“La Isla Bonita”: now the name of both a Madonna song and a Deerhoof album


Bay Area noise-rockers Deerhoof were in a pretty festive mood on their last album, 2012’s Breakup Song, and it sounds like they’re going to keep the party raging on their next LP. Due out Nov. 4th on Polyvinyl, it’s got the Madonna-evoking title La Isla Bonita—and while neither track released from it so far could be mistaken for Madge’s 1987 foray into Latin pop, they’re both downright pop-tastic by Deerhoof standards. In fact, we love ’em so much we’ll include them both in this post, before we tell you about the ‘Hoof’s fall tour dates.

First up: “Exit Only,” a stomping, punk-rock rave-up:

Next, “Paradise Girls,” which I guess you could describe as Deerhoof’s version of a feminist empowerment anthem. Girls who are smart and/or play the bass do indeed rule. Satomi Matsuzaki oughta know, ’cause she’s both.

La Isla Bonita is available for pre-order now from the Polyvinyl website. Now here are those tour dates we promised you. See you at the Troubadour!

Deerhoof National Tour Dates:

11/4: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right (w/ Tim Barnes, Xenia Rubinos)
11/5: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right (w/ Assembly, Zannie Owens w/ Mount Yucca)
11/6: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right (w/ White Reaper, Trans Am)
11/7: Falls Church, VA @ State Theatre (w/ White Reaper, Xenia Rubinos)
11/8: Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern (w/ White Reaper, Xenia Rubinos)
11/9: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer (w/ White Reaper, Cibo Matto)
11/11: Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge (w/ White Reaper, Priests)
11/12: Kalamazoo, MI @ Louie’s Back Room (w/ White Reaper, Priests)
11/13: Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace (w/ White Reaper, Priests)
11/14: Montreal, QC @ Cabaret Piccolo Rialto (w/ White Reaper, Priests)
11/15: Pawtucket, RI @ The Met (w/ Priests, Lightning Bolt)
11/17: Los Angeles, CA @ The Troubadour (w/ Go Dark, Crystal Skulls)
11/18: San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall (w/ Go Dark, Crystal Skulls)
11/20: Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge (w/ Go Dark, Busdriver)
11/21: Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s (w/ Go Dark, Busdriver)
11/22: Vancouver, BC @ Fortune (w/ Go Dark, Busdriver)


I really need a pair of those raver glasses from the new Deerhoof video

Photo by Deron Pulley

So it looks like Deerhoof‘s Greg Saunier had so much fun shooting a guerrilla-style video on the streets of Hong Kong that he decided to bring the whole band along for a followup. This time the setting is Tokyo and the soundtrack is “We Do Parties,” a lively jam off their most recent album, the excellent Breakup Song. Armed with glowsticks, stickers promoting their Tokyo show and blinky raver glasses that I can’t stop watching, the SF noise-pop heroes make lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s hometown their playground. Watch.

In other good news for Hoofheads, Deerhoof just announced a whole mess of tour dates, including an appearance at something in New York called the Ecstatic Music Festival, where they’ll be collaborating with these guys. Which is nice, because usually the only thing New Yorkers have to look forward to in February is freezing their asses off on a dank subway platform.

Deerhoof 2013 tour dates:

02-20 New York, NY – Merkin Concert Hall (Ecstatic Music Festival)
03-01 Brisbane, Australia – The Zoo
03-02 Sydney, Australia – The Annandale
03-03 Melbourne, Australia – Schoolhouse Stuidos
03-06 Adelaide, Australia – Adelaide Festival
04-04 St. Louis, MO – The Firebird #
04-06 Madison, WI – UW-Madison Music Hall %
04-07 Iowa City, IA – The Mill (Mission Creek Festival)
04-08 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *
04-09 Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme *
04-11 Pontiac, MI – Crofoot Pike Room *
04-12 Pittsburgh, PA – Andy Warhol Theatre *
04-13 Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall *
04-14 Albany, NY – Valentine’s *
04-15 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer *

# with The Breaks
% with Dal Niente
* with People Get Ready

One last Deerhoof tidbit: “We Do Parties” is being released Feb. 26th as part of a digital EP that will also feature Breakup Song bonus track “Just for That,” a remix of “Mario’s Flaming Dessert” by electronic music pioneer Simeon of Silver Apples, and  a live cover of the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” Watch this space for your chance to get in on that action. Or, if you’re like us, you can blow a few bucks on those LED raver glasses instead.

