Monthly Archives: August 2010

Tuesday uEtsy: Von Erickson

[Etsy.com’s tagline is “Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.” Coincidentally, there’s a lot of spooky on Etsy, and each Tuesday, we highlight one of the sellers. If you’re looking to spruce up your look, redecorate your tomb or get a gift for that special something in your afterlife, Etsy.com is a place for spooky econo.]

Von Erikson (VonErickson.etsy.com)

The Original VonErickson Stitch Choker

Von Erikson. Does he sleep? We don’t know. Perhaps he’s managed to do it in between moments of his tenure as a prop craftsman doing commercial work for places like Rediwhip and Absolut; maybe in the cracks of his schedule as a teacher at college; or perhaps he’s managed the skill of sleeping while playing upright bass for the Memphis Morticians. The man must have a secret.

VonErickson’s Original Stitch Choker Necklace

It’s Von Erikson’s work we’re proud to spotlight this time around. His Etsy store showcases some of the Von Erikson Lab’s best work in chokers, necklaces and bracelets. Want the authentic stitched together look but not too fond of needles or excessive bloodshed? Aren’t you glad we’re showcasing Von Erikson’s work, then? Take a look at the two chokers above. Rather realistic, yes? Or reasonably realistic.  We’re sure if we saw someone leaving Ozzie’s Bar around closing time, we’d initially think the person was a dissatisfied customer, not happy with the burial job and thus come back to life to seek better services elsewhere. Then we’d wonder if Ozzie was slipping something into the drink again. Thus is the testament to Von Erikson’s work.

The Original VonErickson Stitch Bracelet

We always like the Monster from Frankenstein. Seemed like a chap given a bad break, really. Brought back to life by some other person’s hubris. Granted, he was no angel, but who is? Of course, any undead critter from zombie to ghoul could be sporting this bracelet. Or someone with a functioning circulatory system could do their best in pretending. And we here would much rather you pretend to have stitches across your wrist than the real things.

Red/Silver Glitter Blood choker Necklace Extra Drippy-Dark

It’s not all stitches. As seen here, Von Erikson offers chokers and necklaces of the bloody type. Accent any evening wear or casual get-up with this necklace. If stitches are the ‘After,’ show the ‘Before’ with this necklace. It seems a bit gorey but maybe you’re looking to attract someone who’s into it. Or maybe you want to ward off vampires who think that your blood already sparkles. Or perhaps you just like this and want to wear it to dinner because you like it. We don’t mind. It’s a nice necklace, isn’t it?

Cemetery Tombstone Necklace – Glow in the dark

All of Von Erickson’s pieces are wonderful and we want you each to buy two, but the Cemetery Tombstone Necklace is one that hits close to our hearts, which is not to say our hearts are not close to our necks (we hope.) This also glows in the dark, which we’ve only seen happen once before in real life so we can say that Von Erikson has captured an authentic cemetery experience that you can carry around just about anywhere. Kind of taking a little bit of home on the road, outside of taking a pocket of dirt or a shovel in the back of the car, which is already pretty much a given anyway with us.

Skull and Peppermint Candy Bracelet

In addition to the stitches, blood and cemeteries, you’ll find some skulls and candy at Von Erikson’s shop. Feel a bit playful but still want to keep that sting of death nearby? Why not purchase this bracelet? Maybe you want to get that special someone in your life a nice gift that says “You’re sweet and you remind me of my mortality, how everything in life is temporary and that one day, it all falls down to ashes and dirt. PS. love you.”

You can find the Von Erickson etsy here, along with his personal site (Vonerickson.com) and the location fall the spooky stuff at VonEricksonLab.com. In addition, you can locate Von Erickson’s lovely lady, Ms. Steffi-Veizen at steffi-veizen.com for some fantastic photography capturing some of the wonderful sights of the psycho/rockabilly scene (as well as all other things pretty and unique that she’s managed to capture. High recommendations.)

Speaking of which, the band that Von Erickson plays, the Memphis Morticians, can be found here, with their Myspace here and Twitter account here. Von Erickson has the scoop, saying the Morticians are almost done recording the new album entitled “Bereave it or not, Another record by the Memphis Morticians” and it will be available soon on some non-major label. Get hip. Get crackin’. Get back here next Tuesday for another Tuesday uEtsy.

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Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Chaino

Chaino

Official Site (Label)

Eye of the Spectre, Dionysus Records 2008 (Original release date: 1957)


One of the most striking things about this CD is the cover, the artwork on which looks like something from a horror comic by Eerie Publications. It features an African tribesman strangling and preparing to whip a native woman in practically see-through clothing, who is in turn struggling to reach a dagger. Pretty bold stuff for a 1957 release and it is nothing short of amazing that Dionysus Records (under their Bacchus Archives imprint) was willing to use it in our modern times.

