Monthly Archives: February 2014
I hate the English. When they aren’t busy playing our super-villains or dominating our television, they’re beating the competition in our monthly Weird Band Polls. Three of the last five polls have now been won by Brits, with Ipswich’s Gout Pony claiming the latest victory. How can a tiny nation of tea-drinkers kick so much ass?
Anyhow, Gout Pony have been together about three years or so and describe themselves as half “brilliant, budding musicians, half bearded, bedraggled tramps.” They call their music “trampcore,” so they must really like the word “tramp.”
Their lead singer is a gentleman by the name of Adam Whybray, aka Generation Y Bray. He has a blog called Cage Wisdom that’s mostly reviews of Nicolas Cage movies, and I’m only telling you that because we don’t know very much about these guys and this post would only be about 50 words long if I didn’t throw in a few random factoids. Here’s another one: When we first contacted Adam about Gout Pony being in the poll, he sent us this photo with the comment, “Here is a picture of the only attraction in Ipswich.” Maybe so, but what an awesome attraction.
The rest of Gout Pony is made up of The Saddest Thing (guitars, keys), The Nation (woodwinds, keys, stylophone…and no, I didn’t know what a stylophone was either, but I guess it’s this thing), and Timerous Ham (drums, Theremin). I’m not sure which ones are the brilliant musicians and which are the bedraggled tramps. Actually, after listening to their music, I’m pretty sure they’re all just bedraggled tramps. But hey, that’s OK. Some of our favorite weird musicians were bedraggled tramps, too.
Gout Pony have released one album, an eight-track collection available on Bandcamp called A Family Gouting. It’s all pretty weird, but I think this track captures them at their Goutiest.
They also do a mean cover of “Smart Girls,” from Brian Wilson’s unjustly overlooked hip-hop period:
So congrats on winning the poll, Gout Pony. And don’t worry, we were totally kidding about hating the English. Except One Direction. Fuck those little punks.
I’m probably a bachelor for life at this point, but on the off chance I ever do meet “The One,” she’s going to have to accept that at the wedding reception, we’re just going to play “Groove Is in the Heart” on continuous loop for three hours. This little nugget of 1990 disco goodness is not just a great dance party track…it is the only dance party track in history that doesn’t totally suck. Well, that and “Give Up the Funk,” but when white people play P-Funk at a wedding reception, it’s just embarrassing.
Well, my hypothetical bride-to-be is in luck. We can now alternate between the Deee-Lite version and this sweet cover by our friends Chimney Crow. So yeah, I’m pretty much going to have the most awesome wedding ever.
Yeah, you read that headline right. We’re calling this one early. No one for the rest of 2014 will release a hip-hop track more fearless than “Hip-Hop Was to Blame After All,” the first video from chap-hop superstar Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer‘s latest wax cylinder, Can’t Stop, Shan’t Stop. You may not entirely agree with Mr. B’s irony-drenched but still scathing indictment of mainstream hip-hop—especially coming as it does from a white, banjolele-playing Englishman—but you gotta at least admit he’s right about one thing: it’s pretty whack that DJ Kool Herc almost went broke paying his medical bills. (And yes, I just used “whack” in a sentence. Stick around and I might also describe Mr. B’s music as “stupid fresh.”)
- Professor Elemental vs. Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer
- Bless us, one and all! Miss Von Trapp has a visit from Professor Elemental.
- Renowned hip-hop magazine GQ calls Insane Clown Posse the worst rappers of all time. All time!
- Someone answered our prayers and added English subtitles to Donatan’s “Nie lubimy robić”
Anyone who reads this blog probably knows this by now, but we lost another member of DEVO this week. Bob Casale, one of the band’s founding members, died Monday of heart failure at the age of 61. His death comes less than a year after former DEVO drummer Alan Myers died of cancer. Yeah, it’s been a rough couple of years for DEVO and their fans.
Casale played guitar and keyboards and was known as “Bob2” because guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh was “Bob1.” Here’s what his brother, DEVO co-founder Gerald Casale, said about Bob2 on the band’s website:
As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning.
He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got.
He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again.
His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.
Added DEVO frontman Mark Mothersbaugh:
We are shocked and saddened by Bob Casale’s passing. He not only was integral in DEVO’s sound, he worked over twenty years at Mutato, collaborating with me on sixty or seventy films and television shows, not to mention countless commercials and many video games.