Watch Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier go guerrilla drumming in Hong Kong

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Photo by Richard Saunier

We’ve made no secret of the giant man-crushes we have on Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, the man who makes it possible to dance your ass off to the Bay Area noise popsters even at their noisiest. So it is with big, googly puppy-dog eyes full of man-love that we present to you this awesome little video filmmaker Vincent Moon shot with Saunier in Hong Kong. It’s just 8 minutes of Saunier walking around the city with a pair of drumsticks, but it’s a hoot.

This is apparently the first of four Deerhoof “solo” videos that will be premiering over the course of the next week on You Ain’t No Picasso. Check back there next week to see what on-camera antics Satomi Matsuzaki, John Dietirich and Ed Rodriguez get up to. There probably won’t be any impromptu back massages like in the Moon/Saunier clip, but with Deerhoof, you never know.

Deerhoof’s next album, Breakup Song, comes out Sept. 4th.

Deerhoof tour dates! (and drums!)

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It’s been over a year since San Fran noise-rockers Deerhoof released their last album, the excellently titled Deerhoof vs. Evil. But apparently they’re more interested in playing gigs than returning to the studio, because they just announced a whole slew of North American live dates running all the way into November, with nary a new product to push in sight. Not that we’re complaining. Watching Greg Saunier beat his drum kit like it owes him money is way more fun than listening to a Deerhoof record, anyway. (Well, except maybe for Offend Maggie. That set was a hoot.) [Update: We blogged too soon. Deerhoof do have a new album called Breakup Song coming out Sept. 4 on Polyvinyl. We’re sure it will be filled with much mayhem and mirth.]

Anyway, here are the dates, complete with opening acts. And speaking of opening acts: After the jump, enjoy a little live clip of Saunier beating the skins (no matter how many times I say that, it still sounds dirty) in a drum duet with Liam Finn, who’s clearly no slouch on the kit himself. Enjoy.

09-05 – Washington, DC – The Black Cat w/ Dope Body, America Hearts
09-06 – Raleigh, NC – Hopscotch Festival @ Memorial Auditorium w/ Liars and Airstrip
09-17 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall Of Williamsburg w/ Buke And Gase, Mirel Wagner
09-18 – Cambridge, MA – The Middle East w/ Buke And Gase, Mirel Wagner
09-19 – Montreal, QC – Pop Montreal @ Cabaret Du Mile End w/ Buke And Gase, Mirel Wagner
09-21 – Lexington, KY – Boomslang Festival @ Cosmic Charlie’s w/ Buke And Gase
09-22 – Chicago, IL – Scuba’s Tavern (early all ages show) w/ Mirel Wagner
09-22 – Chicago, IL – Schuba’s Tavern (10PM door 21+ show) w/ Buke And Gase
09-23 – Minneapolis, MN – The Brick w/ Buke And Gase, Mirel Wagner
09-24 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room w/ Buke And Gase, Raleigh Moncrief
09-25 – Denver, CO – The Hi Dive w/ Buke And Gase, Raleigh Moncrief
09-27 – Garden City, ID – Visual Arts Collective w/ Buke And Gase, Raleigh Moncrief, Luke Wyland (of AU)
09-28 – Seattle, WA – The Vera Project w/ Buke And Gase, Raleigh Moncrief
09-29 – Portland, OR – Branx w/ Buke And Gase, Raleigh Moncrief
09-30 – Arcata, CA – The Depot @ Humboldt State University w/ Buke And Gase, Raleigh Moncrief
10-01 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s w/ Buke And Gase, Raleigh Moncrief
10-02 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echoplex w/ Buke And Gase, Raleigh Moncrief
11-03 – Dallas, TX – Prophet Bar w/ Formica Man, Skating Polly, Liam Finn
11-05 – Houston, TX – Walter’s w/ Formica Man, Liam Finn
11-06 – Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon w/ Formica Man, Twin Killers, Liam Finn
11-07 – Mobile, AL – Alabama Music Box w/ Formica Man, Liam Finn
11-08 – Tallahassee, FL – Club Downunder w/ Formica Man, Liam Finn
11-09 – Orlando, FL – Accidental Music Festival @ The Plaza Live
11-10 – Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club w/ Formica Man, Liam Finn
11-12 – Richmond, VA – The National w/ Formica Man, Liam Finn
11-13 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar w/ Formica Man, Liam Finn, Dope Body

