Monthly Archives: July 2013
We had our own little British Invasion here at Weird Band HQ last week. Not only did steampunk Brits BB BlackDog win our latest Weird Band Poll, another English act named Ben & Amy finished a strong 3rd. The lone American act in the poll, Fartbarf, finished dead last. What is wrong with you people? Do you hate farting, barfing and America? Sometimes I don’t recognize this country anymore.
But anyway, yes, BB BlackDog crushed the competition fair and square, so they earn Weird Band of the Week honors. And they are indeed a pretty fucking weird band, though not for the obvious reasons. I mean, if they were just another WWI-fighter-pilot-goggles-wearing steampunk act, we would pass them by with a resounding “meh.” There’s entire fucking conventions of bands like that now. But here’s what’s awesome about BB BlackDog: The visuals don’t match the music. At all. It’s like if Slipknot came out onstage and starting singing One Direction songs. Except way less sucky than that.
So yeah, when you first look at BB BlackDog, you probably assume they’re going to break into a John Philip Sousa march, or maybe a little ragtime, or they might get really crazy and bust out the chap-hop. Wrong! BB BlackDog play good old-fashioned bluesy psychedelic/stoner rock. And they do it in full steampunk regalia, with belly dancers and shit.
Here are some other interesting factoids about BB Black Dog. They’ve been doing this since 2007. They’ve written 76 original songs. They don’t have a guitar player…lead singer Dale Rowles plays “lead bass,”
John Ferguson Mike Bower plays rhythm bass, and Axel Boldt plays the drums as hard as anyone can without the pink boa flying off his black leather cowboy hat. They list Black Sabbath, Prince, Pink Floyd and death metal among their influences. They have an album called No One that you can buy from (duh) Steampunk Records…or from Amazon.com if you prefer to pay in U.S. scrilla. One of their members is German. Oh and they seem to occasionally feature a fourth member who dresses up like their namesake “Black Dog”…although honestly, he looks more like some kind of steampunk gimp who just escaped from an H.P. Lovecraft-themed sex dungeon. Which actually makes sense, because they have a song called “Gimp.”
If you clicked that last link, you saw that as recently as 2009, BB BlackDog was pretty much just another scruffy stoner-rock bar band…albeit one with a vaguely old-timey burlesque dancer. Apparently, they’re recent converts to the whole steampunk thing. I guess you could argue that this makes them steampunk carpet-baggers or something, except I’m pretty sure there needs to be a carpet worth bagging for that to make any sense. It’s not like everyone’s riding the steampunk gravy train to major label deals and Bud Light endorsements. The likelier explanation is just that they stumbled across the steampunk scene and went, “Hey, this is fucking cool! Let’s join in!” Just because they didn’t swap out the basses for banjoleles doesn’t mean they’re not totally into it.
BB BlackDog have a ton of live videos on YouTube, and many of them are definitely worth checking out. But it was this video for the track “What You Need” that I’m pretty sure scored them a win in our Weird Band Poll. What’s more steampunk than a motorized shopping cart? Lots, but who cares? Motorized shopping carts are awesome.
This week’s weird band was one of many we’re still sifting through from an aptly named reader called Sick Nick. Thanks for all the suggestions, Nick! Clearly, you’re a sick man, indeed.
Lucrate Milk was a French punk/No Wave band active from about 1979 to 1984. They’re often compared to other bands of the era like The Slits and X-Ray Spex, mostly because they featured a saxophone and aggro female vocals. But their twisted, dadaist take on punk rock was really like nothing else before or since.
The band was started by a pair of underground artists named Lombrick Laul and Tomas Huser (aka “Masto Lowcost”), who borrowed their name from their day jobs as milk delivery men. Adding a drummer named Raoul Gaboni, an American-born keyboardist named Nina Childress and, briefly, a vocalist called Helno, they began by playing various punk squats around the seedier parts of Paris and stenciling their name all over town. According to band legend, they forced one another to play their least favorite instruments—with Laul picking up the bass and Masto taking on the saxophone, which he did indeed tend to play like he was awkwardly handling a cumbersome foreign object. Presumably because it was everyone’s favorite, nobody played guitar.
Lucrate Milk live shows were noisy and highly theatrical affairs, often featuring bizarre homemade costumes and highlighted by Childress’ spastic stage presence—she took over vocal duties when Helno left pretty early on. Here’s a clip from one of their last shows in February of 1984, rescued from the dustbin of punk-rock history by the miracle that is YouTube:
Laul and Masto Lowcost designed all of the band’s graphics and videos, most of which were not music videos per se but just used as projections during the band’s live shows. Sadly, most of these are not available online, or maybe anywhere, but a few shreds of their video output still exist. In particular, there’s a 2006 DVD that was released as part of a compilation of their music, and it seems to contain a few classic Lucrate Milk clips (though we haven’t had a chance to see it) as well as newer visual interpretations of their stuff like this one. The DVD’s not widely available, but this site appears to still have it in stock.
