Archive for the ‘The Dead Milkmen’ Category

[DID NOT ATTEND: May 14, 2022] The Dead Milkmen / MC Lars / Gibbous Moon

I wrote this opening for a concert in May.

I’ve been a fan of The Dead Milkmen’s bratty brand of punk for years–probably since 1988.  I’ve never seen them live.

They sort of, but not really, broke up and then reunited and so on.  I didn’t really think I’ve ever get to see them, but they announced this short run of local shows and I thought, YES!  I will finally get to see them.

They seem to be popping up here and there doing shows in the area.  This one at Ardmore Music Hall actually sold out before I could get a ticket (I wasn’t sure if I was free that night).  So good for them.

Having watched a few videos, I’m not sure I want to see them in Philly–I feel like the local crowd is a little too drunk and rambunctious for my liking.  Although the band probably eats that up.

I’d never heard of Those Troublemakers.  They are an old-school Philly punk band that plays short fast songs about silly subjects.

Here’s a review of this very show from That Music Mag with a description of the opening band

 To start, Those Troublemakers tore open the sky and thrashed so hard. The band, consisting of Ashley “Butters” Heitzman (Bass and vocals.), Evan Abramson (Guitar and vocals.) and William F. Orender (Drums) set a fast and fun pace for the rest of the night as they opened the show. With songs from their Beach BodRunnin High, and Your Problem LPs, if you weren’t a fan before you got to Ardmore, you were when you left.

And here’s what they said about the Milkmen

Whether you were a diehard lifelong fan or simply a casual listener, there was something for everyone to latch onto and make a memory from in their setlist. With Dean’s Dream to start the show, the band rolled along through a menagerie of their hits, one by one. From Bitchin’ Camaro and Welcome to Undertown to Punk Rock Girl, the audience slowly and organically began to be enchanted back to a place of reckless abandon. More and more, the audience would be wound up a bit more, move a bit more intently, and sing a bit louder until, like a powder keg erupting, the dank, humid walls of the Ardmore Music Hall would erupt with the energy of a full-blown mosh pit formed on the floor. People were jumping, screaming lyrics & bodies cackling with glee while being tossed about the room. Now, here in that moment, we were undeniably at a punk rock show. A real granular Philly punk rock show.

The band would go on to cover The Cramps’ “Human Fly,” and Rodney would even grace us with his editorial commentary on Nazi lives. (And how they do not, in fact, matter.) The Milkmen would finish with an encore of a few more notable hits like“Smokin’ Banana Peels,” “Big Time Operator,” and the reprise from the earlier-played “Life is Shit.”

Yea, I should probably go next time.

Here’s a couple of videos of The Dead Milkmen’s recent(ish) shows

PhilaMOCA September 1m 2019

Underground Arts, April 13, 2019


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[DID NOT ATTEND: May 14, 2022] The Dead Milkmen / MC Lars / Gibbous Moon

I’ve been a fan of The Dead Milkmen’s bratty brand of punk for years–probably since 1988.  I’ve never seen them live.

They sort of, but not really, broke up and then reunited and so on.  I didn’t really think I’ve ever get to see them, but they announced this short run of local shows and I thought, YES!  I will finally get to see them.

Well, my plans changed and it turned out I had other things to do that night (and sure, they were fun, but still, bummer).

I think the Dead Milkmen are playing around from time to time, so I met get to see them yet.

MC Lars is a nerd rapper who I would love to see live.  I’ve had a few opportunities and they all seem to fail.  I especially wanted to see the The Four-Eyed Horsemen tour but i couldn’t make it.

