Les Amis au Pakistan

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Recently, a reader named Jérémie (ça va, Jérémie?) wrote to us with a list of weird bands to check out from his hometown, Montreal. And as we were going through them, we came to a startling realization: The Weird List has zero Montreal bands on it! Clearly this is not acceptable state of affairs, so we’re remedying it tout suite with our favorite of Jérémie’s suggestions: a freaky electro-pop collective called Les Amis au Pakistan.

Les Amis au Pakistan (Friends in Pakistan) have been around since at least 2007, when they released a candy-colored romp of a debut album called Espace Libidinal. Its trippy tracks bring to mind the sampledelic electronica of Avalanches and the avant-pop chansons of Lætitia Sadier and Stereolab, but there’s a surrealist quality to the music and vocals — sung by a quartet of female vocalists — that makes the whole thing delightful and fresh.

Their music videos are, if anything, even more far out than the music, despite being shot on what appears to be a zero-dollar budget. Here’s the clip for “Un p’tit tour de minoune.” I’m not sure which of the singers this is — there are now five of them, named Solange Lavergne, Jacinthe Fradette, Caroline Fournier, Evelyne Mireault and Katia Cioce — but she’s my favorite, for reasons I don’t think I need to explain.

In 2009, Les Amis returned with a sophomore album called Cosmetic Cosmic that was sleeker but no less trippy. Here’s the video for “Nobodée,” which to me sounds like hitting the goth club on ‘shrooms but to Les Amis apparently sounds like a bacchanalian afternoon of yard work and light bondage.

This is where I should mention Les Amis au Pakistan’s two male members: Simon R. Tremblay, who writes and produces most of the music, and Joël Chevalier, who does most of the lyrics and directs the videos. I wish I knew more about them and the group’s beguilingly weird singers, but hardly anything has been written about them in English and not a whole lot more in French. This review of Espace Libidinal from Canadian music site Exclaim is one of the few things I had to go, and about all I could really crib from it was the Stereolab comparison — which, frankly, is a stretch, especially once you get to the much more beat-driven productions on Cosmetic Cosmic.

After Cosmetic Cosmic, it looks like Les Amis au Pakistan went on hiatus. Tremblay released a solo album under the name Native Cell that might be even weirder than Les Amis. But they returned in 2015 with their third album, High Apothéose, which I think is my favorite LAAP album yet. Musically, it’s all over the map — the title track is bhangra meets breakbeat, “Muffin Top” is sad disco playing through blown speakers, “Jésus, Mon Ami” mixes Jersey club with Empire of the Sun-like synth-pop grandeur. But the craziest moment probably comes on “Black Circles,” a full-blown disco punk freakout made even freakier by its video, which is probably what the orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut would have looked like if Fadades had shown up.

So thanks for introducing us to Les Amis au Pakistan, Jérémie! I’m sure they’ll be the first of many Montreal bands we’ll write about — but for now, I think they represent your city quite well.

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David Liebe Hart hangs in the graveyard for his “Haunted by Frankenstein” video

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David Liebe Hart can make just about anything seem like a good time, from collecting model trains to getting your pecker caught in your zipper. So it’s not surprising that in the new video for “Haunted by Frankenstein,” which he released just in time for Halloween (sorry we’re two weeks late to the party, DLH), he turns a visit to the cemetery into a one-man party. Watch.

Good times, right? “Haunted by Frankenstein” is from Hart’s amazing new album, For Everyone, his collaboration with Half Japanese’s Jad Fair and Jason Willett, which is loaded with similarly off-kilter moments of pop surrealism. The video, I’m pretty sure, was shot at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, although don’t quote me on that — especially because wherever it was filmed, I bet they didn’t have a permit.

Also, since I just read the sad news that Stan Lee died, I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that David Liebe Hart also now exists in comic book form. His superhero character is called Heartman and you can buy issue No. 1 of his adventures (illustrated by 48 different artists, including DLH himself) in the ArtByLiebeHart.com store. Excelsior!

Happy Halloween to all you “Bats” from Bloody Death Skull

Bloody Death Skull Bats

Here’s a riddle for the ages: How is it that no one until 1978 ever thought to title a horror movie Halloween? Feature-length horror films were over 50 years old by then, so John Carpenter really caught everyone else asleep at the switch there.