Weirdify Playlist 6: When You’re Strange

The only thing weirder than a weird band is a weird loner armed with a guitar, ukulele or thrift store keyboard. This week’s playlist celebrates some of the best, greatest and (to use a clinical term) craziest of those loners, along with a few other slightly more socialized purveyors of what’s come to be known as outsider music.

What is outsider music? Usually (though not always) it’s music created by someone with no formal training and often rudimentary technical abilities. To the untrained ear, it nearly all sounds terrible, but if you listen to enough it, you start to find some diamonds in the rough.

For more on the subject of outsider music, I highly recommend seeking out a copy of Songs in the Key of Z, an authoritative book on the subject by the great Irwin Chusid. That book informed much of this playlist—and, to be honest, much of this entire blog. Chusid’s the guru, we are but his lowly disciples.

Ready to take a walk on the weird side? Fire up your Spotify and make sure your headphones aren’t strapped on too tight.

1. Daniel Johnston, “Walking the Cow.” Maybe the most famous outsider singer/songwriter of his generation, Johnston is a diagnosed schizophrenic from Texas who writes surprisingly beautiful, simple little pop songs and sings them in an achingly childlike voice. Throughout the ’80s, he gained a sizable cult following for his homemade cassette tape albums, all illustrated with his own bizarre cartoon creatures like the one we swiped for this playlist’s artwork. There’s a documentary about him called The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and if you haven’t seen it, you should.

2. B.J. Snowden, “School Teacher.” Maybe the best way to describe this Massachusetts native is that she’s a female, less crazy version of Wesley Willis (see below). She claims to be a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, and works as a music teacher, but her songs mostly feature very rudimentary piano playing and cheesy, pre-programmed keyboard backbeats, a la Willis. Still, her stuff undeniably brings to mind words like “jaunty.” Fred Schneider of the B-52’s is a big fan.

3. Tiny Tim, “People Are Strange.” You’re probably too young to remember this, but this totally untiny performer, with his ukulele and unmistakable warble of a voice, was once one of the most famous musicians in the world. Bizarre, but true. Tiny Tim’s version of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” which he performed on Laugh-In in 1968, became a huge hit, making him a regular guest on that SNL precursor as well as The Tonight Show (he even got married on Johnny Carson’s set in late 1969, in what was at the time one of the most watched events in television history). As mind-blowingly ridiculous as his version of “Tulips” is, I thought this Doors cover was more apropos to this week’s theme.

4. Lucia Pamela, “Hap-Hap-Happy Heart.” Like many outsiders, the biographical details of this Missouri native are a bit hazy. She claims to have been crowned Miss St. Louis in 1926, which sounds plausible, and to have performed in the Ziegfeld Follies, which we’ll also buy—but then, she also claims to have been the first person on television, so who knows? What we can confirm is that, in her mid-sixties, she recorded an album in 1969 called Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela and it’s kind of amazing. She’s one of Irwin Chusid’s favorites.

5. The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, “Someone Took the Yellow From My Egg.” A little a cappella interlude from Lubbock, Texas’ greatest proto-psychobilly lunatic.

6. Charles Manson, “People Say I’m No Good.” Yes, that Charles Manson. One of the world’s most notorious cult leaders and mass murderers is on Spotify. Yeah, we’re not sure how we feel about it, either.

7. Wesley Willis, “Mojo Nixon.” Chicago’s late, great purveyor of “Harmony Joy Music” (and our playlist’s second schizophrenic), Willis wrote bouncy tribute songs to everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Kurt Cobain. This, as far as I know, is the only song of his about another artist we’d already added to The Weird List.

8. Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, “I’m Gonna Dig Up Howlin’ Wolf.” And here he is, Mr. Mojo himself, singing about digging up famous dead bluesmen and affixing their skulls to his guitar. We’re sure he’s just speaking metaphorically.