MC Lars plays with a laptop and occasionally a punk rock band to back him up, which he refers to as “post-punk laptop rap”. Samples from bands such as Supergrass, Piebald, Brand New, Fugazi, and Iggy Pop play a key role in MC Lars’s music. Hearts That Hate, whose song “Cry Tonight” is sampled in Lars’ “Signing Emo”, is a fictional group created by the rapper.  MC Lars has also shown an interest in using lyrics and song titles based on English and American literature. “Rapbeth” references William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, while “Mr. Raven” is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. “Ahab” is about the novel Moby Dick and “Hey There Ophelia” on This Gigantic Robot Kills retells the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Gibbous Moon is a Philly trio that plays heavy psychedelic rock.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE SULTANS OF PING FC-“Wheres Me Jumper?” (1992).

The Sultans of Ping were, of course, named after the Dire Straits song.  They were named when “it was sacrilege to say anything whatsoever funny or nasty about Dire Straits.”

This song (or 30 seconds of it) was used as the opening  to the TV show Moone Boy.

The song was an unexpected, presumably novelty, hit in 1992.  It’s stupidly catchy and amusingly nonsensical and your appreciation for it is pretty much entirely dependent on your appreciation for Niall O’Flaherty’s voice which is comical and rather shrill in this song.  The other songs on the record are somewhat less so, but are still delivered in his speak-singing style.

I get a sense of them being like Ireland’s answer to The Dead Milkmen with a sprinkle of John Lydon on vocals–a fun punk band that flaunted a silly side.  Of course, I wasn’t in Ireland at the time, so perhaps they’re more akin to the Ramones in punk legacy.

The Sultans of Ping (later named The Sultans) were (a subconscious at least) predecessor to bands like Fontaines D.C.

But whereas Fontaines D.C. tackles existential life in Dublin, this song tackles a more urgent and pressing concern:

Dancing in the disco, bumper to bumper
Wait a minute:
“Where’s me jumper?

It’s all right to say things can only get better
If you haven’t just lost your brand new sweater
I know I had it on when I had my tea
And I’m sure I had it on in the lavatory
Dancing in the disco, go go go
Dancing in the disco, oh no, oh no
Dancing in the disco, bumper to bumper
Wait a minute:
Where’s me jumper?…

[READ: Summer 2019] Moone Boy

Chris O’Dowd is an Irish actor (we love him from the IT Crowd, and he has since been all over the place).  In 2012, he created Moone Boy as a sitcom based on his own childhood growing up in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland.

The show was a hit and they made three six-episode seasons.  This book came out around the time of the second season.

The story focuses on Martin Moone, a 12 year-old boy growing up in Boyle.  His friend Pádraic has an imaginary friend and Pádraic encourages him to get an imaginary friend (IF) of his own.  The rest of the book follows the exploits of Martin and his first (and second) imaginary friend.

But the book begins with some absurdist comedy.  Turns out he book is written from the point of view of the imaginary friend (we don’t really learn that until later) and he starts off with this:

Before we begin, I need to carry out a quick survey,

Are you reading this book because:

A. You have a scientific interest in the moon.
B. You have a scientific interest in the misspelling of the word “moon.”
C. You want to find out how quick and easy it is to obtain an imaginary friend that you’ll cherish for life.
D. You’ll read anything  You’re just like that.

If your answer is A or B, then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.  There’s very little moon action in this story, apart from the brief appearance of a wrestler’s wrinkly bum.

If your answer is C, then you’ll be equally disappointed.  I suggest you pick up a copy of Imaginary Friends – The Quick and Easy Guide to Forever Friendship by a former colleague of mine, Customer Service Representative 263748.

If your answer is D, the good for you!  You’re my kind of reader.  I’m glad we got rid of that other bunch of idiots who picked A, B and C.


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[ATTENDED: November 18, 2019] Blushing

I hadn’t heard of Blushing before this show, but as soon as I found out they were a shoegazey type of band, their name made perfect sense.  Then I read a little bit more about them and was even more fascinated.

Here’s a little bio from For the Rabbits

Blushing are a band formed of two husband and wife pairs, although it didn’t start out that way. Back in 2015, singer and guitarist Michelle Soto plucked up the courage to share some songs she had been working on with friend Christina Carmona. From that friendship, a creative partnership was born, Christina adding her classically trained vocals and bass-playing to the mix, shifting Michelle’s rough sketches into fully formed compositions. Recruiting their spouses, they set about recording the songs that would become their debut EP, Tether.

