Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ergo Phizmiz's Nose Points In Different Directions

Tho I've written about Ergo Phizmiz numerous times in the past, I can't even begin to fully immerse myself in the brilliant British eccentric's ouvre: the guy seemingly releases an album a month. I don't know if even he's heard all of his albums.  So forgive me if I'm a little late to this party, tho I am familiar with some tracks off this 2010 collection - some of the songs, like the catchy opening ode to the scaly anteater "Pangolin", were from a collection he did with performer/scientist Irene Moon..  Yeah, I remember that one, good stuff. 

Singing about scaly anteaters - that should give you some insight into Ergo's world. Many of these songs meet your basic pop music requirements - short, catchy, sometimes even sing-along-able. But they are experimental, of no known genre, and loaded with British whimsy.  Banjos and kazoos merrily carouse with electronics, and old sampled records do the cha-cha with cartoonish sound effects. On "Daruckatekarte," glass bottles are struck to sound like gamelan over a head-nodding beat. The title of "Rock Me With Your Love" might sound like a bad '80s hair-metal song, but it's actually a sorta-bhangra banger with quoteably silly lyrics. It's followed by a lovely song for overdubbed violins, a kind of crude garage take on '60s baroque pop, a la The Left Banke. "Valse for Lydia" throws Groucho Marx samples over classical music, mixed with noisey beats. "Fuck The Free World" is downright funk-ay, even as it samples the voice of a woman talking about the voices in her head. And on and on...

Get your FREE download album here, courtesy of the wombnet label:

Ergo Phizmiz: "Nose Points In Different Directions"
or HERE, from the Free Music Archive, where you can listen to it streaming as well.

(A gold star for anyone who recognizes the "I wuv you" sample in "Valse for Lydia.") 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Snoopy's Beatles Classiks On Toys

Does what it says on the tin: Beatles songs played only on toy instruments. You may find this charming, or cloying and annoying.  Maybe both. I actually have another "Snoopy's Classiks On Toys" album by the same culprits behind this, an all-instrumental Christmas album, but I haven't posted it here - it's kinda bland. Nothing like having the occasional off-key moppets screeching, as this one does, to wake things up.

Yeah, it's those same Beatles songs you've heard a million times - but it's toys! None of this has anything to do with Charlie Brown & Co., near as I can tell.  Just a marketing angle, I guess. The cats behind this are French-Candian composers who have actually done some fairly serious classical-type stuff.  Tho this is probably just a commercial "rent gig" to pay the bills, it can work nicely, e.g.: "Here Comes The Sun"s arrangement for toy piano, xylophone, and chimes, among other sounds.

Robert Lafond and Michael Laverdiere: "Snoopy's Beatles Classiks On Toys" (1995)

1. Intro
2. Do You Want To Know A Secret? (Vocals)
3. Blackbird
4. Yesterday
5. When I'm Sixty-Four
6. Penny Lane
7. Here Comes The Sun
8. She Loves You (Vocals)
9. Fool On The Hill
10. Here, There, Everywhere
11. Help!
12. A Hard Day's Night
13. Yellow Submarine (Vocals)

Thanks to windy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


British comic Mike Belgrave has an entertaining series of short videos about outsider and strange musics. Even if you know all about this stuff, they're worth watching for the presentation - he's quite enthusiastic, and throws in funny visuals. Stop what you're doing and feast your eyeballs on these, you'll love 'em. Episode one is the basic background, and mentions Wesley Willis, Irwin Chusid, and misguided sitar covers:

Episode Two: The Cramps play at a mental hospital

Episode Three: Xmas special

Episode Four: "the mainstream side of life"

Episode Five: buskers, and performers he's met

Thanks to RadioClash for the tip, and thanks (?) to VideoPate for sending this atrocity our way: an elderly Xian hippie/Santa Claus type in Ventura County, CA, in an amazingly slickly-produced video (where'd he get the money?) repeatedly asking "What's happening in the world today?" and, not getting an answer, keeps asking for five agonizing minutes. Catchy tune, and hey, dig those kazoo solos! John David Orvis is his name and apparently there's a whole album of his out there. 