But don’t let your feelings about the cover affect your opinion of the artist or the music. If anything, let it provoke your curiosity…who or what is Chaino? According to the liner notes, producer Kirby Allan had recorded the sounds of tribal wedding ceremonies in Africa and attempted to build interest in his “new sound.” After receiving numerous complaints that the music was too repetitive, Allan decided to rework the music a bit to make it more palatable for American listeners. To this end, he teamed up with a musician whose real name is lost in time and is known only as CHAINO…

Eye of the Spectre is the first of six Chaino albums and its odd name is (according to the back cover) a reference to the “unbridled passion of love’s eerie spectre.” But that, along with the scary Tiki figure art on back cover aren’t Chaino’s only horror connections. The liner notes reveal that Chaino songs were used in low budget chillers like Night Tide and The Devil’s Hand.

Now that I think about it, those films have been released through many “public domain” DVD labels. As Atomic Mystery Monster often points out, even if we assume the films themselves are truly PD, those companies could get sued if the Chaino songs on their soundtracks weren’t created especially for the film as works for hire. If the Chaino material was created before those films, it would copyrighted separately. You see, you have to replace or license music that’s still under copyright even if it appears in a public domain work. That aside, the use of Chaino’s music in those films is still not the final horror connection…


As the title implies, “Bongos Whistling” opens with slow bongos backed by whistling. It’s eerie at first, but becomes somewhat birdlike at times. The bongos then pick up pace, with the occasional hard strike punctuating things. There’s brief harsh, angry male chant-yell before fading out…then we get a whistling solo and a big bongo finish.

“Woo Din Ese” features two bongos: one soft and steady while the other is wild and loud. Quick finger pats are mixed in with thew usual pounding slaps that fade out for the end. “Bongo Semba” has a more energetic opening than the last track, although both make use of two bongos. However, the dominant one is rather peppy in tone. It’s amazing how varied and musically pleasing the use of one type of instrument can be.

“Temba Lero” combines bongos and maracas for a pleasing beat. The bongos start out steady, but gets a bit varied in play. A few quick slaps close things out. “Sumac” offers faster, medium volume bongos and whistling followed by an angry yell, laugh and chanting. The secondary bongos get slower and more whistling appears. Not long after, more chanting and striking of bongos appears to form a very catchy beat. In fact, it sounds like the player is hitting the side of his bongos at times. The familiar angry chant returns and turns into singing…with some suggestive moaning.

“Don’t Do It To Me” has less angry chanting in small, sparse bursts while bongos build and the maracas return. We also get more moans, chanting and more bongos. It gets uncomfortably suggestive at times, but that soon turns into chanting. The bongo use more steady by that time and is soon followed by chanting and singing. A few strikes signal for the chanting to get softer while the bongos rises up and down. Things get back to normal and a chant seemingly takes us out…only for the listener to be surprised by faster bongos and singing. Things get silent, but then we get a repeat of the past events before the real ending.

“Bim-Boo” starts with an ominous gong. Maracas are combined with bamboo poles being hit to create unique sound (hence name). Mere words cannot do this justice. “Zombie Bamboos” opens with native chanting, but it’s not done by angry guy. The bongos are striking and softish, kind of like heartbeat at first, but then it gets a little louder and has more variations. You just might find yourself air bongoing at times. After a final bamboo strike, we get an eerie silence followed by a chant and a scream.

“Mating Calypso” offers a variety of percussion: steel drums, bongos, maracas and even claves. The angry guy’s chanting is fairly calm this time around. The drums soon become the focus, with clave strikes and light maraca use helping out. The chanting builds toward end with the final pounding of the drums. “Seis Nueve” features insect-like guiro use, claves and bongos. In fact, the bongo use is more varied than you’d think. There’s chanting by you-know-who at times, complete with suggestive moans.

“Afri Cuban” has a classic bongo opening. The two bongos changes up once the chanting starts. There’s also a neat echo effect on the chanting towards the end. Trust me, the song is better and more complicated than this review makes it sound. “Secret Jungle Path” begins with bongos and claves, whose strikes bring the sound of fire crackling to mind. A brief bird call or man chanting is heard, followed by bongo beats that sound like footsteps down a path. The beats are soft at times, presumably to imply secrecy. The track (and album) closes with bongos coupled with a shriek and groaning.

After finishing the album, the back cover’s reference to the “unbridled passion of love’s eerie spectre” makes much more sense. Thanks to its basis in African wedding ceremonies, Chaino’s music is alleged to have aphrodisiac-esque properties. Some might suggest that’s why Chaino tracks were used in modern TV shows and movies like Forces of Nature and Sex and the City, but I like to think that it’s because good music is timeless (even if I didn’t like what it appeared in). Sure, it might take a little getting used to, but it’s worth it.

Special thanks to Dionysus Records for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Moon-Rays

The Moon-Rays

Official Site

Sinister Surf, Sound Imp Records 2006


This may surprise you, but I already knew about the majority of the surf bands I’m reviewing before I started the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari. If I hadn’t heard of them on my own, then Strange Jason had recommended them to me. However, there are a few exceptions. While researching some albums on Amazon, I noticed a recommendation for Swingin’ at the Seance by the Moon-Rays. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and read up on the album. A CD composed entirely from re-recordings of vintage Halloween songs from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s? It wasn’t eligible for the Surf-ari, but I decided to look up the band’s contact info and file it away for use in the next Halloween countdown. But in the profess of doing so, I discovered that the band usually did surf music and my plans quickly changed. And that’s how the Moon-Rays became the second surf band I had discovered during the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari, the other being Witches in Bikinis.

