Pop Life

Navigating MySpace’s Musical Wilderness

Tokyo Pudding: Like Devo, but Japanese
I resisted MySpace like I resisted the World Wide Web, seat belts, unleaded gas, Barry Goldwater… but I digress. Since familiarizing myself with MySpace’s vast musical wilderness, I’ve become addicted to the surprises it reveals. Sometimes you discover a new outhouse, sometimes it’s like discovering new continents in wooden ships. The winnowing process never stops, but you can discern certain patterns. Lately, bands with really weird names but interesting music have been popping onto radar.

Tokyo Pudding (Tokyo): Remember Bill Murray’s appearance on the inane, utterly stupid Tokyo talk show in Lost in Translation? That was my first thought when I saw the Devo-ish photo of the two guys behind Tokyo Pudding. “Tokyo 007,” from their album Tokyo Soundscapes, did nothing but reinforce that impression. TP takes a joyous flirtation with absurdity into the stratosphere with the cynical MySpace description blurb: “all you need to know about Japan.” They describe their music as “Japanese office worker's grief and expectation with Eurobeat,” with a tragic kernel of cultural decay at the heart of every tune as they parody a variety of pop styles. (song: "Tokyo 007")

Texas Sluts (Bordeaux, France): Lord knows what the Bush administration could make out of the band name alone. I smell international incident. They look like a punk band, but Robert Cray comes to mind as they blast through originals like “Rainin’ in Bordeaux” and “I Believe to My Soul.” Honest rock is easier to find in Europe than honest blues, but these bar vets are trying to do it right. (song: “Doggone Man”)

Mr. Soap and the Smiling Tomatoes (Paris): But for little tell-tale tips in song titles like “Sam and the Nipples,” you’d think those moptop Monkees had simply vanished to France and reemerged as Smiling Tomatoes. Both lyrical and musical irony are cake-icing thick and recall the demented recordings of Jon Wayne on tracks like “Hawai Ya” and Beatles cover “Slow Down.” It takes talent to be this campy and not blow it completely. (song: “Sam and the Nipples”)

Barbe-Q-Barbies (Helsinki): MySpace is a veritable minefield of bands from Helsinki, one rockin’ town. Without definitive DNA testing to say otherwise, most of these bands seem to be the spawn of Link Wray. Cyberspace is littered with not-exactly-PC comments describing the Barbies as “not just hot chicks.” While the riot-grrrl image is perfect, the proof is still in the playing and writing. These women have it. (song: “Escort”)

The Vageenas (Germany): Straight up mosh pit punk played with German industrial efficiency. The Vageenas handle a song like the Wehrmacht marched through Holland: fast and brutal. Witness the return of the 45-second rock song. (song: "No Brain") – William Michael Smith

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William Michael Smith