But it doesn't get much better/worse then this bit of jaw-dropping horror, dumped on the world only last week.  I think the title of this song says it all: "Thank You, Facebook."

"I'm tagging you, you're tagging me, we're making history."

Friday, May 18, 2012

COVER THE EARTH: Ukrainian Punk

As an addendum to the "Cover The Earth" post of bizarre international versions of your favorite oldies, here are various rock remakes recorded over the years by The Ukrainians. Peter Solowka, one of the members of the popular '80s/'90s British combo The Wedding Present, is of Ukrainian descent, and picked up on the music from his father. He hooked up with musicians from the old country to play Ukrainian folk music, but then threw in some covers relevant to his present condition as a rocker living in the UK. And it is some crazy stuff.  No wimpy hippie folk music here, thanks to the occasional addition of some of Solowka's old Wedding Present buddies injecting some rock'n'roll energy into the mandolin-and-fiddle based tunes.  By the early '90s, Solowka had quit the Wedding Present to make the Ukrainians his full-time gig.

Included here: the entirety of the "Pisni Iz The Smiths (Songs Of The Smiths)" ep from 1992, Sex Pistols and Velvet Underground covers from a 1993 live album, a 1996 Kraftwerk cover commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, and two Pistols covers from a 2002 single. (They also have a 3 song single of Prince covers that I haven't found a copy of yet.  Anyone?)

*smacks head* Ah, durn!  I forget to include Googoosh's berserk Iranian assault on Otis Redding/Aretha Franklins' "Respect" on the first "Cover The Earth."  So here 'tis, as a most thoroughly non-Ukrainian bonus.

COVER THE EARTH: The Ukrainians

1. Batyar (The Smiths - 'Bigmouth Strikes Again')
2. Koroleva Ne Polerma (The Smiths - 'The Queen Is Dead')
3. M'yaso Ubivstvo (The Smiths - 'Meat Is Murder')
4. Spivaye Solovey (The Smiths - 'What Difference Does It Make?')
5. Anarkhiya (Sex Pistols - 'Anarchy In The UK')

6. God Save The Queen (Sex Pistols)
7. Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols)
8. Chekannya (Velvet Underground - 'Venus in Furs')
9. Radioactivity [Orthodox mix] (Kraftwerk)

10. Googoosh: Respect

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

COVER THE EARTH: Bizarro Versions of Your Favorite Oldies From Across the World Wide Weird

There are lots of foreign-language covers out there, but what really intruiges me is when non-Anglo/Americans approach the material from their own ethnic/cultural background.  Sometimes it's kinda clueless, like the South African group who sound like they really don't know their rockabilly (tho I'm sure they know rock better then most Americans know mbaqanga), while others are clearly going for a cross-over audience, e.g. the "chutney" version of Arrow's soca classic "Feelin' Hot Hot Hot": East Indians go to the West Indies. I'm pretty sure the Bappi Lahiri track was no more then the prolific Bollywood composer finding himself short on material and thinking no-one would notice if he ripped-off some Western oldies, but Tuva's Yat-Kha, on the other hand, apparently is a big fan of Western pop, and performing it in his "throat-singing" style seemed like the natural way to go - a tribute to his boyhood favorites. And Panta Siklja Nafta might be the first reported sighting of Serbian outsider music.

Plenty here were done simply to cash in on the teen rock market that emerged across the world by the 1960s. Jah Division, and The Ramones bossa, and steel pan covers are just good old-fashioned gimmicks, but fun ones, and The Dragons have even been accused of being somewhat of a hoax - their release, covering the likes of The Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones - was supposedly smuggled out of China after the band overheard Western music on Hong Kong radio, but some have levied the accusation that they were, in fact, Chinese folks living in France at the time, and a smart-aleck record label put them up to the task.  Who knows - the Pistols on traditional Chinese instruments sound amazing, and that's all I care about.