After Lucrate Milk called it quits, Laul and Masto went on to work with another, more popular French punk band called Bérurier Noir, who were sort of a cross between Lucrate Milk, Black Flag and DEVO. Nina Childress became a successful painter, and poor ol’ Helno died of a heroin overdose after briefly fronting this band. Yeah, there was a lot of weird music in France in the ’80s.
We’ll leave you with the greatest surviving piece of Lucrate Milk eye candy, the fantastically twisted “Nepla Relou,” which sounds like The Residents and X-Ray Spex trapped under a collapsed circus tent and looks like a Troma movie directed by Johnny Rotten. Oh, and we’ll add this quote from another website, which sums up Lucrate Milk’s music better than we ever could: “It’s absurd, short, violent, brilliant and funny, like your mate puking on himself.” Yep. It’s exactly like that.
Well, we sat out Comic-Con again this year. I haven’t been too heavily into nerd culture since the ’80s and Jake’s afraid of crowds (although when he heard there was a Breaking Bad panel, he almost downed half a bottle of Xanax and went anyway). But it turns out we missed out on more than just a chance to conquer Jake’s agoraphobia and ogle cute nerd girls in Catwoman suits. We also missed out on a chance to buy Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne’s first-ever comic book! (Except we didn’t, because it’s still available online. But it debuted at Comic-Con, so anyone who bought it there definitely has nerd bragging rights over the rest of us.)
Wayne’s been on a bit of a naked kick lately, so it should come as no surprise that The Sun Is Sick gets the nudity (and giant eyeballs, another running theme of his of late) rolling right on the cover. Inside, readers can expect to find 40 psychedelic pages illustrated by Coyne himself, telling the trippy tale of a blind princess who gives birth to, well, a giant eyeball. Hilarity ensues!
Lest the cover art and Coyne’s boundary-pushing reputation not be enough to clue you in, the press release helpfully notes: “WARNING!! The Sun Is Sick may be a comic book but make no mistake; this is not suitable for children and depending on what sort of person you are, it may not be suitable for some of you non-children either. If you have doubts at this moment then The Sun Is Sick is not for you.” Okay, press release writer person, you’ve convinced us. We’ll go back to our Nancy Drew mags.
If you want to learn more about The Sun Is Sick, may we direct your attention to this interview Coyne recently gave with The Huffington Post, which also includes a peek at some of Coyne’s child-like yet evocative drawings, which feature aliens tripping balls on some kind of blue goo called Virgo 2151. (Now sure to be the nickname of at least some of the LSD circulating at Bonnaroo 2014.)
That Wayne Coyne’s a busy guy; in addition to releasing comic books, he’s still on an extended tour with the Lips, promoting their latest album, The Terror. Dates after the jump; meanwhile, here’s the latest video from The Terror, for the harrowing (or patience-testing, depending on your point of view) track, “Turning Violent,” on which Coyne takes a much-deserved breather and hands over most of the vocal duties to Steven Drozd.
Flaming Lips summer/fall tour dates:
07/25 Salt Lake City, UT – Twilight Concert Series, Pioneer Park
07/27 Troutdale, OR – McMenamins Edgefield
07/28 Seattle, WA – Capitol Hill Block Party
07/30 Reno, NV – Grand Sierra Resort & Casino
07/31 Costa Mesa, CA – The Pacific Amphitheatre
08/01 Las Vegas, NV – Bud Light Music First, House of Blues
08/17 Omaha, NE – Maha Maha Festival
09/06 Isle Of Wight, UK – Bestival
09/07 Stekene, Belgium – Crammerock Festival
09/30 Boston, MA – Agganis Arena (w/ Tame Impala)
10/01 New York, NY – Terminal 5 (w/ Tame Impala)
10/02 New York, NY – Terminal 5 (w/ Tame Impala)
10/03 Philadelphia, PA – Penn’s Landing, Festival Pier (w/ Tame Impala)
10/04 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion (w/ Tame Impala)
10/21 Tokyo, Japan – Blitz
10/22 Tokyo, Japan – Blitz
10/23 Osaka, Japan – Hatch
10/24 Nagoya, Japan – Club Diamond Hall
Splatter punks Haunted Garage have played a few reunion shows in the years since they broke up in 1993, but they’ve mostly been one-off type deals. But this time, if we can believe the band’s Facebook page, they’re cranking things up a notch. Apparently mousetrap-loving frontman Dukey Flyswatter has assembled an all-new lineup and is rehearsing for some fall shows and a four-song EP. Here’s Dukey’s most recent Facebook update, typos and all, posted this past Friday:
Hellz Bellz!!! Haunted Garage 2013 just had it’s first rehearsal and it sounded pretty good. New guys, New engergy. WE need weird guest performers and props and newbies to showcase their make up and other skills. Were almost back to square one with the stage show but it wont’s take long.
