Part 2 by Angela Sawyer
"Weirdo was a record shop that I started in my bedroom in 2006. It moved into a storefront for a while in Cambridge Mass., and closed after I got tired of never ever sleeping. While it was around, I wrote reviews of every new title that I sold, and by the end there were more than eighteen thousand reviews. There's only so many times you can call a guitar tone 'crunchy’ or say something disparaging about a singer's hair. So I repeated things, a lot. When compiling this best of, I looked for records that stuck with me, and also for reviews where I thought the writing stood out."
Here we present Weirdo selections from letter D to F.
Dead Moon Defiance LP
3rd album of strapping garage from the wilds of Oregon. Toody & Loomis hold down a hard-nosed rhythm section, but can we talk about Fred Cole's voice for a second? That strangled dog yelp that suddenly breaks out into a red-leather-metal swagger worthy of Motley Crue and a camaro-convoy of coke dealers? The sobbing break that can turn a shrug-worthy line like “Cuttin’ like a knife through the night" and make it so poignant you have to whisper it to yourself every time you hear the record? Also, just on the off chance that you doubted their unshakable cool, Loomis looks like he has a pile of moss on his head on the cover.
Delfonics La La Means I Love You/Sound of Sexy Soul CD
It wasn't a recipe that should've worked. A somewhat inexperienced producer, a large orchestra, little original material, and a vocalist that sounded like Little Anthony & the Imperials, but on Quaaludes. You can't deny the goosebumps including power of the Delfonics however, and they ushered in the era of sweet soul with genuine majesty. Even horrid songs like 'Scarborough Fair' can suddenly turn you to putty once William Hart gets his odd falsetto on 'em.
Derdiyoklar Ikilisi Disko Folk LP
Awesome cheesy Turkish electric saz/manic disco synth duo that compared to Baris Manco or Erkin Koray, sounds something like a 'toilet bong hit' (as one of my customers so colorfully put it). The guys were expats living in Germany, & mostly played weddings. They have a YouTube video that's been making the hip rounds for a couple of years now which shows the drummer hanging back for long chunks of time while the guitarist plays (a little clumsily) behind his head, while doing the splits, on the floor, with his shoes, etc. He seems to have a breakdown during a drum solo, and then gets back up & does it some more, all in front of a bunch of elementary school age children who've been let loose in their Sunday best while their parents presumably get soused at a table somewhere off in the distance. Skull-cracking stuff.
Die Todliche Doris Gehorlose Musik DVD
Wolfgang Muller's arty schizoid funtime band Die Todliche Doris was Berlin's answer to Throbbing Gristle. A little less industrial sounding, yet they somehow managed to be even weirder. Doris went far, far, far out of their way to screw with people's perceptions of what music/performance should be: getting non-musicians to perform in their stead, issuing instructions that albums should be played simultaneously, lip-synching on purpose, releasing tiny editions of nearly unusable objects, and generally getting the sound of unhinged people running amok and yelling a lot. This supposed reissue of their 1st LP is typically ludicrous. Instead of a straight copy of the original recording, you get a DVD of two black-tighted soccermom ladies performing a sign-language-inspired dance that's based on the LP's sounds (which are indeed heard in the background). The DVD is stiffly fascinating- pretty much what I imagine it would be like to live inside the head of an NPR program director. There's also an interview with Muller (in German with English subtitles) where he explains how this allows the reissue to be a record for deaf people, & a thick hardbound book with pics.
Door and the Window Detailed Twang CD
Late ‘70’s UK DIY band filled with completely funny & charming ineptitude. They literally played their first shows and recorded their first single without rehearsal, and came up with halting sung-spoken lyrics & an instrumental sound that could've been made by pet cats. As the band gradually began to incorporate rudimentary rhythm and eventually even melody, they staunchly failed to drift into the angular politico world that some of their contemporaries did, making them one of my favorite UK bands of the entire 1980’s. Dan Treacy guests on their immortal send up of the very disposable Holly & the Italians, “Part Time Punks."