Cover The Earth

1. Bogard Brothers [South Africa] - I'm In Love  (Elvis/Little Richard)
2. Yat-Kha [Mongolia] - When The Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin)
3. Yat-Kha [Mongolia] - Man Machine (Kraftwerk)
4. Panta Siklja Nafta [Serbia] - Nafta u Mojim Mislima (Ray Charles)
5. Wanderlea [Brasil] - Vou Lhe Contar (The Seeds "Pushin' Too Hard")
6. Bogard Brothers  [South Africa] - She Keeps On Knocking  (Elvis/Little Richard)
7. Yat-Kha [Mongolia] - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Iron Butterfly)
8. Panta Siklja Nafta [Serbia] - Lav Mi Tender (Elvis)
9. Duangdao Mondara & Chailai [Thailand] - The Black Super Man (Johnny Wakelin & The Kinshasa Band "Muhammad Ali Black Superman")
10. Yat-Kha [Mongolia] - Play With Fire (Rolling Stones)
11. Manster [USA] - Over, Under, Sideways, Down (Yardbirds)
12. Bappi Lahiri [India] - Everybody Dance With Me (Iron Butterfly/The Troggs)
13. Glambeats Corp. (feat. Chepito) [Euro/Brasil/Carribean] - Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones) 
14. The Dragons [China] - Anarchy In The U.K. (Sex Pistols)
15. Dunny Lida & Paradise King [Japan] - Surf City (Jan & Dean)
16. Jah Division [US/Jamaica] - Dub Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division)
17. Babla & Kanchan [India/Trinidad] - KUCH GADBAD HAI (Arrow/Buster Poindexter "Feelin Hot Hot Hot")
18. Malik Adouane [Algeria] - Shaft (Isaac Hayes)
19. Mariachi El Bronx [US/Mexico] - I Would Die 4 U (Prince)
20. Tracy Thornton [US/Caribbean] - Rockaway Beach  (Ramones)
21. Sroeng Santi  [Thailand] - Kuen Kuen Lueng Lueng (Black Sabbath "Ironman")
22. Unknown Japanese - Queen Medley

Thanks to Dragan Vuković!

Friday, May 11, 2012


"My friend and I decided to try to make a band where all the songs were about specific horror movies. We named ourselves after an Ed Wood movie and decided to record everything in one take, almost always making everything up after the record button was hit. In the spirit of Ed Wood, "Second take? Why?" By the third record we were incorporating our own movie ideas into the lyrics."

The Glendas: 3 Free Albums!

Monday, May 07, 2012


Two free albums that sound good played at the same time:

Dr. SETI (aka Dr. H. Paul Shuch) sings songs about his namesake and day job, the Search For Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.  Book him for your next party!  He considers himself a singing ambassador for the hunt for little green men, and his acoustic folk tunes, some parodies of oldies like Patsy Cline's "Crazy" or John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads," are brimming over with not only his deep faith in the existence of aliens, but with endearing enthusiasm, and an endless parade of hopelessly obscure inside references.

Id Loom's newly released album "Sonic Bungalow" is fascinating aural sculpture, a 19 track exploration of haunted abstract electronica with no beats, lyrics (except for a sampled voice on the last track), or traditional song structures. The "song" for sampled doorbells is particularly brilliant. We first mentioned Id Loom when we included a track from a different album here.

Although both collections stand on their own, I thought that they sounded like a natural pair when played together - songs about outer space accompanied by appropriately spacey sounds.

Dr DETI Sample Songs


Id Loom "Sonic Bungalow"

Friday, May 04, 2012

Punk Mariachi!