Bob was instrumental in creating the sound of projects as varied as Rugrats and Wes Anderson’s films. He was a great friend. I will miss him greatly.
I know we’re usually a bunch of snarky snarkheads on this blog, but not this week. Our hearts go out to everyone in the DEVO family.
Let’s play this post our with some live DEVO circa 1979. It really sucks that two of the five guys in this clip are no longer with us.
Thank Christ for Google Translator, because otherwise I would have nothing to tell you about this week’s band. They’re a “performance collective” from Germany…and I guess “performance collective” is German for “crazy art freaks making deliberately stupid techno” because that’s what these guys do. They make bad techno and sing over it like a bunch of people pretending to be retarded, as if to say, “Look how retarded this music is!”
Then they shoot videos that are even weirder and dumber than the music. In this one, a bunch of white girls strut around trying to look hard while eating candy bars in front of a gas station. In this one, a nerdy guy masturbates slowly and tenderly to a bad painting. In this one, two of the collective’s members, Tutenchamun and Maike Schönfeld, just dance like idiots in various public places.
They seem to release a new video every month or so. In their latest one, released just last week, a girl dances on a chair for four minutes while a fat biker dude flips off the camera and opens his mail. I know that sounds incredibly stupid, and it is, but the video is fucking great. Trying to describe a HGich.T video is like trying to explain to your wife that the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in your life was when your best friend in college spontaneously moonwalked across an entire frathouse basement because he was trying not to puke on his shoes. It was the funniest thing you’ve ever seen but…you just had to see it.
One of the best things about binge-watching HGich.T videos is all the recurring characters you can follow. There’s the obvious star of the show, Tutenchamun, who’s like a German parody of that douchebag from The Prodigy, if said douchebag had forgotten to take off his yellow safety vest after ditching his picking-up-trash-by-the-highway community service stint. There’s Dr. Diamond, who seems to spend a lot of time hanging out in his room and having arguments with his mother. There’s
Pussy Cat Diddel, who wears cat mouse makeup. And of course there’s my personal favorite, Dietrich Kuhlbrodt, aka Opa16, the group’s creepy old man in residence. I have a soft spot for creepy old men, being only a few years away from becoming one myself.
The video they’re most famous for is “Tutenchamun,” sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Goa Goa MPU” (we had this totally backwards, and also failed to realize that Diddel was supposed to be a mouse, until reader Iesus set us straight—thanks, Iesus!). In it, Tutenchamun rides around with Maike on a motorbike with broken shocks and tells a long, increasingly surreal story about getting pulled over by a cop, played by the least cop-like man in all of Germany, Dr. Diamond. Like all HGich.T videos, it’s incredibly stupid and you might not be able to stop watching.
So I think we can all agree that from here on out, anytime anyone tries to tell a long, rambling story about how fucking hard they partied last night, we’re going to say “Ja?” every five seconds in a bored monotone until they stop. Right? Ja?
As great as “Goa Goa MPU” is, the HGich.T clip that’s my favorite so far…and I say “so far” because they have like 60 some odd videos and I never quite got baked enough to watch every single one…is “die letzten titten von betlehem.” This one has everything: Drugs, vandalism, jailbait, wasteful use of toilet paper, an oddly creepy sequence in which a dude terrorizes a girl with a Sharpie. It’s like a German rave meets a scared-straight after-school special meets a Fellini film. Plus the track fucking goes off.
So anyway…next time I go out dancing, I really hope the DJ plays a HGich.T track so I can storm into the ladies’ bathroom and do my best Tutenchamun impersonation. I am so getting laid with that action.
I gotta be honest: I have no frame of reference for reviewing a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concert. I had never been to a J-pop show before, unless you count Trippple Nippples, which I don’t. Where the Trippp Nippps are clearly trying to be a little edgier and more “arty,” KPP is gleefully, blissfully, unironically out to sweep her audience away under a raging torrent of cuteness. It was quite possibly the most ridiculous show I have ever been to, and definitely one of the happiest. If you walk out of a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concert wearing a frowny face, you need to adjust your meds.
