Billy Joe Winghead

Billy Joe Winghead

Be Your Own Boss

Here’s a lesson in how people like me are supposed to find out about great bands: a) you have a great radio station nearby, b) they play a great song by a band that up until then you’d no idea existed, c) band is announced, d) I look them up on the Web, e) they have a Web site with e-mail contacts, f) I contact the band, g) by coincidence, they’re in town in a couple of weeks.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

So it was another Sunday afternoon at home listening to WFMU, and the DJ plays an insane song called “Komanawannaleia.” At first I thought it was a new one by the Dickies, no, the DJ back-announced, the culprit was Billy Joe Winghead, scourge of Oklahoma. At least if one is to believe what’s on their Web site.

I’m particularly drawn to “psychedelic garage-surf” punk bands that give the usual punk rock sound a certain hypnotic, addictive edge. Billy Joe Winghead have that and more: Billy Joe Winghead is a garage-punk theramin band! The only other theramin punk out there is Jon Spencer and let me say this (indulge me): Billy Joe Winghead is what Jon Spencer should sound like if he’s going to actually do something with that damn musical instrument that looks like an old TV antenna! I mean, work the damn thing! The result is nothing short of spook-tacular! Theraminist John Manson (no relation…) I proclaim the Clara Rockmore of Punk!

The whole album is a crazy summer night out at the B-movie drive-in! (Really, their theramin-fronted rendition of “Sleepwalk” will have the same effect on you.)

If that isn’t enough to pique your interest rest assured that the band is heavily driven by a traditional three-chord punk guitar assault. Trash-rockin’, punkabilly, whatever, “Hell On 18 Wheels” and “Cuban Rebel Girl” are tight trucker punk -the kind Lemmy would dig. “Ozarkula” -what a great title!- you want a creepy song for Halloween? Look no further! This mix of white trash, The Dukes of Hazard , Varney the Vampire and wild blasts of melodic theramin punk weirdness. Anyone for the Damned meet the Dead Kennedys vs. the Ventures? I am! This is unbelievable! This is the most original, organic punk rock I’ve heard in years!

Billy Joe Winghead, , , ; http://www.winghead.com

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