Since that EP, the band has released another EP, Weak, and a full lengthg album, Blushing.  They played 7 songs during our show.  All of them were from the album except “Hidden Places” which came from Weak.

The band has a great classic shoegaze sound.  Waves of guitars with Christina Carmona’s beautiful voice often sounding more like an instrument than a voice.  But there was also some heaviness involved–some crashing guitars, big riffs and loud drums.

It was also evident right from the start was how much fun this band was having.  They told us they were excited to be in Philly for the first time.  Michele Soto on guitar was wearing a Dead Milkmen shirt (Big Lizard in My Backyard) just for the occasion. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 17, 2018] DJ Jester

I was pretty excited to experience Kid Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville: Floor Kids Edition, even if I didn’t really know what I was going to experience.

The traffic and parking situation was terrible around Johnny Brenda’s and I was sure that I missed the opener, DJ Jester.  He was supposed to go on at 8, and I didn’t get into the club until about 8:45.

Well, imagine my surprise to discover that he had not even gone on yet.

Kid Koala came out and told us that DJ Jester was the DJ at his little brother’s wedding and after that night, Koala knew that he’d have to bring this Texas-based DJ along on an opening slot.

So DJ Jester got behind the turntables and basically DJ’d a 45 minute set of music. (more…)

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assclassSOUNDTRACK: OUGHT-More Than Any Other Day [CST103] (2014).

oughtmoreOught might just be the most straightforward band every released by Constellation Records. They are a rock/punk band with some spoken word singing that sound at times like Mark E. Smith.  However, the music is a bit catchier than The Fall’s with fast moments and really slow almost ambient stretches.

“Pleasant Heart” opens with a raw echoing guitar riff and chords that sound like nothing else on the album.   The song lurches through some great sounds and Beeler’s unusual chanting style of singing.  There’s also a cool bass line rumbling throughout the song built with lots of drum fills and chaos.

About half way through this six-minute song the bass and drums drop out leaving just a squeaky violin and harmonic guitar (this squeaky violin is possibly the only thing that makes this record sound like a Constellation release).  The bass comes back in slowly.  But it’s not until almost two minutes of this instrumental that the song resumes with a crunch and the lurching melody and verses continue until the end.

“Today More Than Any Other Day” was the first Ought song that really grabbed me.  It starts out slowly with some spare drums and meandering bass.  It doesn’t really feel like its going to resolve into anything.  By a minute and a half it’s finally starting to sound like something–a slow meandering song perhaps.  Around 2 minutes Beeler starts whispering “we’re sinking deeper, and sinking deeper.”  And then the song starts building and turning into something else .  We’re now half way through this 5 minutes song when the guitar starts chiming and he states “The name of this song is ‘Today more than any other day Parts 4-43.  So open up your textbooks … or any kind of reading material.”  And as the guitar plays the verses he recites various things that have happened today more than any other day (making a “decision between 2% and whole milk.”  A cool bass line starts playing as else drops away and he starts chanting a rather laconic “dah dah dah dah dah” following the bass.  It reminds me, strangely enough of the Dead Milkmen as its kind of not exactly out of tune but almost as if  not really caring.  But when the song resumes, it’s all right on again.  It’s a weird and wonderful, strangely catchy song.

“Habit” opens with a nice slow bass riff and chiming guitars.  It brings the intensity of the previous song down some.  And the vocals sound a little different, especially in the chorus, where the whole song take on a kind of Talking Heads vibe (the falsetto singing in particular).  It slows down toward the end with some scraping violins. The song is quite pretty in an alt-sorta way.

I love “The Weather Song” from the opening harmonics and intriguing bass line to the way the song suddenly ramps up for the chorus.  In addition to the catchy spoken opening there’s a great chorus of “I …. just wanna revel in your lies.”

