Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

satanic-puppeteer-2
Photo by Candice Eley

If you’re trying to start your own weird band, it’s a good move to include a robot member or two. As we’ve repeatedly established on this here blog, robots are weird. Especially ones that have glass heads with brains floating in them.

In the case of Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, they have only one robot, but he’s a good one. SPO-20 has the aforementioned glass head and suspended brain, and he sings the band’s jaunty electro-pop ditties in a voice that’s two parts Stephen Hawking and one part retired Cylon warrior crooning pop standards in the rec room at the Cylon old folks’ home. The Dave Stewart to SPO-20’s Annie Lennox, Professor B. Miller, accompanies the robot on keyboards with more sweaty enthusiasm than Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra’s light-hearted tunes require, but he’s probably overcompensating for SPO-20’s stiffness air of enigmatic aloofness.

SPO are from San Diego, which is a weirder music town than you might expect; it’s also home to Cattle Decapitation, masked powerviolence perpetrators The Locust, and at least one other, much scarier robot band. They’ve been doing their thing since 1996 and their biggest claim to fame is they released the bestselling 4-disc debut album of all time — featuring “probably over 50 songs!” according to their website. You’re probably wondering, “Yeah, but how many 4-disc debut albums can there possibly be?” And I’m here to tell you that I have no idea, but I’m sure it’s a lot or they wouldn’t be bragging about it.

Here’s one of those 50-odd tracks, “Haunted Rental Car,” which I figured is an appropriate choice since it’s almost Halloween and all:

After a follow-up 2014 album called Experiments With Auto-Croon, SPO return next month with the first in what Prof B tell us will be a series of 20 (twenty!) EPs, each centered around a different theme. The first one is all about supermarkets, which I guess is appropriate because robots are already starting to run our supermarkets, so why not have one sing songs about it? Here’s a just-released video for that Orwellian shopping nightmare known as the “Price Check”:

After Stop by the Supermarket, SPO’s next three EPs will be about Christmas (timely!), the paranormal (less timely, but awesome!) and being lost at sea (never goes out of style). What the next 16 EPs after that will be about is anyone’s guess, but I’m sure they’ll all be trenchant parables for our dystopian times.

Side note: Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra was actually one of the three bands that played at our first (and to date, only) Weird Band Night back in 2014. How we went four years after that event without ever adding them to the Weird List I’m not sure, but it was probably down to some stupid human error and further proof that robots are better at everything. I’m sure one directed this video for another SPO tune, “Frankenstein’s Laundromat,” because it’s great. (As is their live show — if you happen to live in San Diego, they’re having a record release gig on Nov. 24th, which you should definitely check out.)

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Okilly Dokilly

Okilly-Dokilly-1
Both Okilly Dokilly photos by Casey Peters

Our regular readers know there’s nothing we love here at TWBITW more than an incredibly specific high-concept band (see: Mac Sabbath, The Metal Shakespeare Company, etc.). So it’s about damned time we gave a little love to Okilly Dokilly, Arizona’s leading Ned Flanders-themed metal — or “nedal,” as they prefer to call it — five-piece.

Formed in 2015, Okilly Dokilly’s premise is simple: Take dialogue from Ned Flanders, the God-fearing, improbably buff next door neighborino from The Simpsons, and turn it into lyrics for epic heavy metal anthems, performed by five dudes in matching Flanderian green sweaters, round glasses and bushy mustaches. Since Flanders’ Christian kindness and relentless good cheer has always seemed like a front for a seething cauldron of repressed rage, it works surprisingly well. Here, take a gander.

To quote Ned: “What a rush! That got my blood pumping in a way I thought only quiet reflection could.”

I’m not really sure what else to tell you about Okilly Dokilly, except to note that their members are called Head Ned, Red Ned, Stead Ned, Thread Ned and Bled Ned, and they have an album out called Howdilly Doodilly, which is available now via Bandcamp or at your favorite neighborhood Leftorium. Oh, and they have one music video, for the song “White Wine Spritzer” — based on an obscure Ned quote from season 10. (To Okilly Dokilly’s credit, most of their Ned quotes are not the most obvious choices — though I do wish they’d turn my favorite outrageous Nedism from The Simpsons Movie into a Satanic dirge: “And I wish you didn’t have the devil’s curly hair!”)

P.S. Thanks to readers Dexter Storer and J (yeah, just J), among others, for turning us on to Okilly Dokilly’s heavy “nedal” thunder.

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Weird of the Day: Pocket Lips, “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance)”

Pocket Lips

We’ve been doing this blog for a long time, so we like to think we’ve gotten pretty good at tracking down information about obscure artists over the years. But every once in awhile, one of you eagle-eyed readers points us to something so far off the pop culture grid, no combination of Google search terms yields many results. That certainly seems to be the case with the South African novelty act Pocket Lips.

A reader named Shane sent us a link to Pocket Lips’ one and only hit—and yes, by accounts it was a hit in South Africa back in 1987, when it climbed all the way up to No. 6 on the local pop charts. Also by all accounts, the band was a studio project made up of producers/musicians Ian Osrin (actually a highly respected South African recording engineer and record producer with an extensive list of legit credits), Zack Haynes and Sam Wingate, plus a vocalist named Keith Berel who had previously fronted a popular Johannesburg band called Flash Harry. How all these apparently talented individuals came to record a song as ridiculous as “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance)” is a bit of a mystery—although I suppose the bigger mystery is how a song as ridiculous as “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance)” became a top 10 hit. Was pop radio under apartheid a whites-only affair? Maybe that might explain it.