Dug Dugs Dug Dugs LP
With their blister-riddled fuzz, sharp backbeats & chimerical sense of songwriting, the 1st Dug Dugs is unbeatable (or Dug Dug's, as these boys apparently had just as hard a time with contractions as I have with a tilde). The son of a traveling salesman, guitarist & singer Armando Nava got his high school band on the road early, with his dad driving their tour van and coordinating gigs with his meetings. After a successful residency at a Tijuana strip club, the band went to Mexico City to make it big, and they were soon asked to appear in a couple of movies and record the theme for a children's TV show (hence the Beatlesy confection “World of Love" on what is otherwise a hard rock album). The band was even bankrolled to visit New York for a while, but when they couldn't get shows in Manhattan, they ended up putting this first album out on RCA Mexico.
Dwarr Animals LP
South Carolina Sabbath fan takes to his pedals and keyboard banks and a lonely, distinctly American depression drips, slowly and inexorably, straight from trailer park hell onto your much-abused brain pan. In rural America during the mid-‘80’s, the only two types of music in existence were Van-Halen-influenced-pop-metal and well-coiffed-Austin-City-Limits-country. Though he operates within the limits of Guitar Center's vision of the universe, Duane Warr isn't afraid to whisper (behind some echo) the contents of his battered, tender heart, and so he geniunely achieves reinvention as a hard-swinging post-apocalyptic badass.
Francois Dufrene Ouvre Desintegrale 3CD
Multiple overdubs of little spit bubbles, impressions of wind, mouth-fwapping, blowing on a mic, cassette feedback, bits of classical records, & general squeak-tones. Easy to see why Pierre Henry would tap Dufrene for “Fragments Pour Artaud." He joined Isidore Isou's avant-poetry group the Lettrists at age 16, and by the mid-1950s had moved on to improvising directly onto tape without using a poem or a score. Although much better at overfilling a pair of striped pants than at making collages, he was an indubitably striking performer for most of his life. Previously an LP box at an ungodly price, and now 22.6 percent cheaper, making it almost affordable to normal humans.
Kevin Drumm Land of Lurches CD
Snake pit of distorted crunches and abrasive howls. Inclusion of a few digital whirrs and static bursts, and even clear tones: for taking in a breath before dunking your head again. Drum's reluctant, recalcitrant personality comes through, and I'm not sure he's made a better one than this.
Tod Dockstader Boosey & Hawkes Electronic Vol 1 LP
Monstrous modular synth mood management by the Mister Magoo master. Dockstader began as a film editor & his first apprentice job was cutting & doing the sound for the Magoo cartoons. He started making sound effects & ended up playing around with recording musique concrete onto film after hours at his job. Turned away by universities with well-stocked electronic music studios, he got work where it was, making educational films, and library records like this one from the late ‘70’s. Always pragmatic, Dockstader switched to synthesizers as soon as they became available. As someone who spent his childhood ill & listening to 40s skits on radios, he easily recalls the short wild mood swings from soap opera romance to the great suspense of early Bernard Herrmann or The Shadow. Delia Derbyshire be damned when Dockstader's in the house.
Bernard Estardy La Formule du Baron LP
French mad genius studio engineer who was also the organ player in Nino Ferrer's backing band. Estardy produced stars like Johnny Hallyday, Sheila, Joe Dassin & Dalida, and even made library records on the side. Here he hits an otherwise unknown sweet spot between Joe Meek, funk, Serge Gainsbourg, the aforementioned Nino, and a hot Jimmy McGriff record. Bright lounge, absolutely evil breakbeats, scatting, slow jerk numbers with big brass, stuff that's sped up for no reason, and even some fake dog & cat noises.
Damin Eih ALK & Brother Clark Never Mind LP
Open a door into utter wrongness with some 12 string acoustic & not-quite-Donovan/Byrds vocals put through phased echo effects. Though not frequent, fuzz is truly unexpected when it arrives & sails in like a boxcutter through a pile of wrapping paper. Record nerds have dug up plenty of weirdness since the last time this was reissued, so you could probably now make an interesting theory or two out of the fact that, say, the unknown Mr. Eih & Michael Yonkers are both from Minneapolis. Eih remains shocking no matter how many oddities you may've heard, however. Mixed by some sort of embalmed mollusk instead of a person with proper hearing. Lyrics take a while to shake out, but they are wrecked like a bathtub batch of PCP.