9. Bob Log III, “I Want Your Shit on My Leg.” For 20 years, Bob Log III has been persuading sweet young things the world over to put their “shit” (read: ass) on his leg so he can bounce them around while playing kick drum and high-hat with his feet. Yes, he’s a one-man Delta blues wrecking crew. In an Evel Knieval jumpsuit, no less.

10. Roky Erickson, “Don’t Slander Me.” Our playlist’s third schizophrenic, Roky (pronounced “Rocky”) was a psych-rock pioneer with his ’60s band, the 13th Floor Elevators, before  a trip to the loony bin sidelined him in 1968. He’s since made something of a comeback and is now a celebrated cult hero of psychedelic rock and outsider music. This track isn’t his nuttiest by a long shot—it kinda sounds like Creedence Clearwater Revival, which make sense given that he worked a lot with former CCR bassist Stu Cook in the late ’70s and early ’80s—but something about the sentiment makes it a perfect outsider anthem.

11. GG Allin, “I Live to Be Hated.” The original rock ‘n’ roll outsider—angry, obscene and unrepentant. This is actually one of his moodier, more introspective numbers.

12. The Mad Daddy, “Record Acid Test.” Just decided to throw in a wacky little transition from Cleveland’s Pete “Mad Daddy” Myers, one of the original lunatics of rock ‘n’ roll radio. Alan Freed may have “invented” rock DJing, but The Mad Daddy made it shake, rattle and roll, one wavy gravy platter at a time. (For more on Myers, this post is pretty excellent.)

13. Mission Man, “Gotta Work Hard.” If Mad Daddy had lived (sadly, he took his own life in 1968) to hear his fellow Ohioan Mission Man doing his stoned-Lou-Reed-rapping routine, we’re sure he would have approved. Or he might have said, “What the hell is this shit?” and put on another Elvis record.

14. Gonken, “Rockin’ Robots.” Another modern outsider for the electronic age, this time from Seattle. He’s making fun of pop music, sort of. But on another level, he’s just making so-bad-it’s-actually-kinda-good pop music.

15. Deerhoof, “My Pal Foot Foot.” One of our favorite current weird bands pays tribute to one of our favorite weird bands of yore, The Shaggs, by covering their immortal song about looking for a lost cat named Foot Foot. Magic ensues.

16. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, “Grown So Ugly.” In many ways, Don Van Vliet doesn’t actually fit the classic mold of the outsider musician. The dude could actually play, as could his band, all of whom had deep roots in blues, jazz and the psychedelic rock scene of the late ’60s. But somehow, they managed to never let those skills or influences get in the way of creating records so original they were sometimes kinda frightening.

17. Arcesia, “Butterfly Mind.” Another discovery courtesy of the bottomless fount of weirdness that is Songs in the Key of Z, Arcesia was actually the work of a veteran big band crooner from Rhode Island named Johnny Arcessi who moved to California and became an acid casualty in the late ’60s. In 1970, at the age of 52, he released his one and only album as Arcesia, Reachin’, and it’s an amazing relic of that strange time in American history, an acid folk freakout delivered by a guy who clearly had lost all interest in phrasing, pitch or lyrical comprehensibility. Needless to say, it’s now a highly prized collector’s item—the fact that it’s on Spotify is almost as mind-blowing as Arcessi’s adenoidal bray.

18. Syd Barrett, “No Good Trying.” No self-respecting mix of outsider music would be complete without an appearance from that most famous acid casualty of all, Uncle Syd. R.I.P., gentle sir.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s mix.

Weirdify Playlist 3: Noise Ordnance

Hi, kids. Jake here, finally delivering y’all a playlist with some balls. Also, some power tools, Tuvan throat singing and field recordings of surgical procedures. That’s how I roll.

