As I wrote last year: "I propose that we officially make March 4th 'Alternative Marching Band Day.' March 4th = March Forth. Geddit?" And, thanks in part to comments left by some of you good Maniacs, I've got another batch of alt-brass band goodness for ya this year. So put on your mismatched band uniforms and go marching around the house whilst listening to more spazz-jazz/non-guitar rock/Sousa-free tubas than you can shake a baton at:
March Fourth 2012
- Boba Fett and the Americans, a Denver-based band that doesn't appear to have any albums out, but I did find a few stray things on the web: covers of the Beatles "Birthday," Hugh Masakela "Grazing in the Grass," a 'Star Wars'-themed parody of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" called "Bootie Hunter," and Run-DMC's "It's Tricky" (tho the vox are too low - you'll have to rap your own version.)
- Hungry March Band - these alt-march pioneers started in 1997, have 4 albums out, and I've got one of 'em, "Critical Brass," from 2005. It features plenty of jazzy funky originals, and kooky kovers of tunes like Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," as well as solid originals like the one featured here, "Jupanese Ju Ju." Bonus points for covering Pigbag's classic early '80s instro "Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag."
- The itchy-O Marching Band (pictured above) are also from Denver, but could not be more different from the comedic Boba Fett gang. The 32-person strong multi-media group somehow march with hand-held electronic instruments like synths and theremins, and have a powerfully compelling dark sound. Their debut 6 track ep features tracks like "Inferno No Corridor," a song that blew me away with its gargantuan sound, like if Glen Branca wrote for dozens of percussionists instead of guitars. Bravo!
- MarchFourth Marching Band were the Portlanders that were featured in last year's collection and gave this March 4th concept it's name. Their new album "Magnificent Beast" features no kooky kovers, tho still has a sense of humor as evidenced by the 'SNL'-skit inspired "Cowbell." Elsewhere, the album ranges from James Brown rhythms to Caribbean/Latin influences ("Sin Camiseta") to New Orleans jazz. Unlike most, they sometimes feature vocals, often of the simple, chanted variety.
- Raya Brass Band: These Balkan/Eastern European-inspired New Yorkers have produced an album of absolutely crazed, twisted melodies over rhythms as difficult as the the pronunciation of the song titles. "Dancing On Roses, Dancing On Cinders" starts off pleasantly enough with the toe-tapper "DJevadov Čoček" (that's easy for you to say) before piling on song after song of head-spinning complexity leavened with irresistible buoyancy. Your head may be ringing after listening to this, but you can't possibly be in a bad mood.
- Seed & Feed Marching Abominable: this Atlanta combo have been around since 1974, which def. pushes the timeline back, but they apparently don't have any recordings. All I could find was an interview that features some generous chunks of their music.
- The Residents never used marching bands (that I'm aware), but, as a bonus track, I've included a song ("Washington Post March") from their "Stars & Hank Forever" album that remade the marches of John Philip Sousa inna electronic stylee, complete with parade sound effects. Sorta the inverse of the rest of this collection of trad bands playing non-trad music.