But enough about that, let’s talk about the band themselves. Formed in 2000, the Moon-Rays consist of Scott Mensching (percussion and vocals), Greg Griffiths (keyboards), Andy Blanco (saxophone and vocals), Brandon Cochran (guitar) and Paul Luka (bass). According to their Facebook page, the band’s first big break was in 2001. That’s the year they recorded the theme for the famous Creatures Features TV show. This foreshadowed the use of their music in many horror-related movies in the years to come (also noted on their Facebook page). Although much of their output in those days were cover versions of songs, Sinister Surf is one of their more recent ventures into albums consisting of mostly original material. But be it cover or original, the Moon-Rays always make it sound amazing.


“Sinister Surf” gets things going with a mix of bongos and a surf guitar. The appropriately spooky undertones are greatly enhanced by the wailing saxophone. Said bongos and saxophone build up to a big finish, which then brings us to the next track. Put on your beret and sunglasses daddy-o, ’cause “Spookwalk” has a very beatnik sound and feel to it (especially in its use of drums, cymbals and saxophone). Said instruments take center stage over the guitar and organ-sounding keyboard. The guitar later takes over and adds to the song’s definite feel of strutting down street, but the sax returns as focus for the ending.

“Drag Fink” is clearly inspired by Rat Fink, which is appropriate since the album is dedicated to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Bongos and soft guitars build things up, and cymbals join in with the occasional saxophone toot which grows into a riff of sorts. The guitar takes the reins until the sax takes over and gets assistance from some light bongo use as it fades out.

“Hare-um Scare-um” has a rather spooky organ (keyboard) opening. A guitar then starts in, with the “organ” merely providing backup. The finger cymbal clashes sprinkled throughout add a Middle Eastern feel. Drums pop in, along with a saxophone, then the organ gets more prominent role. Drum beats and guitar strums take us to the end. Although I doubt the song was intended as a reference to the fact I’m about to share, I still find it interesting that the Elvis movie Harum Scarum played on a double bill with Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster in some US markets.

“Hearse With a Curse” warns that there isn’t anything worse than the item mentioned in the song’s title and we’re warned not to buy it several times throughout the song. Creepy sound effects give way to a sax, drums, guitars and “organ.” The guitar use takes over for the organ by the time the humorously sung warning reappears. There’s also a skit of sort as some poor sap named Billy (Mensching) expresses interest in the cursed hearse, which the evil, laughing salesman (Blanco) takes full advantage of. As Billy drives off, the guitars wind down and we hear a hubcap rolling that suggests an accident has taken place. The liner notes say this was not written by The Moon-Rays and I can only guess that the group guest appearing on this track (The Dead Beats – Kathy Dunjai, Bill Holtane and Robert Lewis) originally composed it.

“The Devil In Nylons” uses a sax backed by drums and cymbals to conjure up the image of a dangerous, sultry figure. It can sound extra “surfy” at times, especially the “Wipe Out”-like part. The guitar strums and possible light vibraphone use give “Mysterion” an eerie feel to its opening. This mood is further enhanced by aided by sound effects. A guitar and the organ-sounding keyboard sets an assertive pace (but with hint of mystery as well). Drums pop in and out, as does a heavier-sounding guitar. Our old friend the sax jazzes things up while vibes, guitars and more sound effects bring things to a close.

“Night of the Rodent” has a classic surf buildup, with a shaking tambourine and saxophone wailing like banshee coming in soon after. Guitars and soft, wordless female vocals (by guest singer Joelle Charbonneau-Blanco) remain in the background for much of song, but do rise up on occasion (especially for the end).

“The Raven (for Beatniks)” has a “beatnik exotica” feel due to its vibraphone (played by guest musician Bruce Nelson) and drum-based opening, which is soon followed by the saxophone. Said vibes often underscore points and the sax gets long interludes in between the beatnik-ized lyrics before the song’s abrupt stop. One Maynard G. Krebbs is responsible for this unusual (but amusing) reworking of Poe’s classic and beatnik lingo guide in liner notes will come in quite handy for any confused listeners.

“Deep Into Midnight” starts with clashing cymbals and chimes, which lead into light guitar and piano (handled by Scott Mensching) work. The overall mood is very soft and relaxing, especially the saxophone use and female “la la la’s” and “oooohs. ” Magical sounding chimes pipe in at times and are use to great effect for the conclusion.

“Sophomore Werewolf In Love” is a bonus a ccapella-slash-doo-wop track, complete with finger snaps and a howling “a-wooo” chorus. It’s dead-on parody of the old “lovesick teenager” song, with the twist that the protagonist is also a werewolf. There are plenty of humorous asides, such as the lead singer commenting on the close proximity of a haunted forest to a high school and his being equally afraid of angry villagers and being grounded. His wondering about why this sort of thing happened to a good kid like himself will undoubtedly remind horror fans of the poem from The Wolf Man.

