Another Weird Band Poll is in the books here at Weird Band HQ, and the band poppin’ bottles this time is from right here in our hometown of Los Angeles. So give an imaginary high-five to L.A.Drones! I wasn’t shouting, by the way…their name has an exclamation point at the end. Just thought I’d clear that up.
L.A.Drones! (not shouting, I swear) are a synth duo who perform wearing black bandit masks because one version of their name, “ladrones,” means “thieves” in Spanish. And because, as they told us, “we steal samples from the music we like.” I thought that was pretty much every synth band these days, but maybe L.A.Drones! are more thievish than most.
In another version of their name, it means “Los Angeles drones,” which could be a reference to the droning sound of their music, or the fact that we Angelenos increasingly live in a police surveillance state. Seriously, the cops here have drones. Which are supposedly not in use at the moment, but if there’s one thing every halfway intelligent American just learned in the wake of all that shit that went down in Ferguson, it’s that we should not trust our local police forces with all their new high-tech gadgets. You may as well give a box of fireworks to a bunch of 10-year-old boys and say, “Now you be sure to find a grown-up and get permission before you light these.”
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. L.A.Drones! So far, the duo of Vulcanito and Tormentas Gonzalez has only released one track, an ass-shaking little jam called “Horrible Dreams,” which you can watch in the performance clip below and also buy on Bandcamp for less than a cup of gas station coffee.
When we asked if they had any other songs, Vulcanito explained that L.A.Drones! really has to be experienced live. “Horrible Dreams” is just the first part of a 45-minute “capsule” of music called “The Dreamlike World of the Midnight Walker,” which they never perform the same way twice, and any versions of it they release online will just be recorded live in the studio. They’re working on other “capsules” of music, each of which will be played at a different BPM. “Midnight Walker” is at 127 BPM, apparently.
Here’s a live clip of the second part of “The Dreamlike World of the Midnight Walker,” which is called “Give Up.” Musically, they’re not the weirdest band we’ve ever featured, maybe. But I do dig that their music is kind of freeform and dancey at the same time, and the whole concept of an electronic act that never plays anything the same way twice. Some of the “live” dance music acts Andy’s dragged me to over the years should really take a page from that playbook.
So congrats again to L.A.Drones! for winning the poll. I believe that makes them the first L.A. band ever to win a Weird Band Poll. About damn time somebody represented!
I’m in the Bay Area today interviewing DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist about their upcoming Renegades of Rhythm tour, for which they’ll be playing all vinyl culled from hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa’s 40,000-plus record collection. So I thought it would be a good day to give Bambaataa a little shout-out here on TWBITW. After all, he was in many ways a pretty weird dude.
This 1983 video for “Renegades of Funk” is a nice reminder that, compared to most of the crap on the radio today, early hip-hop could get downright avant-garde. Aside from the Sun Ra/George Clinton Afro-futurist costumes worn by Bambaataa and his Soulsonic Force crew, the track itself is a forward-thinking mix of squiggly synths, stuttering drum machines and Bootsy-style bass. It also name-checks practically every major funk and hip-hop innovator, civil rights activist, and the original gangsta, Sitting Bull. Class is in session!
My DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist interview won’t run here; it’s one of them there paying gigs for another outlet. But we’ll probably link out to it from our Facebook page or something.
Apparently this Jeff Richards fellow was once in the cast of Saturday Night Live, but I gotta be honest: I have zero recollection of him on that show. Either he was seriously under-utilized or he got funnier, because there’s no forgetting him in this new video from his dance-pop comedy album, The Shingles 2009-2014.
When we heard Texas tranny terrorist Christeene was hitting England and Europe last summer, we were pretty sure she would cause some kind of international incident. But I guess white trash and Eurotrash have more in common than we thought, because she’s heading back to the EU…that’s pronounced “Eww,” y’all…for another string of dates, starting with 10 nights at the Soho Theatre. Soho’s like, all posh and shit, right? Well, la-di-fuckin’-dah! Hope Christeene doesn’t come home talking like Maggie Smith and holding her pinkie in the air when she sips her Four Loko.
“Christeene: The Christeene Machine,” as her Soho show is called, starts tomorrow night, June 24th, and closes July 5th. For full dates and tickets, go here.
