Each week, dozens of songs and albums from up-and-coming (or just plain unknown) bands debut on the world’s music charts. Some of these bands will never be heard from again; some may become the next little thing. That’s why every two weeks Chuck Eddy will be exploring the world beyond the Billboard 200, where he’ll look for diamonds in the MySpace rough. This week, his roster of up-and-comers includes a pal of the Insane Clown Posse, a Montana duo who want to drink your Kool-Aid, a guy with the savvy to name his ringtone-rap track “Ringtone,” and some Kölsch-singing Germans who have been around for more than 30 years.
The name reminded me of Rednex (not to mention country classics by Billy Joe Royal and Little Big Town), so I had my hopes up; album title Krimson Creek–which checked in at the Heatseekers chart’s pinnacle last week and this week slips to No. 11–seemed “Cotton-Eye Joe”-worthy as well. And where there’s Krimson Creek, there’s Krimson Tide, right? But nope, the act’s MySpace page turns your mouse cursor into a meat cleaver, and Boondox appears to be a white rapper with a horror movie mask and jack-o-lantern T-shirt and chainsaw, and his songs “Sippin’” and “It Ain’t A Thing” are hillbilly-drawled square-dance moonshine hick-hop hackery midway between Bubba Sparxx and Cowboy Troy except more stupidly obscene and seemingly trying to be more legend-of-wooley-swamp spooky. (An outdated page even reveals he used to call himself Boondox The Skar Crow.) The music two-steps OK if you’re as much a sucker for country rap as I am, and if you only half attend to the words; Boondox is the new Haystack, at least, and cow and chicken sound effects prove he knows his farm animals. But even though he’s apparently from Georgia, his pumpkinhead makeup suggests an Insane Clown Posse connection (they did a “Chicken Huntin” song once themselves) and sure enough, I.C.P. and Twiztid are his top MySpace friends, and plenty of commenters send him that “Juggalo love.” How sweet of them.
So did Halloween come early this year, or what? Friends of several more folks clad in ICP-style costumes, this rap duo represents Montana, because if they don’t, who will? They play the Shrine Auditorium in Billings June 27, and Quinbiana Jones tells them “you guys are dope shit…your show in Great Falls, MT, was insane!” Sound more dime-a-dozen than Boondox, and less self-consciously scary, though they do threaten to steal your Kool-Aid in one song. Plott Thickens debuts on Heatseekers at No. 62 this week.
A song called “Ringtone” has been flitting on and off the physical-product-oriented Hot Singles Sales chart for the past month or two–this week, it’s at No. 33–and I wasn’t sure if the listing was a mistake. It’s not an easy title to Google; YouTube, for instance, has a clip of a rapper named Young Envy discussing “the haters and the ringtone,” and there’s also a teen rapper on MySpace who calls himself EnvyAtlantaTM who’s worked with Pastor Troy. I’m pretty sure some song called “Envy” out there has its own ringtone, too. But this particular Envy–real name Emmanuel Duncan–has a somewhat T-Pain-like vocoder-r&b ditty about a ringtone, and the song may or may not be a ringtone itself (its keyboard hook could readily lend itself to that purpose). “We gotta stay connected like a Bluetooth,” Envy insists at one point, not to mention sundry stuff about other gadgets. It finally entered the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 87 last week, then fell off again. Envy’s page doesn’t seem to specify which city he calls home, though “design by Yawnz of Tracklanta” might be a clue. Atlanta seems a very envious place.
ALI DEE AND THE DEEKOMPRESSORS
Speaking of Hot Singles Sales, this either “hip-hop” or “techno/pop” (depending on which barely visited MySpace page you believe) entity’s version of “Go Speed Racer Go” entered that chart at No. 7 last week and this week hangs tough at No. 10. The Web also seems confused as to whether the group comes from Arizona, Alabama, Germany, or none of the above; given how the boy and girl in the song sound like Technotronic fans and seem to rap bilingually at one point, I pick Germany. Or Belgium. Or somewhere. I also pick “hip-house.” The clip on YouTube, not surprisingly, is mainly a movie trailer. Vinyl copies on Amazon are selling for much higher prices than CD copies. Do even eight-year-old boys have turntables now? Suggested follow-up: A cover of Big Black’s “Racer X.”
I was hoping that A Coloring Storybook And Long Playing Record EP was an actual coloring book with a record attached for little kids (the equation of “long playing record” with “EP” seemed just contradictory enough to be accidental), but sadly Cinematic Sunrise turn out to be a weepy quintet of pencil-necked pop-punk pretty boys from Michigan, a Chiodos spinoff beloved mostly by teenage girls. Their record is this week’s No. 46 Heatseeker after debuting at No. 8 last week, and it has a panda and a hippo (among other less interesting mammals) on its cover. And apparently you really do get a coloring book with it–though I’m pretty sure you have to provide your own crayons.
Man, I bought a used CD at Princeton Record Exchange by these East Germans a few years ago, because how the hell do you pass up something called Die Verrückten Sind In Der Stadt for $2.99, especially when so many of the band members play these bizarre centuries-old-looking handmade instruments called dudelsaks that suggest a wooden cat statue honked liked bagpipes (three of those in the band!), or drumscheits that suggest a cross between a giant wooden metronome and an obelisk bowed like a violin, plus the musicians either all go shirtless or dress in fancy red robes like some heathen forest priest, except on the actual CD cover where they’re being much sillier, and the widely grinning drummer is about to stomp the family dog with his clown-sized tennis shoes, and the midget pipes-or-whatever guy next to him has on a top hat? Well worth the price, too, though I never figured out what to call the ritualistic music In Extremo played, or whether they had any fans then. Well, apparently they do now. The album I bought actually came out in 1998, but last week their new one, Saengerkreig, entered both the German album chart at No. 1 and the overall European album chart at No. 6; one week in, it’s still at No. 28 on the latter. Who the often extremely beautiful alleged “folk rock” on their MySpace pages mostly sounds like to my ears–even more than the excellent Scandinavian-and-otherwise folk-metal bands who just barnstormed through America on the recent Paganfest tour–is Rammstein, albeit a significantly more Uilleann and less industrial version. Rammstein themselves have been sounding more folkish lately, though, and at least one In Extremo photo shows them breathing fire. So I bet their audiences overlap, even though Wikipedia explains that they mainly metalize “traditional/medieval ballads” in languages such as Icelandic, Hebrew, Gothic, Latin, and Old High German. More good news: On Last.fm’s “Pagans Against Fascism” page, they are the eighth most popular band (behind Ensiferum, Finntroll, Korpiklaani, Eluveite, Moonsorrow, Aman Amarth, and Equilibrium.) That’s a relief.
Speaking of German bands who’ve been around forever, I used to stumble across BAP LPs in record stores in Frankfurt and Bad Kreuznach all the time when the U.S. Army stationed me there in the ’80s, but I never gave a minute of thought to them, until now. Their curiously named new album Radio Pandora-which probably has nothing to do with the Genome Music Projected web radio network of a similar name–debuted at No. 7 on the European album chart this week, so I decided to poke around on the Internet. Can’t find a MySpace page, though Wikipedia tells me they’ve been around since 1976, and “nearly all of BAP’s lyrics are written in Kölsch, the dialect of Kologne,” their home city. Cool! Wolfgang Niedecken, a visual artist, is their only remaining original member. Youtube has several clips of BAP performing an appropriately downbeat number called “Kristalnaach,” though “Unger Krahnebaume” is a whole lot more catchy if you ask me.