Thursday, October 29, 2020

Good Things Come In Threes: 3 Cool Bands We Discovered During The Pandemic!


Did anybody else go into the pandemic with the mindset of breaking out of their musical comfort zone because, hey, life is short? Easier said than done, though, because, when the future is uncertain, we tend to fall back upon that which harkens back to simpler, safer times.

So, what does "breaking out of my musical comfort zone" entail, you ask? I knew you would.

1. I can't be spending money on music because I'm not so fucking sure where my next tenner is coming from so, since I loathe Spotify for paying their creators less than a penny per play while throwing up their nickers for Joe Rogan to the tune of $100 million dollars. So Youtube it is.

2. Ever listened to an album on Youtube, staring for 40 minutes at a blank screen, or a still of the band's cover art, or worse yet, some overly-ambitious LYRIC VIDEO slapped together by the interns at UniSonyScopeJam Records? Not fun. Plus, fuck the glaringly obvious Pro Tools wizardry. Live bands it is!

3. Current bands only, no using this downtime to go back in time. Remember when we fell in love with the Beatles as kids? Yeah, it was 1976 and, when our parents told us they'd broken up years earlier, they may as well have told us there was no Santa. Point being, let's not fall in love with a band that we can't go see live once this pandemic has receded. Much as it may be enjoyable to retrace Genesis's footsteps from theatrical prog visionaries to men who can't dance, knowing full-well that Phil Collins ailing health makes the idea of ever seeing Genesis a no-go. Let's throw our money at a band that still exists and is out there working their asses off. Only bands that still exist it is!

I'm out of gas and my mocha frappe is melting so, with further adieu do do de da da da, here are three bands who've managed to a) keep my interest and b) make me wish my last band had gone the two drummers route. How fun!


1. The(e O(h)Sees

Speaking of bands with two drummers, Jon Dwyer's musical collective have gelled into a super-tight live band with the uncanny ability to make you watch two drummers duke it out for 90 minutes. Watching their interplay is interesting in a variety of ways:

What is the body language saying?

Is the bearded guy doing most of the heavy lifting? Paul (the other guy) looks like he's fighting for his life, but then I see an old video of when he was the band's sole drummer and the motherfucker was a machine. He must hae a resting heart rate of twelve. I lose five pounds just by watching him.

As for Dwyer, he sure does like that microphone. Mind you, in the pandemic age, watching old footage of him swallowing the mic might set off one's puke mechanism, Christ, I hope that's not a house mic.

If you're at all curious where the bass fits in, check the clip above.


2. The Viagra Boys

If you're wondering why it took us so long to give these newly hipster-approved Swedes a listen, consider for a moment that the name is so bad, we're lucky we ever "discovered" them at all. Ugh. But, hey, The Hives was an awful name, too and those guys are STILL on our to-do list.

The fact that the first single of theirs was called "Sports", combined with the fact that the thumbnail accompanying said video on YouTube was of a shirtless guy with to sleeves and a chest full of tats standing in the middle of an active tennis game appealed to us that that moment.

Needless to say, we weren't disappointed. The song isn't much, but the visual comedy skills of the singer was more than enough for me to watch the next video, "Research Chemicals". Guy plays the same character, detached from the reality that takes place around him. There's an almost Andy Kaufman-esque flair to the way Seb Murphy plays the stereotypical junkie singer, so am I being put-on here? Is this some Flight Of The Conchords thing? Do they have their own show on Apple TV+ already?

So I typed "viagra boys live" into the YouTube search engine while rolling my eyes, knowing full well that if I'd typed this into Google, the ads they'd have picked out for me from that point on woul make it nigh impossible to keep an office job.

As I gazed at the search results, I did something that I never do and clicked on the video at the top of the list . Any other time, if there's a reasonable amount to choose from, I like to grab something from aa little further down.

I figured I'd last five minutes. Instead, I'm on my twentieth viewing.

3. The Claypool-Lennon Delirium

Hey, when I say that I'm going to leave my musical comfort zone, I fucking mean it. Not only was I decidedly anti-Primus during their MTV heyday, I'm probably not alone in thinking Sean Lennon inherited most of his musical talent from Yoko, so what made me tune in at all, you ask?

Fair enough. As it turns out, I noticed quite gradually that Les Claypool had morphed into a very distinguished gentleman. More accurately, he and his visual stylist had crafted such an interesting look for this older musician that I decided to see what Primus actually sounded like some twenty years or so since I'd last given them even a passing thought.

Long story short, I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole, devoured ten years of Primus live concerts in a single night, and came to the conclusion that they weren't awful.

About a month later, I saw the words "Claypool" and "Lennon" right next to each other and proceeded to put the words "What", "The", "Actual" and "Fuck" next to one another at considerable volume.

<MOTHERFUCKING CLICK> went my mouse finger.

Within two or three songs, I was hooked. I'm pretty sure that I've seen every show this band has played, from fan-shot TikToks to five-camera, pro shot performances with some of the most pristine audio to come out my Yamaha HS-8's.

Musically, yeah, they're alright, but what keeps my mind engaged (which is what it's truly all about) is my desire to know just why Les Claypool would be involved in such a project?

Much like the family and friends who constantly talk about the ego trips and power battles taking place on their favorite reality shows, I get my fix of the human dynamic by soaking up the visual nuances, from the stage clothing to the choice of instrumentation, paying careful attention to the body language between musicians.

Those of us "in the biz" can't help but dissect onstage interactions between bandmates to decipher who's driving the ship and who's just a hired gun along for the ride. Maybe the interplay between Les and Lennon will help solve the riddle as to what either one is truly getting out of this whole endeavor.

Can John Lennon's youngest son prove to us that he didn't just throw so much of his dad's money
at Les that he had to at least give it the ol' college try.

Don't pretend that you weren't thinking the same thing, all I did was type it out-loud.

Maybe the whole time Mr. Pork Soda was setting up his rig, his most evil inner voice was reading him the riot act. After an hour or so of watching Lennon like a hawk, Claypool must've arrived at the conclusion that beneath Lennon's inherited wealth and recognition was a kid who just wanted to express himself musically, but, unlike every other musician on the planet, everything this kid does will be immediately and forever be judged against his father's best work. 

Can you imagine that?


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