Bloody Death Skull‘s “Bats” isn’t the first song to use that title, but it has surprisingly little competition — mainly in the form of Tori Amos and My Little Pony, neither of whom, in this writer’s humble opinion, really captured bats in all their creepy glory. One fell on my head once on the way back from a camping trip — it had apparently flown into our RV and taken up temporary residence in one of the overhead storage compartments — and let me tell you, those little fuckers are freaky. They’re like rats with big leathery skin flaps that get caught under your collar and you’re shrieking for your friend Dora to pull over and everyone else thinks it’s so hilarious even though now you’re gonna need a rabies shot and years of therapy. But I digress.

“Bats” represents a new direction for Bloody Death Skull, according to BDS leader Daiana Feuer, who sent us the video for the new song (which you can see below) a few days ago. She assures me that there’s still some of her trademark ukulele buried in the mix somewhere, but mostly this is an electronic song, with big, squelchy synths and drum machine beats. “As an Argentinean raised in South Florida, I grew up on club music of all kinds and I’m trying to bring some of that flavor into the mix,” she reports. The synths are courtesy of Gerard Olson, beats by Andres Renteria, and mixing by the great DJ Nobody of Low End Theory (R.I.P.) fame.

Daiana also notes that the song is actually sung from the perspective of a demon who consumes bats. The video chronicles the hungry demon’s pursuit of a particularly insouciant bat with a taste for swimming pools and disco balls. “The bat has no idea it’s so delicious,” she explains. “To the demon, it’s like a walking slice of pizza.”

So enjoy a little early Halloween merriment, courtesy of Bloody Death Skull. Best song ever titled “Bats”? With apologies to Tori Amos, I say yes.

P.S. While TWBITW was in hypersleep, Bloody Death Skull appeared on The Gong Show — and got a perfect score! You can watch their triumphant performance here.

David Liebe Hart joins forces with members of Half Japanese and the results are amazing

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We’ve made no secret before in these virtual pages of our love for outsider musician, puppeteer and alien abductee David Liebe Hart. But we’ve neglected to sing the praises of Half Japanese, the long-running lo-fi rock act fronted by brothers Jad and David Fair. Since the late ’70s, they’ve churned out a massive catalog of tunes that manage to be deliriously catchy even when the guitars are out of tune (which they usually are). Kurt Cobain was a fan, as is Daniel Johnston. They’re great, and definitely weird enough to eventually earn a spot on our ever-expanding list.

So what do you get when you cross David Liebe Hart with Jad Fair and another frequent Half Japanese member, Baltimore multi-instrumentalist and all-around weirdness connoisseur Jason Willett? Possibly the best album DLH has ever recorded: For Everyone, which sets Hart’s rants and digressions to music as endearingly off-kilter as his half-sung, half-guy-on-the-bus-talking-to-no-one-in-particular vocals. There are paeans to Valerie Harper and Beatrice Arthur, an ode to a dead pet fish, an electro-funk screed against fake dating profiles (“Robot Girls”), and controversial diatribes on everything from Disney characters (“I Like Donald Duck Better Than Mickey Mouse”) to classic sitcoms (“I Like Vivian Vance Better Than Lucille Ball”).

The album’s Hartiest moment, for my money, is “Lentil Beans,” on which the singer professes his romantic (and occasionally carnal) love for the titular legume. “If you were a lady, I’d marry you,” DLH declares. “You’re better than black-eyed peas.” Personally, lentils give me gas, but I admire the man’s passion for his food. Here, have a listen:

For Everyone is out today via Joyful Noise Recordings and available for stream or purchase (on limited edition orange vinyl — only 100 copies left as of this writing) from Bandcamp. With respect to Jonah Mociun — whose loopy electro-pop has provided DLH with excellent musical accompaniment for the past several years — Jad Fair and Jason Willett have provided the perfect soundtrack for David Liebe Hart’s peculiar brand of endearingly eccentric songwriting. It’s occasionally hilarious, occasionally creepy — poppy, atonal, avant-garde and accessible all at once. It reminds me a little of what might happen if Wesley Willis, Tom Waits and Fun Boy Three (remember them?) joined forces, but really, it’s one of the most original things you’ll hear all year.

I have an uncontrollable urge to leave you with another track, so here’s “Haunted by Frankenstein.” Bump this at your Halloween party and give extra candy to the folks willing to dance to it.