You read right, kids: Dukey wants YOU to help him make this back-from-the-dead version of Haunted Garage the greatest and goriest one yet. Sounds like they’re set for musicians, but if you can contribute some crazy visuals, hit the man up.
We’ll keep you posted on Haunted Garage 2013 as more details emerge. In the meantime, here’s a little taste of Dukey’s other band, the Undead Kennedys, a zombie DK tribute band featuring members of our pals the Radioactive Chicken Heads. How did we not know about this sooner? We need to get out more.
When The Onion A.V. Club asked avant-electronic duo Matmos to cover “I Want Candy,” the classic ’60s stomper made even stompier in the ’80s by Bow Wow Wow, you just knew they were going to twist and tweak it some unexpected ways. But turning it into a homoerotic paean to NSA leaker Edward Snowden? Gentlemen, you’ve outdone yourselves!
WordPress and the A.V. Club’s video player don’t get along, so you’ll have to go over to their site to watch all the fun. Suffice it to say there are shakers, squiggly keyboards and distorted vocals involved. And of course, that sweet, sweet Bo Diddley beat, which for the most part Matmos chose not to fuck with. Some things just can’t be improved upon.
It’s that time of the month: Time for us to hand you the keys to this here hoopty of a blog and hope you don’t drive it off a cliff. Yep, it’s poll time! Y’all ready to vote your little asses off? Good. Cuz we got us a good one.
As usual, we’ve got five bands clamoring for your votes and attention, so read up on them below and pick your fave. I’ve already got mine, but I ain’t tellin’. Let’s just say they’re named after my second and third favorite bodily functions.
[Sorry, this poll has closed. Check back here Wednesday, when the winner will be revealed. And bookmark this page to partake of future polls. We do a new one every month(ish).]
Here’s more on this month’s bands:
These guys are from England and describe themselves a “steampunk/stoner/psychedelic rock” band. I’m pretty sure they didn’t have wah-wah pedals in Victorian England, but whatevs. It gives them an excuse to dress up like bad guys in those Robert Downey Sherlock Holmes movies and make zany videos. Also, they sometimes hang out with Professor Elemental. Here’s their website.
Ben & Amy
Our next contenders for Weird Band of the Week honors are from…England again? What is this, a tea and crumpets party? Actually, they have a song called “Tea,” so maybe it is. They’re a brother/sister duo from Surrey and one of the albums on their Bandcamp page is tagged “electronic english nonsense experimental rock,” which is actually pretty accurate.
I don’t even have to explain this one, do I? They wear freak masks and they’re called Fartbarf. Here they are performing in a strip club, and here’s their website. Oh, and they’re from right here in Los Angeles, California. SoCal represent!
O Bo de Vil
O Bo de Vil is a Spanish dude named Vil Häuser who calls his stuff “polka-punk.” It kind of sounds a Spanish Wesley Willis sing-shouting over cheap keyboards and oom-pah beats…and we mean that in the nicest possible way. Here’s his Bandcamp and here’s his Facebook page.
Peculate is another solo project from Spain, but this one is 100% polka-free. Ben Norton, an American musician/artist/activist/anti-copyright crusader…yep, all his shit’s available free on his website, so dude puts his money where his mouth is. He calls his music…and pardon me while I do some stretching exercises before typing this…”Progressive experimental metal jazz electronic gospel ambient glitch mathcore contemporary classical post-rock 12-tone metalcore dubstep art rock punk avant-garde technical death metal.” Got all that? Here’s a new drinking game: Go listen to his album Pax Tecum on Bandcamp and every time it switches genres, do a shot. Did you pass out during the first track? Yeah, me too.
So there you have it. Vote early and often, and may the weirdest band win!
Oh and one other thing…voting closes Sunday, July 28th. Tick tock, bitches!
Hey, we get it: Insane Clown Posse aren’t for everyone. Even on this blog, where we frequently praise the Faygo-spewing horrorcore duo in a mostly unironic way, we’ve called them out for being misogynistic morons on at least one occasion. But the worst rappers of all time? Please. They aren’t even the worst rappers from Detroit.