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here's a few tracks from L.A. bands playing...punk mariachi? How is such a thing possible?  One style is electric, fast 2/4 or 4/4 beats, hard drumming, modern, angry and cynical, and originally sung in English; the other is seemingly the complete opposite: acoustic, slow, in 3/4 time, no drums, traditional, and sentimental. Well, you may be a rock'n'roller, but if you've grown up in Los Angeles, you're part Mexican, even if you're not. (Like how Lenny Bruce said that everyone in New York is Jewish, even if you're not.)

L.A. rock has pretty much always been influenced by Mexican folk music. Apart from actual Latino acts (Richie Valens, El Chicano, Los Lobos, etc), non-Latino rockers have sported south-of-the-border influences since at least the days of The Champs' "Tequila" and beach-party bands like The Surfaris, whose "Latin Beat" is one of my faves; Dick Dale plays a mean mariachi trumpet when he isn't guitar shredding.  And it's gone from the '60s (Love's "Alone Again Or"), the '70s (War), the '80s (The Minutemen's "Corona") right up to this loco bunch:

Punk Mariachi! - A MusicForManiacs Mix (6 songs)

- Carne Asada "Cielito Lindo": White punks on jokes; this is their (piss-)take on the most famous mariachi standard, "Ay Ay Ay;" from their album "Full Contact Mariachi." Muy silly!

- Mariachi El Bronx: "Litigation," & "Clown Powder;" two from actual hardcore band The Bronx (Angelenos despite their name) who made a sincere transformation into mariachi, replacing electric guitars with horns; even tho they've retained drums and English lyrics, it's still hard to believe that these moving songs are by the same guys I saw convincingly play Black Flag in the Darby Crash/Germs bio-pic "What We Do Is Secret."

- Los Super Elegantes "Por Que te Vas": this co-ed crew was the first band I heard use the term "punk mariachi," but in a tongue-in-cheek way, I'd say - it's more like bilingual indie pop.  Mi mucho gusto this tune.

- Metalachi "Breaking The Law": I wrote about these heavy metal pranksters back in 2010.

- Mariachi Rock-o "Ben": This isn't rock, this isn't even really mariachi; it is pure kitsch; from their ridiculous album "Sonidos de Jalisco," featuring remakes of classics by Bowie, John Lennon, the Eagles, Marvin Gaye, and this cover of Michael Jackson's touching ode to a killer rat.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Boogie Woogie Bugle Buoy

"Chaos Atlantis is a real-time sonification engine, a program that converts ocean-marine data into sound. It is currently using data generated by NOAA buoy 46059 located off the coast of Northern California. This buoy measures several variables including water temperature, air temperature, wave height, wind speed, and much more. These numbers are used to control the parameters of Chaos Atlantis. For example...wave periods determine which synthesizers are used to make sound. The speed at which new sounds are created (tempo) is controlled by the wind speed. The frequency or pitch of a tone is controlled by the water and/or air temperature. The many permutations of these variables create an ever changing soundscape that is both fascinating and unpredictable. An excerpt [for listening or downloading - ed.] is posted at my soundcloud page here:"

Chaos Atlantis excerpt

So writes Missoula, Montanta's Ed Wrzesien about this intriguing project that doesn't sound particularly oceanic, but does sound plenty lovely, in a sci-fi ambient electronica kinda way. John Cage used to talk about removing the composer's ego from the music, to let music be itself, and on this, the 100th anniversary year of his birth, I like to think that he would have really enjoyed this, and the Sun Boxes we wrote about last November, as this is music not hemmed in by human time constraints or rigid formats, but music that just drifts unpredictably along.  As long as there's an ocean with waves, you could potentially listen to this forever (you can listen live on the above-linked Chaos Atlantis site).  The "composer" sets the parameters, and lets nature do the rest.  And, let's face it, nature is usually a much greater artist than us puny mortals. Other tracks on Wrzesien's Soundcloud page include a piece described as "...a sonification of data representing ice flow over the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica" that does indeed sound rather chilly, and a toe-tapper made entirely of sampled sounds of the Large Hedron Collider. Science can be fun!