“Forgiveness” is a relatively short 4 and a half minutes and opens with almost an organ sound.  A scraping violin sound joins the drones. After 2 minutes he sings in a very slow drawl “forgiveness is a drug that you take with a shrug.”  It has echoes of the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” although it never changes tempo or intensity.

“Around Again” has a very 1980s guitar riff and whispered vocals until the whole band kicks in and it grows in intensity.  And then the whispered “go slow” returns the song to the beginning.  After 3 minutes, the song builds and then drops out with a spoken: “It’s coming. Why is it you can’t stand under the sun but you can stick your head into a bucket of water and breathe in deep” and then a whole new sound of dissonant guitar and thudded bass and drums “we have reached the intermission.”  But it’s not an intermission it goes through to the end of the song like this.

“Clarity!” opens with what sound to me like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but with guitar chunks played over the top.  Slow harmonics and whispered vocals move the song forward.  After 2 minutes it rocks out, with a returning ringing high note and interesting sound effects.  And by the end the song comes to a plunging conclusion

“Gemini” opens with some low rumbling notes and then a sprinkling of keyboards.  There’s some scratchy guitars and a rumbling bass.  After 2 and a half minutes, the song’s punky parts take over with jagged guitars and screamed vocals.  The end of the song is mostly just two-note thumping while he screams “you wanted … wanted … wanted … wanted.”

I really like this album a lot.

I noticed that the lead singer changes his name on each release.  So, to help keep it straight:

Matt May: Keys
Ben Stidworthy: Bass
Tim Keen: Drums, Violin
Tim Beeler: Vocals, Guitar

[READ: September 20, 2016] Assassination Classroom 1

Assassination Classroom has a very strange and unsettling premise–the students of this classroom are being taught to assassinate their teacher.  Given the current climate of guns in the US, that’s probably not a comfortable position to take.  However, Matsui alters the premise to make it more palatable, and frankly more fun. The students’ teacher is actually an alien (or maybe not, but it is certainly not human).  He (I guess) is a multi-tentacled creature who can move at Mach 20, is exceptionally perceptive and can’t be harmed by most conventional weapons.  But wait, there’s more.  The students are sent to assassinate this particular creature because he blew a huge chunk out of the moon (it’s now a permanent crescent) and is planning to do the same to the earth in a year’s time.  But wait, there’s more.  One of his conditions for not blowing up the Earth sooner is that he be allowed to teach this particular classroom.  Although no one is sure why yet.

The class is 3-E, the lowest of the low, the worst students in the very prestigious Kunugigaoka Junior High.  The 3-E class are misfits–they were smart enough to get into the school, but they have done something wrong and they are treated very poorly because of it.  In fact, 3-E is used as a kind of cautionary tale for the other students–act up and you could wind up like them.  (Why they don’t just leave the school is not addressed).

The kids call the creature Koro Sensi (which is a pun on the Japanese “Koro senai” which means “can’t kill”), and it turns out he is actually a pretty great teacher.  He really seems to care about the kids.  So why would they want to kill him?  Well, aside from the destruction of the planet, there is also a ten billion yen reward (the amount seems to change some in the book, but it’s roughly 100 million dollars).  Of course, as the name implies, this guy is really hard to kill.  And when they try to kill him in a way he finds beneath them (they are training to be great assassins after all), his own revenge will be swift.  At the same time, he heartily encourages them to try their best to kill him–and he applauds their most creative efforts. (more…)

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empireSOUNDTRACK: THE DEAD MILKMEN-“Anderson, Walkman, Buttholes and How!” (1990).

deadmYesterday’s album could only be followed by this song.  The Dead Milkmen, always willing to mock, wrote this song with that hilarious title.  Interestingly, the “buttholes” part is a reference to Gibby Haynes, singer for the Butthole Surfers, on lead vocals.

Despite the title, the song itself sounds nothing like a progressive rock song.  It’s only 3 and a half minutes.  On the other hand it is almost entirely instrumental and changes style about 3/4 of the way through.