David Liebe Hart

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If you were a fan of the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, you’re probably familiar with this week’s weird artist. But what you might not realize is that David Liebe Hart, with his puppets and quirky lo-fi songs about aliens and insect women and staying in school, was not some surreal creation of that most surreal of late-night comedy shows. David Liebe Hart is a real live person, and to this day he’s still making his wonderfully weird music and even weirder music videos.

An actor originally from the Chicago area (where, he says, he was abducted by aliens as a child) and now based in Los Angeles, Hart had a few small television roles early in his career on shows like Good Times, What’s Happening and Golden Girls. But he became best-known in the L.A. area in the 1990s for his musical puppet act, which he performed around town as a street busker and on a local cable access TV called The Junior Christian Teaching Bible Lesson Program. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, you can still watch some of Hart’s early cable-access performances, which are fantastic.

So Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim didn’t exactly pluck Hart out of obscurity when they put him on the first season of their Awesome Show in 2007; he was already a cult figure around L.A., on par with other eccentric Hollywood fixtures like Known Actor Dennis Woodruff and Thai Elvis. But they were smart enough to just point a camera at him and let him do his thing, showcasing his menagerie of puppets, his slightly out-of-control baritone bray of a singing voice, and some of his most outlandish songs. He’s probably still most famous for “Salame,” the tune with which he made his Awesome Show debut (accompanied by his most famous puppet, Jason the Cat), but for our money, Tim & Eric scored Peak DLH with “I’m in Love With an Insect Woman.”

“Insect Woman” is amazing for a lot of reasons, but my favorite thing about it is probably how clearly Hart is in on the joke. Though some Tim & Eric fans seemed to react with alarm upon learning that his act existed outside the show (sample YouTube comment: “The realization that Tim and Eric met a crazy man and put him in front of a camera makes you a little sad”), I think part of David Liebe Hart’s genius, if you can call it that, lies in his ability to simultaneously embrace the absurd elements of his act and also fully commit to his underlying messages. He doesn’t really care whether you take him seriously or not; he just wants you to believe the aliens are out there — and to stay in school. It’s like Wesley Willis meets Space Alien Donald meets Sesame Street.

Since the sad demise of the Awesome Show, DLH has been keeping busy. He’s released numerous albums, written a book of poetry, played the mayor of Chicago in a B-movie called White Cop, launched his own podcast (“Adventures With David”), and done a national tour fronting a punk band. Since 2014, he’s teamed up with a new musical collaborator, Jonah Mociun, who’s given his songs a more fully produced, jaunty electro-pop sound. He’s also continued to embrace his silly, self-deprecating side; songs of his most recent album, Space Ranger, include “I Caught My Pecker in My Zipper,” “No Sex Since ’94” and “I’m Not a Hoarder.” (And we have it on good authority that, yes, that really is his apartment in the video for the latter track.)

But to this day, it’s when Hart sings about aliens and outer space this his weird light burns brightest. We’ll leave you with the totally cosmic video to another track from Space Ranger, “Space Train,” which features a fellow eccentric by the name of Tennessee Luke. According to Mociun, who wrote to us recently to share some of DLH’s latest stuff, Luke “believes he controls the weather with his mind.” Needless to say, we’re already fans.

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Weird of the Day: Cyriak, “Malfunction”

Cyriak

The creator of today’s weirdness is primarily an animator, but he also writes nifty little electro-bleep music loops for his original videos, including the mind-bending clip below. He’s also created videos for artists like Bloc Party, Flying Lotus and Bonobo. He does most of his animations using Photoshop and After Effects, which is kind of amazing considering how clever and highly detailed they can get.

If you have a few hours to kill, go and get lost on his website. But we’re not kidding about the “few hours” part. His clips are highly addictive.

Ain’t no party like a Banda Uó party in their new clip, “Catraca”

Banda Uo

Our favorite Brazilian tecno brega trio Banda Uó is back with a new music video. This one’s called “Catraca” and while it’s not quite as bizarre as earlier clips like “Gringo” and “Shake de Amor,” it does feature shots of Candy Mel getting off on a washing machine, a woman’s ass covered in googly eyes, and somebody getting drowned in milk and Froot Loops. Y’know, a typical Brazilian house party, at a fancy house everyone broke into.

Incidentally, guest rapper Mr. Catra is not actually a little person. He’s this guy. But no Brazilian house party is complete without a rapping little person, I guess.

“Catraca” is available via iTunes in both its original form and a Bonde do Rolê remix.