“Night of the Day of the Dead” is a hidden bonus track whose existence is hinted it on the back cover. It’s a Mexican-sounding surf song with excellent guitar work backed by drums and maracas. It gets somewhat heavier towards middle, but softens up just before fadeout. It’s easily one of my favorites from the CD.

Speaking of the CD, its designed to look like a vinyl LP. However, the grooves are printed on rather than actually being grooved like Strange But Surf’s Swimming in Reverb was. In any case, you should definitely pick this up. I think you enjoy discovering this album as much as I did.

Special thanks to Sound Imp Records for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Arts & Crafts

With all of the music reviews that are being done for the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari, odds are that some of you have developed a hankering for some Tiki stuff of your very own. The appeal of Tiki bar decor is very understandable, whether you want it regular or spooky. With that in mind, I have put together a little selection of projects you can make at home. Some might need to be altered a bit to make them more freaky, but that’s hardly a big deal.

Page 168 of Matt Maranian’s Pad: the guide to ultra-living by Matt Maranian shows you how you can turn a Tiki mug into a cool lamp.

Retro Mania!: 60 Hip Handmade Cards, Scrapbook Pages, Gifts & More! by Judi Watanabe, Alison Eads, and Laurie Dewberry shows how to make a Tiki greeting card (perfect for inviting friends over for drinks) on page 35.

This twopart article from a 1961 issue of Popular Mechanics shows how to construct a wooden Tiki idol.

The sections on the “Safari Cube” and “Tiki Cube” on page 94 of Cube Chic: Take Your Office Space from Drab to Fab! by Kelley Moore tells you both where to get Tiki goodies and interesting ways to turn a room into a Tiki bar-style environment.

Finally, for those who prefer their Tiki tutorials to be spooky from the get-go, here is a collection of links from HalloweenForum.com:

Haunted Luau
Halloween Luau
Aether’s Album: Tiki
Haunted Tiki Island 2009
Haunted Tiki Island 2008
Hosting a Haunted Luau for my Birthday!
Why I haven’t been around… (Tiki Tutorial :p)

Enjoy!

As noted in previous “How-To” posts, Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on those sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). Attempt at your own risk.

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Kava Kon

Kava Kon

Official Site

Departure Exotica, white label detroit 2005
Tiki for the Atomic Age, Dionysus Records 2009

For this installment of the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari, we’ll be taking a side trip into the world of neo-exotica. What is neo-exotica? From what I can tell, neo-exotica is exotica music made using synthesizers and other electronic music equipment in addition to classic exotica instrument standards. It’s a close cousin to another exotica offshoot, space age pop, and the bands that make it tend to have fewer members than old school exotica groups.

Although the term is never used in the following Amazon writeup, I still think it also helps describe how Kava Kon is a neo-exotica band: “Kava Kon is an electronica lounge duo. With heavy influences in exotica, bossa nova, electronic, cocktail lounge, western, and 1950s-60s hollywood sound. They make music for the lounge crowd and all of the Tiki heads.”

According to the band’s Myspace blog, Kava Kon was formed by Nels Truesdell and Bob Kress in 2004 as “a magical escape from the urban decay surrounding them in their former home city of Detroit.” In 2005, they released their first album Departure Exotica and followed it up with Tiki for the Atomic Age in 2009. The cover art for both was done by the talented Heather Watts.


Departure Exotica starts things off with “9 Hours,” which features two guitars: one slow and plodding while the other is much faster. The music eventually stops for the sounds of seagulls cawing and rolling surf, which leads into the next track. “Chineses Pirate” continues the sounds of gulls and waves and fades into a synth beat. This is soon joined by a guiro and either a bell or vibraphone. Dreamlike and spacy sounds com into play, along with more seagulls. It gets very Hammond organ-like at times before it launches into a funky beat. Said beat is joined by light vocals, a gong, vibraphone, organ and snapping. Finally, seagulls lead us out into rolling surf.

“Oceania” continues the surf sounds and carries us to a strange synth sound I can’t identify (horn?) and percussion. There’s light use of spacey keyboard and a ukulele or steel guitar comes in later. “Laserblast” sounds and mixed with bird calls and sirenesque female vocals until the beat fades out into…you guessed it…surf sounds. It definitely seems faraway and as exotic as the name/locale implies.

“Moon Mist” begins with the ever-present sound of rolling surf, along with animal calls. Echoing vibes, like ripples in water, and bongos come into play soon after while a gong cameos at times. Light female vocals and space warp effects come in later. The vibraphone beats and vocals play off each other to give the song a “nighttime” feel. It’s like a cool, relaxing evening by the shore.

“Zombie” is obviously of great interest to readers of this website. The opening growls, strange calls and soft crickets lead into bongos, chanting and snapping claves. Said snapping sounds like sparks from fire. The organ returns as the percussion use rises, while something howls in distance. Monkey shrieks and a mournful horn join in, then maracas and vibes get added to beat and leave before it all fades out. It’s like ceremony to raise or summon something from the depths of the jungle.

“Build Your House Underground” begins with a strange tune that leads into an echoing bongo beat, guiros and female singing. Space sounds and odd, vaguely electric bagpipe-like sounds take the stage for awhile until the females vocals repeat and crackle, like a stuck record. I wonder if this was intended as a house music reference of some kind?