But check out the topical lyrics:

We’ve got to get together
And we’ve got to save the snails
Let’s board the purple spaceships
Before they set sail

I want a Yes reunion
And you know I want one now
No more Anderson
Walkman, Butthole Surfers and How!

Listening to the opera
And smoking angels’ dust
You can’t get more fucking
Progressive than us

The guitar riff is pretty interesting and angular.  And it’s sloppy in a wonderful Dead Milkmen way with stupid sound effects at the end of each line.  And of course, it’s just funny.

[READ: April 12, 2015] Empire State

I was delighted to see this book at the library.  I have really enjoyed the four other books by Shiga that I’ve read (I was sure I’d read more, but I guess they were all close together).  This one comes before his mind bending Meanwhile.  While it is a pretty straightforward narrative, he does play with time a bit to make the story a little more interesting.

One of the great things about Shiga’s art is how simplistic (I would almost say childish, but that’s not right or fair) his drawings look.  His characters are pretty much round-headed with round eyes and oval mouth.  They could be done on a computer but I hope they’re not.

The story starts in Oakland, CA, where Jimmy is talking to his best friend, Sara.  They talk about her date last night and the creepy Craigslist date she went on recently.  All the guy’s profile said was looking for a nice Jewish girl.  And Jimmy (who is Chinese) says that he may have to use that line next time. (more…)

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toiletsSOUNDTRACK: CAPTAIN BOGG & SALTY-“Scurvy” (1999).

saltyFor the first Captain Underpants book I used “The Puking Song” as a soundtrack.  Turns out that would have been better suited for this book as the are a lot of puking  toilets in this story.

Captain Bogg & Salty scored the number 4 slot in this year’s WXPN/Kid’s Corner vote for best song of the year.  I’m always confused when a song makes their Ton Ten list and I had never heard it (we listen a lot, but not all the time; however there are some songs that we hear constantly .

The song is thirteen years old and comes from their debut album.   But before I get into the song I need to copy this line from Wikipedia: Captain Bogg and Salty is a pirate-themed rock band from Portland, Oregon, and a representative member of the subgenre of pirate rock.

Subgenre of pirate rock.  I love it.

So “Scurvy” is a fast-paced shanty with the sensible lyrical precaution: “when there is scurvy on your pirate ship…eat a lime.  EAT A LIME!”  What else is on the pirate ship?  Cannonballs, peglegs, rum and er…rabbits?  This song is fun and rocking and very silly.    I really hope to hear it on the radio some night.

So the band performs for both children and adults.   And, amusingly they perform the same songs (in full costume) for both audiences

Turns out members of this band also write music for Jake and the Never Land Pirates, which my daughter loves.  A nice circle.   Now I’m off to uncover this pirate rock subgenre.

[READ: January 22, 2013] The Adventures of Captain Underpants

I enjoyed the first Captain Underpants book and Clark has been digesting them very quickly.  So I thought I’d check out the sequel.  And it does not disappoint.

The book opens with a recap of the first book, in hilarious comic book form (drawn by the kids).  The short book ends with the warning from George and Harold (who deny responsibility) not to snap your fingers around Principal Krupp because it will make him turn back into Captain Underpants (which was in the instructions for the HypnoRing that they discarded).

But before we even see the Captain, we see George and Harold in school.  They are very excited to read that the upcoming Invention Convention features a grand prize of being Principal for a Day.  They immediately decide to win it.  Then we get a flashback to last year’s convention where not only did they not wind, they put glue on everyone’s seat and got in huge trouble.  But this year, Krupp is ready for them and has not only banned then from submitting, he has banned them from even attending.