Donnie & Joe Emerson Dreamin Wild LP
Outsider AM radio funk made by a couple of teen farmhands in rural Washington state. Their dad built them a $100,000 log cabin studio and a 300-seat concert venue on the back 40 of his property, selling off most of the family business to pay for it. The boys play all the instruments (synthsplosions, electric guitar hammerons, etc) themselves & their slow burn electric soul works itself up to some wondrous heights of pantysoaker sincerity. Singer Donnie sometimes sounds like Christopher Cross, sometimes like he swallowed a pool ball, but always like he's got big dreams.
Electric Prunes Stockholm 67 LP
With their LA hustler personalities, & their back pockets full of songwriting teams & their association with Leon Russell's studio, music fans have sometimes accused the Prunes of being too slick & manufactured. Having David Axelrod hijack their 3rd album don't help their reputation either. But this live show in Sweden shows easily, the Prunes were a kickass band of flat-out jaw dropping performers. They push each perfect pop construction to its feedback breaking point, and their use of fuzz is mighty and inspired. If you've ever thought that serious tuff rock & pop craft can't meet, here's the nicest way to find out you're wrong.
Embrujo Embrujo LP
Aka Kissing Spell. Chilean psych. Drummer/guitarist Carlos Fernandez' dad worked at Santiago's 'Institute of Applied Psychology,' which spent the bulk of the ‘60’s testing people for the effects of LSD. The band practiced in their offices, and of course participated in studies now & again. Changed their name between their only 2 albums, as well as the language of their lyrics. It's what kept them from getting bottles hurled at them onstage during the fast-growing wave of anti-American sentiment that resulted in the Pinochet military dictatorship. Packed with mean-spirited organ licks, euphoric South American vocal harmonies, sweet peels of melancholy electric guitar.
Esplendor Geometrico Prehistoric Sounds Necrosis CD + 3x7 inch
Spanish industrial band named after a futurist tract. Finally, after a zillion reissues, someone put out the stuff you'd want most. Unadorned splats of evil & cold whumping, rhythmic metallic clankings, white noise grinding, toothache-causing beeps. Demos sent to the Ata Tak label in Germany. The cut chosen for the compilation Fix Planet is close to a song, has vocals & could even be interpreted as some sort of dispirited new wave. Luckily, the rest of the band's early output quickly deteriorates into nothing but mean feedback splatter.
Essential Logic Fanfare in the Garden 2CD
16 year-old sax player, Lora Logic (aka Susan Whitby), answered an ad in the local paper for a punk musician and ended up joining X-Ray Spex. She got kicked out after a year, apparently because singer Poly Styrene thought she was getting too much attention. Logic tried art school for a couple of months, and then formed her own band and stepped up to the mike. Poly's then-infamous hoots on “Oh Bondage Up Yours" were instantly made as threatening as margarine. Lora's squealing was an inspired cross between Sid Vicious-style intonation and her own sax honking. And even though she ended up joining the Krishnas, you can still curdle a jug of milk if you leave it near your speakers while playing her single “Aerosol Burns." Here's everything by the band then & now.
ED NOTE: See more about Logic in this interview
Evariste Do You Know the Beast LP
Hard swingin ye-ye with loony screaming and growling, sound effects (specifically sheep & sine waves) and lyrics about integral calculus. Evariste was a legit student of particle physics (under his real name Joel) before deciding it would be more fun to have an extremely lopsided haircut & flail around like Freddie from Freddie & the Dreamers while singing an impression of a rooster. Superbly cutting, brilliant arrangements by Michel Colombier (of Pierre Henry fame, as well as Serge Gainsbourg). Evariste's complete discography is here, and though it's just a few singles, a comparison to a giant like Kim Fowley is not out of order.