Nevertheless, GQ magazine (that great arbiter of all things hip-hop) and writer Rob Tannenbaum (who co-authored an awesome book called I Want My MTV and whose work we normally admire) saw fit to put ICP at the top of their “definitive list” of “The 25 Worst Rappers of All Time.” Now I probably shouldn’t be casting stones here; Jake and I are both struggling music writers and have put our names to various listicles of which we’re not especially proud. That being said, this GQ list is so far beneath the talents of Mr. Tannenbaum that we’re actually a little concerned for his spiritual well-being. Never mind putting ICP at number one; when you have to pad such a list with the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Green and Brian fucking Wilson (?!?!), now you’re just dicking around.
Recording artists are supposed to just laugh off this sort of nonsense—especially routinely hated-on acts like ICP, who are pretty much the Nickelback of hip-hop. But they’re not taking this one lying down. “GQ magazine should stick to what they know,” Violent J recently told TMZ. “Dressing preppy metrosexuals.” Oh, snap! How’s that feel, GQ? You just got made lunchmeat in an ICP/TMZ smackdown sandwich.
Ultimately, this little brouhaha was probably best summed up by a fan on ICP’s Facebook page: “I would be offended as a JuGGaLo, if ICP was ranked anything but worst rap group ever by a preppy dude fashion magazine.” Well said, JuGGaLo. Well said.
In other ICP news: Their new show Insane Clown Posse Theater debuts Wednesday, July 24th on Fuse TV. Hardest-workin’ hip-hop clowns in show biz, people! I’ll make Jake post a review/recap just as soon as I can pry the bong from his Cheeto-stained fingers.
We’ve had a rough couple of weeks here at Weird Band HQ, so we were in dire need of some cheering up. And what better way to cheer up than with a little candy-colored, hyper-caffeinated J-pop? In J-Pop-Land, no one ever gets stuck in traffic, the serotonin flows like tap water and fluorescent is the new black. You know your favorite adorable kitten video on YouTube? Cram all five minutes of it down into a three-second animated GIF and you have the perfect visual accompaniment to most J-pop.
All J-pop looks and sounds pretty strange to us Westerners, but the genre’s most freshly minted superstar, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, takes things to a whole new level. She’s sometimes described as Japan’s answer to Lady Gaga, but it would probably be more fair to describe her as the majokko lovechild of Katy Perry and Psy. Like those two, her music tends to be polarizing (you either think it’s adorably catchy pop or annoyingly repetitive drivel), her dance moves tend to be varying degrees of ridiculous, and most importantly, her costumes and music videos tend to be garish eye candy explosions in which the cute, the comical and the grotesque intermingle in all sorts of head-scratchingly unexpected ways. You may prefer to watch Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s videos with the sound turned down, but I bet you’ll watch them all the way through.
Kyary, who’s only 20, got her start as a fashion blogger and model associated with Harajuku, the youthful Japanese clothing style known for its bright colors and obsession with all things “kawaii” (cute). Kyary’s unique spin on Harajuku has always been to inject it with a touch of the bizarre: a rubber shark hat, a demonic painted-on mouth, hair clips with eyeballs on them. “I love grotesque things,” she told one interviewer. “There are so many ‘just cute’ things in the world, so I add grotesque, scary and even shocking materials like eyeballs and brains to balance out the cuteness.”
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a bona fide superstar in Japan; her first video, “PONPONPON,” has racked up over 50 million views on YouTube, which I’m pretty sure makes her the most popular artist we’ve ever blogged about (sorry, Flaming Lips; you had a good run). But popularity and weirdness are not mutually exclusive; over the course of “PONPONPON,” Kyary dances with a giant floating eyeball, pterodactyls and what appears to be a fat dude in blackface and a pink princess dress. And “PONPONPON” is probably her least eccentric video. In her most recent clip, “Ninjya Re Bang Bang,” she rides a giant carp, dances with cartoon robot mice and vanquishes an evil floating head by turning her arm into a laser cannon, all while wearing what we’re gonna describe as ninja sleepwear. Here, check it out, but be warned: This song will lodge itself in your head for days.
We’ll leave you with “Invader Invader,” which both visually and sonically gets our vote Kyary’s for greatest and weirdest achievement to date. The finger-mustache dance moves, the breakdancing fur monsters, the TV-headed DJ, the completely gratuitous and totally awesome dubstep breakdown…why can’t American pop music be this much fun?
Kyary’s latest album, Nanda Collection—which features “Ninjya Re Bang Bang” and “Invader Invader”—just came out in Japan and the States (not sure about the rest of the world). You can buy the digital U.S. version here.