Jul 182011

I like both The Fiery Furnaces and The Dead Milkmen, and I recently learned that the former made a video based around the most-influential movie of my childhood (and, possibly, entire life), Easy Rider. Each video follows for your review. Leaving the music out of it if you must—because if you’re like me you might find that the song in one of these two videos is not anywhere near a favorite in the band’s catalog—which band made better use of its source material? Choose one…after the jump!

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Apr 152010

Friday night, April 16, in Philadelphia marks a long-awaited reunion show for Baby Flamehead, a late-’80s local (at least) sensation featuring two of our regular contributors. The show will be at the M Room. There’s not a whole lot more I can say about the band and how much I intend on enjoying this show. For this reason and others that I’m too classy to explain, I’m getting a headstart on our occasional Friday Flashback feature. Enjoy!

This post initially appeared 12/6/08.

General Slocum, Mrclean, and bandmates shopping for used records, sometime in the late-80s

I saw this photo of Baby Flamehead, a cool Philly band from my youth, featuring two old friends and Townspeople, General Slocum (Andy Bresnan) and Mrclean (Dean Sabatino), and took a walk down memory lane. Your memories might differ, but won’t you join me?

Baby Flamehead, “Badadadadup (Live on KCRW in 1990)”

Long before he achieved rank as General, I met the young Mr. Slocum, if memory serves, through an English class at Temple University that we blew off almost as often as we attended. The lure of checking out the latest arrivals in the record bins at the Temple bookstore sometimes took precedence over the instruction of our Paul Simon lookalike professor. For some reason the bookstore had a line on cutout Klassic ’60s Kinks albums (cheap Spanish pressings), the EMG catalog (ie, Eno, Fripp & Eno, Jon Hassel, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, etc), and some high-brow jazz (eg, Anthony Braxton) I would not otherwise have risked more than a precious $1.99-$2.99 on checking out.
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Aug 072009

Recently I had the pleasure of being contracted to design the art for the latest release by Philly phaves, Nixon’s Head. The Enemies List (available for purchase here) cover was an exercise of almost pure creativity. Listening and then designing.

The back cover though was a joy for different reasons. The band wanted the back to be a take on the back of The Beatles Rubber Soul. (I derive an odd pleasure from finding/duplicating just the right font.)

This got me thinking about album parodies and more specifically album backs. There are loads and loads of album parodies. Not the least of which include Townsman mrclean’s band, The Dead Milkmen’s Smokin’ Banana Peels cover:

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Mar 042007

Rodney Anonymous checks in with his views on the union of humor and music.

Being both a victim (although I prefer to use the term “survivor”) and perpetrator of humor in music, has granted me the insight to develop a two-fold theory about the why certain people feel the need to combine music with comedy. For the sake of the following discussion, these theories shall be referred to below as The Weird Al Yankovic Theory and The Frank Zappa Theory, or, if you like, “Theory Y” and “Theory Z” (Please not that both of these theories pertain to INTENTIONALLY humorous acts as opposed to performers like Sarah McLachlan who, although her lyrics never fail to make me laugh, is not actually trying to be funny.

Here is what the two theories hold in common: Just as cartooning has been described as a compromise between the desire to draw well and the inability to do so (or, possibly, the desire to draw dicks on a men’s room wall), it’s entirely possible that “Humorous” music represents a middle ground between wanting to play and or sing well and the complete failure of most of the population (myself included) to be able to do so.

Theory Y: The Weird Al Yankovic Theory
It’s entirely possible that the majority of “Comedy-Rock” artists are
complete and utter morons.
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Mar 012007

The humor in the Dead Milkmen music wasn’t labored. It was a natural expression of our selves. I think we often talked about serious issues but tempered the delivery with humor – if only to prevent us from getting weighed down with the shit that was going on. We also thought the hardcore punk scene that we began playing shows in took themselves way too seriously. Our attitude was that this all should be fun.

Rodney is one of the funniest and smartest persons I know. He can think fast on his feet and he still cracks me up!

I think humor brings people together, and by having a sense of humor we were able to bring the crowd to us more. Some bands cultivate the em>”we’re special up here – keep your distance” vibe. We were trying to get to know the local crowd. After all – wasn’t the “punk ethos” something like, “Everyone can do it! Anyone can be in a band!”.

As an aside – one of the items on our “rider” was a local newspaper. This provided a little local information sometimes that we could play off of on stage.

Now, enjoy a whole mess of Dead Milkmen videos here!

Feb 152007

Rodney Anonymous checks in with the following defense of KISS.

5 Reasons Why They Rule and Their Critics Eat Stool

1) Gene Simmons has slept with over 5000 women (Terry Gross included). OK, before you launch into your “So what? [Insert name of under appreciated angst-ridden indeed artist here] made great records with intelligent lyrics and used augmented 9th chords” rant, just take a minute to remember why you picked up a guitar in the first place: Here kitty, kitty, kitty! Do you think Alex Chilton could’ve nailed Cher back when she was worth bragging about nailing? And I’m even gonna give Simmons bonus points for being a Jew!

2) Knights In Satan’s Service. Yeah, I know that KISS really wasn’t an acronym for that. But hey, AC/DC didn’t stand for “Antichrist/Devil Child” and REM wasn’t shorthand for “Rectally Engaged Mumblefest”. The point is that YOUR PARENTS (and nearly every Baptist youth pastor) believed that’s what KISS stood for. They went to bed each night with one eye open out of fear that some track on Love Gun would incite you to patricide. What did mommy and daddy think when you started listening to Belle and Sebastian? “Hmmm…how pleasant. I think we’ll do the den in beige.”

3) “She’s a dancer, a romancer. She’s a Capricorn and I’m a Cancer.” I am, without dispute, America’s greatest living lyricist, and not even I could’ve thought of a line that clever. By singling out a specific zodiac sign, KISS managed to convince approximately 1/12 of the world’s female population that they were singing to them. (See reason #1.)

4) KISS Meets the Phantom. Not only did KISS meet the Phantom, they kicked his ass and the asses of their evil robotic twins. This single act would remain an unparalleled moment in Rock ‘n’ Roll for almost 20 years, until the 1990 Lifetime Network premier of Jesus and Mary Chain Save Christmas.

5) The guys who worked at the gas station liked ‘em. Sure those guys might not have taken the same college prep courses you did, but they didn’t shell out $12.98 for a copy of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music either.

Thank you. We will now consider this matter closed. Don’t make me kick your asses.


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