Friday, July 1, 2011

40 Songs, 40 Days (2011 Edition), Day Nineteen: Toxic by Uncle Monsterface

Okay....this is just...weird. And it makes me sad.

Uncle Monsterface is apparently a rock band composed of sock puppets. Don't take my word for it; got to their website and see how I'm sooo not joking about this. And if sock puppet rock bands are your thing, you can get the album this cover of Britney Spears' hit single comes from just for signing up for their mailing list.

Given that this is a...sock puppet rock band, Uncle Monsterface's take is a little peculiar. Musically, they seem to be a bit of a mash-up of several 'geekcore' concepts--the melody line seems to be done in a way that emulates 8-bit video game cues (an earlier ep of theirs featured songs inspired by classic Nintendo games), the vocals seem influenced ever-so-slightly by the mannered-but-dorky stylings of such Geekcore bands (and geekcore pioneers) as Lemon Demon and They Might Be Giants, and they utilize unusual instruments for a rock band, like a banjo. It's not entirely unpleasing, although it does come off as overmannered; I can only imagine what watching these guys live is like. And a quick walk through their discography reveals the typical geekcore subject matter--video games, comic books, breakfast cereals, the sort of things other rock bands wouldn't think twice about.

There would have been a time several years ago where I would have looked at something like Uncle Monsterface and went nuts for it. But the problem is this--take away the geeky crap from a band like Kirby Krackle or a rapper like Adam Warrock, and you still have legitimate music. Adam Warrock in particular has made it clear that the music comes first, and he only gets geeky with it when a geek theme is evident within. But strip away the 8-bit psuedo-midi bullcrap and the sock puppets and the silly vocals from Uncle Monsterface...and you've got nothing. It's this sort of project that makes me worry that Geek Culture's time in the sun is approaching faster than we realize. Popular cultural trends end when the also-rans and the not-very-goods rush in to get all 'me too' about that culture. When the crap to gold ratio increases beyond a certain point, the casual fan just moves away, ready to embrace the next trend. And Uncle Monsterface--while not as terrible a band as, let's say, Hungry Mouth (a 'grunge' band that CBS tried to force down our throats towards the tail end of that movement), it's not that great and is bound to strike people with ennui. Being weird just for weird's sake is guaranteed to plummet us back to being a niche.

(And need I remind you of how the end of grunge and britpop led to a popular music scene that embraces the emptiness of 'Am I A Man Or A' Lady Gaga, Ke-Dollar-Sign-Ha, Kanye 'I Loves Me Some Autotune' West, and the concept of the 'feMC'? If that doesn't put a chill in your bones, I don't know what will.)

So, ummmm, yeah. Sock puppet geekcore. I think I'll pass....

Here's a live performance of this cover, sans the sock puppets, which makes the concept seem even sadder still....

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