So is KPP fairly typical of a J-pop show? I have no idea. All I know is not since the ’90s heyday of candy raving have my eyeballs been bombarded with such a colorful display. Oh, and the music was pretty good, too. Even though it was all just a pre-recorded backing track, including most (all?) of the vocals. You don’t go to a KPP show because you want to hear an extended version of the piano solo on “Mottai Night Land.”
There was a set that looked like the bedroom of a giant toddler. There were Oompa-Loompa-like backup dancers. There was a dancing rabbit and a dancing bear. There was an inexplicably bizarre video interlude, to cover for one of Kyary’s many costume changes, that featured her playing poker with a bunch of scary-looking Americans and posing next to a motor scooter like a kawaii James Dean. There were not, sadly, any of the dancing fuzz-monsters from the “Invader Invader” video, but they did throw in that song’s dope-ass dubstep breakdown—and in case you’re wondering, yes, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is still totally adorable, even when dancing to dubstep. Her adorableness defies all logic and the basic laws of the space-time continuum. All the kitten videos on YouTube contain less cumulative adorableness than a single KPP dance move. I can’t explain it, but it is so.
The crowd was almost as much fun as the show, full of elaborately costumed J-pop fans of all ages, races and even styles—there were more than a few goth/steampunk dolls in attendance, sprinkled amidst the expected packs of girls in frilly pink princess dresses. I tried to snap a few pics but when you’re a middle-aged guy at a J-pop show, you have to be careful about who you point your camera at. Fortunately, others with more balls and better cameras were there, too.
My arms are still tired from doing the “Fashion Monster” dance, so I’m going to stop typing now and just leave you with a couple more photos. As you can see, we got there late and our seats weren’t the best. I did try to capture the energy of the crowd in that one shot, though. Yeah, people were really into it.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been binge-watching the Olympics all week and wondering why I wasted my youth on comic books and video games. Fierce competition pushes people to pinnacles of achievement that are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Can it have the same effect on weird bands? Probably not, but it’s still fun to pit them against each other and see who can ascend to the winner’s podium.
You people know the drill by now: Voting ends Sunday, Feb. 23rd at midnight and we’ll announce the winner on Feb. 26th. Got your judge’s hat on? Here we go…
[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).]
For more on this month’s bands, read on:
Astro Al is a duo from
Boston outer space named Paul Angelosanto and Debbie Nash. “Imagine if William Shatner replaced Jim Morrison in the Doors” is how they describe themselves, which is such a great image that I kinda wanna run out right now, buy a Shatner mask and start a cover band called The Crystal Shat. Here’s their website and here’s a video that’s more Deliverance than Doors, but still pretty weird.
Ebola Ape is a DJ from
Poland the Congolese jungle who claims to be the world’s first gorilla turned music producer. What kind of music are gorillas into, you ask? I would’ve guessed Kool & the Gang, too, but it turns out it’s more of a cross between glitchy downtempo, witch house and something I guess the kids these days are calling chillstep. Here’s his website and here’s his SoundCloud page.
Gout Pony is a band from Ipswich, England who don’t claim to be from anywhere else. They call their jazzy/lo-fi/folk/stream-of-consciousness music “trampcore” and list The Residents, Cardiacs and a.P.A.t.T. among their influences. Here’s a link to their album, A Family Gouting, and here’s their Facebook page.
Iris Von Gul
Iris Von Gul is an electro/industrial/math-rock band from Bordeaux, France. They were formed last year by Sam Barbier and Denis Dedieu, formerly of the electro-punk band Decay. Now a quartet, they’ve put out one EP called, appropriately enough, Decay Is Dead, which includes a nifty cover of Marilyn Manson’s “Dead to the World.” Here’s a video of them performing their song “We Are Vicious” in the studio, and here’s their SoundCloud page.
Potworow is a young woman from Poland who makes sparse ambient music, short films and self-portrait photographs, all of which are both lovely and more than a little ominous. Here’s her blog, and here’s her YouTube channel, where we recommend starting with “Longing Blue” or one of her little films like “Gone” or “Dinosaurs.”
So there you have it. Remember to cast your vote before midnight Sunday, Feb. 23rd, and may the weirdest band win.