This promo video says Christeene will be traipsing around Europe until Aug. 30th, but we’re not sure where else she’s off to after she rips Soho a new one. We’ll try to keep you in the loop.
I love boobs and I love barbecue. So reader Miss Hawkline of Man Behind the Curtain just introduced me to what I’m pretty sure is now going to be my all-time favorite song forever. It’s called “Boob-A-Q” and it’s the work of an electronic music terrorist from San Francisco who calls herself Kevin Blechdom. As you can see from the above photo, she is not to be fucked with.
“Boob-A-Q” is from an album called I Love Presets, which features lots more electro-funk-freakouts where that came from. It also features some banjo and self-pleasuring cover art. So yeah, you should fucking get a copy.
When Charlie Salas-Humara started his Panther project in Portland, Oregon around 2006, he wasn’t really expecting it to become his main gig. The goal, he said later in a video interview, was “mostly just to irritate people.” Legend has it that for Panther’s first gig, he showed up to an acoustic singer-songwriter night with a drum machine. I’m sure he succeeded in pissing plenty of people off at that gig and others since, but he also produced some of the most entertainingly awkward, tongue-in-cheek electro-funk of the late ’00s. Especially on Panther’s first album, Secret Lawns, on which Salas-Humara comes off like Demetri Martin doing a Beck parody.
Beginning with their second album, 14 KT God, Panther became a duo, thanks to the addition of drummer Joe Kelly. They also signed to Kill Rock Stars, which is hardly the biggest label on the planet but was a pretty huge step up from the tiny Fryk Beat imprint that put out Secret Lawns. Perhaps inevitably, Panther’s KRS output became more accessible, sounding like the work of an actual band rather than a Prince stalker alone in his bedroom. But they still had a knack for quirky videos like “Birds That Move,” from their 2009 swan song EP, Entropy.
As far as we’ve able to discern, Salas-Humara hasn’t released any new Panther music since Entropy. He’s been busy with numerous other projects, including a solo synth-drone joint called Grapefruit; an experimental five-piece called Regular Music that once released an album in the form of a tiny speaker housed inside a CD case; and Sun Angle, a sort of post-rock/punk/cumbia fusion trio. Together it adds up to one of the weirdest and most unique bodies of work we’ve run across in ages, although none of it tops the brilliant absurdity of Panther’s finest moment, a song and video called “You Don’t Want Your Nails Done” that we’ve featured before and will now feature again, because we love it so.
We first ran across Zebra Katz when we were doing research for our Weird Band of the Week post about fellow queer hip-hop artist Le1f. He’s produced a lot of eye-popping videos, but never anything as colorful as his new video for “Tear the House Up,” a collaboration with British DJ/producer Hervé. The track itself is fun but pretty straightforward, minimalist electro-house, but the video, directed by Ghost+Cow, is some of the best eyeball crack we’ve seen in a long time.
Gonna watch it again right now, aren’t you? We thought you might.
You can buy “Tear the House Up” via iTunes.
We’re getting stoked to see Die Antwoord here in L.A. next week, and now we have reason to be even more stoked: The South African rap-ravers just announced that they’re dropping their third album, Donker Mag, on June 3rd. I mean, unless they play the whole album at their show and it sucks, in which case we’ll be non-stoked that they didn’t play more $O$ tracks. But I bet they won’t disappoint.
Earlier today, Ninja and ¥olandi also dropped their latest video, for the Donker Mag track “Pitbull Terrier.” Like most Die Antwoord videos, this one’s pretty bananas, even if the track itself isn’t exactly their most inspired. Ninja makes a pretty convincing rabid dog. And naturally, only ¥olandi can tame him.
Here’s Donker Mag‘s tracklist. You can pre-order it now via Amazon.