At any rate, this ridiculous song  from this ridiculous band (not be confused with a more recent U.K. act called Pocket Lips, who are also ridiculous, but for different reasons) has an equally ridiculous video, which we will now share with you because ridiculous is kind of our thing. Enjoy.

Meshugga Beach Party

Meshugga Beach Party

(Note: Banner photo lifted from the website of Judd’s Hill Winery, a Jewish-owned winery in Napa, which we hear is very nice this time of year.)

Of the various orders and species of weird bands, one of our favorites is the Band Dedicated Beyond All Reason to an Incredibly Specific Joke. These can’t be one-and-done bands; they’ve got to release album after fucking album, for years and years and years, all based around the exact same premise. Within this little subcategory, you’ve got your Zambonis (all songs about hockey), your Beatallica (all Beatles/Metallica mashups) and your Previously on Lost (all songs based on the TV show Lost). Today, we are happy to add to the Weird List another Band Dedicated Beyond All Reason to an Incredibly Specific Joke: Meshugga Beach Party, a Jewish surf-rock band from San Francisco. “Meshugga,” for those of y’all who aren’t part of the tribe, means “crazy” in Yiddish, so these farkakte bastards live up to their billing. They’ve been mixing “Hava Nagila” with “Miserlou” since 2003. 2003! The only thing I’ve been doing consistently since 2003 is disappointing my parents.

But, I hear you say, gimmicks schmimmicks: How’s the music? Well, I gotta tell you, it’s ain’t half bad. Head meshuggener Mel Waldolf has been playing surf-rock for 20 years and even composed music for Spongebob Squarepants and My Favorite Martian, so he knows his way around a twangy solo. And the rest of the band can rip the curl right with him.  (Is that how surfers talk? I’m neither Jewish nor a surfer, so I’m flying by the seat of my tuchas here.)

As previously mentioned, Meshugga Beach Party have been around for over a decade, so they’ve released a ton of music, including a Hanukkah album because hey, everybody loves that “Dreidel, Dreidel” song, right? Their other titles include Let’s Go Shlepping! and Twenty Songs of the Chosen Surfers. Most are available via their website, at prices that won’t make you plotz.

By the way, lest there by any confusion: Meshugga Beach Party is in no way affiliated with these guys. That’s a different and much more goyim kind of weird band. Although I’m sure they call their mothers every week, too.

We’ll leave you with MBP’s most famous track, which is indeed a mashup of that song people play even at non-Jewish weddings as an excuse to carry the bride and groom around on chairs, and the Dick Dale track made famous by the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

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Weird of the Day: Friendly Rich, “Sausage Samba”

Friendly Rich

I was never much of a Star Trek fan. It’s OK; I don’t expect you to believe me. Anyone nerdy enough to start this blog must’ve gone trick-or-treating as Spock at least once, right? But it’s true. I was always more into Battlestar Galactica.

Because I’m not a Star Trek fan, I can’t really tell you which episodes of The Next Generation they cobbled together and digitally altered to make the video below for Friendly Rich’s “Sausage Samba.” But I can tell you this: The results are brilliant. The song’s pretty great, too.

In case you’re not familiar with Friendly Rich: He’s a Canadian comedic singer-songwriter whose biggest claim to fame is composing the music for The Tom Green Show. His band, The Lollipop People, has done shows with fellow weirdos like Amanda Palmer and The Tiger Lillies. “Sausage Samba” is from his latest album, Bountiful, which is due out next month. You can pre-order it from Amazon or via his website.

A big fat sausage cigar goes to reader Eel Namturg for sharing this with us. Thanks, Eel!

Weird of the Day: Meshugga Beach Party, “Hava Nagila/Miserlou”

Meshugga Beach Party

Summer’s almost here, and nothing says summer more than beach parties and bar mitzvahs. Or beach mitzvahs. I think we have those in California now. I almost went to one once but I hate getting sand on my prayer shawl.

Anyway, reader Yolojoe just turned us on to the perfect band to book for your next beach mitzvah: Meshugga Beach Party, a Northern California crew who play Dick Dale-style surf rock while dressed in full orthodox finery. Much shredding—and, we can only assume, much schvitzing—ensues.

They’re a kick in the tuchas, right? They’ve put out three albums’ worth of this stuff, believe it or not. You can hear more on their website.

Weird of the Day: Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, “Frankenstein’s Laundromat”

Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

A guy who calls himself Professor B. Miller wrote in to tell us about his band, the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra. Confusingly, the band does not feature puppets, an orchestra or Satan. But it does feature a robot lead singer, so we were sold.

“Absurd satire?” asks their online press kit. “Experimental performance art? A glimpse in to our robotic future? A novelty act gone too far? Comedy gold? Yes.”

They’re from San Diego and their latest album is called Experiments with Auto-Croon. It’s 13 tracks and features a toy piano cover of “Werewolves of London,” but we’re more into this video for “Frankenstein’s Laundromat,” which features what I can only assume are members of Here Come the Mummies. After a few sweaty funk-rock shows, those mummy bandages are in serious need of a rinse.

You can buy yourself a copy of Experiments With Auto-Croon from Amazon.com or direct from SPO’s official website.