In honor of this special day, when couples fight over who spent the most on flowers and massage oils, we’ve expanded our “My Freaky Valentine” Spotify playlist. Now 30 songs deep and sexier than ever, this freaky mix of weird love songs features additional tracks by Suicide, Psychic TV, Busdriver, The Deviants, The Dead Brothers, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Johnny McGovern, DEVO, Smoota, Univore and our patron saint, GG Allin, wrapping things up with his classic baby-making ballad, “I Wanna Fuck Your Brains Out.” It’s all guaranteed to put that special someone in the mood—that mood being confused unease.
So fire up your Spotify player, or use the nifty embedded player below, and let’s get physical. Happy V-Day, everyone!
Just because Macklemore sang “Same Love” at the Grammys (more on him in a minute), don’t think that hip-hop in 2014 isn’t still rife with homophobia. But a handful of ballsy performers are starting to change that—none ballsier, or weirder, than Mr. Khalif Diouf, better known as Le1f.
Le1f (pronounced “Leaf”) first made his name as a producer, making beats for fellow oddball New York rap duo Das Racist. You know that annoying/awesome song “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell“? That’s a Le1f joint. Even then, Le1f was already subverting hip-hop culture; he borrowed the track’s start-stop rhythm from “The Ha Dance,” a gay house anthem from the early ’90s, when the “vogue” scene made famous by Madonna was in full swing. “I was tricking them into rapping over a vogue beat,” Le1f gleefully bragged to Spin.
But punking his straight friends was the least of Le1f’s tricks. In April of 2012, he released his debut mixtape, a 21-track head trip of a record called Dark York. What immediately jumped out at most fans and critics—maybe because Le1f prefers to keep his vocals tantalizingly buried in the mix—was not the rapper’s out-and-proud lyrics, but his polyamorous relationship with genres. Dark York knocks boots with everything from dark electro and experimental beat music to the menacing, trunk-rattling sounds of the Dirty South—all of it tied together by Le1f’s syrupy flow and a vaguely stoned, psychedelic quality, as if all the music is coming at you through a bong-smoke haze. Or maybe it’s bathhouse steam?
Then came the videos. Starting with “Wut,” Le1f has created a visual style all his own, patched together from gay club culture, avant-garde modern dance (he has a degree in dance from Wesleyan University—my alma mater! holla!), neon-colored hipster fashion, and a dash of Pokemon. It’s playful, eye-popping and will probably make the most hetero among you extremely uncomfortable.
Side note about “Wut” and the aforementioned Mr. Macklemore: When Macklemore won at the MTV Video Music Awards last year for his pro-gay marriage anthem “Same Love,” Le1f launched into a tirade on Twitter, accusing the straight white rapper of cynically co-opting gay pride and style-biting the horn-driven hook on “Wut” for his other big hit, “Thrift Shop.” “[T]hat time that straight white dude ripped off my song then made a video about gay interracial love and made a million dollars,” one of the tweets read. “Wut” is hardly the first time anyone built a rap beat around a saxophone loop, but the timing is more than a little suspicious; “Thrift Shop” came out a little over a month after the video for “Wut” showed up on YouTube, and the similarities are hard to miss. But that’s way more space than Macklemore deserves in any post on this blog, so let’s move on.
Since the release of Dark York, Le1f has been on a tear, churning out EPs and mixtapes that seem to get better (and weirder) every time. He’s also created a live persona that’s a mesmerizing combination of hip-hop aggression and ball culture camp. And he has fantastic hair. (Watch until about the 5:30 mark; that’s when he really starts putting Willow Smith to shame.)
We’ll leave you with what is probably Le1f’s weirdest and/or sexiest (depending on what you’re into) video to date: “Soda,” from a 2012 collaborative EP with producer Boody called Liquid. Oh, and an important disclaimer: We are not making Le1f our Weird
Band Rapper of the Week because he’s gay. Thankfully, being a gay rapper is not as weird as it used to be, and there are plenty of examples of other hip-hop artists, from Big Freedia to Mykki Blanco* to Brooke Candy, making music that probably seems—to straight audiences, anyway—just as weird as Le1f’s. But he gets our vote because ultimately, even if you took Le1f’s sexual orientation out of the picture entirely, his music would still be weird. And we mean that, as we always do, in the best possible way.
*OK, yeah, Mykki Blanco deserves a spot on the Weird List, too. She’ll show up here eventually. Promise.