This doesn’t stop them of course, in fact, it just makes them sneak into the auditorium the night before to play tricks on everyone’s projects.  I have great respect for Pilkey for a) the crazy inventions he has the kids make and b) the clever way he pranks them.  But before they can do any damage they see that Melvin Sneedly has created the PATSY 2000 from a photocopier.  The boys mock the name until he explains that it’s an acronym for Photo-Atomic Trans-Somgobulating Yectofantriplutoniczanziptomiser.  Which is an absurd way of saying that it photocopies pictures and makes them come to life. (more…)

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capnSOUNDTRACK: THE DEAD MILKMEN-“The Puking Song” (1989).

smokin_banana150I usually try to pair kids books with kids music.  And this song might be a little inappropriate for kids, but it’s in the spirit of Captain Underpants, right?

“The Puking Song” is, yes all about puking (How I love to sleep in vomit, you don’t know the joy I get from it, waking up to the smell of puke…makes me shout I love you!).  It’s doesn’t get any more vulgar than that, although it is of course, pretty gross.

It’s sung by Joe Jack Talcum, with his rather whiny/slightly out of tune/childish voice.  It comes from a B-Side (really??) on the Smoking Banana Peels EP.  Yes, it is pretty gross, but I’ll bet it’s fun to sing along to in a crowded theater.

[READ: January 14, 2013] The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Captain Underpants is perpetually on the list of banned books, which is really quite funny (except that banned books are not funny), because honestly how bad could it be.  I had never read the book before, but Clark has been reading them all lately so I thought it would be interesting to read it as both a librarian (anti-banning) and as a parent (pro-ensuring-that-it-is-appropriate).  And what I learned is that I understand why people want to ban the book, but I think it’s utterly foolish and wrongheaded to do so.

So what’s so bad about the book?  Well, it’s silly and vulgar (and full of pictures of a superhero in his underpants, gasp), but the thing that I assume bugs authority figures is that it totally mocks and abuses authority figures–which is exactly what makes kids laugh and exactly what humorless authority figures hate.

So the story is about George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two mischievous kids.  Within the first two pages, they pass by a sign that says Pick Your Own Roses and they rearrange the letters to spell Pick Our Noses.  [I have to say that the other day Clark drew a comic in which a storefront said Come Visit Our Awfully Good Store.  A boulder smashed through it which left the result: Come Visit Our Awful Store.  And I was very proud of his creativity and thanked Pilkey for that direction of his comedy].  But that’s the level of mischief we’re talking about: putting soap bubbles in the band instruments and putting helium in the football. (more…)

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I had a CD planned for this week, but when I searched for Imipolex G online to see if it was real or based on anything, I can across this song by a band I’ve never heard of.  How could I pass it up (at least it wasn’t a song about coprophagia).

I listened to the whole album (only once, so this isn’t a fair criticism) and it’s all in a similar vein–lo-fi sounding.  Like maybe it was recorded on a two-track. The vocals are slightly whiny–not bad whiny–90s indie rock whiny.

And I see that Joe Jack Talcum from the Dead Milkmen has a solo album on the same label, so that makes sense.  I probably would have lived this album back in college.  And I would have wondered what Imipolex G was and then I would have found out about Gravity’s Rainbow and tried to read it.  And given up.

So this song is just over three minutes and opens with feedback squalls, but that noise is undermined by the jangly guitar that takes over the song. It’s quite catchy (in a noisy indie rock kind of way that almost dares you to think it’s catchy.

I’ve tried to determine any lyrics I could “plans etched on the wall… target for my head…I’ve got to go away.”

I’ve embedded the song below, although clicking on the button will take you to their My Space page, rather than playing it directly.

Imipolex G

The album appears to still be available (original pressings came with a bug).

[READ: Week of March 12] Gravity’s Rainbow 2.4-2.8

This was a conveniently short read this week (I had a lot going on, so those 30 fewer pages were a nice breather).  Section 2 continued mostly with Slothrop, although it was also an extrapolation of the people who were impacted by him in the beginning of the section.

For those with weak stomachs, we saw what I have to assume is the most disgusting section of the book.  And there was also a reverie (and the use of the word reverie) that had me a little confused. (more…)

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