Rather than starting off with something associated with the desert or mummies, “Pyramid Point” begins with what sounds like crashing waves. Fast, rhythmic guiros and a funky beat soon come into play. It reminds me of a video game at times and it really picks up about two minutes in. Then it turns into dance music or something off a Kinkysweet compilation (which is not a complaint).

“Sakau Bar” pairs bongos and background tone/hum variations. Light space sounds and whispers vocals are also scattered throughout. This would be great background music at a real bar, and the effect of being at one is created by using whispers to simulate snippets of overhead conversations. Eventually, the tone pulses and overwhelms the bongos and the sounds of thunder and rain closes things out.

“Nan Madol” is a very short tune using a horn and either light chimes or vibe strikes. This is followed by “Six Eleven,” which makes excellent use of a Latin-sounding guitar coupled with clicks/snaps and spacey notes. This is followed with intelligible lyrics sung by Trisha Shandor (who provided vocals on the other songs on the album). Another spacey note underscores and replaces the lyrics while a drum machine leads the music out.

“Tiki Sunrise” is bookended with surf sounds, which is appropriate since it’s the album’s final track. The opening sounds lead into female chanting, guiros and new-agey music. Male vocals (which appears to be a clip from something) and a guitar also come into play. I think this definitely feels like an early morning at beach. In fact, one can easily imagine that the album is made up of the dreams someone who dozed off at the beach is having, hence the heavy use of beach sounds and “space” material. Not that I minded those things, mind you.


As you might surmise from the title, Tiki for the Atomic Age should be of great interest to sci-fi/horror fans. It also seems to be a reference to the neo-exotica style. At first glance, the cover merely depicts a hula dancer holding a ray gun. However, closer inspection implies that woman might be more unearthly than she appeared at first glance. After all, the flower in her hair seems unlike any blossom on Earth…

Not only does the talented vocalist Trisha Shandor return for this album, but she is joined by:

Arianna – vocals
Ceeca Star Begley – vocals
Lalena Malloian – vocals
Terry Herald – ukulele
Ali Lexa – bongos
Ryan Gimpert – pedal, steel guitar
Mark Stone – exotic percussion

“The Atomic Clock” starts things off with drums that lead into a mysterious tune and click-clacking, like a countdown. The female vocals give the song a symphonic tone at first, but a heavier synth tone later dominates it. However, the drum machine and returning vocals revive the symphonic sound. An explosion ends everything…everything but the surf and seagulls.

“Chinese Surfer” continues the use of surf and seagull sounds, then shifts into a variety of sounds. Bongos, steel pedal guitar, guiros, chanting and grunts all come into play. It also gets rather “space”-sounding at times. It alternates between these and has a surf/exotica fusion feel to it. It all stops suddenly, only to be followed by rain…

“Cherry Rain” appropriately couples the sound of light rain with a soft tone. The sounds of a ukulele and piano are joined by female vocals (complete with lyrics), drum machine, bongos and the occasional animal call. There’s an interesting piano riff sprinkled through song that’s like falling rain and it plays off the real sound effect well.

“Turkish Honey” has flutes and animal calls lead into guiros and a Middle Eastern beat/feel. A horn joins in, as do a guitar, the Hammond organ sound and more calls. There’s a great percussive beat throughout as well.

“The Exotic Traveler” starts with chirping crickets, wind and crackling, like a dying fire. It’s very eerie, especially the accompanying organ music and vocals. Things get happier due to the space sounds and drum machine beat, although the space stuff goes in and out (as do vocals). After a distant booming, it all goes back to eerie stuff at start. Taken as a whole, it’s very much like a journey.

In “The Killing River (Without the Sun, Moon, or Stars),” a slow surf guitar starts things off and is followed by female vocals. Said vocals remind me of the deadly siren of Greek myth. The song/trip down the river then starts its beat with light, subtle bongos that continue throughout the song and are joined by vaguely Middle Eastern percussion at one point.

The sounds of a vibraphone and drums bring us “Behind The Sun,” with magic-sounding chimes and exotic percussion kicking in next. The ever-present female vocals and further chimes add to the song’s otherworldly feel. After we hear the sound of something being lit is heard, maracas and a guitar appear. Whipping and horses are heard, along with gongs. This all fades out as rumbling of thunder fades in, then guiros and drums take over. Although we get more vocals, they later stop for the rumbling of thunder in distance and rain. The title and mood of the song bring thoughts of parallel worlds populated by strange creatures behind the sun.

“Palace of the Tiger Women” opens with bird calls and chimes. Bongos and guiros plus a harp form the backbone of opening tune, with a gong taking things in a ceremonial direction. Light vibe strikes play out like tiptoes approaching the magical-sounding harp and low female vocals. The echoing end is quite powerful. We’ve clearly entered the lair of the Tiger Women in the midst of a sacred ceremony, but are they Leopard Society-style cultists or half-human creatures?

