With Halloween upon us, we give you five artists to sink those fake teeth into (along with all those leftover haribos) on this frightful October night. No tricks here, only treats.
An eclectic, sexual pop-provocateur, Scottish-born Momus is a musical force to behold, and one of the first true post-modern rock stars. His back-catlogue is almost as hard to pin down as the man himself, ranging from the biblical acoustic re-telling of sorts on “Circus Maximus”, to the synth-infused dramatism of “Tender Pervert”. He may have lost sight in one eye (resulting in his now iconic eyepatch), but the man’s never taken his sight off becoming the ultimate musical enigma.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
You may have first heard of The Brian Jonestown Massacre through their infamous (albeit unfairly edited) potrayal in 2004 music documentary “Dig!”, alongside The Dandy Warhols. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, regardless of their often rocky past, are now reknowned as psych-rock behemoths, their 26 year-long career traversing the underground depths and substance-induced heights of psych. Anton Newcombe, frontman of this now cult band, may have had an eye for danger and recklessness in the past, but he’s always had an ear for writing some of the best melodies in the world of music.
It’s a real mystery as to why Fad Gadget, aka Frank Tovey, has been so unjustly overlooked when it comes to his contribution to electronic music. First bursting onto the scene with the idiosyncratic single “Back To Nature” in 1979, he became a major influence for the likes of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Trent Reznor and Boy George. Fad Gadget’s harsh electronic pop, fused with his biting social commentary, made many realise that you don’t need to dress up the truth behind a well-tuned six-string, when the truth sounded just as good bouncing between coarse synths and club-cut basslines. A fad gadget among tedious toys.
When Warren Zevon was diagnosed with a form of cancer in 2002, instead of undergoing treatments he believed may incapacitate him, Zevon instead went into the studio to record his final album, The Wind. Only two years earlier had Warren Zevon performed his song, “My Shit’s Fucked Up”, live on Jools Holland, unbeknown of the significance and irony of such a performance, and how his strong sense of self and his humour, in the end, became his legacy. This kind of bleak humour and self-awareness are threadlines that can be traced back all through his career and his songs, with Warren often found ruminating over his tumultuous life, or using his songs as vehicles to tell mini-stories, his tongue-in-cheek lyrical flamboyance his best weapon.
The story of Sixto Rodriguez is as humbling a tale as ever. The focus of 2012 documentary “Searching For Sugar Man”, the film follows two South African fans search for the musician, who had disappeared off the face of the Earth after two albums, released in 1970 and 1971. It’s a heart warming story, as Rodriguez’s albums became more popular in South Africa than albums by the likes of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. Rodriguez, hailing from America, was himself completely unaware of what was happening in South Africa. He became a cult figure to those people, and there were legends created about his apparent disappearance into oblivion; how he set himself on fire on stage and had died as a result. The conclusion of the documentary has a much happier (and a less mythical) outcome than the legends that had surmounted overtime, but his music itself will always remain a treasure for the people of South Africa, as it was once their own fabled lore, obscured from the rest of the world.