Butthole Surfers

Weird Revolution

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As a slice of danceable, oddball pop confection, Weird Revolution glides seamlessly along as millenial ear candy -- bizarre, languorous, and utterly surreal. Only a band with such a varied past -- splatter-painted with psychedelia, avant-punk, and hardcore, the acid-damaged scatology of Chrome, the pastoral beauty of acoustic and folk guitar, and the acid guitar pyrotechnics of Led Zeppelin -- could attempt such a massive career about-face. Agreed, when the Beck-ish "Pepper" sailed up the charts in the late 1990s, with its casual, trippy sampled beats, the vast preponderance of old-school fans were aghast. The radio friendly -- not to mention dance club friendly -- Weird Revolution will do nothing to assist those people back into the Butts peculiar belief system. Certainly, an album like this is not without precedent in the band's camp. At the tail end of the 1980s, former bassist Jeff Pinkus and ringleader Gibby Haynes assembled some binary code mish-mash under the name the Jackofficers using little more than a couple of Macintosh computers. And that was merely a lark. This time, one guesses, the band is as serious as a band like the Butthole Surfers could be. Unfortunately, all organic drumming has been cast overboard in favor of the studio friendly ProTools unit. There are numerous occasions of pop brilliance; "The Shame of Life" and the "Sweet Jane"-flavored "Dracula From Venus." Gibby Haynes' vocals are the designated focus of Weird Revolution, and even though he has always shown tremendous range in years past, from the disturbing ("Gravyard," "Concubine") to Roxy Music-esque crooning, this time he's flexing his Texas hip-hop muscles. Perhaps this is precisely the album they've been waiting to make. Perhaps it was a career imperative; the only way to financially salvage a 20-odd year run of genius and mayhem that suddenly went awry, causing everyone involved trouble with the bank. That is forgivable; that is fine. Certain bands, given their dedication and catalog, are nearly exempt from traditional standards, but the near absence of Paul Leary's LSD-drenched guitar wizardry is unconscionable, as it had always been the band's most mesmerizing feature. This signals a weird revolution in sound and vision, indeed: from the damaged terror, brilliance, and whimsy of the '80s and early '90s to the ecstacy-lined trenches of electronica.

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