ShareMyPlaylists is thwarting me and not recognizing half these tracks, so here’s a direct link to the full playlist on Spotify. You’ll get 20 whole tracks of skull-crushing, ear-diddling insanity:

1. Lightning Bolt, “Assassins”
2. Fantomas, “Page 28”
3. Deerhoof, “The Great Car Tomb”
4. The Locust, “Who Wants a Dose of the Clap?”
5. Nimrod, “Ripsnort”
6. Arrington de Dionyso, “Susu Naga”
7. The Residents, “Smelly Tongues”
8. Captain Beefheart, “Skeleton Makes Good”
9. White Mice, “Passsthefissst”
10. Kylie Minoise, “Corpse Sex Show Outrage!”
11. Genocide Organ, “Genocide”
12. Iwrestledabearonce, “Alaskan Flounder Basket”
13. Yip-Yip, “California Fart”
14. Justice Yeldham, “300104 Hamburg”
15. Einsturzende Neubauten, “Negativ Nein”
16. Cabaret Voltaire, “News From Nowhere”
17. Cattle Decapitation, “Gestation of Smegma”
18. Goatwhore, “Sacrament of Emptiness and Despair”
19. Otto Von Schirach, “Septic Sewer Soup”
20. Matmos, “L.A.S.I.K.”

Management not responsible for lost or damaged hearing. Happy listening!

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So Deerhoof have a new album out, which kind of made us go, “Oh, crap. We still haven’t written about Deerhoof. How did that happen?” Let’s fix that right now, shall we?

Deerhoof is one of those bands that’s tough to pin down. Sometimes they don’t sound that weird at all, or maybe just weird in a cuddly, Cibo Matto sort of way. Other times they just sound like your basic, garden-variety noise-pop band, all distorted guitars and herky-jerky rhythms—more quirky than weird, and not all that different from a zillion other Pitchfork-approved bands (although it must be said, no one does herky-jerky rhythms better than Deerhoof, thanks mainly to the superhumanly awesome drumming of Greg Saunier). But then, just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they’ll smack you upside the head with something truly bizarre. And they’ve been at it for over 15 years. So they finally (belatedly) earn their place here on The Weird List.

In its earliest incarnation, Deerhoof was a bass/drums duo made up of Saunier and Rob Fisk. They arose from the dregs of an ill-fated Bay Area metal band called Nitre Pit. When both of Nitre Pit’s guitarists quit, Saunier and Fisk just carried on as a duo, making an extra cacophonous racket to compensate for the lack of lead instruments. On top of that chaotic early sound they eventually added the childlike shrieks, wails and coos of Satomi Matsuzaki, a recent Japanese immigrant with no musical training. Matsuzaki would ultimately prove to be the band’s secret sauce, learning to become a versatile, creative vocalist and a pretty solid bass player to boot. (Fisk switched to guitar, but eventually left the band in 1999.)

Starting with the Reveille album in 2002, Deerhoof added a new guitarist, John Dieterich, formerly of the math-rockers Colossamite. With Dieterich’s help, Deerhoof’s sound became richer and more melodic, although still pretty wildly experimental. Reveille and its 2003 foll0w-up, Apple O’—their first with second guitarist Chris Cohen—remain the band’s most widely acclaimed albums to date. (Next time you’re talking to a Deerhoof fan, just say the words “Panda Panda Panda” and watch them go completely apeshit.)

These days, Deerhoof’s experimentalism is based less on straight-up noise and more on oddball, art-rock juxtapositions: bubblegum pop melodies over lurching math-rock rhythms, or splashes of jazz-rock noodling interspersed with blasts of punk-rock guitar. “Super Duper Rescue Heads!“, the first single from their latest album, Deerhoof vs. Evil, could almost be mistaken for kitschy J-pop until about the 1:25 mark, when one of those weird math-rocky bridges kicks in. Credit (or blame, depending on who you ask) can probably go in part to new second guitarist Ed Rodriguez, who joined the band in 2008. Rodriguez used to play with Dieterich in Colossamite, and their jammy interplay, while still pretty out there, definitely sounds more like the work of two guys in the same band and less like the barely-held-together chaos that was the hallmark of Deerhoof’s earlier material.

We’re tempted to end with something from the earlier, weirder Deerhoof—”Rat Attack,” maybe, or this live performance of the early track “Flower,” which we think dates from around 2003. And we’re sure the label and publicity folks would much rather we post that “Super Duper Rescue Heads!” video (from their latest, Deerhoof vs. Evil—out now on Polyvinyl Records! Order your copy today!). But instead, we’re going to end with this very 8-bit video for “Buck and Judy” off the 2008 album Offend Maggie. Because, well, it’s awesome. Please enjoy.