“Pacifica 66” gives us the classic (and pleasant) opening of waves at a beach. Soft, dreamy vibes are backed by upbeat bongos and birds chirping. Some form of percussion that I can’t recognize appears and it all has an old school exotica feel until the space sounds kick in. Female vocals join Lymanesque vibes and percussion. Then we are taken back to the beach for the ending. Right before the track ends, we hear light guitar work that sounds almost as if it is playing on a radio.

“Polynesia Poppies” is appropriately dreamlike, like Dorothy in the poppy field. In addition to chimes and a gong, the vibraphone and bongos make it very much like the previous song. Those are combined with a smooth blend of maracas (or is it a guiro?), gong, vibes and later a ukulele pops in. Female vocals join in with chimes for the conclusion.

Despite the name “Zero Gravity Lounge,” there are very few space sounds in this song. A guitar and drums, along with faint bird chirps get things rolling. Suddenly, here comes the organ and the chirps become calls. Similarly, the female vocals are soft at first and then everything picks up, including a theremin-like melody followed by the Hammond organ sound. All in all, it has a very lounge feel. Things wrap up with birds and a countdown, followed by a rocket launching.

In contrast with the last track, “Journey Home” is filled with spacey sounds. Bongos, a drum machine beat, keyboards and synth sounds make for a pleasant trip through space. There are even bird calls and Christmas-like bells at one point. The sound of what seems to be wind and slower-paced music, along with background chatter, wrap things up.

The music on both albums is all very soothing for the most part, although there are touches of excitement and creepiness. Based on the unexpected shifts and effects in many of their work, it seems that the folks behind Kava Kon enjoy playing with listeners’ expectations. Although it takes some getting used to at first, you’ll come to appreciate it as you listen. Hardcore Tiki purists might turn up their noses, but they’re seriously missing out on some great stuff.

Special thanks to Kava Kon and Dionysus Records for the review copies!

Tuesday uEtsy: The Chop Shop

[Etsy.com’s tagline is “Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.” Coincidentally, there’s a lot of spooky on Etsy, and each Tuesday, we highlight one of the sellers. If you’re looking to spruce up your look, redecorate your tomb or get a gift for that special something in your afterlife, Etsy.com is a place for spooky econo.]

The Chop Shop (chopshop.etsy.com)

weScare

Normally, the phrase “chop shop” brings forth the idea of an illegal automotive autopsy, not “design studio over thirteen years old, known for working with Phish, They Might Be Giants, Dilbert and Adobe.” But this is what we have here today for this Tuesday uEtsy. The Chopping Block, the aforementioned design studio, has a presence on Etsy with The Chop Shop.

weVolve

What you’ll notice The Chop Shop currently has plenty of things on sale that run on a nicely designed theme – a shape made up of corresponding shapes. For instance, if you look at the Famous Apes picture, the design of the ‘Barrel of Monkeys’ shape is composed of 37 famous simians. Name them all and you can show that you have a mastery of ape-based trivia that makes you the king of Convention of the Apes, three years running.

weRobot

Like all things, if you don’t like monkeys, you can have robots. Fighting e-ter-nal-ly, the Robot has been the bane of all things monkey. You can demonstrate your servitude for your metal overlords by wearing this shirt featuring famous Sci-Fi robots. Like all things from The Chop Shop, it doubles as both a guessing game and a  loyalty pledge. Can’t name all the robots? KILL THE HUMAN.

alienWe

You might consider this week’s entry a demonstration of evolution. Monkey. Robot. Alien. From the time you were bashing rocks against other rocks to when you could add numbers greater than the amount of fingers and toes at your disposal, you’re now ready to venture out into the universe to see that which you never thought possible. Natural evolution of a species or you finally moving out of your brother’s couch to find an apartment for yourself? It can be both. And when you show up at the showing for your first single bedroom/studio, make sure to wear something that says “I will have the rent on time and will do my best to not let too many foreign parasites invest the premises. The most alien things I want are the pictures on this clever and well-designed t-shirt.” We here at the Local, nor the Chop Shop, Chopping Block or any of the subsidiaries are saying that you will have a better chance at getting that swank apartment for less rent than asking price if you buy and subsequently WEAR this t-shirt. But in this economy, it’s worth a shot.

my heart is divided

It’s not all collections of things that will eventually replace you at your job. Take a look at the anatomically and geek-atomically correct heart graphic. Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Wear it on your chest and let everyone know, well ahead of the time they’ll take to get to know you, that you mean business. And that business involves Star Wars, Beer and Family. Seems like the modern values of this coming generation. And the Chop Shop is there to guide you along the way.

Say you’re not a t-shirt geek? You’re a dirty liar. Say that you’re a geek that has too many t-shirts? Much better. Don’t you feel happy now that you’ve stopped lying and finally accepted the truth? Probably not.

