1. The Garden is a two person band, made up of identical twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of Orange County, California.
2. California Here We Go is their most recent single and was the first video of theirs that I watched. My first response was whaaaaat followed by watching a whole bunch of videos by other people and then going back to watching The Garden again because they were by far the most unusual and interesting.
Also I was trying to figure out why they were wearing clown make-up. I still don’t know, though it is a recurring theme in their recent videos.
3. The Garden are very much a law unto themselves. Their universe is unique and partially closed; their genre – “vada vada” – is their own invention and more symbolic than descriptive. Even with the sound on and the lyrics mostly intelligible their videos are an experience akin to watching surrealist art movies in a noisy bar.
4. When not rocking out, they’re models. Interviews suggest they have a very low-key approach to high fashion, and, sometimes, to gender.
5. They were on Burger Records, at first, but are now on Epitaph. This is All Smiles Over Here :) from their second record, called haha. It’s both inspiring and disquieting, revolting and fascinating.
6. This is a band to follow just to see what they’ll do next.
7. I think it’s important to note that while their aesthetic may be puzzling, and at times funny, it is not nonsense.
I saw Ciaran Lavery at SXSW, and was bowled over; it was truly a transcendent experience.
The good people of the Northern Ireland Music Prize apparently felt the same way, because they just named his new record, Let Bad In, their winner for Record of the Year for 2016. In addition to that one, which you can get here, he’s also just finished a live record, called Live at the MAC, which was recorded at the MAC Theater in Belfast, Northern Ireland and will be out Dec. 9. It incorporates tunes from all three of his records, plus some covers and a Christmas song, and I very strongly recommend it to y’all.
Here, as a taste of his sound, is the video for Return to Form, from Let Bad In:
One Social Distortion show I went to – it may have been the last one, I don’t remember – my companion and I wedged ourselves into a spot on the risers near the pit (we were at Roseland) and, as is the way of things, started chatting with people nearby. About halfway through the show a man wriggled out of the pit and came to visit one of the ladies in front of us. He was sweaty and kind of battered but thoroughly happy. It was the kind of happiness that enlivens a group, as the energy of the pit rolled off him and enveloped us.
That’s what I think of, when I think of Social D. That dude, and his lady, his tattoos and big grin, and how he shook himself like a wet, sweaty dog and we made rueful faces and then assured him he was never too old for the pit.
This When the Angels Sing from White Light, White Heat, White Trash (1996). It’s not as iconic as Ball and Chain or Sick Boy, but I’m fond of it.
It’s Thanksgiving in America, and at NTSIB that means it’s time for a live concert video. This year it’s Charles Bradley, funk-soul phenomenon, live at Festival Musiques. He’s a true American success story, surviving many years of poverty, homelessness and odd jobs – including working as a James Brown impersonator – until he was discovered by Daptone Records. If you like his tunes you can buy them at bandcamp.
Happy Thanksgiving / Thursday, NTSIBBers.
It’s been a while since we last checked in with Born Stranger. I’m pleased to report they’re still plugging away, working on a new record with producer Kwame Kwaten and expanding both their name (they used to be called just “strangers”) and their musical horizons.
I’m sharing this video for Be Someone, their latest song, partially because I’m fond of them, and partially because I’m a sucker for . . . for beautiful angsty dancing, I guess. For ballet dancers? Or at least for this ballet dancer, who works out his inner turmoil with power and grace, and, ultimately, finds freedom in a different style of dance.
The song is pretty great, too. If you like dark synthpop you should press play below.
If there is one thing Rob Zombie can be relied upon to provide, it’s music that is gleefully filthy, energetically ridiculous, and packed with killer riffs. This spirit is embodied perfectly by this video for Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O. from his new record, which rejoices in the title of The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser.
Hold on, I totally fell down a Rob Zombie-shaped hole on YouTube and am now rocking out to Dragula, Living Dead Girl and SuperBeast. He’s such delicious Gothic-Industrial candy. To borrow from Rolling Stone: Rob Zombie, for when you just want to bang your head.
Right, where was I. Oh yes, this video. The first two minutes is basically a super short film and an elaborate set up for the last four, and is mostly what would happen if Ed Wood had worked blue. By which I mean: If you have ever wondered what alien penis looks like, do not feel alone, for Rob Zombie has also considered this Very Serious Question, and he has committed his answer to film.
As you might expect, all six minutes of the video are most assuredly not safe for work, unless you have a very special job at Area 51.
This is Vampire Money, by My Chemical Romance.
I have a lot of feelings about this song.
It’s, like, A Lot. A cheerful “fuck you” to the Twilight movie empire. An in-joke between band and fans, of a kind, a fuck-you issued in support of . . . I always want to say real vampires. Of the traditional vampire ethos. From a band who celebrated that ethos in dramatic and campy fashion, with a wink and a smile, and who also wrote lines like I’m not dead / I only dress that way in complete seriousness. Who were wide-eyed and earnest and nervous and weird and felt, on the whole, like people I would have enjoyed visiting with at parties.
They were surprised how much the fans loved it. They had never meant to play it live, but the crowds screamed for it and so they did.
This is not the best audio or video out there, but – the more polished versions I could find didn’t feel quite right. The shaky cam from the balcony, filmed by a fan, that’s the way it should be. My Chemical Romance lies dormant, locked in its coffin, but My Chemical Romance (and Vampire Money) lives on forever in our hearts, battered Docs, and extensively researched and footnoted arguments about Dracula and/or Lord of the Rings.
In keeping with what has become annual tradition, here is Heart-Ships with Undress Me Down to The Bone from FOIL, the record they released right before they broke up. You can listen to the rest of it at their Soundcloud. The video is by visual artist Irina Haugane.
Jail Weddings is more of an amorphous musical collective than an a band. But while they’ve been through some ups and downs and gained and shed various members over the years, the tunes are still solid.
(Do You Think We’re Gonna End Up On) Skid Row from Inconvenient Dreams (2009) is an oldie but a goodie, and – with a new record on the horizon – a reasonable introduction to both their frenetic punkabilly style and their louche aesthetic.
Plus it’s an excellent road trip song.
Not quite their last show, but close: this recording is from when Chris Porter and the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes played the Kentuck Festival in Northport, AL, just days before Chris Porter and Mitchell Vandenburg were taken from us much too soon in a traffic accident.
Rest in peace, gentlemen. We shall miss you very much.