Luiz Eca Y La Familia Sagrada La Nueva Onda Del Brasil LP
Absolutely fantasmic bossa hippie explosion. A waterfall of Sergio Mendez/Hellers vocals, big honkin' mariachi brass, tightly driven bossa acoustic guitars, and funkadelic murk. It's all mixed together & squirts in your face just like a grapefruit. Recorded in Mexico in '70 but went unreleased until '78, when it probably sounded like a drugged-up airline commercial more than anything else. They were the house band for a hotel chain, and the record was issued as a souvenir for the hotel gift shop.
Rudolf Eb.er Brainnectar 2CD
Schimpfluch founder & head honcho of the subgenre I like to call 'Is that an animal, and dear god what is someone doing to it?' Lots of unidentifiable crackle/drips that could be either water or fire, or perhaps it's someone pouring a horde of bees into a cistern. There are also some surprisingly professional rattles of voodoo shell-shakers, tropical bird sounds, & smooth electronics that feel like spaceship power beams. Eb.er also does not forget to include a moment of jackhammer, because he knows where his bread is buttered. Guest vocalist is our planet's greatest screamer, Junko Hiroshige of Hijokaidan. As expected, you'll swear she's ripping out her own uterus, and even does whateverthefuck it is she does through a loop pedal.
Fabio Frizzi City of the Living Dead LP
Who the hell taught Frizzi to mix little tiny drums way up front so they'd make everything behind them seem huge? The guy's high hats are so tense he could've been in This Heat as a side job. Mellotron choir, slippery Prophet & Jupiter synths, and those unfeeling, metronomic ticks. Fulci's movie, the first in his supernatural gore triology about what would happen if the gates of hell opened, has drilled heads, girls crying blood, foaming at the mouth, getting buried alive, & plenty more. Frizzi's score eschews strings, and mostly melody (he sometimes gives in & lets you have a little hot funk), to deliver maximum tension & a distinctly modern ooze.
Factrix Scheintot LP
San Fran art punk gets a dose of British fashion. Americans who liked underground stuff during the 80s were often deeply & rightly suspicious of (1) aftermarket drum machines & (2) long guitar wanks that went nowhere. Factrix had both, so the only people who were going to pay attention to them were girls or gay guys, both of whom wore shitloads of eyeliner. Unfortunately for the time, goths such as they were wouldn't have been very interested in these guys either, as Factrix songs were far crummier, looser & less melodramatic than their instrumentation would initially lead one to expect. Long story short, the band's time is likely nowish. A few dated whooshes here & there, especially at the beginning, but some genuine polluted depression shows itself as the record goes along. At their best, the band can manage an ultra-negative version of My Bloody Valentine & then switch immediately to an angry starkness that's as cold as any Throbbing Gristle performance. Monte Cazzaza took the cover photo & later joined the band. Julian Cope cluelessly disses no wave in the liner notes.
Fall Live 77 CD
One of my favorite live records, ever. Clearly because it's also one of the worst recordings of all time. Sounds like the guy who took a cassette recorder to this show not only kept it in his pocket, he spent the whole show lollying around outside the bar drinking a beer, and then spilled most of it on the tape. This is therefore, at least in my mind, an original noise record whose source material happens to be a great, violent, earlier-than-all-others Fall show where Mark E. Smith fired his very first bass player.
Fille Qui Mousse Trixie Stapleton 291 CD
Always gets compared to Faust because of the hard edits- they're so arrythmic & interruptive- always arriving just about the time you'd forgotten there might be another one coming. And the jumps are stylistically odd too: from slowed down piano to funky drum patters just sitting there unaccompanied, from shimmering cymbals to stoned incanting with barking dogs. Even more: schizoid eastern violin solos, stoner jams dripping with flute & fuzz bass, loops of colliding inanimate plonks. One of the best records on the beloved Futura label and Nurse With Wound list. Henri-Jean Enu ran an underground magazine called Parapluie & supposedly got his friends to make this record all in one day before deciding to become a painter instead of the French Conny Plank.
