “Aetheric Vehicle” video is a tangerine dream of spacey synths, ancient Egyptians, and retinal damage from staring at the sun too long.
P.S. If you purchase The Marriage of True Minds via Amazon, you can support both Matmos and TWBITW in one go, thanks to the magic of our Amazon Associates program. For more on how Amazon Associates works, visit our FAQs.
Meet our latest Weird Band Poll winners: Pan! These guys just moved last year from sunny Los Angeles to cold, desperate Detroit, so you know they’re weirdos.
Pan’s music kinda sounds like post-economic-meltdown Detroit, too: Junky, spooky, broken down but not without its charms. John, one half of the duo, describes their music as “musique-concrete folk,” which sounds about right. There are lots of weird, ambient noises and out-of-tune guitars that sound like they’re being played with kitchen utensils. It’s not for nothing that when John told us about Pan’s music, he put the word “music” in quotation marks.
So far Pan have released just two records: a self-titled 2011 EP and a 2012 full-length called Pan 2. Both are available on Bandcamp here and here. For maximum weirdness, start with the EP, which makes me feel like I’m watching the Deliverance sodomy scene over and over again after one too many Vicodins.
John and his partner, Dithyramb, run a label called Homotown Records, which has a Facebook page but not much else. They haven’t shot any videos for Pan or posted any Pan tunes on YouTube, but here’s a Soundcloud for a non-album track called “Dithy” that should give you an idea of why they pretty much crushed it in this month’s poll.
Last year, we told you about an amazing indie sci-fi film from Finland called Iron Sky that featured music by military-industrial rockers Laibach and a story about a secret Nazi base on the moon. Well, the film was such an international success that they’ve decided to make a sequel—and this time,
it’s personal they need your help to fund it.
Yes, for Iron Sky: The Coming Race, the filmmakers have taken to the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise $150,000 worth of seed money for what they hope will eventually be a $15 million budget (which sounds like a lot but is still about 1/20th what they spent on Iron Man 3). Backers of the film can score such goodies as T-shirts, posters and even a first draft of the script, all the way up to all-access set visits and a speaking role in the trailer. So far they’re still about $110,000 short of their goal, with only 13 days of fundraising left—so pony up, people! (Although, unlike Kickstarter, projects that don’t hit their fundraising goals on Indiegogo get to keep the money—so don’t worry, those crazy Iron Sky kids will be fine even if they fall short.)
According the filmmakers, Laibach is already on board to do the soundtrack, as are the original writers, director and special effects folks. What the storyline will be is anyone’s guess—so far, they’ve just released some mysterious artwork depicting what appears to be some kind of high-tech outpost in the middle of a lush wilderness, with the tag line, “From the ashes of mankind, a new breed of superiority will rise.” Does that mean more Nazis? Or something else? We’ll just have to wait and see.
So head over to Indiegogo to pledge your support, and enjoy the Indiegogo teaser video starring director Timo Vuorensola and some North Korean soldieresses I would not want to mess with.
This week’s weird band was suggested by an excellently named reader called Adam Whybray. He describes a.P.A.t.T. as sounding “a bit like a glitchy Mr. Bungle cult that formed down the pub.” And while that’s probably as good a description as any of these cheeky Liverpudlians (although it doesn’t contain the word “Liverpudlian,” which is one of those words you should use every chance you get), it really only scratches the surface of what this avant-pop art-school project has achieved in its 15-odd years of existence.
a.P.A.t.T. (what does it stand for? how do you pronounce it? who knows? who cares?) formed in Liverpool in 1997 or 1998. Their early goal, according to their Wikipedia page (which the band links to from their official site, so let’s assume it’s semi-accurate), was to “make, find, imagine, and create ‘secret music,'” by which they seemed to mean music that abandoned traditional song structures and instrumentation. You can hear some of the band’s early stuff on Welcome to a.P.A.t.T. Island – A collection of earlies, which veers sharply between abstract, ambient noise and bursts of spastic, genre-hopping art-pop that reveals some of those Mr. Bungle influences that Adam picked up, as well as an even more direct early influence (and another favorite of ours around here), Cardiacs.
By 2005 or so, the band’s music had become even harder to categorize. On the Fre(e.P), they started doing Girl Talk-like mashups, mixing recognizable pop and classic rock samples with trip-hop beats and trashy club rap, but doing it in a style meant more to be unsettling than party-starting. Check the amazing “Megamix Part 1” for a taste of what happens when you cram the Jackson 5, Coolio, Portishead and “What a Day for a Daydream” into the same track.
Meanwhile, they were also developing a live soundtrack for the silent-film-era vampire classic, Nosferatu, complete with strings. Because hey, why not?
In 2008, they reinvented themselves yet again, transforming into a Zappa-like prog/jazz/metal/psych-rock orchestra on the epic, 27-track Black & White Mass. Most recently, they released Paul the Record, a split album with a band called Peepholes, then decided to embrace the “playlist on shuffle” mentality of our modern age with Ogadimma, a 14-track set on which no two songs are done in the same style. They’ve also shot videos for all 14 songs; taken collectively, they’re pretty amazing. Here they are, for example, in full-on Prince-meets-Of-Montreal mode:
Now try to remember, as you watch this next video, that this is the same band:
They also cite Ween as one of their influences, which honestly didn’t make sense to me until I heard the casual, tongue-in-cheek virtuosity of the Ogadimma stuff: “Oh, you want to hear us do some ’80s synth-pop? Sure, here you go. No big whoop.” (Among their other listed influences: The Residents, Duran Duran, Captain Beefheart, John Zorn, Slayer, Claude Debussy, ABBA, and The Beatles. Much like a.P.A.t.T.’s actual music, this list simultaneously makes no sense and all the sense in the world.)
You’ll notice up until now that I haven’t mentioned any of a.P.A.t.T.’s members by name. That’s because, quite frankly, I have no idea who these people are. a.P.A.t.T don’t perform wearing masks or anything, but they do (mostly) stick to an all-white costume palette that seems to help them maintain a semi-anonymous quality. That plus, let’s be honest here, a.P.A.t.T. is not the world’s most Google-friendly band name. According to their Wikipedia page, their core members go by the names General MIDI, Field Marshall Stack, Dorothy Wave, Master Fader and The Researcher, but that’s all I know.
We’ll wrap this post up with a clip of a.P.A.t.T’s live show (non-orchestra version), which looks like jolly good fun. That lady keyboard player (Dorothy Wave, we presume) has sure got some sick dance moves.