Trying to describe a band to someone who's never heard it usually requires a
reference to more than one other combo. Here are five songs that not only share
sonic similarities with the perverse party rock of Electric Six -- featured heavily in this week's issue and playing tonight
at the Culture Room -- but suggest why the band has survived the initial novelty
success of songs like "Gay Bar."
Roxy Music: "Editions of You"
rock stomps riddled with keyboard effects and horn solos, a flamboyant singer
taking romantic, reference-heavy lyrics past the point of absurdity -- early Roxy
Music is the most obvious predecessor to the Electric Six aesthetic. If Bryan
Ferry's ever looking for another encore cover, he could do a lot worse than
York Dolls: "Personality Crisis"
Six singer Dick Valentine isn't a fan of the downwardly mobile end of the
pre-punk era ("Not my cup of tea aesthetically. Roxy Music was smoother, more
reined in, aspiring to be better... the whole trash-glam thing just does nothing
for me"), but his "Future Boys"
and "Infected Girls"
still sound like the synthed-up children of David Johansen's prima ballerinas
and wolfmen howling at the moon (awoooo!). No one would be surprised to hear the
Dolls at the club described in E6's "After Hours."
Van Beethoven: "(I Was Born in a) Laundromat"
he was leading one of Detroit's finest party bands, Dick Valentine was Tyler
Spencer, one of those guys in the college dorm who really liked the college
rock. And few bands were more college rock than droll eclectics Camper Van
Beethoven. "Their last two albums from the '80s [Key Lime Pie and Our
Revolutionary Sweetheart] are phenomenal," says Dick, who's covered their
seething "When I Win the Lottery" at solo concerts.
The charging "Laundromat" would be an easy fit for the full
Magnetic Fields: "The Death of Ferdinand DeSaussure"
the underground was once full of brainy humorists like CVB's David Lowery, Devo,
and David Byrne, bands became a lot more lyrically earnest -- if they were even
coherent -- in the '90s and since. Though Dick is at a loss to namecheck bands
filling that niche for him today, he does have love for the Magnetic Fields. "I
think some of the lyrics on 69 Love Songs are genius," he says. If Merritt
dropped a vocoderless cover of Electric Six's "Making Progress,"
his fans would probably take it for an original.
Tenacious D: "Double
with that kind of pedigree, why are these guys treated like mere chucklehounds
by so many critics? Well, it's because if you removed the Spin Alternative
Record Guide from Electric Six, you'd basically have Tenacious D. The similarity
between Jack Black and Dick Valentine's hollers are especially evident on the
band's quieter numbers, a fact Dick calls out on the acoustic outtake "I'm on a
Though the Six's jokes don't get nearly as broad, both groups pay irreverent
tribute to rock's past -- Electric Six just salutes better bands.
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Electric Six, with the Constellations and Blond Fuzz. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday,
October 5, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.
Tickets cost $10. Click here.