Fongus Guadalajara Rock CD
I listen to this every summer, and I never wanna stop. Primitive hard rock that sounds like pure biker burnout from a Mexican band that shortly went metal. Led by bass player Jorge Lopez Diaz, who mostly sings in English. Could have come out a good ten years earlier from some sub-Motorhead mudsnorters in rural England, and stands tall with other left-for-dead protometal like “Wally On the Road" or Coloured Balls or Dwarr (see above) for that matter. Dumb as dick & threatens to devolve into blues noodles constantly, but never does, and by 'La Reyna Del Rock & Roll' has hit a just-us-stoners sound that's sorta hickish & only available when you're sure no one's ever going to hear your album but you.
The Four King Cousins Introducing the Four King Cousins CD
Whiter than white on white vocal pop that'll have you gushing over your goosebumps. Fluffy Bacharach covers, terrifically bad Beatles tunes, and produced by David Axelrod. The girls are the daughters of the equally soulless & wonderful King Sisters, and they got their big break on the John Davidson TV show. If you like the kind of records that make most people go 'eeewwwww,' then this one's definitely for you.
James Ferraro Last American Hero LP
Every time I watched an episode of Knight Rider when I was 8, I had trouble following the bare bones plot because I kept fantasizing about what Kitt would sound like if you crashed him into a wall. Doesn't seem unlikely that the same thought crossed the mind of Ferraro. Except that he's ingested so many tubfuls of acid & Pabst, he thinks it has something to do with people who get locked inside a Costco, form survivor-cult hordes, and then decide to worship the building as an earth mother. Originally a cassette.
Kim Fowley Outrageous LP
The sleaziest hustling impresario in the entire record industry, and also basically my favorite motherfucker ever. He might happily screw your sister and steal your money, but his black, black heart never lies. Besides making this brilliantly cruel freak rock monster, Fowley also had a hand in bringing about a shitload of the coolest 60s LA sides: "Alley Oop," "Popsicles & Icicles," "Papa Oom Mow Mow," "Worse Record Ever Made," "Short Fat Alaskan." And that's on top of discovering/inventing the Runaways, St. John Green, and a whole bunch of other famous people who are far more boring. In recent years, Fowley has been a florid addition to many a VH1 program, and is currently very nearly dead (ED NOTE: now officially dead) & therefore holding lots of fabulous parties in his own honor. In the 22nd century, when Chinese classical musicians running wild with machine guns start looting the streets and killing the straights, they're gonna knock on your door wanting to know if you & your wife are gonna contribute to the cause. You tell 'em: ‘Baby, I love me some Kim Fowley.’
Michael Farneti Good Morning Kisses LP
YOU BETTER TURN YOUR ESP SWITCH ON! Private press legend & South Florida's best Jim Morrison impersonator Farneti clearly wants to write cloying & sensitive radio ballads a la Christopher Cross or Bruce Hornsby. Yet armed only with the power of his lobotomizing lyricism (and aided by boundless mid-song key changes & half-pro studio musicians), he manages instead to hit upon the genuine sweetness & forlorn heartache of Rodd Keith at his best. I would wager that Farneti took a couple songwriting classes for extra credit while attending a Barbizon modeling school, but you can make up your own backstory while you discuss with friends. Is there a jailbait/molester subtext suffused throughout the album, or did Farneti just listen to a little too much Lovin' Spoonful? Either way, this is one reish I've been breathlessly awaiting.
Nino Ferrer Enregistrement Public LP
Consummate Euro sleaze & cheese maestro who wore unbelievably skinny suits & split his time & singles between Italy & France. Ferrer grew up fairly wealthy, studied architecture in Paris, and was about ten years older than most of the pop stars of the mid-‘60’s. He first broke through to the charts after one of his songs was covered by the Italian vixen Mina. With a triple whammy of blase/sarcastic lyrics, a playboy persona which he continually professed not to like, & a sincere (if exquisitely unsoulful) impersonation of James Brown, Nino easily stole the heart of every little bambolina on the continent. Mine too.
See Angela's other entries of Weirdo assortments, covering letters A to C and letters G to I and letters J to L and and letters M to O and letters P to R and the letter S and letters T to V and letter W to Z and compilations part 1 and compilations part 2
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