Thankfully, Chop Shop has something for those of you who have come to admit that you have a problem. It’s a print of 149 famous characters of sci-fi. It seems not to say “you have a problem, geeky” but more of “damnit, Otto. You have Lupus.” So we’re not yelling at you for being a geek, nerds. Just, eat a bit healthier, okay? Bacon is not a go-to condiment. Cut out the high-fructose corn syrup and try to drink a glass of water or two. Look, you’re going to end up dead someday so we’ve already got you scheduled as a customer. Try to prolong the process as much as you can. You’ll enjoy it more. 

weDead

This is our favorite of the ‘collection’ theme the weDead shirt. Granted, skulls might be – as Poinsettia says, “played out” but we disagree. This upcoming Halloween, why not get into the spirit and have this on your person. Walk up to some cute looking ghoul of your choosing, ask him or her if they can name each person on your chest. Go back to your tomb. Trick and Treat. Something like that. If this shirt doesn’t make you smoother by at least 10%, you’re probably wearing it inside out.

Chop Shop runs package deals on their shirts, allowing you to get a their sets – horror, sci-fi, rock – for a deal than purchasing them separately. It’s a unique design that you won’t find elsewhere. Or, you might find it at their Etsy page. You can also keep up on things with their Twitter page, or become their friend on Facebook. Do you use tumblr? or Posterous? Chop Shop is there as well.

If you want, and we do recommend you pay a visit, go see what the Chopping Block has done. Odds are, you’ve seen their work and not even known it. Find out what they’re doing and hey – if you’ve got the dime, they got the time. See if they can make you look incredible with their design skills. And see if you can make it back here next Tuesday for another Tuesday uEtsy.

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Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Daikaiju

Daikaiju

Official Site

Daikaiju, Reptile Records 2005


Not to be confused with the similarly-named anthology series, Daikaiju is a surf band known for music influenced by Japanese monster movies (hence the name) and the kabuki masks worn by the four band members in order to hide their identities. Thankfully, the band’s origins are much less mysterious.

Daikaiju first appeared in 1999 in Alabama, coincidentally(?) the same year that the classic Godzilla movie Destroy All Monsters was set in. After years of live performances and self-released CD-R singles, the band teamed up with Reptile Records. This resulted in their appearing on the 2003 compilation album Heavy Surf and the band’s self-titled debut album in 2005 (which I’ll be reviewing today).


Being a huge fan of surf music and Japanese monster movies, it was only natural that I’d stumble across their music and enjoy it. But even if they had used a different theme, I’d still love the wonderful mix of guitars and drums. This is definitely a case of music making the gimmick and not the gimmick making the music.

“Daikaiju Die!” starts things off with pounding guitars and drums, then later mellows out for a spell. It gets very reverb-heavy, picks up speed and mellows again in a return to the style of beginning and builds for a big ending. If you like this, you’ll definitely enjoy the rest of the material on the album.

“Attack of the Crab Women” has what can only be described as a “classic” style opening. The strumming speeds up and drumbeats get mixed in and some parts have much in common with prior track. This song is also an example of how modern surf bands (especially horror-themed ones) can do songs that evoke things associated with surfing and the beach without actually being about surfing.

“The Trouble With Those Mothra Girls” has a slowish opening, but the strumming and cymbal beats gives it a light and quick feel. But if those parts symbolize the little handmaidens, then the song revving up at points is probably a reference to their gigantic protector coming to save them (and destroy any buildings that get in its way). After “Mothra” subsides, we get a drum “solo” coupled with some light guitar work before it revs up again and fades out.

This particular song is quite special to me, as it was one of the songs I used on the proto-GdL16 Halloween countdowns I did on my old Myspace account. It started as me changing my profile song to something spooky every week or so in October, but Strange Jason suggested that I add reviews and articles to the mix in 2008 (even offering to do the same on his page). Although that part of the countdown eventually turned into Gravedigger’s Local 16 and never appeared on Myspace, the use of spooky profile songs went ahead as planned.

“Sharkakhan” starts off speedy with heavy undertones, like a massive beast swimming beneath the waves. It eventually speeds up even more and lots of “wet” reverb is heard until it goes back to original style. The title and tone of the song bring a giant shark monster to mind, like some distant, terrestrial relative of Gamera’s foe Zigra.

“Showdown In Shinjuku” opens with loud, heavy guitar use that sounds like massive footsteps. As things speed up, one can easily imagine a fast-paced brawl between two giant monsters in Shinjuku, with their loss and regaining of energy suggested by the alternating pace of the music and the drum-dominated ending signifying the final blows. “The Daikaiju Who Loved Me” has an appropriately soft, slow guitar intro, which then gives way to energetic beat that sets the tone for the rest of the song. It’s almost Latinesque in its use of guitars at times.

“Son of Daikaiju” is another fast-paced Daikaiju tune, but it’s still unique compared to other songs of similar pacing. For example, there’s an interesting guitar riff scattered throughout the song and cymbals come back into play here and never let up. “Incognito” has an interesting effect on its opening guitar. It’s kind of like “beatnik surf,” especially the drum use. This also has a “Latin” sound at times.

“Super X-9” has heavy, speedy opening that implies technology then launches into a surf beat. Said beat is very fast and powerful, just like the fictional flying superweapon that inspired its name (although the “real” Super-X only made it up to a third model). It slows down at times, but loses no sense of power and quickly speeds up, like a flying battleship performing a complicated maneuver that leads up to its big, fast-paced finish.

