Weird of the Day: Watch this dude totally destroy Slayer’s “Raining Blood” on the banjo

Rob Scallon

So there’s this guy from Chicago named Rob Scallon who does YouTube videos of himself jamming on guitar, banjo, cello, bass, ukulele and seemingly every other instrument in existence. He’s done a whole series of clips called “Metal on instruments that aren’t metal” and they’re all pretty great, but this video of him doing Slayer’s “Raining Blood” is the one that got our attention. It’s like Deliverance meets Headbangers Ball. And just when you think it can’t get any more awesome, he throws in a guy playing the spoons.

To watch Rob shred on other metal classics, including System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” and Slayer’s “Spill the Blood,” hit up his YouTube channel.

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Weird of the Day: Albert Kuvezin and Yat-Kha, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

Yat-Kha

Hearing Albert Kuvezin apply his Tuvan throat singing technique to Joy Division’s monument to bumitude, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” has got me wondering if maybe Ian Curtis faked his death and has spent the past 30 years hiding out on the steppes of Mongolia. OK, not really—I’ll save the rock-star conspiracy theories for the Jim Morrison fans—but if he had lived long enough to discover Albert Kuvezin and his band Yat-Kha, I bet he would have been a fan. This version manages, thanks mostly to Kuvezin’s eerie, low-frequency drones, to be even creepier and more despondent than the original.

Kuvezin is better-known for his more traditional Tuvan throat singing band, Huun-Huur-Tu. But Yat-Kha, which mixes elements of both Tuvan and western folk music, is well worth seeking out, too. This is from a 2005 album called Re-Covers that also features throat-sung versions of songs by Captain Beefheart and Motorhead among others. A tip of the mouse to Dangerous Minds for turning us on to it.

Is this the saddest “Rainbow Connection” cover ever?

chimneycrow8

Our basement electronica pals Chimney Crow seem to be on a covers kick of late. Just a few weeks after rocking a down ‘n’ dirty version of Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is in the Heart,” they resurfaced yesterday with a just plain down version of “Rainbow Connection” that leeches all the wide-eyed wonder out of the Muppets original and turns it into something more like a Nurse With Wound outtake. As an unabashed fan of Kermit’s banjos-and-schmaltz version, I’m not sure how I feel about Chimney Crow’s, but I gotta admit, it’s unexpected. Between this and Dolchnakov Brigade’s “Bein’ Green,” this could be the beginning of a very weird Muppets tribute album. Maybe next we can convince Anklepants to do “Rubber Ducky.”

Dig: Chimney Crow covers “Groove Is in the Heart”

Chimney Crow

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.

Video: Dolchnakov Brigade cover the Muppets’ “Bein’ Green”

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So we just heard from our buddy Yon Yonson, ringleader of the Moscow-via-Brooklyn synth-punk stormtroopers Dolchnakov Brigade, and apparently things are going well for them. They’ve been organizing flash mobs, getting booked on New York public-access comedy shows, and generally doing all they can to spread their message of “Palevish!” to the masses. Nice work, comrades! We hope your addition to The Weird List helped hasten your rise.

The latest and greatest thing Yon wanted to share with us is Dolchnakov Brigade’s latest video, a cover of the Kermit the Frog classic, “Bein’ Green.” Set on the mean streets of New York, it really brings home Kermit’s message of tolerance and mutual respect. Also, it’s a classic example of how most New Yorkers really couldn’t give a shit that there’s a dude painted green running down the street singing a Sesame Street tune.

Check out Dolchnakov Brigade’s “Upcoming Events” page to see where their quest for world domination is taking them next. Currently, it’s Harrisburg.

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.