1 Dont Fuk Me
2 Ugly Boy
3 Happy Go Sucky Fucky
5 Raging Zef Boner
7 Cookie Thumper!
8 Girl I Want 2 Eat U
9 Pitbull Terrier
11 Do Not Fuk Wif Da Kid
12 Rat Trap 666 (featuring DJ Muggs)
13 I Dont Dwank
15 Moon Love
16 Donker Mag
And here are Die Antwoord’s North American tour dates:
May 22 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
May 23 – Quincy, Wa – Sasquatch Music Festival
May 24 – Eugene, Or – Cuthbert Amphitheater
May 25 – Portland, Or – Roseland Theater
May 27 – San Francisco, Ca – The Fillmore
May 29 – Los Angeles, Ca – The Fonda Theater
May 31 – Dallas, Tx – House Of Blues
June 1 – Houston, Tx – Free Press Summer Festival
June 3 – Chicago, Il – Riviera Theater
June 4 – Toronto, On – Danforth Music Hall
June 6 – Montreal, Qc – Metropolis
June 7 – Boston, Ma – House Of Blues
June 8 – Philadelphia, Pa – Electric Factory
June 10 – New York, Ny – Irving Plaza
June 11 – Washington, Dc – 9:30 Club
June 12 – Charlotte, Nc – Amos’ Southend
June 13 – Manchester, Tn – Bonnaroo Music Festival
Today’s weirdness comes to us from reader GeeEs and the year 2007. Back then, a dude from Portland named Charlie Salas-Humara (that’s him on the left) made an album of awkward hipster lo-fi disco under the name Panther called Secret Lawns. He later added a drummer, Joe Kelly (that’s him on the right), and signed to indie label Kill Rock Stars, but he only managed one more album and an EP of Panther stuff before putting the project on ice. He now does psychedelic synth-rock under the name Grapefruit.
Panther didn’t leave much of a web footprint, but the project did produce at least one video that’s kind of genius: “You Don’t Want Your Nails Done.” This takes dancing around your room with a hairbrush pretending to be Justin Timberlake to a whole new level. Enjoy.
Here’s the Panther catalog on Amazon.com.
[Update: We love Panther so much we just made them our Weird Band of the Week. Motherfuckahh!!]
God bless Die Antwoord. If those crazy South Africans hadn’t pointed the way with their over-the-top rap-rave anthems and even more over-the-top music videos, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have the Polish “Slavschool” hip-hop of Donatan and we definitely wouldn’t have the Russian rap-rave anthems of Little Big, who are basically Die Antwoord after too much vodka.
On one level, Little Big resembles Die Antwoord so much that they almost seem derivative. Their music is glitchy and uptempo; their videos are grotesque, absurb and occasionally shocking; their lead singer is a skinny tattooed dude who used to be a hip-hop-loving performance artist. (Die Antwoord’s Ninja, aka Waddy Jones, got his start doing more high-brow, satirical with projects like Max Normal; Little Big’s Ilya Prusikin honed his mic skills doing raps dressed up as Josef Stalin.) Even Little Big’s two midget members, Olympia Ivleva and Anna Kast, are reminiscent of Leon Botha, the late Die Antwoord collaborator with progeria syndrome—although that’s probably a totally unfair comparison because for all I know, Kast and Ivleva are integral singers/songwriters/producers in Little Big who just happen to be little people.
And yet, for all the obvious indebtedness to Die Antwoord—and, I suspect, to the videos of Donatan—there’s something about Little Big that is thrillingly original, too. Their hyper-kinetic videos are especially addictive, recasting the stereotypical images of Russian culture—the folk dancers, the vodka, the tracksuit-clad hooligans, the drab, Cold War-era military uniforms, even a balaclava nod to Pussy Riot—as the ghetto-fabulous trappings of a non-stop dance party. And even though their music is almost entirely electronic, there’s a manic, gypsy-punk energy to it. They’re like a raver version of Gogol Bordello, especially on their most popular track, “Everyday I’m Drinking”:
And if you thought that was a wild ride, get a load of “Life in da Trash,” in which a junkyard doubling as a zombie prison camp turns into an apocalyptic dance party and, judging from some heavy-handed title cards, a metaphor for modern life. Prusikin told Vice UK that he’s also a big fan of Cannibal Corpse, which makes total sense after you watch this.
Little Big have an album coming out later this month—their first, I believe. They have a pair of album release shows coming up in St. Petersburg and Moscow and just released a new video earlier today to promote them. It’s called “With Russia From Love” and it gives me oddly amorous feelings towards goats. And makes me want to dance like a Cossack on meth.
P.S. Huge thanks to reader Vass for introducing us to these guys. You made our week, Vass!