“Farewell to Monster Island” is the final and longest track of the album. The soft, slow opening has a definite melancholy feel to it. This is followed up by a cool, “tropical” riff and the drum beats and guitar that follow convey the feel of floating away on a long, slow boat trip. Although the majority of the song evokes someone feeling sad to leave (or sad that its the last song), there are occasional upbeat parts (as if remembering one can always return to Monster Island/replay the CD). This is tied with the first track as my all-time favorite Daikaiju song.

If you’re a fan of surf music and/or Japanese monster movies, you definitely owe it to yourself to check out Daikaiju’s work. Speaking of which, they’ve recently released a download-only single called “Flight of Garuda” (also the name of their previous tour) and are (as of this writing) in the middle of their “Double Fist Attack Tour!”

Special thanks to Daikaiju for the review copy!

They say it starts showing up earlier every coming year….

Man, I feel like it’s Halloween-time already.

It’s going to be a long one, folks.

Tuesday uEtsy: blacklilypie

[Etsy.com’s tagline is “Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.” Coincidentally, there’s a lot of spooky on Etsy, and each Tuesday, we highlight one of the sellers. If you’re looking to spruce up your look, redecorate your tomb or get a gift for that special something in your afterlife, Etsy.com is a place for spooky econo.]

You can’t pin down Tara Fortin of blacklilypie. And we don’t mean with thumbtacks. Not for lack of trying, we suppose. Thumbtacks wouldn’t do it. Neither staples, velcro or industrial strength adhesive could do the trick. Kind of ventures into nailgun territory, and then you have to rent an air-compressor and then lug it around. And Tara’s mobile all the while, so it’s not easy. Plausible, yeah. Maybe if you snuck up on her and we really don’t advise that. Not if you want to get any of the fanstatic goods offered by blacklillypie. The direct approach is best.

Variety! Spice of life and blacklilypie might as well be your Indian grocer peddling a peppergrinder because blacklilypie has a a lot to offer. It’s been a while since we showcased some art here on the Tuesday uEtsy Spotlight so we’re glad to return to form with some nice pieces. Take a gander at this death rock lady and ask yourself “does she exisit? Do I know her? Is she single?” Granted, you might not be lucky enough to have a physical representation of all things rocking and spooky but the closest thing you could (legally) get is this wonderful picture hanging on your wall.

Leisurely looking back against your seat, admiring the portrait of someone you wish you could take to see ‘Revenge of the Living Dead’ at the Alejandro Drive-In, your back might ache as your strange, two-dimensional-attracted-to heart. Why not sooth the physical with this fantastic pillow set – Pink skull, seperate cross bones, all comfy.

You have art, you have pillows, you have artful buttons you can put on that pillow. Look at that picture of that back cat. Those eyes looking up at you as you wear that pin while working at your office desk or on the mandated red-cotton/poly blend polo your gas station manager has issued to you, hell. Black cats are bad luck if they cross your path but wear them on your lapel and you are ultra lucky. maybe you won’t get robbed that night? Maybe you won’t get fired from your job? Maybe you will! Make your own luck with this Gothic Girl pin set from blacklilypie.

When you peruse blacklillypie’s store, you’ll ntice the happy picture of the company mascot and new-found guru for this modern economic client, Batcat. It’s really ingenious of Tara Fortin to cross two wonderful things – a bat, a cat – to make something that in itself is greater than both. We saw Hector try to do the same, one time, by making a sandwich meat out of three different types of jerkey; all that made was for a quick trip to the hospital. We’re lucky to say that Hector survived the stomach pumping but receiving the bill gave the poor boy a stroke.  Thankfully, he recovered his motor skills (and mercifully, not his culinary spirit) through the use of art therapy. It really was a bummer that all he knew for art was the bathrool stall grafitti, though he’s now the county’s Poet Lauriet, albeit his medium is mainly dirty lymricks detailing the daily news of the town. Had he this color book, ‘A Day with Batcat,’ the incredible artwork might have turned Hector into a backwoods Monet. But don’t let his condition defer you from making the right choice. Unleash your inner artist with this coloring adventure.

blacklilypie offers matted and unmatted prints, making it easier for you to display, frame and impress other people with their delicious selection of artwork. It shows class and nothing could be truer than seeing this piece of blood and ink on your wall. Taking a look at this print makes us really appreciate the linework, in both the eyes and the lips. It’s a simple and elegent design, woring with darkness to create something both subtle and powerful. The touch of red comes after the blackness draws you in, or so we’re told by Professor Holloway from the university. We don’t know for sure what exactly all that means except that the picture is pretty and that it’s something you should buy.

We really do like Ms. Fortin’s artwork. There’s something about the use of color and a good control of lines that makes for a great blend. Like wildness and restraint. Something like that, we suppose. Look, this is a great picture of a girl wearing a white bow over what we can only assume is a vampire bite. How great is that?

You’ll find a lot of things at blacklilypie. Bookmarks, sculptures, pillows, pins and artwork. It’s a great place that you should check out, along with the blog and blacklilypie’s twitter feed. Go and make yourself happy by adding a little variety to your life. And make us happy by coming back next week for another Tuesday uEtsy.