Rappers Without Glasses, Ero-Tec Germans, Austin Electro-Emos, Cross-Eyed Codgers, And Middle-Aged Thrash Metallers

xhuxk | March 7, 2008 12:00 pm

Each week, dozens of songs and albums from up and coming (or just plain unknown) bands debut on the pop charts. Some of these bands will never be heard from again; some of them may become the next little thing. That’s why every two weeks Chuck Eddy will be exploring the world of Billboard‘s Heatseekers and Hot Shots, looking for diamonds in the MySpace rough. For the initial installment, we’ll let the man himself explain his methodology:

So the concept here, this week and every fortnight hence, is a scorecard for artists new to the charts–generally ones nobody never heard of before, though somebody must be buying their music. The means of selection will be simple: Go for acts with the goofiest names, which in a best-case scenario will correspond with entertaining stuff on MySpace pages and in YouTube videos. If true artistry is stumbled on in the meantime, I’ll admit it.

A disclosure, before I start: The charts I’m using, inevitably, come from Billboard–a publication where, until recently, I toiled as a senior editor, and where I occasionally still do freelance editing work, though I promise that fact will not sway my choices.

Ready, set, go!

ALGEBRA Math-rock obviously, right? Wrong! She–last named Blessett and #47 on the Heatseekers chart this week with her Purpose album–is an “r&b/soul/acoustic singer from Atlanta.” In the first song on her MySpace page, “Halfway” (see, she likes fractions, too!), her DJ promises to take her “back to the old school.” And okay, does sound vaguely retro-nuevo, I guess. Second MySpace song is an absurdly slow “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” not as good as Santa Esmeralda’s version. Lots of encouraging congratulations in the comments section, including one from somebody who bought Algebra’s album “off of Zune last night.” And “UPS truck drivers in Indy” love her, too!

Algebra [MySpace]

GLASSES MALONE Debuted last week at No. 85 on the R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart with the DJ Toomp-produced “Certified,” featuring Akon. Gruff rapper from Watts. His single builds up some passably generic momentum and melodrama–and shockingly, Akon contributes a high-pitched chorus hook. But what’s really intriguing about him is that he does not wear glasses! Which at least explains why he’s not called Four-Eyes Malone.

Glasses Malone [MySpace]

FETTES BROT Their name translates as “fat bread,” and their “Bettina (Zieh Dir Bitte…)” slipped onto the Eurochart’s Single Sales at No. 14 last week. Their homepage has three zany men (including one with three eyes) dressed up in provocative women’s underthings (including one outfit with cassette-taped bosoms). Apparently they are a German trio, like Trio before them. Their video, allegedly filmed at Hamburg’s “Ero-Tec Sing Porn Club” in the year 2020, features androgynous, bald, salamander-like models performing Soul Train lines and eventually growing heavy metal hair so they can bang their heads to the semi-rousing computer pop with an unexpectedly human chorus.

Fettes Brot [Official Site]

GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY Electro-emo from Austin, who knew? Also, oh yeah: “not a band, but an agreement between two friends to create something that not only heals their beat-driven hearts, but pleases their rock ‘n roll souls.” Oh boy. Robotique Majestique is Heatseeker No. 22 this week. The vocal in “Dancing On My Groove” has some tuneful bite to it, but sorry dudes, this is nowhere near as “ballsy” (a word Ghostland Obervatory seem to like) as Fettes Brot. Germans have been doing this stuff a lot longer than Texans. Clever how they list Los Tigres Del Norte as an influence on their MySpace, though.

Ghostland Observatory [MySpace]

LOS TERRIBLES DEL NORTE Now this is what Texans know how to do! Wear matching cowboy hats and cowboy shirts and play accordion polkas! “El Corrido De Juan Martha” is a catchy one, too, but it’s the only song on their seemingly outdated MySpace page. There are plenty of “glitter graphics” and baby pictures in the comments section, however, plus a note from a woman named Izzy who says “look who went to our high school and is now gay…He’s still hot though.” Anyway, La Mejor Colecion De Cumbias has a No. 30 Heatseeker entry this week–higher than Dengue Fever! I’m not sure what’s so “terrible” about them. But they do occasionally prominently feature chickens in their videos and nooses on their album covers.

Los Terribles Del Norte [MySpace]

JO JO JORGE FALCÓN Los Mejores 99 Chistes Vol. 1 entered the Heatseekers chart last week at No. 43 then jumped to No. 36 this week. So, assuming Jo Jo was a bilingual bird of prey, I visited his MySpace, which claims he’s 93 years old and hails from Mexico. The photo suggests he’s also a cross-eyed, angry codger who wears a formal bowtie and a giant baby bottle nipple on his head. Makes crazy faces, too; fun for the whole family. No songs, but a band plays behind him during the standup routine in the linked YouTube vid.

Jo Jo Jorge Falcon [MySpace]

DEATH ANGEL Actually, I already knew who these guys are. I even listened to an album by them before: Ultraviolence, 21 years ago, when they were adolescent Filipino-American San Francisco Metallica fans. Now they’re middle-aged Filipino-American San Francisco Metallica fans, making their big comeback with Killing Season, our nation’s No. 21 Heatseeker this week. But despite not being kids anymore, they still have band-branded skateboards available on their MySpace page. First song there, “Dethroned,” thrashes hookfully enough. (Did you know there is a “thrash revival” this year? Well, now you do.) “Your fucken new cd is the shit,” a friend named “burn” tells them in the comments. “It makes me proud to be a thrasher. So thrash on through the seemingly endless time.” (I’m sure relieved he hedged that bet with “seemingly,” aren’t you?)

Death Angel [MySpace]

THE TREWS Entered Canadian album chart at No. 4 last week with No Time For Later. Clogged-up Nova Scotian post-Black Crowes trudge-rock with a glob or two of funk and country in its gills. A comment below their current video on YouTube argues that, like the Guess Who and Tragically Hip, “they actually wanna sound Canadian, unlike your American wannabes.” Strangely, though, they do not sing in lumberjack accents.

The Trews [MySpace]

FOUR LETTER LIE I’m not sure what the four-letter lie is; maybe “trew.” Their What A Terrible Thing To Say entered Heatseekers at No. 31 last week. Minneapolis “Rock/Alternative/Hardcore”, which adds up to oafish screamo grunting and whining with occasional proggy breaks tossed in. MySpace “influences” qualify as product placement: Red Wall Screen Printing, Framus Amplifiers, Collin Hughes Photography. And this spring, they’re playing the City Church in Mobile, Alabama; Skateland in Westland, Michigan; and Jerry’s Pizza in Bakersfield, California. They sure get around!

Four Letter Lie [MySpace]